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6/27/11

An Epidemic of Singleness?


Websters Dictionary defines an epidemic as something "affecting or tending to affect a disproportionately large number of individuals within a population, community, or region at the same time" especially of a negative connotation. That's us. These days, a very large number of people within "our" community fail to remain married and an increasing number fail to even try.

I believe "singleness" may have become an epidemic. It's a malady.  Lots of words to say it's a very bad thing and I am not sure any society or sub-culture within a society can sustain it.  Though not necessarily looking at it in a faith-based context, others are writing about this, as well, in talking about teenagers who have never seen a wedding!

I believe singleness could be robbing the body of Christ of its witness, its power and its cohesion. To a degree, it may be robbing us of our overall understanding of our faith. After all, Paul goes great lengths to help us understand the relationship of Jesus to His Church by using marriage as an analogy. Old Testament prophets did the same. In a day where fewer and fewer people even attempt marriage, could we be losing our ability to grasp and communicate our faith?

Is this a problem? Or a symptom of a deeper problem? What can be done about it?  The current "wisdom" relating to marriage is wait...wait...wait...take your time...wait...wait...wait...and....wait.  We date FOREVER...stay engaged FOREVER and then, finally, stay married half as long as many of the previous generations did.

I think it's time to give the current wisdom the boot and start looking for partners again!  Somebody point me towards people encouraging marriage...PLEASE???!!!

"Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him." 



Mark Anthony McCray helps people live on PURPOSE, achieve higher PERFORMANCE and experience true PROSPERITY. Be sure to subscribe to this blog so you don't miss a thing and forward this to a friend if you found it helpful.

All material © Copyright, Mark Anthony McCray unless otherwise noted! He can be reached in the following ways: Mark@LiveBIGDieEmpty.com
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"All Things"


No word that the Lord has ever spoken to me has failed. Not ever.

That's my declaration and reminder to you (and to myself) today. When times are tough, as they are for many of us these days, it's only natural to become discouraged...to lose hope. But we must not lose hope. We must have faith and continue to press on, knowing that God has his children accounted for in His plan. If you love God and are called according to His purpose, in Christ, He promises that He works all things together for your good (Romans 8:28).

All things.

The next time you're feeling down in the dumps and despondent, try to remember that. Meditate on that word from God: all things.

Do not fear. Trust in the Lord and He will work all things out. It's absolutely critical that you get this deep down in your spirit so you can operate in vision instead of survival mode. Success in any endeavor requires taking the long view...and you can't take the long view if you're worried about this afternoon, this business deal, this negotiation, this next paycheck, this investment.



6/20/11

""Things Bitter Women Say" for $500", Alex!?"


1. "He took advantage of me!"  Really?  Are you serious?  If you're older than 30, you knew what you were doing.  Spare me.  Okay.  30 is too old.  Maybe the "age of dating accountability" happens much earlier but at some point you became a willing participant in your relationship drama.  Like I always say, "when in doubt, just stay upright and fully-clothed."  This is victim talk and it's unacceptable in a mature, healthy woman.  Additionally, in sticking to that story, you're calling yourself stupid.  As a female friend reminded me, if you're were wearing your nice panties, you didn't "fall" at all!  You knew where the road you were on was headed!

2. "He was a waste of my time!"  He was a waste of your time, huh?  Well, maybe you were a waste of his money?  I hate, hate, hate hearing this.  I believe everybody is getting SOMETHING out of every relationship they maintain.  Maybe you're getting the satisfaction of believing someone cares about you?  Maybe you're getting low-cost meals and movies?  Maybe you're just happy to been seen with SOMEBODY at the church social?  Either way, you got something if you were hanging around!  Best to maybe use it as a time to learn about yourself, about men and about what to look for in the future?  Man, I'm getting tired.


