Things That Are Not As They Appear

visual-paradox-free-d-wallpaper-soccer-ball-multiple_soccerball640

Some would say that traditional biblical marriage has been defeated in Indiana by the ruling of a court. I do not share that opinion. Now before you think I agree with the ruling, and I’ve abandoned what God thinks about this subject, let me remind you of the title of this post! It really doesn’t matter what I think, or what a court does at the end of the day. Neither one of us can add an inch to my height, or prolong my days beyond the number ordained by God. By the same token, neither can my life be shortened unless God also allows.

This has me wondering. Why is it that so many people who call themselves Christians are so afraid to lovingly speak the truth? Why is it that we seem to fear what men will think of us instead of warning people about the dangers of defying God? Why do we live our lives as if the way things appear are the way they actually are? Are we really that uncertain of what the future holds? Do we really not trust God as much as we say we do?

You see this concept rearing its ugly head in the business world as well with the Supreme Court’s recent ruling against Aereo, the startup company that had a novel idea. Locate small antennas close to the broadcast towers, and allow customers to tune in remotely via the Internet to these antenna. The Networks felt that this was a violation of their copyright, and sued to stop this. They won. Or did they? I’m one of many customers who will not see their programs, and therefore will not see their advertiser’s commercials. It only appears that the American Broadcast Company (ABC) et al, won. The reality is that everyone lost. Innovation lost, the broadcasters lost, and the consumer lost. What’s more, legal clarity lost, as the dissenting Justices explained.

That greatly disrupts settled jurisprudence which, before today, applied the straightforward,bright-line test of volitional conduct directed at the copyrighted work. –

573 U. S. ____ (2014)

It is time for thoughtful people to see past what things appear to be, to what they really are. If we don’t, we may find our ability to speak, or take a stand will no longer be ours to enjoy. Are you ready to make a difference?

 

Always Learning Lessons

homeguides-articles-thumbs-5_tips_for_lawn_mowing_that_you_may_not_have_known.jpg.600x275_q85_crop

At the beginning of lawn mowing season, I was not looking forward to doing that job myself. Oh, I needed the exercise, and that part is good for me. What I wasn’t looking forward to was the time it would take coupled with what it would do with my allergies. I’ve been fine on the allergy front so far, and I’ve gotten to the point where I actually look forward to the hour that it takes me to mow our lawn. I’ve used it to listen to podcasts which I’ve recently discovered.

Yesterday while mowing the lawn, I listened to one of Michael Hyatt’s early podcasts. The gist of what he was talking about is a concept I was very much familiar with. That concept is under promise and over deliver. What jumped out at me as I was walking in monotonous rows back and forth in my yard was his take on letting people know about your goals. I immediately thought of telling all of you what my intentions were for May, and what I intended to do in June. He used Apple as an example. Sure there are leaks about upcoming products, but for the most part, you don’t find out what the product, or software is until they announce it to the public, and then it is usually available that day. Michael said that it is fine to share goals with key people to keep you accountable, but sharing the goal with the world can have two unwanted outcomes. The first being that you fall short of the goal, and the second is that you are not as driven to complete the goal, or it becomes too monumental.

Both of these outcomes are not desirable because the result is the same. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick”, and if your heart is sick, you might say your heart isn’t in it.

That’s exactly what happened to me. In May, we had a major glitch in our server infrastructure that hosts this site. That wouldn’t be a distraction if we were not responsible for hosting the site, as well as the sites of several clients. Instead our focus shifted from creativity to problem solving. We don’t like to just fix a problem without making it less likely that the problem will reoccur, so that meant our focus was now on understanding the cause of the problem and eliminating that.

As if that wasn’t enough, the company where we host our server had infrastructure problems of their own in June. A major switch upgrade didn’t go as planned. So we continue to step up our efforts at finding a long term solution. We have that, and now we are working on a transition of our own.

However, in light of this post, we’re not going to get into more details until after this is all done. We’re going to take a page out of Apple’s book, and make the announcements once everything is in place.

Look for more information coming soon!

Typical Small Business Finance

Most people could be forgiven for thinking that small businesses can just go to a bank with an idea, and the bank will loan them money. There’s more to the story. Most, if not all banks today look at the creditworthiness of the small business owner, and in essence the small business owner is on the hook for the loan personally. At first blush this seems like a good idea, you want the people who are running the business to be responsible. If this was the only problem with small business lending, it would be bad enough.small-business-financeThere is a much bigger problem. Once a small business owner derives all of their income from the small business, their personal guarantee is only as good as the small business, but banks typically don’t look at the health or viability of the business in assessing the risk of loaning a business money. In addition, banks typically are looking for two years of business operations, so that precludes startups from obtaining a loan.

