Apr 26, 2012

MOVING ON: A story of adoption, impact & unexpected capacity



Moving On from Light Gives Heat on Vimeo.

Our friends at Light Gives Heat recently won an award for Best International Documentary at the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival.  

The documentary shares the story of their adventures in adoption and a beautiful opportunity that emerged, connecting a little piece of Western Colorado and Northern Uganda.  They are making a difference in the lives of over 100 women and their families in Uganda by creating opportunity.  The impact they are making has been a win for Uganda and a win for folks in the states.

Our family has greatly enjoyed the opportunity to walk with them through portions of their journey.  For a short time their documentary is posted on their website:
  

Don’t miss the chance to check out this award-winning documentary while it’s available on their site.  If you happen to find yourself gripped like the folks at the Dubuque International Film Festival, you can check out the products that are creating opportunity including Suubi & Epoh.

Have fun!

Apr 25, 2012

Your Money Can Buy Happiness: Michael Norton Told Me So







This TED video was posted recently and it was very timely after returning from our Journey of Generosity.

Michael talks about his social experiment in generosity in the video. I am curious, what would you do if you had an extra 20 bucks today that you had to give away? What if you had to give an account for that money at the end of the day? Where could you make the most difference with a 20 dollar bill?

Ok, let's say you have an extra $20 every day, that's about $600 per month. Could you make a difference with that? What would you do if you had to give away 600 bucks a month? Are there any acts of generosity that would last longer than a day? Could you change the world, or at least your little corner of it with that?

We are rich in a ton of ways as Americans. Let's give it a shot. Let's be generous on every occasion for 30 days. Through this personal generosity experiment, let's watch as we see others happy and thankful.

I'd love to see some comments on this. Has anyone done anything like this? Have you seen your generosity changing lives? Be generous a bit here and share your stories; share thankfulness for the generosity of others in your life. 

A Life Changing Inheritance




This morning on the radio, a pastor by the name of Dr. Howard Hendricks talked about how he gave a man a copy of the New Testament (here is a link to that sermon).  The next day the man showed up and asked where the rest of the book was, he was thirsty for more.  The pastor gave him a copy of the whole Bible and three weeks later the man came back, having read the whole thing.  He asked about a comment that Jesus made, “A man’s life does not consist of the abundance of things he possesses.” Over the proceeding two years the man gave away $1.5 and is trying to free up more.

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

                        2 Timothy 3:14-17

A friend, after reading my last post about Wycliffe BibleTranslators coming to our town to share, sent me this video. It is amazing to watch as these folks in Indonesia receive their first copy of the New Testament in their native tongue. It is crazy to watch how thankful they are for The Word. As an American, inundated in our culture of stuff, I find it hard to be as thankful for anything as they are for the book that I have known since childhood.

Dr. Hendricks, in his sermon goes on to say that we have many elders in our churches who have never read this book cover to cover. It is easy in our culture to neglect the power of God’s Word; I know I do. At the end of the video we see a woman speaking about the Bible that they are receiving. She says the following:

“You look at these older ladies. They will receive the Word of God. They will pass it on to their children, their grandchildren. I will pass it on to my children. And it will keep them in the path of righteousness. And once we’re gone, our children will pass it on to their children.”

We are good at passing on inheritances to our children in America. Industries have formed around passing on our wealth. But are these assets our most precious resource? Are they our children’s most precious inheritance? How can I better steward The Word of God, with all of it’s power that Paul talks about? How can I pass that on more effectively to my children, their children and to the world?

May we be as thankful for His word as those who hear it for the first time. May we desire to pass it on to our children and to those around us.  

On that note, come to coffee with me this Friday and hear about Wycliffe Bible Translators who are presenting The Word to folks around the world in their native tongue. Find more details in my last post here.

Who: Wycliffe Bible Translators – Taking the Bible to all nations.
Where: Great Harvest Bread Co. – Main Street Montrose, CO
When: Friday, April 27th – 8:00am
Why: We were called to do it & they have good coffee.

Apr 24, 2012

The Bible in Every Language & Free Coffee in Montrose, Colorado


I am pretty excited to see a new friend from Wycliffe BibleTranslators. I mentioned Wycliffe recently in this post. They are doing some great work and using technology to take the Bible to every language on earth. They estimate that there are roughly 2,000 languages that still need a bible translation program. Wycliffe has adopted Vision 2025—an initiative to see a Bible translation program in progress in every language still needing one by 2025.

Nick Wolverton will be in Montrose this Friday to talk a bit about the process of translation. He was the former assistant to the president of Wycliffe and now gets to enjoy telling folks about how cool their work is. He will address how technology has exponentially changed that process. Nick will also discuss the reasoning for this ministry and the implications from scripture.

