Without Love, I Am Nothing

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and gave my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is LOVE.” 1 Corinthians 13

Don’t Be a Victim of Willful Ignorance

By: Mickey Ellison

In 1999 I entered a field of work that I knew very little about. Wall Street was just something on television and retiring on a beach was only a dream. Before studying for the exams to become licensed, I did not know what a mutual fund was, much less about annuities, structured products, or real estate investment trusts. In this writing I will attempt to tell what I learned, some misconceptions, and how you may be able to prevent yourself from becoming a “victim” of your own ignorance.

My Experience:

For those of you old enough, you remember the Dot.com bubble that burst starting in 2000. If you aren’t old enough to remember, ask someone that is. As I stated in the first paragraph, I started in the financial industry in 1999, becoming fully licensed by November of 1999. Over the next few years, from 2000 until October of 2002, people would lose significant amounts of money that they had planned to use for retirement. They went from planning to retire at age 55 to not knowing if they would be able to retire at all. Companies disappeared and while some didn’t, many lost 90-95% of their value.

The first lesson I learned is that disaster brings on opportunity, and while my timing to get into the business seems unfortunate, it was actually perfect timing. When the markets are doing well, as they are today, people are less likely to move their money unless we get to an extreme where they become greedy because they didn’t make as good of a return as their neighbor. The business is like a carousel. When markets are good, most will tell you how great “their guy” is and when the markets are bad, that same “great guy” now doesn’t know what he is doing. There is this misconception that “their guy” knows when the market is going to go up and when it is going to go down, and when “their guy” fails at knowing that, they move on to the next.

Here’s what happens most of the time. The market goes up and “their guy” is great. So great that they tell all of their friends about him. When the market goes down, “their guy” no longer knows what he is doing and some will go so far as to call “their guy” a crook. So, after losing for a while, they find another “their guy”. Inevitably, they have simply moved their money at the bottom of the market, and the “new their guy” looks like a genius. Sometimes he is a genius for 4 or 5 years, and sometime he is a genius for longer, say from 2009 to the present. Their “new guy” was good from 2003-until sometime in 2008. Somewhere in 2008 or 2009 he became bad and they moved from the “new their guy” to the “newer their guy” when if they had stayed with the original “their guy”, the results probably would have been the same.

Another lesson that I learned is that some of the people that I worked with were good Godly Christians until they lost money. The business was very difficult on me. My wife even made the comment once, “you can’t win.” She saw the angst I felt when people lost money and she saw the vitriol that came from people who didn’t make as much as they could have because you actually did what they asked you to do. “Don’t lose my money!”

Here is some food for thought. We are taught that the stock market returns about on average about 10% annually long. That is true when you take a long enough timeline, but it isn’t true in 10-20 year time frames. There is some luck that comes into play if you are to stay invested in the stock market, and if you don’t stay invested in the stock market, you will not keep up with inflation. (Inflation and why we have it is another topic for another time) What happened to the person that retired in 1999 versus another person that retired in 2010 and in each case, they remained invested in the stock market and needed that money for income. The time frame that is being quoted is a little over 100 years and they have no idea what the next year will bring much less 10 years. That sounds like a long time, but when you consider the history of mankind, you realize just how insignificant 100 years is.

That gets me to another point. In my 18 years in the business, we were taught what is a reasonable withdrawal rate to last a lifetime and adjust for inflation. When I started in 1999, the withdrawal rates I saw were as high as 8%. At that time, the assumed rate of return was 12%. Since that time, I have read publications that suggested 6%, 5%, 4%, 3%, and some as low as 2%. What was the correct amount to tell someone? There is no way to know until a few years pass. If the market went up when you started taking income, you will probably be okay. If it went down, you may be out of luck. It’s gambling with better odds than Vegas, but consequences that could last the rest of your life.

Misconceptions:

In this section, I will write briefly on some misconceptions. Briefly because the most important section of this writing will be the last section, titled “Clients”.

One misconception is that financial planners charge too much in fees and they often are more concerned about their income than the clients that they serve. In my 18 years as a planner, most of the people I met in the business genuinely care about the people they worked for. That being said, I do believe there is difference between an investment adviser and a planner. The planner is someone that I see as more of a coach and if their income is dependent on selling you something to get paid, there is risk. An investment adviser on the other hand should be compensated on results according to how, you the client, told them to invest and not in comparison to someone that is invested aggressively when you asked for conservative.

