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Care for self

filled

Jesus’ Vacations

I’ve always thought Jesus was a foodie.

The feeding of the 5,000. Turning water into wine. The Last Supper. Even the resurrected Jesus had a barbeque for the disciples (John 21:9).

Once a foodie, always a foodie! I think He would love San Francisco restaurants.

When Jesus wasn’t praying, telling a parable, performing miracles, and travelling, I think He enjoyed some downtime—not in a place like Hawaii, but close to where He was doing the will of His Father. He relaxed and refreshed with close friends like Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, at their home.

“Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home” (Luke 10:38).

Imagine the scene! Candles, good food, close friends, deep conversation, Jesus being served and cared for. He most likely departed feeling restored, filled up, and loved.

If Jesus needed this, don’t we?

I feel refreshed when I’m with close friends, usually one-on-one with no cell phones, dreaming of a generous and Christ-centered Bay Area. Just two hours can fill me up so much! Grabbing coffee—has to be iced coffee!—I love it. No travel. No plane. Not a lot of cost.

Real simple.

What do you do to get filled up?

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?

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?

gratitude

Getting into the Christmas Spirit

Here we are again—the holiday season. Thanksgiving is here, Christmas is coming, and we’re supposed to be full of joy and gratitude. Or at least act like we are!

But I’m not feeling it. Have you ever struggled with this? I have an awesome family and a great life, and  I’m grateful—but I always have a hard time getting into the “Christmas spirit.”

And even when I do, I find it easy to get overwhelmed by the commercial aspects of the season and the overwhelming social requirements. (Christmas parties! Christmas shopping!) I need reminders to focus on the simple ideas of family and gratitude and Jesus as the “reason for the season.”

So this year I’m doing something about it! And I’m inviting you along for the ride.

*30 Ways to Cultivate Gratitude During the Holidays*

My team and I have created a free giveaway. It’s a downloadable PDF of 30 scripture-rooted actions we can do between Thanksgiving and Christmas to help us improve our gratitude this season.

Some will be reminders; some may even be brand-new ideas. My hope is that we’ll take some action in the next month to become more grateful.

Sign up to receive my blog in your inbox at greghurley.com (sign up on left, or if you are on your phone, at bottom of page) and receive this awesome gratitude giveaway FREE!

Here’s to a better Christmas Season, unlike any we have had in the past, full of real gratitude!

But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4)

grump

I Am a Grump

Being raised an only child, when I was growing up everything revolved around me. Even when I was older, this continued, and I often felt frustrated when things didn’t go my way.

This is a battle I fight to this day. It gets worse around my birthday, November 13th, and continues until college football crowns another champion for the year.

So this year, I’m changing the game plan. Instead of focusing on myself and my issues, I am attempting to be strategic and do the following:

  1. Focus on things above. “Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth” (Colossians 3:2).
  2. Seek God’s Kingdom first. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
  3. Think of others more than myself. “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).

How?

An event to kick off the holidays.

On Facebook, I have created a page that says the following:

I am turning 44 on November 13 and I need your help. During the Christmas Season, every year, I get the blues and I act like a GRUMP! On Sunday, November 13th, join me at Yerba Buena Gardens from 1:30-3:30 pm. There are 4 things that would make me happy (not 44).

– Give me a hug

– High-five me for making it to age 44

– Consider throwing the Frisbee with me.

– Bring a small gift card ($5-$10)

If you want to join, put it in the comments and we look forward to seeing you then!

What I plan to do with the gift cards is give them out to strangers during the next month, sharing with them that this gift is from God, and that the greatest gift ever is Jesus.

I hope you can join me this Christmas Season as we learn to be more and more like Christ.

 

 

pause

Paused

When I moved to the Bay Area from LA in 2012, I went from working 65+ hours per week to around 40.

It felt very strange; like I was cheating life, not working enough, not worthy of anything.  But I kept to this new schedule.

My relationships got better—still not perfect, but I had more time for those closest to me.

With a little extra breathing room, I was able to focus on learning what the Bible says about money and “stuff.” It was during this time that I started tithing, eliminating debt, and saving.

It was a struggle, it still is, but I felt God was with me in a different way.

The disciples “paused” in the Upper Room during a transitional part in their lives.

“On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit’” (Acts 1:4-5).

What if they had not waited? What if they had disobeyed Jesus like they had many times before?

It is so hard to “pause” isn’t it? I actually hate the act of pausing. It reminds me of the old cassette players “II”, ugh, I even hate to type it because it reminds me that I always wanted the music to keep playing and the pause was usually someone interrupting me, like my Mom or Dad, to tell me something important that I needed to hear.

Maybe God is telling us to “pause” so He can tell us something important? Maybe He wants to fill us with the Holy Spirit like He did with the disciples of the early church in the book of Acts? Maybe He wants us to go and change the world around us?

 

time

100 Hours

We each have 100 usable hours, give or take, every week after we take out sleep and commuting.

Does that seem like a lot to you? Or not very much?

