Hope for your financial life and beyond

The Secret Weapon to Contentment (Philippians 4:11-12)

Hidden Nuggets Series #9 – “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” Philippians 4:11-12

practicing contentmentOnce upon a time (circa mid-2002), an AmerIcan athlete produced a legendary press conference rant about the apparent need to show up for prActIce. After a first round playoff loss, his coach cAsItgated him for missing one prActIce, maybe two, maybe three…we don’t really know how many.

The AgItated player argued to the reporters that a discussion about prActIce was immAterIal compared to his performance in the actual games – in what really mattered. He concluded his prActIce rant by exclAIming “How can I make my teammates better by prActIcing?”

I hated practicing basketball when tired or aching. But you are fully aware of the same thing I came to realize about practice – it produces greatness. We aren’t born instantaneously great. Greatness comes slowly over time, as our mind, body and soul learns and adapts to whatever we are pursuing.

In the verse above, the missionary Paul shares with us in the Bible the secret of contentment. He learned it. This makes me think it didn’t come naturally for him, just like it doesn’t come naturally for me.

Contentment Doesn’t Come Easy

Contentment had to be achieved…most likely through daily submission and practice.

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Life Have You Spinning in a Hamster Wheel? You Can Still Benefit

hamster in wheelMy kids live for PetSmart shopping trips. Even though our trips take us there for dog food, bones and squeaky toys, we always end up detouring over to the caged animals. My boys love searching for the snakes, camouflaged in their pen, hiding among the sticks. Meanwhile, the girls ooh and ah over the cute, furry bunnies. “Look at the floppy ears Daddy,” they happily squeal, as only little girls can.

I find those things interesting. However, only one thing at the pet store causes me to pause and put down my 30lb. bag of Purina One chicken and rice blend dog food. The actions of these critters mesmerize me each and every time.

Hamsters.

Furry little bodies. Noses always sniffing. Tiny feet. Little bitty ears. And what’s with the constant running in the exercise wheel? They just make me laugh.

On one shopping trip, my crew watched this hamster get in and out of its wheel for five minutes straight. Run, get out. Get back in, run, get out. Get back in, run, get out. Over and over again it did this. We were rolling in the aisle with laughter.

As I watched the hamster gymnastics, I thought, “What a metaphor for life. So many people stuck in a rut, running but going nowhere. They accomplish nothing, as they do the same things over and over again.” I congratulated myself, as I swiped my debit card at the checkout line, for being such a clever thinker. Leaving the store, I jotted down a mental note to write a blog post about that someday.

A funny thing happened on the ride home among the “Stop thats” and the “Hey daddy” questions coming from the five year old in the back seat. I began to think my brilliant analogy might be incorrect.

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Bang On the Drum All Day: Find Your Passion

I’m not a drummer but this song makes me want to be:

Todd Rundgren wrote “Bang the Drum All Day” in 1983 and since then it has become the quintessential anti-work anthem played every Friday night as the factory whistle blows. Or Wednesday night. Or when the Green Bay Packers score a touchdown. Or whenever you feel like not going to work. Just cue this song in your iTunes library and dream how it would feel to have the reality of the lyrics become true in your own life.

I can see how this song gets a bad rap in some circles (especially the boss circles – note verse three). It seems to raise negative perceptions about a task (work) that is fundamental to our ability to make a profit and survive. I believe God endowed humans with a work ethic. It’s embedded deep in our nature to labor and exert ourselves to cultivate a reward. Why should we hate doing something that creates value in our lives and provides so many benefits – both personal and financial – as going to work? Isn’t work beneficial?

Absolutely it is. No doubt.

So is the pursuit of a passion.

The Power of Passion

I find these lyrics from the song teach me some pretty cool things about passion, about finding something you really enjoy doing:

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When Life Makes It Easier, Push It!

Boy Running in natureNews flash…Life is hard!

Not the most groundbreaking news for this Monday post. Honestly, it’s not even news at all. Our lives are filled with so many challenges we don’t even know where to start counting them.

