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Trailblazers.FM receives Apple Podcast feature

Trailblazers.FM receives Apple Podcast feature

The Trailblazers.FM podcast is being featured on a home page banner on Apple Podcasts, the week of February 18, 2019.
 
What an honor and a blessing. I'm grateful for the awareness for these powerful stories of Black business legends and trailblazers who share their knowledge, resources and tools on our show, and the impact this has on our community of listeners, working to blaze their trails.

2019 Trailblazers.FM Apple Podcasts Feature

Trailblazers.FM featured in Apple’s Black History Month selection

Trailblazers.FM featured in Apple’s Black History Month selection

The Trailblazers.FM podcast was featured in 2019's Apple Podcast's Black History Month feature.

Among other notable podcasts like Oprah's SuperSoul Conversations, The Nod, Pod Save The People and On One with Angela Rye, we were honored to be listed among a few dozen selected shows.

For 2019, the team at Apple Podcasts categorized this feature by Insights & Perspectives, Comedy, Society & Culture, Political Talk, Business & Startups, and Black Stories.

Trailblazers.FM was featured among other notable podcasts in the Business & Startups category, including Paychecks & Balances, Negotiate Anything, Joblogues, Side Hustle Pro, Journey to Launch, Myleik Teele's Podcast, Dreams in Drive, The Chris Hogan Show, Carry on Friends with Kerry-Ann Reid-Brown, Brown Ambition, and MoneyTalk with Melanie.

 

 

52 Social Media Topics to Engage with Your Fans

52 Social Media Topics to Engage with Your Fans

With social media, you've got the ability to introduce your brand to people all over the world for free! That's pretty cool when you think about it.

Now those who connect with you are most likely doing so because they find something about your brand that they identify with. But once they connect with you, ball is now in your court to begin to build a relationship, develop that trust and get them to feel like they really know and like you. When that happens, they'll not only become your customer but could likely bring you referrals and advocate for your business.

This is where developing engaging conversations with your fans and followers comes into play with your social media strategy.

Of course, the number one frustration I hear quite often from folks is “I dont know what to post to get people talking”.

So I've decided to share 52 social media topics to spark that conversation about your brand:

  1. Share a statistic about your industry
  2. Share your new years resolution
  3. Post a testimonial or thank you note you’d received (get permission from the client)
  4. Recognize a local business you love
  5. Tell your followers what you learned today
  6. Share a favorite inspirational quote
  7. Share your favorite magazine (link to their twitter handle or fan page)
  8. Mention a favorite charity (link to their twitter handle or fan page)
  9. Answer a question that a client has asked you today
  10. Ask for a referral on a major purchase you are about to make
  11. Explain why you are passionate about your business
  12. Link to a favorite facebook page that you follow and why you follow it
  13. Link to a funny youtube video
  14. Link to your pinterest channel
  15. Link to your youtube channel
  16. Link to your facebook page
  17. Post a picture of your team and staff
  18. Link to a blog site that inspires you
  19. Ask your followers what they’d like to know more about
  20. Ask people to make suggestions on how to improve your website, blog page, service
  21. Share your opinion about a local news story
  22. Endorse a product or service
  23. Share a success story about how you helped someone
  24. Ask for a referral on technology that you are planning to purchase
  25. Share a cool technology tool
  26. Talk about a business book you are reading right now
  27. Share a business tip
  28. Offer a free report or white paper for your followers
  29. Ask people what they are doing today
  30. Share who inspires you
  31. Ask your followers who inspires them
  32. Share your favorite website and ask followers to share theirs
  33. Request that your followers share a post with their followers
  34. Share the latest “thing” about your industry with your followers
  35. Share a favorite time saving tip
  36. Share great news
  37. Share a mistake and how you turned it around
  38. Talk about training events you’ve attended (and share a picture)
  39. Talk about an organization you belong to and why
  40. Share how you will be celebrating your holidays
  41. Compliment a team / staff member on a job well done
  42. Talk about how your industry has changed since you started
  43. Share what you are grateful for today
  44. Talk about something that really bothers you and why
  45. Talk about a myth that people have about your industry
  46. Share info about an event that you sponsored
  47. Share a link to an online mention someone else made about you
  48. Share a training certification you just accomplished
  49. Celebrate milestones… anniversary of years in business
  50. Share industry tips with links to websites
  51. Ask for referrals
  52. Share how you did something that would make someone’s life easier amd help them save money and time

I hope these help you get your creative engagement juices flowing.

SO… WHAT’S WORKING FOR YOU RIGHT NOW TO ENGAGE WITH YOUR FANS?

I’d love to hear what’s working for YOU in the comment section below.

Customers Are Screaming: “Make Me Important”

Customers Are Screaming: “Make Me Important”

If your business is to learn from the likes of Disney, Nordstrom and Apple in delivering that one intangible that gets them more traffic, more sales and more profits each and every year, when others can't figure out how to duplicate that same success, then this will be the most important intangible you tackle in your business this year.

Learning How To Deliver A 5 Star Customer Service Experience!

Your customers are receiving millions of new information bites each and every day and you are competing for their attention and it's tougher than ever to set yourself and your business apart on the tangibles alone…

All your competitors are innovative, all offer the best coffee, the best car, the best rates, the lowest prices…

So if you don't want to join the deal site revolution and begin price and profit margin wars, here's what you must do right now:

Begin to play the role of a prospective customer coming in contact with your business, product or service for the very first time (whether by web, social media, phone or walking through your doors).  What is their experience going to be like?  Is it typical, is it poor, or is it something they've likely never experienced before?

Make it different

Start to focus on those tiniest of details in your client's service experience that could take it from ordinary to extraordinary.

Make it your goal TODAY to begin to provide that customer immense VALUE, something beyond their expectations, and deliver more in those intangibles that won’t cost you much more, but will deliver more than the customer thought possible.

Get Them Talking!  

Do the above in a GREAT way and begin to watch your customers talk about your business, products and service to their friends, family and colleagues, which will lead to more positive visibility and PR for your brand… and more referrals and more sales!

Thinking back to my most memorable service experiences, I might struggle to think of what was actually said by a salesman, but I remember the feeling I had forever!

Begin To WOW!

Make it a goal today to look at your client's experience from beginning to end and find ways to deliver that WOW factor right now!

What about you?

Did I miss anything that you think are essential and that you’d like to share with the community? Feel free to share in the comment section below!

 
Photo by Morgan Basham on Unsplash

Love Your Customers

Love Your Customers

Born into poverty, Joe Girard sold 13,001 cars over the course of 15 years-not fleet sales but sales to individual car buyers. He holds the Guinness World Record for being the world's greatest salesman. In 1973, he sold 1,425 cars, and in one month, he sold 174-a record that still stands today. HBR (Harvard Business Review) senior editor M. Ellen Peebles spoke with Girard about overcoming personal hardship and how he created thousands of relationships, one at a time. Now out of the car business, he speaks to people around the world about how to sell. (more…)

Rise Above, No Excuses!

Rise Above, No Excuses!

You’ve had a long day at work,

Your legs are sore from yesterday’s workout,

It’s raining outside,

It’s cold outside,

It’s hot outside,

The drive is too far,

You don’t have time,

Your alarm didn’t go off,

These are excuses made by common people,

You are not common,

You are not a quitter,

You are not the person you may have been in the past,

You are an unyielding competitor,

You will succeed,

You will undeniably rise above it…

 

No excuses!!!

Is our motive & attitude acceptable to God?

Is our motive & attitude acceptable to God?

“If you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” – Gen 4:7

In Genesis 4, we read of the story many remember about Cain and Abel.  These brothers each had their respective skills.  Cain was a man who worked in the fields, while Abel tended to flocks.  Each had his job and both gave onto the Lord.  But the bible says that Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil, while Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock.

When you first read this passage, you might think of the items Cain and Able brought simply as their tithes and offerings right?  I sort of did myself at first.  But I now believe this is really about their heart, attitude and motive in all areas of their lives.  I'm going to raise my hand acknowledging fault with being caught in the same boat as Cain in many ways with my motive and attitude toward life probably not being fully committed to God.

This bible passage left me asking once again: Who is first in my life?  Is it God? Really??

Right now, I want and desire for it to be God so very bad… but what does my life look like if we broke it down day by day? I wake up on an average week day, up and running my life in every direction that deals with my wife, kid, family and business.  If we take a closer look at our lives on this micro level, it becomes more about ourselves, doesn't it?  By time I've committed all my brain's resources into my business on most days, I'm usually running to grab my daughter at daycare, to rush home and join my wife in unwinding through the tasks of dinner, house chores and getting ready to shut down and do it all over again the next day.

So I've gotta ask:  Are  we prioritizing a God first mentality in our homes? Is your motive to first thank God for the breath of life you have when you first awake? If not, then when you open your eyes, give thanks to Him for your rest and your waking up once again!  Don't jump out of bed ungrateful.   I'm sharing this blog post with you, but in many ways I'm speaking to myself here.  I can often jump out of bed, dealing with my daughter and thinking about all the tasks I have that day for work and off I go… no thanks to the Lord and Savior, whose grace and mercy is the reason I have life, love, a home, a wife, a child, a business, health and on and on.

This leads me to my 2nd question: What are our day's wishes? Are our wishes that we be obedient to the word and will of God? If not, then we need to get up each day reading the bible to gain understanding about His instructions for our lives and how He wants us to pursue our lives throughout each day.   You or I couldn't just show up to our jobs each day without directives from our boss, right?   We don't just do what we feel like… we usually have a role and responsibilities that we must accomplish as part of a bigger goal for our companies each day.  If we don't do them well and consistently, we'd get fired!!  So how can we go about doing God's will without first getting instructions from God and figuring out not just what He wants but how He wants us to do our jobs as His servants?  We've got to set aside time each and everyday (preferably at the start) for reading the word and praying (and communicating) with God.  Then we gotta go out and get practical with the word, applying it throughout our lives.

As the verse at the top of this post says, we've got to become masters over our sinful nature.  That only happens by allowing God to be the master of our time and lives.  (please stop here and read Romans [spp-timestamp time="6:16"]-23).  If you and I don't control this sinful nature, it will control us.  Please take control today of your attitude and motive and be confident that they are in line and acceptable to God.

Photo by Naassom Azevedo on Unsplash

 

Hope Defined

Hope Defined

“I have always believed that hope is that stubborn thing inside us that insists; despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us, so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting…”

– Barack Obama, Election Night Victory Speech 11.06.2012

Are You Happy?

Are You Happy?

What is it that makes you really really happy?

There are many things I enjoy, but I'm not certain they really make me ‘happy'.  At the core of it all I realized a truth that is worth noting.

I can't be happy with someone or something, unless I myself am happy with me first!

