My Work and Easter

My Work and Easter

For many, the greatest impact of Easter is a few extra days off from work. I have to be honest, until this year (2019), I have never drawn a connection between my work and the resurrection. However, this is absolutely exciting for us all to consider. We tend to limit our thinking around Easter to spiritual matters only because it is a religious event on our calendars. I believe that Easter is meant to impact every part of our lives!

As I started my Good Friday, I read an article entitled: How Easter Changes Everything About Your Work and it was an eye-opener for me. I gained a new perspective and this fresh focus allowed me to see something I had previously missed. Let me explain.

In 1 Corinthians 15, the apostle Paul explains that Christ’s resurrection at Easter is the very cornerstone of the gospel. Without it, nothing else matters.

How Easter Changes Everything About Your Work

And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.

1 Cor. 15:14

You may have heard some of 1 Corinthians 15 read at a funeral, but what does it have to do with our lives today, particularly our work? The gospel is meant to impact every area of our lives, not just the spiritual. The resurrection power is to be effective in our lives now, not just at death. We make a grave (pardon the pun) mistake if we read these verses and limit the application only to the dead being transformed with resurrected bodies to live on the new earth.

At the end of this incredible chapter on the resurrection, what does Paul say? “Since there is a resurrection, look forward to this glorious future?” No. He says something quite different:Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain (1 Cor. 15:58).

When we read “the work of the Lord” we tend to immediately think of something spiritual, in the church, but our labour refers to all our work. It could represent our volunteer work or our vocations. Here’s the part in the article that grabbed me. Paul’s encouragement is to remember that what we do in this life is directly connected to our life in eternity. The resurrection is the key! Easter gives new meaning to our work! NT Wright in his book, How Then Shall We Work says,

Everything you do in the present life, in the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ, everything that flows out of love and hope and grace and goodness somehow will be part of God’s eventual kingdom.”

The resurrection is the key to all of this. Just as our bodies are changed and we are given new bodies, so too, is our work for the Lord. Everything about us will be changed. It’s part of the mystery but the truth of Paul’s message is that “… your toil is not in vain.” If we read this on its own, we get the message that everything we do for the Lord is important in this present age, so we must do our best. Reading it in context makes this verse so much more powerful. Our work “is not in vain in the Lord” because our labours on earth somehow matter in eternity. Everything about us will be redeemed – not just our bodies, but the work we did through those bodies.

NT Wright ends with this statement:

The resurrection is your new body in which you will be gloriously, truly wonderfully you. The resurrection means everything you’ve done in the present through your body – works of justice and mercy and love and hope – somehow in ways we don’t understand will be part of God’s new creation.

When I think of my life, I truly want to see it as a masterpiece of God (although, on most days I don’t feel anything like that), where I am doing good works. If you read Ephesians 2:10, you will find that these works are what God prepared beforehand, or in advance, for us to do.

Think about it for a moment; God prepared works for us to do before we were born and because we are His workmanship, we walk in them. When that happens, our work is “not in vain, in the Lord,” but becomes part of our future through the resurrection. We live in the present, that is what we know and understand. Paul, however, describes a mystery concerning our future beyond our life on earth. I honestly think we should spend more time meditating on that mystery. God prepared work in advance of our present and the resurrection transforms that work so it can be part of our eternal future. This explains clearly why Paul exhorted us to:

… be stedfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.

Psalm 90:17b says, “…confirm (give permanence to) the work of our hands.” Have you considered that the work you do every day is having eternal significance? Will you allow this perspective to bring a new meaning to your work life?

Photo by Terry Grimes (Divine Design)

Can I Please God In How I Use Money?

The Bible has much to say about so many important things in life but it says more about money and possessions than it does about heaven or hell or faith and prayer. John Piper said, Jesus spoke more about money than he did about sex, heaven, and hell. Money is a big deal to Jesus.

Why is the issue of money so important? Maybe because it is the greatest competitor to God … Jesus said there is no middle ground, “You cannot serve God and money.” It’s one or the other.

The fact is none of us set out with a goal to serve money and most would likely prefer to serve God rather than money. We want money to answer our needs and grant our desires and oddly enough, God is interested in doing the same for us. The choice becomes whether we will look to God as our supply or to our finances. The lines are so easily blurred because as we earn money, we begin to see it as our source.

