I Call Her “Mother”

I Call Her “Mother”

Everyone seems to have a special and unique attachment to their mother. I don’t typically call my parents “Mom & Dad” anymore, but when I do, it happens in that order. Since the early 80’s I began calling them, “Skipper & Mother” in that order, although I’m not certain why the order is reversed; just a fun fact.

The Coupons

When I think of “Mother,” a few things come to mind: the first being coupons. She is the coupon queen! She has always been very frugal with money and in many cases, it was out of necessity. I grew up as a PK (Pastor’s kid) and didn’t realize that we did not have much in the way of financial resources during those times, but we did have our needs met. We have often joked that she would not purchase any grocery items without a coupon to get a discount.

The Year – 1970

5th Birthday – Dec. 31, 1969
5 lifesavers on my cake!

The second thing that comes to mind is her testifying about my healing that happened when I was five years old. They pastored at Brighton, which in 1970 was a small island. One particular Sunday in April, I was very sick with what they assumed was the flu, so they went to church that night (as usual) and we three kids were at home with a baby-sitter (Lily Rice Ledrew / I like to think this experience influenced her career choice).

When they got home, I was worse and my head was all drawn back, so they realized this was more serious than they thought. It was the spring of the year when the ice was becoming dangerous to cross but there was no choice – we had to get to a doctor. I remember my parents sharing about seeing the pain on my face as the komatik (sled) went over the bumps on the snowmobile trail.

Summer of 1970 with my Aunts!

The hospital staff quickly determined that I was suffering from meningitis and immediately took action to medicate me. My parents were told the grim news, that if I survived, I would “be like a vegetable (a person with a dull or inactive life), likely not knowing them and unable to communicate.” It would take a few days for the medication to take effect, so they were advised that there was no point in returning for at least two days.

I recall how she shared about Dad going to the corner of the room and crying out to God and saying something like, “I was on that island preaching for You, declaring a message of healing – if you take my son, I can do that no longer!” As a father now, I can only imagine the anguish in the hearts of my mom and dad in those hours.

Despite the instruction from the doctor, my parents returned the next day inquiring about me. They were told that I was awake and so active that they had to strap me into the bed. (I’m guessing it was difficult to keep a 5 year old from pulling out the IV and any other monitoring devices).

Mom said when they came into the room they asked if I knew who they were and I responded, “Yes.” They gave me my Kindergarten “reader” and asked me to read. I responded with, “Run Dick, run. See Dick run.” (I still remember those Dick and Jane books). I recall none of this, but hearing Mom testify about it was such a powerful memory.

The Boat

Brother Roger (7) & me (5)

Just a few months later, I was chasing my uncle and older brother to the wharf to get aboard our parents boat. My uncle jumped onto the boat, my older brother jumped onto the boat, so I jumped too. However, with movement of the waters, the boat had moved away from the wharf at that moment, so I slipped into the water and was about to drown when someone pulled me to safety. I remember thinking as a teen that God must surely have a purpose for my life, otherwise, I would have died one of those times.

The Bible

Ten years later (1980-81), I remember standing in the front of the church sensing God’s presence so wondrously that there are no words to really express it. I recall looking under the pew that was on the platform (where Mother usually sat during the service) and there was her Bible. All I could think was “Preach the Word – in season and out of season.” That’s when I felt God’s call. During my first year of Bible College (1982), my own Bible sat open on my desk often to that passage. The words, “do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry” really stood out to me.

The Preacher

Mother was quite an anointed preacher. One sermon I recall her preaching was when she compared the facts with the truth and she made a great distinction between them. She has often told the story of my healing, and I can tell you that her speaking infused faith into my heart and the hearts of the people.

Mother Preaching in 1994

She would say it something like this: “The fact is Lorne was very sick, the fact is the doctors gave no hope of a complete recovery, but the truth of God’s Word can have an impact on the facts. The facts of your situation do not change the truth of God’s Word. The truth is very different than the facts. The circumstances of your life (present facts) can change, particularly if you stand on the truth.” Wow, I have never forgotten the power of those words or the anointing on her ministry.

In a recent survey, Shaunti Feldhahn asked, “What do YOU like most about being a Mom?” Fifty-six percent responded: “Watching my children grow and the journey to becoming their own person, with their own unique, God-given personality.”

Mothers have immense influence and thanks “Mother” for the lasting impact you have had on my life!

10% or 90% – What Concerns God Most?

10% or 90% – What Concerns God Most?

In most cases when you hear a sermon on the topic of money, the message is about giving, which which tends to focus on the 10%. The tithe (10%) was part of the law in the OT, and there is even a reference to it before the law.

Probably the most quoted portion of scripture for this topic is from Malachi 3:7-10 where the instruction is clear: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse …(vs.10)” A closer examination of what comes before and after this verse reveals more than I had previously considered.

7Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned my decrees and failed to obey them. Now return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.“

But you ask, ‘How can we return when we have never gone away?’

8“Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me! “

But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you?’

“You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me.

Malachi 3:7-8 NLT

9You are suffering under a curse, yet you — the whole nation — are still robbing me. 

10Bring the full tenth into the storehouse so that there may be food in my house. Test me in this way,” says the Lord of Armies. “See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing for you without measure. 

11I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not ruin the produce of your land and your vine in your field will not fail to produce fruit,” says the Lord of Armies. 

12“Then all the nations will consider you fortunate, for you will be a delightful land,” says the Lord of Armies.

Malachi 3:9-12 CSB

What Comes Before:

The context of this verse is about drifting away from God without even recognizing that we have done so. The “drift away” is demonstrated in finances. The question is posed: “Will a man rob God?” and immediately answered: “Yet you have cheated me!” Then a more specific question follows: “How have you robbed me?” We know God owns everything so if we believe this to be true, how exactly can we rob God? The answer seems clear enough: “By not making the payments of the tenth and the contributions” (Mal. 3:8 CSB). However, we need to consider more fully what is being robbed from God.

What Comes After:

What follows the return and “bringing the tithe” is the promise of

  • Heaven being opened
  • The rebuke of the devourer
  • Your fields will not fail to produce
  • Every nation will talk about how God has blessed you and about your wonderful land.

Why would these things happen? The results are directly connected to our returning to God and more importantly, His return to us. It seems our drifting away, as evidenced by our lack of giving, keeps God from returning to us. This reminds me of the parable Jesus shared about the prodigal son. The father was waiting for the son’s return and was unable to bless the son until he returned.

How We Rob God

God is describing how he desires to bless his people and is saying that his people are robbing him of that opportunity. We put the emphasis of these verses on the giving of 10% (we rob God by withholding the 10%). In fact, the robbery is actually more about the 90% (or better still, the blessing of 100%). When we give we are learning to trust God, so these verses are about the whole of our financial well-being.

Another word for rob is to defraud which means “to take something illegally from a person or to prevent someone from having something that is legally theirs by deceiving them.” Is it possible that our financial decisions are legally preventing God from opening heaven? Without the 10%, God and heaven are being hindered from acting on our behalf and therefore, God is robbed. The robbery then, is not only of the finances that we may choose to keep for ourselves (10%) but of how God might be prevented to “pour out a blessing for you without measure.”

Where Jesus focused – How did Jesus talk about money?

Jesus seems to confirm the importance of the 10% but clearly rebukes the religious leaders because they have neglected some of the more important matters of this life.

23“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You pay a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, and yet you have neglected the more important matters of the law — justice, mercy, and faithfulness. These things should have been done without neglecting the others. 

Jesus – Matthew 23:23 CSB

Considering the matter of faithfulness and finances, it is required that a steward be found faithful in their management of all.

Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.

Paul – 2 Corinthians 4:2 NIV

Two Parables About Money

Jesus told many parables and at least a third of them involved money. Money played a significant role in the story of the prodigal son, but not 10% only. The parable that follows (in Luke 16) is the about the dishonest manager who is being fired for his mismanagement of the owner’s assets, not 10% only, but 100% of what he managed. The word “squander” is used in both these parables. The son wanted ownership so he could make his own decisions. The manager did not have ownership but was empowered to make financial decisions. Upon the shock of being fired, the realization hits the manager that the financial books are now going to be audited and he is losing his respectable job.

Maybe the foundational principle to understand is simply that we are “managers or stewards” rather than owners. We must treat everything that we receive as a sacred trust, but the sad reality is that it is far too easy to “squander” what comes into our hands (as both parables illustrate). When it comes to our finances, the starting point for the Christ-follower should be this: God owns it all.

It’s easy to focus on the 10% as an obligation, feeling guilt if we do not give to that level, rather than seeing giving as an opportunity to act in the interest of the owner of the 100% that has been entrusted to us. When we act in the interest of the owner, the owner is then positioned to act in the interest of the steward.

Here is the lesson for our lives: one day our management of the resources entrusted to us will come to an end and the books will be audited. What we do with the 10% is important but when the books are audited, it is the 100% that will be reviewed. Will we hear this statement?Well Done …

Eternal Perspective Ministries with Randy Alcorn

Is There Wisdom in Losing Wealth?

Is There Wisdom in Losing Wealth?

I read the story of the prodigal son this week. Considering the context of this chapter in Luke’s gospel, the focus is on the things that are lost: the sheep, the coin and the son. The other consideration around loss that is seldom spoken about is the loss of wealth.