DID YOU GET THAT?  Lemme repeat…

I can't be happy (and this goes for you too) with anything or anyone in my life, unless I am happy with me first!

I say that because I can think of times past where I was genuinely unhappy with myself.  Even as recent as Spring of this year, I fell into a funk I couldn’t find my way out of… nothing seemed to be going as I had planned and I became unhappy with myself and nothing else seemed to bring me out of it.

I even went so far as to stop my weekly inspirational emails for the first in a couple years, because inspiration for me came from feeling inspired and I was the furthest from that at the time (btw, thanks for all who inspired me to get the heck out of that dip and get back to the happy Stephen you all know and love 😉

So incase you are in a valley right now and trying to get other ‘things' or people to cheer you up and make you ‘happy’,  know that you got to get right with you first.  Be happy in knowing that you are a blessed being.  You are love(d).  You are alive.  You opened your eyes today and have the same opportunity as does everyone else.   We all were given the same 1,440 minutes today to make the most of our time in this day.  Don’t allow life’s past disappointments, fears, challenges and pains hold you back any longer.

My pastor said something this weekend, that too often we await a zap from God to make us happy in an instant… but reminded me of the truth, that the miracles often happen in the journey.  Despite whatever uphill battles, stress, disappointments are in the way right this minute, just be happy that you’re still on your pathway to where God is leading you.  Be happy that you’ve still got the grace of time to see your way out of those issues and trust that you will see even more miracles unfold in your life.

I’m happy! I’m oh so happy with me.  And as a result, I live to pour out that happiness in my wife, my daughter, my family and you, my friends.

So as that tune from the 80s or 90s goes…. Don’t worry, be happy now!

Where is your ATTITUDE taking you?

Where is your ATTITUDE taking you?

Today, ask yourselves this question: Where is my ATTITUDE taking me?

My take away is this:

Attitude gets you where you ought to be. A good attitude gets you to a good destination. -Stephen Hart

Have you ever found yourself in a situation with all doors closed and no way out?

Ever gave up on yourself when you failed at a task?

Ever felt alone and that no one could understand where you were at so it was better to not allow people in to help?

Hey, listen, I've been in all those places! I'm human and you are too. There's nothing wrong with feeling that way from time to time. But here's the thing, you CAN feel that way for a time, but NOT forever!

To get beyond that lonely feeling where your emotions have you ready to throw in your towel, you've got to change your attitude!

As I said above, your ATTITUDE will get you where you ought to be. By that, I mean that if you keep a negative attitude and don't keep moving, but instead sit in your sorrow, you will be all alone with no one to talk to. No one wants to be around negativity all the time. So if you don't turn that frown upside down, you'll find that you're where you put yourself.

I've got an ATTITUDE where I'm going to bang on one of those closed door or beat down the wall, because being stuck without options is not going to be an option. Believe me, we can make sooo much noise that someone on the outside looking into your situation or circumstance will come get you out and help you move on.

Attitude gets you where you ought to be! Go getters get going!

Where will your attitude take you?

 

 

10 Tips on INNOVATION

10 Tips on INNOVATION

1.       INNOVATION is the specific tool of entrepreneurs, the means by which they exploit change as an opportunity for a different business or a different service. It is capable of being presented as a discipline, capable of being learned, capable of being practiced. Entrepreneurs need to search purposefully for the sources of innovation, the changes and their symptoms that indicate opportunities for successful innovation. And they need to know and to apply the principles of successful innovation. Peter Drucker

 

2.       Perhaps our originality manifests itself most strikingly in what we do with that which we did not originate. To discover something wholly new can be a matter of chance, of idle tinkering, or even of the chronic dissatisfaction of the untalented. Eric Hoffer

 

3.       CREATIVITY is thinking up new things. INNOVATION is doing new things. Theodore Levitt

 

4.       The INNOVATION point is the pivotal moment when talented and motivated people seek the opportunity to act on their ideas and dreams. W.Arthur Porter

 

5.       The greatness of art is not to find what is common but what is unique. Isaac Bashevis Singer

 

6.       Create your own method. Don't depend slavishly on mine. Make up something that will work for you! But keep breaking traditions, I beg you. Konstantin Stanislavisky

 

7.       Create your own method. Don't depend slavishly on mine. Make up something that will work for you! But keep breaking traditions, I beg you. Mark Twain

 

8.       Innovation is the creation of the new or the re-arranging of the old in a new way. Michael Vance

 

9.       When there is an original sound in the world, it makes a hundred echoes. John A. Shedd

 

10.    One of the greatest pains to human nature is the pain of a new idea. Walter Bagehot

55 Quotes on ATTITUDE

55 Quotes on ATTITUDE

Here are 55 awesome quotes referencing the topic of attitude. Please read through them and share your favorite quote in the comment section below. My favorites are bolded.

• Every exit is an entry somewhere. – Tom Stoppard

• While we are focusing on fear, worry, or hate, it is not possible for us to be experiencing happiness, enthusiasm or love. – Bo Bennett

• There are no menial jobs, only menial attitudes. – William John Bennett

• Whenever you're in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude. – Timothy Bentley

I'd rather be a could-be if I cannot be an are;because a could-be is a maybe who is reaching for a star.I'd rather be a has-been than a might-have-been, by far;for a might have-been has never been, but a has was once an are.Milton Berle

• Life is 10 percent what you make it and 90 percent how you take it. – Irving Berlin

• It is better to know nothing than to know what ain't so – Josh Billings

• Our attitudes control our lives. Attitudes are a secret power working twenty-four hours a day, for good or bad. It is of paramount importance that we know how to harness and control this great force. – Tom Blandi

• I never expect to lose. Even when I'm the underdog, I still prepare a victory speech. – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

• You are more likely to act yourself into feelings, than feel yourself into action. – Jerome Bruner

• I don't wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to earth. – Pearl Buck

• There are two big forces at work, external and internal. We have very little control over external forces such as tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, disasters, illness and pain. What really matters is the internal force. How do I respond to those disasters? Over that I have complete control. – Leo Buscaglia

• I would rather be first in a little Iberian village than second in Rome – Julius Caesar

• In the depths of winter I finally learned there was in me an invincible summer. – Albert Camus

• In War: Resolution. In Defeat: Defiance. In Victory: Magnanimity. In Peace: Goodwill.- Sir Winston Churchill

• If you wish to travel far and fast, travel light. Take off all your envies, jealousies, unforgiveness, selfishness and fears. – Glenn Clark

• You got to sing like you don't need the money; Love like you'll never get hurt; You got to dance like nobody's watchin'; It's gotta come from the heart if you want it to work. – Susanna Clark

• It's not the situation. It's your reaction to the situation. – Robert Conklin

• Life at any time can become difficult: life at any time can become easy. It all depends upon how one adjusts oneself to life – Moraji Desai

• It is not the position, but the disposition. – J.E. Dinger

• A man can believe a considerable deal of rubbish, and yet go about his daily work in a rational and cheerful manner. – Norman Douglas

• To different minds, the same world is a hell, and a heaven. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

• It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters. – Epictetus

• Win as if you were used to it, lose as if you enjoyed it for a change – Golnik Eric

• Events will take their course, it is no good of being angry at them; he is happiest who wisely turns them to the best account. – Euripides

• It's how you deal with failure that determines how you achieve success. – David Feherty

• Our attitude towards what has happened to us in life is the important thing to recognize. Once hopeless, my life is now hope-full, but it did not happen overnight. The last of human freedoms, to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, is to choose one's own way. – Victor Frankl

• A positive attitude can really make dreams come true — it did for me. – Zina Garrison

• Nothing in life is so hard that you can't make it easier by the way you take it. – Ellen Glasgow

• Let's not be narrow, nasty, and negative. – Vernon Grounds

• Each experience through which we pass operates ultimately for our good. This is a correct attitude to adopt and we must be able to see it in that light – Raymond Holliwell

• Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it. – Lou Holtz

• It's not the load that breaks you down, it's the way you carry it. – Lena Horne

• Those who believe that they are exclusively in the right are generally those who achieve something. – Aldous Huxley

• Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives. – William James

• The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind. – William James

• It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome. – William James

• Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude. – Thomas Jefferson

• Success or failure depends more upon attitude than upon capacity successful men act as though they have accomplished or are enjoying something. Soon it becomes a reality. Act, look, feel successful, conduct yourself accordingly, and you will be amazed at the positive results. – Dupree Jordan

• My attitude is never to be satisfied, never enough, never. – Bela Karolyi

• Up to a point a man's life is shaped by environment, heredity, and the movements and changes in the world around him. Then there comes a time when it lies within his grasp to shape the clay of his life into the sort of thing he wishes to be. Only the weak blame parents, their race, their times, lack of good fortune, or the quirks of fate. Everyone has it within his power to say, ‘This I am today; that I will be tomorrow.' The wish, however, must be implemented by deeds. – Louis L’Amour

• A pessimist and an optimist, so much the worse; so much the better. – Jean De La Fontaine

• Keep your heart right, even when it is sorely wounded. – J.C. Macaulay

• We would accomplish many more things if we did not think of them as impossible.- Chretien Malesherbes

• We are injured and hurt emotionally, Not so much by other people or what they say and don't say, But by our own attitude and our own response. – Maxwell Maltz

• Take the attitude of a student, Never be too big to ask questions, Never know too much to learn something new. – Og Mandino

• What happens to a man is less significant than what happens within him. – Louis L. Mann

• A will finds a way. – Orison Swett Marden

• Attitudes are more important than facts – Karl Menninger

• One's destination is never a place, but rather a new way of looking at things. – Henry Miller

• Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens. – John Homer Miller

• There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who, when presented with a glass that is exactly half-full, say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half-empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass! – Terry Pratchett

• You play the hand you're dealt. I think the game's worthwhile. – Christopher Reeve

• Great effort springs naturally from a great attitude. – Pat Riley

• This is the precept by which I have lived: Prepare for the worst; expect the best; and take what comes. – Robert E. Speer

 

Changes Happen

Changes Happen

Isn't it funny how time and knowledge can change so much so quickly.

I woke up in the couch this past Sunday morning at around 3am, hearing this guy talking on tv and I jumped outta my sleep to write down something he said:

Knowledge is the seed for change. If you change what you know, you'll change what you do.

It's as though God destined me to sleep on the couch and wake up just at the point I did, so I could hear that.  There's so much happening right now in my crazy little world.  So much that will happen in 2012, God's willing.  But the  change that's coming, is a result of the things I'm learning. Isn't it funny that the more we learn, its the more we look back and smack ourselves for the mistakes of our past… knowing that if we knew better, we'd have done better.

Knowledge really does change what you do.   Which means that we need to learn as much as we can.  In this age, that's almost a problem in the sense that we live in a technology overload era, where we're getting fed all this information, from facebook and youtube and linkedin and the offline media outlets (tv, radio, papers, magazines, etc).

