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shed

S.H.E.D. (Seek Him Every Day)

In order for me to say yes to Jesus being my CEO, I had to pray about what He wanted me to keep in the life He had entrusted to me.

These are the things I laid at the altar:

  1. The house we lived in.
  2. The car I drove.
  3. My career.
  4. The private golf membership.
  5. Hospital foundation board spot.
  6. Committee at the YMCA.
  7. Working out M-F at 5:30am.
  8. Large office space.
  9. Working ‘till 6pm most days.
  10. The MBA in Financial Planning I was pursuing.
  11. Where to live.

Surprise—God got rid of almost the entire list except for my career, and moved us to the Bay Area from LA.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

All of these activities were outside of God’s will for my life. I learned that if we are not asking God what He wants us to do, we can get off track—even if we are going to church, reading the Bible, and going to Bible study class.

As you can see, I had to shed a lot!

I now had space to seek Him every day. My relationships improved. God also slowly got rid of the façade I had in LA, so that I’m more fully the person He wants me to be.

I am now running my race better—not perfectly—but much better and more efficiently than before. I learned God’s way is so much better than my way.

How about you? Did you have to shed anything in order to seek Him every day?

tithing

Financial Freedom

I’ve had a lifetime challenge with money. When I was young, I wanted some, then when I got some, I wanted more.

Always more. More money. Give me more. I need more. I want more. I deserve more.

More. More. More!

I got more and it made me angry because I still wanted more.

One of my early steps towards financial freedom was memorizing this verse: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

Hmm. ALL. Really? This was a different formula. I read it over and over again, and I realized the verses preceding it were all about money and stuff. (Matthew 6:19-32)

Yes I was storing up a lot on earth, isn’t that the point to making a lot of money? This is what I thought I was supposed to do. This is what most everyone teaches and practices.

Then I made Jesus the CEO over my life. Slowly. It was hard, and still is. I’m really, really hard headed.

We hired a Certified Kingdom Advisor and a budget coach. They started praying for us and working with us. Things started changing, slowly. Real change does not happen quickly. We started realizing that God had given us so much financially, not to mention His grace and mercy when we were young Christians but not following His ways.

We got our financial life in order. It took saying no to a lot of things, both on the calendar, to make time to fix this mess, and of course in the cash area of our lives.

We started tithing and now we have given thousands of dollars, with no significant increase in income, to Kingdom causes and have become more and more joyful. We love giving. We love having financial order in our lives. We have no regrets about any of the giving. We are now tracking toward financial freedom and it’s a great feeling.

For me the following was and is true:

Financial Independence (tracking towards it) = Anger, fear, entitlement, discontentment (never had enough) and arrogance.

Financial Freedom = Joy, peace, confidence, happiness, gratitude, humility, generosity.

hook

Financial Independence

The Bay Area is one of the wealthiest places on earth, during one of the wealthiest times in history. There are many people who have achieved financial independence or are striving for it. For Christians, as Jesus as our model, what should our aim be? Is it bad to be financially independent or striving toward that goal?

When I was a teenager, I thought if I had more money it would make me happy. I got a lot more money and I was not happier. It actually made me feel arrogant, entitled, selfish, and greedy.

I came to Christ and that did not change things.

I fell in love with Nicole, got married, and started having financial problems. I continued to think, “More money will solve these problems.”

Right around the time that Jeff took me to lunch I had a conversation with my stepmom Lana and she told me I did not have an asset problem but I had an expense problem. I had never thought of it that way. I was a financial planner but never applied these principles to myself!

We had no budget.

We did not track expenses.

We did not prepare a balance sheet.

We were out of control financially.

We were just tracking to be financially independent someday by making more money. Our focus was always making more money. The conversation with Lana was one of my first steps towards realizing that this track was wrong.

I believe chasing after more money was bad for me. Do you think it might be bad for you?

“But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” (1 Timothy 6:9-10).

surrender

My 5-Part Surrender

I am a stubborn person, and God didn’t have an easy time with me. For years my progress as a Christian was three-steps-forward, two steps back. Finally after many years, I allowed Jesus to be CEO over my whole life—but believe me, I am still always tempted to wrestle control back from him!

