When I was in the Air Force as a Mental Health Technician I had the opportunity to meet a lot of suicidal patients. After crossing back into the civilian world I couldn’t help but think that things would be different. Yet everyday you hear of a tycoon who lost $1 billion of his $8 billion dollar fortune and turns to suicide. The rest of us just stop and think… hello Einstein, you have $7 billion left… but depression doesn’t care about how much money is in the bank. It’s an underlying issue.

It’s the moments when the sharp pencils on your desk look more like projectile objects. When life is just too hard and overwhelming to face. I’ve been there, I’ve done that. The only viable option outside of myself was Jesus. I’m not the type of guy to sing Cumbaya. I am on the other hand the type of guy who had lost hope in life when Jesus pulled me out of a blanket of darkness surrounding me. I don’t know, maybe you’re in your cubicle writing some Ruby on Rails code for Microsoft wondering if life is worth living. Jesus wants to show you the light too.

After all, He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.


As I pursue the development of my character I am reminded of a common practice in the Air Force called a “FOD Walk.” Airports around the world commonly use this term which is their way of saying, “Alright everyone, time to pick up trash.” FOD stands for Foreign Object Damage. In this case, everybody lines up side by side and walks up and down the flight line slowly looking for the smallest rocks or debris (as even a microscopic object has the potential to damage a multi-million dollar jet).

When you are born again by the blood of Jesus He comes and does a remodel of your home. When I gauge where I am at I see that God has cleaned up the obvious issues in my life: lust, partying, drugs, alcohol, sex, etc. but it’s the little things that I am worried about that are a lot more subtle and less obvious… the microscopic things like gossip, white lies, bitterness, or littering. I stare down the proverbial flight line of my life and although the obvious obstacles have been removed it is a continual process of combing my life to ensure that the little things don’t destroy me. In the Air Force the only things that are guaranteed are the FOD walk, death, and taxes.

See… allowing the smallest hint of impurity has the potential to destroy the temple that God is building in you. A rotten egg spoils the bunch, a flaw in a diamond decreases its value, and the stray rock destroys the aircraft. I see these issues continually coming out of nowhere and it is a process of cleaning it up one rock at a time. The process never stops. Do yourself a favor and perform a couple FOD walks in your life. You might be surprised what you find. Sure, it sucks and it takes a lot of time and energy but in the end it might just save your life.

I am not the perfect model for character in the workplace. In fact I have had my share of shortcomings. From the ages 15-18 I had close to 12 jobs. Part of it was due to the fact that once I conquered the learning curve then the job became mundane. I’ve always liked a challenge. In the process of this I somehow lost my integrity, character, and work ethics.

My first son was born back in ’03 and I joined the Air Force. They drill into you the core values of the service which are: Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do. I can buy that. Still, something was lacking. I had no motivation whatsoever. I viewed work as a means to an end and nothing more. Perhaps it’s because I knew that it wasn’t my career, maybe not?

After gaining and leaving multiple jobs in the real world I realized that being a man of character is a decision that you have to make everyday. There’s no golden Web 2.0 app that will teach you to not procrasinate or a blog on how to get motivated that can substitute for a determination that you will be a man of character, virtue, and integrity.

I’ve made my decision and to be honest it is a continual effort. They say that forming a habit takes around a month but for the habit to truly become a part of your everyday life that it is a 6 month process. I see my generation sinking to the bottom of the barrel while the baby boomers are left nodding their heads. I read stories and users’ comments that blow my mind. I look at the state of our country and realize that we need a savior and His name is Jesus.

We need Him in our schools, in our workplace, and in our coffee shops. In the Bible it says that one day every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. We live in a democracy and the thought of bowing to anybody is unorthodox and ludacris but I believe the words. There’s just something in the name of Jesus isn’t there? People scream out the name in vain. There are wars, disputes, miracles, and revolutions by that name. Some create their own version of Jesus and pawn it off on the rest of the world but I want the organic Jesus. The Jesus who loved and came to set the world free, because when you find the real Jesus… work, finances, your marriage, and everything in between seems to fall in place. There is power in His name.

I am at a new place in my life where setting up boundaries is critical. When I really dig to the core issue of what boundaries are I think of a story that I heard about regarding elementary students in a schoolyard. Some teacher probably wanted to prove some hypothesis he was working on and got the principal to sign off on it and it goes like this:

The school faculty setup a fence around the perimeter of the school yard and let the children play for a week. The next week they removed the fence to test the conduct of the children. Surprisingly the majority of the students didn’t leave the perimeter although the fence was removed.

