A New Ministry Opportunity

If you’ve read much of anything on here before you know by now that I’m very much in to Christian ministry.  I committed my life to Jesus at an early age while growing up as a preachers kid, and I’ve been involved in ministry in various capacities ever since.  Doing ministry is just part of who I am.  I even wrote a little bit about the book “God at Work” that means so much to me because it explained this drive inside me to do work for God in any or many vocations.

Since 2008, I’ve been involved with the financial coaching ministry at my home church, and during that time I had the opportunity to help start a business that teaches biblical personal finance.  I also wrote a little e-book “God Centered Finances” about a balanced perspective on Biblical personal finance.  All of that came about as part of the journey with my (and my wife – we are one) own financial struggle that I’ve learned so much from and love to share with others.  There are other topics and experiences I feel burdened to address for the purpose of ministry too, like marriage and leadership, but the burden to minister about financial stewardship continues to be where I believe God uses me the most.

The newest chapter of the ministry journey is an opportunity to join the Clayton King Ministries (CKM) speaker team.  It is such an honor to have an opportunity to do ministry with this amazing group I’ve grown to know and love.  I certainly do not feel worthy, but I am definitely more than willing.  That is all God needs.  With willingness He can use anything for His divine purpose.

The reason for sharing this update is to ask for your prayers as I seek to serve the Lord well in these next steps of ministry.  God is good, and the best is yet to come.

The Ashley Madison Debacle

It seems the latest media topic to captivate everyone’s attention is the scandalous hacking and revealing of data that shames everyone who has ever used the cheating site – Ashley Madison.  It’s been a while since I’ve written about sexual immorality on here so I’m gonna weigh in on this.

Before I get too far I should make the disclaimer that I’ve only read a few articles on the debacle, and that’s all it takes to get the point.  I don’t need to know every detail about it to say what’s on my mind, but I believe that someone is gonna get something they need to out of what I feel like I need to say.

I haven’t even read many articles and I can already predict the tone.  Without a doubt the following two songs being sung loud and proud.

1- Damn all those sick detestable perverts who deserve the worst punishment.

2- Gracefully forgive all those people who in their human weakness made mistakes.


I refuse to accept either extreme because in my opinion one is too strong and the other too weak.  One is a position of condemnation and the other is a position of passive permission.  I’m sick and tired of crap like this happening and everyone having to either choose an extreme or remain silent – because our so called progressive and increasingly tolerant culture is really just increasingly polarized.  But that’s another subject.  On to the points of this post.

To the one extreme – I absolutely agree this is a despicable situation.  But I also agree with the other extreme – we should show grace and forgiveness because we’re all imperfect and all sin is equal in Gods eyes.

To the one extreme – I agree there will absolutely be judgement.  But I also agree with the other extreme that the judgement is not ours to make and we should pray repentance and forgiveness for the offenders in this situation.

Here’s what I believe both extremes want the other to acknowledge underneath all the stupid shouting:  Regardless of how much we forgive there are still consequences for our actions, and in order to forgive as God commands casting condemnation should not be one of the consequences.

Families are in turmoil.  People are being very publicly humiliated and shamed – something none of us ever want to happen with some of our own failures.  The damage this whole debacle is doing is massive, and I feel terrible for all the lives being wrecked.  But I still believe good can come from it regardless of whether we ever really know it.

The bottom line we should all take away from this:  No sin is done without harm to self and others.  No matter how secret a sin might seem it will eventually be brought to light. It’s best for us all to simply focus on pursuing righteousness in our own lives while encouraging others to do the same.

Life Is Too Short

Life is too short for lots of things, and lately I’m overwhelmed with that reality.  There’s always something worse to imagine going through than what we’re currently experiencing, and those thoughts might help us cope, but when we’re going through anything tough it can be a harsh reminder to do more…living.

March 26th is normally a wonderful day of celebration for my wife’s, Shawna, birthday.  But this March 26th will forever be marked as the date we lost a very close loved one – our brother (in-law), David Butts.  We are crushed with devastation, and our hearts ache deeply for our sister, Lenae, and their three boys, Gauge, Gavin, & Garen.  No matter how hard we try to love on them and no matter how bad we want to ease their pain, there is nothing we can do to bring David back or replace his love and relationship in their lives.

So many thoughts cross our minds as we think back on our time with David.  We should have ____ more.  The list of things to fill that blank with is endless, and the list of people we could try to fill the blank with is endless.  But life is also too short to try filling that blank with too many things, and it is definitely too short for trying to fill that blank with the wrong people.

