Jun 29, 2012

Why is this boring word taking the place of so much life?

I am asking lousy questions!!!  We have a form that we constantly try to improve upon.  Folks who are becoming clients fill out a slew of questions.  This question hasn't been cutting it lately.  On nine out of ten forms we get this response:


Folks share their current occupation, and they share a number of years until they reach this date. We have all heard the S.M.A.R.T. acronym for goals. Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. One of my major roles in life is helping people to attain this long term goal of retirement. I suppose that having a date picked out for this goal, and making sure that we have a realistic plan for achieving this goal makes it S.M.A.R.T. but to me the word retirement is lacking something. The outcome of this question and the goal of our industry still feels D.U.M.B. Disastrously Unexciting and Mind-numbingly Boring.
Each of us have different passions and a different purpose. Is it possible not to bide time until retirement, but to live a full, exciting and purposeful life before that? My lousy question is limiting my insight into the truth. Clients could fill this space with so much hope and excitement. These lines could hold so much meaning and purpose. Why is this boring word taking the place of so much life? What question would be more appropriate?

I need to ask better questions.

What questions could I ask that would bring out purpose and passion in the lives of clients?

Jun 28, 2012

A Not-So-Easy Generosity Challenge from My Five Year Old


Bob Coy - I've Got Plans from Generous Giving on Vimeo.

Springtime in Colorado brings us cold temperatures at night and blazing hot temperatures during the day.  I noticed the other day that my thermostat was a bit out of sync from the drastic temperature changes.  I found my cooler and my heater battling for control.  It reminded me of this great video from Bob Coy who spoke at a conference on generosity in 2010.

If you find his talks as entertaining as I do, you may want to follow Bob Coy on his Blog.

In the video Bob gets real about his continued struggles between luxury and loving others.  He shares the story of his “Great Room.”

I have stuff that I hold sacred.  I cringe at the thought of getting rid of these possessions and I come up with a slew of excuses and reasons why I could never let these things go.  Yesterday’s post, Wednesday in the Word, pointed us to the words of Christ, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal…store up treasures in heaven.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

My kids and I read this verse yesterday and my 5 year old said he wanted to take the money in his piggy bank and send it to help the people who lost their homes in the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado and other wildfires threatening our state.  He said, “Dad, I don’t need any money.  You and mom buy all my stuff anyways.”  

Why does my five year old get it and I don’t?

Well, based on this I think I am going to try to sell one of my treasured possessions here on earth and follow in the footsteps of my five year old to pitch in (I’m still cringing though).

I was invited into this challenge by a local friend.  He sold his favorite fly-fishing rod and sent the money on to benefit Bible translation at Wycliffe.  This post may not strike you right where you are today and that’s ok.  If Bob Coy’s message, and the message from Christ 2000 years ago, is striking a chord, I’d invite you to join me in this generosity challenge.  For Bob Coy, the challenge was to skip out on his Great Room.  For my five year old, the piggy bank.  For my friend, the fly-rod.  What is it for you?

So Here is the Challenge:

Pick a treasured possession, sell it and give the proceeds to a worthy cause.

-or-

Give a treasured possession to a friend as you Downsize your Stuff and Upsize Your Relationships.

I’ll report back to you and let you know if I held up my end of the bargain.  Even if we fail the challenge, or it doesn’t seem applicable today, we are entering into a thought process that points away from earthly treasure and toward treasures in Heaven.

Comments?

Jun 27, 2012

Wednesday in the Word: Treasure on Earth & Treasure in Heaven


19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

24 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

Matthew 6:19-24 (NIV 1984)


What treasures are you storing up on earth?

How can you reduce your ties today to earthly treasure by blessing someone else?

Has the destruction of earthly treasures given you perspective on eternity? (Read my thoughts here)

Can your family serve both God and Money? Can America?

Three Sources of Constancy & Encouragement in the Midst of Colorado’s Wildfires

The fires in Colorado are devastating.  I spoke with a friend yesterday who lost a cabin that had been in his family for years.  While he moved around growing up, this cabin was his only constant place on Earth.  Every summer he would join his grandparents and cousins there and they would enjoy living life together.