Make every effort to feed your brain good knowledge.  Remember GIGO – garbage in garbage out – if we don't get good knowledge coming in, then things won't change much for the good. We've got to begin to get meaningful content coming into our brains, to help us grow.

 

Faith

Faith

This week's inspirational deals with our Faith:

… Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
Hebrews 11:1-3

Faith is your response to the promises of God for your life. (God says, “I will lead you.” Faith responds, “I will follow.” God says, “I will feed you.” Faith says, “I will eat.” God says, “I will meet your need.” Faith says. “It is done.”) Faith is never a leap into the dark, it is always a based upon the firmest of foundations, The Word Of God. The person who really walks in faith never walks through life blind. He always knows what is ahead

Have a blessed week!

14 SHOCKING Pornography Statistics!

14 SHOCKING Pornography Statistics!

I really think more MUST be said and more help offered by the christian community, to aid men, women and children in overcoming this fast growing epidemic.  If we do not control this and fast, we're likely to lose our children's generation to this exponentially growing disease!

I'm urging all pastors, disciples and christians to give your all to attack this NOW. We can no longer sit by and allow this to grow without pouring energy into fighting this!!


2 Timothy 3

Godlessness in the Last Days

1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good,4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions,7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

 

This isn't just a problem for non-believers.  Stats I found show this being a huge problem in the church, among believers.  I've even heard some pastors recently mentioning this being a problem among pastors and church staff:

53% – Promise Keeper men who viewed pornography in the last week

47% – Christians who said pornography is a major problem in the home

 

How do we begin to tackle this?  What can we do to share God's word about this with other christian brothers and sisters?

 

I gathered the stats shown in this post from these two sites:  http://www.familysafemedia.com/pornography_statistics.html and http://unitedfamiliesinternational.wordpress.com/2010/06/02/14-shocking-pornography-statistics/

G.O.S.P.E.L.

G.O.S.P.E.L.

G – GOD | O – OUR | S – SINS | P – PAYING | E — EVERYONE | L – LIFE

God created us to be with Him. (Genesis 1-2)
Our sins separate us from God. (Genesis 3)
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds. (Genesis 4 – Malachi 4)
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)
Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John)
Life with Jesus starts now and lasts forever. (Acts – Revelation)

READ MORE: http://www.dare2share.org/gospeljourney/

12 Quotes on Humility

12 Quotes on Humility

Humility is the only true wisdom by which we prepare our minds for all the possible changes of life. George Arliss

 

What makes humility so desirable is the marvelous thing it does to us; it creates in us a capacity for the closest possible intimacy with God.  Monica Baldwin

 

It is no great thing to be humble when you are brought low; but to be humble when you are praised is a great and rare attainment. St. Bernard

 

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Philippians 2:3

 

Without humility there can be no humanity. John Buchan

 

The greatest friend of truth is Time, her greatest enemy is Prejudice, and her constant companion is humility. Charles Caleb Colton

 

No truly great person ever thought themselves so.  William Hazlitt

 

Always remember when you are on top of the world , that the earth rotates every 24 hrs. Steve Makris

 

Humility leads to strength and not to weakness. It is the highest form of self-respect to admit mistakes and to make amends for them.  John Mccloy

 

The first test of a truly great man is his humility. By humility I don't mean doubt of his powers or hesitation in speaking his opinion, but merely an understanding of the relationship of what he can say and what he can do. John Ruskin

 

When we become aware of our humility, we've lost it. 


Humility is the ladder to divine understanding.
 

7 Wise Tips on Money & Wealth

7 Wise Tips on Money & Wealth

Most of us spend most of our lives chasing after money and wealth.

I thought it would be awesome today to share with you some of the things said about money and wealth in the bible.   I hope you'll take the time to review these scripture tips and gain some measure of understanding regarding how you might be able to improve your focus and priorities in life where they truly need to be.  After reading these, it'll help you with perspective, I'm sure!

 

  • Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. – Colossians 3:2

 

  • Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 
    “Never will I leave you;
    never will I forsake you.” –
    Hebrews 13:5

 

  • 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 – Matthew [spp-timestamp time="6:19"]-2

 

  • For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – Luke [spp-timestamp time="12:34"]

 

  • Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. – 1 John [spp-timestamp time="2:15"]

 

  • Wisdom is a shelter 
    as money is a shelter,
    but the advantage of knowledge is this:
    that wisdom preserves the life of its possessor.
     – Ecclesiastes [spp-timestamp time="7:12"]

 

  • Whoever loves money never has money enough; 
    whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. 
    – Ecclesiastes [spp-timestamp time="5:10"]
28 LOVE Commands in the New Testament

28 LOVE Commands in the New Testament

Many know of the 10 commandments of Exodus 20.  But did you know that there are commands all throughout the New Testament.  Below are 28 key commands of us as believers as it relates to LOVE.  I thought I’d share these with you today.  Let’s all make every effort to put these into practical use daily!

  1. A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. – John [spp-timestamp time="13:34"]
  2. This is my command: Love each other. – John [spp-timestamp time="15:17"]
  3. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. – Mark [spp-timestamp time="12:30"]
  4. But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you – Matthew [spp-timestamp time="5:44"]
  5. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. – John [spp-timestamp time="15:12"]
  6. Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. – Romans 12:9
  7. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. – Romans [spp-timestamp time="12:10"]
  8. …and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. – Ephesians 5:2
  9. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins – 1 Peter 4:8
  10. If you love me, you will obey what I command. – John [spp-timestamp time="14:15"]
  11. Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him – 1 John [spp-timestamp time="2:15"]
  12. Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love. – Ephesians [spp-timestamp time="6:24"]
  13. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. – 1 John [spp-timestamp time="4:11"]
  14. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her – Ephesians [spp-timestamp time="5:25"]
  15. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.  – 1 John [spp-timestamp time="4:21"]
  16. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. – Colossians [spp-timestamp time="3:19"]
  17.  …but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.  – 1 John [spp-timestamp time="4:12"]
  18. Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. – 1 Peter [spp-timestamp time="1:22"]
  19. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. – John [spp-timestamp time="15:13"]
  20. Do everything in love. – 1 Corinthians [spp-timestamp time="16:14"]
  21. Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. – 1 John [spp-timestamp time="3:18"]
  22. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king. – 1 Peter [spp-timestamp time="2:17"]
  23. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. – Ephesians [spp-timestamp time="5:28"]
  24. But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you – Luke [spp-timestamp time="6:27"]
  25. Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble – 1 Peter 3:8
  26. Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. – Romans 13:8
  27. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him. – John [spp-timestamp time="14:21"]
  28. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. – John [spp-timestamp time="13:35"]
I Will See You Again, My Uncle, My Friend

I Will See You Again, My Uncle, My Friend

We give back to you, O God, our uncle, brother and friend, whom you gave to us.  You did not lose him when you gave him to us and we do not lose him when he returns to you.

Your dear Son, Jesus Christ, has taught us that life is eternal and love cannot die, so death is only a horizon and a horizon is only the limit of our sight.  Open our eyes to see more clearly and draw us close to you that we may know that we are nearer to our loved ones, who are with you.  You have told us that you are preparing a place for us; prepare us also for that happy place, that where you are we may also be always, O dear Lord of life and death.

You'll forever be among these Harts in our hearts.  

I will remember the last words of scripture that we shared together just weeks ago:

33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. – Matthew 6

We're not worried Uncle.  We know that today you are singing praises of joy and peace to our King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  We are only praying for God's favor and grace, that we might be a strong tower as you were, a man of faith as you were.  Despite your challenges and struggles, you loved the Lord with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your might!  You always encouraged, always smiled, always loved!  We will remember the example of Christ-like character that you left within our hearts, and we'll be okay.

Shine Your Light & Let The World See

Shine Your Light & Let The World See

You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden – Matthew [spp-timestamp time="5:14"]

[Your Name Here] is the light of the world!  Shine your light today and let the whole world see Christ in your actions.

Just like Jesus did in His time on this earth, we also need to challenge the conventional wisdom of our time, where our culture perceives the wealthy and influential to enjoy more of God's blessings than those who are poor.  Jesus wanted His followers to see that material things were only temporary and certainly not to be what our heart is set on.

As believers, we need to see and understand that this world is temporary and that the love and kindness we show others is so much more important to our Father in heaven than all the material things we could gain here in the world.

Pray and challenge yourselves and those around you today to let go of arrogance, pride, jealousy, anger and greed.   Those things contribute to the dark world we live in.

Instead, shine the light of love, truth, forgiveness, kindness, peace and joy.  Be examples of Christ's unfailing love in your work places, in your homes, marriages, families, communities and churches.  Step up and become accountable to leading our next generation toward values that are worthy.  Let us not lose the saltiness of our faith (Matt. [spp-timestamp time="5:13"]).

Shine your light today, make sure your world sees!

 

How wide and long and high and deep is the love

How wide and long and high and deep is the love

Hoping everyone had a fun and safe weekend. Today’s Monday Morning Inspiration was inspired by my pastor's sermon this weekend from Ephesians [spp-timestamp time="3:17"]-19:

…And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

I often reflect on God's perfect love. He loved us so much that He sacrificied His one and only son. As a parent, I can't begin to picture sacrificing my daughter for anyone that didn't deserve it. But that's how much God loves us. His son died for us while we were still sinners. Isn't that a perfect example of a love that's unconditional?

Let us practice real Christ like love this week. Let's act on God's blessings and grace in each of us to exercise our abilities to love those around us, even if they don't deserve it. Imagine what a difference we'd make in this world filled with hatred and jealousy. How much can we change our work or family environment, by a simple act of love that's undeserved?

Go out and have an awesome week loving those around you.

Real Living is About Giving

Real Living is About Giving

 

Love God and your neighbor

Love God and your neighbor

Today, we live in a time and culture that teaches us to consume and to receive all that we can (career, house, cars, money, relationships) as quickly as we possibly can.

 

Is it not surprising then why fewer of our youth and next generation are learning and teaching the eternally rewarding principles of giving?

(more…)

There Are NO  Impossible Odds

There Are NO Impossible Odds

There are many odds we see or saw at some point as simply and totally impossible.  So many thought that Usama Bin Ladin would never be caught.  Many thought we could never ever see the day of having a black president of the USA.  Many thought we could never see absolute devastation on US soil like we did on 9/11.

If you asked me 3 years ago if I saw possibilities for financial survival after someone embezzled millions from us and left us flat out broke, I’d tell you No Possible Way! Yet, when we can no longer see possibilities by way of our human limitations, there is a God that we serve that can see and make the impossible, possible! (more…)

We love because he first loved us

We love because he first loved us

As I stood in my daughter’s room this morning getting her a new diaper, I found myself questioning who should really be the one fussing and crying about what I had to do. I had just woken up, my eyes barely open, with a sinus headache and having to change a poopy diaper.

