The Difference in a Decade

The Difference in a Decade

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:

PM Harper at Deer Lake1. 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.

Screen Shot 2018-10-15 at 10.38.02 AMThis 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!

Have You Discovered Your Why?

Have You Discovered Your Why?

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.

BradThe 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.

A Truck By Accident

A Truck By Accident

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’s Miracle

Yesterday’s Miracle

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:

Let These Words Sink In

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!

Father’s Day Reversal

Father’s Day Reversal

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!

DB91925F-CA05-4D14-91C5-9054BAE6788C

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!

 

 

 

Reckless Love & The Cop Who Didn’t Shoot

Reckless Love & The Cop Who Didn’t Shoot

The news is filled with the shocking story of the Toronto van attack where 10 people have been killed. We seem to have become more accustomed to this sort of violence in Europe or America, but not Toronto, so close to home. We have family in Toronto and it is only hours from where we live!

After reading the article published at Maclean’s written by Scott Gilmore entitled: Toronto Van Attack: The Cop Who Didn’t Shoot, I couldn’t help but think of the Christian song: Reckless Love, since I have already written two blogs about this song. No doubt, the actions of the perpetrator were violently reckless but could the actions of the officer, Const. Ken Lam also be considered reckless? We have likely all see the video as he stands about 30 ft from the van with his gun pointed at the driver. Gilmore writes:

What was he thinking at that moment? He knew this was the van that had reportedly just mowed down more than two dozen people. He could see the smashed grill. He could see the man behind the wheel. Did he think it was about to explode? Did he expect the driver to jump out shooting? The cop holds his fire.

Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 7.26.58 AM

It is obvious the driver of the van is looking to be shot, because he pretends more than once, to pull a gun from his pocket. Most of us would probably agree that this man deserved to be shot and killed, after his completely reckless behaviour. Ten innocent people are dead and another 15 injured, but the officer didn’t shoot. Another article said: This officer clearly had de-escalation in mind.

I wonder if some police officers think the actions of Const. Lam might have been a little reckless. Did he realize what the consequences of not shooting could be at that precise moment? After all, there wasn’t much time to think this through.  Only thirty-seven seconds elapsed from when the driver emerged from his van, to when he was face-down on the sidewalk. Not one shot was fired!

Const. Lam is rightly being praised because he didn’t shoot. The shooting of the driver was the expected outcome; after all, it is usually how the story ends.

Gilmore concludes his article this way:

We kill each other out of hate, or fear, or ignorance, or duty. Sadly, we understand this instinct well. This is the dark side of humanity. And rightly, we are mesmerized by the horror of it.

But there is light inside us too. We also possess the instinct to keep each other alive. This part of us can be more difficult to understand. But it deserves our devotion much more than the act of killing does. These moments of humanity are not uncommon, but they are precious. It would be good if we could remember that about Toronto, remember the cop who didn’t shoot.

Maybe it was the light inside Const. Ken Lam that made the difference and didn’t take that drivers life, even though we might agree he deserved to die. The driver of the van exhibited completely reckless actions motivated by hate. It can easily be argued the cop may have also acted recklessly, motivated by the light inside him, and in the opposite fashion with such a positive result.

The song Reckless Love says in regards to God’s love:

I couldn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it, still you give yourself away. Oh the overwhelming, never ending, reckless love of God.

Many people are not able to wrap their heads around the thought that God can love humanity recklessly despite how depraved our behaviour is at times. Doesn’t God reach out to us to give us what we do not deserve? Didn’t this cop demonstrate “Reckless Love” (mercy) in a most beautiful way?

“Where Was God?”

“Where Was God?”

8090B62D-A050-4801-AF8D-A6311B72E04F“Why did this happen? Where was God?” These are the two major questions that were posed by the team pastor at the Humboldt Broncos vigil.

Humboldt Broncos vigil: Team pastor delivers tearful and powerful address

The beautiful part of his answer is that He is with us, that He is with the broken hearted. The more challenging part of his answer is when he said, “God is on the throne.” The thought that immediately follows is that if God is on the throne, He is, therefore, in control. As these thoughts were being expressed, the camera was on a tearful young lady who was shaking her head as if to say “No.”

Rejection of this kind of thinking at a time like this is understandable. “How can a loving God allow such a tragedy to happen?” If you look closer at the Scriptures, you will find that God is more accurately pictured as sovereign, which is actually different than being “in control.” As a matter of fact, the Scripture says, “that the world around us is under the control of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). Can I suggest that this tragedy had  more to do with the “evil one” than the God who is sovereign? Why did this happen? The evil one is said to have a purpose of stealing, killing and destroying (John 10:10). Why not bring the evil one a little more into focus for the responsibility of these types of circumstances or even just human failure?

Read a previous blog to help answer the question: Is God Really in Control?

In this blog, I use the example of the Queen, who is considered the Sovereign over Canada, but she does not control the decisions or even influence the government of Canada. Interestingly, the Queen sent a message of condolence which is definitely a positive thing. My concern is more about the message the Sovereign God is trying to send.

The fact is, we experience hardship in this life and the primary reason is that satan and sin are still at large in this broken world. During times like these, we certainly shake our heads “no” and may be tempted to think that God is not there and is not sovereign or reigning. He is, however, very much interested in your brokenness and can somehow bring good from the evil that has happened. That can be very difficult to comprehend at a time like this. In fact, He can take these awful events that satan intends for evil and turn them around, and bring eternal good out of them.

Maybe instead of asking, “Where was God” we should ask, “Where is God now?” God’s promise is this: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). Pastors may not have all the answers during such difficult times, but we can all have the confidence that, “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

We can all have the assurance that God is with us in life’s darkest valley.