My dad was born and raised in Colorado Springs and we enjoy going back to visit family.  We spent this past Saturday at a family reunion there, driving into town on a peaceful warm summer day.  As the afternoon rolled on, the sky was darkened by smoke and an eerie red light poured through as ashes started to fall from the sky.  Now back home in Western Colorado, I watch the news and follow the Waldo Canyon Fire and other Colorado fires on Twitter as they affect the lives of our friends and family across the state.

I can’t imagine losing a home.  My friend shared his deep grief with me over losing the family cabin, the one constant place in his life.  He said that the grief he felt was like that of losing a family member.  It was hard to cope with losing the thing that had been most constant in his life.  He is headed out this week to sift through the rubble and ashes to see what is left.

My heart goes out to the folks mourning lost homes and lost lives through the fires in Colorado and across the country.  In the midst of this tragedy and others like it, we look ahead to what will remain.  I want to be very sensitive here; I realize for many, the wounds from these fires and from life are very fresh.  I hope the following words might provide encouragement and strength to move forward.  I will share what I am learning and invite you along on a journey to seek constancy in this life.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Matthew 6:19-21

As we consider these events, I’d like to humbly share three sources of constant encouragement that will turn our eyes from the treasures and precious things here on Earth toward something that lasts.  In our community and in the end, three things remain: faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.

Faith and a calling.  For me, this serves as another painful reminder.  I liken the situation to a mother and child, with the snip of the umbilical cord the two are separated.  As my children grow each day they become more independent.  Each day on earth, I am being called away from the things of this life and toward Eternity.  The grief, the pain and the losses in life are reminders that this place is not our home.  The devastation can either cause frustration and anger, or like the snip of an umbilical cord bringing a new life to the world, it can call us to look ahead toward Eternity.  We are called to store up treasures in Heaven as we use this painful reminder as a stronghold in our faith in the constancy of Christ.

Hope as it happens.  The passage in Matthew goes on to say, “Do not worry about life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear…for your father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  Again, this is easy for me to share from my office, miles away from any of the Colorado fires.  But the hope that we share in this situation with those around us will act as a salve as we look ahead to healing.  Through our hope, others will be invited into the same peace that comes from our hope.

Leading with love.  Armed with our faith and our hope, we can take love into our community.  As we jump in to help, we can open our homes, our hearts and our wallets to those who need it most.  We can join them as we sift through the wreckage of this life together and rebuild.  The feeds on Twitter pointed to this love.  Hotels that were completely booked as 32,000 people were evacuated last night opened the doors to their conference rooms and breakfast buffets for folks to sleep on the floor and have a meal.  Sporting goods stores pushed racks to the back and unrolled sleeping bags for displaced families.  The community is leading with love.

Through this disaster, it is beautiful to watch as folks share their faith as they are called to look ahead, sharing their hope as it happens, and sharing their love as they lead their community.  Years down the road, this faith, hope and love will act as a silver lining to the awful scars from the Waldo Canyon Fire as we point to the constancy of Christ.

Please consider sharing encouragement with the folks in Colorado Springs and across the state. 

Jun 25, 2012

Stop Neglecting Your Financial Think-Tank: Four Steps to Better Stewardship

My wife drives a minivan that we have named G.G. (that is short for Grocery Getter).  G.G. was making some funny noises the other day.  I am pretty handy so I tried to figure out the problem myself.  I pulled the wheels off and checked the brakes and the CV joints.  Nothing popped out at me and I just didn’t have any more time to waste looking at it.
I decided to drop it by the local dealer.  While waiting on the courtesy shuttle I watched as they pulled the van in, put it on the lift, and a few folks started working away.  They ran me back to my office and before I could sit down at my desk my phone rang.  The mechanic on the other end of the line rattled off a few things that were wrong.  He told me that all of the problems were under warranty. “It’ll be ready tomorrow morning and the entire cost is covered.”   

