Not On My Watch

I’ve always been different. My entire life, it seems like I have been placed into situations and environments where I didn’t fit in. I’ve always wondered why. Why do I always feel like the anomaly? It would be so much easier to simply fit in with the crowd, to row with the current, not against it.

And in every one of those situations, I’ve always wanted to be lifted and elevated. I wanted others to see me. I wanted them to notice I was there. But time and time again, it just never happened. Someone else got the glory. It’s as though I was being told no.

So as I look back over my life, and specifically the past 24 years, I realize that I was not being told no, but rather not now. I was also being told, “It’s not about you, Marc.” I see it all so clearly now.

Everything has led up to this moment. This spiritual battle. And I’m ready for it. Thank you, God, for preparing me for it. Your right, it’s not about my glory. It’s about Your Glory. Your Will. I see that now.

Every situation and environment you’ve placed me in, you’ve done it so that I may be persistently vigilant. So that I may keep careful watch for possible danger or difficulty. So that I may demonstrate bold leadership. As I was selfish in those past moments, I failed the tests. But your loving correction, Father, is not in vain, for I have learned from those experiences. I am so grateful for the good you’ve brought out of all those mistakes I’ve made and the painful experiences I’ve had. I am the wiser for it.

Now, I can serve as the bridge that forges alignment and friendship despite enormous differences in class, temperament, culture, race, sensibility, and personal history. Friendship that is about something. An underlying commonality that builds the most powerful, cohesive team. Thank you for giving me that gift and purpose.

As I sit on the cusp of a new test, I am adequately prepared for Thy Will to be done. I realize that what is at work won’t happen again and this opportunity to make things better won’t happen again.

The entropy of organizations means that difficult conversations and a positive ratchet of culture change are unlikely to occur on their own. This is a moment that I am prepared to say “not on my watch” and provide the bold, loving leadership you’ve groomed me for.

May You get all the Glory.

Neighborly Love Podcast, Episode 8 – John Goda

Ordinary People. Extraordinary Conversations.

If “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” and “The Parable of the Good Samaritan” collided at an intersection, then the Neighborly Love podcast would be the result. It features casual conversations over coffee in a “virtual coffee shop” that lean into the power of empathy. It’s about feeling heard, valued and understood. It’s about serving others. It’s about depositing money in our relational banks.

Neighborly Love is an original podcast by MindWolves. Host Marc Casciani, author of Craft Your Calling and Neighborly Love, interviews ordinary people about their heart for God and serving other people for the greater good.

Episode 8 – John Goda

Marc interviews John Goda, President and Steward, of RTI Insurance Services in Sarasota, FL. John answers three thought-provoking questions: (1) Tell me about a time when you did something nice for someone?, (2) What would you do for a living if money weren’t an issue?, and (3) Do you have a dream that involves serving others? John shares how he believes in the I’m Third philosophy, feels he’s in God’s Sweet Spot of his career and craves a bigger platform and scale for his ministry.

Neighborly Love, Episode 8 – John Goda (4-15-21)

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Conduits, Not Cul-De-Sacs

Are you a conduit or cul-de-sac for truth? Are you a pipeline that allows truth to pass through, or does truth reach a dead end with you? Here are four traits upon which to reflect:

Pride vs. Humility

Do you look out on the family you have, the career you have, the reputation and influence you have, and quietly say to yourself, “Look what I have built.” Pride inflames arrogance and coddles insecurity. Humility sees any progress, success, or status for what it is: a gift from God. Truth flows through humility and is crushed by pride.

Boasting on Yourself vs. Boasting on God

Self-reliance receives any blessing as proof of your strength and ability. The impulse is rooted in pride but manifests itself in boasting about yourself. You don’t merely take credit, but brag about how great you are. Truth is found in developing an allergy to boasting about yourself. Whenever the blessing comes, you instead say, “By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked hard for what I have, but it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”

Serving Self vs. Serving Others

Self-indulgence receives the blessing as a warrant for selfishness. You see the whole world as a means of fulfilling your cravings. Self-sacrifice, however, receives the blessing as an opportunity to demonstrate love. Truth is found in seeing blessing as an opportunity to spread neighborly love by serving others in God’s name.

