If you’re a fan of NBC’s The Office, you no doubt felt a lump in your throat in the closing moments of the series finale last Thursday. There were many great quotes: Pam telling us “there’s beauty in ordinary things”. Daryl’s wondering “Every day I came into work and the only thing I wanted to do was leave. So why do I find it so hard to leave now?”
But it was Andy Bernard’s tearful lament “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good ole days, before you’ve actually left them” that really got me to thinking about how much time we spend reminiscing about the past instead of living in the present. Not there’s anything wrong on reflecting back, but we should never lose sight of what’s in front of us or around us because there is beauty all around us and before we know it, it will all be over. For me, I’m a father to a seven-year-old and soon to be twin five-year olds and they’re growing up lightning fast. When Amy and I started watching The Office eight years ago, we lived in another state, I was in an entirely different career field. I had no clue what social media was and our only child was a greyhound named Roofus. Times change quickly, so it’s important to soak in our present life stage, despite our circumstances.
The stages for our kids change so quickly that I often forget about a certain stage long since passed until something happens to remind me. At the end of the day, I often get out of my wheelchair to stretch out and relax on the couch. The twins love climbing all over me while laughingly ordering me to “tickle me”, “tickle me”. I enjoy granting their request but often times just want to sit still and snuggle them. But the other day, I saw my seven-year-old on the other couch, perfectly content playing his DS. I asked him if he wanted to be tickled and he said “no thank you”. And then it dawned on me and saddened me that he grew out of that stage two years ago. So I’m going to enjoy every moment tickling the twins.
The last several years have been tough for a lot of people. But really, when was life ever easy? Here’s a news flash, the good old days weren’t all that good. But we know we got through them and that’s what makes them good – that we survived and nothing really horrible happened. By contrast, we don’t know what an hour from now, let alone tomorrow, brings so we allow that uncertainty to give way to unrest which gives way to anxiety. But if truly want a good life, we must, especially those of us who are Christians, meditate on God’s Word to “…not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7. And when the struggles inevitably come, take “glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:3. Live in the moment, live for today – the good ole days!
May 21st Posted in: Christian Living with No Comments
“Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them.” – Deuteronomy 28:14
One of my biggest struggles has always been reconciling the political aspect of who I am with the spiritual aspect of who I am. While I believe God gave me the interests, gifts, talents and abilities as well as the weaknesses, imperfections and shortcomings I possess, it’s always been difficult to mold all the above together in a way that glorifies Him which is His true purpose for creating me as I am. For those that know me, I’m also a huge Chicago sports fan and have fused the lessons learned from both sports and faith into my autobiography – A Chosen Bullet. While in the past I made my sporting interests, teams and heroes into little gods that I’ve served by being overly-consumed at the expense of growing closer to God, I’ve learned through age, and spiritual maturity to balance my sports brain with my spiritual being by allowing the Lord full access to my entire make up, thereby bringing everything under His authority.
Such is a process that I’m still trying to work on when it comes to my political interests. For those of us who God has given a political bend to who we are, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with leaning left or leaning right. The problem is turning away from the path He intended us to walk on and turning our political interests into little gods and serving them. I truly believe that as a nation, we have become so polarized and
distracted, that we’ve turned so far on one side to the left and on the other side to the right, that we’ve forgotten His commands, instead serving all kinds of small gods in our nation.
For me, I’m a proud evangelical Christian, a conservative – both fiscally and especially socially. I make no apologies for where I stand, nor for being an issues junkie. But I constantly have to keep in balance by being reminded that our ultimate hope can never be in a political figure, party, or movement because what ails us as nation requires a spiritual solution not a political one. When we – speaking broadly now – begin to make little gods and idols out of political issues, we lose our ability to be effectively used by God to achieve His purposes. It’s tough, because I do fight through anger and resentment often times when I see a movement afoot to marginalize people who believe as I believe, and to do so through what I see as lies, distortions and finger pointing. What I’ve learned to do is to try and filter everything through Philippians 4:8 – “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” So I don’t listen to right wing radio nor read right wing websites – most of which is nothing but anger, as well as not being hosted by Christians and would humbly suggest to my left-leaning friends to avoid the left wing fringe media as well.