3. "I love him but I don't respect him!"  If a man has to choose your love or respect, he would rather have your respect.  Believe that!  I'm not saying your "love" is worthless, but it's worth less than respect and admiration.  This is a problem for a lot of my sisters.  They say men shouldn't need respect.  "Why doesn't he just respect himself?"  "What does it matter what I think?"  "Is his ego really that fragile?"  Admiration is a NEED for a man and most will gravitate towards whoever is giving it.  Women are always shocked at how a man chooses an "other" woman who isn't as beautiful as his wife.  It's because it wasn't about looks.  She was doing something else for him/his ego!

4. "I don't believe in dating."  So I'm supposed to walk up to you and declare my intentions on courting you towards marriage...and I don't even know if you know how to eat with your mouth closed?  I'm supposed to commit to ONLY TALKING TO YOU and I ain't even met your crazy momma yet?  Seriously?  What in the H is wrong with you that you can't go to Olive Garden with a dude without it becoming a major commitment that you gotta pray over?  It ain't that serious!  Oh.  I forgot.  You don't want to waste your time on me.  Okay.


5. "I won't settle."  YOU won't settle?  LOL  YOU won't settle?  How haughty can you get?  I am betting you'll either be single for a looooooooooong time or you'll change that stance.  You might not be the prize you think you are.  Sure.  You're great.  But your breath is bad in the mornings (and some afternoons), you've got a nasty attitude sometimes and you probably weigh more than he wants you to weigh but he's scurrrrred to tell you.  But you're not settling, huh?  He might be settling!  He wanted Kerry Washington...but...

Think about it.  If any of these are you, go ahead and start chunking rocks at me now because I use these phrases to decide who NOT to talk to.

6/17/11

Do the Hustle!



I'm embarrassed to say I was getting out-hustled when I got inspired to write this. I wasn't in the office but working at my local Starbucks when this guy came in and started banging away at calls. I was working...but he was WORKING!

What a great reminder about the importance of having a sense of urgency.

Hustle! Hustle! Hustle! Sometimes you have to increase your effort and the pace of your effort. So many opportunities are lost because we are so casual about pursuing them. Opportunity won't sit still waiting on your forever. GO GET IT!!!

You Are Worth More Than Your Weight In Gold!



This is a tough one.  Not planned in this order and not scripted.  Maybe short.  Maybe long.  Let's find out together.

Value.

What are you worth?  You are worth more than your weight in gold!

My guess is that a number of people don't value themselves nearly highly enough and put up with people who share the same low opinions of them.  I don't know how else to say it.  I'm seeing people allow themselves to be degraded, called ridiculous names, mistrusted, lied to, lied on and even physically-abused.  I'm hearing of women who won't allow their children to see their fathers and men who won't listen to their wives over their mothers.

We aren't valuing ourselves properly.  We aren't valuing others either.

If I could encourage anything today it's this: Value yourself.  Respect yourself.  Honor your own boundaries.  You may not be able to control what others do or how they act (directly) but they will respect you more when they see you respecting yourself more.

Woman, you don't deserve to be treated like a piece of property.  You should be cherished.  Protected.  Men, you AREN'T sorry, no good or pathetic.  You are a good man!  You are a real man!  You can do great things!  Her careless and hurtful words may have stung so bad you thought you'd never recover, but you can!

Set a standard for valuing yourself so you'll be proud today of the person you see in the mirror!

6/16/11

Lessons in Life from the King of the Jungle


"The lion which is mighty among beasts
And does not retreat before any..."
Proverbs 30:30 (NASB)

In my view, one of the reasons some of us fail to bring in the big kill is because we go into the hunt alone. After praying about this matter and doing some research (I even called staff members at the Dallas Zoo and the Houston Zoo), here are some thoughts I'd like to share about how the lion, the king of the jungle, reigns as the most successful hunter on the plains:

Every battle doesn't have to be fought alone. Here are the key things that I have learned from studying the Lion, one of the greatest pack hunters:

1. Even the king of the jungle doesn’t go it alone when hunting big game. Even though the lioness is powerful and fears nothing, she doesn't attempt to take down a giraffe alone. It requires a lot of energy and endangers her own life.

