Category: LIFE

Flies. I won’t lie. The little guys drive me nuts. They land on my arm, my food, my glass. They are annoying. We built this beautiful patio with slide open doors looking over an amazing pool, but there were flies in my soup for crying out loud. Plus, I found mosquitos hovering over my bare skin eager to pass on whatever they picked up from their last meal. I may be the fan of the outdoors, but on the flipside, I’m the biggest wimp about exasperating insects. Call me high maintenance. I don’t care. It’s just my reality.

Dinners on the patio exasperated me. Finally, my husband and I would bring our food back indoors. I know. Everyone thinks screens. However, my high maintenance side didn’t want small sections of screens and their vertical guides disturbing my view. They weren’t part of my sanctuary.

Enter Heidi Roy with Tulsa Area Screens. I found her screens while dining in south Tulsa. I needed to know more. Heidi came over to explain her Phantom Screen product. I began to imagine a beautiful bug free life for my backyard oasis without obstructions. The Phantom screens were automatic, hidden when retracted, and created a whole new living area for the house. They were essentially screen walls.

Without Screen
With Screen

With Heidi’s screens installed, I would FINALLY enjoy everything I loved about the outdoors without suffering from everything I didn’t. Remote controlled. Really? With the touch of a button, there they were (or weren’t). Instead of creating a sun room with permanent screens and multiple pieces of wood in my view, she could install large spans of screens without all the barriers blocking my view. (Our current screen is just over 20 feet long!)

My husband jokes, “Those screens saved our marriage.” Laugh if you want, but we could now BOTH enjoy dinner on the patio while taking in the waterfall, fire wall, pool, and a flick on our outdoor tv. It was literally just an extension of our living area. We could throw open our giant sliding doors and let the sound of the water into the living area. Parties were now incredible, as the screens brought the outdoors in without everything small and annoying. Plus, the screens offered protection from the sun, as the back of our house was blessed with lovely sunsets beaming in our eyes nightly.

With the new home, we created our pool redesign discussed with Fiesta Pools, but we immediately called Tulsa Area Screens. Heidi laughed, as we were a bit away from being able to install when we called her. However, we wanted to map out a plan to redesign our outdoor escape. The team consulted with us on how to accommodate a straight screen wall. Our entire patio design was purposeful to accommodate the screen, although they can be installed along any straight edge. When done, once again, we could throw open doors out of our living room and walk into our backyard, bug-free, paradise.

As if the bliss from a fly-free, mosquito-free zone wasn’t enough, the first time we purchased the screens, we found they offered my paranoid parent self an additional barrier between my daughter and the pool. We could never throw open the doors and walk around the house doing other things if the screens weren’t such a protective device. As a mom who invented my own brand of supersonic helicopter parenting, the screens gave me peace of mind. Plus, of course, a peaceful ambiance for my entire house and outdoor living area.

We chose the screens with the most unobstructed view, but Tulsa Area Screens offers multiple options based on your specific needs. Our first patio mixed sun blocking dynamic screens to offer protection from the beautiful sunsets reflecting off tv screens and electronic devices. Can you imagine working at home from a screened patio with sun and wind protection, while allowing the soothing sound and beauty of your outdoor pool from Fiesta to set the relaxing tone? Now that’s a home office!

Fiesta Pools and Tulsa Area Screens were a match made for my heaven it seemed! I strongly recommend you try one or both out before summer gets here. Just sayin’.

Without Screen
With Screen | (918) 29-1756

Written by Mike Henry Sr.: Follower of One

“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” (Matthew 19:29-30 ESV)

Put yourself at the site of Jesus’ crucifixion. Imagine asking, “Wouldn’t Jesus be the king that would restore, or establish, Israel as a world power?” “Didn’t he tell of the coming kingdom of heaven?” Before this day, many Jews expected God’s kingdom to reign and end Roman rule any day. But in a matter of hours, they arrested, convicted and killed the King of the Jews.

Jesus’ death must have dumbfounded many. Days earlier people laid palm branches and praised him. Then the Jewish leaders arrested him, tried him illegally, and treated him worse than a common criminal. Then the Romans and the Jews together ridiculed him, beat him, and killed him.

Unexplainable Despair

If I lived that day, I think my energy and national pride had a chance. When the Roman soldiers buried Jesus, they also buried the hope of many Jews. Even though Jesus tried to tell them, no one dreamed what would happen next.

Unexplainable Savior

On Sunday, everything changed. I like to imagine walking to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35) that day. Imagine having Jesus explain the prophecies that pointed to him from Scripture. After Pentecost, the Holy Spirit indwells and transforms Christ’s followers and they begin their eternal life. We can live our eternal life every workday of every week. But do we? Can your coworkers explain your life?

No one could explain the resurrection. And it’s hard to explain a life Jesus changes. When we live a genuine, authentic, transformed life God mixes our life with our coworker’s experiences to make himself visible.

