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Work is a gift

Work can be tough, especially manual labor. I’ve done everything from plumbing installations to landscaping, construction, roofing, concrete work, ditch digging, and everything in-between. Some jobs are easier than others, but physical labor is tough work.

Work is a gift - 01

photo credit: idlphoto via photopin cc

Mental work can be tough, too. None of my work with Keynote Content involves physical labor, but the mental and emotional strain of being an entrepreneur sometimes leaves me as drained as when I worked manual labor. Between communicating concepts, developing strategies, and writing content, the mental work can be exhausting at times.

We get to days like Labor Day today and think, “Thank God I don’t have to work. Work is a pain.” Here’s the truth about work…

Work is a gift.

Wind the clock all the way back to Eden and God called Adam to work the ground and take care of creation before Adam and Eve sinned. Work isn’t an effect of sin. The toil and strain of work is part of the effect of sin. Work is an opportunity to create, to build, to develop, and to refine. Work is our chance to imitate our Creator through our own mini-creations.

Too often we can fall into the trap of rejecting hard work altogether, trying to take the easy way out. I’m all about working smarter to ease the workload, if it means the job still gets done the right way. Cutting corners is lazy and cheapens the gift of work. Doing work the best way possible builds character, so yes, your dad was right when he said mowing the lawn the right way builds character. I mowed my lawn last night and it looks awesome.

People are judged on their paychecks, not rightly judged, but judged nonetheless. Your work is not defined by your paycheck, an important lesson I learned over seven years being on church staff and almost one year as an entrepreneur. Your life is defined by the quality of your work, whether it’s lucrative or not, and by how you respond to the opportunities to work hard at creating something significant. Building a strong marriage takes hard work. Raising great adults, not grown kids, takes hard work. Being kind and compassionate and honest and generous takes hard work. Life is hard work.

So, as you relax and barbecue, take a float trip, go hiking, whatever you’re doing today, remember this is a time to celebrate the work God’s given to you. Your work is a gift from God to reflect your potential in His eyes. He wants you to do something significant with your life’s work.

Today might be a great day to rethink your approach to work. Happy Labor Day.

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Dream Year Denver Pitch Night

Last week I had the privilege of sitting in with 40 other entrepreneurs, creatives, dream-chasers, and difference makers for the Dream Year Denver Pitch Night. Six speakers, 20 slides each at 20 second slide timers. All of it to share their dreams.

Dream Year Denver Pitch Night - 082114The first dreamer shared with me about swimming in the most densely populated great white shark waters because that’s where she wanted to learn how to surf. I heard from an artist who followed God’s call to Africa to teach children how to paint and design. I heard two marketing entrepreneurs share about creating marketing campaigns for massive brands with the requirement that half of the budget be put towards a nonprofit social cause.

I’ve been following Ben Arment and his team for almost five years now. It’s been incredible watching his team grow into the Story conference, the Dream Year experience, and many more endeavors. It was my privilege to finally put a face to a name when I met Ben after the presentations. Without a doubt, Ben has been one of the more inspiring voices behind my decision to chase my dreams.

“I have a dream” may seem cliched, but I guarantee you the power of a dream is more alive than ever today. The most valuable buried treasure are the dreams and ideas we never share. I experienced the pictures, videos, passion, and hope of dreamers that night. Some dreams start as a whisper, barely a diamond in the rough, if one at all, but Dream Year is the launch pad so many of us need to eradicate our excuses.

If you have a dream burning inside of you (or, in other words, if you’re human), you need to check out Dream Year. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or an aspiring world-changed, Dream Year has the language of opportunity and a community of others discontent with staying the same that we all need around us when chasing big, hairy dreams.

Thank you, Dream Year team and Ben, for your incredible work and inspiration. May you be blessed for inspiring me and many others.

Heaven - 02

Heaven on earth

Heaven - 02There are times when I think about heaven. I don’t think it’s a place where God is casually sitting on His throne, just watching the breeze blow away as chubby cherubs daydream on passing clouds. Nope, that sounds more like a Hallmark card… and I don’t think heaven and Hallmark are in the same zip code.

