Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Jesus Fish

So this blog is really one big long question that I hope leads to a discussion. Here is the question and I will follow that with a discussion starter. What is your opinion of people that try to leverage their faith in the marketplace? In other words, what is your reaction to someone that advertises they are a Christian and uses Bible verses, "spiritual talk" (God has blessed me, have a blessed day, etc.) and the like in their advertising, sales pitch or even on their business cards?

I see it fairly often in the real estate business--"use me because I am a Christian and I will act with integrity because I am a Christian" or they have the Jesus fish on their cards or they have a Bible verse on their website--front and center. I also come across people in industries that work alongside Realtors (lenders, inspectors, etc.) that try to leverage their faith into the business transaction somehow.

I am a Christian. I like being a Christian and I am not shy about being a Christian. I will share my faith with anyone willing to listen. That said, I am not going to shove it down your throat and I don't really want you doing the same (or worse) with whatever you choose to believe. Honestly, I am very hesitant to use anyone that feels compelled to advertise their faith in a manner that seems to be directed at attracting business. I would rather find out about their faith by the service provider's actions. If you have to put it on your card or website in order for people to figure it out, are you really living it? When I see that, I instantly think of Pharisees praying on corners and flaunting their faith. Maybe I am too harsh.

Here is the rub though, I know that there are some incredibly strong Christians out there that do this. I feel like, unfortunately they are slighted by being lumped in with the bad apples. Bottom line is, for me (and I can only speak for me), seeing the advertising with Christian symbols, verses, etc. front and center instantly makes me question their motives and instantly makes me suspicious. Maybe I am not strong enough in my own faith. Maybe I am too cynical. I actually count "the Jesus fish" in business as a downside. Don't misunderstand me, I like working with other Christians, I just don't want to work with Pharisees. Show me your faith, don't just tell me you have it.

What do you think? When you hear an advertisement or see it on a business card what is your reaction (if any)? Do you trust someone who puts their faith out there like that? Do you think there are better ways to express and share your faith in the business world? How do you think God wants us to share our faith in the business world? Please share your thoughts.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Overbooking ourselves

I am an overbooker. I will pretty much always try to cram more in a span of time than I could possibly actually accomplish. It is not necessarily in any given time frame, just in general. For example, right now I have 10 active listings, 5 pending contracts, an 8 month old, a 5 year old that WANTS to be with me, a wife that wants me around AND a fireworks tent that is very demanding of my time and attention. I am also trying to get one of my houses rented out. To say that I am busy is an understatement. I was busy before the fireworks tent. Why do I do this? One reason is that I enjoy it. I enjoy the activity and the people. The other reason is that I have a hard time turning down "opportunity".

The problem is that I forget to pay attention to the opportunities that don't ask, they just exist--like my 5 year old. I forget that he is only 5 once and he only loves his daddy like a 5 year old once. Soon he will think I am old and out of touch and know nothing. Soon he will only love me for my keys and wallet. Now he loves me just because I am his dad and his ultimate super hero. I have to make time for him and for my wife and my daughter. Everything else is a waste if I squander these "ever present" opportunities.

What's my point other than the self-guilt trip? Don't overbook yourself on things that don't matter in the end. Make it a priority to include those that matter the most in your plans. And finally, do as I say, not as I do. I am guilty of taking my family for granted in the name of "I have to work" but I am trying to do better.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


"Wise men don't need advice, fools won't take it." -Ben Franklin (allegedly)
People and advice. Can be a volatile combination. Often people are terrible at taking it, even worse about giving it and downright ornery when you don't take it. I am offering some observations and some commentary on this common topic of conversation.

Have you ever noticed how quickly people offer advice, even when it is not solicited? People offer advice for all kinds of reasons. Maybe they were asked for the advice. They, may think they have something valuable to contribute to one's situation. They may get a sense of self importance from being "in the know." Offering advice may give them some kind of validation of their own past trials and tribulations. For some it may completely altruistic, i.e. they truly just want to help.

Then there is the person receiving the advice. So often the receiver has in the front of their mind "this person cannot possibly understand my situation. I am so unique that no one has ever experienced this." The fact is, most likely, you are not that unique. OR, more accurately, you are unique, just like everyone else. In other words, there are not a lot of truly unique, never-before-seen experiences out there. As for your everyday trials, most likely, someone you know has been there. Also, we tend to devalue the wisdom that experience brings. We feel like someone is just preaching to us or is just enjoying themselves talking. Then the receiver completely discredits the advice.

Finally, my favorite is the reaction of the giver after the taker didn't listen to them. "Well, I told them what to do. I don't know why they didn't listen," typically in a very high and mighty tone. I am very guilty of this. I told them exactly what to do and they didn't do any of it. Now look where they are (and boy don't people hate being told "I told you so"). I sometimes forget that I got that wisdom by screwing up. I discount the lesson of pain. Without pain it is very difficult for some people to learn a lesson. I want to help them avoid pain but I forget how it helps.