What a challenging decision it must have been for the father when the son asks for his inheritance. I expect the father may have known or would have at least suspected how the son was likely to handle the amount he agreed to transfer to his account. Parents usually have some idea about the path a child may choose to walk, especially when they ask for money. Did he know that the son was, in many respects, already lost since he was discontent and felt receiving these funds would answer this discontentment? I have never considered before that maybe the father knew that the only way for his son to truly “be found” and “come to his senses” was to give him his inheritance.

At the time of writing this blog, the verse of the day in the Bible app is this:

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. 

1 John 2:15
https://www.bible.com/verse-of-the-day/1JN.2.15-16/6032?version=116

I have never connected these verses with the prodigal son before, but there is an alignment. There is a competition in each of us for our hearts. What the prodigal saw in front of him was pleasure and possessions; without realizing it he being pulled from the love of the father. Jesus revealed the greatest competitor for our hearts.

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

Jesus – Matthew 6:24 ESV: English Standard Version 2016

In some sense, maybe the father was actually choosing to invest in his son’s future by giving the inheritance. The story reveals that the wealth given to the son would be completely consumed, so in that sense the return on investment (ROI) was not that great. However, the son hits rock bottom and decides to return to the father. It seems the father was willing to take a loss on the financial side in order for his son to come back to who and where he was supposed to be. The money was lost but the son was found and the rejoicing begins. The lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son were recovered, but likely the lost wealth was not found. It seems the father was ok to sacrifice the wealth to save the son.

Ron Blue shared a story about parents completing their will and interestingly, their son had a lifestyle they did not approve of. They were thinking because of this they might “cut him out of their will.” Ron asked an important question: “What is the likelihood of your son returning to the Lord if he receives nothing when you pass on?” They had to admit that the chances were nil. Then Ron asked, “Well then, what’s the likelihood of your son returning to the Lord if he IS included in your will?” The fact is, his heart would be more open to the Lord if he was included in their will. I believe that is the heart expressed by the father of the prodigal.

It seems clear to me that one of the overlooked messages that can be taken from prodigal son is this: It’s more important to pass on wisdom to your children than it is to pass on wealth. We need to practice the wisdom principle.

“If you pass wisdom to your children, you probably can pass wealth to them. If they have enough wisdom, then they may not need your wealth.”

Ron Blue, Splitting Heirs, page 70

When discussing the transfer of wealth to children, Ron recommends asking yourself three questions:

  • What’s the worst thing that can happen if I transfer wealth to ___________?
  • How serious is it?
  • How likely is it to occur?

Preparing the next steward to receive any wealth we transfer is a significant part of a parents responsibility.

Is it possible that the prodigal gained enough wisdom to be a better steward in the future? Are you intentionally passing on wisdom to your children? Sometimes more is “caught” than “taught” and our children pick up our wisdom unintentionally.

Becoming a Shrewd Manager!

Becoming a Shrewd Manager!

Jesus often spoke in parables and fulfilled the prophecy that he would speak things that were hidden (Matt. 13:34, 35). The parable of “The Unjust Steward” or “The Shrewd Manager” in Luke 16:1-13 is possibly one of the most difficult of Jesus’ teachings to understand. Interestingly, it precedes a very familiar and often-quoted verse (13) which says, “You cannot serve two masters…You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.” This shrewd manager, despite his unrighteousness, was “praised” by his master which is the shocking part of this parable . There is a powerful truth about eternal perspective revealed in this parable.

The facts are important and need to be clearly understood:

1. The main character has the job of stewarding the assets of "a certain rich man."
2. There is going to be an audit of the books because of the steward’s poor management.
3. The steward’s days in his role are numbered because of the "squandering of his (the owner’s)possessions."
4. The steward uses the relationships that he has developed to re-negotiate the debt that is owed his master.
5. Despite being “unrighteous” or “unjust” he is praised for his “shrewdness” in his handling of the circumstance. 

What principles can we apply to our own management of money and possessions? Here are some of my conclusions:

1. The main thing that we need to understand about this life is that ultimately our role is to be a steward over what is put into our hands.

We are each given talents “depending on each one’s ability” (Matt. 25:15b). My goal is to invest my gifts with the time I have to bring glory to God. We have also been given resources (or treasure) to manage. The Lord also gives us relationships which is often an overlooked element of our stewardship responsibilities. The requirement of a steward is to be found faithful (1 Cor. 4:2).

Understanding that whatever we have in this life belongs to another is a very deep concept. We work and earn money so it is easy to assume it belongs to us. The Israelites had the same thoughts but in Deut. 8:18 it is made clear that it is God who gives us “the power to gain wealth.” This parable teaches that we are called to be faithful in what belongs to someone else (Luke 16:12). Considering what we have been called to manage, it’s definitely a high calling.