I didn’t even know I had a warranty!  I was pretty excited about the free fix and the fact that I didn’t have to do the work myself.  Even if I had found the problem, I would have paid for the part and spent most of a Saturday afternoon working on it.  This was great news.   

Just like G.G. the minivan, your finances are a mass of moving parts. Perhaps everything is running smoothly today.  Maybe there are a few problems you are aware of that you have been putting off.  No matter what state your finances are in, you can do better. 

Room for Improvement: The other day a couple called me and shared the exciting news that they wanted to make a big gift to support a mission that they care about overseas.  They told me that they wanted to pull a quarter of a million dollars out of their retirement assets to make a contribution to construct a building there.  

Two responses emerged at the same time.  One part of me thought how wonderful this was, how these clients were being generous and putting their resources to good use. They have the means to make this gift and it will make such a difference for families in this community that they care so much about. 

The other response was a red flag.  The tax implications of making this gift from a retirement account were going to be substantial. 

I asked them if I could get in touch with the other advisors they trust and see how we could make the gift most efficiently.  They were happy to wait a bit and with their permission I got to work making phone calls.  

In this sort of situation I always like to go to the client’s financial think tank.  I find the smartest people that the client talks to about money and I get them in the loop.  Like the team of experts plugging away on my van, we went to work.  As I reached out to the client’s attorney and accountant they had the same responses I did.  We worked together looking for other assets that the clients could give without such a big tax hit but we couldn’t come up with anything.  

We ran some numbers and talked about different options.  The clients were ready to start the work overseas and they weren’t worried about the tax consequences but as advisors, we wanted the clients to be able to give the gift with efficiency. If we could come up with a better solution, certainly they would be pleased.

After looking at all of the options and consulting with the clients we decided to give ½ of the contribution right away and the other half after the first of the year.  This little move saved the clients about $28,000 in taxes on their $250,000 gift.  This extra money could be used for ministry in the future. They were ecstatic.  

No matter where you are financially, there is always room for improvement. As you make minor changes and tweaks here and there, you will certainly inch closer to your goals and in some cases, you may save some real money.  Here are a few steps you can take today.  

Be a Weekend Warrior.  You may be pretty savvy when it comes to your finances, not afraid to dig in.  If you love this stuff don’t neglect it.  Be a weekend warrior.  Get passionate about it and look for opportunities to improve.  Pick up a book on finances, on stewardship or on generosity.  Read it and put what you learn to work.  Make changes, even if they are hard.  Cut up the credit card. Commit to giving 10%, even if it means cutting back.  Limit your lifestyle spending.  Do it with all your heart.  

Question Everything.  I am a financial planner but I don’t trust myself with my finances.  Even though I have the knowledge base, when it comes to my own money, I have a conflict of interest.  My wife and I invite other folks in to tell us where we could do better.  It is important to question everything you are doing.  Instead of going with your first instinct, always do your due diligence.  Ask yourself, “Is there a more efficient way to make this gift?”  Ask as you pay your monthly bills, “Do I really need this?  Which of these expenses do I feel good about and which should I cut?”  

Put Your Think Tank To Work.  You already have a group of advisors.  Just like the mechanics at the shop, they are waiting to do work.  Although your finances are not covered by a warranty, you are probably already paying for the services.  Your accountant, your attorney, the folks at your bank, the gal you buy insurance from.  These people are reading and studying and looking for the best ways to do their work for you. Find the folks you trust who are looking out for you, and put them to work. Call them and tell them that they are part of your financial think tank.  Tell them that you’d like them to talk to the other folks in this circle to make your finances sing. For those of you who are not do-it-yourselfers, not weekend warriors, put these bright folks to work.  

Celebrate the Success.  After the warranty work, my wife’s minivan is running just fine.  When folks are looking for a mechanic, I know where to send them.  We took the money and time we were going to spend on the car and got out of town for a fun weekend with the kids. 

We are too sensitive about our money in America.  If you stumble across great ideas or savings in your finances, share that victory with others. Tell others about your stewardship and encourage them along. If your trusted advisors were helpful and added value, don’t keep them a secret.  If you saved some cash, consider using it to celebrate.  Take the money you saved on that charitable donation and throw a party to celebrate and highlight the mission you care so much about.  