There are instances however, where a window of opportunity opens, allowing the journey to become easier. Sadly, we often are caught up in our own challenges and struggles. So we fail to recognize the moment and it passes us by, useless and wasted. I was reminded of this again on a recent marathon training run.

A runner faces three types of terrain grades while on the course – flat, uphill or downhill. Runners love the flats as it allows us to get into a steady rhythm and pace. We tolerate the uphill portions of our run, slowly grinding them out, laboring step after step. The downhills are dualistic in nature, presenting the runner with two contrasting methods of approach:

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Trayvon, Zimmerman and Our Road to Healing

On Sunday and Monday my Facebook news feed blew up.

Black White HandshakeOf course, everyone had an opinion about the much publicized and politicized court case from Florida that had finally ended late Saturday night in a not guilty verdict for George Zimmerman. Few of the opinions were intelligent enough to warrant reflection on my part. Most just expressed pent up frustration and anger, pointed in blame or cried out for justice.  It would not surprise you in the least to know the opinions from my group of friends were basically split along political and racial lines.

I was not alive in 1960s America when the years of racial tension finally exploded and produced the civil rights legislation that changed the face of America and gave an entire subset of American citizens a new reason to dream. I can’t relate to the level of violence that was present in that era. I only know what I see now in 2013 and from my vantage point, it doesn’t appear as though this country is progressing in a more unifying direction. And that’s a shame after 237 years of freedom.

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Want to Influence Others? Lead by Example

lead by example I mentioned in a recent post “Health, Wealth and Moments of Clarity” how I was inspired to begin my running program after meeting someone my age on a cruise that was an aspiring triathlete. At the time I was overweight, out of shape and low on energy.

Talking with him throughout the week ignited my mental toughness and helped me see crazy dreams could still be achieved even at my age.

But it was someone much closer to me that truly provided the inspiration for me to get in shape. That person was Mrs. Luke1428. No, she wasn’t going all drill sergeant on me, screaming through a megaphone for me to roll out of bed each morning. Instead, without goading or guilting me into doing the same, she had been religiously going to a health club each week for months, getting herself in shape.

And boy, could I see the results! “Surely” I thought, “if my wife can change her physique post-four children, then so can I.”  I wanted her to be as proud of me as I was of her.

I don’t think her efforts were premeditated – like some devious reverse-psychology attempt to give me a wake-up call. She really wanted to exercise for herself. But the fallout did affect me.

Lead By Example

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Infamous Days Are Not Show-Stoppers

Arizona Memorial OverheadInfamous days dot the landscape of American history. Gettysburg. Pearl Harbor. 9/11. These were days when our great nation went down for the count. Atrocious, dreadful, unforgivable days, where it seemed like the essence of who we were as a country might be lost forever.

Infamous days hurt.

They raise puzzling questions.

They leave us scarred and frustrated.

They are filled with fear.

They also serve as turning points. They are the proverbial fork-in-the-road of life. In these moments, do we choose to remain on the canvas, bloodied and bruised? Or do we rise to our feet, receive the standing eight count, and continue to press on?

Infamous days also punctuate the landscape of our personal life. A family tragedy. Complete financial ruin. Words spoken that destroy a friendship. They may not be as grandiose in scale as a national event, but they still raise hurts and questions and fears.

When I was in graduate school, through sheer laziness and inattentiveness, I missed the deadline to apply for my internship.

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I’m Turning 40 – Now What?

turning 40Is it taboo to discuss your age on your blog? If so, I’m engaging in a major faux pas today as I announce that it’s my birthday and I’m turning 40. Woo-hoo! Let’s here it for all the middle age guys out there!

I’ve always heard life starts going down hill after turning 40. I’m not sure why people say that. Is it because the average life span in America is 78, so in the mind of most people, your half way home? Is it because people believe the “fun” times of young adulthood – like partying on spring break or at Mardi Gras – are over?

Or is it perhaps that your body starts to catch up with you as more aches and pains come each morning as you roll out of bed?

Now that I’m here, I’m feeling like I don’t want to buy into the pessimism of what I’ve heard.

Thoughts on Turning 40

In the past year, I’ve done three new and remarkable things:

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