thinking-monkey1Disclaimer: These columns may sound like the rantings of a mad man and may not be intended for you, so do not take offense. I'd advise you read the following in a sarcastic tone. 

Let's exorcize the Jack-o-Lantern! ! ! !

Why, have you not heard? Halloween Satan’s big day. It really is. October 31st was just an ordinary day not too long ago (made by God), but Satan came and took over that day. In fact, someone gave me a pumpkin to put on my desk the other day and I threw it away, because they are owned by the devil too. The person was shocked so I told them that I do not celebrate Halloween and they should not dress their kid up to go trick-or-treating because it is an evil day. If the fun-sized candy has Halloween wrapping, it is sin-sized candy, do not eat it or you are living in sin!

So instead of teaching your kid about having fun, or redemption, grace, etc. just freak them out and make them scared of Halloween.

“Why are you acting this way?” you ask. Because Halloween is Pagan. You see if you go to Wikipedia and research like me you will see that Halloween has pagan roots and we should not be a part of that.

So let’s go with that line of thinking. . .

Let’s start by throwing out Christmas Trees. Did you know that Christmas Trees and greenery have pagan roots? What’s worse is that some churches have a “Hanging of the Green” service. That is just not right, they ought not to live like the pagans. Christmas Lights have to go too.

I have stopped recognizing the month of June (Juno). Did you know that they made a movie about a pregnant teenager name Juno? Not only that, Juno is a Roman god.

And Disney, don’t get me started. Do you know they have a wicked witch in their very first full length movie? That is EVIL.

EVIL, that reminds me. If you add D to Evil you get Devil. If you take the D off you get Evil. You take the E off you get Vil as in Vile. If you take the V off you get Il as in this and Halloween make me Ill!

So I recently learned that anyone born BC would not be called a Christian. In fact even after Jesus was born it would be more than 30+ years before anything would be considered “Christian.”  That means that if they were no Christians that they were not regular attenders, they did not have accountability partners, they were not plugged into a small group.

NEWS FLASH! ! ! Satan really doesn’t care about Halloween, nor does he even care if you believe in him. What he wants is for you to believe in you. He wants to you worship yourself and think that you are all powerful, think that equality with God is something to be grasped. He wants you to think that you have control over the weather. He wants you to be consumed with your judgments, your problems, drama, rules, legalism.

It’s all about you anyway. You’re so special and so important. The world will fall apart without you and everything God is doing will stop without you.

So as a call to end all pagan rituals I say we get rid of Jack-o-laterns, Christmas Trees and lights, birthdays, and all the gifts and treats that come with those holidays!

Can you do me a favor though? Can you please, just please, wait until next year? I want to have one more Halloween, Christmas and Birthday. I know after all the evidence, but please? Thank you.

*This post is for those who take themselves and live too seriously. Yes I do have fun on Halloween (Pumpkinfest, dressing up, Halloween parties), no I do not care about where Christmas Trees and lights came from (because I love Christmas), and I enjoy a good birthday party. It's fun. Stop YOUR legalistic rules, and lighten up*

"And He has given us a treasure called right now, And this is the only moment we can do anything about"~Steven Curtis Chapman

When I look back over my life so far, the best and worse decisions that I have made have always been preceded by that feeling of “there is something not quite right here.” You feel your stomach start to sink, your heart rate increases, and it’s as if you need to change something.

My wife is better at tuning into this feeling than I am. Dave Ramsey says it’s natural for women to be more in tune with this “feeling.” He goes on  to say that you better listen to your wife when she gets one of those “feelings.” I would have to say that Dave is right, when I go against one of her “feelings” I know that we are going to pay for it down the road.

I have tried more and more to be in tune with “that sinking feeling.” My problem is that it always causes second guessing on my part. These feelings can quickly go away as well. I mean they can be triggered by the smallest of things.

Maybe it’s a friend that sends you a new opportunity that you may be interested in. But you’re happy in your current role. . . aren’t you? 

Maybe it is something that your manager emails to you, or says in a meeting the doesn’t sit quite right with you.

Maybe someone says something about someone else being wronged—but that won’t ever happen to you or someone that you love.

