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The Pursuit of Happiness: A Businessman’s Walk Through Ecclesiastes

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The Pursuit of Happiness: A Businessman’s Walk Through Ecclesiastes


Week 4: Ecclesiastes 2: 4-9

4 I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards.

5 I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them.

6 I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees.

7 I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and
flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me.

8 I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired men and women singers,
and a harem as well—the delights of the heart of man.

9 I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me.

Let’s be honest, reading about all the stuff the Teacher had is without a doubt impressive; however, the words that jump beyond the page for me are “In all this my wisdom stayed with me.” My immediate response upon reading this was, what does wisdom mean in this context? Furthermore, does wisdom actually have a context or have I misinterpreted it’s meaning all together? Before I traveled down that rabbit hole something occurred to me; the Teacher knew the difference between the road signs and his destination.

How many times have you driven somewhere you’ve never been and got excited when you saw a road sign that told you how many miles you had left until you reach your destination? If you’re anything like me, you get a little smile on your face knowing that you’re heading in the right direction. My smile usually serves dual purposes because it also means I get to tell my lovely wife “I told you I knew where I was going”. Both responses are fairly common and also reasonable. The foolish thing to do would be to park on the side of the road, take all of our luggage out of the trunk, and set up for vacation under the road sign. The sign is exactly what the name implies; it is simply a sign. To say my point in plain language, the Teachers life style was simply a sign of success. He knew his calling was much bigger than his accomplishments, so no matter how great of a ruler he had become or wealth he had amassed, he kept in mind that an attachment to his worldly possessions (which ironically can only move in one direction….into the ground) would only hinder his upward journey into the holiness of God.

If you’ve entered into the mission of entrepreneurship with an eye full of riches and a heart hungry for fame, you’ve sadly mistaken the road sign as your destination, and your wisdom has not stayed with you. If you’ve purchased new homes, new cars, new clothes, new retirement accounts, new friends, new husbands, new wives, etcetera, but have not remained humble, charitable, and righteous, you have also sadly mistaken the road signs for your true destination because your wisdom has not stayed with you (Proverbs 10: 1-7, Matthew 5: 1-20).

The creation story (Genesis 1: 1-31) is a perfect example of what it means to move beyond the road signs. Prior to creation nothing existed. Most Christians are enamored by God’s ability to simply speak things into existence. While this is all well and good, it’s not what he said that proved his wisdom and power, it was the words that were never written that is truly impressive. Take for instance the flower (generally speaking). When God spoke plants into existence he didn’t create just one, he created many; however, he didn’t stop there. He also the complex cell structure of every species of flower and the ability for those cell structures to feed on sunlight through photosynthesis. For photosynthesis to work correctly he also had to create the processes it needed, which fundamentally works by converting sunlight into energy. When he created light he also had to create the atoms, protons, and electrons necessary to bring it into tangible existence. He also had to create heat to excite the protons so that they would bounce off electrons to kick start the “light-making” process. As the light fed the plants, the plants fed the humans. In order for mankind to identify the plants, God had to create individual markings and designs to differentiate the types of plants that were available to eat. I could continue down this path to show you the depths of God’s wisdom, but I’ll assume you get the point. God doesn’t stop at the road signs, he continues until he has reached his destination (Philippians 1:6)

The secular world is trying to wrap it’s brain around the idea of destination versus road sign with a fairly new and fashionable business term, Conscious Capitalism. This is the an excerpt from consciouscapitalism.com:

“For several decades, companies emerging out of the culture of the 60s have been cultivating a new genre of Capitalism. This is a Capitalism that recognizes the power of purpose and the principle of interdependence. It is a Capitalism the sees leaders as stewards and facilitators. And it is a Capitalism that embraces the cocreative, generative nature of business, and is directed towards fulfilling the potential of business and the marketplace to be a powerful force for positive change. This is a Conscious Capitalism, embodied by Conscious Capitalists.”

This is the worlds attempt to keep their wisdom with them, and it’s “working”. John Mackey, CEO of industry giant, Whole Foods, and many other powerful voices are making Conscious Capitalism a household name. Why aren’t we, the keepers of the Truth and representatives of the Creator of our universe, speaking up (Colossians 2: 8-23)? While we dance and shout all over our churches for the brand new house we WANT to buy, these people are changing the world. While we try to impress sister so-and-so or brother so-and-so with how busy we want them to THINK we are, these people are shaping the minds of our children. While we play “look at me on my blackberry and laptop” games in the local coffeehouse , these people are recruiting the leaders of today and tomorrow at our colleges. Stop celebrating the road signs! We still have many, many miles ahead of us.