With most of us working around 50 hours each week, that leaves another 50 hours for the other priorities in our lives.

I struggle with this. Constantly.

It’s hard to give enough time to my relationship with Nicole, my son Luke, my stepmom and my mother and father in law, friends, church community, and taking care of myself physically. I also need a little down time so I don’t go crazy. I wrestle with how to fit everything in, and no matter what I’m doing, I feel like I should be doing something else. I’m constantly feeling guilt, shame and fear.

UGH!

How do you do it? What do you do in order to maximize these 100 hours every week, preserving and growing your important relationships, without losing clients, getting fired, ruining your marriage, or burning out?

I use the lineup  in order to keep me focused on what is most critical. It’s not perfect, but for me, although it has been a struggle, it has improved my most critical relationships.

But I know how easy it is to slip back into old habits. I worry I’ll go back to being crazed and confused, especially now that I am launching this blog. I just don’t know where the time is going to come from.

More coffee? Less sleep? Help!

My most important relationship, with Jesus, is at risk of slipping due to my busyness and my addiction to social media. I am not where I once was spiritually. I am getting too busy and having more and more trouble saying “no thank you.”

Decisions are hard, but I know you can help me. So, come on, give me your best advice, I want to learn from you.

Thank you for helping me out!

trust

Bank Treasure

I worked at a bank for a number of years and my desk used to be right out in the lobby. I saw a lot of people do interesting things at the branches I worked at.

A few older retired people used to come in and sit in the lobby and read. When I would go up to them and ask them how I could help them they would say they did not need help and would continue to sit and read.

Thinking back on this recently I realized that they were living out this verse:

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21

My belief is that the clients of the bank would bring their hearts to where their treasure was. Their treasure was what they had at the bank.

For me this is where my treasure was also. I would come in to the bank branch, nicely dressed and feel what I thought was security (making a good income) but inside I was empty, fearful, lonely, angry and sad. I remember having tears in my eyes because I was in so much pain. I was a big, lonely jerk.

Today I am aware that my treasure should be Jesus, but it is a struggle. I see the allure of notoriety within the Christian world, to be a best-selling author and a well-respected Christian writer and I know it would not satisfy the way Jesus can, but I still want this more than Jesus at times. I am concerned I am sitting in my own proverbial bank lobby so I can be close to my treasure and that treasure is not Jesus.

How can we make Jesus our treasure above everything else?

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.

 

 

 

IMG_8744

Five minutes after we die

“Five minutes after we die, we’ll know exactly how we should have lived.”

—Randy Alcorn, The Treasure Principle

Even though I probably don’t know you, I’m guessing you don’t want to wait to know how you should have lived; you want to live the way you are supposed to live—now.

Right? So do I.

God is going to ask me and you what we did with what He entrusted to us: our time (calendar); our talent (calling); and our treasure (cash). I don’t want to fail this test or be unprepared.

God wants us to trust Him implicitly, with everything and everyone who is precious to us. When God has the right position in our lives—consistently, in a rhythmic way—then everything else flows properly. Matthew 6:33 says: “But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Help One Another to Be Ready

I think about death at times and the moment when I will stand before God. I believe I am ready for that time. But I want to move from believing to absolutely knowing I am ready, and I need your help.

I believe we can help one another get ready for this time by praying for one another, sharing resources, and encouraging one another on this path to meeting God. I believe there are a lot of resources available that people like you and me are just not aware of that will help us in these three areas. I plan to use this website as a place to share resources and best practices to help us on this journey as there are so much to these three areas of our lives.

We never know when we are going to die. Even though I am still relatively young, it could happen at any time. So I want to be ready to meet God, and I want you to be ready as well. I want to clear the distractions in my life, simplify, and focus on what God wants.

I know God knows infinitely more than I do. I need to constantly ask Him what He thinks I should do in all areas of my life, especially in these important ones: calendar, cash, and calling.

I look forward to learning from you and sharing what I know so we can be ready for this last and most important final exam.

Jerry Leachman, former chaplain for the Washington Redskins, offered this great test in a talk he gave in 2009 entitled Nehemiah 2 in order to help with getting rid of activities that are not in line with what God wants. Ask yourself:

  • What is my mission in life? What am I trying to accomplish while I am on this earth?
  • What are my priorities? How much am I willing to pay for them or suffer for them?
  • What is my schedule? Who or what is getting my time?

The answers to all must line up in order to pass.  For instance, if my mission in life is to be around and pour into my family and I am working sixty-five hours per week and have nothing left for my family, then my mission and priorities and schedule are not lining up. If one element does not line up, you have to start over until it does.

When I first did this exercise, nothing lined up. Even now, introducing this to you, I have to make some tweaks.

I have come to realize that God’s way is far superior than what I want for myself.  Especially in the three areas—calendar, cash, and calling—He knows best. I have arranged my life now to spend a great deal of time with Him, releasing what does not line up with my mission in life.  It has taken me a great deal of time to realize how important God is and I am still learning this one concept.  Spending more time with God has helped me realize how truly special and important He is to me.