When I think of heaven, I think of life finally being restored to all that’s right and good.

Heaven is where we will be reunited completely with God, where the fracture of our mistakes and this infection of sin will be a thing of the past. Heaven is where death and sickness and disease and pain and betrayal and all the evils of men will be dead and gone. No more ISIS. No more ALS. No more suicide and depression. No more Ebola.

Heaven is where life and humanity is restored because God has taken away the brokenness and disconnect that sin has brought.

Is heaven on earth right now? Question – have you seen the news lately?! Life in our world is too broken for heaven to be fully here right now. Sin still exists. Death is still a reality. And Satan is still on the loose. Our hope for heaven is caught in the tension between what we see now and what we hope to see in the future.

I believe that God puts us each in our own circle of influence for a reason: to kickstart His kingdom coming to earth. Jesus talked about the kingdom of heaven. He even taught His disciples to pray for the kingdom of heaven to come to earth.

Aslan - 01In C.S. Lewis’ classic novel The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the Christ-figure Aslan is a lion coming back to the winter-locked land of Narnia under the spell of the White Witch. The prophecy told before his return was this…

Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.

Even though this is a fiction novel, it still echoes to our God-given desire to see heaven on earth. With Christ’s kingdom working in our everyday lives, we find ourselves longing for wholeness, for God to make everything right again.

We catch only glimpses of heaven on earth today. It’s in the face of a child adopted into a loving home. It’s the hope found in addiction recovery. It’s the vows renewed after years of separation and counseling. It’s the new life of someone finding forgiveness in the cross of Christ. It’s finding your passion and calling when the right opportunity knocks. It’s choosing love instead of hate, hope instead of despair, graciousness instead of responding in anger.

Heaven is possible on earth and we get to be a part of ushering it in with how we live today.

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2014 College Football Picks – Week 1

College Map - 01Each week I’m picking the Top 25 college football games and an occasional non-Top 25 game worth picking (Exhibit A: Army-Navy).

College football is back again! Before we get to the games, here are my preseason picks.

  • ACC: Florida State. Who else?
  • Big 12: Oklahoma over Baylor
  • B1G: Michigan State over Nebraska
  • Pac 12: Oregon over UCLA
  • SEC: Alabama over South Carolina
  • Playoff 4: 1) Alabama, 2) Florida State, 3) Oregon, and 4) Michigan State
  • Heisman: 1) Mariota, 2) Winston, 3) Gurley, 4) Abdullah

Thursday, Aug. 28:

  • #9 South Carolina starts the post-Clowney era with a slim win over #21 aTm in a great game to start the season.
  • #18 Ole Miss over Boise State. Upset alert here!
  • #19 Arizona State gets an early season tune-up over Weber State.

Friday, Aug. 29:

  • #8 Michigan State over Jacksonville St. Pop quiz: what’s Jacksonville State’s mascot? Answer: Who cares, they’re getting a great paycheck!

Saturday, Aug. 30:

