Respond or react?

What do you do when you negative things come your way?  When a friend disagrees with you and puts you down, do you lash out?  When your brother cancels your poker game at the last minute for the third time in a row, do you yell at him for being so irresponsible and unreliable?  What about when a coworker belittles your ideas and makes you feel small?  Do you react by gossiping about her behind her back?


Your Choice

When people are unkind to us, we have two choices.  We can respond or we can react.  Reacting means doing what we naturally feel and allowing our emotions to choose our words.  In contrast, when we choose to respond to a negative situation, we use our mind and heart to overrule our emotions.

Is It Even About Me?

Often, when we are wronged, we incorrectly take the negative actions of another personally.  People are sometimes rude and inconsiderate, but many times this has nothing to do with you.  First off, if they are habitually rude, that has everything to do with them, and little to do with you.  In other instances, a person may not be habitually negative, but something negative has just happened in their life and they let their disappointment get the best of them.  In a few instances people are truly mean to you because they want to be.  But even in these cases, the right road is to respond, not react.

Forgive First

Each one of us has shortcomings, and as such we are bound to rub each other the wrong way.  When someone hurts you, can get mad and let your feelings boil over into harsh words against the wrongdoer.  Or you can choose to forgive them.  You can forgive, assuming they meant no offense; you can forgive assuming they let their emotions get the best of them, and you can even forgive in cases where it’s clear they were intentionally malicious.  You need not wait for their apology—forgive anyway.  If an apology comes, great!  If not, no big deal.

Create an Opportunity

If you will make the choice to live this way, and act with your will, mind, and heart rather than your emotions, your reward will be peace unknown to the masses who fail to respond and allow themselves to react.  Not only that, but those around you will notice your unusual behavior. They may even ask you why  you live so differently.  Can you think of a better opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Who’s your Neighbor?

Do you consider yourself to be a friendly person?  Would the people who see you, whether at work, as you leave your house, or at the supermarket, speak of how you sought them out in friendship and treated them great?  Do you routinely smile and greet those you pass on the street or in the hall, or is your daily focus primarily on yourself?


Two Ignore, One Helps

Jesus was once asked by religious leaders who he considered to be his neighbor.  He responded with a familiar parable, the story of the Good Samaritan.  In this parable, we learn of a man who is beaten and robbed.  A few of his countrymen see his helpless condition, yet pass by on the other side of the road.  In contrast, a Samaritan, who is naturally an enemy to the Jewish victim, yet seeks him out, takes him to a doctor, and even covers the expenses for the man’s care.

We often hear this parable as a nice story, meant simply to induce us to be kind.  But remember back to what question Jesus was actually responding to when He told this story.  He was asked who his neighbor was.  Understanding this context gives a deeper meaning to the story than the simple truth that we are to be kind.

Look for Needs

The people of Jesus’ day, much like most people in our day, tended to happily exist in their own small sphere of influence, engaging with people who were like them and who they were familiar with.  Through this parable, Jesus shows clearly that we are to intentionally seek out others, others who may not be very much like us, in order to meet their needs.

The Greatest Need

What is the greatest need which many of our neighbors have?  For any who do not know Christ personally, who have not been washed and cleansed through faith in Christ, their greatest need is salvation of their soul.  Without atonement, mankind is separated from God’s good presence, and any who perish without Jesus will face eternity without Him.  The need for salvation is so widespread, little recognized, and of utmost importance that, if we are looking, we will see it everywhere.

This is the condition of many people we see and walk by each day.  The strangers who we’re ignoring are desperately in need of the truth, the truth that we know.  But someone needs to tell them.  Not only that, but most people aren’t particularly receptive to ideas unfamiliar to them being expressed by strangers.  So what can we do?  We share the gospel with them as a friend.

Be a Friend

Friendship doesn’t come instantaneously, but it can be cultivated in a relatively short period of time.  Start simply by adopting the habit of greeting and smiling at the people who cross your path each day.  You’ll quickly find that a great many people are eager to engage with you, particularly if you’ll ask them open-ended questions about themselves.