Unexplainable Work

When a Christ-follower gives away their life, that’s unexplainable. When I first started my career, business was all about climbing your way to the top. Terms like “dog-eat-dog” and “corporate ladder” were in fashion. While business became more civil over the years, we still project negative motives on people we don’t know. We assume most people are “in it for themselves.” We have an expected level of civility for business interactions. Operate beneath that level and we think you’re a jerk. Be more civil, more graceful, more giving and we wonder what you’re up to.

When a Jesus-follower exceeds norms for generosity with our time (not our boss’ time), our energy, money, career, attention, or gratitude, others might notice. If we try to make them notice, we have our reward (Matthew 6:1-6). But a humble, generous, graceful life is unexplainable. If we give our loaves and fish, or if we give grace and generosity beyond our job expectations, we join Jesus as he makes himself visible.

God gives you life as you give your life away. In the civilized American work world, we rarely suffer, but we could get ostracized or passed up for promotions. Even if we receive harsh treatment, we know God causes good from all things (Romans 8:28). Whatever we give away, Jesus says we will receive a hundred times as much and eternal life. As we give, we join Jesus, in his kingdom now and forever and we receive a huge reward.

If we serve others with an ulterior motive, people will sniff it out. We each have sincerity radar. We can sense when someone fakes sincerity, empathy and compassion. But if you give your stuff and your life away simply because Jesus saved us to, over time your coworkers’ explanations won’t fit. Then they must search for a different explanation.

Unexplainable Life

Begin your new, eternal, unexplainable life with prayer. Tell Jesus, “Here I am” each morning. Ask him to use you in the lives of everyone you meet. Jesus may challenge you to write notes to people or to give away small gift cards. He may challenge you to remember the names of your coworker’s family members. The Holy Spirit may challenge you to work late or come in early to help others. You may need to get ahead in your job so others can interrupt you without affecting your overall performance.

Whatever you do, give your company a great effort, and give even more to the people you interact with most. Use your personal time and resources to bring favor to the people you interact with every day. Your unexplainable life will cause people to question and God will their curiosity to accomplish his purposes.

Journey Fitness

Church pastors receive a free membership. Say, what?

That’s right. I talked with Journey Fitness about their heart for ministry. They are a different kind of gym. Most don’t realize they are a fitness center built on their call from God. As such, they operate a different kind of facility. Kindness—check. Integrity—check. Amazing facility—check. They even have a slightly stricter dress code to create a healthier atmosphere. How people are dressing in a co-ed environment, like a gym, matters. If you can walk in and feel comfortable with the people you see—it sets a better tone for working out.

Journey Fitness appeals to all ages, shapes and sizes, but the 45+ crowd really love to call it home. It’s a great environment for people wanting a more pleasing ambiance to get fit or stay healthy. Journey doesn’t offer childcare, but older children can sit quietly at the table up front with homework, a book or even iPads. The facility itself is impeccable, with all the equipment you would expect. Plus, it offers super clean locker rooms, showers, and even great lockers. However, the difference doesn’t stop there.

Zachary and Michelle Buford, owners of Journey Fitness, felt called to open their gym to pastors for their use without needing a membership. Zachary said, “We know pastors carry a bigger burden than most realize. We feel they can create peer relationships with pastors from other churches. Those relationships can be beneficial in all sorts of ways–from simply workout partners to accountability partners outside their circle. It really depends on what they need. They can share struggles they face with their congregation or in their personal lives as pastors. They can offer solutions they’ve found to those problems. When these pastors get together, they can take the relationship to whatever level makes sense.” Zachary and Michelle both have a heart for reaching out and supporting pastors and really the body of Christ. They also love the concept of the “C”hurch coming together in all areas of life for strength and encouragement.

Zachary and Michelle might be more right than they even realize. Pastors are on a tough road. In some ways, they are just taken for granted as they carry their crosses to impact the city for Christ. They face enormous amounts of criticism with our ever-growing opinion-sharing society. Their time is spent counseling when there’s a need for conflict resolutions, which can center around personality-type disputes in the congregation rather than issues needing Biblical clarity. Add in trying to find time for their family or some “me” time to just decompress and it’s no wonder many pastors face depression. Plus, let’s face it, we don’t often hear of pastors bringing home enormous salaries. They are often struggling financially, which can also leave their marriages struggling. If all of these weren’t enough—we also know burnout is real when you’re working in a capacity under so much stress with less support than needed. They are called to care for their church and it takes on a whole host of meanings depending on their church; the weight of that burden alone can feel perilous.

For Zachary and Michelle, their heart is to offer pastors a safe place to come, where they can take a little personal time without hurting the family budget. Working out can be such a great stress reliever as we all know. (Well, we all know it—we don’t always all do it!). When pastors come together, they can gain support from each other, learn from each other, and pray with each other. Sometimes it’s nice to have someone outside of your circle to confide in as you try to sort through your struggles whatever they might be. Sometimes it’s nice to slip into a safe environment, surrounded with some like-minded individuals and breathe. Zachary and Michelle hope Journey Fitness can be all of that PLUS a great way to stay healthy for these pastors. They want to support them. So, they just thought, “Let’s just give them that opportunity.”