I really don’t want to end this on a negative note, so I won’t (or at least I hope I won’t). Trying to figure out where to go in this last paragraph, I’m reminded of a rapper that had a song that said “I’m stuntin’ (showing off) like my daddy”. I want to be clear that I’m not trying to say that creating a comfortable life for yourself and your family is wrong because it’s not. God created an empire by his own power, for his own glory and being created in his image and likeness explains our need to amass things in order to build an empire of our own. However, sin has polluted our desire to honor him with obedience (i.e. rule over all things on the Earth. We are conversely ruled by things). We now, like the Israelites, seek to build our own tower of babel to draw all men unto us (Genesis 11: 1-9). In our case, the unified language we speak is the dollar bill. If the unfortunate collapse of our economy is viewed through the omniscient eyes of our Father, one can not help but to see his gracious hand saving us from utter destruction yet again. This isn’t the way most people see things, so they are fighting, clawing and defending every ounce of worldly success they can find. Very little thought is given to the fact that God is working ALL things out for the good of them that love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

Do me a favor, the next time your driving and you see a road sign that says you have x-amount of miles left, take a look around you then hit the accelerator just a little bit. When you do that, thank God that he’s still taking you where you need to go. After you’ve done that, thank him for where you’ve been. Finally, thank him that your not traveling alone. We’re all headed somewhere, but without the wisdom of God we’re unpacking our cars hundreds of miles away from the glory and comfort of God’s purpose.

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The Pursuit of Happiness: A Businessman’s Walk Through Ecclesiastes

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The Pursuit of Happiness: A Businessman’s Walk Through Ecclesiastes


Week 3: Ecclesiastes 1: 18

18 For in much [human] wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.

The Truth Hurts!

Over Come Fear

When I first started my business I thought the whole world would eventually see me as the fraud I really was. I had never done even an inkling of the things I truly believed in my heart I was capable of. In hind sight, I’ll admit that it wasn’t healthy to have those doubts, but at the time I don’t think the world had enough books or the internet websites to placate my fears of not knowing enough. My quest for knowledge was insatiable. Now, almost a year later, I’ve found a way to overcome those fears, but the habit of reading about everything my brain can form into words is firmly rooted into my psyche. I guess the common terminology of my “condition” would be defense mechanism or maybe an instinctual survival tactic. My wife of 9 months would unfortunately refer to it as a detriment to our young marriage. To be completely candid, I simply don’t agree; not because I think she’s wrong, but because I “need” to be smarter than my consumer to remain the expert that I am. Consumers will only buy from me if they don’t know as much as I do; especially in my field……of dreams. I’ve tricked my mind into believing that people want to buy what I know, not what they need. That truth has almost brought me to tears during times our financial drought. That truth has literally made me feel so bottled up with knowledge I could feel my bones begin to shake from the pressure.

My story is in no way germane; it’s the story of every entrepreneur. We’re all chasing tomorrow because the limitations of today have also exposed the limitations of our humanity. Knowledge & ingenuity become our remedy for the brokenness that has eaten a God shaped hole through the depths of our hearts. “…he who increases knowledge increases sorrow”

Our human knowledge is a depreciating commodity

I’ve seen the pious become the destitute. I’ve seen the poor become rich. I’ve seen the hated become heroes. I’ve seen the glow of life in a child’s smile become a gnarled grin of deceit. I’ve seen knowledge become sorrow. You’ve most likely seen it too. Remember the people carrying boxes outside of Lehman Brothers? Do you remember seeing the cars empty out of the GM and Chrysler plant parking lots? Do you remember the look on the face of Bernie Madoff as he was walked through the sea of cameras entering the court house? I sat in on a support group about two weeks for people that have recently lost their jobs. The meeting was full of accomplished executives from the top companies in our area who were now using each others shoulders to cry on. The magic carpet ride was truly over for these people, but like a dog returning to its vomit (Proverbs 26:11) they are reading self-help book after self-help book, learning twitter, taking classes, even cutting their hair and buying younger looking clothing to appeal to employers. Our human knowledge is a depreciating commodity that will never be worth the price we put on it.

95% of High Ranking Executives lost their Jobs

95% of the people that attended the support group were high ranking executives at one time. All I could think as I looked around that room was how far the mighty had fallen. The speaker that day was a life coach. She opened her lesson up with the statement “I’m just thanking Father, Mother God for this opportunity.” It was at that moment I realized how dangerous knowledge was apart from God. Our words are poisonous arrows thrust deep into the flesh apart from the grace, mercy and understanding of God. The people in the meeting were distraught because all the knowledge they had accumulated became nothing in a matter of seconds, and here I was to plug my new project. They didn’t need a new project! They needed a Savior to fill the God shaped hole the loss of their job left in the middle of their heart. Although they were there to find a job to put the remnants of their tattered lives back together, what I actually heard was “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?” (Psalm 13:2). How many of you know what David meant when he penned those words? I know I do!