As you cultivate friendships with your neighbors, be listening for what they value.  Do they desire wisdom? Or perhaps peace and something solid to rely on?  Or maybe they’re contemplating what happens after death because of a recent loss in their family.  Remember that when you have Jesus, you have the truth and the life that our world desperately needs.  Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, share the truth, and let Jesus call out to the people in your life using you as His mouthpiece.  To God be the glory!

The Well-Kept Secret

Those who are financially free are those who know, and have applied, something that the rest of us don’t.  In fact, not only wealthy people, but every person who has success in any area of life has learned and applied a secret principle.  Although these people are not shy about sharing their secret formula with others, the principle remains elusive for most people.  And of those who know this principle which guarantees success, a great many people refuse to employ it to affect the result they desire.


The Action Component

It’s been said that knowledge is power.  This is almost correct:  applied knowledge is power.  The difference between knowledge and applied knowledge is this well-kept secret known by all who possess success–be it financial, physical, or in any other realm.  You must know what you want.  You must know what actions are required to obtain what you want.  But with these two pieces only you cannot succeed.  You need the third piece: consistent daily action.

Discover Your Dream

Imagine your dream life.  If you could have anything, anything at all, what would it be?  Whatever it is, let’s represent it as a large tree.  You have an axe and must chop down this large tree.  Each swing of your axe gets you a little closer to your goal.  Find a mentor who has a life closer to your dream life than you do.  Ask him what actions he took to achieve the level of success he has attained.  These actions are your axe swings.

Five a Day, Every Day

Now for the application of the secret principle:  Take these actions; every day.  Not some days, not for a short period, but every day.  Here’s what I know:  if you swing your axe five times per day, every day, every day, every day, eventually the tree will fall.  No matter how big the tree, no matter how great or terrible you are at swinging, the tree will fall.  You must know what you want, you must know the right activities, but many people who have these things right still do not succeed.  Too often, we give up to early, or fail to take daily consistent action.

Persist Until Victorious

Do not let failure beat you in this way.  Discover your dreams, find what your axe swings are.  Then commit to doing them every day without fail for the next 2, 5, 10 or how ever many years are required to get there.  Success is never comfortable or easy; it is, however, worth it!

Worth the Hassle

Today’s topic most certainly falls under the category of “things I know I should do, but I never feel like getting around to.”  Although this simple practice will help protect you from excessive damage from identity theft and is a habit of the financially responsible, all too often we’re apt to neglect checking our credit report.  But, with the information you’ll get below, you’ll find that this financial discipline is actually very easy, free, and will give you confidence in your financial health.

Despondent Lisa

Big Brother’s Watching

If you’ve never seen your credit report before, get ready to be surprised at all the information about you that’s floating out there in cyberspace! It addition to every credit account you’ve ever opened (many you’ve probably forgotten about), your credit report will show you previous addresses, phone numbers, and lots of other data that other parties collect about you.

Free is Good

There are three credit reporting agencies:  Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.  You can access your credit report once per year from each agency for free by visiting  I checked mine earlier today, and from the moment I arrived at the site to the moment I printed my report was less than five minutes.

Watch for Posers

When looking over your report, note any activity that looks unfamiliar or suspicious.  If someone took out a loan or opened a credit card fraudulently in your name, it should show up on your report.  Take action to resolve these issues right away if they exist, as they’ll only get worse with time.  You may also want to close any inactive accounts that show a zero balance, as these can be easy openings for future identity theft.

Take a moment to download your report from one of the three bureaus today, and then set a calendar reminder four months from now to remind yourself to check another bureau then.  With this rotation you’ll get a copy of your report three times per year for free—and at a time cost of less than five minutes, we are all without excuse for knowing our financial health!

Your Surroundings

Imagine I had a very valuable and powerful computer, capable of extraordinary things and able to make me healthy, happy, and wealthy.  What should I do with this incredible machine?  If I asked you who I should have program it for me, who would you recommend?  Should I allow random coworkers, family members, or friends to load whatever content they want into my computer?


Your Incredible Mind

Guess what—you do have a very powerful computer that can get you anything you want in life.  It’s called your brain!  Scientists are continually amazed at the incredible complexity and capability of the human mind.  And, just like a computer, your brain can be programmed.  In fact, your brain is being programmed whether you realize it or not!