2. At some point, the books will be audited. 

As followers of Christ, our lives will be examined or judged by God with the goal of providing a reward. Paul describes how our works will be revealed or become obvious; “the fire will test the quality of each one’s work” (1 Cor. 3:13b). What we do with the resources we have been given may have no eternal consequence (they are burnt up or consumed) or they remain after being tested.

Some of the final recorded words of Jesus are these: “I am coming soon and my reward is with me to repay each person according to his work” (Rev. 22:12). This is likened to a settling of accounts (Matt. 25:19) and the goal is to hear the words: “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matt. 25:21).

3. We must understand that we have a limited time to accomplish the goal.  

This adds a significant level of urgency to the management of the resources we have been entrusted with. To realize that we are “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do” is a very sobering thought. Are we completing that work or are we squandering the opportunities that present themselves during our days? There is a reason for the instruction: “Teach us to number our days” (Psalms 90:12).

For this manager, the loss of his job made him think more deeply about his options. He knew he had a limited time to act, so he called the clients for a final meeting. This is certainly one of the reasons he is considered to be shrewd.

Shrewd” is not necessarily negative – to call a businessman shrewd is generally a compliment, meaning “taking advantage of hidden opportunities”.

Until he was faced with this personal crisis, this opportunity was hidden to him and not a consideration. In a similar fashion, we do not have unlimited time and we all could use more wisdom that comes by numbering our days. Maybe the difficult things we face (like job loss) in life, have the purpose of growing wisdom within us.

4. We need to understand that the relationships that we have with others are truly a gift from God. 

“When you are with people, they are his people, relationships he’s given you, people whom you can serve with eternal values at heart.”

Ken Boa, Rewriting Your Broken Story, p. 15

This may require us to intentionally focus on those relationships strategically in order to accomplish all that God intends for us to produce from that relationship. Consider that God actually has a plan for each of those relationships and he positions us at the right time in that person’s life.

What happens next is most interesting: he calls “his master’s debtors and reduces their debt, thereby engendering their friendship.”

Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p. 142

From the point of view of the debtors, the steward will have used his last moments in office (though they will only learn later that these are his last moments in office) to show generosity to them on a grand scale. The ancient world ran on the basis of a reciprocity ethic: good turns given and returned. The steward’s move gave him a claim upon his master’s debtors that was much more secure than any contract. Public honor required that they make some appropriate return to their benefactor. The steward had secured his future!

John Nolland, Luke 9:21–18:34, vol. 35B, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1993), 796–803.
5. The results that will bring praise from the master is when the impact reaches beyond this temporal life and extends into the eternal.

What the steward is praised for is not his unrighteousness but his “shrewdness” or “prudence.” This is the key that unlocks the parable. He is indeed a “son of this world,” but he is more prudent in planning for the only future he is concerned about than the typical religious person is in planning for his eternal future with God.

James R. Edwards, The Gospel according to Luke, ed. D. A. Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentar

The “worldly wealth” can be used strategically to invest in relationships with people. Only then can it be transformed into “true riches” (v. 11). The parable ends in verse 8 when the steward accomplishes his goal. What follows is the instruction to use “worldly wealth so that when it fails, they may welcome you into eternal dwellings.” Why was this steward “more shrewd than the children of light?” It might be because he acted according to his worldview (securing his future).

The natural inclination is to view all of the resources as our own (just as the children of this age do). This parable demonstrates the importance of managing prudently the relationships and resources on behalf of the owner or master (the task of the children of light). Instead of squandering the “worldly wealth” we ought to seek out hidden opportunities, likely relationships we already have. We are to become “faithful in the use of that which is another’s …” (v. 12).

The unrighteousness manager’s actions were consistent with his worldview more than the actions of most followers of Jesus are consistent with their worldview. The instruction of Jesus is: “store up treasures for yourselves in heaven.”

We can accomplish this by our “shrewd” use of “worldly wealth.” To be shrewd means to find hidden opportunities to live according to our worldview, as citizens of heaven. This means we make investments that are long term … really long-term, as in eternal!

How shrewd are we in handling the resources that are placed in our hands? Are we looking for hidden opportunities to use “worldly wealth” to establish “true riches?” (cf. v. 11) Are we living as citizens of heaven, while we are citizens of this earth?

We Are All Discipled By Someone

We Are All Discipled By Someone

Bruxy Cavey, a teacher at The Meeting House recently said, “We are all discipled by someone,” and it really made me consider the truth of that statement, especially as it relates to my work in the financial industry. The sources of media that we subject ourselves to play such a significant role in shaping who we are as individuals and professionals.

Almost 30 years ago, in the Spring of 1991, I entered the financial industry. By the mid 1990’s, it was clear to me that if I was to build a career in this industry, further education would be important and I began the journey toward my Certified Financial Planner® designation. Continuing Education (CE) is a requirement in many professions today, and rightfully so, because things are constantly changing.

