Salt Makes Things Better and Light Shows the Way

We’re All Called to be Saltshakers and Flashlights

We’ve been put here to fulfill a purpose that is specific to us. Some figure out what that purpose is quicker than others. Often people aren’t even aware they have a specific purpose that is exclusive to them and them alone.

Everyone of us is different and the same.

There are different kinds of salt. All of which make things better, whether it’s flavoring food, melting ice, cleaning stains, soothing insect bites or stopping a grease fire. The salt is different and the same. The important thing to remember is that, regardless of its purpose, there is nothing gained if it’s not used. We all have skills and talents that when used make things better.

We all have different skills and talents, but we won’t make things better if we don’t use them. We’re like the salt.

Just like the salt, there are different forms of light. There is electric light, candles, lanterns and flashlights to name a few. All of them allow us to see in the dark. It’s amazing how much light a single candle puts out. The light is different and the same. Light doesn’t do anyone any good if it’s kept hidden. No matter how small, we all have a light that needs to be used to help light the way.

We need to let our light shine and help others to see to find their way through the dark. We’re like the light.

In Matthew 5:13-16, Jesus tells us that we are the salt of the earth and the light to the world. If we don’t use our salt (skills and talents) it will become good for nothing. If we don’t shine our light it leaves both us and those around us lost in the dark.

No matter what our unique purpose is, we make things better and brighter when we share.

Go out and spread some salt and shine your light.

We All Want to be Members of Exclusive Clubs

The word "Exclusive" in a starburst

 

 

What is it That Draws Us to be a Part of These Groups?

 

Exclusive makes us feel special. We want to be somebody, to be valuable, to stand out from the crowd. We think exclusive clubs will do this for us. If there’s only room for a few and I get in, then I’m important.

 


Collins dictionary defines exclusive as, something that is used or owned by only one person or group, not shared and limited to people with a lot of money or who are privileged. The world is full of exclusive clubs that require some very expensive and/or bizarre requirements to even be considered.


This is how the world perceives special.


There’s a story of a boy whose older brother had started a “club” with some of his friends. The younger brother wanted to join so bad that he was willing to do anything, including jumping from the top of the stairs, which resulted in a broken ankle. The cost to joining clubs can be painful.

 

There’s a different kind of club out there called the Kingdom Club. It’s inclusive and easy to join. All that’s required is accepting the invitation and willingness to follow a few simple rules.

 

  • Recognize your spiritual needs
  • Share in grief
  • Be humble
  • Desire to do right
  • Show mercy to others
  • Desire pure thoughts
  • Work for peace
  • Willingness to suffer for doing what’s right


These rules are explained in the Kingdom Club handbook, Matthew 5:1-12. Just go to the clubhouse door, knock and it will open, Matthew 7:7-8, Luke 11:9-10.


Joining the Kingdom Club is so easy that most people think it’s too good to be true. Or, they’re afraid that it’s so easy that they will be lost in the crowd. That’s one of the best things about this club, joining it allows our “special” to radiate.


The Kingdom Club is full of nothing but special people.

 

This is a good club to be in!

 

The World Is Full of Opportunities

Uplifed hands full of twinkling lights

It’s Our Responsibility to Make the Most of Them

In our humanness we all feel inadequate. We don’t think we have what it takes to do that thing…whatever that thing for us is.


One of Rev. James Moore’s seminary responsibilities was a weekly visit to a hospital. One week he was asked to speak to Mrs. Davis who was scheduled for brain surgery the next morning. She didn’t want to be bothered, but in her condition and with the risky surgery the hospital felt that he should visit her anyway.


In his young, inexperienced, inadequate state, he didn’t think he could do it.


The hospital staff continued to push him until he finally went to pray with her. Things didn’t go so well; he opened the door too hard and it banged the wall, he kicked her bed as he walked around it and then when he started to pray with her…he didn’t know what to say. He stammered around as he prayed and finally after feeling like a complete failure, he left.


He went directly to his professor and told him that he wasn’t cut out for this work, he had just made a mess of things at the hospital and wanted to drop out. The professor said that he was too busy right then, to come back next week and they would talk.


When Rev. Moore went back for his regular scheduled time at the hospital, he was expecting bad news…but he found that Mrs. Davis was doing well. When he went to see her, she explained that last week before he came to her, she had given up. His visit had gone so poorly that she felt sorry for him and this compassion for him, had given her the will to live.


Rev. Moore went on to become a minister, author and leader who impacted thousands of lives.