I was simply helping her get her bum cleaned up, but yet she was the one who was mad and cussing at me! But I did what I did, because I loved her and because it was the right thing to do, because I was her dad and I knew best. I knew that she needed that diaper changed right then and that leaving her in a stinky diaper was not an option.

1 John [spp-timestamp time="4:19"] We love because he first loved us

For the first time this morning, I saw God in a light I had never seen before. (more…)

34 Years of Blessings!

34 Years of Blessings!

As I reflect and celebrate the day of my birth also on a Thursday, April 21st, I begin to feel God’s blessings of wisdom in my life beginning to take hold.  Of course, I’ll likely look back in 5 years and think I knew little today, but as of right now, I really feel that I’m coming into my own right now.

I’m so very delighted about each and every blessing that has me where I am today:  my health, love, patience, humility, strength, positive energy, being a great father, a loving wife, having great parents, a family I heart, caring inlaws, a successful business and the list goes on and on.

I do get the sense that life’s experiences have begun to have more meaning and significance.  I truly feel that I’m not only learning now but as a dad, I’m now beginning to teach and to do so, means that I’ve got to have the knowledge down the right way in order to relay it accurately.

I would not be here today, had it not been in God’s plan.  So I’m grateful for the gift I’m given, in this present moment.  I pray that if it is His will, that I will live a long, happy, and healthy life.

If I am able to enjoy the next 34 years, I hope that I can dedicate much of that time to capitalizing on the legacy of my dad and grandmother left me and my generation to follow, by planting the seeds of love in those that have none.

For my friends and family, I thank you for your love, support and nurturing me to be the Stephen I am today.

It gets better with setbacks

It gets better with setbacks

Ever realized that whenever we’ve got a setback in life, be it at work, school, with your finances, car, house, or whatever… you find that the setback is what forces you out of your comfort zone, and propels you to fight your way to a better end result!  And along the way, you learn something new that makes you just a little wiser.

 

With my career, I would certainly not be where I am today, had it not been for terribly hard setbacks that knocked the air completely out of me a hundred times over.  The key was that instead of believing that I failed and giving up, I managed to always get back up,  do some positive talk with my inner guy and pray to my upper guy, and the rest is all just hard work and faith til it all works itself out.  And it most always does work out, for the good or bad.  But either way, we always come away wiser and stronger than before.

Finances are another area.  How many times have you had financial emergencies that compound on one another at the worst possible time.  You lose your job and the car breaks down the next day! Ok, so that scenario would really suck…  but seriously, you get where I’m headed, you got compounding negatives.

It’s never ideal timing when these situations play out in our lives, but that is the game of life.  Learn to breathe and push through, without getting angry or frustrated or worried or stressed out.

Just know and believe that it always seems to work itself out.  Even in a bad outcome, God always has a way to use the bad as a learning lesson for the good to come, so don’t stress yourself out.  Know and believe that all things, events, challenges and obstacles are good, whether for now or later.

Embrace those setbacks today and know it’s bound to get better.


What’s inside you?

What’s inside you?

It’s [spp-timestamp time="12:25"]am and I’m up! I spent over 2 hours in the book of Mark, reading and reading. Jesus is so amazing. Scripture taught me so much tonight. One of the amazing things I’m seeing is that Jesus never gave up even when His disciples or followers lacked understanding, He just kept teaching. He performed so many miracles, he healed so many, he taught so many, he loved so many! It’s just amazing to me.

Where would we be if Jesus didn’t save us from our sins?

Part of my reading found me in Mark 7: 14-23, where Jesus said:
14…“Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside of a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him ‘unclean’….

18… Don’t you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him ‘unclean’? For it doesn’t go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods ‘clean’).

21 For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean’.

Mark Driscoll reminds us that we (especially as men) need to have a bigger, more passionate, more powerful, more masculine, more authoritative, more caring view of Jesus.

What areas of your life are in turmoil right now? Listen, we all have areas of our lives that are in need of surrender to Jesus… Maybe you cheated? Maybe you lied? Maybe you have done something sexually immoral or deceitful? Maybe you’ve hurt someone?

Remember one thing, if nothing else, Jesus suffered so that we could enjoy life! He died on the cross, to save you and I from our sins. Because of our ugly human nature, we all have or have had our faces turned toward sin and our backs to God. But through repentance, we can now be blessed to turn our faces to God and our backs to sin.

‘With Jesus we are liberated from speculation and we are granted revelation!’, Mark Driscoll.

If you ever have questions about anything related to your walk with Christ, and need someone to talk with, please shoot me an email, as I'd love to help be a friend in Christ and help my brothers or sisters to proceed with their lives. You can always reach out to me at any time!

Be blessed and happy friday!

10 ways to make TODAY your best day ever!

There's a famous speech that was given by Apple CEO Steve Jobs at a Stanford graduation a couple years ago, where he shared some great advice. Some of his speech included the following:

“If you treat each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right!

Ask yourself: If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I'm about to do today.

Remembering you'll be dead soon, propels you to do what is truly important.

Death is a destination we all share, yet no one wants to die, even to get to heaven.

Your time is limited so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't live in the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your inner voice.

Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They already know what you want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

With this inspiring speech in my mind, I thought it was important to share some thoughts on why we can't waste another minute of our precious life.

So here are 10 ways to make TODAY your best day ever!:

1. PRAY – Start each and every day by giving thanks to God, for He provided you love, faithfulness and life's newest opportunity, by allowing you to be here today! We all need to start realizing that today is a gift, and the reason it's called the ‘present'.

2. Prepare for Today – John C. Maxwell in his book Today Matters, emphasized that most people take a reactive approach towards life, instead of a proactive one. He reminded me that life is not a dress rehearsal and that we don't get a second chance to relive today!!

3. Control your NOW moment! Oprah Winfrey shared in a conversation recently on Piers Morgan Tonight, that part of her success is realized by her ability to live in the present moment, despite how much just happened or is about to. She enjoys and focuses on the moment she is in right now. No matter what noise life carries, we must remember that we can't control yesterday and we can't worry or guarantee what will happen tomorrow. We've only got NOW and we must live in the moment right now!

4. Serve Someone – Volunteer your time and resources, plant a smile on someone else's face today. Doesn't have to be something big, you could hold a door open for a stranger, pay the toll for someone behind you in the morning traffic or buy breakfast for the homeless guy standing at the stoplight. There is an indescribable joy that comes from serving someone with no expectations in return. That's always something that will leave your day better than words can describe.

5. LAUGH – Our emotional balancing mechanism is laughter and one of the best means of communication. Laughter invites joy and pleasant sensations and it's contagious. When others see you smiling and laughing today, it will transfer a positive energy to them that will lift their spirits in a great way.

6. Tell someone special that you love them – If possible, tell EVERYONE you love that you love them! But remind someone closest to you of some of the greatest moments that you've shared with that person and let them know how much they mean to you.

7. Make today your masterpiece – tomorrow is determined by the steps you take to improve today. The great basketball coach John Wooden of UCLA taught his players to make today a masterpiece, knowing that by applying yourself to the task of becoming a little better each and every day over a period of time, you would become so much better!

8. Have a great attitude about your day – You've likely heard that your attitude is everything. Those who are successful in any area of their lives, are more likely to have a positive attitude towards their objectives. If we each embrace a positive attitude today, I'm certain that our outlook and outcome begin to align that much more.

9. Express your gratitude to others – When's the last time you told your parents thank you? When's the last time you told your spouse thank you? When's the last time you told your boss thank you or your employees thank you? Too often we forget to express our gratitude enough. How many of you feel that you are taken for granted and how many can think of situations where you might be perceived for having taken someone else for granted? Tell someone thank you today!

10. Prioritize what's most important for today – As much as we would like to do it all, we just simply can't. Our time is limited, but our wants and desires infinite. We must prioritize what's the most important goal that we can accomplish today and make sure that it gets done today. Prioritizing will help us to filter out the noise of our life, that battles for our time and attention.

For me, my life priorities are being re-focused and re-shaped by God's will. By this, I mean I've been taking baby steps to work on filtering more and more of my free time away from facebook and television and migrating that time to the word of God. Discipline is my weakness, so it's not been easy for me. But I'm learning that God speaks to me the most when I submit myself to reading His word more regularly.

Looking back even to one year ago, I can see so many areas of my life have improved as a result, but I still got LOTS to do. By these disciplines, my attitude and my gratitude are getting better each day. I'm learning more about the importance of being prepared each day, so I can be ready for each of my NOW moments. I'm serving others more frequently and enjoying such delight in it, that I find myself seeking bigger ways to serve even more (the reason www.godsfullarmor.com has now consumed my focus for 2011). I'm loving my wife and daughter with all that I am, knowing that I'm the leader of my home and working to make sure I don't miss a minute of the joy and pleasure of being a great husband and father. I'm painting my masterpiece each and every day. I encouraged and hope that I've inspired you today to do the same.

It's my hope that you'll have a great day today after reading and sharing this post. Be blessed and be a blessing.

Five Keys for Building a Godly Family

building a Godly family

building a Godly family

In a society where the term family has become so dysfunctional, how can we be history changers for our next generation. How can we swim against the waves of fatherless homes and divorced marriages?

Here are 5 ultimate keys for building a Godly Family and lasting legacy:

1. We must set GOALS for what we hope to accomplish as a family

Setting goals shouldn't happen when you become a spouse or parent. It should begins long before as a single person without the responsibilities of marriage or child. Les Brown, one of the world's most revered motivational speakers, once said that it is better to be prepared for an opportunity than to have an opportunity we were not prepared for. (more…)

Stop making excuses!

Stop making excuses!

Aren't our outcomes a result of what we make it?

It's time we all started living up to and accepting our actions, faults and shortcomings.  It's time we stopped blaming others for the negative outcomes we experience. The sooner we realize and embrace our adversity and challenges as being a result of the decisions we made, the quicker that we can accept the lessons learned and begin to grow from it.

One of my brothers, Lance Smith says a quote often, that has begun to make itself so profound to me: “If you live in the past, you die in the present“.

If we can't stop blaming others for what they did to us in the past, we'll never see the here and now.  We'll never experience the gift God has for you and I today!  We could have treasure sitting right under our nose, but we're so blinded by the anger and frustration that our heart can't release what's built up to see the opportunity right in front of us. (more…)

Humble Resolutions

Happy New Year.  Did you commit to any new year’s resolutions? Did you write them down?  How many would agree that one or more of your goals were based on your own needs and ambitions.