That’s not to say that we shouldn’t stand for what we see as truth, but we should always do so with gentleness and respect, the filter of 1 Peter 3:15 – “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” I’m still a work in progress and most of what I write about is me trying to battle through internal wrestling matches I have within myself about reconciling who I am in trying, multiple failures aside, to bring glory to God. So if you’ve gotten this far into my blog, thank you for allowing me to vent and work through my issues.:)
May 7th Posted in: Christian Living with No Comments
“…We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
I was pretty athletic growing up. But if there was one sport that I had zero skill for, it was gymnastics. Although I loved gym class growing, I hated the two weeks we spent every school year doing gymnastics because I simply lacked the gracefulness to perform the highly technical routines. Nor so was this more evident than on the balance beam. To this day, my favorite Olympic sport is gymnastics and favorite routine is the balance beam simply because I marvel at the ability to bounce, leap and flip on this piece of wood LESS than 4-inches wide.
Unfortunately, our modern culture can learn a lot from studying the balance beam. Within the American church, we typically lean towards either the “truth” side, where we want to ram the Word of God down people’s throats in calling out sin. Or we lean to the “grace” side where we proclaim “God is love” and we excuse, ignore or rationalize sin. Neither side is capable of finishing the beam routine without falling off face first. I myself struggle continuously as I lean more to the truth side. But the reality is that Jesus was the PERFECT balance between grace and truth. The same Jesus of the four Gospels is the same Jesus of the Book of Revelation. And the same Jesus of the Gospels handpicked Paul to be His mouthpiece in spreading His message – the same Paul who spoke the famous love chapter in Corinthians was the same Paul that didn’t mince words when it came to warning about God’s wrath for the consequences of our sin.
So what are we to make of all this? For me, it comes down to 1 Peter 3:15 – “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” Translation – stand for the Biblical truths set forward by Christ, but do so by remaining calm and respectful. This has been a tough balance for me over the years and especially when I’m not afforded the same respectfulness by non-believers, who can also lack balance.
Unfortunately in today’s culture, black and white lines have been drawn, such as in the instance of either accepting homosexuality or being branded as ignorant as well as bigoted. But we must remain steadfast to Christ’s teachings – doing so with gentleness and respect. In the wake of NBA player Jason Collins coming out as gay, I’ll close with the views of ESPN’s Chris Broussard – a Christian – because nowhere have I heard it said so eloquently:
“I’m a Christian. I don’t agree with homosexuality. I think it’s a sin, as I think all sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is,” he said. “L.Z. [Granderson, a gay sportswriter and ESPN contributor] knows that. He and I have played on basketball teams together for several years. We’ve gone out, had lunch together, we’ve had good conversations, good laughs together. He knows where I stand and I know where he stands. I don’t criticize him, he doesn’t criticize me, and call me a bigot, call me ignorant, call me intolerant.
“In talking to some people around the league, there’s a lot Christians in the NBA and just because they disagree with that lifestyle, they don’t want to be called bigoted and intolerant and things like that. That’s what L.Z. was getting at. Just like I may tolerate someone whose lifestyle I disagree with, he can tolerate my beliefs. He disagrees with my beliefs and my lifestyle, but true tolerance and acceptance is being able to handle that as mature adults and not criticize each other and call each other names.”
Now that’s grace and truth worthy of a perfect 10 on the beam, in my humble opinion:)
April 30th Posted in: Christian Living with No Comments
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place…Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:13-16
Reasonable minds can disagree when it comes to matters of faith, politics, how we best protect our nation, how we best protect civil and human rights, how we build a society based on equality and fairness, so forth and so on. Reasonable minds can also disagree on whether or not early term abortion should be allowed by law and under what circumstances. But where reasonable minds SHOULD be able to AGREE is that late-term, so-called partial-birth abortion (a procedure where a viable life in the birth canal often capable of living on its own is basically executed in horrific fashion) is a no-no in any decent and moral culture. Reasonable minds SHOULD be able to AGREE that late-term is immoral, akin to murder and should be banned by law.
