Sadly, we have typically increased our standard of living so significantly, there is not much left to increase our standard of giving.
Facebook has a way of reminding you of what you were doing 10 years ago and of course, encourages you to share those memories.
Do you remember what was happening 10 years ago? Two things are pretty significant because it would affect so many Canadians:
1. There was a federal election in Canada,
2. The stock market was dropping and could not seem to find a bottom.
For me, those times included some of the most dramatic events that led to a major life change. I ran as a Conservative candidate in the 40th Canadian General Election. Whenever people find out about my election run they ask, “How did you do?” My reply usually starts with, “Do you remember Danny Williams, the Premier of Newfoundland Labrador? Remember his ABC campaign (Anybody But Conservative)?” The result: no Conservative was elected in the province in that election, not even those who were favoured!
After the election, I returned to my financial planning practice (10 years ago on this very day, October 15th). My clients, like others around the world, were seeing their portfolios declining by thousands, especially in the weeks I was campaigning in an election that I had no chance of winning. They were still on an emotional roller coaster wondering if they would ever regain what was lost.
This led me to a very dark place, what my wife often refers to as my mid-life crisis. I struggled with the fact that I was not there for my clients when they needed me most; that was a fail. I put my name forward to run in a federal election and felt very much alone, especially after the devastating election night. I felt defeated (in more ways than just the election) and questioned my purpose. If you look at the chart and the shaded area of yellow, the stock market decline seemed to parallel my life at this time. What was my life all about anyway? It was one of my lowest, darkest times.
I needed a change, a new direction, maybe a new career. I needed something to get me out of this dark place. I searched the web every evening after work for opportunities that I felt suited for but came up empty. Or did I? I prayed but those results didn’t appear any better. I did, however, find a new role with a different Credit Union. This did not seem to make much sense though because it meant I would be managing less than 20% of the assets I was managing where I was. That decision just didn’t seem to make sense but I just knew I had to make a change.
What is interesting is that in my job search, I also found a membership organization for Christian financial professionals known as Advisors with Purpose (now known as Kingdom Advisors). I joined as a member and started to participate in the monthly coaching calls. I also did the KA Core Training which helped me understand what it meant to be called to the role of financial planning. I never really felt called to be a financial planner; it was more like just a job for me, but my perspective began to change. As time progressed, I realized more and more that I was “called” to do what I was doing. It was not just a job, but my interaction with clients was indeed an answer to the calling I felt in life for many years.
Fast forward to the fall of 2013 when I am asked to become the National Director of Kingdom Advisors in Canada. This would mean helping other Christian financial professionals understand their own calling; that excited me. It also meant leaving my practice and clients and leaving “the rock” (Newfoundland), where I had lived all my life; that scared me.
In 2015, I left my book of business behind and my wife and I moved to Ontario, just on the outskirts of Ottawa. I ended up in the Ottawa region anyway, not because I was elected as a Member of Parliament, but to fulfill a completely different purpose. Life has taken a very different path than I thought. I can truly say it is a journey of faith that is not without dark moments.
I am reminded of this scripture in Isaiah 45:3 (NIV):
I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel (& Canada), who summons (or calls) you by name.
Have you ever felt like your life is like a chart of the stock market? Has it often resembled that sort of roller coaster ride? Look for the treasures that may be hidden in the dark place, invest your life at that point where opportunity presents itself because the return on the investment of your life can be significant and have eternal rewards!
Last week was one of those special weeks where I was privileged to interact with some amazing influencers in the Christian financial services industry. More than ninety financial professionals from 7 of the 10 provinces in Canada came together in Toronto for the Kingdom Advisors Canada Conference.
The majority of these advisors have figured out why they do what they do and surprisingly, it’s not just for the career, the money or the position. It’s because they feel called and that calling is usually defined by some life experience. After the conference, I was intrigued to read an article about one of our speakers, Brad Smith.
Photo taken from an article published by Wealth Professional Canada, written by Leo Almazora.