No matter where you are in life, there is room for improvement.  Don’t wait.  Embrace your role as the weekend financial warrior or empower your financial think tank.  You will excel as a steward as you question everything and celebrate victories with those around you.

Share your stewardship success stories in the comments.

Jun 20, 2012

Downsize Your Stuff & Upsize Your Relationships

Here in Western Colorado, we are campers. I have been looking for a little pop-up camper for a few years. While we were spending time with some friends at the Journey of Generosity we were sharing stories of our camping adventures. When we got home this family gave me a ring and said, “we have a little pop-up camper we want you to have.”  
They hadn’t used the thing in a few years and didn’t have the time to take care of it or enjoy it. They were also sick of paying the registration fees and insurance and needed the space in their yard.  

I was thrilled to have it! I went right to work cleaning it up and getting it into tip top shape to enjoy with my boys. I was happy to adopt the camper and the responsibility that came with it. When our friends need to use the camper I know they will call us up and take it out.  

This was such a blessing to my family and such a win-win. Our friends saved the maintenance hassle and the expense. They reclaimed their yard and still use it when needed and we wound up with a free camper. Woohoo!  

Now it’s time for you to downsize your stuff and upsize your relationships. 

Look for liabilities: Like the camper, are there any items that are costing you money? Perhaps you would be better off without these items, while somebody else would benefit greatly from having them. They may be a perfect fit for generosity to your friends or to a non-profit that you care about. Many non-profits can accept anything from real-estate to old junk cars. 

Outgrown and out the door: As the kids grow they leave the tricycles and training wheels for bicycles and a driver’s license. Our kids are outgrowing ski equipment before it is even broken in. Look around the garage and de-clutter while you look around the neighborhood and figure out who you can bless  

Sharing Life: Too often we spend time trying to keep up with the Jones’s. The truth is that we don’t need all of the toys. Consider sharing with your friends and inviting them into adventures with you. Some of my fondest memories growing up were with family friends. I have boxes of pictures with these folks, skiing in the mountains and swimming at Lake Powell. I wouldn’t have had these experiences without the generous invitations from these folks. Who can you invite into your life today. Who can you bless by sharing these experiences?  

Giving Little Gifts: Recently we wound up with gift cards that we couldn’t use. One was for a free train ride about 200 miles from our home and another was a gift card for ice-cream at a great little shop about an hour from our house. I knew that we wouldn’t be able to use these before they expired so I looked up addresses for friends and family in those areas and put the gift cards in the mail. Although they weren’t worth anything to me, they were of value to someone and it felt good to send them off. A few weeks later I enjoyed seeing pictures of my nieces enjoying their first train ride.  

The generosity you show today, whether big or small, will bless you and bless those around you. What can you give away right now? What larger items could you give away that might make a big difference? Share your generosity experience in the comments below. 

You can read more about giving stuff away and saving taxes in my article, The Cash Only Giver.

Wednesday in the Word: The Rich Fool

Each Wednesday we dig into the Bible and go to the source for our stewardship. Today we'll take a look at The Parable of the Rich Fool from Luke chapter 12:

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”

14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.

                                                            Luke 12: 13-22 (NIV)


You can read a few of my comments in an article titled From Barn Filling to Barn Raising: A biblical perspective on stewardship and giving. But I would like to hear from you.

How would you restate the parable of Jesus to others in your own words?
Where in life are you building barns & storing up things for yourself?
Are you also being "rich toward God?"
Is there any measurable action that you should take this week based on this parable?

Jun 19, 2012

The Cause and Effect of Generosity

I love this cause and effect picture: 
You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
                                                2 Corinthians 9:11

You will be enriched in every way...




So that you can be generous on every occasion...


                                                  Your generosity will result in thanksgiving!

The worlds economy says that we should hoard what we have,
put it in a can, lie, steal and cheat.
But when we realize the abundance of God's Economy
we will take all we have and lay it down at his feet.