The phraseology “partial birth” is an oxymoron to begin with as one is either born or not born. We shouldn’t as a civilized society quibble about such nuances as to whether one or two seconds from the birth canal to exiting the womb constitutes partial or fully live birth. Where all this becomes an issue is what to do with babies who survive the partial birth abortion? The grotesque trial of abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell highlights that dilemma. If you want to read about his atrocities, as well as the shockingly muted silence thus far from the mainstream media, check out this column in USA Today.
Problematic as well is a culture that gives rise to this kind of infanticide. Aside from the silence of the media and the ignorance of the overall population, you have a tax-payer subsidized organization like Planned Parenthood saying the decision of what to do with a baby born alive should be between “the doctor and patient” (shocking testimony to say the least). But most of all, we have a now twice elected president that voted against infant born alive legislation in Illinois. Saying on YouTube audio that there was no reason to have a second “doctor” in the room to determine the viability of a “fetus or child if you want to call it that” after a botched abortion because he trusted the judgment of the attending physician, which is exactly the lack of accountable culture that furthered the barbarism of Kermit Gosnell.
The grand jury report for the Gosnell case placed the blame directly on pro-choice policies on the regulatory failure that allowed the clinic to remain open for decades. So what does all this mean? To me, it means shame on all of us who do nothing, remain willfully ignorant or empower politicians at the highest levels of this nation to foster an environment where this could happen. No wonder we have a violent culture. If we
don’t protect the most vulnerable among us, who can we protect? Any discussion on regulating business, looking out for human and civil rights, calling out atrocities, inequality, calling for fairness, fair share, etc. needs to begin with looking out for the truly innocent and voiceless, the core of our humankind and existent. All else is the very definition of hypocrisy. God is listening, how will we react?
April 16th Posted in: Christian Living with No Comments
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
The biggest misconception in the on-going dialogue in our nation over same-sex marriage is that if you stand for the historical, traditional definition of marriage then you’re either hateful, intolerant, judgmental, a narrow-minded bigot or all the above. It’s been defined that way by advocates of same-sex marriage and while strategically successfully in marginalizing their socially conservative opponents as extremists, the “you either love us or hate us” choice does little other than to polarize our already fractured nation. The danger in dividing to conquer in such a fashion as to demonize your opposition is that constructive dialogue to at least respectfully disagree with your opponent becomes impossible. In essence, the agents of the tolerance movement only tolerate those who believe as they do.
For those of us who hold a Biblical worldview, we do so because we believe the Bible is the Word of God; we believe it’s a living, breathing book. We believe this because it’s a book that’s completely and supernaturally transformed our lives, our marriages and our families. Although we may still struggle with various aspects of sin (the old self), we’ve largely been freed from the overall bondage of sin through the work of the Holy Spirit as we read His Word. We’ve seen the transformation work firsthand and thus see God’s Word as infalliable truth!
So it’s problematic to look at the act of homosexuality as anything other than what the Bible describes as sin. As Christians, we are to look for consistent threads of scripture from cover to cover, Genesis to Revelation in how we form our beliefs as opposed to obscure, one off verses, usually found in the Old Testament. And consistently as well as directly, seven times to be exact – which doesn’t include God’s plan for marriage laid out Genesis or Jesus’ reiteration of that plan in Mark – and seven times homosexuality is cast in a sinful light.
Now, I want to emphatically state that authentic, mature Christians should never hate anybody regardless of their sin because, biblically speaking, we were all born sinners. I love homosexual family members and acquaintances in the same way I love any family member or acquaintance that’s engaged in a sinful lifestyle – be it drug or alcohol abuse or heterosexual sin outside of marriage. But while I love them doesn’t mean I have to accept their lifestyle choices or decisions regardless of whether or not they were predisposed with those traits at birth because, regardless of whether or not they were “born that way”, people choose if they pursue or act upon their predispositions. And because I don’t accept their choices doesn’t mean that I hate them or are being bigoted in my beliefs.
In wrapping up my two-week series on gay marriage, this is a good place to re-state that I believe that God knows best what constitutes a healthy and vibrant society. One that’s based on the healthy pillars of faith, communities, marriages and families; all of which he lays out for us in His Word. The more we try to social engineer away from God’s plan and redefine what we think is best using human wisdom and reason apart from God, the less we should be surprised that society continues to falter. Marriage is a key pillar. If we change the historical meaning, how far do we go in redefining marriage and what we allow? Should so-called bi-sexuals be allowed to marry one of each because they’re pre-disposed to be attracted to both genders and thus have a “civil right” to be happy? What do we do when the polygamists inevitably start filing lawsuits? In the end, if marriage can mean anything, then it means nothing which I suspect is the end goal for many who seek to redefine it.