For me, like most of you, when things are great in life, there is very little that will make us want to change what we are doing. I mean there is really no need to upset the apple cart and try to make things better. There really is no reason to pray to God and be ever so grateful, God will be there when things get rough. . .right? ? ?

All of this is perfectly understandable, a majority of us react this way. The problem is that this method is not very useful when things do get rough (and they will). When times get tough and you live like this, you grow soft and loose the willpower to achieve the the impossible.

I try to live differently because of the Hope that I have. I try to live differently because I am living for so much more. My wife sometimes calls me an optimist, I call myself a realistic optimist.

I have had a few “sinking feelings” in my life that I really needed to address. From the outside looking in, everything would have seemed to be going great. Paying attention to “that sinking feeling” eventually led to great things — because I headed  its warning, and prayed for wisdom. Marriage, career, kids, moving out of sate — call these came from “that sinking feeling.”

No matter how small or insignificant you think your thought is, it is always worth exploring and praying about. This will help you act on your situation. It’s amazing that God gives us this instrument that is so finely tuned, something that I will never understand. Don’t suppress the "sinking feeling” until the situation becomes a mountain of impossibility. God gave you the mechanism to alert you. Embrace them and you will make the most of your opportunities. 

Listen to what is stirring inside of you. Pray and act in the little moments. Make the small changes and adjustments to your life and to the lives of those around you as needed. Do them for the right reasons. 

Years ago my wife and I began the journey to become wise financially and to pay our debt off. We went through Financial Peace University to learn about our finances. We went because we both had “that sinking feeling” that if we don’t get a grip on this now, our finances will own us for the rest of our lives. We took that cue, prayed about it, and sought wisdom. It would have been easy to ignore our concerns and just brush it off saying, “everyone else is buying stuff, charging stuff, not budgeting,” but we met the situation head on. It ended with us happening to our money instead of our money happening to us. We now help others seeking financial freedom by leading Financial Peace University at our home.

You have to live that way. Listen to that “sinking feeling,” pray about it. . .and then don’t just sit there. Be proactive and seek after the wise council God has placed in your life. Deal with the small stuff while it is still small stuff, and then the BIG stuff will sort itself out. 

A little over a week ago Rebecca and I welcomed our daughter into the world and our lives. To quote Dinah Washington, "What a difference a day makes, 24 little hours. . . ." Yeah, what a difference a day makes. On September 21st, Rebecca and I thought we would be meeting our daughter in at least 7 days. Only a few hours later did we realize September 22, 2014 would be the day that changed everything.

I was reading this morning and stumbled across the sentence, "Make sure your face lights up anytime she enters the room, she will always feel treasured." I am not so sure that will be very hard for me to do. I have been wrapped around my daughter's finger since the moment she entered the world. My favorite part of the day is walking up the stairs to my garage in the afternoon, and opening the door to my house. There I am greeted by the love of my life, Rebecca, and my precious daughter.

My biggest thought when reading that statement this morning was, "I hope that I am the Dad of her dreams." Big goal, but I think I will try my best to be the Dad of her dreams.

Social Media is fun, informative, instant, etc. Social Media can also be mind numbing, addictive, and cause so many other issues. There is a dark side of Social Media . . .and how you use it.

There are many posts that are out of pure stupidity. These posts fall under the category of the "law of unintended consequences," meaning the post you posted was rather innocent (in your mind), yet from another perspective it  was interpreted negatively.

Keep in mind that what you post is not as private as you think it is. Your post may seem funny or innocent, but what if it looks like it was written by a teenager or has major grammatical errors? I have seen people post vitriolic posts against people they disagree with that are colleagues, other business professionals or past clients. You will never know the opportunities you miss because of what you post.

You may think you have set your settings to be private, you may think the posts are between you and your 500+ friends on Facebook. . .just keep in mind that nothing is private online. . .NOTHING! Even if your setting is to "friends only," one of those 'friends' may be just the connection you needed to land that gig or that opportunity. It could have been a potential client, or maybe even a great friend, but your vitriolic post just ended that.

The lesson is this:
What you post online can be archived and made searchable, forever. . . . .think twice before posting.