The problem with most of us is that we are simply not intentional about what we allow to program our brains.  We often let the foolish words of well-meaning people invade our minds and keep us from growing to the heights we’re capable of.  One may try something great, fail, and accept failure as part of his life.  He then spreads his bile to those around him, discouraging others from pursuing their dreams, simply because he has failed, given up, and accepted defeat.

Filtering What Goes In

You have a choice.  You can spend time around the failure of a man described in the previous paragraph, letting his rotten ideas and programming spoil your mind.  Or, you can intentionally limit your time around such people and develop a filter for the junk ideas they spew.  Turning positively, you can seek out successful people, people who have achieved what you want and are seeking to improve themselves further still, and allow them to speak positive ideas into your mind.

Choose Your Associations Wisely

Success always requires hard work and sacrifice.  You can decide to accept your status quo as it is now and fill your life with distraction and entertainment.  Or, you can get around people who challenge, inspire, and motivate you.  The company you keep and the advice you follow will create the path and future of your life.  Will the path you’re on today lead to a thriving life?

Are You Busy?

We are busy people.  If you’re like most of us these days, you fill your plate to overflowing with activities, work, fun, family, church, sports, and many many other things.  Often, these things bring benefits to our lives, although they can sometimes make us feel overwhelmed.  Worse still, we’re not always too accurate in our estimation of how many hours a new commitment will require, and this can lead to a schedule packed full of activities that might not quite line up with our dreams, desires, and priorities.  Is there any way to gain control of our schedules?


Money and Time

Just as it is with money, time often gets away with us.  Without intentional planning, the loudest cries for our attention get our time and money first, leaving other, more important priorities lacking.  A telltale sign of this is when we fine ourselves saying, “Oh, I’d love to do something like that, but I just don’t have the time!”  It doesn’t take too much reflection to realize how preposterous this statement is.  As if any person is given any more or less than 24 hours each day!  We all make choices each day how we will spend our hours.  It’s ok if you don’t want to prioritize a fitness regimen in your life, but don’t fool yourself by saying you don’t have time to go to the gym.

Be Real with Yourself

Think of it this way:  you, just like the rest of us, have 168 hours each week.  Typically, work will consume something like 45 of them and if you sleep 8 hours a night, that’s another 56.  So, how will you spend the other 67 hours?

Just as with budgeting money, budgeting our time will help us elevate our highest priorities first, and let the things that matter least fill in the gaps.  Instead of spending 24 hours watching TV this week, why not reduce it to 20 and invest those 4 hours into growing your marriage or relationship with another important person in your life?

You Can Have It; Are You Willing to Pay the Price?

It’s pretty easy to fall into the trap of wistfully wishing for things we’d like in our life, but failing to take any action in pursuit of those things.  What do you really want?  Can you make a decision today to spend three hours next week pursuing it?  Maybe all you can do during those three hours is some research.  But guess what?  The following week, you’ll be armed with the info you need to take the next step, then the next one, on and on until you reach the place you want to be.  The journey to success may be long, but what’s that to you—you’ve got time!  😀

Get More of What You Want

What if there were a way that you could have more of the things you want in life? A better car, more time with family, better and more frequent vacations, or anything else you can think of. Would you be willing to make a few changes in your life in order to get these things?


Have You Lost Your Dreams?

Most people are good dreamers when they’re young. We imagine what life could be: the things we’ll do, the places we’ll go, the people we’ll influence. But, as we get older and become part of “the real world,” the temptation surfaces to deny or suppress our dreaming. There are a few big reasons this happens. One, that’s what people around us do. As you know from being a reader of this blog, that’s never a good reason to do anything! But a second reason is that often the practical cost of all the things we’d like to do adds up to a great deal more than we earn in income. This is a real limitation, but I have some good news: it can be overcome in two ways.