So, where do small businesses startups go for initial funding? First, founder’s funds. Followed frequently by friends and family. It is a shallow pool of resources, and it helps to explain why so many small businesses fail. Oh, sure, there are many other reasons businesses fail, but if all the other factors are sound, the lack of access to the tools of capital formation will keep a viable business from growing, and without growth, businesses eventually die–just like a plant that stops growing will eventually die.

In upcoming posts we will examine in more detail the options that are currently available. Given that the byline for my blog is Changing the World of Small Business Finance, you would be correct in concluding I’m going somewhere with all of this. I’m hoping you’ll join me in this journey, and that together, we’ll make a huge difference for a growing number of small businesses that join our family.

Spring Cleaning

This NASA picture is clearly extremely clean. You wouldn’t want to spend so much money and time, only to have a small contaminate cause the mission to fail. Perhaps this example is overkill, and your spring cleaning is not nearly this intense. My spring cleaning is this intense. I’m turning a corner, I’m changing direction. And May 1st marks the first day of that new direction.Phoenix Mars Lander inverted in backshell in cleanroom (PIA07246)

I’m going to use the month of May to ramp up to blog posts occurring three days a week. There is one topic. Changing the World of Small Business Finance. You have to be living under a rock if you haven’t heard that Small Business is what drives our economy. And a major reason that our economy continues to struggle, is that nobody seems to be addressing the issue of how Small Businesses are financed.

For the most part Small Business finance consists of owner investment and debt. Individual investment in Small Business is so regulated and restricted, that it is primarily the most successful (or the most connected) that stand a chance of gaining access to the capital markets.

What is coming is a discussion of how to effectively use mechanisms that are already in place in new ways to achieve the same results for smaller businesses that large business has enjoyed for some time.

I used to think that the numbers behind our operations would expose our strengths and weaknesses to our business partners and our competitors. Thinking that way plays into the complexity that large companies deal with in the equity markets. There are so many moving parts, that it is practically impossible for even the most seasoned reader and financial analyst to truly understand what is going on in a well run company, let alone a company that is trying to hide things from investors.

If you can’t buy a piece of equity in my business, what can you buy? And, what do you get in the event that you do decide to buy? Those are good questions, and I’ll answer them next time. Between now, and the next time I write, expect to see a way for you to donate to the cause.

Why should you consider a donation? That’s an easy one. My wife and I have invested everything we have into small businesses. If this idea sees the light of day, it will be nothing short of a God thing. The last time I checked, He’s the only one who has any business making guarantees. The bottom line here is that I am working at building an online platform to support local small businesses, including one of our own.

I’m looking forward to this journey. I have no idea where it is going to end up. All I know for certain is that we’re bound to get lots of things wrong. If you are looking for perfection out of the gate, then this journey is not for you. But if you are ready to see what kind of difference we can make by working together, and you want to read the inside story, then when I’m ready, I’ll be looking for you to join me. Are you ready?

More About The Coming Changes

We wouldn't have butterflies without change.

We wouldn’t have butterflies without change.

If you saw how many pithy comments about change I typed and then deleted, you might be impressed. Then again, we’ve all heard so many of them over the years, that I wonder if the original truth behind them has gotten lost. I realized as I typed each one that I had already strayed from the purpose of writing this blog post. You might even say what I have typed thus far has also missed the mark. But all of this makes an important point. We tend to resist the changes we know we need to make. Here’s my list. How many of them do you share? And what would you add? I look forward to your comments.

  • Maintain a consistent devotional time
  • Eliminate distractions
  • Loose weight
  • Get more exercise
  • Watch less TV
  • Spend more time with my family
  • Stop trying to solve every problem singlehandedly
  • Be intentional about:
    • E-mail
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Web based “research”
  • Dedicated time to:
    • Write blog posts
    • Create Podcasts to go along with blog posts for people who have more time to listen, than read a website
  • What are yours?

 

Change is Coming…

We’ve all heard the phrase, “April Showers bring May Flowers” and the application for my blog is that changes are coming! For many years, my blog was the place I went and got things off my chest. I published roughly two out of every three posts I wrote. I didn’t try to make money with my blog, and that would have been hard, given how sporadically I posted content.