April 2nd Posted in: Christian Living, Current Issues with No Comments
“…As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.’” Romans 3:9-11
Not that there’s any shock value left at this point to anything we hear anymore when it comes to athletes, celebrities, politicians or anybody in the public square for that matter. But last week was just another reminder of just how far from we’ve wondered from God’s original plan and our desperate need for spiritual healing and revival in this nation and world. More importantly though, it was another reminder that any place or trust put in so-called public figures in simply misguided and the only one we should look to and emulate is Jesus Christ. He and He alone is our standard-bearer and role model.
To me, Lance Armstrong’s decade long campaign of lies and bullying outweighed the transgressions of being a drug cheat. I heard it said that he was a bad person who did good things. After all, he was a hero to millions through his Livestrong Foundation. But we’ll never know if his “good works” were for self-adulation or to throw others of the scent from the highly sophisticated doping program his team ran. We’ll never know because he has no credibility when it comes to being truthful.
As for Manti Te’o, the All-American linebacker from Notre Dame, whose girlfriend that died from leukemia turned out to be a non-existent person, a hoax and complete fabrication. We’ll probably never know the extent to which he exaggerated that story for self-adulation. But aside from being a cautionary tale of creating virtual emotional attachments in the tech era, it’s also a reminder of why we need to put our trust in a Risen Lord and Savior and not people – regardless of their worldly accomplishments – because people will let us down every time.
Paul reminds us time after time in his New Testament epistles that our goods works don’t come close to measuring up to God, and that God alone is where we should place our trust. If we learned anything last week it’s that once again we need to remember that none of us is righteous of our own accord. We are incapable of understanding the good works we were created for without first knowing who created us and that only comes with the true wisdom and understanding of seeking God.
January 21st Posted in: Christian Living, Current Issues with No Comments
“Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’” John 4:13-14
I love a good, cold Coca Cola every now and then, even though nutritionists will tell you that soft drinks have no known health benefits and when drank in large quantities can be quite harmful to the body. One reason they’re harmful, is the “empty calories” of a soft drink whereby even though we take in those calories (often times in large amounts), our body doesn’t register as being full and we need to replace, essentially doubling up, those “empty” calories elsewhere in our diet.
In the same way that God created the body for proper nutrition, he created our spirit within us to quench our thirst on Him. The problem is, like the woman at the well in John 14, we often look in every direction but at Him to try to quench the thirst of the Spirit inside of us. Just as soft drinks provide no nutritional value, all of us have time wasters that fill us up with empty calories. Social media, internet browsing, reality TV, sports, hobbies, gossiping with friends, shopping, seeking after false idols (career success, self-adulation, etc.), so on and so on. Most of which – with the exception of gossip – isn’t necessarily bad in and of itself. But it becomes bad, and renders us non-productive for the Lord, when we’re seeking after our time wasters to quench our thirst as opposed to Jesus.
So my question is – what is your time waster? When you look back at the end of your day or week, where did you waste time in lieu of spending it with the Lord in prayer and in His Word? The challenge moving forward is this: lay that time waster down at the altar of the Lord for the next 30 days. Don’t pick it up, don’t look at it, don’t touch it! Instead, Fast from it and every time you think about it, go to the Lord in prayer, read His Word, memorize and mediate on scripture, listen to a sermon. I’ll be participating as I fast from social media for the next month. At the end of 30 days, feel free to share with me your experiences and whether or not you’re feeling refreshed and revived in your relationship with God?
January 15th Posted in: Christian Living with No Comments
“When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. But a Pharisee…addressed the Sanhedrin: “Men of Israel…some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” Acts 5:33-39
From a historical perspective, the birth, life and certainly the death of Jesus of Nazareth were insignificant events. He was born into poverty in meager surroundings like billions of other babies before and since that time. Like other messianic movements during his day, Jesus led a cult band of uneducated followers and ultimately was put to death in the same manner of crucifixion that 1,000s of others suffered at the hands of the Romans. Given the day in which he lived, his death was a rather ordinary event witnessed by only a handful of people and should’ve been forgotten within days or weeks by all but his closest friends and family members. And yet, not only was it not forgotten, it became the single most important historical event of the last 2,000 years.