In order to maintain my CFP® designation, I have to earn a minimum of 25 CE hours annually. In essence, this means that my profession, or my designation, compels me to keep my knowledge current. The CE hours obtained means I fulfill my annual education requirement but, more importantly, it also means that I am being discipled by someone!

The Kingdom Advisors 2021 Annual Conference offers 18 hours of CE to financial professionals

Thus far in 2021, the instruction in the following verse has been challenging me:

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Colossians 3:2 CSB

The instruction in the previous verse is to “Seek the things above,” yet, we are living on this earth and we must stay current with the industry of which we are a part. We all choose the “someone” who disciples us; the twelve disciples accepted Christ’s offer. Today, as Christ-followers, we must choose who will disciple us.

I am so grateful for Kingdom Advisors because it exposes me to the “Christian Financial Industry” where I can choose to earn my required industry CE in the context of my faith! This helps me “set my mind” based on the “wisdom that comes from above” rather than “earthly wisdom” (James 3:15-17). When it comes to financial planning, much of the wisdom shared by professionals is earthly, even if they happen to be Christian. Earthly wisdom is defined by James as “unspiritual, based on selfish ambition…including envy” (3:15-16). The dictionary defines envy as “a feeling of discontent or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions.” Catering to selfish desires is one of the easiest traps to fall into.

What I am instructed to do as a follower of Christ is to seek the things above and set my mind there. That’s not an easy task and will not happen without intentionality. When I do this, the result is that my advice will be based on the wisdom that comes from above –

“pure, peace-loving, gentle, willing to yield to others, full of mercy and good deeds, showing no favouritism and always sincere.”

James 3:17 NLT

Are you a Christian Financial professional? If so, where are you finding your required industry CE? Does it include wisdom that comes from above? Do you realize that where you obtain your CE actually disciples you?

I will earn 18 hours of industry CE by attending the Kingdom Advisors Annual Conference on Feb. 17-19 and the greatest bonus of these hours is the “wisdom from above.”

Register now for the KA Annual Conference because that wisdom is priceless!

Please use CONF21CANADA discount code when you register for 10% off.

2020 Vision – Do You Have a Clear Eye?

2020 Vision – Do You Have a Clear Eye?

At the beginning of this year, many referenced 2020 using the analogy of 20/20 eyesight – an ability to see clearly. In hindsight, did anyone see what the year would actually bring?

It’s interesting that two people can view the same circumstance yet, have two very different perspectives. Even reflecting on the US election in November, it has shown a nation that is divided by so many issues whether political, racial or religious. Without a mind shift, we are typically unable to see or understand a different perspective. The fact is our vision is often not as clear as we might think.

Jesus made this statement:

The lamp of the body is the eye; if therefore your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.”

Jesus – Matt. 6:22

The context of this verse is about storing up treasures in heaven, and not storing up treasures on the earth (Matt 6:19-24). The reference to “the eye” (in verses 22 & 23) almost seems to be out of place and off the topic of storing up treasure, whether on the earth or in heaven. If we examine more closely, we will see more clearly.

The word clear can be translated healthy or generous which helps us understand better what Jesus meant. He was really saying that generosity (or lack of generosity) is more impactful than we realize. He was helping us make a connection between what we do with our money here on earth so it can help us store up treasure in heaven. If our eye is generous, we have a longer term perspective.

Jesus described the kingdom of heaven in Matthew 20 by explaining how a landowner hired labourers for his vineyard. He hired them for an agreed amount for the entire day and also hired others throughout the day, meaning they worked less hours than those hired in the morning. The landowner paid all of them a denarius (equivalent of a days wage). Those who were hired first then complained when they discovered that others who worked less hours received the same pay as they did for working the entire day. After hearing the grumbling, the response of the landowner is most interesting:

“Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?”

Jesus – Matt. 20:15

In other words, Jesus was saying your eye is not healthy or generous, but rather jealous. Why did Jesus reference the eye? Take a look at Proverbs 28:22, “A man with an evil eye hastens after wealth …” which explains what Jesus was referencing when he shared this story. He said they had “an evil eye” or were jealous because of their perceived wage discrepancy. Through this story, Jesus was teaching that having a generous heart is preferred, rather than a heart focused on greed. None of us would be quick to admit we are guilty of greed, but the message of the kingdom of heaven is always toward generosity. “He who is generous (has a good eye) will be blessed …” (Prov. 22:9).

Regarding the phrase in Matthew 6:22, “your whole body will be full of light,” means that if your eye is generous:

“all (your) actions will be influenced by this noble principle;
(your) whole life will be illuminated, guided and governed by it;
(your) mind will be cheerful and pleasant, and
(your) estate and condition will be prosperous and successful.”

Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

Generosity extends beyond finances.