2. Only predators hunt in packs. Foragers go out alone and are, typically, happy with whatever they find. The most aggressive killers in nature, opt to work in groups. Maybe there's something to be learned from this?

3. Pack hunters are normally closely related. They are blood relatives. Because of their close relationship, each is highly invested in the welfare of the other. Similarly, we are not only related, but we are the same body.

4. Hunting in packs requires highly coordinated efforts and excellent internal communication. Working together can't be done haphazardly. It requires communication, organization and order within the group. Sometimes leadership is rotated, but there's always leadership. Sometimes leadership is challenged, but once the matter is settled, it remains settled...for a while, at least.

5. Hunting isn't always successful, but it is more likely to be successful. Just because they band together doesn't mean they will always succeed, but their chances are increased tremendously. Sometimes it's their teamwork that is the difference between hunger and feasting.

6. Packs often choose to outsmart their prey. Larger prey may overpower the group, but may not be as intelligent. Lions will employ the necessary tactic to win.

7. Packs sometimes choose to overpower their prey. Some prey are faster and more nimble...so they must be trapped and overpowered by sheer force. Lions will employ the necessary tactic to eat.

8. Packs sometimes choose to fatigue their prey. Some prey are nimble and strong...so the lion will chase them until one of them falls over from exhaustion. Lions will employ the necessary tactic to provide for their pride.

9. Packs instinctively choose advantageous situations and easier prey. There's rarely a need to attack a stronger opponent. There's rarely a clear benefit in doing so. The "low hanging fruit" can feed the pride, too. Low hanging fruit doesn't require a ladder. There are some victories that are easily available to us. We must stop passing them up.

10. Each pack has its own territory , marks its territory and defends it by attacking trespassers violently. It is well known that the females do the majority of the hunting (and I haven't quite reconciled that in my mind yet!). The males are usually more involved in the defense than they are the hunting. When there are threats to the pride, the males take a stand. However it's delineated, every member of the pack has a role and executes it.

I challenge us to increasingly find ways to work with one another and hunt together. It might be the answer for which many of us are looking in trying times.

What are your thoughts?

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6/9/11

The "Love" Bank


"Is fighting good for a relationship?" 

Someone asked the question.  It's a good question.  Maybe even a great one.  I have known couples who like the adrenaline of a good shouting match so much that they look forward to it - along with the makeup sex.

Some disagreement is inevitable, but the analogy I've learned from a good marriage counselor is called "The Love Bank" and we have to make sure we're adding more to the bank than we're taking out.  Otherwise, after a while, the bank is empty and the relationship is BROKE!  Every fight takes money out of the bank!  Every criticism takes money out of the bank!  It's said it takes ELEVEN compliments to undo the harm done by one criticism!

Simple concept then: every time we interact with someone...work, school, church, relationship, parenting...we're either adding equity to the relationship or we're taking it away.  A lot of times we will stand and look at a person and not even understand how we got where we are.  We allowed the bank to get low or empty.

So here's the challenge...can we all start to appreciate and compliment the people in our lives more?  Can we perform some unexpected kindness?  Can we hold that hug an extra second or two?  Of course we can!  The more we do, the "richer" our relationships will become!  Get it?  Banks?  Richer?

Be blessed!

6/5/11

Next time you pick up an apple...


Still not convinced of the power of sowing and reaping? Let’s look at the shocking math of sowing and reaping in the world of the common apple. I want to prove to you that even if your seed doesn’t become a lot, it will almost always be a lot more than what you have in your hand. After all, what seed doesn’t hold within itself vast multiples?

Consider a typical apple. A normal apple will have ten seeds (some varieties have as many as twenty):

One apple = ten seeds
Ten seeds = ten trees
One mature tree = up to 300 apples per season
Ten mature trees = 3000 apples per season
3000 apples per season can yield 30,000 new apple seeds
30,000 apple seeds can yield 9,000,000 apples in a single season.