If you are around, you should join us. I’ll buy you a cup of house coffee for showing up.  

Who: Wycliffe Bible Translators – Taking the Bible to all nations.
Where: Great Harvest Bread Co. – Main Street Montrose, CO
When: Friday, April 27th – 8:00am
Why: We were called to do it & they have good coffee.

Apr 19, 2012

A View from the Empty Nest: A recipe for raising Godly leaders.

I was blessed to get a chance to speak with our local MOPS group about raising Godly young men.  In preparing for every speaking engagement I write an article to help clarify my thoughts.  I also like using the material a few times. Enjoy!

Today was a glorious day.  My son is in the 2nd grade and he was the “Buckaroo of the Week.”  My wife and I were invited into his classroom to talk to his peers about what our boy is good at.  As we walked into the classroom, our little son caught a glimpse of us and his eyes lit up.  He is one of the last Buckaroos this year, so he has seen all of his friends receive praise; it was finally his turn!!!

Seated in the front of the room on a little stool, Noah bounced his knees a bit nervously as his mom and I told stories that pointed to his strengths.  We told the class how much we loved him and how proud of him we were.  When we were done, Noah’s teacher asked him to call on his classmates as they raised their hands high to share something that they thought our buddy was good at.

Noah was glowing. He felt loved and appreciated, strong and special--and he is.

And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.”
-Mark 1:11

God spoke into His son in the same way.  This verse comes just after Jesus is baptized and just before he goes into the wilderness for 40 days and is tempted.

It is amazing to see the power of a parent’s praise in our son’s little life and to be able to relate it back to the life of Christ.  If this was important enough for God to say to His boy, it should certainly make my list.

I am no authority on the psychology of children and I have no degree in child development.  I do have three boys.  Three lovely, fun, capable, silly, playful little wild-things; and I have an obligation to raise them in a way that prepares them for life and for eternity.

I also have a unique perspective from my seat in life which I will share with you.  I’ll also spell out the plan that my wife and I have prepared to raise our boys in hopes that hearing it blesses you and your family.

A View from the Empty Nest.  I get to interact with clients each day, most of whom are in their 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond.  We talk quite a bit about what life looks like.  We talk about the things they care about, things they enjoy.  We talk about their kids.  You get right to the heart when you have a conversation about the kids.  I love when I see a couple come to life as they talk about their children and what they are doing.  They are proud of their children and look forward to seeing their grandchildren grow.

Others act quite a bit differently.  The conversation about the kids is more difficult, often one spouse will hang their head while the other tells about the difficulties they are seeing in their children’s lives.  They share regrets.  They wish they could see more of their kids and they long for healing.

As Moses shares the Ten Commandments, we hear the following message:

I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
-Deuteronomy 5:9-10

It is clear to see the effects of a parent’s choices on their children.  If they were loved and nurtured, taught to love the Lord and saw their parents walk with Him, often we see proud parents.  When life was too focused on work or wealth or anything else, we see these relationships suffer.

Setting the Bar High.  I would suggest that the world’s perspective of a “real man” isn’t quite what we are reaching for.  The vision that we receive from media won’t cut it.  We could aspire to raise Godly men.  That’s a bit closer, but still not quite there.  My wife and I want to be strategic.  We want our boys to leave home with an understanding of what God calls a man to be.  We want them to know that they are capable of leading their families and their communities, not of their own strength, but because of their special calling.

We don’t just want to raise men; we want to raise Godly leaders.  This is the aspiration that my parents had in raising me.  When my boys are grown and I am asked about them, I will not hang my head. I want to point to Christ and praise Him for His good work.

A Recipe for Raising Godly Leaders.  Great cooking doesn’t happen by accident (at least not in my house) and great destinations aren’t reached without a travel plan.  Here are the ingredients my wife and I have found as a recipe for Godly leadership in our boys.  Most of these ideas are borrowed and I’ll make sure to reference the literature so you can go to the source.

1. Commitment to a Cause.  We realize this isn’t going to be an easy task.  The old “Do as I say, not as I do” mentality just wont cut it.  We will have to muster up everything we have and to sacrifice a bit to pour into our kids in the way we want to.  The good news?  Our boys are worth it.  Our grandchildren are worth it.  The work that we muster up today will leave my wife and I more fulfilled, it will create Godly leaders, and it has the power to change generations.

2. Unstoppable Power.  We are not on our own.  The Bible says in John 10:10, “Christ came that we would have life, and that we would have it more abundantly.”  We anticipate struggles, challenges and difficulties.  In the desperate and difficult times in my past, I can say with assurance that Christ carried me through.  Thank goodness that He is alive and that He lives in us.  He has everything it takes to raise Godly Leaders and we need to invite Him in.