How, then, can we please God with money? Hebrews 11:6 states very clearly: “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” To be honest, I have never really connected this verse with how I use money, but we need faith in every aspect of life in order to please God. If you jump back to verse 4, it reads, “By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain did.” This verse explains Abel to be “a righteous man, because God approved his gifts.”

The story of Cain and Abel is challenging because they both made an offering to God from the labour of their hands. Cain worked the ground and produced crops while Abel became a shepherd. Cain presented some of the land’s produce and Abel presented some of his flock. Some have said the animal sacrifice was more pleasing because it foreshadowed the Temple sacrificial system as well as Christ’s sacrifice to take away sin. This explanation hardly seems fair though, because they both offered to God from their produce.

Hebrews 11:4 provides the answer: it seems Abel’s offering was “by faith” and Cain’s offering lacked faith and was, therefore, not pleasing to God. If you read the story in Genesis 4, this is actually confirmed. It says of Cain (v.3a), “In the course of time Cain presented …” but regarding Abel it says he presented “some of the firstborn (v. 4). One offering did not require faith because it was offered once there was a sufficient supply. For Cain, there were many crops when he offered; no faith was required because he waited until there was plenty before he offered to God. For Abel, the priority was completely different. He offered to God first, which required faith that more would follow the firstborn. He was trusting God for his provision by offering the first to God. This pleases God.

This is a powerful lesson in financial priorities. What is our top financial priority? Do we give only when we have plenty and can afford to give? The big question is this: Does our giving include faith or does our giving lack faith because we are confident we have enough?

Let’s face it, most of us are not necessarily living by faith because it seems to make more sense to “walk by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). What a journey it is to live and give by faith. It means having sufficient confidence in God that we can set giving as a priority above the other things we can use money for.

How do we acquire faith? Here are the steps:

1. Faith (in regards to money) comes by hearing (biblical principles of finance).

2. Hearing creates thoughts and an understanding in our minds

3. As we mediate on biblical principles, it begins to shape what we believe.

4. Believing leads to a deeper knowing or a conviction (a confident trust).

5. Only then are we able to live by faith, acting and doing based on the convictions that have now been forged within us.

Think about these five biblical financial principles:

1. Spend less than you earn

2. Avoid the use of debt

3. Build liquidity

4. Set long term goals

5. Give Generously

Please watch this video about a kind hearted lady who was saving for a car that she needed. When asked how she was doing with her savings fund, she said she had given it all away. She gave $5000 to a widow that she felt needed the money more than she needed a car. What an amazing story and example of living by faith.

The Oldest I’ve Ever Been

The Oldest I’ve Ever Been

We are not getting any younger and I feel that especially today since it is my birthday. Have you ever felt that your best years are behind you rather than ahead of you?

New Years Eve four years ago, was especially memorable since I was turning the big 5-0. I was feeling exactly that way, like my youth was in the rear view mirror and I was never able to accomplish what I desired when I was younger. That very year, I attended a session at the Kingdom Advisors Conference that really spoke to me about the way I was feeling.

The speaker, Lloyd Reeb, from HalfTime Institute, helped me realize that my best years were actually ahead of me. Why? He explained the years where you have the most influence, know the most people, have gained the most wisdom and can have the greatest impact are when you are between age 50 – 80.

Fast forward and I now see that this is true. I have met some amazing and influential people since that time (not to diminish in any way those I knew before). A person’s impact in life continues to build so I am believing for an even greater impact in the year ahead.

Thanks to all who sent me greetings on my birthday but I have a wish for you. May the years ahead be much more impactful the the years you have already lived!! Happy New Year!

A Favourite Christmas Tradition

A Favourite Christmas Tradition

It’s that time of year again when we get to take some time off and make special memories with family. Our family loves to watch movies during the holiday season and one of my favourites is: “It’s A Wonderful Life.” My son messaged me this week and said, “Dad, it looks like you’re in good company with your favourite Christmas movie choice.” 

He was quoting an article from the BBC News website that stated:

It’s A Wonderful Life is a classic festive feel-good film about a man who has devoted his life to helping others.

But when he tries to take his own life a guardian angel stops him and shows him the value of his life.

A wonderful Life

The reason I like this movie so much is because it reminds me, in some ways, of my own life. Simply put life doesn’t always go the way we might have envisioned, but this movie serves as a great reminder that the impact of our life is usually greater than we realize, especially when life is not necessarily pleasant.