Another misconception is that your adviser knows when the market will go up or down. Yes, they have access to research, but that research doesn’t make them a market prophet. What caused the market to go down? What caused it to go up? In most cases, they don’t know until it after it happens, and my personal belief is that most of what they learn are symptoms and the real cause may be something that gets very little attention and most people are unaware of, central banks. There are many conspiracies regarding central banks, but one thing is for sure, they wield power that probably should never be in the hands of anyone but God. Power that has very little if any concern for you and I as individuals and families.

We often read and hear about victims of investment fraud. Unfortunately there are those that prey on ignorance and that leads us to our final section.

Clients:

In my 18 years as a planner, I saw some really bad investment products, but I also saw willful ignorance on the part of the clients. One question I always had is, “How can you invest $500,000 and not know what you are investing in, nor do you know what you are paying in fees?” Every single product that I sold had a book that came with it and in that book was every fee that was charged  or could be charged and what risk the client was taking. Amazingly, I saw hundreds of people, invest hundreds of thousands of dollars and not read that book. They only read the glossy sales material.

Many have said, “Well I don’t understand it anyway, so what’s the point?” The point is if you don’t understand it, find someone that does, and until you do understand, don’t do it. We are often victims of our own apathy and laziness. Below I will list some things that you should do before you do any investment.

  1. Do not sign the forms on your first visit. In fact, if you are being offered a product on the first appointment, you should be wary. In most of those cases, the person has already decided what it is that they want to sell before they met you or know what your needs are.
  2. Take the time to read the prospectus. The risks are disclosed as well as the fees.
  3. Don’t be as concerned about what the planner is making rather be more concerned about how much you are paying in fees. Fees are not bad if you know what they are. Being surprised by how much you are paying two years from now is ultimately your fault because the fees are required to be disclosed.
  4. Ask your adviser how much your fees will be. All of them, not just what they are getting paid. In most cases, I got paid 1%, but the total fees could be upwards of 4-5% and in some cases I saw 12%. Put that in dollars, if you invested $100,000, I made $1000, but you may have paid $5000. This may explain why your return is lower than you expect. It may also be that the fee is necessary to give you what it is you asked for. You might even be surprised to find out that your adviser doesn’t know all the fees that you are paying.
  5. If you are told that there are no fees, your antennae should go up. The person you are working with is getting paid something. I’ve seen products that claim that there is no fee, yet my compensation could be as high as 10-12%. Put another way, I sell you something for $100,000 and I get paid $10,000. That money is coming from somewhere!
  6. Separate you investment adviser from your coach. Your coach is someone that can help you focus on your goals and can possibly help you when it comes to picking an investment adviser. Take me as an example. Most of the products offered, I have seen, and I’ve read those disclosure books and I understand them. Understanding what it is that you are investing in and how much you are paying upfront will prevent you from a surprise 5-10 years down the road when it’s too late.
  7. Take responsibility and do not become a victim especially because you were willfully ignorant. Put another way, lazy.

Most of these things to do are for those with higher amounts of money to invest. For those that are just getting started in investing, there are some definite warning signs for you as well. In fact, with some education, you might be able to do most of it on your own. Life insurance is a must for young couples, especially with children, but the type of life insurance that you are offered may be your sign to go somewhere else. This is especially true if you have a limited amount of money to invest. Email me or comment if you have questions.

Broke, Overweight, and No Meaning

Nineteen years ago, I left my home in South Carolina for Wichita, KS. I was broke, overweight, in significant debt, and I felt I like my life had no meaning. While believing in God, He was not a major part of my life. Sure, I went to church but that was about it, but my faith was dead.

That move would change my life but it would take almost the entire 19 years. In becoming a financial planner, I was introduced to a world that I didn’t know existed. A few short years after making the move, I was making a little more money, but continued to gain weight. Topping out somewhere around 260 pounds.

One morning I finally woke up and was so sick and tired of being fat, I decided to do something about it. No fad diet, just common sense, and a drive that has never left. Through those years, I learned a lot, and now, after 15 years of maintaining, I hope to help others do the same. Mistakes were made, and my body reminds me of that. Hopefully I can help others to not make the same mistakes. Teaching that it’s normal for your weight to fluctuate, but to set limits on how much. It is simple and it works.