Looking back over the last several years, I identified the five major components of my surrender. They were:

  1. I prayed for God to send strong Christians into my life to help me with my marriage. As you can imagine, my stubbornness was affecting my marriage as well as my spiritual life, and I knew nothing would change until I addressed it.
  2. God answered this prayer in the form of recreating my community to be what He wanted, and I forced myself not to fight it.
  3. By becoming involved in this new community, I learned about humility, grace, love, what the Bible says and how it applies to my life. Without the right community, I don’t believe I would have surrendered. I am far from perfect, but I’ve had a definite change of heart and mindset.
  4. The next step for me was moving from “believing” to “doing” which took faith and the continued reliance on the community. They stayed by my side, praying for me and encouraging me on the path God has set for me.
  5. This all led to me slowing down, to stop quenching the Spirit of God by striving so hard all the time. I’m learning to let Him lead me.

Even though I have less net worth and income than I once had, I have freedom, fascination and a lot more fun than I have ever had. It appears God wanted to make significant changes in my heart, and this took adjusting my net worth and income. This has been scary at times, but God is my provider and He will never leave me nor forsake me.

Getting the calendar portion of my life more in line with what God wanted allowed me to get the cash category more in line with what God wanted. When these two were more in line with what God wanted, this allowed the Holy Spirit to speak deeply to me, and whisper things I could have never have dreamed about. I believe now I am stepping into the calling God has on my life.

What is your surrender story? How has it led to more fun and stepping into what you were called to do?

moneylove

Love of Money

Money has always played an important part in my life. As you can see from this picture, when I was younger I loved a lot of stuff—two TV’s on my desk (come on!) and if you take a closer look you can see a popular sticker from the 80’s: I love money.

Yep, that was me, and still is to a certain extent. I was raised with the idea that if I gained more money and “stuff,” my problems would be solved. I battle this mindset almost every day, but I have God’s word to help me, financial buddies with whom to talk to about money, and great resources to help further my education around the subject.

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” (1 Timothy 6:10).

When I achieved some financial success in my twenties, it created new problems and made the old problems much worse. Some of the new problems were that I felt a sense of entitlement because I had “made it,” in my mind, which combined with the pride I had, made for a miserable life. I thought the world revolved around me, and that all things that I was involved with should be to help further my own agenda in my life.

My love of money was preventing me from living the life God created me for. If I had continued on this “love of money” trajectory, I shiver to think what my life would consist of now.

I went very hard after money, and when I achieved financial goals, I was left with a deep emptiness which eventually led to a great anger that I had been duped. At times I felt it was just me and my money because I had no real relationships.

Thanks to God’s hand on my life and the partnership of my wife Nicole, I no longer love money the way I used to. It’s been a long road and I’ll continue to work toward Godliness in this area, but together Nicole and I have been learning to submit our financial lives to the Lord, and funny enough, we rarely argue about money like we used to. Maybe we’re on to something! We don’t have it all figured out, but we’re not where were before.

How about you? What is your money story and what part is currently being written?

question

What do I want?

Right after Nicole and I got married, we started fighting a lot. Mostly about money, but also related to what we should be doing (calendar and calling) and how we were going to do it. Little did Nicole know that she had married a big jerk!

During this rough time in our marriage, I came up with one statement that I would repeat when we began to argue. I was having trouble winning these arguments (many men might be familiar with this), so I gave up and said:

“I don’t care where we live, what we do for a living, or how much money we make. I just want you, me and any children we have to be Christ-followers.”

That was in 2006.

That is still the theme of my life today. Although I struggle with this, it’s what I want—with one addition.

Not only is it my fervent wish that my family follow Christ, my desire has expanded to everyone else as well. Everyone! It’s my prayer that we all would live as God intended.

That’s a big, audacious prayer. But I think God loves those kinds the best; especially when they are in line with His desires too.

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

How about you? What do you want?

When you look at Paul’s life, was He confused as to what He wanted? “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

Powerful!

How about Jesus—confused? No, of course not, He was never confused. “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

Super powerful!

God.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Perfect!

My prayer is that we would seek God in order to know what we want; and that we would ask God for those things, no matter how outrageous, with full faith that he will answer.

all

All

I have been fascinated with this word lately.

All.

That is a big word, and a scary word. I think of when someone demands, like my son Luke, “give it all to me”—that is quite a bold statement. Or the bank robber: “give me all of your money.”

I did an exercise where I circled the word “all” in the Bible for months on end while reading it and how many circles I ended up with.

So many!

One verse that contains the word “all” is the Greatest Commandment:

“And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).