An apple tree begins to bear fruit in 6 to 8 years, and is capable of producing fruit for as long as 100 years. 100 years! Americans eat on average about 60 apples per person per year. This means within your lifetime, a single apple you can hold in your hand has the possibility of becoming food for 150,000 people each and every year.

It is the same way with every other seed we plant: health, relationships, money, children, business, ministry, emotional wellness. Once we plant our seed, we start in motion one of God’s foundational principles of nature…one He himself has promised to never change as long as there is an Earth.

Every seed is a multiple. Where are you sowing today?




The Principle That Changed My Life


I finally get it.

Life is about choices. We reap the harvests of the seeds we've sown - of the choices we've made. This is all of life. Paul reminds in Galatians 6:7 that we reap what we sow...always. Therefore, we must sow wherever we want a harvest - and in proportion to the size of harvest we desire (2 Corinthians 9:6).

“While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,
Cold and heat,
Winter and summer,
And day and night
Shall not cease.”
Genesis 8:22


God promises in his word that the laws of sowing and reaping, or seedtime and harvest, will be in effect as long as there is an Earth. In fact, just as certain as we are there will be a tomorrow, we should be just as certain we will receive a harvest on the seeds that we have sown.

Think about that for a moment. Think about how sure we are that tomorrow will come. When people are going through their most difficult times, they console themselves with statements that tomorrow will be a new day. There are even songs written about it... ”the sun will come out tomorrow! Tomorrow! Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow...”

Think about how sure you are there will be a tomorrow and transfer your certainty to your thinking about seedtime and harvest. God tells us they go along together, so we must never doubt this fact of life.

People always say "you reap what you sow" as a negative - like we're due the punishments coming to us. True. Sometimes God gives us grace to lessen the sting, but it's still true. But here's the other side of the coin: WE REAP WHAT WE SOW! We can sow towards good, super, abundant harvests, too!


The laws of sowing and reaping apply to all areas of our lives: our money, our businesses, our health, our relationships. Everywhere. Solomon even says you have to show yourself friendly if you want to have friends. We see even having healthy relationships require us to sow into them.


Each of us has to sow towards any harvest we want. If we want better health, we sow towards it better habits. If we want a loving spouse, we sow compliments and affection. If a Believer wants financial prosperity, I believe he or she must sow seed into the kingdom of God. If a business needs more customers, it must sow advertising into the market.


This is my key area of focus right now. I MUST, MUST, MUST make sure I'm sowing seeds towards the harvests that I desire. For me that includes my health, my money, my relationships, my business and my ministry above all! I'm stepping up and sowing seeds to bring my money and businesses to a new level!

************************************************************************************************

Mark Anthony McCray is the Founder of "Live BIG, Die Empty" a movement designed to help people live life more abundantly and walk in the purposes for which they were created. Write me at markanthonymccray@gmail.com for more information or call 832-566-2001. Follow Mark on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/MARKMCCRAY and http://www.twitter.com/LiveBigDieEmpty

If you're interested in learning more about Mark Anthony McCray and having him speak to your group, here's a complete bio: MEET MARK ANTHONY McCRAY!

The 10,000 Hour Rule


What is the difference between good and great? Malcolm Gladwell says about 10,000 hours...10,000 hours of practice and serious application. In his outstanding book, Outliers, Gladwell suggests that many of the most accomplished men and women in several fields had to invest that much time into their craft before achieving true excellence:

Bill Gates in programming software
The Beatles in music
Athletes
Teachers
Professional speakers
Bloggers


There is scientific research indicating that to prepare someone for THE opportunity that one day will come, he or she should already have gone through a minimum 10,000 hours of practice. This is roughly equivalent to 3-hours of practice everyday for about 10 years. It makes sense in this way: only those with the determination and focus to stick with a specific mission will be successful, while those who jump around from one thing to another will likely fail. Gladwell reminds us with several examples that raw talent and pure intelligence are only a small part of manifesting success. They only matter up to a certain degree.



Bruce Lee once said, “I’m not afraid of a person who practice 1000 kicks one time, but I’m afraid of a person who practice one kick 1000 times.”