I can humbly share that there are newly written goals in my resolution list for 2011, that for the first time will benefit others, including my goal to give away 10,000 shirts to impoverished kids in D. C., Maryland and Virginia through GodsFullArmor.com.  Nevertheless, there are also self centered goals that focus on my own self interests.  Goals around buying this or earning that.  They have to do with my own ambition and where I want to get to in 2011.  Anything wrong with that, you might ask? (more…)

All I need is YOU

Our God is An Awesome God

He reigns from heaven above

With Wisdom, Power & LOVE

Our God is An Awesome God

God's love in unconditional, unlimited &

Think about creation for just a minute and what a spectacle LIFE is and yet we take it for granted each and every day.

I remember going to the doctor with my wife last fall, about 5 weeks pregnant. The doctor does his stuff and hands us a black empty picture. Looking at nothing on his screen or this printout, I thought: what a let down… we did like 3 pregnancy tests and all said she was pregnant and here is K's doc saying “That's where your baby is going to be, in this empty space”. Problem was we didn't get to see proof of what God already had in store. We couldn't put a visual to it. There was nothing there, but the doctor wanted me to believe that something would soon be there. (more…)

He > i

This weekend was such an awesome weekend.  I spent 48 hours in the presence of God and over 210 teenagers at Sandy Hill Camp, in Northeast, MD.  It was the venue for our youth ministries’ fall retreat.  Our youth ministry, Elevate, now represented by kids, leaders and pastors from both our Gaithersburg and Frederick campuses, came out to worship, fellowship and have lots of fun.

In the midst of our first night’s worship, Pastor Justin came at us direct, with a message from Mark [spp-timestamp time="8:34"], where Jesus told his followers and disciples “if anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

Pastor Justin reminded us how personal and inconvenient it is for us as Christians to pick up and carry our crosses around every day.  It might be cool to have your cross on Sunday mornings, raising your hands and singing in church, but are you openly professing your faith when you’re at work, school or amongst other non-believers?  He really inspired me to stand firm, and to stand my ground in other environments where it might not be cool to openly say that I’m a Christian.  He also reminded me it wasn’t cool for Jesus either when He picked up his cross and died for us. (more…)

Reach further!

Reach further!

Do you sometimes wonder why your life isn't where you expected you'd be?  You find yourself in a sequence of ‘well if' scenarios that would have had your life telling a different story today.  One more promising and nearing perfection.  Well if I had done so and so, then I would be better off because of …  Truth is, that's not what happened and if you keep living in the past ‘what if' scenarios, you're only wasting more of your future time to chart a different course and to tell a better story.

Most of you that have heard my testimony know that the past two and a half years of my life have been filled with the highest of highs, followed by the lowest of lows.  I sometimes think of what went wrong and I could easily get caught living in the past for weeks on end, thinking of how things could have been perfect.  Its easy to see what I want to see and how things could have been, where the grass would be greener.  But as my pastor has said in the past, ‘the grass is greener where you water it'. (more…)

Blessings = material things

Blessings = material things

In the days of gloomy and chaotic times, I think we have become a culture that sees and perceives the above as real, that all blessings are tangible things we can see and touch.  Many think that God’s blessings come only with a higher paying job, a larger home, a nicer car and if all our debts are paid off.

God is a good God that is capable of the above, even when we can’t see those possibilities.  However, God’s blessings are so much more and many of the continual blessings are the ones we do not see.

We woke up today, alive and under a roof of our own!  That’s the first blessing of each day to be grateful for.  We woke up in a bed we own!  Don’t think that’s a blessing, go sleep in your car or a friend’s couch for a week and picture what you’d do if you lost your home in a foreclosure or were evicted from your apartment and all you had was taken away. (more…)

I dare you to love someone today!

Before I get writing today, let me apologize for my inconsistency with my blogging.  I made the commitment to start this blog, despite my non-stop 7 day a week work life and having a young baby that occupies every remaining moment we've got.  I just want to say I’ll keep trying to blog as frequently as I possibly can, and I hope you’ll keep reading whenever I do post.  Please keep me prayed up that I'm able to remain active here.

This past Sunday, 10.10.10, was an amazing evening, where I was blessed to be in the presence of the talented award winning singer/songwriter, Israel Houghton.  I can’t begin to express the joy I had listening to his testimony.

Israel was born to a 17 year old white mom, with a black dad who abandoned her.  She was disowned by her family for getting pregnant, told to get an abortion and she’d been on drugs throughout her pregnancy.  At a point that she thought to give up, a woman say her walking on the road and followed a voice that said “go talk to her”.  That woman walked up to her and told her that Jesus loved her just as she was.  That day, in tears, Israel’s mom came to know the Lord.  His mom was saved on a sidewalk in California and as a result of one person’s simple act of love, we have such an inspiring talent in our midst today.  Because of a simple act of love, millions of people the world over are now touched as I was last night to be ministered to by Israel. (more…)

5 Benefits To Seeking Wisdom

I'm sitting up in bed today, reading some powerful verses in Proverbs and I couldn't help but think that the world of the ancient times is in many ways the same as it is today.  Yes, we got iPhones and sports cars, but people were just as foolish then as they are today, living lives focused on material gains and aspiring towards status & fame, rather than living humbly and seeking knowledge and wisdom.

The desires of our flesh were just as strong 2 or 3 thousand years ago.  And reading these verses caught me by surprise, realizing that if more of us would read the Word, we'd certainly have been able to benefit from the instructions of wisdom outlined in the bible, and we'd be a far better society than we are today.

From my reading, I thought to share a few simple & practical disciplines that we can use to help develop and mature spiritually: (more…)

Dont Let Your Opportunity Wither

Matthew 21: 18 Early in the morning, as he was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19 Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered. 20 When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked. 21 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. 22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

As I’m sitting here meditating on the words within this passage, there are a few thoughts that I had running through my mind.

First, I’m thinking of how proactive we are in our everyday lives to be prepared for our opportunities, before they come knocking at the door.  Are we getting our minds and bodies prepared for what God has in store for us?  We all are presented in life with opportunities, but often times, we have not prepared ourselves and so, they pass us by and we’re often never met with the same opportunity again in the future.

Here, Jesus was hungry, but the fig tree had no fruit.  Jesus realized that this fig tree had nothing to offer, so he banned it from bearing fruit again and so it withered.  It’s scary to think, but could we be banned for not bringing fruit to the kingdom of God?  Could we be viewed in God’s eyes as a being without purpose, without good potential for bearing fruit?    (more…)

What is our example?

What is our example?

I had the pleasure of being a part of my youth group, Elevate Youth Ministries Fall leadership training last night.  Our youth pastors, Justin and Jessica, spoke about some key steps that us as leaders are to take and I couldn't help but think about the fact that the items they addressed shouldn't be a youth leader thing, they should be everyday standards that all christians, men and women, should attempt to live by in order to be better people in our communities, workplaces, schools and churches. (more…)

Love + Gratitude = Great Attitude

Love + Gratitude = Great Attitude

To live the fantastic ‘American’ dream.  Isn’t that the goal we are taught to strive for in life?

Well, before I get too far, I’ve gotta pose this question: What’s so American about this fantastic dream?

I’m Jamaican, born and raised, and I’ve got the same dream, long before I moved here to the USA in the early 90s.  I want the house, the cars and the two kids.  I want the financial freedom and the ability to do what I want, when I want.  I want to travel all over the world and I want to enjoy the finer things in life.  If I had things my way, that’s how I see things playing out in a perfect scenario.  But how real is this scenario?

This is where most dreams end for the greater majority of us.  The dream stops and reality wakes you up to a different tune.  You realize that you are depressed with your life, disappointed that things aren’t happening when you want them to.  You might be working 50, 60, 70+ hours a week, just to pay the bills.  You’re seeing and spending less time with your kids.  You are putting everything you can into making sure you don’t get on the next list of layoffs with your company.  For some of you, you aren’t even getting a paycheck anymore, because you’re already one of the nearly 10% of Americans that are unemployed today.

Zig Ziglar in one of his seminars told an audience that one of the healthiest of all human emotions is gratitude.  I think it’s worth noting that instead of stinkin' thinkin', we should wake up each day, stand in front of the mirror and start with an ounce of love and gratitude.

If a guy wallows in his challenges and can’t see anything positive, what will be his catalyst to change his story?  He’ll simply continue building on his adversity, as do most people in life.  He'll continue hating his life and all that's bad in it, not seeing that there's still a bunch that's good and blessed.

So tomorrow morning when you wake up and finish brushing your teeth, I’d like you to look yourself in the eye in front of your bathroom mirror and repeat:

  1. I love my life because…

This should be repeated for all the reasons you love your life and are blessed to be standing in that mirror.  You should be able to list 10 – 20 within a few minutes.  Don’t speak them in your mind either, speak out loud and look yourself in the eye when you say them.  Here are a couple examples of my own:

  1. I love my life because I’m loved by a beautiful wife and daughter
  2. I love my life because I have a job that I get paid for and I’m not one of the new 400,000 people filing for unemployment this week, for the first time
  3. I love my life because I’ve got God’s blessings flowing through everything I do and am
  4. I love my life because I am healthy and have all my physical abilities intact today
  5. I love my life because I have the freedom to choose what I want to do in my life to help make my world a better place

You can choose to go on, while looking yourself in the mirror, telling yourself why you love each area of your life.  Before you walk away from the mirror, challenge yourself to list 10 reasons why you love your life!  Your day will be so much brighter when you begin to realize how grateful you should be for the blessings you’ve got.

The method expressed here is meant to help you to change your attitude.  I firmly believe that our Attitude is everything! When you begin to change your attitude from bad to good, you’ll start to express a sense of gratitude for your life and your blessings.  From that gratitude, you’ll begin to focus on your purpose in life.

It’s funny how you’ll listen to a seminar, or read a book interview with a successful person, and they are so happy and somehow 99% of them seem to have a great attitude.

My father in law sometimes echoes that if you do something you truly love, you’ll never work a day in your life.

I encourage you to do your work with the right formula for success (love + gratitude= great attitude).

Be grateful for all the many blessings you’ve got outside of work too.  Maybe you’re married, remember you could be a lonely person with no one that loves you, be grateful and pray for your spouse and do something special for them today.  Maybe you’ve got kids… think of the thousands of couples who struggle to have a child of their own and cant.  Be grateful for those blessings from God.  Make a plan to do something different that you’ve not done in sometime, with your kids and spouse.

You and I might not experience all that we have planned for our fantasy ‘American Dream’ today or tomorrow.  But if we focus on changing our attitude towards life, complaining less and being more grateful, we will all start to see that we have so much more to be appreciative and happy about than we truly think we do.

There are a million other areas that we need to build on to help move towards achieving our dreams, but until we change our perspective on life, nothing else is ever going to be satisfying.  Even if you won the lottery, owned the big house and cars and had all the material things you wanted, you’d still be unhappy until you grasp that fundamental element that can change your life and reinstate happy thoughts, desires and dreams.