3. A Super-Human Thirst for Knowledge.  My wife and I have been introduced to some amazing resources.  These books are great and have helped us to mature in our roles as father and mother (though we have an awfully long way to go).  We also know to go to The Source of all wisdom.  The books and resources can only take us so far.  We have to pray for wisdom constantly.

4. Call For Back-Up…Early!  I take great joy and comfort in knowing that there are other dads in our community that desire to raise Godly children.  I join with them as often as I can and we learn from each other and build each other up.  We share silly stories, and pray for our kids.  We play together and our kids hear the same message from other parents, which reinforces the weight of it all.

5. Make It Last.  My wife and I took pictures of our time with our oldest son in his classroom today. We have a list of all of the things that we told him and all of the strengths that his classmates shared.  We are going to print a picture of that moment and frame it with a list of his strengths to hang in his room.  In his book, Raising a Modern Day Knight, Robert Lewis suggests that we should use moments like these to drive the message home for our children.  These “ceremonies,” as he calls them, are opportunities to take all that you have provided and to create unforgettable memories that will reinforce the Godly leadership that has been instilled, forever.

6. Enjoy Our Efforts and Start Again.  Have you ever been micromanaged?  You have worked hard to get to a certain place, to attain the necessary skills, only then to be stifled by someone looking over your shoulder?  Once you have done the hard work with your sons, don’t over-manage.  Create Godly leaders and then LET THEM LEAD!  Set them free to do the work.  Keep the doors open so that they have a safe place to seek feedback if needed, but don’t stifle them.

I have a hard time keeping books around.  When I read a good one, I have to give it away.  I have enjoyed sending books on this subject to my parents, inviting them to join us in raising Godly leaders.  Lord-willing, our boys will invite my wife and I to help point their children to The Truth.

I enjoyed our time today with our oldest, sharing with him words of affirmation.  I look forward to the days ahead and hope to continue to bless him in this way.  I look forward to the day when our Heavenly Father welcomes us back home, and I hope to hear,

“You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.”
                        Mark 1:11

Apr 16, 2012

All Things Great and Small


This is a pretty amazing website.  By toggling to the right or left, you can see the scale of the universe starting with tiny atoms, particles and the smallest units of measurement known to man.  As you slide to the right you can see the smallest things visible to the human eye, then the objects we see everyday.  Eventually we see the scale of our country and our planet relative to the universe. Wow!!!

This really puts life into perspective.  It gives an idea of just where our place is in the scale of God’s Creation. We are called to steward these things well.  I love the following poem:

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colours,
He made their tiny wings.

The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
God made them, high or lowly,
And ordered their estate.

The purple-headed mountain,
The river running by,
The sunset, and the morning,
That brightens up the sky;

The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,
He made them every one.

The tall trees in the greenwood,
The meadows where we play,
The rushes by the water,
We gather every day;

He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell,
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well.

Cecil Frances Alexander

What a great gift God has entrusted us with--the height and depth and breadth of His Creation.  He did all the hard work, creating and sustaining it all for our enjoyment.  What a perfect picture for us to use as we share His great name.

Apr 13, 2012

Caine's Arcade: A success story - entrepreneurship, community & your kids.



Great article from Forbes this week. The video is excellent. Forbes gives 9 reasons why Caine will be financially successful in this article. I was excited to see a 9 year old doing what he could, with what he had, where he was. After watching this video, I can't help but share a few entrepreneurial success stories with you.

Last year a teenager in our community was having a hard time finding a job. After trying diligently, she decided to buy an old step van off of Craigslist and turn it into an ice-cream truck. The venture helped her to pay for college. What a learning experience.

I am also reminded of one of my good friends in college. When he was young he figured out that he could buy used Legos by the pound in bulk by listing ads in the paper. Folks whose kids had outgrown their Legos would sell buckets of parts to my friend and he would sell individual pieces at a mark-up online. My friend understands that money is a tool and he understands how it works. He looks for margin and he makes money. He's still at the Lego business, here is his website. He now views his business as a ministry to kids and uses his capacity to make a positive difference in the lives of others.

So what about your kids? They have potential. They have passion. What do they love? Could you empower them to make a bit of money? Could you engage them in work worth doing? They will build confidence, they will learn discipline, and with their earnings you can teach them to save some, give some away, and spend some.

Apr 12, 2012

The David Platt Marathon on The Gospel, Possessions & Prosperity - You'll need lots of popcorn for this!