I'll be honest. I don't necessarily know how to measure all the hours I'm involved in the activities most important to my future. However, I know I'm well short of 10,000 hours of speaking, writing and teaching. By this rule, I'm not yet approaching "greatness", but I'm making up for lost time. This blog is proof! My other writings are proof. I'm committed to getting my hours in so I'm ready for those doors that are opening for me.

Need a speaker for your next event? Guess what? I'm more available than you think because I need to get more hours in! Tell me. Are you getting your hours in? Post your comments below!








Mark Anthony McCray helps people live on PURPOSE, achieve higher PERFORMANCE and experience true PROSPERITY. Be sure to subscribe to this blog so you don't miss a thing and forward this to a friend if you found it helpful. All material © Copyright, Mark Anthony McCray unless otherwise noted!

He can be reached in the following ways:

Mark@LiveBIGDieEmpty.com
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Click HERE for information on Mark as a speaker or presenter and HERE to learn about coaching programs to help you realize your potential and live more prosperously!

How to Live in a Virtuous Cycle


Most people know the feeling of living in a "vicious cycle" at one time in their life or another - the feeling that nothing is going right and that nothing will ever go right. It's the feeling of being caught up in a pattern where things are going down and down and down with no end in sight.

The good news is your life doesn't have to be that way. There's another option called a "virtuous cycle" and that's what I'm hoping for your life and for my own. A virtuous cycle is a positive feedback loop. A set of patterns in which one good decision leads to a good outcome and creates momentum towards more good outcomes.

I first learned of virtuous cycles in Economics class in college and it is exactly what it sounds like: a pattern in which your life, your relationships, your business, your money and your overall spiritual health is improving all the time. We all want to be in a place where things are going up and up and up with no end in sight!

But how do we get there? How do we stop the decline and start things heading in the other direction?

1. Decide what direction you want to go. If you want your life to go up, determine so. You have the ability to change your life. It's up to you. You have control. You are a not on a runaway train or a boat without a paddle. You have to understand this fundamental principle before you'll be able to make any lasting changes. The number one reason most people don't advance their lives in ways important to them is they NEVER DECIDE TO. If you want more, decide so right now. What do you want? Write it down!

2. Stop doing the things that are taking you down the wrong path. The next step is the most obvious, but we don't always do the obvious things. When you find you are going the wrong direction, STOP GOING THAT DIRECTION! There are several manifestations of this. You, the reader, know how this applies in your life better than I do. Here's one example: if the money always runs out before the month runs out, it might be time to cut back on certain expenses for a while.

3. Take a step in the new direction. Even a small step will be HUGE improvement because it's taking you away from the declining direction and moving you towards the incline. You'll not only feel better but you've made tangible, actual progress and that is exciting! I challenge you - even beg you - to take a step. Even if you can't run a mile, take a walk around the block. Drink an extra glass of water. (Drink a SINGLE glass of water??!!) There's something each of us can do right now to move our lives forward.

4. Keep going! This is where a lot of people lose it. They make a few good choices and then stop. Once you take a step, take another...and another...and another. Pretty soon you'll be in an entirely new place in life - one of your own choosing. It is like opening a savings account and making a deposit. One deposit earns interest. The interest compounds. As you add to your savings, the process accelerates.

Start today! Just make a decision to do something different - something that will begin to take you in a better direction. Sow an offering or give someone an unexpected gift. Surprise your spouse with a compliment. Open a special savings account even if you can only set aside a dollar. It all feeds into a new pattern in your life.

My pastor, Thaddeus Eastland of HOPE Church - Pearland, likes to say that "life is choice-driven." Since life is choice-driven, prosperous living is about making choices that lead to prosperity. Make a choice today to end the vicious cycles and enter a pattern of living in a virtuous cycle.




6/4/11

His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage



A number of people have asked me about the book I referenced a few days ago, "His Needs, Her Needs" so here's a PSA.  You can click below and order it right from here!  After you read it, tell me what you think about it!