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It’s A Process

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It’s A Process


In a society where misery and sorrow lurks on every corner…I’m grateful for
the message God put down on the inside of me to share his peace that
surpasses all understanding. Obediently I picked up the phone to call
someone not even knowing what I was going to say. I got their answering
machine. While the message played I still had no idea what to say. I was
hurting and dealing with a lot of things…beep! The answering machine
stopped my thoughts. I began to sing a song. I continued, as I closed my
eyes I began to leave them a prayer. I was amazed at what they Holy Spirit
was speaking through me. When the spirit finished speaking I ended the
call. I hung up the phone, placed it in its cradle and collapsed in the floor
into tears. As I lay on my bathroom floor my face drenched with tears, my
throat in knots, talking to God with a froggy voice, the Holy Spirit spoke to
me that was for you too! The spirit must have its way. Don’t be
downtrodden as you go through test and trials. Keep your head up, don’t
regress, just trust in the Lord. His word says come unto me all who are
weary and burdened and I shall give you rest.

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The Pursuit of Happiness: A Businessman’s Walk Through Ecclesiastes

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The Pursuit of Happiness: A Businessman’s Walk Through Ecclesiastes


Week 2: Ecclesiastes 1:3-4 & 9-11

3 What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun?

4 Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever.

9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

10 Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time.

11 There is no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow.

The words of the Preacher yet again confront us with a very challenging and inconvenient truth. We Are Nothing! The “freedom” of entrepreneurship is often seen as the way out of our brokenness, but please do not be mistaken my friends. Your work; your ambitions; your wealth; your poverty; your testimony; they are little more then a recondite ripple in the tapestry of our Holy God. The obvious translation of this weeks scripture would simply confirm that it’s not about you, it’s about Jesus. However, we’ve all heard that message a million times and still unabashedly adhere to the carnality that pervades our hearts. I’ve written a story to illustrate this point:

There once was a small flower patch, next to a playground, in a large park near the middle of a city, where a bee flew from flower to flower, day after day, gathering nectar. The bee, though it desperately longed for a life beyond the confines of its flowers, worked very diligently to perform it’s duties well. In that same time and place there was a child. Everyday, the child and its mother would visit the playground in the park near the flowers where the bee gathered its nectar. One day, while the bee flew from flower to flower and the child played, the two shared the misfortune of meeting.

On the day of the meeting, the child, recently learning to say and recognize flower, laughed and clapped and walked near the edge of the flower patch as the bee worked. The bee, like any other day of its life, flew from flower to flower gathering nectar for its colony. However, underneath the quite facade of the bee’s diligent work, existed a desire to be more; in fact, the bee dreamt of not being a bee at all. The bee, no matter how preposterous it sounded, wanted to be the greatest painter that ever lived. The bee understood how outlandish his aspirations were, especially as a successful honey manufacturer, so it kept its dreams to itself for many years.

On this particular day, while the child played near the edge of the flower patch, the bee became full of bitterness and animosity. The bee was tired of denying itself the pleasure of more fulfilling life so it decided to fly far, far away from the flower patch it had spent it’s life working in. At that moment, the bee, mentally charged with fear and anticipation and the child who was playing frivolously among the flowers collided. The bee, petrified by the frightful screeches of the child, did the only thing it knew to do; it stung the child. The child instantly erupted in a wild display of painful horror. No one in the park knew what happened but from the sound and sight of the child leaping and rolling and stomping through the flower patch they knew it must have been very, very painful.

During the child’s outburst, the bee was struck and now laid helplessly upon the dew of the grass. Barely able to raise it’s head, the bee saw what seemed to be a never ending sea of trampled and disfigured flowers. It’s head hung low, the bee began to think how quickly it’s life’s work had been so irreparably ruined. Meanwhile, the mother sat with the child cradled in her arms. When she found the source of her child’s pain, the bee watch as she and the child left the playground. Now realizing the gravity of it’s actions, the bee began to sob with heart wrenching sadness. No human at the park or bee in it’s colony could hear it’s anguish. Hours later, all alone, the bee took it’s final breath. This happened as the child slept. When the child awoke, a new bee began to fly from flower to flower, unaffected and unaware by the events of the day, and life went on.

Can you see yourself in this story? Did you decide to fly far, far away from the flower patch? If so, to who’s faith did you cling? If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably leaned upon your own understanding and decided to pray, rather then prayed to decide. It may seem like I’m playing a juvenile game of semantics but this fundamental change in perception is always the difference between success and complete failure. If you look at the phrases closely you’ll see what I mean.

When a person has decided to pray, they have resolved in their minds that the way that seems right to them will not, as scripture tells us, lead to death and destruction (Proverbs 14:12). However, our fallen nature, as was discussed in the previous post, seeks exoneration. We can’t wait for something new to happen. That urge for new is a desperate desire to fix what is broken within us. However, it can not be conceived before God’s revelation, which is above the sun. It’s the irony of not being able to focus on the Son, even in its physical form as sun, that has created the world we see around us.