Your Glory vs. God’s Glory

How often have you gloated to yourself over achievement or a possession? Over a good deed or wise word? How often have you stopped to bask for a moment in the false sense of your majesty? Truth is revealed by enjoying the reward of knowing that all we have, and all we do, is from God, through God, and for God’s glory.

Upon reflection, are your more like a conduit or a cul-de-sac? I believe we can train our minds to become conduits for truth. By renewing your mind, you will see the world differently. You will feel like you’ve had an awakening and will be more aware of the Holy Spirit working in and through you. That’s what renewing your mind feels like.

And as you “move 1%” forward in your training each day, you’ll continuously grow in Spirit and truth. You’ll humbly serve others while giving God the credit and glory. You’ll grow in influence in your community and be equipped to expose lies and distortions of the truth. You’ll engage prideful, self-reliant, self-indulgent naysayers with love and forgiveness so that truth, justice, and righteousness will prevail.

God’s PPP Loan

Our best-laid plans won’t survive the first contact with reality. When life punches us in the gut, our actions will default to the level of our training. We need an action system to prevent us from freezing and to keep us moving when adversity strikes. How do you train to take life’s punches? Do you have a system to operate within? What worldview is your action system based upon?

Today, we get so many ideas thrown at us about what goals we should have and how to plan to live our lives. Some of these ideas seem pretty good, but they are not our own. They might feel right, but deep inside, we know there is something else we should be doing in life. That’s because we all have a God-given calling, and until we find it, we won’t be able to experience the fullness of life.

Unlike the Bible’s story, the narratives of other worldviews fail to connect with reality, which is why goals and plans based on them ultimately fall short. What I love about the Bible is that its story connects with our personal story at our point of deepest need. Its storyline connects us to our roots, whether we know it or not. It affirms a longing we all have, a longing to know our Creator. When we set our affections on something that cannot satisfy, demanding of them something that only God can provide, we lose the glory of being fully human, which exposes the idolatry of our hearts.

To put it another way, idols are anything in our life – including goals and plans – we love, want, treasure, or pursue more than oneness with the Holy Spirit. When we allow anything to take precedence over that relationship, even something we might consider good, the results can be harmful or even disastrous. The reality is that human beings can make idols of just about anything, and these idols are often associated with a sense of identity or worth.

This is why we need an action system rooted in the Biblical narrative. Such a system operates within the power of the Holy Spirit and requires Prayer, Practice, and Patience. Let’s call this God’s PPP Loan because it’s power on loan from God. How do we get the loan? It’s only possible with forgiveness.

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, “how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:21-22)

We have to forgive as God has forgiven us. It not easy, but necessary. If we want an action system that equips us for reality and connects us to our deepest need, we need to master the forgiveness of other people. It is the only system with the proper foundation to affirm the longing to know our Creator. It prevents us from freezing, keeps us moving when adversity strikes and equips us to experience the fullness of life as we were intended to have. If you’d like a coach and helper to train within such a system then click here: #TheSystem

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34).

Happy Easter.

Looking for Joy in All the Wrong Places

The happiest people in the world are not those who spend and buy for themselves, but those who spend and give for the good of others. Pursuing happiness in this way, however, is countercultural in a world of buyers, spenders, and savers.

Genuine happiness, a.k.a. pure joy, is when happy people give and serve others in God’s name. They are not looking for the credit, but rather humbly acknowledge God’s glory in being able to give, for what they have is a gift from God and they are merely stewards of what they’ve been given. For those that fall into the trap of taking their gifts for granted and start taking credit for them, happiness is fleeting.