We don’t have to be perfect; we don’t have to be good; we just have to be willing.


Faith is being willing to get up and go when God gives us opportunities. He doesn’t ask us to do things with talents that we don’t have. Believe in yourself and trust in God.


Who knows how many we can help if we will move forward in faith.

Round Three of the Construction Questions

These Are About the Physical Process

This is the 3rd in the series of answering the questions asked by the Scout group. The first week we discussed the willingness of these young people to ask questions, unlike most adults. Last week we answered some basic construction questions.


As was the case last week, most often answers to questions need answers to other questions. With this being a one-sided conversation, I’ll answer these questions without having any specific answers to additional questions.


Do you hire the electrical/plumbing or does the owner?


This will vary on each project and will depend on the customer’s needs and goals, but as a general contractor I usually provide subcontractors. As an example of varying between projects, the owner of the project we’re currently working on is a retired electrician, so he’s doing the wiring on this project.


What equipment do you use most often?


I think the piece of equipment that I use the most often is a hammer. Some people would probably consider equipment as something motorized or powered. According to Collins dictionary, “Equipment consists of things which are for a particular purpose,” which would include a hammer. If you insist on only power tools being equipment, the second most used piece of equipment would be a cordless screw gun…there are you happy. 😊

Do you prefer to use more manual or electrical equipment?


Here we are again, manual vs. powered. I definitely “prefer” using electrical equipment or most any power tool over manual. Power tools make most tasks they’re used for easier. However, depending on the task being performed in some cases the manual tool is better suited and more productive. For example, you shouldn’t use a pneumatic nail gun as a hammer to drive a board into place.


How do you dig a foundation?


The size of the project will usually dictate how the foundation will be dug. If the project requires moving a large amount of dirt, for example a basement, then typically a large excavator (link) will be used. If it’s something smaller, we would most often use a mini excavator. (link) If the project is small enough or inaccessible to equipment then it could be dug by hand with a shovel.


These next three questions relate to the dangers of construction.


Where are the dangerous places on a construction site?

Everywhere on a construction site is dangerous. Sure, some are more dangerous than others, but heights are among the most dangerous. Falling is the number one cause of construction site injuries. Some other dangers on a construction site are; power saws, pneumatic tools, electricity, heavy equipment and cave ins of ditches.


How often do injuries happen?


This answer depends on how we want to define “injury”. Some people would consider a splinter an injury. For this answer I’m going to define injury as something requiring medical attention, i.e. stiches, broken bones, requiring a doctor’s attention, etc. During my forty plus years in construction I have personally witnessed or actually been injured 8 – 10 times. If I take that number of times over the forty years, that’s .000137%. As dangerous as construction sites are and as much construction that’s done, surprisingly it’s not as often as one might expect. The key is working smart and safe.


Have you ever broken a hard hat?


This is one of the most interesting questions asked and easiest to answer. I can answer it with a resounding NO. This is not to say they can’t be broken, but it takes a lot to break one.


There are still several questions left to answer so next week we’ll look at types and specialty forms of construction.


If these questions raise additional questions for you, send them to us in the comments below and well answer them.

We Are Made with A Desire to Belong

Person walking alone down dark dock

We Just Need to Be Careful About Where

No one likes being alone without any sense of community. Just yesterday while paying my utility bill at the city office, the conversation turned to community. The lady ahead of me was visiting with the lady taking the payments. When the one paying saw me, she apologized for making me wait. I assured her that it was no problem. When I was making my payment, the conversation turned to the lady. She was eighty-something and lived alone. Her conversation gave her the feeling of belonging.


The need to be a part of something is important but more important is what that something is.


This need to belong lures people into gangs and organizations with disturbing motives. Christian Picciolini a former leader of the Chicago Area Skinheads was recruited into the group at fourteen as he struggled to find a community among other punk rock fans. After a shocking loss at the hands of radical violence his life was changed forever. Now he has gone from leading a hate group to leading a movement against hate. At one time he was willing to die for what was wrong…now he’s willing to die for what’s right.


When you’re feeling alone, determining what’s right and wrong can be hard.


We need to extend an invitation to lonely people looking for a place to belong, giving them a positive alternative. Just like Mr. Picciolini we need to be willing to put it all on the line. As Christians we’ve been called to use our time, money and talents to share God’s message with the world. His calling is only limited by our obedience.