In the movie, Clarence, a guardian angel, shows George Bailey the value of his life by having him see what his community and the lives he knew so well would be like if he had not actually lived. If we had not ever lived, the lives of those we love and care about would not be the same at all. In essence, their lives would be the lesser without us. The movie is a reminder that one life enriches and can change the lives of others without realizing it.

It’s interesting that the very thing that was such a burden (his work and its challenges) became the very thing that brought the greatest level of pleasure and fulfillment in the end. Clarence gave him a different perspective which made all the difference for George Bailey. Sometimes all we need is a fresh perspective – one which causes us to see that even when our lives are messy, broken and not how we would like it to be, there is still an element that is actually wonderful. 

Do you realize that your life adds meaning to those around you? Have you ever thought about your family, your co-workers and friends and wondered what their lives would look like if you were not present? 

Merry Christmas! It’s a Wonderful Life!

When Time Touches Eternity

When Time Touches Eternity

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.”

heavenly mindedOur 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?

I Lost My Watch

I Lost My Watch

In April 2015, I transitioned from 24 years as a financial planner and became the National Director for Kingdom Advisors where I now connect with Christian financial professionals across Canada. At that time, I was given a Hugo Boss watch from a fund company which meant a lot to me because it was a symbol of an important time of transition in my life.

Fast forward to August 2017 – my wife and I flew back to our home province for a few weeks. We were blessed to have friends who offered us their car to use while we were there. Let me interject a little about my friends, Keith and Alma: we have spent sufficient time together to be completely comfortable with them and they really understand that “The Lord owns it all.” To illustrate our relationship, I sent this text to them when we were about to fly back home: “So thankful for the use of the BMW the Lord blessed you with. Note: I avoided saying ‘your vehicle’ because I know you understand that what you have is the Lord’s. You are such a blessing!!”

After we arrived home from our trip, I searched through every piece of luggage and pockets of my jacket but could not find my watch. We called back to my in-laws, where I thought I had likely left it; they searched the room where we stayed. No watch. We called Alma and asked her to look in the car, but the result was the same – no watch found. We called the airport thinking I may have left my watch in the tray when I went through security.  Again, my watch was not found.

Where was my watch? It was lost and I learned today (May 22, 2018) that it actually had been in Alma’s car for all these months, completely hidden under the front seat.  The car had been cleaned several times since August without discovering the watch. In April, when the car was driven over a bumpy road, Alma’s sun glasses fell on the floor underneath the seat and when she reached for them, she pulled out the watch!

The problem was she had completely forgotten that I had even borrowed their car and her immediate action was to send  messages to those she knew who had recently used her car.  The response every time was “I didn’t lose a watch.” When the watch was found, the battery was dead so they thought that it may have been there for a long time, maybe even before they purchased the vehicle.  Could it belong to the original owner?

Here’s the amazing part of this story: Alma’s husband, Keith didn’t even know I had lost my watch on my visit. He took the watch, replaced the battery and began wearing it on occasion. For me, any hope of finding the watch was long gone, even when they texted and said they were coming for a visit. They arrived at our house and we enjoyed catching up in conversation over a delicious meal. I had no thought about the watch until I saw it on Keith’s arm. I felt a little awkward at first and did not want to interrupt the flow of conversation. How could I ask about the watch or where and when he had found it? Maybe I should just ask, “Where did you get such a nice watch?” Our conversation continued and out of nowhere, Keith lifted his arm to look at the watch and then said, “I have to change the subject: Lorne this watch is yours!”

Seriously! We were all shocked at the quick change in conversation and I realized how the Lord cares about the little details that concern us, especially regarding something that was lost. Keith said, “I just felt the Lord say, ‘This is Lorne’s watch.’” I realized that the Lord was using this circumstance to give Keith more confidence to follow the Lord when prompted. It confirmed to him that he could trust the still small voice of the Lord.

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Many times Keith doesn’t even wear a watch. He could have easily worn a different watch when he visited, or no watch at all. Was it just coincidence that he chose to wear the Boss watch for his visit to my house?

Here is what I realized from this whole thing: the Lord is interested in using every day situations to help us be more sensitive to His promptings.
What is most amazing about this story? It’s not as much about my lost watch being found as it is about a man being sensitive to know when the Lord is speaking to him and having a willingness to act on it. Do you have the confidence to follow the inner promptings from the Lord?