When considering social media, it is not difficult to find an “evil eye” or lack of generosity when it comes to our words and interactions with one another. I’ve read how one person accused another of being like an ostrich with their head stuck in the sand as it relates to a particular issue. These people have never met, yet, the words are anything but generous toward the other and the exchange does not focus on trying to understand the other person’s perspective.

Back to the story of the landowner; it ends with: “the last shall be first, and the first shall be last. In the kingdom of heaven, the focus is on generosity, on putting others ahead of ourselves, the opposite of greed or an evil eye. Proverbs 22:9 says, “He who has a good eye will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor.” A bountiful or generous eye is the great differentiator!

I read a post that said, “Our Lord describes the eye as a lamp which lights the entire body. Our eyes are the entrance to our hearts and minds and, as such, they provide a doorway to our very souls.” It goes on to say “The Bible tells us that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. That’s his great deception—to make people think they’ve found the light when in fact it’s the darkness of false light (2 Corinthians 11:14). His intention is to blind us to truth and corrupt our minds, and he uses our eyes to gain entrance to our hearts.”

Photo by: Terry Grimes (Reminds me of the star of Bethlehem or the Christmas star)

The goal of Jesus telling this story is to expose the darkness that is often present in our hearts. One of the reasons we celebrate Christmas at this time of the year is because it is literally one of the darkest times of the year (the shortest days of the year are in December). Light is most visible in the darkest of times. We can be a source of light to those around us if there is a light that is within us. We can only share what we possess.

“The lamp of the body is the eye …”

May we display that light when others look into our eyes. When people look into your eyes, do they see light or darkness? When others read your posts on social media, do they see generosity or not? Are we focused on the accumulation of wealth here on earth or riches toward God?

These are very sobering questions and the answers reveal that “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

A Prayer for Financial Professionals

A Prayer for Financial Professionals

Did you know that Jesus prayed about you being in the financial services industry? Here’s what Jesus prayed:

“I do not ask that you take them out of the world (industry) … but to keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”

John 17:15-17

You have probably heard this phrase before: “In this world, but not of this world …” As a financial advisor, I would state what Jesus meant this way: “In this industry, but not of this industry.” That’s powerful! It means He wants us in this industry for a specific purpose!

I entered the financial services in 1991, but did not realize it was by divine purpose that I was there. It is vital to understand that where we are is by His divine purpose!

Jesus asked the Father “… to keep them from the evil.” What is the evil? Have you ever considered that it might simply be conformity – being like everyone else in the industry. Maybe that’s why we are instructed not to be conformed, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds!

The prayer then is, “Don’t take them out of the industry because I have a divine purpose for them in the industry.” The problem is that it’s too easy to fit in the industry, to think we have to be like every other advisor.

Jesus’ prayer was “Sanctify them by the truth” – the immediate thought when we hear “sanctify” is holiness or purity but the meaning of the word here is to “set apart” or “to consecrate.”

The idea at the root of the word rendered “sanctify,” is not holiness, but separation. It is opposed not to what is impure, but to what is common, and is constantly used in the Old Testament for the consecration of persons and things to the service of God.”

Elliotts Commentary for English Readers

Sanctify or, consecrate: The word expresses God’s destination of them for their work and His endowment of them with the powers necessary for their work. The word is used of God’s consecration of Jeremiah, Moses, and the chosen people.

Cambridge Bible for Schools & Colleges

How are we set apart? How are we different? It’s “by the truth” … the biblical financial wisdom is what makes us different. It is what distinguishes us from others in the industry; it sets us apart.

Jesus would be unique if he were in this industry. Here’s an example from Mark 10:17-22 – the rich young ruler comes along asking about life issues – significant life issues, as in eternal life! We could say he would be the ideal prospect – young, with many possessions and asking important questions. The response of Jesus was unique – He did not focus on managing his wealth, but said, “One thing you lack: go sell all you possess, and give to the poor” and directed him toward generosity, in essence, “treasure in heaven.” Here is what makes you unique in this industry: Focus not on what clients have, but on the one thing they lack.

Advisors “in this industry,” are naturally interested in what people have, their wealth. Advisors who are “in the industry, but not of the industry,” are unique and will direct the client to see the one thing they lack, or are missing. What this rich young prospect was missing was generosity and it seems he did not become a client (or disciple) of Jesus. Scripture says his face fell or “he became gloomy.

Financial professionals in this industry do a great job focusing on the wealth, but as a Christian who is “in, but not of this industry,” the focus goes beyond the numbers to the heart, to the one thing lacking. Is the TRUTH (biblical wisdom) setting you apart in this industry? What client conversations are lacking?

Let me paraphrase John 17:15-17 – It’s truly the prayer of Jesus for financial professionals: Father, do not take them out of the industry, but keep them focused on their unique calling. They are not of the industry, just as I am not of the industry (but I would be unique in the industry). Set them apart, consecrate them in the truth, your word is truth.