So where does one look for pure joy? It begins with providing for the poor. Even the most affluent nations will always have the poor in them. And there are different kinds of poor and different types of needs, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Who are the poor where you are and how might your gifts meet them where their needs are?

The calling here is not just a lifestyle of generosity, but ambitious generosity. This could mean lending your time and hands instead of money. Here are some examples:

  • Open your home in hospitality
  • Cover bills in a crisis
  • Provide meals after a surgery
  • Surprise someone with a thoughtful gift
  • Spend time with someone lonely
  • Offer to carry boxes during a move
  • Babysit for young parents who need quality time together
  • Help with a house project
  • Bake for a neighbor

If you look for joy in these places, then you won’t grow to regret it. However, here’s a warning: it’s very difficult to do because of the daily onslaught of “it’s all about you” messaging from mainstream culture. The truth is it’s not about you.

Therefore, know that you’re doing hard work and God’s work. Do not grow weary in being ambitiously generous in God’s name for in due season you will reap, if you do not give up. That’s a life worth living.

Thorn in the Flesh

A thorn in the flesh is precisely what we all need to heal our relationships. We are broken, competitive, and needy people. A thorn in the flesh provides humility. As long as the thorn is in our side, then we feel discomfort. The discomfort creates awareness that we are not 100% and need help from something bigger than ourselves. That something is the Holy Spirit.

If we allow ourselves to receive the Spirit, then we can muster up enough energy and thrive. We achieve success, progressively realizing a worthy ideal, humbly. The thorn is just enough to temper our ego and let not our will, but His be done. The thorn helps us to align our desires and requests with His will. The thorn empowers us to overcome any apprehension that would stop us from doing what the Holy Spirit calls us to do.

The Holy Spirit wants us to be part of the world that He made and loves immensely. The thorn in our flesh is of our own doing because our purpose and identity were once extrinsically linked to how the world operates. Now, that very thorn helps us to detach from worldly thinking so that we can confront the world with the fruit of love in our lives, for the fruit of the Spirit is love.

This type of love enables us to love our neighbor as ourselves. It’s the only type of love that can heal, restore, and build healthy relationships. It’s the only type of love that can bring unity to our society. There’s a beautiful irony that the very thorn the world stuck in our flesh is the same thorn that can be used for the good of the world. That thorn gives us the right dose of humility for the Spirit’s love to flourish in our hearts.

Neighborly Love now available at Amazon

This love is neighborly love. It reveals the secret thread that forges friendship despite enormous differences in class, temperament, culture, race, sensibility, and personal history. Friendship that is about something. An underlying commonality that builds the most powerful, cohesive team. Our commitment to express neighborly love is only possible after we are humbled by a thorn in the flesh.

Neighborly Love, Launched!

This book reveals the secret thread that forges friendship despite enormous differences in class, temperament, culture, race, sensibility, and personal history. Friendship that is about something. An underlying commonality that builds the most powerful, cohesive team. Our commitment to express neighborly love is only possible AFTER we love God first with all our heart and mind. It’s conditional and in that order. Love God first. Love your neighbor as yourself second. The latter will happen when the former is done. It’s that simple.

Neighborly Love now available at Amazon

Neighborly Love Podcast, Episode 7 – Matt Turk

Ordinary People. Extraordinary Conversations.

If “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” and “The Parable of the Good Samaritan” collided at an intersection, then the Neighborly Love podcast would be the result. It features casual conversations over coffee in a “virtual coffee shop” that lean into the power of empathy. It’s about feeling heard, valued and understood. It’s about serving others. It’s about depositing money in our relational banks.

Neighborly Love is an original podcast by MindWolves. Host Marc Casciani, author of Craft Your Calling and Neighborly Love, interviews ordinary people about their heart for God and serving other people for the greater good.