David Platt is the author of book called Radical. It was good to hear him at a recent conference and a friend was kind enough to pass along a video series on The Gospel, Possessions & Prosperity. The video series is based on a day long message on the subject and it consists of four different videos. This is an excellent message. Each video is roughly an hour long. I split it up over a couple of weeks but if you plug right through it will take you 4 hours and 46 minutes. My math says you'll need about 6 bags of microwave popcorn. Click here for the video series.

Apr 11, 2012

Your Capacity To Make a Difference...From the Eyes of a Porcupine



What capacity do you have?  Capacity is much more than just your money.


Your Stuff
Your Education
Your Experiences--Good and Bad
Your Relationships and Community
Your Outlook
Your Attitude
Your Beliefs
Your Values
Your Passion
Your Family Name

Putting your capacity to work in the best way could change the world!

Money and Marriage: A bit of fun and a smart friend.



This is a scene from the movie Fun with Dick and Jane. The couple is out of work and have reached new financial lows. The movie starts with one poor decision after another and we watch as their lives crumble around them, partially due to their complete lack of communication about money. In some cases you don't know whether to cringe or to laugh at their self-inflicted misfortune. They are selling their household items, finding any income they can, including being human test subjects for pharmaceuticals. The landscaping company even repossesses their yard. For Dick (played by Jim Carey) this is the last straw.

We see Dick in this scene reclaiming his yard. From this moment, the couple begins to work together on their finances, although their path is a bit misguided. 

I can’t tell you how often we see miscommunication in marriage causing struggles. Often this miscommunication shows its face in family finances. This is such an issue that professionals specialize in this issue specifically. 

Enter my friend Nia Davenport! She is a CPA and she focuses on communication as she walks along side couples in their journey to financial-togetherness. She knows the truth about life and money and is certainly qualified to walk the path with families. She is also an author. Check out her blog: Freedom from Financial Friction. You will appreciate her insight and inspiration to make money and marriage a winning mix. If you are married, you should read her stuff. You can subscribe right on her blog.

Apr 6, 2012

Questions That Lead To Security: Your net worth will never be enough, but His already is.

“Wealthy is the person who ______________?” Lately I have been listening for good questions. Hearing this question in a recent conversation, I thought it would be worth asking.  The conversations that have started with this question have been very interesting.
The first person who responded didn’t even have to think about it.  “Six million dollars. That’s my number. I would be wealthy if I had six million dollars.”

I have asked this question a number of times since and have received a variety of answers.  “Wealthy is the person who has financial security,” another family responded.  My initial response to the question was, “Wealthy is the person who knows the difference between wants and needs.”

I was enlightened when I heard someone respond, “Wealthy is the person who realizes they are a steward.”  Good answer!  That was the answer my brain should have gone to, but it didn’t.  It is easy for us to put our hope in our wealth, to seek financial security, to save and hoard in order to ensure that our pile of money and stuff will be big enough to sustain us forever.  That is the “American Dream” isn’t it?

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”
       
1 Timothy 6: 17-19

Jesus had more to say about money than any other subject.  He was speaking right to me because he knew it was such a stumbling block. 

Seeking Security - We see examples in scripture of folks building their wealth and seeking security in it.  I see folks on a regular basis seeking to find safety and satisfaction in their finances.  It doesn’t matter if a person has ten bucks to their name, or if they are working toward that six million dollar figure, they never find security.  The pile of money and stuff needs to be just a bit bigger in order for them to feel comfortable, and it is never big enough.  We all long for a sense of security but often we are searching down the wrong path.

Finding Security – Paul tells young Timothy to command those with wealth, not to put their hope in it, for it is so uncertain.  Amen.  There are a multitude of financial regulatory agencies that have caught on to this.  When securities are formed, these agencies require that a prospectus be put together stating risk and making it clear that they cannot guarantee returns.  Reading a prospectus is worse than having a root canal.  They list, in detail, all the potential hiccups the investment could have, all of the risks that it entails. 

These regulatory agencies got it right; there is no security in wealth or in investments. This isn’t to say that these assets are bad; they are certainly a tool.  These financial institutions missed the best part, the part about where true security really is. 

“Command them to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.”  God provides for us, everything belongs to Him and He delights in taking care of us.

“Command them to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.”  Studies show that when we are generous and think beyond ourselves, a hormone called Oxytocin is released.  You may have heard Oxytocin referred to as the “Love Hormone,” but it is also referred to as the “Generosity Hormone.”  We could blame the feeling on the hormone, but I would suggest that folks are feeling good when they give because they are getting closer to the heart of God.  