The article describes how Brad always saw protecting his clients’ wealth as his primary role. I believe this to be true for most financial advisors but that all changed for Brad after an incident with one of his very first clients.
“Henry was a factory worker, and he had done everything right,” he said. “He’d put his kids through school; by the time he retired, he was financially set to achieve everything we’d planned for. He couldn’t wait to leave the factory behind.”
No one could have imagined what would happen next: not long after his retirement, the man who’d done everything right tried to take his life. After finding out what happened from Henry’s wife, Smith visited him at the hospital and asked what drove him to it.
“Henry said ‘Nobody needs me. Nobody at work needs me, my kids don’t need me,’” he recalled. “’I went to my doctor because I was losing sleep, and he just gave me pills. I took them home, asked myself what it all meant, and downed all of them.’”
Genuinely concerned, Smith and a few of Henry’s loved ones brainstormed to help him find a purpose; he was passionate about hockey, so he decided to coach minor-league hockey teams and ultimately got out of his funk.
The whole affair marked a turning point for Smith. “I realized that if I succeed only in taking care of my client’s money — making sure it’s used well and ensuring a good return on investment — I have failed as an advisor,” he said. “I didn’t want another Henry.”
It seems this is when Brad began to find out his “why” and purpose in his profession as a financial advisor. The typical thinking is that dealing with a financial advisor is about rates of return on an investment portfolio or taking care of a client’s money. No doubt it does include those things, but discovering that his career path was about something far more important had a significant impact on his business and client relationships.
Over time, Smith found a similar pattern with other clients; many who were financially prepared for retirement were actually unprepared in emotional or psychological ways. That prompted them to develop a seven-step program to help clients lead lives of success and significance, a major part of which is to give generously to the benefit of others.
The seven step process that Brad walks his clients through is the “journey to meaningful significance.” Every year the Kingdom Advisors conference recognizes someone whose life demonstrates Christian character, unparalleled professional competency, along with the integration of biblical wisdom into their advice and counsel. Brad journeys with his clients toward a life of significance and in this process has discovered his own life of significance. At the KA Conference in September 2018, Brad became the recipient of the Advisor with Purpose award because he has truly become an advisor with purpose.
Three years ago, we left Newfoundland and moved to Ontario. Now in 2018, it was time to rent another Uhaul to move our son, his wife along with our grandson from Toronto, Ontario to Gatineau, Quebec. That’s where this story gets interesting.
I go to pick up the rental truck, only to be told the 15 foot truck my daughter-in-law Amanda had ordered was in an accident and had to be inspected and was no longer available for us to rent. He said, “I have another truck for you though, it’s a little bigger, would that be OK?”
I replied by explaining how they had moved from Toronto a month ago in a 15 foot truck, stored everything in my garage and since that time they purchased an oak table with 6 chairs plus two night tables for their bedroom, so an extra 5 feet would not go astray.
Here is how Amanda explained her day (before moving day) on her Facebook post:
Well, today was eventful. I lost my keys, then found them under the seat of my car. We went to pick up our truck for tomorrow’s move, but it was in an accident. So we picked up a 20′ truck at 5 for the same price as the 15′ truck. Then I got a call that our fridge/stove order was cancelled, and wouldn’t be delivered tomorrow but we’d have to wait a week or two for it to arrive. So we went to Home Depot and got the same fridge and almost the same stove for $800 cheaper than our original order. We’re picking them up with our Uhaul tomorrow morning.
The one thing she didn’t really explain was that the Home Depot in Carleton Place could not deliver to Quebec, so the fridge and stove would need to be transported rather than be delivered. I quickly realized the 20′ truck was not just a replacement for the smaller truck but actually needed to make the move in one trip.
It was like someone knew and even arranged a larger truck for us to make the move. When I picked it up, I understood Home Depot was delivering the fridge to their Gatineau home the following day. I certainly had no idea we would need the extra space in the truck, nor did the guy at Uhaul.