Episode 7 – Matt Turk

Marc interviews Matt Turk, Sr. Vice President and Regional Executive at First National Insurance. Matt answers three thought provoking questions: (1) Tell me about a time when you did something nice for someone?, (2) What would you do for a living if money weren’t and issue?, and (3) Do you have a dream that involves serving others? Matt describes how he taught his daughters what “pay it forward” means and reveals his heart for the youth in small town America. Matt’s a Christian crusader serving God, family, and community.

Neighborly Love, Episode 7 – Matt Turk (3-19-21)

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Net Worth

Any student of finance can describe the concept of net worth. Net worth is a measure of wealth. Net worth is the sum of all assets owned by a person, minus any obligations or liabilities. It’s an attempt to assign value to your life, and we often fall into the trap of believing that our worth is tied to our net worth.

That’s a lie. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Your worth is intrinsically linked to your spiritual identity. That is the single-thread that weaves your life together and has extrinsic value to the greater good of the world.

You are uniquely designed vessel for the Holy Spirit in this world, and you are given spiritual gifts to use with others to “fight the good fight” against evil forces at work. By fighting for what the Spirit wants you to fight for, you will be successful professionally and personally. When the Spirit gets the glory, He enables His work to be done through you.

Your worth is a function of your stewardship of those spiritual gifts. God’s desire for you and me is to know and use His loving Holy Spirit who dwells within us. Success is the progressive realization of that worthy ideal. Your worth grows as you progressively mature by using your talents as God has apportioned them to you. Everyone is designed differently, so don’t be consumed with envy and jealousy for what someone else has, but you don’t. Simply be grateful for what you’ve been given, no matter what you’ve been given. The human race is designed to be a cohesive team, with the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. Dysfunction and discord ensues when we are selfish.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Laws of Nature that should be followed for the common good; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same Nature’s God who empowers them in everyone. We are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable gifts to pursue life, liberty and happiness.

That pursuit is a process whereby we must coexist with other humans who are also empowered by the same Spirit, who apportions gifts to each of us as He wills. To maximize our individual worth, the challenge is to progressively transform and align our will with His will, while resisting temptations to derail our progress along the way. There is an ultimate societal benefit to maximizing our individual worth in this manner. That is, we become the cohesive team we were meant to be.

A World Without Forgiveness

Did you ever pause to think about a world without forgiveness? To forgive is stop feeling angry or resentful toward someone for an offense, flaw or mistake. Such bitterness fuels improper motives, hurtful results and inequity in society. To live unforgivingly is to live unlovingly, for love and anger cannot coexist in a human heart. The only way to purge the anger is to forgive. Therefore, the only way to genuinely love people is to forgive, because no human is without the capacity to mentally, emotionally or physically hurt another human being. We all have both good and evil tendencies within us.

Any religion that does not promote love, forgiveness and redemption from sin is bad for the world, yet many exist. In this context, I’m using the word religion to mean a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance. It includes religions that believe in and worship a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods. But it also includes secular religions that claim the moral superiority of one group of people over another. Each religion attempts to answer three fundamental questions for the individual?

  1. Who am I?
  2. Why am I here?
  3. Why is there evil in the world?

Every human has an innate desire for identity and purpose, however it’s the last question that speaks to the capacity to forgive. Even if we can understand why bad things happen, it still hurts. Bad things cause pain. Evil causes and thrives on discord.

Any religion that does not offer atonement for sin in perpetuity does not serve diversity, equity or inclusion. It doesn’t offer hope or redemption from sin. It seeks to divide and pit one group against the other. It believes not all people are created equal and some groups deserve to be discriminated against because of their color and gender.

The only world worth living in is the one that teaches and promotes forgiveness of sin for all people. Forgiveness is the key to unlock the door to the natural rights available to any soul, heart and mind. It is empowers the pursuit of a meaningful purpose and true happiness. It enables a life worthy of the calling we’ve received. The call is to love God and the people around us while we live the most authentic version of ourselves, while forgiving those same people as we do.

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