That’s what’s changing. I have a plan, and I have help. Eventually, I may even have blog readers that are paying me to write my blog. Imagine that! As I sit here behind my monitor, with my fingers poised over my keyboard, and thoughts streaming though my head, and making the trip through nerves to the muscles in my fingers to type (a process which is amazing in its own right) I find it hard to believe that one day that could be a reality. Yet at the same time, if you told me when I was in elementary school, what my life would be like today, I would have thought you were crazy. A blog wasn’t even on the radar back then. In fact, radar was still a new technology then, now your new car is likely to have it.

I’m looking forward to the changes, and I’ll be writing some more about the coming changes soon.

Why I Hate Christmas, Yet Can’t Live Without It.

ChristmasScene

ChristmasSceneNow that I have your attention, you are probably asking one of several questions. Not the least of which is the contradictory nature of the title itself. How can I both hate Christmas, and not live without it? Maybe you’re asking how someone who has made no attempt to hide the fact that they imperfectly follow Christ hate the day that celebrates His birth? Or maybe you’ve come to the same point and you just haven’t articulated it. No matter how you come to read this, it is my hope that we can get to the point where we cut through the tradition, and the presents, to the giver of the ultimate present of all time.

You see this is the reason I hate Christmas. Not because of what it celebrates, but because of what it has become. Instead of celebrating the birth of a God named baby, it has become a God be damned battle for things. Can anyone remember what they got last year for Christmas? Let alone from whom? And if you can remember, how thankful are you now? Does it still work? Or, have last year’s gifts joined the pile of other toys and must have gadgets gathering dust? Sure that’s not always the case, but I’d venture a guess that what I’ve described isn’t just my experience.

We haven’t even fully addressed the frenzy that is Christmas shopping yet. The day after we proclaim how thankful we are, we are out fighting with one another over the best deals. But wait, not this year, we couldn’t even wait for Thanksgiving Day to be over this year. There just aren’t as many shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so we need just one more. What about slowing down just a little so that we can remember the real reason for celebration. God with us. Immanuel. Isn’t that enough?

Seriously, what have we done with the day of Thanksgiving? And what have we done with Christmas? We worship at the altar of materialism, not in humble awe of what God did some 2000 years ago. We take our children to have their picture taken with “Santa”, we don’t even explain who Santa Claus even was, and why the real Santa Claus or St. Nicholas even did what he did. Instead we perpetuate the myth of a man who can fly through the air behind rain deer that can fly as well. We say he knows if we’ve been naughty or good, “so be good for goodness sake.” Is it any wonder that many kids have a hard time with the real person behind Christmas? Namely, Christ?! They get to college and all the professor has to say is that Jesus is just like Santa Claus, and what happens?  The myth we tell them innocently enough evaporated, and now the truth just as easily vanishes. Will they question everything else we tell them too? Will they believe Jesus? Or, will they wonder if Daddy & Mommy are lying about Him too?

As I write this, I know I’m going to be labeled by some, and maybe even my own family as “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.” But, the real “Grinch” isn’t me. It is all of us. Because the real Christmas isn’t about “presents under the tree”, or “kissing under the mistletoe”, or “city sidewalks, busy sidewalks dressed in holiday cheer.” No, the real story of Christmas is a love story. The story of God’s plan to redeem man. The story of God become man, and born to die.

I’m tired of pretending that perpetuating this myth this is a good idea. That it is harmless fun. Let’s tell the real story of St. Nicholas. It’s a good one. Why not start a different tradition based on reality? So, sure, give gifts, and graciously receive them as a reminder of the greatest gift of all. How can we ever hope to transform culture if we go right along with them buying in to the same myth?

In the interest of full disclosure, my wife and I manage a retail store, so we obviously like it when people buy gifts. However, if we only make it if you buy something you can’t afford, because you think you need it, or you can’t do without it, then we really haven’t succeeded. That’s not the kind of memory we want to help you preserve.

Now you know I hate Christmas because of what it has become. I love the part of Christmas that has God leaving glory to be born, and ultimately dying, “that man no more may die.” That is by far the best gift ever. And if that’s the only gift I need, then I don’t have to go fighting through the crowds for the current fad.

MovadoWatch_459x715The beauty is this isn’t a gift to be hoarded, it is a gift to be shared. There’s no line to wait in, and it is never out of stock. You just have to be living, and accept the gift.

Nothing would make this a better Christmas than discovering that somebody reading this accepted God’s gift, and is now following Christ. Not even the $1800.00 Movado watch I saw a commercial for, and not even an iPad Air. In fact, as much as I’d like an iPad Air, and I’d really enjoy it… if it meant you wouldn’t even consider the best gift of all, I’d rather do without it. Everything I own will crumble, but I’ll get to spend an eternity worshiping God with you. Why wouldn’t anyone who believes this give up everything now for this prospect?