A humorous example of the importance of belonging is, “A Plague for Mayberry” episode of the Andy Griffith Show. Where Members of the Women’s Historical Society discover that a descendant of a Revolutionary War hero may be living in Mayberry. Barney uses the library and deduces that he, himself, is the person they are looking for. When the women announce that town drunk Otis Campbell is the real descendant, the mayor and town council have a fit and want Andy to get Otis out of town and bring in a substitute to accept the award. Andy refuses, saying it wouldn’t be fair to Otis. The women present the plaque to a sober Otis, who says he can’t take credit for being born and is just happy to belong to such a wonderful community and then gives the plaque to the town of Mayberry.

The sense of belonging that Otis felt was real and important. We all want to belong to something, just choose the something wisely!

Finding the Balance of Confidence and Fear

Balanced scale

Don’t Let Fear Be the Boss

While at a school dance a young woman found herself in an awkward situation. Across the room she spotted a young man whom she was attracted to. While talking about him with her girlfriends, she knew exactly what she was going to say. Once she finally mustered up the courage, she went up to him to introduce herself. It was at this point that she became totally tongue tied and everything she wanted to say refused to cooperate. We’ve all found ourselves in similar situations, but it doesn’t have to be this way.


God did not give us a spirit that makes us afraid but a spirit of power and love and self-control.

2 Timothy 1:7

An example of being on the other side of the confidence scale is the business card of Chen Guangbiao, a wealthy Chinese businessman who tried to buy the New York Times in 2014. It’s uncertain where all the titles he claims came from, but there certainly doesn’t appear to be any lack of confidence.


Being overconfident isn’t a good plan either. It comes across as arrogant and overbearing and usually pushes other people away. If you are good at what you do others will see that without you tooting your own horn.


If you understand your purpose you can be confident without patting yourself on the back.


A young man was out walking around late one night, when he spotted a police car heading his way. Even though he wasn’t doing anything but walking around, he took off running. The police officers saw him run and pursued. The young man went down an alley and hid behind a dumpster burying himself under some trash. The police officers saw him and shinned the spotlight on him. Scarred for his life the young man stepped out covered in trash and said he hadn’t done anything wrong. The police officer said, “I’m not here to punish you; I’m here to protect you.


We often find ourselves covered in trash saying that we didn’t do anything wrong.


It’s difficult balancing confidence and fear. Self-awareness and understanding are where balance starts. Once we know who we are and what we do, we can move toward balance. Sometimes we need some guidance and inspiration to get us moving though.


Earlier this week I listened to a Ray Edwards podcast, in which he introduced me to the amazing Jennifer Allwood. If you want some motivation, just listen to this podcast. Jennifer’s book, Fear is Not the Boss of You, How to Get Out of Your Head and Live the Life You Were Made For, will be released in April. You can count on me getting a copy.

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Little boy sitting on the ground surrounded by the question, "Why?"

If We Could Just Get Adults to Be More Curious Like Young People

Nine months ago, I met with a fine group of Scouts on a job site to answer their questions about construction and business. If adults would ask more questions like this…there would be less confusion between customer and contractor.


Too often as adults we don’t ask questions for fear that we will appear dumb. It’s like we think we should know everything about everything. As I answered their questions, I thought…


If more people asked questions like these , more dream projects would be a dream come true.


Here’s the questions they asked:

  • How much does building a new house cost?
  • How much wood does a new house take?
  • How long does it take to build a new house?
  • How many permits do you need to build a new house?
  • Do you build specially for earthquakes?
  • What equipment do you use most often?
  • How do you dig a foundation?
  • Did you go to college? Trade school?
  • What schooling do you need?
  • What made you want to start your business?
  • What was the first thing you built?
  • What was your first job ever?
  • How much steel goes into a house?
  • Have you ever built a tiny house?
  • Where are the dangerous places in a construction site?
  • Do you do more commercial or residential work?
  • Do you prefer/use more manual or electrical equipment?
  • Do you do more renovations or new building projects?
  • Have you ever broken a hard hat?
  • How often do injuries happen?
  • Do you hire out the electrical/plumbing or does the owner?


I thought I should share the answers to their questions with you. Due to the length of the list, I will it break down in future posts by category. Maybe these will inspire more questions to be asked. At the very least you will have these answers.


Check back next week to see the answers.


Communication is the biggest problem for construction customers and contractors. That’s why I have written extensively about it in the past. Here are links to some of those posts:

If you or someone you know have a construction question, please post it in the comments below and I will answer it too.