Back to the financial planning experience. Just this past September, I stepped away from the business, but the knowledge that I gained in those 18+ years is something that I hope to share as well. What I want to teach, just as in fitness, is common sense. There were also things that I saw in the industry that conflicted with the teachings of scripture. Things that everyone should know before visiting with a broker or financial planner.

Finally I turned to God in 2009 and gained an understanding of scripture that I only wish I had known earlier. The Way to salvation is there, but there is so much more and if we as a Christian community will turn to it and believe it with our hearts and minds, we have the opportunity to build stronger communities, and recognize when we are being taught falsely.

In 2014 I introduced a name, Complete Fitness, not understanding the significance of the name and experiencing frustration until now, that even caused me to question God as to why He led me to it. Today, I realize that we can be so much more than we are. Not for fame, not for fortune. Rather, to be the light of God on this earth, and ultimately lead people to Christ when they see He is why we do what we do.

 

Depart From Me

It’s real easy to point fingers and avoid the truth. The message from Matthew 25:41-46 is the truth. How many times have I passed someone that is hungry and didn’t feed them when I had the resources to do so? Children without clothes, people sleeping outside when it’s freezing, and I did nothing.

What will God say when we stand before Him? Will we tell Him they suffer because they deserve it since they made bad decisions? Have I ever watched something I knew I shouldn’t. Have I ever stolen something? Have I ever lusted knowing the definition of adultery given by Jesus? How wretched am I? How wretched are we all?

We talk as if God needs us. We call ourselves successful and we show it by houses and cars and other material items. And, we have the nerve to say we earned them.

Think about our arrogance. God spoke things into existence. The earth, the moon, the stars, and the entire universe and we think He needs us? How deluded we are!

Will He say I blessed you beyond any people to walk the earth and you dishonored me? You built large houses. You bought cars. You built cathedrals. You did all this as if I needed it. I didn’t give you this abundance so you can retire. I warned you about the farmer who built barns only to die.

You could have fed the entire world. You threw away food that could have fed millions. You entertained yourselves with movies, sports, and concerts while my people were starving and being persecuted and killed because of My name. Get away from me, I never knew you!

God, break our hearts. Open our eyes and point those fingers back at us because we are guilty. We have sinned and because you are merciful, we don’t have to get what we deserve. We deserve Hell but instead You sent your Son as the perfect sacrifice. He took what I deserve and because of that I will live my life as Jesus taught. And, ask your forgiveness when I fail. You are God of all. You are the creator of all with wisdom I’m not capable of understanding. Despite the wretch I am you love me and provided me with eternal salvation despite deserving eternal damnation. Amen

“”Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.””
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭25:41-46‬ ‭NIV‬‬

It Almost Killed Me and It Still Could

There have been many nights  when I’ve thought, “My family would be better off without me. I have life insurance and that would make them debt free.” What has stopped me is my love for my wife and two boys, and faith in God that He can use our story to free others. Sometimes that faith is strong and at other times it is very weak. Those weak times scare me.

The weak moments make me think of others. No matter what someone looks like on the outside, there could be a storm brewing inside of them. They may look healthy. They may look like they have everything, but unless you can get inside their head, you have no idea. When you gossip with others about them, you are probably so far off the mark it isn’t funny, and what you are doing is WRONG! They could be one word away from ending it all. You want to be responsible for that?

In the last few years, comments have been made to me about people in debt, and I’ve remained quiet. One was about how there is no way they would help someone who has credit card debt. How ashamed would they be if they knew we did? They went on to say some other things and I didn’t say a word. Do they know that at 24 years old, I tried to start a business that failed? They know the business failed and we had no income when it did?  Do they know that we had to live in a 1 bedroom apartment for two years as the debt continued to grow despite my wife and I both working? Were they there to see the panic attacks at 26 years old? A feeling as if you are having a heart attack and no one knows. No, they simply made one of the meanest comments to someone that had lived through hell and by the grace of God is still here.

The last 22 years have been a mental and emotional hell. One that I’ve kept inside with smiles on the outside and tears on the inside. The thing is, if our hell can be used to free others, then every panic attack will have been worth it. There is over $1.4 trillion in student loan debt. A trillion more in credit card debt along with trillions more in mortgages and car loans. That means there has to be millions more like us! They feel hopeless and because of our opinionated and cruel society, they are afraid to say anything.