To do: Take one item from the first list, match it with an action from the second list and watch for results. How can you be generous today?

Have you seen the contrast of the world's economy vs. God's Economy? 

Jun 18, 2012

Writing Is Hard!!! Some Stewardship Authors and a Challenge

In a recent post I shared that I am working on a book.  It will focus on stewardship and generosity and will share God’s message calling us out of the World’s Economy and into God’s Economy (those are my buddy, Abe’s, words. Thanks, Abe.).  I wrote a rough draft of the back cover and posted it here, but after writing for a few weeks I realize that it will need a major overhaul.  Through the process I have realized one thing: WRITING IS HARD!

That said, I’d like to point you to a few resources from writers that I have stumbled upon.  These are authors who have published numerous books on Biblical stewardship. 

Randy Alcorn has written around 30 books, many of which relate to stewardship.  You can find more detail at his official site, Eternal Perspective Ministries.  I just ordered another pile of copies of the book, ­The Treasure Principle, which I mentioned in this post.  This is a book that I love giving out and folks frequently tell me that it changed their lives.  It is a relatively short read and keeps you interested.  I am currently reading Alcorn’s book entitled, Money, Possessions and Eternity. 

Craig Blomberg is an author and is a professor at Denver Seminary.  He has over 20 titles and is working on an untitled book on stewardship now.  Neither Poverty Nor Riches: A Biblical Theology of Possessions is one of his titles devoted to stewardship.  I am also excited to read a book that he recently contributed to along with Ron Blue, Howard Dayton and many other authors.  The book is entitled Revolution in Generosity.  I ordered a copy of it today.  The website for this book gives a bit of detail and also has a list of resources, many of which are provided by Craig Blomberg.  Lastly, you can follow his blog through the Denver Seminary website here. 

It is amazing to see these folks who have written multiple books.  As I sit in the trenches on book number one, it feels impossible.  I have written about 16,000 words in the past few weeks thanks to some encouragement through a 15 day writer’s challenge by Jeff Goins.  My goal is to have 40,000 words on paper by July 29th, my birthday.  I’d love to have something published a year from then. 

A call to action: Take these steps in promoting stewardship today.

Step 1:  Pick up a book from one of these authors today.  Swing by the book store or order online.  Read it with those you care about and put the principles into action. 

Step 2:  Share your favorite stewardship resources with other readers of The Stewardship Sentinel by adding links and comments below.  What videos have moved you?  What books have pointed you in the right direction.  What life story can you share that will lead us along?

Hold Me Accountable:  I have been averaging about 2,500 words each time I sit down.  Feel free to encourage me and push me along.  If you are interested in joining me as I write the book, I am looking for a few folks to help me along in creating a great resource.  If you are inclined to read my working draft and share feedback, I’d be eternally grateful.  Fire an email my way or give me a ring. 

I'll hold myself accountable by updating you on my word count.  On the right hand side of the blog I'll post how many words I have written toward my goal of 40,000 by July 29th.  I need to come up with some sort of consequence if I don't reach that goal.  Ideas?

Jun 13, 2012

Wednesday in the Word - Handling Treasure by John MacArthur

When I was 13 years old, the church my family attended gave me a leather bound copy of The MacArthur Study Bible. I have enjoyed MacArthur's commentary and his sermons on the books of the Bible since. When I have travel time or down time I listen to the extensive list of available sermons using the Grace to You App.

Two weeks ago we dug into 1 Timothy 6. Today I am excited to share a pair of sermons focused on Handling Treasure from this chapter.




This passage is very specific about how we handle our money. These words were true when Paul wrote them, they were true in 1987 when these sermons were recorded and they are true today. What conclusions did you come up with about how you handle your treasure? As a challenge, is there one specific action step you can take this week based on this passage?

Jun 12, 2012

Your Capacity Is More Than Money!

Whether they grew up in a church or not, most folks have heard the story of David and Goliath.  To the onlookers, David didn’t have a shred of a chance.  You see, he was just a scrawny wimp.  The folks on his side thought he was crazy.  They tried to equip him for the fight, but the armor and the sword they gave him were too heavy.  He didn’t stand a chance.  