  • #1 Florida State starts their title defense with a win over Okie State. Closer than you might expect. Cowboys have a chance of playing spoiler in this year’s Big 12 (+2) conference race.
  • #2 Alabama goes nuts over a way overmatched WVU squad. Tide by three TDs.
  • #3 Oregon limbers up for Michigan State with a home-field track meet against South Dakota. Ducks by 40+.
  • #4 Ooooooklahoma over La-Tech. Not even close, folks.
  • #5 Ohio over Navy, but not by much (10-14 pts.) Totally different game without Miller.
  • #6 Auburn over Arkansas. Always good to see Bielema get pounded and Auburn is this week’s flavor of pain.
  • #7 U-C-L-A over Virginia. Yes, the game may be in Virginia, but the crowd will be out of it by early 2nd qtr.
  • #11 Stanford (Harvard of the West) over UC Davis Williams the 3rd. Cardinal by 40+. Score early, score often, Stanford.
  • #12 UGA over #16 Clemson. People are calling for a Clemson upset, but I don’t see it with Sammy Watkins and Tahj Boyd now in the alumni section. Bulldogs pull away in the 3rd with Hutson Mason.
  • #13 L$U over #14 Wiscoffsin. The big uglies will battle it out in the trenches in this one, but Wisconsin lost a ton off the D-line. Tigers win by a TD.
  • #15 U$C starts Sarkisian era with an ugly win over Fresno State. Trojans limp into Week 2, lies and all.
  • #17 Notre Dame (Golden Misnomers) over Rice, the only D-I school from Texas that the Irish have any prayer of beating this year.
  • #20 K-State over Stephen F. Austin.
  • #22 Nebraska (GBR!) over FAU. Big Red pulls away by halftime.
  • #23 UNC over Liberty. Flames, I love ya, but this game is all about the paycheck.
  • #24 Mizzou squeaks by a very underrated South Dakota St. team. Upset alert here!
  • #25 Washington over Hawai’i.

Sunday, Aug. 31st

  • #10 Baylor over SMU. By a lot.
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You were, but God…

Children of Light - 01Are you different from the person you were yesterday? Last week? Year?

There’s a gap between who you are now and who God’s created and called you to be. When your spiritual status quo changes, good or bad, it has a contrasting effect. The truth is we were enemies of God before redemption. Not simply separated, broken, stained, disconnected, or lost; we were enemies of God.

And then, Jesus rescued us. He took the full blow of sin because He saw something still redeemable in us, despite all our jacked-up rebellion of sin. The massive makeover of grace completely turns the tables on who you used to be.

The Apostle Paul talked about this contrast in Ephesians 5.8-17…

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth. Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; rather expose them, for it is shameful even to mention the things done by them in secret; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore, it says: “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” Watch carefully then how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise, making the most of the opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not continue in ignorance, but try to understand what is the will of the Lord.”

You were lost, but now you’re found. You were dead, but now you’ve got more to live for than ever before. You were an enemy of God, but now you get to be His servant.

Maybe you were a drunk, a slut, a d-bag, a cheater, liar, narcissist, sicko, druggie, or a mistake-making, law-breaking, peace-stealing, lost-all-hope-and-feeling enemy of God, but your new life in Christ gives you the only excuse you need to change the way things were.

The only way this gap stays true is if we daily choose to live like Christ’s death made a difference in our lives. Atrophy is so much easier than Gospel transformation. When we choose to live like there’s no difference, we cheapen Christ’s sacrifice. God loves us too much to let us stay where we were. We were redeemed for so much more than self-preservation and compromise.

So, are you different from the person you were yesterday? Last week? Year?

And is the difference good or bad?

What Moneyball Taught Me About Ignoring the Odds

What Moneyball Taught Me About Ignoring the Odds

I love baseball. The dirt and field and chalk lines and foul poles and the musky scent of leather as you breathe deeply into your glove. Baseball is a great sport. Kara and I have been to all the MLB stadiums and we’ve been season ticket holders for the Rockies. We’ve taken date nights to go see baseball movies. One of my favorite baseball movies is Moneyball, the story of Billy Beane, GM of the Oakland Athletics, and the 2002-2003 Athletics baseball teams.

What Moneyball Taught Me About Ignoring the OddsIn case you’ve never seen the movie, here’s a short synopsis: at the end of the 2001 season, Beane knew he was at a complete disadvantage financially compared to teams like the Angels and the Yankees. The A’s payroll: $41 million, Yankees: $200+ million. You don’t have to be a math whiz to notice a little disparity there. Beane knew he was way behind the arms race of baseball payrolls and the A’s didn’t have nearly the resources of the Yankees.

So, Beane turned to sabermetrics, the competitive strategy built on select statistics from players, made popular by Bill James’ book Baseball Abstract. On-base percentage, slugging percentage, and pitches per AB were just a few of the statistics Beane and his Athletics staff considered when building their 2002 roster. Spring training was basically the biggest collection of no-names that baseball’s ever seen.