Happiness Is…A Choice

"Choose Happiness"

Choose to Be Happy

As the new year begins, we start filling up our already busy lives with more things to do. I think reviewing the past and looking to the future is a great plan and the new year is a fitting time for this. What we need to be clear about is what we’re going to spend our time doing and what makes us happiest.


We can choose to be happy or not.


“…happiness is not an emotional phantom floating in and out of my life. Happiness is a choice. Happiness is the end result of certain thoughts and activities, which actually bring about a chemical reaction in my body. This reaction results in euphoria, which, while elusive to some, is totally under my control.” Andy Andrews, The Traveler’s Gift.

“This is the day that the LORD has made. Let us rejoice and be glad today!” Psalms 118:24. Everyday is a day that we’ve been given, we have the power to choose if we’re going to be happy or not.


Happy is a much better way to spend our time and energy.


Not only is being happy a benefit to us, it also spreads to those around us. It’s contagious. Surrounding ourselves with happy people is much more enjoyable and productive.


Make choosing to be happy one of your goals for this new year and spread it around.

Figuring Out How to Accomplish Goals

The word "Goal" with a dart hitting the center of a target on the letter "o"

The Focus Needs to Be on the Accomplishment, Not the Setting

We all have visions of what our dream life will look like and it can be frustrating and depressing when things don’t turnout like we planned.


In my last post I referred to Hallmark movies and how people tend to like them or not. The more I’ve thought about this the more it seems that those who like them are generally positive and those who don’t…not so much. (Keep in mind that I have done no scientific study about this.)


As I look back over this past year and my goals that were not accomplished, it’s disappointing. Sure, some goals were, but many weren’t. I find myself beginning to get negative. If I’m not careful I start believing that I can’t really do those things anyway, who am I kidding. It’s just some unrealistic fairytale dream, like a Hallmark movie.


Giving up is like dying while you’re still alive. Don’t give up!


So, it’s a new year full of new opportunities and possibilities. I don’t know about you, but I’m setting some new big amazing goals for 2020. What, you might ask, is going to make this year different than the rest? The others are in the past and can’t be changed. This new year is a clean page to write whatever I want on.

I have to be careful when putting my dreams on a new page. There are so many they begin to overlap and run off the edge. There are so many big wonderful things to do, it’s easy to continually dream more and bigger. What’s hard is clarity and focus. This year we’re going to clarify our mission and narrow our focus. One tool we’re using for this is Donald Miller’s, Business Made Simple.


A goal without clarity of mission is like a small boat without a rudder.


There are tons of goal setting systems and programs out there, I know because I’ve used many of them. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with any of them. Many of them I’m still using. What I am saying is that I need to clarify my mission. I’m tired of ending up wherever the current takes me. Goal setting is an important part of accomplishment, but the mission needs to come first.


I can set goals all day long, but if I’m not clear about the mission, I may be setting the wrong ones.


If I hope to accomplish that which I have been put here for I need to start with clarifying my mission first and set my goals accordingly.


If all goes well, we hope to have the new Solution Building web site operational later this week.

God Cared Enough to Send the Very Best

We Should Do Nothing Less in Return

Hallmark Christmas movies are on at our house a lot this time of year. Typically, people either love these movies or can’t stand them. I’ve discussed this multiple times with different people over the past several weeks.


I think the dislike comes from a negative place…a place of, life isn’t filled with happy endings like every Hallmark movie ever made.


Regardless of where you are on the spectrum of Hallmark movie appreciation, you should admire the company’s clearness of vision. They are a private, family owned American company founded in 1910 and still going strong today. Their slogan, “When you care enough to send the very best.” was created in 1944 and has been used consistently ever since.


God cared enough to send the very best, when He sent His Son.


If God cares enough for us to do this, we should incorporate a version of the Hallmark slogan into our own lives. To “Care enough to give the very best.” Every day we should be giving our very best to God and to others.


This doesn’t mean that every day is going to be sunshine and lollypops. It means that even when things aren’t going so well, we can still give our very best in that situation. It’s an attitude and we can control it.


Just like in the Hallmark movies bad things are exaggerated by people making presumptions or decisions without all the facts. Too many times we do the same thing in real life. Hallmark does have an advantage of experienced writers. We can write our own happy ending too.


If we accept the Very Best (Jesus) that was sent to us by God and in return live our very best (accept Him as our personal savior) as explained in the Bible, we can have a better than Hallmark happy ending of eternity in Heaven.