Tag Archives: Jesus

A Lot Can Happen in Thirty-Eight Days: A Lack of Priorities Can Be Costly

A LOT has happenned over the last few months. I won’t go into the details right now, they’ll unravell in the blog posts to come. One thing I can say is I’ve regained perspective and focus. As much as I hate to say it, I had lost focus and God saw fit to slap me around in order to show me my own foolishness. (OUCH!)

Ya know that “wake up call” moment when everything important to you starts slipping away and you hit your knees asking Him to please, please, please step in and allow you to keep that which is most precious? Yeah, I had that moment- for 38 days in a row. It was brutal, agonizing, painful and an emotional rollercoaster. But, it did cause me to run to Christ’s feet, reprioritize, rethink and come to certain realizations about myself. One question God kept asking me is, “Would you be this distraught if I were to threaten to leave you?” At this question I replied with the intelligent response of, “Aaaaahhhh…..well…..”

Needless to say I had to evaluate exactly where I was placing God in my list of priorities. You’d think this would be an automatic response for someone in the ministry, right? Shouldn’t a long-time Christian have this down to automatic pilot? Yes…..and no. See, I think I was relying on automatic pilot a bit too much. I made a conscious effort to please and love my wife. (I’m now divorced….more on that later) I text my son daily saying how much I loved him. Throughout my day I’d text or email folks asking how they were and if they needed prayer for anything in particular.

You may be asking, what’s wrong with that Taz? Nothing at all, except that I wasn’t speaking to #God as often as to these fellow-humans. My significant other, my son and other sinners got more of my time and attention than my Creator!

(Just thinking about that reality makes me hang my head in shame and annoyance)

Did I really mess up that badly? Did I really put my wife before my Savior? SHAMEFUL!

Don’t get me wrong, the idea of spending more and more time with Christ has been a goal of mine for quite some time. I always wanted to think of my entire day as a long conversation with God, interrupted by daily chores and interaction with others- I just wasn’t getting it done! So, God grabbed my by the ear, pulled me into a confined space, sat me down and had a good Almighty-to-sinner conversation. He didn’t pull any punches nor did He sugar coat anything. He ripped open this wretched heart, magnified my evils and brought me to tears. I trembled, shook, felt regret and remorse, apologized and begged forgiveness. I dove into The Word, read three Christian book, including “The Purpose-Driven Life” and “The Story” and got closer to Christ.

I felt “washed”, as if I had a #spiritual shower with extra highly-concentrated cleanser added.

Aaaaaahhhh, that felt good!

So, what does this have to do with #financial world?

Good question, the answer is simple: Do not put anything, including your financial goals, before your relationship to God, period!

Infact your financial goals, outlook, attitude, etc. should be a RESULT of that first-place relationship. Your devotion to Him should result in seeking His direction in finances. Following Him should result in seeing His financial goals for your life and His goals becoming your goals. You line up with #Him, not the other way around.

Need proof that this concept is a reality? Well let’s look at ancient Israel. Many times they have served as our Biblical examples of what happens when we follow God and also the tragic consequences of straying from His path. Joshua chapter 7 is where we find the account of Achan who disobeyed God by keeping precious plunder from a recent victory.

Pause for one second. Achan may have had really good reasons for keeping the treasure. Maybe he would have sold half and donated the profit to a local charity. Or maybe he planned to buy materials to help mend his neighbor’s tents. What about feeding the hungry? He could have had a grand feast planned form them, right? While all those intentions are not evil in and of themselves, the fact that he violated the Creator’s command is still sin!

The punishment for Achan’s sin is found in verses 22-24. He and his family, yes his family, were all stoned to death and their bodies burned. Seems a bit harsh? Not really. Remember sin is a violation of the most pure, perfect, Holy and magnificent being in the entire universe-God. The more we respect a person or that person’s position the more severe the punishment for an offense to that person. Assaulting your neighbor on the street is one thing, assaulting the President of The United States, i’m sure you’ll agree is something different all together.

We cannot allow our financial goals to be placed ahead of a close relationship with Christ. We must “keep the main thing, the main thing”.

A few of you may be tempted to make use of the old saying, “Experience is the best teacher”. While this is a true statement, most people are unaware of the rest of it. “….and it’s a fool who learns by his own”.