Take A Chance


"I have no understanding as to why, when you're 18 to even, let's say 30, why you wouldn't try to make what you're passionate about work for you... If you go and become a lawyer or go to school and do all the things that everybody wants you to do, and don't do the thing you really love, the real question isn't what's going to happen when you're 23, 27, 31, 36. The question really becomes what's going to happen when you're 70 years old and you look back at your life and you're like, Why didn't I try? There's going to be a regret factor that I think a lot of times a guidance counselor or parent or teacher tend not to think about... They're worried about your next ten years. I'm worried about your last ten years. And in those last ten years, you're going to be thinking back... and realizing, Why didn't I go to Austin (of L.A. or Nashville... wherever you're going)? Why didn't I take a chance? and really regret that. And that--that tastes a lot worse than going for it, because that's when you're most alive."

-Gary Vaynerchuk (Interview On LIVEMYLIEF.COM 3/26/2013)

“…often, stepping outside of your comfort zone is not careless irresponsibility, but a necessary act of obedience.” ~Andy Stanley, Fields of Gold

Entertainment, Music, Recording Artists,  Sports, Theme Parks, comedy, television, movies, art, graphic arts, business leadership, politics—what do all of these have in common? For a majority of people these things are spectator sports.

For the most part, being a spectator in life is very comfortable and very easy. You go to a concert and have fun. You turn the radio or TV on or off. You go to a theme park and enjoy the environment, rides, entertainment. You laugh at a comedian’s jokes, look a beautiful art, admire and watch leaders, and enjoy a great flick every once and a while. That very comfortable and easy life style has moved into work and life. Most people, most of the time, are told to watch, not to lead, to follow, not to create.

When you give a gift, it is much different that receiving the gift. The gift giver puts thought into the gift, spends time and money to get the gift, and then waits to see the reaction from the receiver.

When you decide not to be a spectator, you begin to involve risk and failure in your life. In my life I have encountered people that believed that I had taken on careless irresponsibility, when in fact I believed that I was taking a step of obedience and faith. Some have accused me of taking too big of a risk. People were all to ready to point out the hole in my jeans or the flaw in my reasoning.

I was reminded of this when I was watching the Falcons play in the Divisional Championship. It’s late in the 3rd Quarter and fans (spectators) were all too happy to boo, fill their statuses with boos and disenchantment. Spectators are all too happy to switch bandwagons if they find something better to follow.

But most spectators will ask, “Why be anything else? I am happy in my comfort zone. I enjoy my schedule and being a cog in the machine.”

Then there are those who have put themselves on the line, stood up, and stood out, did what people thought to be crazy or impossible. The people making dreams reality. You know those crazy ones and misfit, the people who see the world differently. They are all asking, why would I ever do it differently? Why be the spectator? 

The other day I had an epiphany on gas prices. Yes, when I started driving almost 16 years ago, gas was under $1/gallon. Recently we were paying $3.25/gallon, YIKES! But is it really yikes? Is gas really as bad as you might say? Maybe for some it is, that would be assuming they had the same vehicle they were driving when gas was under $1/gallon.

Most people in the USA do not have a vehicle they use on a daily commute that is 15 years or older. So my epiphany was: Is $3.25/gallon really that bad or do I have a perspective issue? It would be a perspective issue or sticker shock.

Here is my math:

My first car was a 1991 Ford Thunderbird. It got 17 MPG in the city, 20 MPG on the HWY. If I pay $1.50/gal I was getting $0.08/mile. But let's say gas was $0.95/gallon. I would pay $0.05/gal in the city and $0.04/gal on the HWY (mind you that the gas did not stay below $1 long after I got my driver's license).

In my newest car, 2010 Altima, I get 27 MPG in the city, 32 MPG on the HWY. If I pay $3.20/gallon I am averaging $0.11/mile in the city and $0.10/mile on the highway. Given that the gas prices might fall to $2.99/gal I may be pay $0.09 gal on the HWY.

That means that what I am paying in terms of gas per mile has gone up maybe 2 maybe 3 cents in 15 years?

Just a point to ponder. . .