As I reflected on that life truth in the days following David’s passing, I thought and prayed that I would live life to the fullest, that I would pursue God’s plan for me – for every relationship, moment, decision.  I live with the attitude that there is always room for improvement, for becoming – whatever we’re becoming.  (I even eluded to that in my talk at David’s memorial service because I believe David was living that way too, whether he knew it or not.)

One area of life I’ve struggled with for years is career.  I’ve known for quite some time that something needs to change.  I’ve felt a calling to something more.  I’ve had opportunities to do things that have helped me develop many skills and qualities.  But I’ve failed to make any significant changes in career path – mostly due to fear of financial failure.  Having these thoughts after our devastating loss I became full of determination to make my existing path look brighter or find another path,  I literally put on my to-do list, “plan talking points for (boss name) – something has to change”.

Before I even got a chance to schedule that conversation, and only a week after the devastating phone call about David’s death, I received another devastating phone call.  It was the boss letting me know that his company, that I’ve loyally served for 11 years, is going out of business.  This came as a complete shock to me because as far as I knew everything was going ok – not great but better than average so far this year for me and for the company too, so I thought.  It doesn’t matter though – the company is closing regardless of the reason, and I am left looking for a job.

Timing can seem crazy, but I believe it’s God’s plan.  Losing my job 8 days earlier might have freaked me out, but that perspective is different when receiving the news on the heals of losing a brother.  Don’t get me wrong – it sucks.  It’s like being kicked while you’re down, but I keep it in perspective by reminding myself it is nothing compared to living in a country where real threats exist – like lions or drug lords.

Apparently, God’s plan is not to stay on the path I was on or to try and fix something that was obviously broken – more than I even realized.  The question now is what exactly is the plan.  I’m completely open and willing to do anything.  Of course, there are certain things that might make more sense than other things but since when did everything God plans for us make sense to us?  No – I’m not limiting my options only to what makes sense.

I’m talking to anyone and everyone.  I’m open to anything.  It’s not all about how much money I can make, but I don’t want to be taken advantage of either.  It’s not all about working for the best company, but I don’t want to be with a losing organization either.  When it’s all said and done I want to be somewhere I feel challenged to continue growing personally, somewhere that wants more out of my qualities than the dollars I can produce, somewhere the people are valued, respected, and trusted, somewhere relationships are genuine and professional, and somewhere family and friends relationships are valued and encouraged.

When I say I’m talking to anyone, I do mean anyone.  I could do pretty much anything.  I’ve done corporate, small business, and ministry work.  I’ve worked in manufacturing process and supply chain management.  I’ve done print industry sales and account management.  I’ve taught and done public speaking.  I’ve overseen web projects, social presence, and other marketing.  I’ve done writing projects.  I’ve lead and managed and participated in team building.  I’ve done finances, forecasting, and strategy.  I love learning, and I love to be challenged.

So, I’m not limiting myself to one particular industry or ministry.  I’m looking for professional challenge, personal growth, and great relationships.  If there’s one thing I have learned from my brother David, it is that life is too short for anything less than…living.



People much younger than me might not even know what I’m talking about, but I remember when it wasn’t uncommon for people to have a CB in their personal vehicle (as in truck driver CB – communication device. My dad was the coolest CB dad I knew because he would talk to the truck drivers and they would work together to make their way down the busy highways of oblivious people who tend to block the way… Thus my dads call sign, or “handle”, was Waymaker. He drove a 1978 Chevy very similar to the one in the picture above.

If only I had a CB now it might make driving more fun. Truckers are still communicating with us. When you let them change lanes to pass a slow mover they flash their lights to say “thanks”. When you get up close behind them to catch a draft for a little while they might do the same light flashing but in that case it means “back off this isn’t safe” (yes I’ve done that in the past to save gas and it works but isn’t safe and truckers don’t tend to allow it unless you’re CB friends and I don’t have a CB).

I can’t help but think of how much fun my dad had actually talking to the truck drivers and working with them to get through traffic faster. It makes me think of how much more fun we have as married couples when we actually talk to each other and work through life’s obstacles faster, not merely co-existing on life’s highway and flashing lights back and forth because we’re in the same lane, really talking and enjoying the journey we’re sharing.

Greenville Mud Run and Some Life Lessons

Several weeks ago I had the privilege of torturing myself through a 3.5 mile and 35 obstacle US Marine style course called the Goodwill Mud Run.  It was a blast considering the cuts and pains, the fact that I was not in shape for it, and the mud in places I didn’t know mud could go.