The Preacher tactfully reminds us of our inherited brokenness as he agitates the futility of our humanity with questions such as, “What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun?” The weight of our uselessness often leads us to make decisions apart from the wisdom of God (deciding to pray). Fortunately he does not leave our total destruction up to our own doing. Those that love him are not left to fend for themselves. In the midst of our broken circumstances his grace engulfs us as he causes all things to work out for our good (Romans 8:28) In the story of the bee, it’s search for happiness was misguided because what it actually needed was the peace the surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). How many of you are seeking peace from the brokenness you feel inside? Have you ever stopped to consider that you’re not the only one? People buy your goods because they are searching for peace too….a service to placate the empty busyness of deed; a shirt to cover the internal yearning for validation; adding friends to your social network as a way to eradicate the sorrow of being forgotten by the world. The beauty of the story of the bee is that life goes on. No matter what you’re running from or running toward, life will go on no matter what. The deepest of your pains will go away and the hole that it leaves will be quickly filled by a God that is working everything out for the good of those that love him.

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Keys to an Incredible Life

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Keys to an Incredible Life


Living an Incredible life is much simpler than we all make it seem. An Incredible Life is a mindset, a state of mind, if you will. Very easily, you can take the lid off of your thinking and move from forgettable to Incredible! Once you start living out on the branch where the fruit of life is, you will notice that every day problems and obstacles no longer become hindrances or stumbling blocks that get in your way and keep you from fulfilling your Incredible life goals and dreams. In your personal or professional life, the keys to an Incredible life are simple:

1. Consult your higher source for everything you need, want, believe and dream. Make your source, (mine is the One and True Living God) your CEO. Give control over your destiny to Him, He will handle your dreams with care. He will line up relationships that are Incredible!

2. Evaluate and re-evaluate your associations – you become like the 5 people you spend your time with. Each quarter, I make a list of the people who are in my space and I re-evaluate their place in my life. If, when I think of them, I am inspired and believe that they are an Incredible part of my world, they get a +. If, when I think of them, I feel negativity or am perplexed at the thought of the value they add to my existence, they get a -. If I feel absolutely nothing one way of another, they get a /. I am sure that by now you’ve guessed it, + signs get to stay! – signs have to go and / signs have one more quarter to influence my life Incrediblly so that they can stay or they have to hit the road. Constantly evaluating your associations will help to ensure that the Incredible person you are becoming does not get jaded or crowded by Incredible snatchers – those people who only want to suck the Incredible out of you!

3.Make a Vision Board or Goal Poster. Habakkuk 2:2 in the Old Testament of the King James Bible says “write the vision and make it plain.” It goes on to say, “write it on tablets [goal poster].” Where are you going in this life? Ask yourself the following question, “What can I begin to do today to make my life Incredible?” Follow that question with this one: “If I could be doing anything in the world and money was not an object, what would I be doing?” Then write it down. From there, brainstorm and come up with more ideas that all lead back to that first question. An old business model says that “what gets attended to gets done”….You want to make sure that your 16×20 sized goal is back by a 16×20 sized POSTER or VISION BOARD. Don’t believe that you will remember it, write it down. In fact, get some post-it notes and stick smaller versions of your goals all over the place to serve as a constant reminder that you can achieve anything you put your mind to!

4. Do something everyday that gets you closer to the vision you have for an Incredible life. Daily activity creates habits and habits create consistency, consistency creates confidence and consistent confidence is the gateway to dreams realized!

5. Live with PACE

P- Plan with Purposeful Passion: For all that you do, ensure that it has purpose and your passion is fueled. Plan so that your goals are being realized with every plan made.
A – Achieve with Abundant Attitude: As you set goals, decide now to achieve them with an attitude of abundance. Keep in mind that abundance is not material; it is living above strife and contention.
C – Create with Consistent Confidence: As you think of your goals and dreams develop the confidence and belief that you can carry them out. Remember, you are exactly who or what you say that you are. More importantly, you are exactly who you think you are so have confidence that you can achieve your vision. Although life had highs and lows, develop a consistent approach for creating your vision. Start with what you do better than anyone else in the world, usually you will find your passion there!
E – Execute with Enthusiastic Expectation: There is no need to plan, achieve or create if you are not going to execute. But don’t just do it, do it well. Additionally, have an enthusiastic expectation that you will grow, learn and experience new things and do what you set out to do. Believe that the power lies within you to be Incredible.

Believe in yourself as I believe in you!

Get Inspired, Feel Incredible!

Always remember, if you can see the invisible, God can do the impossible so dream the INCREDIBLE!

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