Many people would say that all of this is simply things falling into place, but I can’t help but think about the words of Jesus:
Consider the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? (Matt. 6:26)
Many would probably say that God is not involved in our lives like that but here is the answer I would respond with:
Just as you don’t know the path of the wind, or how bones develop in the womb of a pregnant woman, so also you don’t know the work of God (see Eccl. 11:5).
You can choose to say these events are just coincidence and has nothing to do with God’s activity. I choose instead to give God glory for caring for us similar to how He cares for the birds of the sky or the grass of the field. If God feeds the birds and cares for the grass, I believe He can arrange the right size of Uhaul we need, even if we ordered a smaller one.
Have you ever had good things happen that are almost too good to be true? Do you thing God has any part of this or is it just coincidence?
Yesterday didn’t start at all the way I desired. I was scheduled to speak at a local church and was pretty excited about sharing until I woke up at 5:45 AM feeling quite dizzy and nauseous. I tried to sleep longer but by 9 AM I actually felt worse and began throwing up. What was I to do? I knew the pastor was away so as weak as I felt, I went to the church and sat through the entire service until it was time to speak. I felt so exhausted that I wondered if I should stand or if it might be best to speak from a stool instead.
What’s interesting is that my topic was “Let These Words Sink Into Your Ears” with the idea that God’s Word has the power to provide health to your body and nourishment to your bones. I told the people that as I drove to the church I felt my strength was at about 25%, but after the worship time, I was at least 50%. When I was about halfway through the message, I felt much stronger, like I was at 75% – 85%. Two people came up to me after and said that when I started, I looked very pale but as I shared God’s Word, the colour in my face returned.
Here was my prayer at the beginning which were really my sermon points:
Lord, open my:
Ears to hear Your Word
Mind to Understand Your Word
Heart to Believe Your Word
Spirit to Trust Your Word
Bones to be Healed and Refreshed by Your Word.
I’m convinced that healing came to me as a result of God’s Word being spoken. After having a nap and eating lunch, I felt well enough to ride 25 kilometres on my bicycle.
If you would like to listen to my message follow this link:
When you consider it, the words you hear bring you to a place of understanding. Your thinking gradually shifts to shape what you believe. Your beliefs determine who you trust and when you have confidence in someone, it will impact how you live. So that’s really how words filter into you bones and bring life!
The US Marines have a saying – “In order to get to heaven, you have to die!”
That statement is interesting indeed, but I would ask the following questions: Is your life over when you die? What comes after death? Do you think of life in two parts – one part that we are living now, which ends when we die, and then a second part, eternal life (or getting to heaven)?
When I have asked those questions, most answer: the afterlife is an entirely different life than our present life, whether you believe in God or not. In order to get to heaven (eternal life), you have to die (so this life ends).
Is this belief biblical? Or is it more like: when you die physically, you actually continue to live on, just in a different place? Maybe you haven’t given this much thought but it is really important to consider.
We typically think about our existence as two entirely separate lives, but Jesus spoke of one life that continues into eternity because we believe in Him. He said that our life here (on earth) actually impacts our life there (in heaven).
For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS.
In other words, the consequences of our actions while we are here on earth are actually meaningful in eternity, yet most just “live for today” not considering any future return from the investment of our present lives. We often quote “He/she will reap what they sow” and typically are thinking about consequences soon after the action(s) occurs, not in eternity. This, of course, is true in the example of the farmer who sows seed to reap a harvest later in the fall of the year. It is interesting that the next verse following Gal. 6:7 (reaping and sowing) references reaping “eternal life,” connecting our life in the present with our eternal destiny.
Maybe we live our lives with too much of a disconnect from the eternal life that we are promised. I read something interesting from Mark Batterson’s book entitled “If.”
In the Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis demonstrates that God wants humankind to attend chiefly to two things: “to eternity itself, and to that point in time which they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity.
In light of that truth, Screwtape, the veteran demon, advises a novice named Wormwood with these words: “Our business is to get them away from the eternal, and from the Present. With this in mind we sometimes tempt a human … to live in the Past.”