As I look back on that experience I’m reminded of a few financial relationship principles we need to keep in mind:

Sometimes It Ain’t Pretty

The crazy thing for me about the mud run is the obstacles weren’t the hard part.  I was fine as long as we were on an obstacle.  I can push right through that sort of exertion.  It wasn’t the cuts and pains or even the mud that made it difficult for me (although I did get about a gallon of it in my mouth on the very first mud-hole).  Where I struggled the most was during the running from one obstacle to the next.

I hate running for the sake of running, so I just don’t do it enough.  There’s really only two things that effectively motivate me to run – Shawna (when she is running), and playing ball (usually basketball).  When it comes to the constant and steady pounding of the leg muscles for running long distance, I suck.

Needless to say running 3.5 miles with zero training before the event was not pretty for me.  It didn’t matter that I had mud in my bleeding cuts and every time I spit there was as much mud as saliva.  I felt like my lungs were refusing to absorb oxygen in protest of what I was putting my body through.  My chest had that awful cold feeling you get after running hard in cool weather for about four days after the event.  It was terrible.

Sometimes working through life’s challenges is going to be ugly and we’re going to have to do things we don’t like to do because it is necessary to reach the goal.

Finishing The Race Eventually is Better Than Not Finishing At All

The Mud Run is very much like a Marine training course.  They even have real Marines in uniform out there yelling at you all through the course.  I don’t know the background on the Mud Run, but I guess in the spirit of the Marine way you don’t run this race as individuals – you do it in teams.

My team was awesome.  I was not.  My friend organized the team and must have either thought I was in better shape or he wanted to get me in better shape – all at once.

I was the slowest runner on the team.  What little ground I was able to make up by going through the obstacles faster than my teammates was quickly lost by running so much slower than them from one obstacle to the next.  I tried my best to keep up but about halfway through I realized if I didn’t slow down to a pace I could sustain my legs might give out, I might hurl, or worse (my family has history of heart issues and I already have the cholesterol).

It didn’t feel good knowing that I couldn’t get there faster.  I could have pushed it and might have been fine, but I had reached a level of pain that was as far as I wanted to go.  It felt like as much as I could bear at the time.

Sometimes we need to push ourselves harder, but sometimes we need to accept that reaching a goal is going to take longer than we want it to.  It’s better to get there eventually than to not get there at all.

Finish The Race Together

My three teammates knew we had to finish the race together, and they were very good sportsman to me – the team anchor (not in the good sense – like I was an anchor they were having to drag 🙂 ).  They challenged me to push myself and they encouraged me to keep going.  That helped me more than they know.  If it wasn’t for them I might still be out there meandering my way through the course and asking myself “Why am I doing this?”.

Surprisingly enough my friend who invited me to be on the team asked me to do it again in the Spring.  That is either true muv (man-love) or he doesn’t know anyone else dumb enough to say yes.  I accepted the challenge and promised I will be in better shape for it next time (maybe a lighter anchor).

It matters that we have accountability in our lives.  It matters that we have support around us.  It matters for whatever goal is in front of you now and whatever the next goal is after that.

Work through the ugly stuff, make steady progress toward the eventual goal, and finish together.

Question:  Have you ever participated in a mud run or other race and had a similar experience as me?  Will you hold me accountable to getting in better shape for next time?

Practice What You Preach

Have you ever felt like you failed to take your own advice?  That happens to me sometimes.  My daughter, Skyler, is very energetic and she loves dance and gymnastics.  At home she will often practice her cart-wheels, handstands, round-offs, round-house, upper-cut…  The problem with that is there isn’t a lot of room for that kind of activity inside our house because there is either stuff or people to potentially break or hurt with flying arms and feet.  So we’re constantly telling Skyler, “You probably shouldn’t do that in the house.  We don’t want you to get hurt.”