All of your heart. That is a huge request.

Another one is:

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

We are to both love and trust the Lord—with all of our hearts. (Trust and love, I’ve written about them before. Please check it out here.)

This makes me both a little concerned and little hopeful all at the same time.

I’m concerned that I am not doing it, and I’m not all that familiar with how to do it and what the ramifications could be if I don’t do it.

I’m hopeful there is a way to do it. God wouldn’t command it otherwise.

Our time and our calendar have to be involved, don’t you think? If I could say “no” to more things in order to say “yes” to more of God I know this would be a move in the right direction, because those I love the most I want to spend the most time with. Yet I struggle with this and I am not sure I love God the most, let alone with all of my heart.

The pressure is there to:

  1. Perform “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23) and
  2. Provide “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8).

But, wait, hey, what am I supposed to do?

I need to constantly remind myself: “….love the Lord your God with all of your heart…..”

Maybe I need to revisit this exercise I mentioned earlier in order to get my priorities straight and gain more clarity on my God given priorities.

As we can see, God wants us to love Him with all of our heart. How you are doing this?

 

 

 

golf

Rhythms to Life

I used to play a lot of golf and really enjoyed it. I am a competitive person and I thrived on being teamed with my good buddy Duane and playing against another two-person team. I was my best when I followed my “pre-set routine” and was really relaxed. Having a regular “rhythm” allowed me to perform my best under pressure.

“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed” (Mark 1:35 ESV). Jesus had His rhythms, too. He had His calendar in order—perfectly in line with what God wanted.

Jesus also had many days of pressure, real pressure, not like I faced on the golf course. Can you even imagine the trials He faced—including many we don’t know about—to knock Him off the course God had him on?

What role did rhythms play in His life? What role can my rhythms play in my life to help me with the challenges I face?

Jesus came down to earth for many things, one to be a perfect role model for me and for you. In addition to my golf routine, I have a morning routine, but sometimes it feels like a dull boring practice that I labor through in order to check the box and feel somewhat good about myself.

I need God to refuel me each morning, give me perspective and talk to me. I need to feel His presence. I need time to thank God for giving me breath, at least for the moment. It doesn’t work this way all of the time, but when it does, it’s amazing and I feel like I’m ready to tackle my day. I have tried to skip my morning routine and something always goes wrong—I end up either irritable, anxious or just plain upset with something or someone.

I am very curious to know if there are other rhythms I could adopt that would prepare me for when I meet Him one day. Feel free to share your ideas. What are the rhythms you see as important to help you become all that God wants you to be?

I want so badly to mirror my King Jesus and rise early in the morning and pray to my Heavenly Father.

I try and think often of what I need to give up or say no to in order to make Jesus my priority.

What are somethings that you have given up to make Jesus your priority like Jesus made God the Father His priority?

mom

The Beginning

God gave me life.

God gave me my Mom.

God took my Mom two years ago today.

Today I begin this blog in memory of my best friend who is now spending eternity with Jesus.

Hallelujah!

But life is very short. I want my life to count. I want your life to count!

I want to make a huge impact in people’s lives—in your life. I want YOU to make a huge impact in people’s lives—in my life.

One way I want to do that is through this blog.

I intend for it to be a community, based in the Bay Area, that is radically abandoned to Christ, connecting people who are living life the way He intended for us.

In my own life, I’ve identified the three key areas of focus as calendar, cash, and calling.

Calendar = how we use the time God has entrusted to us.

Cash = our relationship with the money and material possessions we are entrusted with.

Calling = our purpose.

I’ll be focusing most of my blog posts around these important areas of our lives, and opening up discussions about how we can all do our best to live in God’s will. I hope we can all help each other to continue to grow in the Lord by sharing our thoughts and ideas here on the blog.

Please join me…. the best is yet to come!

 

 

lineup

My Lineup

In 2010 I began doing research for a white paper to grow my business and create a niche for it. I interviewed executives and entrepreneurs, asking questions about how they balanced their career, family, and life’s challenges in order to finish well in life and not blow up all of their critical relationships. I also read books and dove deep into this topic in order to further my knowledge.

This white paper took me over 200 hours a great deal of money to complete.

I gained no new business from this white paper although I interviewed some of the most successful executives and entrepreneurs in Southern California. (I am really good at spending a lot of time, money and energy on a project and gaining no new business. Must be a gift.)