Two things grabbed my attention:
1. The Present is the point at which time touches eternity
2. The conversation between demons discussing their business of distracting humans “away from the eternal.”
Our present lives today are meant to be lived in a manner that touches or impacts eternity. In order for that to happen, we must have an eternal perspective which will impact what we value. If all we do is live for today, we may be living a distracted life, distracted from what should be our true priority.
C.S. Lewis says it this way:
If you read history you will find that the Christians who did the most for the present world are those who thought most of the next.
This means the idea about being “so heavenly minded that you are no earthly good” is a fallacy.
Do you feel you are only living for today? Would it be more impactful today if you could gain an eternal perspective?
Well this Father’s Day will be the most different of any that I can remember. I don’t expect to see any of my children today and my wife is not even with me, because she is with her Dad today, which is pretty special for her.
Since I have been asked to share this morning in a local church I have been thinking, “What is Father’s Day all about anyway?” Here is the brief history of this special day:
Some credit the first Father’s Day celebration to Sonora Smart Dodd for honouring her father, a veteran of the Civil War, who raised his family as a single Dad when his wife died giving birth to their sixth child. To show her appreciation for her father’s efforts, after listening to a church sermon on Mother’s Day in 1909, Sonora initially suggested that there should be a day to celebrate him and other dads like him in the State in which they lived and farmed. After much campaigning, the first Father’s Day was held in Washington State on June 19, 1910. Although Father’s Day was celebrated throughout the U.S. as an unofficial day for Dads after that date, it was in 1966, Lyndon B. Johnson, through an executive order, designated the third Sunday in June as the official day to celebrate Father’s Day. It wasn’t until 1972, during the Nixon administration, that Father’s Day was officially recognized as a national holiday.
While it’s great to celebrate Dads, I’ve been thinking that I need to celebrate my children. Here is what I mean: if you think about a fathers role, isn’t it about investing your life into your children? I take this lesson from our Heavenly Father. When Jesus was baptized here is what Scripture records in Mark 1:10-11.
As soon as he came up out of the water, he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: You are My beloved Son; I take delight in You!
Three things to note for Dads:
1. The heavens were opened
Our inspiration needs to come from heaven, that is where the initial example of fatherhood comes from. Heaven was obviously closed but opened up or was “torn open” for a reason. Most of us just think about heaven as a place prepared for us, that we will go to when we die. Isn’t heaven is so much more? Can heaven impact our world today? I believe heaven is what sustains the earth (see Hebrews 1:3) so in that sense sustains everyone on the earth. That is what makes the Lord’s prayer so powerful, it is asking heaven to open and influence the earth!
2. A voice from heaven (the Father spoke)
When I think about my voice being heard I realize I need to think before I speak. As I reflect on the words I’ve spoken to my children, sometimes in anger and frustration, I must ask for their forgiveness. The words spoken in my wedding vows come to mind: “… always speak words of grace that will build you up.” The word “always” stands out to me. I have never forgotten those words but have often fallen short of them. I cannot claim that my words are always inspired by heaven because they are at time influenced more by the earthly challenges I deal with from day to day. My prayer this morning is: “May I look more to heaven before I speak words to my children.”
3. Words of love and acceptance
The time of baptism is seen as the beginning of Jesus’ ministry so in one sense He hadn’t accomplished too much in life because he was just getting started. However, He was a carpenter so maybe more was accomplished than we may typically think about. Why was the Father pleased? I think the reason is pretty simple: the Son was on the earth and moving toward His purpose. He was an example to us and contributed in His world before His baptism and most certainly after these words were spoken to Him. Did it matter what He had done? The Father was “well pleased” and expressed exactly that to the Son.
Today I want to reverse Father’s Day! Instead of waiting for messages from my children, to celebrate Father’s Day, I want to send them a message:
“I’m very proud of you, not for what you have accomplished or will accomplish in your life, but simply because you are my child! You are on this earth and moving toward your purpose! You are a gift to me and I will always love you. Whatever difficulties you may face in life, I pray you will always feel you can come to me and find a place of acceptance. After all, I am your father!”
Happy Father’s Day!