His followers didn’t disperse as they did in every other messianic movement throughout world history once the so-called messiah is imprisoned or killed. For the only time in the history of mankind, a messianic movement went from a dozen or so scattered, disillusioned and very scared followers to the largest religion in the modern world within a couple hundred years, spread almost strictly by word of mouth and SOLELY by peaceful means. Today, billions of people – even if they don’t quite grasp or understand the significance of Christmas – celebrate the birth of that baby born in an unassuming way over 2,000 years ago. How could that be if both he and his movement was of human origin?
December 26th Posted in: Christian Living with No Comments
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:42-47
When I was a kid, I was struck that every time I saw a McDonalds, there was a Burger King right across the street. I thought why would BK follow McDonalds? Why not carve out their own niche? I eventually learned, and thought that it was genius, that Burger King grew through a site selection process of locating their main competitor. Burger King understood that McDonalds knew where all the high traffic areas where, so if BK was to cut into McDonald’s market share they not only would have to offer a tasty alternative, they would have to set up shop right across the street.
From a competitive standpoint in the spiritual realm, that’s exactly what Satan has done in trying to lure away God’s customers. What God had in mind for the world’s social, political and economic system, Satan has set up a counterfeit world system right across the street. And the problem is that Satan’s world social system becomes more and more attractive to a lost and decaying culture; a culture were once alternative views are now mainstream. Socially our culture is more sexually permissive than ever and intent on escaping or having a “good time” – void of consequences and taking responsibility – which appeals more and more with those looking in every direction but traditional marriage and family to fulfill those desires. Politically and economically, our culture is dominated by growing dependency on government – masqueraded as anti-poverty programs – on one side; and greed – masquerading as free-market enterprise – on the other side with both having a debilitating impact on our marriages, families, churches and communities. Ultimately, no one is looking towards God as our true provider as well
as nurturer of our souls and communities.
While we can discuss all day long what the counterfeit culture is doing wrong, the true focus needs to be on what the Christian culture isn’t doing right. In a nutshell, we’ve failed to provide a model that our society would be drawn to and need to refocus and re-brand as the Body of Christ in America. Sinners are going to continue to sin. But Christians need not continue to drift from the early New Testament church in the Book of Acts towards the church of Laodicea that Jesus chastises in Revelation 3:15-17 – “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”
What we need in order to re-brand our model is revival. We need revival in the American church, we need revival in our Sunday Schools classes from ages 8-80, we need revival in our communities, in our homes, in our marriages and in our own hearts. We need to study the church in the Book of Acts. We should spend less time condeming people and more time loving them. We need to give more of our time and treasure in putting our money where our mouth us in serving the poor, the fatherless, the widow. We need to stop trying to change laws and start trying to change hearts. We need to spend less time on church programs like lavish Christmas performances and devote more time to discipling and mentoring others, more time in prayer, in scripture study, more time in true – not artificial – fellowship with one another and more time in showing Jesus to a lost world. If we do that, we won’t be able to build churches fast enough as God will “add to our number daily those who were being saved!”
December 13th Posted in: Christian Living with No Comments
Note – This is my Thanksgiving testimony of the personal battle the Lord brought my family through the last few years, ultimately giving us an escape route when none seemed to exist.
“The Egyptians—all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, horsemen and troops—pursued the Israelites and overtook them as they camped by the sea near Pi Hahiroth, opposite Baal Zephon. As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord.” Exodus 14
Sometimes I think we don’t get the proper perspective when reading the Bible because we know the ending. As a result, a lot of reader anxiety we may otherwise feel is removed when we read stories like the Exodus. But imagine for a minute reading it for the first time and not knowing the ending. Imagine the sheer terror we would feel on behalf of the Israelites, as well as what they must have felt in their hearts, as they sat pinned up against the Red Sea with their only escape route blocked by Pharaoh’s Army, an army bent on their destruction. In their human mindset, they definitely felt like they were done. That is until God did something beyond their human comprehension by parting the Red Sea and providing an escape route.