Have a blessed week, filled with love, gratitude and a great attitude!

Cheers,

Stephen

 

Photo by Courtney Hedger on Unsplash

Marriage: Becoming One Flesh

Marriage: Becoming One Flesh

Today’s post has become a disease to our society and especially personal to me, as I watch close friends of mine who have either ended or are seeking to end their marriages, destroying 2 individuals, their kids, their families, their businesses and their communities and future generations in the process.

Fellas, I’m directing today’s energy right at us.  What are we as men doing to help sustain our marriage and our families?  What are we doing to fight off the sexual immorality and lust, and all the temptations we have to be selfish?  Are we thinking only about ourselves and our desires that conflict with us being able to realize and experience a successful relationship with our spouses?

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh [Genesis 2:24]

When we made the choice to devote the rest of our lives to becoming one flesh, there wasn’t any fine print on that vow that said:

Marriage is not gonna work out all the time and if I’m selfish and feeling like I wanna go find another woman and not work on this marriage anymore, that’s fine, God will forgive me and waive my vows in this particular instance.  Requirement for me staying in this marriage will vary based on my wife’s attitude and willingness to have sex with me whenever I want. Estimated time commitment in this marriage is limited to when I have time left, after work, hanging with the boys and watching enough NFL, NBA, NHL, MLS, or any other sporting event I feel is warranted to occupy my time ahead of my spending time with my wife and attempting to make my marriage work. My marriage can surely end if I find me someone cuter, smarter, or who is more willing to participate in my manly activities that my wife does not want to take part in. My wife is limited to anything I deem is off limits or I will simply file a divorce. See your local divorcee for more advice and details on how to destroy your life.

The bible says in Proverbs [spp-timestamp time="18:22"] “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.”

Guys, did you realize that God shows you favor by way of your wife.  One of the common problems for all men is that we always think the grass is greener on the other side, and it’s not.  The Grass is greener where you water it!

So many spouses think ‘this isn’t the best person for me’.  Well let’s see what the statistics say about this common thought that we allow to destroy lives:

According to research data on the divorce rate in America:
The divorce rate in America for first marriages is 41%
The divorce rate in America for second marriages is 60%
The divorce rate in America for third marriages is 73%

Guys, it doesn’t get better with the 2nd or 3rd wife.  In fact, it’s going to get lots worse.  You’re going to be prone to thinking you can always start over! So instead of quitting on the first, why not work at it a little more?  You’re more likely to keep her, than you are to keep any other!

There’s so much to be said about things you shouldn’t do that will cause you to go down the wrong path that can lead to divorce.  I could write tons of blog posts on what NOT to do.  But I won’t.  Instead I’ll tell you the things that work for Kristin and I that help me to sustain our marriage and keep a happy wife:

1. COMMUNICATION – good or bad, we talk everyday!  Guys, we men are horrible at listening.  Learn to listen.  It’s my worst possible trait, but I truly commit to asking “Honey, how was your day?”  and just shut up and listen.  We all know women can talk and love to talk.  But you pick up nuggets of info that help you both stay in a loop and stay connected.  If you’re mad about something, don’t keep it bottled in, talk about it… but talk civilized.  Nothing is worse that getting yelled at about something and immediately, you’re on the defensive.  Speak as you would like to be spoken to by your spouse.  We rarely ever go to bed on an argument and because we talk so much, we honestly rarely argue!  Don’t get me wrong, we aren’t perfect, not every talk ends with us feeling all warm and fuzzy, but we both get our thoughts out on the table, leaving no room for assumptions.  And the assumptions that boil up inside and manifest themselves over time are what can be deadly when they come out!  So keep talking to each other regularly, no matter what.

I remember when Kristin was training last year for her 60 mile breast cancer walk.  We’d walk for hours, literally 3 – 4 hours at a time and we’d just talk the whole time.  At first we wondered, what the heck can we talk about for that time, but we did fine for months.  We became even closer because of it.  So just remember to talk together as much as you can and as often as you can!

2. BALANCE –  Many guys think their wives should always cook, clean, iron, and do all the other domestic chores, plus take care of kids, us and home.  Grow up!  We’re living in 2010.  If you want to maintain a happy home and keep her around for a long time, learn to cook her a meal she enjoys once in a while.  It’s not rocket science, jump on stumbleupon.com and select food, you’ll see some insane recipes to some mighty delicious stuff.  You’ll have your wife talking about you for weeks to all her friends and family!!   Learn to wash the clothes for you and her and the kids once in a while.  If nothing else, you’ll appreciate the energy and time that goes into that chore.  Lastly, take the kids for no reason and every once in a while, invite her to have a night out with her girls, without you.  Guys, these are tips that will surely keep her sane and happy!  And it will add the balance that you both need to continue growing as individuals.

3. COURT HER OFTEN – Anyone wants to call my house and ask my wife how many times a day I tell her I love her?  Lol.  It’s probably something she honestly gets sick of.  But I tell her a bunch of times every day that I do.  Before the baby was born, we’d often commit one day or event each week to Kristin and Stephen time.  Meaning, we had a DATE NIGHT.  You should try that if you don’t presently.  We had Kristin’s brother babysit twice in the past month for us to continue on, so don’t make it an excuse with kids.  We’ve done it twice in the past month with a 7 week old!  You can still get out!  It’s important.

I could choose to go on and will likely follow up with many posts to this.  But let’s remember that our marriage vows are to be there in good times and bad, in sickness and health.    The day we accepted those vows for better or worse we didn’t say ‘til DIVORCE we part’…. NO, we said, til death do we part. This being said, please don’t go killing your wife! lol. Love your wife, support your wife, encourage your wife, listen to your wife, speak to your wife, date your wife, challenge your wife’s growth.  Lastly, pray for your wife daily!  And on occasion, don’t be afraid to ask her to pray for you too.  I love to hear my wife pray over me.  It’s the most awesome thing in the world to me.

Married folk, keep fighting.  Don’t give in to divorce.  Please keep me prayed up too, that my own relationship stays true to what I have been able to live out above.  God bless you guys.

3 Ways To Live A Life To Be Remembered

3 Ways To Live A Life To Be Remembered

Our lives come and our lives go, like the wind!

For many of us, we plan our lives as kids on becoming sports stars, musicians, actors, lawyers, doctors and the like.  We aspire towards greatness.  We all bask in the obsessions to get a $100 million contract like Lebron or Dwayne Wade did this past week in Miami or we hope to make $65 million in a year someday like Jay  Z did last year.

Our society encourages us as kids to become the popular and most liked.  We are taught that money is the key to success and happiness.  But how many will remember my favorite basketball player, Dwayne Wade 100 years from now in the year 2110?

Truth be told, we all encounter experiences that take each of us down different paths, and into various professions and unique life circumstances.  Rarely does the world paint a fun picture of being a model garbage man or electrician or painter or pastor or real estate agent or sales man or chef or receptionist.  But there are more of us that fall into these roles than the above ‘pie in the sky’ professions.  And funny enough, many of those who are often remembered centuries later, are from the latter.

Does it mean that our society is failing our sons and daughters by allowing them to think they’ve got to be one of the ‘popular’ Wade’s or ‘Brons to be remembered and to be a great success of all time?  Would it be fair to say money and fame don’t guarantee lasting memories as society would have you believe?

Despite our life’s experiences, our failures and successes, we all have something positive to share.  More and more, we see people dying around us with all the money and fame in the world, but totally unhappy and without much to be remembered long term.  A near distant memory of my point here is Michael Jackson.  All the fame in the world.  A pop icon of our generation.  But how will his life be remembered?  Who will talk about him in 1,000 years?  What, if anything, will be remembered and passed on?

I believe it’s important that we begin to paint a new picture.  I believe that we should begin to share a vision with our generation, both present and future, that explains that life can be a success without the monetary success and material elements which we can’t take along when we pass.

Here are my 3 Ways To Live A Life To Be Remembered:

Leave a Legacy for your children, family and community to emulate.

Despite your profession or monetary gains, if you live and leave a legacy to be remembered by your children, family and community, they will likely take that on with them, into their lives and pass that on to their children, families and communities.  The simple legacy you leave to a few, could be responsible for many hundreds or thousands in the generations to follow.   A positive legacy doesn’t have to be monetary.  It can be so much more than money could ever buy!

My grandmother left a legacy of spiritual strength, passed on to my dad, and from my dad to my sister and I.  I only hope my life’s legacy will leave some of the great principles imparted to me, on to my daughter and so on.  The gifts of being honest, noble and self-sacrificing, are some of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from my dad, and will be some of the lessons that can keep my generations to come, in line with the right way of living out their own lives in the years to come.

You serve magnanimously, giving much more to your world than you take away.

We all have heard that “It is more blessed to give than to receive” ( NIV – Acts [spp-timestamp time="20:35"]).  That is so true, but how many of us want this car and that house, but are not willing to sacrifice our time or resources to give back to the world in return!

There are men and women in the bible that gave heartily and entirely for the benefit of generations who followed them.  For an example of this, we can look into the life of Abraham in the bible.  Here’s a man who believed in God’s promises which shaped his life and more so, the lives of his offsprings for thousands of years after he was gone from the earth!  Abraham (meaning “Father of Multitudes”) broke the legacy of his ancestors who were idolators, and instead left a legacy remembered for generations to come, by his service to God.  He served his God righteously, even willing to sacrifice his son, for his faith and belief.

If you happen to live to be remembered, it becomes timeless and unforgettable.

The best example of someone whose life is timeless to me is Jesus.  No friend or family member of mine can tell me about their own great great great grandfather (only 5 generations ago) in a personal way and describe the life they lived and what people remembered about their actions and experiences.  Very few people can describe even 3 or 4 generations before.  We often wonder about and research the history of our ancestors, but it must not have been that great a life, that 100 or 200 years later, no one in our lineage remembers a speck of what their life was all about.  And in most cases, we are only able to find minor details of a person’s full life.

Even with us being unable to source someone in our lineage 100 years ago,  billions of people all across the globe today are able to talk about the life of Jesus, the perfect life he lived, the miracles he performed, the knowledge and wisdom he shared with his disciples and community. The selfless sacrifice he made dying on the cross is remembered to this day by people like you and I.

Just think about that for a minute.  The bible paints a picture full of color, full of life!  Over 2,000 years has passed and we still can read about, talk about, and live out Jesus’ principles and example today.

Now, if Jesus didn’t live such a profound life worth remembering, would He be that big an influence on billions of believers today?  Would there have been enough about his life’s story that was recorded?  What did He do for others, that allowed so many to remember so much in detail, that different authors were able to write the Gospels and so many other books and letters about him, that all tell about our Lord and Savior so clearly…

Would He have been remembered so many centuries into the future, that we could read about Him and know how awesome he was, had he not lived a life to remember?