Owning Your Priorities

The first way to overcome the gap between what your dream life costs and the money you have available is to eliminate things which are not essential. For example, I may dream of owning a top-of-the line road bike, but don’t currently have the $1,500 in the bank to purchase one. However, owning the bike of my dreams is actually within my reach. I can get the $1,500 I need if I will simply commit to cutting $1,500 from other areas in my life. Maybe I collect $200 by abstaining from buying coffee from Starbucks for a year. I can collect another $300 by canceling cable TV for three months, and get $150 more by selling an old stereo that I never use. What I’m doing here is sacrificing the things that aren’t important to me in order to obtain that which is important to me.

We often let statements like, “I wish I could afford that,” or, “someday I hope to be able to…” come out of our mouths. As in our example above, the fact of the matter is that we can afford the things we’re dreaming about, but we refuse to give up the other things in our life that we need to sacrifice in order to get it.

Instead of Shrinking Your Dreams, Expand Your Income

The long-term way to overcome the gap between the life we imagine and the life we can afford is to develop an asset. One of the best definitions of an asset, especially in the context of what we’re discussing here, is Robert Kiosagi. In his book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Robert defines an asset as something you own that produces a stream of income for you. By this definition, a house you own and live in isn’t really an asset, because it moreso takes your money, through taxes, interest, and upkeep expenses, than it produces in capital appreciation for you. An asset by Robert’s definition would be ownership in a growing company, a stock or bond, or creating a franchise. What assets do you have currently? What opportunities do you have to develop an asset?

We’ll Show You How

If you don’t know where or how you could begin to create an asset for yourself, you are in the right place! Part of what we do as part of our ThriveMart business is something called, “personal franchising.” We help people to do what we’ve done—start a business that they own without the risks and financial investment typically required to launch a business. Visit our ThriveMart facebook page and send us a message to learn more, and remember what Zig Ziglar says, “you can have anything you want in life if you’ll just help enough other people get what they want!”

The Right Fuel

If you want to feel good, live healthy, and have lots of energy, what should you do?  It won’t surprise you to hear that one of the most important keys to getting this result is your nutrition.  If you put good things in, you’ll get good results.  But the hard part is, what are the right things, and how can you know which plan or philosophy to follow?


Expert, really?

It seems that about one out of every five people walking down the street considers himself to be a “nutrition expert.”  People say things like, “everyone knows you can’t eat after 8 pm or you’ll get fat,” or “too much salt will cause you problems.”  The problem is, as in the examples, there is little if any evidence to support these claims.  Ideas that fall in the “everyone knows that….” category are often inaccurate, and are believed by the masses simply because they are often repeated.

So, what are we getting at here?  First, before you take advice, particularly nutrition advice, examine the credibility of the person talking.  Are they fit and in good health?  If not, ask them to stop sharing their ideas.  Further, once you’ve established credibility of the one offering advice, ask him to provide sources to back up the ideas he recommends.  He himself may be believing certain things based on what others have said, rather that based on research and critical thinking.

Delicious and Beneficial

Ok, finally on to the meat of the matter.  😀  Below I have my personal “nutrition manifesto.”  This is how I eat, giving my body the good fuel it needs without having to live in a nutrition bubble.  While it may not be earth-shattering (vegetables and fruits are good for you), I think it strikes a great balance between practical and beneficial.  Here are the results it’s given me:

Height: 6’0″  Weight: 173#  Waist: 32″  BMI: 23  Body fat: 10%  Blood Pressure:  118/70  Cholesterol: 137  HDL: 47  Chol/HDL: 2.9  Glucose: 84  Hemoglobin: 15.9  Pulse: 58  Max deadlift: 405# Max pullups without stopping: 38  Run 2.3 miles: 15 min  Max squat: 345#  If the person giving you advice has better numbers, disregard my recommendations and follow him.

Nutrition Manifesto

Most important, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.  Get as many fruits and vegetables of different colors as you can*.  Eat plenty of meat of various types to get enough protein.  Fish is good, eat plenty of it; also nuts, seeds, and eggs.  Drink milk, it’s amazing.  Have healthy convenient food (e.g. meal bars from ThriveMart) on hand so you don’t end up in McDonalds.  You need carbs, so don’t fear grains, but recognize man doesn’t live on bread alone.  Drink coffee excessively, drink wine sparingly.