For those that feel no pity or have no sympathy for people who are in debt, just go away. You are not welcome.

Mission Freedom

For those of you that do have sympathy or empathy, welcome! There is hope and if we work together with no selfish ambition, there is freedom. The question is, despite your own circumstances can you give? Will you give? Will you believe? Is there 1 million people out there that will give $30.50 a month to become a part of a mission where 100% of those dollars will be used to eliminate the debt of those giving?

Are you willing:

  1. To give $30.50 a month. One dollar a day in leap years. One extra dollar with 365 days.
  2. For at least one month, write down every penny you spend and what it paid for?
  3. Agree to use no form of credit to purchase anything unless it’s an emergency or you talk to a mentor?
  4. To be accountable to someone?
  5. Willing to share all debts with our mission in confidence? Why?

We will attack the smallest debts of the group first and move on from there. We will only write checks made payable directly to the creditor. And we will use 100% of what is given to the freedom fund to reduce debt.

Then we will pray that someone will sponsor us to spread this mission throughout the entire country. Who knows what we will be able to do when millions are debt free?

Debt almost killed me. It will kill someone and it doesn’t have to be this way. There is hope. That hope is us. And, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom!” 2 Corinthians 3:17

Mission for Freedom

What was once considered a curse is considered a blessing and is now a mission for freedom.

The mission is simple. Destroy debt! Twenty three years of being a slave has educated me on the horror that is personal debt. Eighteen years in the financial industry woke me up to how we are all slaves to debt whether we have personal debt of not. Those with personal debt know all too well how debt has enslaved them. The challenge is for people without personal debt to understand that they are slaves to debt as well.

Understanding how personal debt enslaves the people that are in debt is easy. Just ask anyone that has student loans or credit card debt and no idea how they will ever get out.  Understanding how debt threatens the freedom of all of us is difficult but simple.

My wife and I have dealt with personal debt for over 23 years from a failed business. Some of you have been paying on student loans that could be with you until you are in the grave unless something changes. Others are slaves to debt simply because of their own personal desires and now find themselves in a living hell. Thirty year mortgages and seven year car loans haunt others. What if all of us decided to fight each others’ debt together rather than alone? How fast could we free one another? What if every church in America joined us? Mission number one is a debt free body of Christ!

Debt is the greatest threat to freedom ever created by man!

The challenge for many to understand this is because we have allowed ourselves to be divided by politics and our own ignorance. Understanding our financial system will change how one views politics and until you do, you will argue in ignorance.

My hope and prayer is that millions will join in this fight against debt. We will be creating a fund where 100% of the money given to the fund will be used to help free individuals and families from their prison. Even if you are in debt yourself, could you give $10,$20, or $30 a month to free someone else? Selfish ambition got each of us in this mess. Selfless ambition can get us out.

Freeing one another is the first step toward freedom. Understanding debt can free us all!

We are starting this mission with nothing more than a Facebook page and prayers that some of you support this mission financially and invite us to speak. You can reach us by commenting on this post or on our Facebook page, Mission Freedom. Or by email, mickeyellison71@gmail.com

God Bless!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stand Firm

What is the purpose of Armour? Obviously it is for protection, but let’s be honest. Most of us will never need the knight’s helmet or sword. We’re probably never going to need a shield to protect us from real arrows being shot at us from an enemy.. But, everyone that is seeking to earnestly serve God does need the Full Armour of God.

This life can be brutal and if we aren’t protected by His armour we subject to powers that we can’t even see. The most potent force we will ever face can’t even be seen. Think about what Paul wrote in Ephesians 6, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Those spiritual forces will use anything and everything against us to keep us away from God.

The first thing Paul mentions for our protection is the belt of truth. What is truth? Jesus said, “I am the way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” As a believer in Christ, we should know the Truth. Jesus himself told us what the truth is. A non-believer will think we are crazy, but Paul also told us about that in 1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

Next is the breastplate of righteousness. Got Questions.org gives a much better description of the breastplate than I can. We are made righteous through the blood of Jesus. Paul writes about this in Chapter 3 of Philippians, “More than that, I count all things as loss compared to the surpassing excellence of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having my own righteousness from law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God on the basis of faith.” Christ makes us righteous, and our works are evidence of our belief.