For every reason conceivable, David should have chickened out, but he realized something important that gave him the confidence and the ability to defeat a giant. 

I would suggest that each of us have that ability.  We have something special that would allow us to do great, unimaginably great things.  

So what did David realize that was so special?  Well, instead of focusing on his weaknesses, his puny arms, and the overwhelming odds against him, David focused on the things he did have.  

David was a shepherd, and the son of a shepherd. He grew up protecting sheep and had used a sling and a stone more times than he could count.  He had defeated wild beasts and become confident; the sling wasn’t just a tool, but an extension of David’s arm.  

Compared to the shining swords, pointed spears, armor and the smell of battle, this skill of David’s seemed like child’s play.  Yet he rested on his skill, on his beliefs and on his calling.  He realized that he had capacity to make a difference.  

It is easy to stand in the midst of giants and to focus on what you don’t have, but this bit of truth just may free you up to claim your true capacity to make a difference and to have fun doing it.  You have so many resources at your disposal.  Sometimes even the folks closest to us can’t see how much we have to offer.  You have the capacity to make a difference--you just have to embrace it. 

Sure, money helps!  When the community comes for help they often ask for money.  We crack open the wallet, moths fly out, and we feel like we have nothing left to give.  Even when we do have money to support a cause, giving without involvement can leave us disconnected from the difference we could make.  Your capacity is more than your money.  

Experiences: the good, the bad and the ugly.  In life we have mountaintop experiences, joy and fulfillment.  We also have awful, painful, hurting experiences--the kind of disappointment and sorrow and grief that lasts a lifetime.  Some of us have more good memories and others have it rough.  No matter what experiences pepper your past, you can use those to relate to others and to make a difference in their lives like no one else can.  How can you put your experiences to work?  How can you relate to others today by sharing these stories? 

People You Know.  Where do you have influence?  Who looks up to you?  Who do you look up to? These relationships are so important and you have more authority in the places where you have earned a right to be heard.  Foster these relationships and seek out new relationships in your community with folks that care about the same sorts of things you do.  Help to make their lives easier and more enjoyable by doing what you love together.  How can you multiply your capacity by using the word we instead of the word I 

Outlook and Attitude.  Folks live life with either an outlook of scarcity or of abundance.  This can shape every action they take.  We looked at the example of David; he didn’t see his lack of resources. He saw what he had and he used it.  Those who live a life of scarcity seem to take-take-take.  They are engaged in Win-Lose situations where they try to win at others' expense.  In the end, this mentality ends up costing them more than the alternative.  

You can see this in the business world.  A business that serves customers well can make a profit but when the bottom line becomes the only goal, the customer suffers and the business struggles for it.  On the other hand, someone who sees life through a lens of abundance will leave the world better than they found it and for their efforts, they will find themselves in a better world.  

Beliefs and Values.  I was raised in the church and there isn’t a place in the Bible I didn’t go as a kid, but something special happened when I embraced my beliefs and values.  

As a youngster I’d cut corners on every task and try to make life easier in that moment.  It never paid off.  Once I stopped doing things for myself and started doing them for God’s glory, the desire for excellence became more natural.  I used to complain about mowing my lawn, now I mow it to honor Him.  I once had to force my work and loved the snooze button on the alarm clock.  Now, as I honor Him in my work, it comes easy and brings joy.  I still struggle, but behind my beliefs, there is more capacity than the world has ever known, and I am invited to tap into that as I work for something bigger than myself.

What is your passion?  Imagine two musicians in front of a crowded room. The first is a violinist while the second plays a saxophone.  We ask them to trade rolls.  The sax player picks up the violin and makes a noise like nails on a chalk board, breaks a few strings and nervously sets the violin down.  The violinist knows nothing about a saxophone and honks away for a while.  The crowd doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  

Now we place the proper instruments in the hands of the professional.  The sound is so pleasing that the entire room is energized, especially after the frightful performance at the beginning.  

