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Words matter.

After my Mom passed away I found a short letter she had written to me. Although I don’t know exactly when she wrote it or why she didn’t give it to me, nonetheless, it touches my heart every time I read it. In it, she expressed how proud she was of me as a son, as a husband to Nicole, and as a person. She used the words, “What more can a mother ask for?” And she reminded me to always put God first. I believe the Lord made sure I found the note.

Words matter.

I need a constant reminder of this.

I need to practice this all of the time.

Recently I deeply hurt a friend with my words and I didn’t even know I was doing it. We had grown so close that I would make fun of this person in jest, not even thinking about the words I was saying and how they might be received. Levi Lusko, Pastor of Fresh Life Church says the following about words: “Words are powerful things. They can build up and tear down. They can unlock potential and they can crush spirits.” Proverbs says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits” (18:21). I have apologized and I am trying to learn from my mistakes. I have so much to learn.

In Paul’s letter to the church at Thessalonica he wrote: “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

Mom was a great encourager to me. I try to be an encourager to others but fall short when I let my pride—wanting to be funny and make people laugh—overshadow my desire to encourage. This too I have to change.

Part of my Mom’s legacy is encouragement. On this, the third anniversary of her going to Heaven and spending eternity with Jesus, I want to try and encourage you with my words. Although I miss her greatly, her legacy lives on with this blog which I started one year ago today. I’m celebrating this first anniversary! All of you have been an encouragement to me, and this blog has helped me immensely, letting me synthesize my thoughts and culling them into one central place. It has worked as a healing place for me to give and receive encouragement as we all drive towards living the life God created us to live in Christ.

I am still convinced the best is yet to come and although life is full of challenges, I know Jesus is my greatest encourager and corrector, my ultimate source of joy, love and wisdom. I know that whatever pain or suffering we are currently going through, He loves us perfectly (John 15:9), and we are His treasure (1 Peter 2:9-10). ALL will be worth it, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).

My prayer for us is that we can encourage one another, learning together to live the life God created us to live in Christ.

How are you doing with giving and receiving encouragement?

bottle

Bottled Up

Isolation is one of the top tools the enemy uses to ruin our lives.  As we know, the enemy comes to “steal, kill and destroy.”  The Bible contains numerous examples, such as:

  • Eve – she was probably alone or at least away from Adam when the serpent tempted her.
  • David – in his solitude he saw Bathsheba and was overcome with desire.
  • John the Baptist – he was alone in prison and started questioning if Jesus was the promised messiah.

Each one of these biblical characters is unique yet they have some things in common which helped them overcome the sin. Each one had friends or loved ones in their lives; and after they’d succumbed to temptation, they didn’t keep it to themselves; they talked about it with those closest to them.

My life significantly improved, and became more in line with what I believe God intended, when I started having real, authentic conversations with my close friends.  This was—and still is—very hard.  Having conversations about my sin, my painful struggles, and my temptations was almost impossible at first.  But I took one step, not knowing the outcome, and God has been incredibly faithful.

We are so much better off if we refuse to allow ourselves to remain bottled up.  When we take the risk of opening up to trusted friends and mentors, regardless of what they might think or do with the information, we have the tools to battle temptation and the opportunity to grow in our faith.

intrainig

Training

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it”  (Proverbs 22:6)

I got more serious about my faith after I met a girl named Nicole. Not because she was Christian, but because I knew, deep down, that my faith was not where it needed to be. For us to have a great life together Christ was going to have to be at the center of it.

While my faith was stronger, I was still deceived ten years later after my son Luke was born.  I was  working long hours and gaining new business, but this short term success was causing fights between my wife and me. My most important relationships grew weaker—with God, with Nicole and with Luke.

I was doing my part and more, not trusting God to do His part, and going against His word. (Matthew 6:25-34)

I was worried about providing for Nicole and Luke.  It was 2010/2011 and I was running a small, young financial planning company.  I would leave at 5am to workout with the boys at the country club who did not know Jesus but who I thought might be good potential clients or connectors. I’d return home around 6-7pm, never thinking that my primary focus should be to seek first the Kingdom of God, to have Him transform my life. I certainly wasn’t thinking about being around to live it out in front of Nicole and Luke so I could be a Godly example for my family.

I was headed for disaster and did not even know it.

I continued to buy the lie that my life was awesome, that I was working towards the abundant life. I was confusing mediocrity for awesomeness. The enemy is the greatest of confusers.

I began to read the Bible and pray more, to fast, to talk to mentors who truly loved me and wanted nothing from me—only something for me—and then I began to see time and life differently.

I looked down into my son’s dark chocolate eyes and I saw someone who really needed my help.  He would look up to me, arms outstretched, and in my soul I heard him say, “Daddy, help me, I need you. You are the one God created to teach me what I need to know.  Don’t blow it. You have one chance to pour into me, because I am empty now.  Soon I will be full, and it will be too late for you to do your job of training me properly. Don’t buy into the lies that so many other Dads have bought into. Trust that God will take care of you, me, and mom—you just need to do your part, not His.  Know that the only inheritance I need and want is right here and right now with you, and the money will hurt me if I don’t have wisdom. Don’t focus on the Joneses—focus on the Savior who was brutally murdered so you and I could live.”

God has to properly train me before I can properly train Luke. This training takes time and it takes saying no to some very good things, but as we know from Jim Collins, “good is the enemy of great.”

It is going to take God transforming my life into that which I want Luke’s to become. How can I do this if I am climbing the corporate ladder and too busy chasing the things of this world? My legacy sleeps in the same house I do, and what I pour into him he will pour into his kids, and so on.

How can we encourage one another to be trained by God until the day we die?

fff

Financial Friend

I find money and possessions fascinating and frustrating, usually not at the same time. The more we have, the better we are supposed to feel—more secure—but that’s usually not the case.

We most likely have our team of advisors: CPA; attorney; insurance person; financial advisor; maybe even a bookkeeper and other professionals who advise us. But have you ever considered having a financial friend?

As you already know, money is still a taboo topic to discuss personally in social circles, with family, and with friends.

But what if we had a friend with whom we could share our entire financial life? We could discuss our financial mistakes, our fears, our struggles, our dreams and the concerns we are currently having.

Would our financial lives—and life for that matter—become better or worse?

I’ve had a financial friend for a couple of years now, and it’s been great. We’re able to encourage one another; learn from one another; pray for one another and best of all, bring this dark topic out into the light. We ask the hard questions to challenge one another to see money in a different light. My financial life has improved and my perspective has changed because of our “financial friendship.” We study and continue learning what the Bible says about money and possessions, and talk about how this impacts our lives and eternity. This isn’t a mentor/mentee relationship but one of walking  together with  one another in an area of life that is often avoided in community.

What do you think about this idea of having a financial friend?

“But if it’s only money these leaders are after, they’ll self-destruct in no time. Lust for money brings trouble and nothing but trouble. Going down that path, some lose their footing in the faith completely and live to regret it bitterly ever after” (1 Timothy 6:9-10) The Message.

Friday Inspiration

People connect with our messes not our successes.

Diane Flynn, 2017 Silicon Valley Prayer Breakfast