From there, Paul writes about our feet being fitted with the readiness that comes through the gospel of peace. Having the belt of truth, Christ, and being made righteous through him, having proper shoes allow us to move in battle. Those powers of darkness mentioned earlier will attack and we must be able to move or stand firm. Got questions explains the purpose of our feet being fitted with readiness both as offensive and defensive. Those shoes will help us stand firm in the gospel when we are in battle against the enemy but they also help us move to share the gospel of peace with others.

Paul then goes on to take up the shield of faith. We have our belt of truth on, wearing the breastplate of righteousness, with shoes to move. Now we have a shield to protect us. We are constantly being attacked by scientists, professors, teachers, and others that do not believe. Remember what Paul said about the message of the cross being foolishness to those who are perishing. Knowing this protects you from those that willfully want to attack such as some scientists and some professors. And, when sharing the gospel, you will be attacked by those that don’t believe and are unwilling to believe. In some parts of the world, you will even be persecuted or killed. That, I believe, is how those martyred could go to their death in peace.

Then there is the helmet of salvation. What a beautiful thing, the helmet of salvation. This is the assurance that no matter what happens in the battle, in life or in death, our salvation is secure. Nothing on this earth can take that away from us unless we allow ourselves to be led astray. This cannot happen if we have the final piece of Armour which is the sword of the Spirit. The Word of God.

Today, unlike any other day, scripture is at our fingertips in most parts of the world. Unfortunately not all. Paul, Peter, John, and Jesus warned us that there would be false teachers. False teachers are in great supply. Paul in one of his letters to Timothy went as far as to say that people would gather around them teachers that will teach what itching ears want to hear. So not only are there false teachers. There are those that seek them out because these teachers will teach what they want to hear versus what they need to hear.

Maybe the early believers had an excuse. Unlike us because they didn’t have the Bible accessible to them through apps on a phone or a computer. Today, in an instant, we can look up scripture to verify what the teacher is teaching or see if they are misleading by taking the words out of context. Whether they were intentionally taken out of context is between the teacher and God. But, we should always be on guard, realizing that there will be those that “peddle the gospel for profit.” And, the sword of the Spirit is our defense.

Stand Firm in God’s Armour!

 

 

 

Christians, We Must Become the Light of the World

“Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” 1 Peter 2:11-12

“For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.” 1 Peter 2:16

“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.” 1 Peter 3:8-11

We can spend our days worrying about what is wrong with the world. Fighting over what we think our politicians should do. Complaining about the cost of college and complaining about what is taught to our children in college. We fight with people on Facebook about politicians, sports, and anything else we can imagine. And worse yet, many of those complaining and fighting are Christians. We act as though we are powerless to do anything, yet we claim to follow the Creator of everything.

Do we believe there is only one God? Do we believe he is all powerful? Do we believe that He is the answer? If so, it’s time we start serving him and understand that simply believing He exists is not enough for James wrote, “You believe there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.” James 2:19

For so long we have sat back living scared and acting powerless when God gave us all the answers through the pages of scripture. So many will pound the pulpits telling us what we should not do. Not that they are wrong, but what is so often not taught is what we should do, and it starts with loving God with all your heart mind and soul, then loving your neighbor as yourself.

Together, if it is God’s will, there is nothing that we can’t do. It’s time that we believers be the “light of the world….” (Matthew 5:14) And, live “doing nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather in humility, VALUE OTHERS ABOVE YOURSELVES.” (Philippians 2:3)

There has never been a time in history when His light through us can shine brighter. A time when the whole world can see!

You Have to Love the Game

Years ago I was having a conversation with a friend of mine. We were reminiscing about high school baseball. He grew up in Kansas and I grew up in South Carolina. In that conversation he said some things that didn’t make sense to me. Let me tell you what he said.

He told me that he didn’t play his senior year of high school and his reasoning was, “he couldn’t stand the coach.” The thought of not playing the game I love because some coach was a jerk was and still is not something that I can comprehend.

Last summer, I had the privilege of coaching a group of young men in a season that I will never forget, and I hope they feel the same. But, it didn’t start that way. In our very first weekend, we lost a game 1-0 and I noticed something. The kids looked as if someone had died.

That night, I couldn’t stop thinking about my boys. Suddenly it hit me. They were putting so much pressure on themselves and what was supposed to be fun looked more like work. My question to them the next day was, “Do we play baseball or do we work baseball?” The obvious answer to that question is we play baseball, and the word “work” was eliminated from our vocabulary and it actually cost a quarter every time we said the word.