The above being said, it leaves me to believe that my life can best be remembered by attempting to emulate the timeless perfection of those that live on and endure on forever.  It leaves me to believe that I must not allow my life to wither away, forgotten in 3 generations from now.

Wouldn't it be great if we were all to become men and women that are remembered for our goodness and righteousness?  Isn't it even more important that we're  focused on leaving positive legacies, serving with a selfless sacrifice, and attempting to emulate the life of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?  If more of us do more of that, we’ll see more of our future generation, yearning to be more like Jesus than Jay Z, more like Abraham than like Lebron, and more like Joseph than like … ((you name it)).

Let us all live on, and live lives to be remembered!

 

 

Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

Prepared?

Prepared?

Death.  Feared by so many, yet guaranteed to all.

True?  Well, as a sensible man, I know that my time is limited and that our physical bodies will pass on some day.  That being said, as a Christian man, I also believe the Word, specifically John 14:3 that says:

3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

Each day, I like most of you, get up to the sound of my blackberry’s alarm.  With this ‘smart’ phone in my hand and my entrepreneurial mind immediately thinking about work, I’m easily caught jumping into my email app scanning my phone seconds after opening my eyes to see what challenges await me for that day!

Before you know it, I shove breakfast down my throat, help change a poopy diaper, do a good deed errand for the wife and bam, I’m off to the next ‘world ending’ work tasks for my day!  There are days (more often than I’d like to admit) where I’m even bypassing the breakfast, poopy diaper and even a kiss from the wife, to run and address a critical work task that must get done now!

Next thing you know, lunch flies by, then a conference call, preparing needed agreements to send to a broker, delivering a great client presentations… Wow!  Before you know it, it’s late!  Need to rush and go help the Mrs. with the baby, dinner and the chores that are a must do for that day!  10.30 /11p, I’m feeding baby, while sending late night emails or writing posts like this, that I forget to tend to and of course, attempting to close off the day (or night) really strong, before I fall asleep.  Great day huh?

Beep Beep Beep!  There goes that blackberry again!  Let’s start that all over again from 3 paragraphs ago… here’s where the record is scratched and repeats itself over and over again!  Listen, your story might not be the exact same as mine, but may be more similar than you think.

We all are consumed these days by our work, families, friends, projects, schools, churches, chores… all the important areas of our life, right?  Well, as you saw above, where did I prioritize God’s time?  Where did I find time to pray?  Where did I make quiet time for getting into the Word?

See the bible passage I’d shared above is followed by verse 4 that reads:

4You know the way to the place where I am going.

Well, the way to the Father’s house that Jesus was referencing sure isn’t by doing all those ‘other’ things listed above.  Just cause you put your all into your work and family and kids, doesn’t mean much here in the heavenly realms.  Don’t get me wrong, I know these are all good things to do and we all have our lives to get on with, but it doesn’t go without saying that there’s more that’s needed by our Father in heaven.

The way as shown in verse 4 above, demands so much more of us as Christian men and women.  It demands us setting aside even a little time right from that first second we open our eyes, to say:

THANK YOU JESUS for today!  Jesus I’m trusting you to direct my paths today to serve your kingdom and your will.

Doesn’t have to be an all day affair, but it’s got to be there somewhere in your day!  We’ve just all got to pray more daily…

I’m still victim to scanning those emails on occasion, but I’ve been combating it by my download of Youversion.com’s bible app on my blackberry, so even if I don’t get out of bed right away, I’ve got a bible right there at my fingertips, and I’ll at least attempt to snag 2 minutes to read a couple verses and pray, before jumping into the day’s hectic routines.

I promise you this, death to the flesh is guaranteed to all.  But if we live our lives attempting to put God first, then we stand a better chance that Jesus will take us to be with Him in His Father’s house someday, as He’s promised to those, IF He goes and prepares a place for us.  Big IF!  Wouldn’t want to miss out on that offer because of my daily ‘world ending’ work tasks, chores and other to dos!

If nothing else, we’ve got to look at our days, prioritize even 10 minutes of quiet time to spend reading the Word and worshiping in our own way.  Hard for many to comprehend, but the more that we find ourselves growing in Christ, is the more our preparation for that guaranteed last day begins to seem less and less scary.   This is because we know that our time here isn't the end, IF we trust God and believe (have faith) that we'll spend an eternity with Jesus and His Father.

I pray God’s blessings on each and every man woman and child today, that we would all prioritize our days to make time for the creator who gave us our days to begin with.  I really hope we all live a long, happy and healthy life, and hope we each find our unique purpose to serve and fulfill His will on this earth.

Be blessed and don’t forget John 14:6 –

6 No one comes to the Father except through me.

Let's make sure we know Him and take the necessary steps daily to ensure that we're prepared!

Cheers,

 

 

Photo by Samuel Martins on Unsplash

Becoming a father!

Becoming a father!

This month began on June 1 with the greatest level of joy my life has experienced to this point, as my wife went into labor with our first child.  The early hours of that morning were then followed by great fear, anxiety and worry, as both Kristin and our baby began having serious complications, which lead quickly to the doctors calling for an emergency C section.

I remember standing up as they were taking the baby from inside her, the indescribable joy of seeing my first child come free from the umbilical cord that was wrapped around her neck.  The tears and emotions were quickly tamed though, as I watched and wondered how my wife and best friend was doing, as she lay on that operating table, almost lifeless, as she was being put back together.

In the hours and days that followed, I was called on to be the best father and husband I could be.  Though I knew little about newborns, I had to fill the void of Kristin being immobile.  I had the two ladies of my life, both dependent on me to help care for them.  I wondered then and still do today, if some men knew how much went into delivering a child, if we would have so many abandoned women and children.   See, there was so much that Kristin couldn’t do, and mostly things you need a companion,  partner, spouse, trusted friend, to do, that no doctor or nurse can do without embarrassing the new mom.  I filled that void and did it proudly, but how many women will sit in a hospital room by themselves, or with husbands that scorn the process, not realizing the sacrifice made for them to have the badge of father?

As husbands, we will never know and truly understand the sacrifice that is made, both physically, mentally, emotionally, by the women that bring our children into the world

The point being made above, is that as husbands, we will never know and truly understand the sacrifice that is made, both physically, mentally, emotionally, by the women that bring our children into the world.  It is our responsibility as men, to be the supporting arm through that time and we should hold ourselves and the men around us accountable to that.  We must encourage new husbands and fathers to man up and be proud to fill these shoes.

I can remember my wife thanking me for taking care of her and I just thought to myself, why thank me, when you just gave your entire body as a sacrifice to bring a child into the world, so that I could enjoy the title of being a Dad.

1 Timothy 5:8 reads If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

I know this posting is a very isolated event in my life, but it goes without saying that I was called by God on June 1st, 2010 at 8.18am to stand next to my wife and receive the blessing that is our daughter into this world.  It’s an important day that I’ll never forget as long as I live, and I thought it was important enough that I stress the importance to other men, of being a strong man, a loving and caring husband and begin the steps, if you’re like me, of being a stellar dad.  I’ve got years of experiences and challenges ahead, but for that moment, I can assure you that both my wife and I grew our love towards each other in those days that followed and it strengthened our bond and respect for each other.

I always echo a phrase that I find applicable to end this post with:

It’s the simple things in life that define you!

Make sure that you are a great dad and husband in all you do.

 

 

Photo by Benji Aird on Unsplash

Living Lies without The Tries

Living Lies without The Tries

One day you're going to win the lottery.  One day you're going to make a million dollars and you won't ever have to lift another finger at that job.   One day you'll have that body of your dreams and be in the best shape of your life. One day you'll stop cursing, lying and passing judgement on others.  One day you'll wake up and realize you need to stop day dreaming, believing that it's all going to go away or go your way in the blink of your eyes.  We need to get real here and if you want the above, realize that it aint gonna come easy.

Guys, I'm the first to say that I'm guilty of some of the above.  I'm an entrepreneur who believes I'll win big some day, just not in the lottery.  I do believe I'll make a million again some day.  The body of a stud??  Well, a guy can always dream or he can subscribe to P90x or Insanity, and that's my goal for the near future.  I actually did start that suicide mission a couple weeks ago with P90x, only to realize having a 2 week old infant and being as sore as I was a week in while trying to walk around with a baby in those barely usuable arms, wasn't quite a smart idea lol.  So I'm shooting for a start in the coming month, date to be announced so I can hold myself accountable here on the blog.

So, are you a victim of some level of lies to yourselves?  On some level, are you lying to yourself about an unlikely occurence that would take a strike of lightning luck to happen overnight without some effort on your part?  So for example, regarding finances, you can become financially free… unlikely to happen via the lotto as that's a one in 20 million shot, but it could happen by working your butts off and don't be surprised if you've tried 9,998 times and failed. It might be that 9,999th try that cracks open the door and the 10,000th try that breaks it down and sets you free!

Same goes for that rock solid body of your dreams, but again it's only going to happen by working really hard day in and day out.   As they say in Jamaica, ‘if yu waan good, yu nose haffi run.'  Translated, if you want to succeed you've gotta work really hard for it.  So no matter what the goal or objective, it's not going to come by you lying to yourself that you won't have to do something to achieve your dream and that some day it'll just magically appear.   Listen, if you're in the comfort zone of your life, things aren't going to progress.  You've gotta step outside your comfort zone and attack your goals, and this is usually when things magically start to happen, often times in your favor.

So here are my 5 objectives for the coming 2 years, that I've got on my hit list.  I'm putting them here, in hopes that I'll feel even more motivated now and accountable to accomplish at least 4 of the 5 and hit that 80% win rate, so I can hold my head high and not see myself looking at this in two years telling myself that I lied:

1. I will lose 20 lbs and get in the best shape of my life before I'm age 35 on April 21, 2012.

2. My net worth will cross $1 million by July 2012!

3. I will start a foundation for a worthy cause by July 2012.

4. I will take my wife back to South Africa on an adventure that she's always wanted by December 2012 (she once lived there for a year, and has always wanted to show me the country).

5. Lastly, I'll have read the entire New Testament to my daughter at least once by June 2012 (This is a thought I had to knock out putting her to sleep at night by reading the best book on the planet to her, while increasing my wisdom in the word).

The above is way easier said than done, so here's to some really hard work ahead!

If you take anything away from this blog post, please know that 1. you need to  write out a list of your written goals,2. you need to give yourselves a deadline date as to when you'll achieve them, and 3. have an accountability buddy, who will keep you in check and ask how those goals are coming along.  This way, you won't have a chance to lie to yourself and tell yourself ‘it wasn't that important anyway', when the tough gets going.  4. Keep your attitudes positive, chase your dreams and achieve the greatest success you've ever imagined.