Don’t be a fool. Learn from the mistakes of others. Learn from those who have already- foolishly- tested the waters. Stay on the path that God has laid out for you, keep Him first, love Him more than precious stones, metal and American green. I speak from experience when I tell you that if He is not first in your life it could cost you A LOT.

I lost A LOT in just 38 days.

What’s Your “#Business Calling”?

I was browsing a Google+ community called “Christians in Business” earlier today. I came across a new post where one member, Carey Green, ask a question directly to another member. Here is Carey’s question and the resulting open, honest reply.

 Q: What’s the mission the LORD has given you as it pertains to business?

 A: I love the question and it’s one that, as Christians in Business, we should all be asking ourselves.  First, all of us have the same mission. We should all be spending as much time spreading God’s word and encouraging others, as we spend promoting our profiles and our businesses.

Am I doing this in my own life?  The honest answer is, No.”  Like many Christians In Business, I am a good person, I don’t steal or commit crimes and I genuinely want everyone to be successful.  Where I struggle is how to use my business and my talents to increase God’s Kingdom.  It is something that I pray about often. I sometimes ask myself, “Is my life, being led by God, or by my own ego?”  I do know that I want to help other Christians in Business to succeed.  My guess is that God also wants more from me.  I am praying and hoping that 2014 will bring more opportunities for me to open the eyes of others who need it. I greatly appreciate being asked this question today… thank you Carey Green 

 Wow! There’s today’s heaping dose of brutal honesty.

 Both the question and its answer are important, especially in today’s world. Christian business owners have a responsibility to spread the Word, period. Too often we consider our business to be separate from the Great Commission, it’s not. Here’s why I say this without apology.

 First, the Great Commission itself says so in Matthew 28:18-20

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Did you notice there’s no clause allowing business owners to opt out? We’ve been given a command, not an option, by the Creator wrapped in human flesh- MAKE DISCIPLES, period.

Having a business doesn’t allow you to pass on this command. In fact your business should be seen as a tool for spreading His Word, not a hindrance to doing so.

Think about this: Do you think God would put you in business if that business prevents you from spreading His Word?

How can you spread the Word while going about the busy day of a business owner? Here’s an easy suggestion- play Christian music in your place of business. Your customers will notice, and may ask questions. When they ask you have the opportunity to answer, share your testimony or share something amazing God’s done in your life.

(insert referee with both hands raised straight up here)

Some may threaten to “do business elsewhere if you keep playing that Jesus music”. Of course this is a legitimate concern for any Christian business owner. However, we are supposed to be trusting in Him, not our potential customers and the dollars they bring with them. A creative way to handle this threat is to reply with something like, “Tell ya what. My Jesus music isn’t going to stop, but, I’ll give you 5% off any time you choose to do business with me. And you can feel free to question me about my faith any time you want. Deal?”

If they accept, you will have accomplished two things. First, you’ve kept a customer which is good for business. Second, and more important, you’ve left the door open for discussions about your relationship with Christ. Hello!! What could be better?!

I’m not saying the only mission of business owners is to tell the message of Christ. We all need to make money, pay bills and take care of our families. These are also Christian responsibilities. But, we stray when we fail to remain focused on His mission for us and, instead, think of our own selfish, money-motivated, status-motivated vision.

In the honest answer to the original question, our business owner admitted he struggles with “how to use my business and my talents to increase God’s Kingdom”. What really strikes me as important is that he also said, “It is something I pray about often”.

 

(may we all develope the same habit)

James 5:16

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

1 Thessalonians 5:17- Never stop praying.

These are two of my favorite verses. They remind me that as a Godly business owner my prayers are powerful and will cause Godly, positive things to happen.

Q: Confused about how to use your business?

A: You, business owner, need go remain focused on your relationship with Christ. This will result in a righteous life which yields prayers that cause powerful things to happen in your life and through your business. 

If I were to answer Carey’s question, I’d have to say that my Business Calling is to:

1. Help God’s People Use God’s Money at God’s Direction

&

2. Help business owners Grow and Protect their businesses.

While…

3. Spreading the Word of God.

Many thanks to Carey Green for posting this question. Feel free to check out his podcasts at http://www.podcastfasttrack.com

Skip the ‘Thank You’, Bring On the #Presents!!

Over the last few years I have noticed a trend I consider very sad. It is something that has developed over time, almost unnoticed, and now it is blatantly set before us. We walk by it in malls and shopping centers and are exposed to it on internet and TV ads. Unfortunately, most are unaware of this ungodly happening because it was so subtly conceived, silently encouraged, nurtured and allowed to mature.