The A’s set an A.L. record of 20 straight wins (Aug. 13-Sept. 4) and ended the season with a franchise-record 103 wins and the A.L. West division title… after losing Jason Giambi, Jason Isringhausen, and Johnny Damon the year before. Sabermetrics worked and it has changed how many teams, including the 2004 World Series champ Red Sox used sabermetrics to break their 100-year championship drought.

There was nothing about the A’s strategy that made sense outside of Oakland. Their roster didn’t have the resources, connections, trade bait, or track record of productivity that the Yankees had, and yet they won just as many games as the Yankees that year.

What Moneyball Taught Me About Ignoring the OddsYou may not have the resources of a Google, Apple, NBC, charity: water, Saddleback, Chick-fil-A, or any other massive name changing the world today. You may not have the connectivity of a Seth Godin, Michael Hyatt, Scott Harrison, Dave Ramsey, or Blake Mycoskie. You may not even have the current skill set of any number of dynamic speakers, entrepreneurs, ministry leaders, or business executives.

But, if God’s calling you to a fantastic dream, none of that matters. The wisdom of God sometimes confounds the world around us, and sometimes we will be mocked for our dreams. Sometimes we are chided, ignored, disregarded, and even confronted for chasing God-given dreams. There will be times your dream may feel like bad math based off chaos physics, but if you will choose to follow God’s path for you, He will bend conventional reasoning into faith-rewarding skills and resources.

It doesn’t have to always make sense for it to be significant. Moneyball and chasing God-given dreams are two completely different worlds, but the principle is the same: challenging the status quo is one of the most dynamic ways to start changing the world around you.

Defy the odds, challenge conventional wisdom, and step out in faith to follow the path God’s made for you.

And, guess which team is the best team in baseball in 2014? The Oakland Athletics.

Perspiration fuels Inspiration - 01

Perspiration fuels Inspiration. All day. Every day.

Perspiration fuels Inspiration - 01People love being inspired. Braveheart, American Ninja Warrior, Dead Poets Society, we love things that inspire us.

Doing something significant starts with inspiration. What’s driving you to do what you do? What is God pressing into your heart that you’ve got to be a part of? It’s deep in your core where passion and inspiration get ignited.

The problem is inspiration without action is a very short experience. Inspiration is the ignition, but perspiration is the fuel.

I’ve heard multiple songwriters say that songwriting is 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration. Sure, sometimes you have the lightning-in-a-bottle moments where a song basically writes itself, but most of the time it takes significant work. Thomas Edison said this, “Genius is one-percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”

Being an entrepreneur is tough. I’ve been on this entrepreneurial journey for almost a year now. It’s one thing to say you’re hanging a shingle to start your own business. It’s a completely different story when you’re past the honeymoon phase of being your own boss. Many entrepreneurs start this journey because of an inspiration, but the successful ones are the ones who push through adversity.

It’s in my God-given DNA to get out of the cave, kill something, and drag it home. It’s the 50-60 hours I average per work week that involve far more sweat equity than cash flow right now. Am I inspired? Absolutely, I love what I get to do! Are there moments where inspiration feels beat-up and it’d be easier to look for job openings? Honestly, yes… but that’d be cheating for me.

I keep an email folder of job offers and openings different people have emailed to me over the past year. I haven’t asked for any of them; they just show up in my inbox. The reason I hold onto them is that they’re fuel for my fire. I don’t want to go back to the way things were because the opportunity to build something significant is worth the perspiration to fuel my inspiration.

Hard work goes further than light bulb moments. My determination to push through monotony is what separates me from others who hit the wall of hard work. Inspiration is the starting line, but perspiration is the marathon. I’d rather run a fantastic marathon than a short-lived sprint.

Perspiration fuels inspiration. All day. Every day. Hard work without purpose just makes you a hamster on a wheel. Inspiration without execution only makes you a theorist. We need both to make dreams a reality and build something that lasts.

What’s driving your inspiration today?