So why do I write about this? Well, I am in the advice business. People frequently ask my opinion on things. Most of the time I give pretty sound advice. I also see friends do things in my field of expertise that do not seek my advice. I see them do it wrong all too often (not that I am right 100% of the time, but there are some basic things I ALWAYS do right and many Realtors do not). I want to give my advice, not to get their business necessarily but to help them out of their personal tight spot. I know that my advice, especially unsolicited, will be construed as attempted business stealing but I still feel compelled to give it. Most of the time I do not but I really want to. Can anyone else relate to this? I find it so hard to keep my mouth shut.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ok, so this is dangerous but...

I love politics and I love religion. I love studying the two topics and digging into the histories, the "whys" and the "hows". I love finding peoples' motivations. I love discussing the two topics in face to face, civilized conversation. I typically do not love writing about the topics in my blog. It is entirely too easy for people to misconstrue what I say because the blog lacks tone and inflection. It is also much easier for someone to say something hurtful because not having a face in front of you allows greater boldness. That said, I do sometimes tread into these topics. This is one of those weeks. I can't help it. This topic has been on my mind since Saturday and since my blog is mostly for my own therapy...

So, this particular blog entry will be dealing with Christianity. Specifically it will be dealing with the "old law" and how it relates to my faith. If this is offensive to you, please stop reading now. If you plan on commenting about how all Christians are hypocrites and stupid to believe in some man in the sky, please refrain. If you plan to say that I am some kind of hate mongering, whatever "-ist", please don't speak to me anymore. I think that covers it. If you choose to disagree with me and would like to comment on why you disagree, that is great. I will read and respond lovingly and civilly. Just keep it on topic.

Thanks and enjoy.

How the "old law" relates to my faith.

On Sunday morning I taught the high school group at church. For the past several weeks we have been looking at 1 Timothy. This week I was assigned to teach on chapter 1, verse 8-whatever I wanted. I stopped with verse 8, "We know that the law is good if one uses it properly." That was the basis of my lesson. I have always wondered about this--If we are Christians, we are under the new covenant created by Jesus and we are no longer bound by the law. If that is the case, why is it still in the Bible? I did some research online and found a really great lesson outline on this topic. In this outline, the author said that the old law serves as a "mirror of perfection" ( and that its sole purpose in New Testament Christianity is to remind us of how much we fall short. In other words, it is there to go right against the mindset of "I am a good person and God is love anyway." God is love, but he is also perfect and his laws are perfect and unchanging. What changed is the opportunity we have for atonement.

Basically, the old law (as found in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy are there to remind us that we are nowhere near perfect and thus need a savior. In other words, the law leads us to Christ. A person cannot know they need directions unless they know they are lost. A person cannot desire to escape unless they know they are trapped. You can't ask for a pardon unless you know you are guilty. You can't need a savior until you know you have sin.

This mindset has massive implications in pop culture. One of popular things to do is to use the "absurdity" of the old testament law to justify modern pet sins. The beauty is that we are NOT under that law. It is still perfect and so is God but since Christ fulfilled it, he is sufficient and we are free from it. That said, it still convicts us. It still is the perfect plan that we fall short of, thus the reason we NEED Christ. The next popular thing to do is to present Christianity in an "incomplete" light. So many Christians present Christianity as "a better way to live" and that the Christian life is just plain better. I am here to say that sometimes that is 100% false. Sometimes it is harder. Sometimes it flat out stinks. If we evangelize just based on Christianity being easier or better, we have fallen short and we will lose new Christians. We have to use some of the old tactics. In other words, "here is God's standard of perfection. You fall short (and I do to) because you are a sinner. All sinners go to Hell unless they are forgiven by Christ." In the meantime, I believe that the Christian life may not be easier or more fun, but it is more fulfilling and it does provide comfort in ways that no other "way of life" can. It also gives purpose to events that are otherwise meaningless. AND I have a huge family that loves me because I am me and He is God. That is the power of the old testament law. It completes the purpose of Christianity--better way to live, best way to exit the world.

My point is simple. Christians, do not discredit the old law. It serves a powerful purpose for us NOW. It is God's standard of perfection. It is what convicts us. It does show us just how profoundly lost we are and how much we NEED Christ.

Other verses to check out:
Galatians 3:24-25
Romans 3:20
Romans 7:7
Psalm 19:7

Since I am on the subject anyway, I want to vent another religious pet peeve of mine. It bugs me to no end when people say "don't judge me" because of the way they act. They say this in such a way as to insinuate that God does not want people on Earth to make judgement calls as to what appropriate behavior is. This is so not true. God's command on not judging is for us not to look at someone and say to them that the act they committed is sending them to Hell. He absolutely wants us to use judgement and to judge people. He wants us to warn our fellow humans that the body of acts they commit are contrary to his law. He wants us to recognize sin in ourselves and in others and warn them to repent and to repent ourselves. We cannot make the "final call" so to speak but we sure can, and have been commanded to, tell others that they are sinners and need a savior. That said, there is a tactful and loving way to do this and, though I don't think we are commanded to be tactful about it, it makes sense to approach the subject when we are in a position to do it lovingly. I'm just tired of people putting earthly filters on God's commands.