Why do I tell that story? Because I believe we are failing these kids at early ages. Not just in baseball, but probably in all sports. We don’t teach them to love the game. How can they love the game when they see coaches of 10 year olds cutting players? Anybody can cut their 2-3 worst players, and steal the best 2-3 players from another team and win. That’s not coaching, it’s recruiting and anyone that is cutting and recruiting 10 year olds is a disgrace to the game.

How is a kid supposed to learn to love the game when there is a possibility of him getting cut at 9? If you want to recruit, coach in college, otherwise teach the game.

Parents, let your kids play! Does it really matter if they went 0-4 with four strike outs when they are 7? Keep that in perspective. Is your relationship with your kid dependent on how they perform on an athletic field?

Play catch with your kids. Pitch to them. Teach them to love the game. If they love the game, they will not quit because of a coach. Every player that has made it beyond high school has played for someone that they didn’t like.

As a player gets older, the most successful learn to control what they can and not get caught up in what they can’t control. Most importantly they learn to enjoy the process. When you enjoy the process, it doesn’t feel like work. A great player learns to compete with him or herself. If it’s lifting weights, they learn to push and they are never forced to lift. The thrill of getting stronger outweighs the pain.

Getting in the best possible shape that you can be in can never be about impressing a coach or it will eventually feel like work. If you wait to start hitting when the high school practice begins, you’ve waited too long. Every day you have to push yourself to get better.

One of the worst things I have said and I’ve heard it said thousands of times. “You should hustle because you never know who’s watching you.” That sounds good on the surface, but I will not say this again, rather, “If you hustle all the time, then it doesn’t matter who is watching you because your effort is a habit.”

If you’ve learned to love playing the game, the process becomes enjoyable. If don’t love the process, you are not a player, you are a fan.

If you’ve done all that you can do to become stronger, faster, a better hitter, a better fielder, and in great shape, that’s all that you have control of. If you haven’t, only you can change that.

World More Like Jesus? Greatness

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” Matthew 18:1-5

“Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must become your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28

Greatness? What does that look like today? Athletes are the first people that come to my mind. Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Walter Payton, and Babe Ruth are all legends from sports. People enjoy debating on who the greatest of all time is in their particular sport. Then there’s Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Warren Buffet who represent some of the greatest business people in the world. Actors and actresses are heroes to many people.

Then there are the popular slogans that lead us to the greatness that is inside of us. One soccer t-shirt says “Greatness has been found.” Another shirt says, “Dream big, Play hard, live strong.” Other slogans that I found are: “Girl Almighty”, “Eat Sleep Yoga Repeat”, “Skilled in Every Position”, “Just Do It, “The One and Only.”

All over the place is how you can be the best you can be, and most of it is focusing on self. Christ came to serve, not to be served. Paul wrote often about placing the interests of others above yourself. Jesus and others said to love your neighbor as yourself. He also told us to be like little children in our faith.

How does that compare to the popular slogans of our day? Think of little children. Think of yourself when you were a child. For most boys, their dad is their hero. If not their dad, it was someone else. When we were small, we trusted these people. What they said was always right at least before we became teenagers. That’s the trust and faith that Jesus is saying that we should have in God. The same faith that a young child has in their hero.

Today’s slogans, especially in sports and fitness, typically focus on self. How to get 6-pack abs. How to get those biceps you’ve always wanted. Billions of dollars are spent every year on gym memberships, DVDs for home workouts, fitness equipment, supplements, and many other things that are designed to make us look better. Am I saying that you shouldn’t workout? Absolutely not! I have been exercising consistently for over 13 years, and Lord willing, I will continue, (James 4:15). But I also know that my health and fitness can disappear in the blink of an eye. Despite that one day I will be completely fit.

Jesus came to serve and he is our example. He didn’t have to because he is God’s to Son. He could have struck those Roman soldiers down at any moment, but he chose not to because he loves us so much that his sacrifice gave us hope and the Way to salvation.

Are you blessed financially? Is that so you can “get what you deserve” or can that be used to help others?

Are you blessed with health? Is that so you can like what you see in the mirror, or can you use your health to help others who aren’t healthy?

We are all blessed with something. We can use that blessing to serve others or we can serve ourselves. Christ chose to serve others. So, does the world need more Jesus?