It’s a great story and all but I want to know how does this apply to me personally? Digging to the core of the matter we see that boundaries are symbolic of protection through all walks of life. As a business man or woman you need to setup boundaries for the types of practices and ethics that you will allow to run your company. As a Christian you need to establish boundaries to protect each area of your life.

Setting up boundaries isn’t easy. I remember as a child I used to see the boundaries as a way of holding me back. The higher the fence, the better the challenge! If there was barbed wire I would find a way to bypass the danger. When I grew up and matured I realized that boundaries were established to protect me from something or to protect something from me.

Setting up boundaries in relationships gives you freedom to live life within the constrains of the predetermined boundaries. I am newbie at respecting the boundaries and am applying these principles to every facet of life: the law, work ethics, raising my kids, and building relationships. Somehow I know that respecting the boundaries will teach me to be a better man. I’m looking forward to the journey.

According to Wikipedia the Salamander’s name originates from natives that believed that the Salamander could walk through fire. Fast forward to the 21st Century, tune into the Discovery Channel and you see Bear Grylls from Man Vs. Wild roasting a Salamander over a fire to a tender crisp. See, the natives thought that the lizard was immune to the extreme heat and that they could walk through fire. Come to find out they were wrong. Dead wrong.

As individuals raised in a goal oriented society we have become a people that talk the talk but when worst comes to worst we don’t walk the walk. We bank on our 401k’s, our IRA funds, and all of the other perceived securities in this life and believe that they can take us through the fires and storms. That is until the stock market gets shaky… the housing market fails… the marriage turns sour. Immediately all the talk and all the speculation and all of the building dissolves before your eyes and you find yourself smack dab in the heat of the inferno.

The sad part is very few can withstand the heat. These people perceive that everything is peachy keen until they get thrown into the fire and shrivel up like a Salamander. These people simmer in the heat for a while until they near boiling point and buckle under the pressure. Unbeknownst to them that they were on the virge of breakthrough. The people that have left a legacy in this world are those who talked the talk, were thrown into the fire, and instead of buckling from the heat they used it as a catalyst to overcome the most overwhelming odds. Racism… false doctrine… slavery… the list goes on.

God can use people that are willing to endure the fires of life. You might get scorched at times. You might even catch on fire. But the ashes are a representation of a sacrifice that changed the world. I don’t want to be known as a Salamander do you?

There’s this feeling deep inside my spirit that I know can never be quenched fully. It’s very difficult to express but I would say it’s somewhere between a feeling of emptiness and a longing of apocalyptic proportions. It is my desire to win souls for Christ. I’ve always smirked at that coined phrase, “Winning souls.” As if they’re some sort of prize. Then I realize that there is a very real war going on between good and evil. When you pluck an individual from the clutches of hell there’s a reason to celebrate… because that is one less person living in eternal torment. One more disciple can mean a hundred, even a thousand for the kingdom. I’ve always been good at multiplication and the ripple effect holds true when you’re the real deal… a no holds bar type disciple. What does it take to satisfy this urge within me? My heart wrenches over the unexplainable tragedies in this world; poverty, disease, famine, war, etc.

I see a savior above a barren land with His hands coupled over every circumstance, every heartache, everything evil in this world, as if to say, “I have everything under control.” I believe in a just God who cares about every intricate detail right down to the hairs on our head. I believe in this so passionately that I am willing to bank my life on it. A God who lives. A God who died for me. A God who heals, covers, protects, and fights for my sake. A God who loves those who hate Him. A God who forgives those that sin against Him. A God beyond measure. Beyond human comprehension.

While the desire flickers in the storm, deep down inside of me lies embers that can never be extinguished. The flame becomes an inferno. The inferno sets the world on fire. Let it burn.

As I stare at an image of a child at the brink of death something inside me… an inexpressible stirring of pain and anguish was ignited. Perhaps it is because this child is the age of my youngest son. Maybe It’s because I somehow feel called to leave a legacy during my short lifespan to prevent similar atrocities from occurring. Even changing the life of one child would make all the difference to me.

I ask God, “Why Lord?” as tears drip onto my watch. The irony is that the $100 I spent on my watch could have easily fed an entire family for more than a year. What am I doing about this?

A $2 million dollar house on the lake, a $100,000 BMW, $200 designer jeans, and a $5,000 Breitling watch… and for what? I can’t do it. I refuse to… not like this.

I keep this picture as a reminder to myself. A reminder of the blessed life that my family and I have. A reminder that Capitalism can be used for philanthropy. A reminder that I am only a mere dot in the big scheme of things… but that If I fulfill my calling then my life has the potential to cause a ripple effect dramatically altering the lives of millions of people.

This is what I live for.

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