What I discovered is that we all have about 100 useable hours every week and how we use those hours will determine our destiny. Destiny is important to me and I imagine it is important to you. I tend to be all over the place with my time unless I have a path to follow and some lanes to stay in. So I’ve created nine categories that help me prioritize my time and energy.

If you’re into baseball metaphors, I like to I look at these nine categories as my baseball lineup—they’re my players. I want to score home runs—and I don’t want to get stranded at third base. So here’s my starting lineup:

Owner: Christ

Christ is the owner of the team I manage. I own nothing; I am His manager. The game I am playing is the game He wants me to play, at least this is the way it is supposed to go. No owner, no team, no team, no game, so Christ must be far and away the most important part of this team. At least this is what I think sometimes, if I played that way more often I would be winning more and hitting more home runs.

#1. Couples

For the first 6 years of our marriage, Nicole never felt like she was a priority to me. Our marriage suffered because of my insecurities and arrogance. This persisted even after I started reading the Bible in our second year of marriage and actively attending a Bible study. I am still working through a lot of stuff and will share with you in the next post just how bad it got. At least now I realize our marriage must be one of my priorities, and I continue to work on it.

#2. Children

While I am alive, no one else is better to be a Dad to my son Luke than I am. This continues to be a struggle while I work at home and attempt to balance my commitments to work, home, community, and spiritual life.

#3. Care for Self

Much like oxygen on the airplane, I have to first take in the oxygen so then I can give it to those sitting beside me, like my son and others about whom I care deeply. This means I must prioritize my own physical, mental and spiritual health.

#4. Cash

For me what this looks like is how I spend the first part of my day. I start out, though not perfectly, reading the Bible and then praying. This is my Christ time. I then, most every day, balance my checkbook (cash) and review my monthly spending plan, and look at my calendar of appointments coming up today and in the coming weeks. Some of this I do on my own, and some with my wife. This is currently working for us as a couple, though it takes a lot of time—we’d love to know what is working for you that might help us be better stewards of all that we’re given.

#5. Calendar

This is all about making the best choices in how to spend my time. Nicole and I have struggled so much with this. We argue and waste a lot of time over the calendar. (Ironic, right?) We are open to what you are doing, we will share what we have done. We’ve had some successes and we will share those with you in this series, as well as our fights, and hopefully we can encourage one another in this challenging place.

#6. Calling/Vocation

Just like #2-Children, the category of Calling will take on various levels of importance during different seasons of life. But even now while I’m in an active, growing, child-rearing season of life, I’m constantly trying to pay attention to God’s calling on my life and attempting to stay right where He wants me.

#7. Community

I think of community as many groups: People we help who will never repay us, friends at church, those we share passions with, neighbors, people who are close friends (think Peter, James and John for Jesus), those who will carry our casket if we were to die today. The list can be quite expansive, the idea, of course, is to live in community, as we cannot live the life we were designed to live without community.

#8. Care for Parents

Parents are important—God commands us to honor them and gives us the promise that when we do, things will go well. I was impatient, demanding and downright mean to my parents while I was growing up and they were alive. During this time, things were not going well for me. Hmm…..I had many major issues with this over the years, and I will share some of them with you. I messed it up and don’t have another chance with my own parents, but I can expand the meaning of this to include care for my Step Mom and Step Dad as well as Nicole’s parents and our Great Aunt and Great Uncle as well as other elderly people in our neighborhood.

#9. Designated Hitter

What other priorities would you like to include on your top ten list? For me, it is being in a Coffeehouse—this is my happy place. For you it could be cars, canines, cats, camping, college football or any other hobby/activity that you love that would help you not get stranded at third base. (Doesn’t even have to start with a C!)

How have you intentionally used your time to determine your destiny?

What do you think about this lineup?

Over the upcoming weeks, I will share struggles, arguments, failures, and successes, and I hope to hear some of yours. Let’s help each other better use these 100 hours we continue to receive every week.

 

 

 

greg_pitch3

Speaker, Writer, Encourager

After becoming MVP and hitting a record number of home runs as a t-baller at age 9, I lost my ability to hit home runs and my dreams of a professional baseball career never materialized. Now decades later, I’m thrilled to be hitting home runs in areas I call “Calendar, Cash, & Calling,” and I’m excited to share what God has taught me. Don’t get stranded at third base—this blog is all about making it home in these critical areas of your life.

baseball