Lord help us to focus on the one thing that our clients lack; help us to be fearless in our client conversations! Help us to redefine what success really is – to have Kingdom Impact through our interactions with clients.

Can You Be Thankful for Tough Times?

Can You Be Thankful for Tough Times?

A common question during Thanksgiving is, “What are you thankful for today?” I would have to say I am thankful for the people who have come into my life, even for a brief time, to say something significant to me. It is so good to be able to revisit those monumental moments. I am, of course, grateful for the family and friends who have walked with me through many difficult, life-building experiences. In fact, I have come to realize that I am even thankful for those who have been a source of pain in my life and may have helped create some of those difficult experiences. All of them have shaped me into the person that I am today.

I remember one challenging season during my Bible College years (1982-1986) when I was desperate, ready to quit and do something else, rather than do what my heart truly desired. Thankfully, a pastor prayed with me and said I would be a “David and a Gideon.” It’s quite interesting that both of these men felt pretty insignificant (both were considered the least in their families). In May 2019, I was fortunate enough to meet that pastor again and thanked him for his words to me so many years earlier; those significant words that continued to resonate with me through some of the toughest times in my life.

As a young pastor just starting out in my career, I felt rejected by the denomination that I grew up in and where I had trained to be a minister. I was filled with questions and no answers, disappointed because life was not supposed to be this way. That’s when the Lord provided an opportunity for me to enter the financial services industry (1991). I felt this was just a temporary move until the Lord would open another door of ministry for me; after all, God had called me to “preach the word.” I am thankful for the tough times and for those who have rejected me, because without them, I would have never made the decisions I did.

I’m grateful for my wife who documented our journey together these past 34 years (on Oct. 25th this year). She wrote these words that another pastor shared on Sept. 20, 1992, “An open door is coming for Lorne, but he’s not yet ready for it. There will be some frustrating and trying times but we are to look at it as preparation time. We are to cleave to one another and look back at this night.”

Nine years later, I heard these words (Nov. 25, 2001): “Lorne will travel Canada and his ministry will be endorsed so strongly that people won’t be able to question it.” I’m grateful for closed doors because only God knows when and which doors should open. Trusting that God will do this is most difficult in your dark times.

One of my darkest periods was in 2008 after I had run in the Federal Election (and lost), plus the stock market had crashed. I was striving to open doors and get away from this pressure but despite my knocking, the only door that opened meant continuing in the financial services industry. I recall speaking with a counsellor during this period and she said, “You are suffering from rejection.”

I concealed my pain as much as possible but I was hurting in a way I felt no one else could comprehend. I’m grateful that Cathy was so understanding and allowed me to process, yet, pray me through this period. It was during this time that I began studying the topic of biblical financial stewardship in a book by Randy Alcorn, called “Money, Possessions and Eternity.” I am so thankful for men like Randy, Larry Burkett and Ron Blue whose writings have helped transformed my life and have given me much more of an eternal perspective in so many areas.

I’m so thankful that God’s ways are higher than my ways. What I thought was a temporary career in financial planning has turned out to be the work He had prepared in advance for me to do (see Eph. 2:10). I am grateful for the years I spent creating strong relationships with amazing clients who shared things with me that they would never share with a pastor. I was able to guide them financially and personally. Those years actually prepared me to become the National Director of Kingdom Advisors, a ministry to financial professionals to whom I can easily relate because of my own experience in the industry. It’s ironic that when I was asked to consider this role in 2013, my immediate response (without even thinking) was, “I feel like David out in the field shepherding the sheep (my clients), while so many others are more qualified.” It wasn’t until further reflection that I realized those words that the pastor shared with me in college were very true 35 years later.

The fact is when things don’t go according to our plans, we need to be thankful and willing to trust that things are going according to His plan for us. God can use any circumstance or people! It can appear to be anything but good at the time. Even if meant for evil, God works for our good and conforms us to His image (See Genesis 50:20). Are you facing tough circumstances and/or difficult people? Be assured that behind the scenes, God is using these situations and people to help transform you.

Wisdom for Financial Advisors

Wisdom for Financial Advisors

Financial advisors have a special call and what the Apostle Paul shared with Timothy in 1 Tim 6:17-19 is totally relevant for advisors in our current times as they instruct the rich: Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others, (NLT) storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of what is truly life. (CSB)

The rich are not told to take a vow of poverty. They are told to take a vow of generosity.

Randy Alcorn, Money Possessions & Eternity, p. 291

The ultimate achievement of a financial planner is not just putting together a financial plan, but helping clients take hold of what is truly life.

