The First Guy Naked Wins

There’s an image I’ve played in my head for years.

It’s the most momentous event of my life, a vivid scene of reckoning that’s yet to come. But as sure as death and my entrance into the great hereafter, it will indeed come.

It’s that moment in time when, as the song “I Can Only Imagine” states, I meet Jesus face to face.

I have no clue what events will transpire besides the great judgement of my life — for the things I did, didn’t do, think or say.

Once that moment has passed (thank God), at some point in the hereafter my mind imagine’s I’ll have a chance to speak face to face with Jesus, and get the chance to ask a few questions.

The most important one I’ll ask is this…

During all the dark, painful, unfruitful times in my life, why didn’t you deliver me from my enemies…from the demons of my childhood, from crushing failure, from those who rejected me, from deception and stifling bouts of depression and anxiety?

Why?

My dear friend Mark helped prepare me for the answer, the explanation of the ”why?” of unanswered prayer.

In a brief conversation Mark paraphrased a passage of scripture that brought a whole new light to the “why?” and “what-for?” of unanswered prayer.

He paraphrased the story documented and scientifically validated in history, of a man whose son was possessed by an evil spirit.

The story goes that as the crowds were following Jesus from town to town, seeking for him to perform more miracles on the sick and diseased, a man in the crowd yelled “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by an evil spirit that throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes stiff. I asked your disciples to drive it out but they were unable.”

Jesus sternly replies “O you unbelieving generation! How long must I remain with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring me the boy.”

So they brought him, and seeing Jesus, the evil spirit immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.

Jesus then asked the boy’s father “How long has this been with him?”

“From childhood, he said. “It often throws him into the fire or into the water, trying to kill him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”

“If you can?” echoed Jesus. “All things are possible to him who believes!”

Immediately the boy’s father cried out, “I do believe; help my unbelief!”

When Jesus saw that a crowd had come running, he rebuked the unclean spirit, “You deaf and dumb evil spirit,” he commanded, “I command you to come out and never enter him again.”

After shrieking and convulsing him violently, the spirit came out. The boy became like a corpse, so that many said, “He’s dead. But Jesus took him by the hand and helped him to his feet, and he stood up.

After Jesus had gone into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

Jesus answered, “This kind cannot come out, but by prayer and fasting.”

There’s so much meaning to this story I don’t know where to begin unraveling it.

But I’ll just say the thing that strikes me most is the notion that the disciples – whom Jesus was training to build his church upon his ascension after his resurrection – had no effect in attempting to cure this boy or cast out the vicious demon that crippled him so severely.

I’m convinced the disciples, after spending many months watching Jesus cast out evil spirits and healing the sick, saw a methodology that worked. So they tried to copy it, not knowing that the true power in the miracle of healing comes solely from the heart and mind, not a formulaic method or display of hubris or empty rhetoric.

I’m also convinced the other secret ingredient to miraculous healing and deliverance from our enemies, as with Jesus, lies in complete transparency of the person seeking the miracle.

The truly miraculous always finds its place in the hearts and minds men and women who — with transparency before God and others — pray early, often, and always. But that’s the problem, and the problem with the disciples’ feeble efforts — “the effectual prayer of a righteous man”, though it avails much, is nearly impossible to pull off. Because, unlike Jesus, we’re human and our distractions quickly take our focus off God and onto temporal things. The command to “pray often and always” is not for the faint of heart and mind, which is often why our prayers don’t get answered.

They say there’s healing in bearing one’s soul to another, to bear one another’s burdens – in all their ugly, ghoulish darkness – to a trusted friend.

This man trusted Jesus as a friend and healer, which boiled down to faith in the impossible.

In 2020 I’m hoping and praying for my own miracles – from deliverance from the enemies and obstacles of my soul that would like to bring my dreams to their knees.

But with simple, humble transparency and the plea of “Lord I believe, help my unbelief” I’m striving for greater transparency, to be a burden bearer for my friends, and to live in the naked truth in a miraculous life of faith.

(taken from Phil’s blog — www.ripple-effect-blog.com)

 

When Your Inner Voice Says “Let’s Roll”

Miracle surgeries performed aboard the Mercy Ship transform thousands of West Africans

Everyone has “ahh-haa” moments in their career

Those times of profound revelation. Times where you approach that rare intersection of fate and providence, face into the winds of promise, then whisper “I’m taking the narrow road. Heck yeah it’s dangerous but I’ll always have regrets if I don’t try.” That’s happened to me on more than one occasion.