While reading the book of Ephesians this morning I came across the following passage I thought I'd share, which puts the above in perspective of where your focus and your thoughts should always be as you chase the goals and objectives you set out to accomplish in your life:

Ephesians 3: 16 – 21

16I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Have a terrific week!

 

 

Photo by S O C I A L . C U T on Unsplash

All positive male role models please stand up!

All positive male role models please stand up!

A frightening statistic that I came across states that one in four of America’s children live in mother-only families.  That’s 25% of kids today that don’t have a father present.  To make matters worse, of the children living with their mothers, 35% never see their fathers and a mere 24% see their fathers less than once a month.  That’s an insult to our generation of men.

Where are the real men today?

I looked a bit further and found that with the education system the way it is, most of these kids are likely to be taught by a woman as well.  So at school and at home, there are so many young boys that aren’t accessing the positive male bonding and contact that they need to be raised to be good contributors to society.

So of course it begs the question:  where are our future generation of men expected to learn the positive attributes of being a good Christian man, if we aren’t around to teach them?  Television, music, movies, the streets?  Is Jay Z or Kobe Bryant  suppose to raise our sons?  Since we aren’t occupying that time, someone is.  And it’s likely the music, the movies, the sports stars, the friends you couldn’t tell them to steer away from… who knows, it might even be that drug dealer that sees the vulnerability in a lonely kid and takes advantage of creating that habit that won’t easily be broken.  And for the resentment many young boys could have for the void of not having a ‘dad’ present, we could be looking at a generation to come that is searching and lacking lots of love and in place, willing to share this anger in a number of ways that hurts our society and cultures.

It’s frightening to hear that even in the homes with a father, research shows that these dads are spending LESS THAN 10 MINUTES A DAY one-on-one with their kids!

Guys, we need to turn this tide right now, today!  We need to encourage our male counterparts, brothers, cousins, uncles, fathers and co-workers.  We all need to step up our game fellas.

As great as a mother can be, she’ll naturally teach her kids to be soft, gentle, nurturing, comforting, protective and emotional.  We need our fathers and positive male role models, to help teach our future men, how to be challenging, tough, playful, and strong.   We need to teach our young men of the love of Jesus Christ.  We need to teach our young men to respect and love our women.  We need to teach them responsibility and accountability.  We need to teach them how to hunt for success in an ever changing world where they now believe that they’ll need to be a Lebron James or an Usher to be a success.  We need to teach them to be the next Einstein, the next Martin Luther, the next C.S. Lewis, the next Barack Obama, or the next Bill Gates.

Without our positive men around, it’s clear that these young boys are turning to criminal activity, premarital sexual activity at an earlier age, they’re doing worse in school and all around, they’re participating in unhealthy activities.

Men, whether you’re a father or not, we need you to take a more active role.  Be determined to spend at least 1 hour of undivided time each and every day with your kids.  Yes, we’re all busy, but don’t go complaining when it’s your kid that’s on drugs, or having sex within the same sex or raping some girl, or dropping out of high school.  Don’t allow someone else to raise your child and teach them habits you can’t easily correct, while you’re busy ‘providing’ for your household.  It’s not worth it in the long run.

If you’re not a dad, you can still be a positive male role model.  Volunteer for a youth ministry, Big Brothers-Big Sisters, Boys Club or Girl’s Inc.  Spend some time volunteering with a middle school, where you might spend time doing an after school program to teach young men the values of growing up in our world today.

Listen, big or small, we can all make a huge difference, but reading this and then going home to plop in your couch with the remote isn’t going to change a thing.  We need to take some action now, or we are going to leave the coming generation in a serious social shift that is going to be catastrophic!

Be blessed!

 

 

Photo by Zach Vessels on Unsplash

Did I plant the right seed?

Did I plant the right seed?

Sometimes life can seem so incredibly different than the way we planned it to go.

A wise uncle of mine once said something that was simple but profound.  It took years for the statement to sit and be processed and I am still processing it 17 years after hearing it for the first time. In paraphrasing his wisdom that was shared, he said that:

What I’d have done at age 16, would affect the guy I became at age 17, and that what I did at age 17 would affect who I became at age 18 and so on…

The statement seemed too simple to even make sense sometimes, until you’re years down the road and you then realize that if you weren’t smart about building the right foundation at that early age,  you could easily be caught in your 30s, 40s or 50s, wondering what went wrong!

I’m so grateful for every blessing God has brought me in my lifetime.  I am blessed to have a beautiful wife and a wonderful new baby girl.  But I’m a little behind my goals for the ‘day I became a dad’, and I’m left wondering, ‘did I do it the way I should have’?

I believe that I’ve worked really hard towards my goals of being happy, spiritually balanced, married, a father and financially free at 30.  I made some good decisions that put me ahead of schedule on some things and made some ill advised ones too that brought me back below the mark.

As hard as I’ve worked and still am working, I’ve got this feeling of not being satisfied now.  For the most part, I’m happily married, growing spiritually, but not financially where I wanted to be. And now I’m left wondering if my feelings of disappointment towards my financial placing are just the fuel I need to keep chasing towards my finish line.  Or could I one day get to the goal of financial freedom, and realize that the financial freedom was a false positive?

Should I be content and happy with the blessings around me and not be as determined towards achievement of money and material pleasures?  How much is too much?

I don’t have any answers to these questions, and I’m hoping that I’ll continue to use the wisdom and experiences I’ve got, to chart the ‘right’ course.

As I was thinking this over though, I’m left thinking of something my pastor recently said, mentioning that the devil wants us to focus on our failures and will keep us often looking at the mistakes we’d made.  The easiest thing we can do is to get back on the course of what was working and continue to work towards our goals, whatever they might be.

Have a blessed day!

Cheers

Stephen

 

 

Photo by Daniel De Nadai on Unsplash

Perception is Reality

Perception is Reality

What do people see when they look at you?  Do they see a fun, happy, and blessed individual?  Or do they see a mean, angry, depressed person?

A close friend and business mentor, once taught me in August 2003, that perception is reality.

Well, what does that mean exactly?

I've understood the phrase to have two separate views:

1. One view is how the world views me.  If I create a lifestyle, a personality and/or an image that tells those around me that I'm fun, happy and blessed, then people will perceive me as such.   They will want to be around me and be like me.  I will be liked.  I will attract other fun, happy and blessed people to me.   From a spiritual angle, it's my belief that I'm shining Jesus' light that lives within me.  By attempting to live out a happy, fun and blessed life, others will likely see what Jesus has done in my life, despite my hardships, and they might follow suit.    Those who are angry and/or depressed, might be uplifted by my positive energy, as my light shines in their darkness, and encourages them to seek my happiness, my joy and God's richest blessings.

2. The other view is how I view myself.  If I tell myself that my life is destined for failure, that I'm not worth more than X, that I'll never achieve more… then guess what, I'm not likely to get very far in life.  However, I strongly believe and have lived out the challenges of my mind that have told me it's impossible, that I can never do it, that I should just give up and give in.  Over the past two years, I have slowly built up my belief system, my spiritual strength, my inner core.  I believe and have a strong focus towards the following message:

“Philippians 4:6-7, “Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.”

I believe in Jesus Christ.  I believe that he lives in me and that through him, all things are possible.  Even the things that aren't exactly possible in my mind today, I trust that they aren't impossible for Jesus.  Two years ago, I thought my life was over.  Today, it's better that it's ever been.  Don't think I'm materially wealthy, cause I'm not.  But His divine grace and my strong faith keep working towards a better day, even when can't see what or how it will work itself out.

So believe and trust that the way you PERCEIVE your life, will one day become your REALITY.

Have a blessed day!

The Overwhelming Yesterday

The Overwhelming Yesterday

Isn’t it funny how tomorrow seems so overwhelming, when you think of the bills that are due, keeping food on the table and shelter over you and your family.  You think of that job you just got laid off from or your failing relationships/ marriage that have no hope.

It often seems bigger than it really is when you’ve actually gotten through it.  Kind of like childhood memories growing up in Jamaica,  I can think back to how big a fence I’d climb over playing as a young boy with my childhood friends.  Today, I’d stand on the ground looking over the same fence that seemed to once tower over me.  The fence didn't change, only my angle has changed.

I’ve learned that life is the exact same: a recurring cycle of these overwhelming emotions and events from day to day.  We tend to focus so much on the next event, thinking the world is likely to end if we can’t get this situation resolved our way, right away!  Then somehow God steps in and it just seems like things don’t necessarily get solved when you’d planned it or how you’d planned it, but it all seems to happen the way it does for a reason and according to His plan… and then you can’t picture it having happened any other way.

I know not all circumstances end the way we really want, but the fact is, we move on and we continue to progress past the next great task standing in our way.  We somehow live to see the next step, the next dramatic event of our lives, barely remembering yesterday, the day it was almost over!  It's so amazing to look back and see how circumstances you once thought dire, now are a lost thought.

Next time life stares at you with this overwhelming series of emotions, stare right back and motivate yourself to believe.  Believe in God’s promise.  Trust Him to get you through that tough day, that lost job, that missing mortgage payment you don’t know how to find, or the challenging relationship you think might end.  It won’t always mean that you’ll have an end in clear sight, because sometimes we have to deal with the tough blows of each day, week and month and we just can’t seem to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Sometimes you might get the feeling like you’re on the moon all by yourself and no one can hear or see you.  But through it all, He hears you, so never stop trusting Him and he will always provide what you need.  That overwhelming day or event will come and go, and somehow, ‘it' will all work out and you'll be just fine when it's all over.

Hang in there and focus your energies wisely, knowing that your tomorrows will one day be your yesterdays, so build on each today with a smile.  Believe!  Good things do happen to great people like you.  Don’t feed into what simply becomes just another overwhelming yesterday!

Remember:  You can chase a butterfly all over the field and never catch it.  But if you sit quietly in the grass it will come and sit on your shoulder.

Have a great day!

Cheers

Stephen

 

 

Photo by Issam Hammoudi on Unsplash

Powered by Purity

Powered by Purity

How do I set the bar just right for my first blog post.  What to talk about?  What not to talk about?

A few weeks back, Justin and Jessica McAuliff, leaders of our youth ministry delivered a message about purity.  Now, my initial reaction as a grown man hearing a youth pastor mention the word purity brought the immediate thought of abstinence and protecting one's virginity.  As a young married man expecting our first child in a matter of weeks, my reaction was to turn and point the finger at the younger teens in the room, thinking that this obviously wasn't applicable to me and that they'd better listen up to the message.  See, in my mind, I was already past the the point of worrying about my purity.  Right?  Wrong!

Quickly, I realized that this message was very much directed right at me, and likewise, to all men, whether single or married, young or old.  Justin and Jessica were truly talking to the teens that night and their message to them did get through.  But there was another message that I was also receiving from them, and it came through as clear as a blue sunny day!

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