Because I’m such a great dad I have practiced cart wheels and hand stands a little bit too (and everyone’s favorite acrobatic move I do is the cheerleader-style toe-touch, it’s fabulous).  Of course where have I done this – in the house, exactly where we advise Skyler not to do the acrabatics.   I’m normally pretty careful about choosing a safe area where no one is around and nothing is in the way, until a few days ago…

I don’t remember why Iwas  in a goofy mood with about six excited children in the house that day, and I don’t know what I was thinking, but I decided to do a cart-wheel going in a different direction in the house than I had ever done it before.  I had told Skyler many times not to do this.  I had seen Skyler get hurt doing it.  I had even seen Joe Sangl get hurt doing it (yes – he got excited at our house one time too and did a cart-wheel that didn’t end well – Skyler has such an influence on us to test our acrobatic inability).  As I made the approach all of the red flags were flashing through my mind and in a split second I thought, “I shouldn’t be doing this” and “I got it, it’s ok”.  Then…


The bottom of my foot, at the inside part of my heel crashed onto the corner of our coffee table.  Thank goodness I didn’t break anything, including my foot..  I rolled around on the floor in pain with my wife Shawna laughing at me the whole time, and then of course I got up quickly to act like everything was alright.  I had made the same mistake I normally advise Skyler not to make.  I wasn’t practicing what I had been preaching.

That can happen in lots of areas of our life if we’re not careful.  In marriage it is important to live by the same expectations we have of our spouse.  As parents it is important to set the example of what we expect our kids to follow. As leaders it is important to be living what we are teaching.

That is one of the most important things we teach financial coaches – to be living what we are teaching.  It can be so easy to slack off and not be disciplined to stick to the plan or the budget.  It can be so easy to put off reaching that next goal over and over again in order to do spontaneous and fun stuff whenever we want.  In order to effectively teach others we have to be living what we are teaching.

When is the last time you slipped up and failed to practice what you preach?  My heel still hurts  🙂

Part 4: My Parent’s 40th Anniversary

For my parents 40th wedding anniversary I did a little interview and I’m sharing their wisdom.  If you missed the first three parts you can read them here:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

How did having kids affect things?

We wanted kids.  We were so glad to have kids.  It did change everything though.  The biggest change was being involved in all the activities you kids participated in.  But it also strengthened our marriage because there was a greater love than just the two of us.  We HAD to work together just to keep up.  

Would you do it all over again?

We would do it all over again but just do some things differently.  There would be more emphasis on family and our marriage instead of so much emphasis on the church.  Wish we had made better long range plans.  Wish we had used vacation for fun instead of visiting family.  We’ve been blessed and we’re thankful.  In order to make it to 50 yrs we’re gonna take better care of our health and take it one day at a time.  But we don’t live with any regrets and would do it all again.

Sometimes I wonder if the difficulty of having kids is just us or our generation.  So it’s a little reassuring to know that even for our parents having kids was a challenge.  I like John Maxwell’s quote that having grandchildren is the reward for not killing your children.  My parents probably agree with that completely.  Having kids is definitely a blessing we are very thankful for and I pray all the time that I become a better dad.

My parents gave Shawna and me a huge compliment about doing a good job balancing family, work, and church involvement.  That is something we struggle with from time to time in order to keep on track.  We’re making plans for our next family vacation and it gives us something to look forward to through the day to day hustle.

Shawna and I have only been married almost 11 years and we agree with my parents comment after their 40 years about doing it all again but doing some things differently.  We’ve all made mistakes we would take back but I when I’m older I want to be able to say I don’t have any regrets.  I believe that comes from having peace that God is guiding our lives along a path and everything is happening for a reason.

Part 3: My Parent’s 40th Anniversary

For my parents 40th wedding anniversary I did a little interview and I’m sharing their wisdom.  If you missed it you can click here to read Part 1 or click here to read Part 2.

What have you done for fun through the years?

We’ve always been heavily involved in church activities (understatement of the century).  We didn’t really call it date night like y’all do now days, but when we were younger we would go out to eat and go to drag racing or rodeo or ball games or Gospel singing events – that was way back when the Gaithers were just a trio.  Now days for date night we tend to just go out to eat and take a drive and just enjoy being together.  (I will add that my parents take some pretty nice trips as rewards through my dad’s job as an insurance agent).  

What have been your hopes and dreams?

We’ve always wanted to do the best we could for you kids and we’ve always wanted to serve other people – living our lives to serve others rather than ourselves.  

Dad: When we were pastors we thought success was when I got to pastor without having a 2nd job to support the family.  

Mom:  As we got older we reached for dreams like having a bigger property with a garden and getting to travel.  We were only able to afford that stuff after dad started working in business world. 