And so it was for my wife and I in early 2010. I had been a commission-based, commercial real estate broker since the early part of decade and experienced a lot of success as the market rose and then peaked in 2006. But everything came to an end as the market crashed and along with it my career. By 2010, I had three straight years of dwindling income couple with rising expenses as our family grew from just the two of us in 2006 to five as our adopted son Nico joined us late that year followed by our biological twins Noah and Dani Rae in 2008.
Even in the boom times, Amy and I were frugal. So we had built up a nest egg; but almost four straight years of “working four times as hard for ¼ of the money” – as we used to say in the industry – was taking its toll on me. By April of 2010, I couldn’t keep up with the pace and, frankly, no longer wanted to keep up with the pace. But even though the toll was adding up mentally, physically and emotionally, spiritually I was growing stronger than ever and really that’s just because I had nowhere else to turn. Amy and I had always lived by a budget and God blessed me with the ability to plan and prepare. But even I couldn’t figure a way out of our situation. So I began to pray, “God what do you want me to do?” And out of nowhere, he led me to write my book. It wasn’t something I thought about to that point, nor even considered until He lightened me while in prayer and meditation. Interestingly, I have a master’s degree in journalism from Illinois which ranks in the top five nationally. But in 15 years, I had never really used my journalism degree professionally and always wondered why I went that route. Clearly though, even then, God had prepared me for that moment. So I gladly left real estate and spent the next 12 months writing, then securing a publisher, then promoting my book.
Through promoting my book, God would open up another door. Just as I had never thought about writing a book, I had never thought about going into ministry. I mean other than relating to the struggles of adolescence, other than my heart for youth because of my own story and other than being able to relate to athletes / coaches through my sporting interests as well as accomplishments, what could I possibly do ministry-wise? So what does God do, other than provide an opportunity to fuse all the above by introducing me to the area director for FCA in Tampa by way of my book. Again, God was at work because I really had no idea what “the way out was”. The book sales were providing some short-term
income but something more sustaining would be needed for my family’s financial stability.
Even as my new career path with FCA was starting to take shape by mid-2011, I had to raise donor funds and still couldn’t find a way out financially to balance our budget. All the while, we were subsidizing our income – which we had been doing for almost four years – with our nest egg. Even with reducing our budget down to essential, fixed expenses, we were spending over a thousand dollars more per month than we were generating. I was trapped on one side by not being able to reduce our five-person family budget any further and trapped on the other side with a 100% donor-supported ministry that I was just never going to be able to raise enough funds to balance our budget. Add to that, the “big ticket” costs of the last five years: adoption, fertility and pre-natal costs (not covered by insurance), an addition to our home to meet our expanded family, a mini-van we paid cash for, and our nest egg was almost gone.
Again, I was asking God very matter of factly, “what do you want me to do? I can see where this is going for us financially, show me a way because I don’t see it.” And then God showed us the way on 4th of July weekend in 2011. I had been promoting my book and speaking at different churches, mostly where I had relationships, in Florida, Illinois and at Eagles Landing First Baptist Church in McDonough, GA. My wife and I had actually tried moving to Georgia – a beautiful state with a very affordable cost of living – a year before, but we were looking north of Atlanta and God promptly closed the door. But as we spent that weekend here in advance of speaking at ELFBC (south of Atlanta), God began speaking, first to my wife’s heart, then to my heart. We knew this was the area God wanted us and returned to Tampa, put our house on the market, sold it, found a house up here and moved in December of last year.
From a financial standpoint, the cost of living difference now allows us to balance our budget. And while I had been in prayer for over a year about my career path, FCA was simultaneously in need and prayer for someone to do campus ministry here in South Metro. What a coincidence, huh? Almost a year later, my wife and I our so thankful and blessed beyond measure, extremely thankful that God has surrounded us with such an incredible group of friends! We’ve only been here a year and it seems like with the depth of the relationships we’ve built like we’ve been here for 10 years. My ministry is thriving with the lives I’m able to impact and although I make 1/4th of the income I once made, I have four times the fulfillment. While fundraising will always be a need and issue, I’ve learned that God will always provide for my family. So much to be thankful for:)