You never hear someone say, “I made the payment on my boat this month and it felt so good!”  When you ask folks which expenses they feel best about, you’ll hear about people and about helping others.  “We helped pay for our grandson’s college,” or “We gave to a mission we love in Timbuktu.”

Attaining Security – After suggesting that everything we have belongs to God, and commanding generosity, Paul points ahead to a greater reward.  He talks about laying up treasure, about a firm foundation for the coming age, and my favorite part, “life that is truly life.”

The rewards Paul talks about are in direct relationship to his commands.  We must first put our trust in God, not in our stuff.  We must be generous and willing to share.  Because of these things, we will find life to the full. 

“Wealthy is the person who is a steward.”  I loved that response.  I have had a number of responses along the same lines: “Wealthy is the person who is fully reliant on God,” and “Wealthy is the person who knows the Lord.” 

I can tell you that there is a stark contrast between the lives of the folks who said, “$6 million,” and the folks who realized they were only taking care of God’s resources.  The folks relying on their finances come in worried about the markets, stressed about life, concerned they will run out of time and money.  The folks who are striving to put their trust in God still struggle, but they see life in perspective.  They are able to put into context the value of being rich in this present world, and they can see ahead to the coming age.  Plus, they are all hopped up on Oxytocin from being generous, which certainly doesn’t hurt. 

Embracing Security – We are still called to be stewards and to act responsibly with God’s money.  Once folks realize their true relationship to money, they generally have two responses: 

Freedom!!!  Now that God is in charge, attitudes change.  Folks see His abundance.  Those working in ministry are no longer afraid to ask for donations, they realize they are asking others to make an investment that will last.  Folks who were grasping their dollars and cents for dear life, clinging to false security, slowly release their death grip and are free to embrace relationships.  Embrace the freedom that you have, for He has provided everything for your enjoyment. 

Responsibility.  Now that everything is His, not ours, we are expected to steward resources well.  How am I using my pile of stuff to serve The Kingdom?  Can I use these resources to glorify God and serve his people?  Do I really need to buy a bigger house or a newer car or build a bigger barn when God’s people are starving?  Am I using my time well?  Am I available to serve God, or is my time consumed with me.  How can I take small steps this week to point my time, my stuff and my money toward the Lord?

Your stuff isn’t bad.  Your home and your car, your investment accounts and your business, these things aren’t bad.  They are the resources you have been entrusted with.  How will you use them today? 

Wealthy is the person who________________?

Apr 5, 2012

My Favorite RSS Feed: Michael Hyatt & Intentional Leadership

I LOVE MY RSS READER!!!  I really enjoy using Google Reader. It keeps me up to date and brings me information that is relevant so I don't have to go fetch it myself.  I throw away less paper, I stay more informed and I save money on subscriptions.

Be careful!!!  Once you notice the RSS button on pages you visit, it's easy to go a little crazy.  Thank goodness it is easy to unsubscribe.

As my reader matured, a few news sources and blogs rose to the top.  One of my recent favorites is Michael Hyatt's Intentional Leadership.  He posts frequently and shares encouraging and insightful messages on leadership.  In the past few months I have forwarded posts from this site to friends on a regular basis. Anything worth reading is worth sharing, eh?

One of my favorite recent posts is here: The Relationship Between Vision and Productivity.

Add this blog to your RSS and enjoy.  If you haven't got an RSS then you are in for a two-fer, now you can start your RSS and add his blog.  Better yet, a three-fer and you can add The Stewardship Sentinel as well.

Have fun!!!

"For God so loved... He gave." Journey of Generosity


While at a conference, I heard about an organization called Generous Giving whose vision is "Transforming the hearts and minds of God's people for revolutionary generosity that changes our world."

In the brief moment they had to speak, they shared details on an event that can happen in your local community with the purpose of digging into the Bible and looking at what it says about generosity.  The event isn't a pitch; it's all about the participants and their own Journey of Generosity.

It sounded like an amazing retreat and something we wanted to participate in.  There weren't any local events slated so we decided to host one here on the Western Slope at Gateway Canyons Resort. My wife and I are excited about time with each other and with friends.


As we invited folks to the event, I was surprised at the responses.  A few had heard of the event and were excited to participate.  Others poured out their hearts about their own journey of generosity, or the impact someone else's generosity had made on their lives.

Have you been through a Journey of Generosity. I'd love to hear your story.

"For God so loved... He gave." John 3:16

Apr 2, 2012

Rory Vaden on Commitment

 

Rory Vaden is the author of the book, "Take the Stairs." Here is his website: http://roryvaden.com/. I love his lectures on Self Discipline and his examples are perfect. Also, he's a Colorado boy; you have to give him some credit for that. Enjoy.
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