Now you know how old my parents are – I mean anyone who knew when the Gaithers were just a trio…  If you don’t even know who the Gaithers are just look it up on Google – search images, that’s all you need to know.  My parents are very country too in case you couldn’t tell from the drag racing and rodeo.  That does remind me of our years in a small town called Forest Hill, LA where we went to the dirt track races every Friday night…

I’m glad to know my parents have fun together and have hopes and dreams.  It is ashamed that church people treat pastors in such a way that they leave the ministry all the time.  My parents still serve in their local church, just not as pastor.  Every time I think of my parents deciding to no longer pastor churches I think of how tough a decision that must have been for them because of their heart for ministry.  But at the same time I think of how thankful I am that they made such a tough decision because for all we know that is what kept them together and kept our family together.

My dad plants his garden every year and they get to travel to places Shawna and I hope to go to someday.  I’d say they’ve set a pretty good example for putting their marriage, hopes, and dreams in proper priority.


Part 2: My Parent’s 40th Anniversary

For my parents 40th wedding anniversary I did a little interview and I’m sharing their wisdom.  If you missed it you can click here to read Part 1.

How did you make it 40 years?  What advice do you have for us youngsters?

It’s important to always think back on what brought us together to start with and having a determination to never give up on that.  Commitment is taken too lightly now days.  People think oh well we can just get a divorce if this doesn’t work out.  Divorce was never an option for us.  Our parents were married 61 & 57 years so we had a good example of commitment.  Our faith strengthened our commitment.  It has taken a lot of work – seminars at church, better communication, understanding and appreciating each other.  

Did you ever get counseling?

No we never did but there were times we should have.  

I am so blessed to have such great examples of commitment in my parents and grandparents.  Both sets of my grandparents were together until death did them part.  I pray that for my marriage too.

It REALLY frustrates me to hear some of the reasons people get divorced.  I can’t claim to understand every situation but I can say I don’t agree with the outcome most of the time.  Recently I was beating my head against the wall trying to understand why people get divorced and how to help them stay together instead.  I know it sounds cliche but a pastor friend of mine reminded me that divorce is a result of Jesus not being the center and focus of relationships.  Simplifying it all – that is true.  But it doesn’t give me peace about it at all.

I’m committed to my marriage.  I fight for my marriage.  We have tough conversations.  We read books and go through curriculum in small groups or seminars.  We ask for advice or counseling when we need it.  And we’ll do all that stuff again and again because staying committed in marriage takes work.

The next post is about fun, hopes, and dreams.  Be sure to check back.

Part 1: My Parent’s 40th Anniversary

This year my parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary and I’ve been wanting to write about them for several months.  There is a lot we can all learn by talking to our parents and using the wisdom they’ve gained through years of experience, or the wisdom they haven’t gained 🙂  It’s important to have discernment of what advice to take or leave when talking to anyone.  My hope for everyone is you have someone like my parents to gain some encouraging wisdom from.

So I basically did a little interview with my parents, something I’ve never really done quite like this, to pick their brain a little at their 40 year mark.  In this series of posts I want to share some of the questions I asked and some of the takeaways and insight from the conversation.

What does it feel like to be married 40 years?

Mom:  It doesn’t really seem possible that it’s been that long.  It feels good just to have survived this long.  (She didn’t mean as in they haven’t killed each other, she meant it’s good to be alive at their age – which isn’t as old as they act sometimes 🙂 ).

Dad:  Well, dad was actually still asleep in his chair when I asked the first question (being an old fart) so mom answered for him by saying, “Best years of his life!”  (There’s a bit of the humor in this relationship coming out.)

Has it always been a fairytale?

(I asked this because so many young couples are shocked and confused when the ‘fairytale’ wears off)

Mom:  It was like any newlyweds – a dream come true.  But there weren’t any Disney princess movies back then.  We’ve always had reasons to stay grounded. We had to work hard. We never had anything given to us. Our first house was a very old owner financed single wide trailer.  100% financing through banks wasn’t very likely back then if it even existed and getting family to co-sign wasn’t an option for us.

Dad:  Back then not so many people lived together before getting married.  Times were different.  Gas was .19 per gallon and beef was .49 per pound.  

That’s a good point about living together and times were different but I’m not sure what that had to do with the question.  Oh, he just woke up!  Must have been having nightmares about current inflated pricing…

I love the comment my mom made about there not being any Disney princess movies back then.  Now days so many young couples are growing up with the crazy notion that they’re going to be swept off their feet and live happily ever after.  Then when reality hits and their spouse shows imperfection they’re shocked and don’t know what to do.  Why do we spend so much time dreaming the impossible and never spending time considering a more likely reality?

Stay tuned for more from my parents…