 *If you’re not getting 2 servings of each color each day, you will benefit from a plant-based supplement like DoubleX—which though not as good as eating the fruits and vegetables themselves—provides these essential nutrients to your body so they can be absorbed, as contrasted with a synthetic vitamin.  See ThriveMart for this and other great products to help you live healthy!

What Are You Pouring In?

In my garden out back of our house, I planted tomato, pepper, and squash plants this spring.  I did not plant only a single seed of each, but many seeds of each type.  What would you think of me if I say I am disappointed today that I have no apple trees, cactus plants, or strawberries growing?  Would you think me foolish?  What if I went further to say that I am frustrated that so many tomato, pepper, and squash plants are growing?  Surely then you’d think me strange, right?


What Are You Growing

While we might think this sort of behavior foolish, we tend quite often to act this way when it comes to what we plant in ourselves.  We desire to have good things happen to us, to have a life full or rich relationships and success, but how can these things grow if they haven’t been planted?  Take this past week for example:  how much time did you spend around positive, excited winners?  Did you learn things directly from leaders or mentors of yours by listening to their wisdom as they poured their experience into you?  If not, how can you expect the plants of success to grow?  There are no seeds to even start with!

Conversely, how much time in the past week have you spent letting negative messages pour into your head?  Have you listened to others around you complain about things they don’t like or blame others for the situations they find themselves in?  Have you spent many hours letting the TV be your teacher?  Are the shows than you watch filled with positive messages of overcoming difficulty through persistence and teamwork, or are they overly-sexualized sitcoms that display selfishness, destruction, or belittling others.  If the latter, what do you think these seeds will grow into within the garden of your mind?

Understand the Connections

Our lives are in much more of our own control than we often realize.  Wise men make the connection between what’s poured into the mind today and the situations we find ourselves in tomorrow. Will you take the step of intentionally pouring in an shielding yourself from the bad?  Put distance between yourself and the habits of the masses, and watch your life of success grow and flourish!

Does Money Drive Your Decisions?

Have you ever heard someone quote from the Bible that, “money is the root of all evil?” Does God really oppose riches and want His children to avoid nice homes, cars, and other physical possessions?  Is it wrong to seek financial freedom and success?

a formal affair

To start off, let’s check the accuracy of that biblical quote.

1 Timothy 6

7For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. 8If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. 9But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Money is Paper

Does this passage teach that money is bad?  Is money the root of all evil?  No. Rather, it is the love of money that is a root of all sorts of evil.  Loving anything more than we love God is idolatry, and to do so violates what Christ said was the greatest commandment:  to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  As the passage above teaches, many foolish men have wandered away from God in the pursuit of their greatest love:  money.

So, if loving money is a danger we must be careful to avoid, should we seek to keep our income low and not bother to learn sound financial principles and habits?  Some have misquoted and misunderstood Scripture in asserting such ideas, only to find that this foolishness has the opposite effect than what was intended.

Money on Your Mind

Which man spends more time thinking about money, the one who earns plenty and has a large savings account or the one who earns little and lives paycheck to paycheck?  All else equal, who places more value on a $100 bill, a man who’s in debt up to his ears or a man who has a $1 million net worth?  A rich man may be miserly or generous, and a poor man may love God or love money, but in general the following applies:  those with plenty of money make fewer decisions based on money than do those who have little.

How Then Shall We Live?

So, what does this mean for us—the majority between poverty and affluence?  How should we live in light of these truths?  I see two major lessons:  First, always check your heart that you’re loving God more than money (or anything else for that matter).  Whether you count yourself rich or not, your heart can be led astray after money, so guard yourself and always see money as a means to serving God, not the other way around.  Lesson number two is this: act wisely now in order that your decisions need not revolve around money later.  Dave Ramsey says in this way:  Live now like no one else so that later, you can live like no one else.

Don’t Be the Joneses

It’s a hard thing to do, saying no to fun trips, activities, and purchases just because “we don’t have the money.”  What makes it even harder is that it’s so easy to borrow money on a credit card or finance a big purchase, and this is exactly what our neighbors do.  But, if you will make the hard decisions and say no today, the money you save and invest will grow and compound, and one day you’ll reach the position of financial strength and freedom where money no longer drives your decisions.  We’ll look forward to seeing you there!