Traditionally speaking, early November is the time of year malls would feature harvest scenery, fall colors and early American pilgrims praying over their stuffed turkeys. This is normally when we’d pause to thank God for the blessings of the last year. We’d go around the Thanksgiving dinner table sharing our many reasons for being thankful and we’d do our best to remember to be more thankful throughout the next year.

(It’s ok…I sometimes forget that yearly resolution too)

As I write this article the date is November 19th, 2013- nine days before Thanksgiving. A few days back I took the picture featured here inside a popular grocery store chain. Do you see the turkey, fall colors and reminders to be thankful? No? That’s because they aren’t there. They’ve been skipped over for the sake of starting the Christmas shopping season early. The ever-important dollar has taken precedence over the attitude of thanks for all we have been blessed with over the last year or so. Instead of department’s stores reminding us to appreciate what we already have, we are being steered towards the “What can I get next?” attitude.

The Importance of Being Thankful

1 Chronicles 16: 8- Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; make known among the nations what He has done.

God commands us to thank Him for the things He’s given. This is not an option, it’s a command we should take seriously.

Can you imagine a former victim of sexual slavery not thanking her rescuers? Just the thought of it seems absurd, doesn’t it? She has been brought from a life of misery, abuse, hopelessness and sadness. Her gratitude should last a lifetime. She would owe her freedom to those who risked their lives to free her. Every latte’ she enjoyed, every sunset she viewed from the time of her freedom to her last breath would be owed to the ones who considered her so important they could not leave her in bondage. A lifetime of thankfulness is the very least she should show. The same is true for us who have received so much from the Creator.

Not only do we owe thankfulness to the Lord but our thankful attitude will “…make known among the nations what He has done”. Hello! Is that not a great reason to speak about how thankful you are? I know when I hear someone thank their parents for raising them and putting up with their bad attitude it makes me appreciate those parents even though I have never met them.

Who doesn’t get all warm and gooey when they hear of a single dad who raised three girls, encouraging them, made sure homework was completed, worked two jobs while attending night classes, fought off the teenaged hormonal boys and was a living example of manhood to his princesses?

That image sticks in your head.

Our heart goes out to this extraordinary man because his loving sacrifice was so huge and because he did it to benefit the ones he loves. Without even thinking about it we tell our co-workers at lunch, “Hey did you hear about that single father on the news?” Social media eventually picks up the story and it spreads like wildfire.

Now, imagine this happening when we explain how thankful we are to God-the Son- for His sacrifice on the cross. He gave all He could give for us. He rescued us from the consequence of sin- which is an eternity without His presence while in eternal torment.

Should we be thankful? Most assuredly! Because we owe it to Him and because others should know of all He has done.

Mixed Up Priorities

As I mentioned, corporate America has skipped over Thanksgiving so they can offer what they consider to be ‘great deals’ a bit earlier, thus lining their collective pockets with consumers’ hard-earned cash. Money is their priority; we’ve come to expect that from them.

But, where are your priorities?

Are you on the bandwagon, preparing for Black Friday, Cyber Monday (& possibly Tuesday), sales, discounts, upgrades and other ‘can’t miss’ opportunities to accumulate and collect? Or are you taking the Christ-like approach, refusing to skip over Thanksgiving so you can dedicate time to being thankful?

Your choice is a reflection of where your priorities are. Matthew 6:33 reminds us to seek God’s Kingdom first.

Q: Is it possible to seek His Kingdom, His Will, His desires for your life, while skipping over thankfulness?

A: Absolutely not!

Part of God’s Will for our lives is that you give Him thanks as 1 Chronicles 16: 8 tells us. Passing up the act of Thanksgiving for the sake of grabbing onto more stuff is the same as looking at your rescuer, remembering what He rescued you from and reaching the conclusion that there is no need to show gratitude! It’s absolutely absurd, disrespectful and ridiculous!

Now, if retail store owners wanted to skip over Thanksgiving because they were excited to celebrate the virgin birth of Jesus, I might be a bit more understanding. But, even if that were the case, it would still be against God’s commandment to have a thankful heart.

So, let’s wait on the Christmas carols, presents, manger scenes and Santa Clause for a few more days. Wait till after you’ve shown proper thanks to the Creator before we move onto celebrating His birthday.