Every advisor and every client has a plan or purpose in life that needs to be discovered. Often this is hidden and can be difficult to discover. This verse is majorly important: A plan in the heart of a man is like deep water, But a man of understanding draws it out (Prov. 20:5 NASB). The financial advisor must be “an advisor of understanding” who will have deeper conversations that probe beyond “the numbers” such as rates of returns, etc.

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Rom. 11:36 ESV – Remember the purpose of all we do is to bring God glory. It is something we all fall short of (Rom. 3:23) personally and professionally but our goal is to hear: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ (Matt. 25:23 ESV)

As I consider one advisor leaving the financial services industry (semi-retiring or retiring) and passing his/her business along to a younger advisor, I cannot help but think of Elijah and Elisha. When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please let there be a double portion of your spirit on me.” (2 Kings 2:9 ESV) If there is a secret to a successful transition, it is to have the younger advisor receive “the spirit” of the senior advisor because that is truly what has created this business in the first place.

Often, money is viewed as something we can trust, particularly the more money, the easier it is to have confidence in wealth. The rich think of their wealth as a strong defense; they imagine it to be a high wall of safety (Prov. 18:11 NLT).

Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ (Col. 3:23,24 CSB). This verse is challenging because Certified Financial Planners understand based on their Code of Ethics and particularly Principle # 1: Duty of Loyalty to the Client. “The duty to act in the client’s interest by placing the client’s interests first.” If we truly see our work as being done for the Lord, this is a higher standard and one that ensures we will have placed the client’s interest ahead of our own and all other interests.

Let the favour of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands! (Ps. 90:17 ESV) This prayer asks the Lord to make our efforts on earth permanent, meaning the advice we provide will have an eternal impact.

May this be the prayer of every Christian financial advisor.

(Mis-)Understanding God’s Call

(Mis-)Understanding God’s Call

This summer I listened to a very moving and appropriately titled audio book called Fire Road. It is the story of Kim Phuc Phan Thi which is written as A Memoir of Hope. The book cover shows the Pulitzer Prize winning photograph taken on June 8, 1972 in South Vietnam. The nine-year-old child is running from low flying planes to escape the napalm bombs dropped that day.

Her story is one of physical pain from the burns and multiple surgeries over the years that followed. The book also describes how the government used her story as propaganda for their own benefit, in essence “putting their own words into her mouth” through interpreters. The “Napalm Girl,” as she became known, journeyed through the horrors of war which has given her a platform to share her journey of faith, forgiveness and peace. Her suffering and pain was intense and brought tears to my eyes as I listened. The impact of her life and faith will only be measured in light of eternity. I was struck by the thought of how God could take the horror of her experience and use it to bring redemption to so many.

She was born the year before I was and that day in June shaped her future in a way that she could not have imagined. I honestly have no idea what I was doing on June 8, 1972 but I believe God also allowed things to come my way that were not pleasant. We all face events that determine who we become and what we do in life.

I can recall when I was 15 years old standing in a church that my Mom and Dad pastored. I had an indescribable holy experience in God’s presence. I stared at my mother’s Bible and I could not escape the instructions of the Apostle Paul to Timothy: “Preach the word … do the work of an evangelist and fulfill your ministry.” That time was so impactful that when I was asked about my goal in life for my graduation yearbook, I said “to be an evangelist.”

It was obvious to me that I should study the Bible and enter full time ministry. Little did I know that after less than 4 years into “full-time ministry,” my life would take an unforeseen twist and I would enter the financial services industry. The Napalm Girl can look back at a specific day that changed her life, and I look back at this period of time because it was like a course correction that I could not fully understand. How could selling insurance and investment products help me “do the work of an evangelist?”

God must smile when we ask these sorts of questions. Fast forward 25 years when I am asked if I would consider leaving my financial planning practice to become “a pastor to financial professionals across Canada.” Now that’s something I did not see coming! In the past 5 years (since making this transition), I have met hundreds of Christian financial professionals who desire to better share biblical financial wisdom with their clients (because it works).

Here’s my point: as a 15-year-old sensing God’s call to “preach the word” and “do the work of an evangelist,” all I could visualize was Billy Graham, and possibly doing something like that. I think God was saying, “Maybe not.” It is so easy to misunderstand what God is calling us to do and accomplish in life because we have our own ideas of what life is supposed to look like.

What I know is this: God can use a napalm bomb for ultimate good. Or He can use a job loss that no one could have predicted to bring us to a destiny that we could never envision. His ways are simply beyond our ways. We can trust God even when things seem to be going opposite to our plans.

A very wise man offered this advice that I have paraphrased: With all that is in you, trust in the Lord. Do not rely on what you can understand. In all your ways know him, and he will show you which path to take.

It seems to me that trusting is more important than understanding. Where do you place your trust? Your own abilities? Or God’s ability to position you where you are supposed to be? Do you spend more time trying to understand or learning to trust?