In my early adult years it happened when I pulled myself away from friends and family immediately after college. I said a tearful goodbye to the comfortable yet stagnant pace of Upstate New York’s rust belt and headed West to stake my claim of fame and fortune in the buckle of innovation and creativity–Southern California. After setting down roots in Redondo Beach I never looked back.

A few years later I left a lucrative commercial sales career to serve under the mentorship of Freeman Gosden, Jr and Bob Hemmings, two of modern direct market’s most accomplished pioneers. My curious intuition told me direct mail would soon become the forerunner of digital interactive marketing. My hunch paid off.

My biggest headfirst dive into the dark unknown, however, was enlisting in the service of Mercy Ships, the faith-based fleet of hospital ships that is redefining volunteerism and the modern short-term missions movement on a global scale.

Working with children in a remote village outside Dakkar, Senegal.

At the time it seemed like a mistake. During most of my eight years with Mercy Ships my family and professional friends kept bashing me with words like…“That’s just a dumb idea. Why would you ditch a promising career path to work for free for a religious order?”

What they didn’t know (nor did I at the time) was that there’s no such thing as a “promising” career path. I learned–and keep learning–that weird stuff happens to you. And by you. Neither did they understand I never worked a day of those eight years for free. What I got in return for my service was international travel and a million dollar education in global fundraising and public relations of the highest order–worth more than an MBA at Cornell and an unlimited travel pass at ClubMed. And a cool extended family on every continent.

Yes I was a volunteer. Yes our income was often cobbled together–month to month…hand to mouth–by sacrificial donations from friends, family, churches and businesses. But I discovered almost daily that you can never out-give the God who put you on this earth. That’s certainly been my story.

Fundraising in port cities around the nation with Mercy Ships founder and CEO Don Stephens

After helping to build a global fundraising, public relations and recruiting infrastructure (much of it still remains) I made yet another big move. This time heeding the call of the wild to one of the most ruggedly beautiful, pristine corners of the globe–the North Kitsap Peninsula, west of Seattle’s Puget Sound.

Ironically, I’ve discovered my eight years with Mercy Ships were not the end of my missionary exploits. Rather, that season of life was preparation for an equally important and altruistic mission: helping businesses protect their most important assets with robust commercial security services (my day job with ADT Commercial Division); and, helping sports and entertainment professionals prosper through innovative, cost-effective marketing strategies that bond their brands to customers and fans for life.

We all have stories of standing at a crossroads. More will confront us in the future. Will we ignore that still, small inner voice that says “This is the way, it’s hard and risky but you can’t afford not to try it?”

Before you answer, consider the mountain of data collected from interviews with senior citizens who were asked “What would you do differently if you could live your life over?” Nearly all of them said the same thing. “I would take more risks.”

So, the question…Are you approaching a crossroads?

Here are a few things I’ve learned from some of the seismic changes I’ve made in my life, and particularly my career.

  1. Listen to that inner voice. You won’t hear it very well if you don’t pay attention to its soft whisper. Get away for a half-day, frequently if necessary. By yourself. Take a few pieces of paper or notebook and a pen, get into a comfortable quiet place and listen patiently. Pray. Listen to music. Then start taking notes. Do whatever will surface your subtle inclinations from deep within.
  2. Talk to trusted peers. Share your hopes and dreams with them, but only those people you can trust to support and love you unconditionally–and give you tough love in return if your ideas are too off the wall.
  3. Do the research. Get busy learning about the opportunity that awaits. Keep in mind we’re talking mostly about career changes here, but it can also apply to hobbies, volunteer work, a sabbatical, travel, etc.
  4. Get your affairs in order. That especially includes your finances. Far too many folks approach big life changes without the financial resources to carry them through the transition period. On the other hand, financial shortages can often be the very catalyst to get you in motion.
  5. Think long-term. Remember that life is an unending journey. Over a lifetime of risky career experiments I’ve learned that there are no mistakes if you follow the voice and will of God. In the same way I’ve learned you can never out-give God, I’ve also learned that all things work together for good if you love your Creator and are trying to follow the path carefully set before you.
  6. Enjoy the ride. When you jump into the deep, fast moving current of opportunity, savor the exhilarating experience of trusting your faith when conventional wisdom runs counter. It won’t always be a smooth ride–sometime it’ll be anything but. But in the end you can look back and say “I did it.”

Phil Herzog is a senior consultant for ADT’s Commercial Division and moonlights as a sports and entertainment marketing executive as CEO of SmoothStone Partners.com. Reach him at phil.herzog@smoothstonepartners.com.