From "His Needs, Her Needs" by Dr. Willard Harley...

"The Top 5 Things a Woman Needs in a Husband"

#1 AFFECTION:

"Physical affection symbolizes security, protection, comfort, and approval."

Affection is important in its own right and it has nothing to do with sex. Affection says "I Love You" without "I Lust For You." Hugs, kisses, hand-holding, touches, gifts, back rubs, affectionate words, etc. all fall under the category of affection. Harley says that the "typical male" sees affection as foreplay to sexual encounters and is normally aroused by affectionate physical gestures. A man who growls, 'I'm not the affectionate type' while reaching for his wife's body to satisfy his desires for sex, is missing a chance to meet one of her deepest needs.

#2 CONVERSATION:

We usually put our best foot forward before the marriage and are trying to get acquainted with each other as well as letting the other person know how much we like them. In order to do both, we are usually engaged in a lot of conversation. Long talks at night.
Long conversations on the telephone. Walks where we tell each other about ourselves.

After the wedding, we know about each other and the conversations we used to enjoy seem to be very limited or come to an end altogether. Harley says that men do not seem to need conversation, but women seem to enjoy conversation for its own sake. The most
satisfying conversation is one that focuses on getting to know each other, showing an interest in each other, and discussing topics of interest to both. It is important that she feel a genuine interest and caring for her.

Harley says that the average woman needs 15 hours of quality conversation a week.

#3 HONESTY AND OPENNESS:

"A sense of security is the bright golden thread woven through all of a woman's five basic needs…To feel secure, a wife must trust her husband to give her accurate information about his past, the present, and the future."

#4 FINANCIAL SUPPORT:

"Humorous anecdotes abound on women who marry men for their money, but my counseling experience has taught me not to treat this tendency as a joke. In truth, a woman does marry at man for his money -- at least she wants him to earn enough money to support her as well as (or better than) her father did when she was growing up."

#5 COMMITMENT TO FAMILY:

"A woman has a powerful instinct to create a strong family unit. They want their husbands to take a leadership role in the family and to be a
good father. This means having "good family time" and playing an active role in raising the children."



"The Top 5 Things a Man Needs in a Wife"

#1 SEXUAL FULFILLMENT:

‎" The typical wife doesn’t understand her husband's need for sex any more than the typical husband understands his wife's need for affection. This need in men is so strong that it must be satisfied -- in or out of the marriage. When a man binds himself in marriage, he makes the assumption that his wife will be available to him sexually. If that is not the case, it it sets the stage for an affair -- which will be destructive to the marriage."

#2 RECREATIONAL COMPANIONSHIP:

The need to have fun with his partner is the second need Harley identifies for men. As already stated, we often put our best foot forward in the courtship and this is another area where there may be disappointment after the "I do". "Why don't you do this with me anymore?" is a common lament. Harley cautions wives that having fun together doing the things that you both like is essential to the marriage. "Men place surprising importance on having their wives as recreational companions."

#3 AN ATTRACTIVE SPOUSE:

‎"A man with a need for an attractive spouse feels good whenever he looks at his attractive wife. In fact, that is what emotional needs are all about. When one of his emotional needs is met he feels fulfilled, and when it's not met, he feels frustrated. It may sound immature or superficial, but I've found that most men have a need for an attractive wife. They do not appreciate a woman for her inner qualities alone. They appreciate the way she looks."

#4 DOMESTIC SUPPORT:

He needs peace and quiet. There may be a cultural change/demand that says that men need to take more responsibility in the home for domestic chores, but most men are not embracing this change. The male has a deep need for his wife to "take care of things" -- especially take care of him.

#5 ADMIRATION/RESPECT:

HE NEEDS HER TO BE PROUD OF HIM
Why do males have this need? Admiration energizes and motivates a man and he often expects his wife to be his most ardent fan. He needs to be appreciated for what he IS, not for what he COULD BECOME. While criticism causes men to become defensive, his wife's encouragement enables him to become more confident and enables him to achieve far more.

You can order your copy of this great resource here!