When a person is in the wrong role you can tell, can’t you?  You also take notice of a person in just the right role.  When a person matches all of their capacity with their passion, something special happens.

Linear Change vs. Exponential Change  When somebody realizes their capacity and puts it to good use, it makes their life better. They are able to do more and they feel better about their work.  

But isn’t there more to it than just that? 

Just like the previous example, when there is a fit, it’s not just the individual that does better and feels better.  There is a positive energy around that person.  The folks around them are better off.  Their family, friends, clients and community are better off.  They are Win-Win people, and for some reason these folks breed positivity.  Instead of just a slight positive gain in their own personal satisfaction, they produce and reproduce good vibes.  As they use what they have effectively, we don’t just see a smile on their face more often. We see a contagious joy spreading.  That is exponential growth.  

Unpack your bags and get to work building a platform.  Now it’s up to you.  What capacity do you have?  Life can certainly be lived in a mentality of scarcity, but a life that is full and amazing--that takes a mentality of abundance.

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
 
Teddy Roosevelt

Jun 6, 2012

Wednesday in the Word - Sow Generously Reap Generously

Last week I mentioned that we would dig into The Word each week to see what it says about stewardship and generosity.  You can read that post here.

Today’s chapter comes from 2 Corinthians.  Paul and Timothy write to the church in Corinth.

6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written:
“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
their righteousness endures forever.”
10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
12This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you.15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

                                                                        2 Corinthians 9:6-15 (NIV)

-Have you been sowing sparingly or generously?
-Are there any cause and effect statements that stand out?
-What are the ultimate results of obedience in this passage?
-Is there a person or a place in life where you will commit to acting this passage out today? 


Feel free to interact in the comments below with your take-aways from this passage.  I’d also invite you to help name this weekly Wednesday discussion.  Thoughts?

Jun 4, 2012

I Spent More On Soda Than On The Great Commission

My wife and I use Mint.com and Crown Mvelopes to manage our budget (I wrote a bit on these handy tools here).  At the end of each month and year I take a peek at our spending.  Our credit and debit cards are very telling and when analyzing the spending we do, my wife emerges as a fiscal saint. Although her card always has more spending, it is always on groceries, utilities, clothes for the kids and gas for the cars.  The spending on my card is slightly less saintly.  All of the fast food and eating out goes on my card.  All of the wants not needs.  I am the discretionary spender.  It’s sort of painful to look at my spending habits but it is also a healthy step toward changing my habits.

When you get down to it, there are a number of categories in my spending that weigh in heavier than my giving.  If I were to change just a few habits, I could give more and make more of an impact for The Kingdom. 

I took a day last week and focused on writing the first chapters of a book on stewardship.  This is one of the thoughts that emerged.  The Bible calls us to Godliness and contentment, but my spending points to a life of worldliness and wanting.  

I put together this graphic with info from the U.S. Department of Commerce:


It kills me that we spend almost as much on Halloween as we do on the Great Commission.  My spending could use some major changes. 

I have gotten a bit better through some discipline but it takes work.  Here are a few steps that help to point my finances toward work that matters.

1. Stay in touch with your finances:  I mention resources here that will get you in touch with your spending.  If the results are as eye-opening for you as they were for me, this exercise will bring some change.  I keep these programs on my phone and check them regularly.
 
2. Connect with your capacity and your calling:  Reading books like Radical by David Platt and The Integrated Life by Ken Eldred have helped to open my eyes to all of the capacity I have to make a difference.  Making changes in my spending is a start, but there is a lot more to my life than money. An attitude shift toward eternal work will allow us to use all of our resources and experiences to make a difference.

3. Communicate & Collaborate:  We have relationships for a reason.  Sharing our successes with others, holding each other accountable, and encouraging each other in Godliness and contentment will add to our effectiveness.  Working together for the Glory of God is far more meaningful than keeping up with the Joneses.

How does your spending stack up?  How can we point our checkbooks toward The Kingdom?  You can hold yourself accountable and keep me accountable as well by subscribing to this blog.  Who can you forward this post to today? 
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