Zachary said, “We’re not the gym for everyone and that’s OK. We’re more the gym you think of when you’re sitting around wanting a gym where you can feel at home.” The gym has 24/7 access, parking right at the door, and cancelation notices of only 48 hours. Their policies are really in line with their character.

We suggest you give it a try to feel the difference. With a 1-day pass available right on the internet, you can hop in and check it out. Plus, send your pastors their way. Free is great. Super facilities and kind staff for free, well that’s something really worth sharing.

Journey Fitness |(918) 895-9098 |
10846 S Memorial Dr, Ste 103 Tulsa, Oklahoma

Free Wellness Education Seminar

You hear it all the time. You probably even believe it. However, most do not act on it.

Vitamins and minerals are essential to our bodies in order to function properly.

The problem is we can survive for quite a long time with a deficiency without seeing the devastating effects to our bodies. Suddenly, we are faced with a health crisis. We start to treat it with the pharmaceutical of the day.

However, in many cases, we can course correct with a special diet and nutrition.Oftentimes we are not tested for vitamin deficiencies, which might be at the core of our problem. Problems from vitamin deficiency don’t crop up overnight. They come from a lifetime of not paying attention to what matters most.
In some cases, those deficiencies can be caused by our genes.

Dr. Gonzales’ office offers a wellness section inside their clinic testing on vitamins and nutrition deficiencies. Many patients can reverse inflammation, exhaustion, skin disorders and even infertility with modifications to their regimen. In one case, a female who had faced multiple miscarriages found out her body didn’t properly process folic acid, which is needed for a baby’s neurological development. The patient started quality supplements to treat another health condition and found herself pregnant at 44, delivering her first perfectly healthy child. Proper treatments MAY help course correct some of the effects patients are experiencing.

When Community Spirit Magazine found out Dr. Gonzalez was hosting a free Wellness Education Seminar with a renowned naturopathic doctor for FREE right here in Tulsa, we wanted to tell our readers. Dr. Andre Alexander Kulisz is an international consultant in the area of neurotoxicity and chronic inflammatory conditions.

We have seen first hand the detrimental effects of inflammation caused by everything from food allergies to improper dietary choices. If you or a loved one experiences any kind of health condition possibly related to these conditions, it’s worth dropping by for the event. It could be the key to healing and restoration you’ve been seeking!

Date: April 12, Friday at 10-1:30
Where: Tulsa
5010 Esat 66th Street #102
Tulsa, OK 74136

Written by Teresa Goodnight

Community Spirit was able to speak with Robia Scott, starring in the newly released movie, Unplanned that hit theaters March 29th.

Robia had numerous roles in Hollywood, such as in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, before becoming a Christian and changing direction. Robia was randomly introduced to the directors of the movie in Nashville. She read a small audition for the role. They offered it. It was all pretty quick. Now she feels she’s back in the industry, as a believer, for such a time as this.

Robia bought the book by Abby Johnson and read it. She said, “I was a bit hesitant to take the part. My role is pretty intense. However, I knew quickly in prayer with my husband, I was prepared and positioned for this part.” Robia says, “Instantly, I was motivated by lifting the veil off Planned Parenthood. Even though I didn’t know a ton about the abortion industry to start, I began studying and realized what they were professing was very different from who they actually were.” Robia was troubled, because she felt people were making a BIG decision on misinformation. She said, “Recognizing this was a belief people were being programmed to believe about abortion, I decided I wanted to help expose Planned Parenthood and the entire industry.” Robia said,

“Interestingly, the directors had the movie rights for 6 years, but they said ‘The Lord said not yet.’’ They weren’t really sure why they were waiting. Then, they felt God released them to make it.

Coming out now with what’s happened in New York and the bills being passed,” Robia continued, “it is so ordained by God. I really believe it’s going to be a game changer.”

Robia also spoke of the film’s star playing the lead role. She said, “Ashley Bratcher found out once she was filming motivation for her character. Ashley called her mom after filming for a few weeks to tell her about what she was doing. Her mom immediately broke down. Then, she revealed to her that she was on the table ready to have an abortion with her. Her mom said something like, ‘Literally in a moment, the choice could have gone either way.” Now thirty some years later, she’s the face of this film.” Robia finished, “God knows the end from the beginning. It’s all in His hands.”

Robia spoke about the oddity of the R rating. She said, “We found it interesting Hollywood thought the topic unfit for those under 17, even though they can walk into an abortion clinic without parental consent and make that decision. However, it’s ok. We want parents to go with their children. You have to decide the right age, but just know Planned Parenthood is starting their message incredibly early.”

We should be seeing the headlines by the time this article is released, but Robia said, “You have to understand how Hollywood works. Opening weekend for the box office makes all the difference. As the body of Christ, we have to unite—and if you don’t want your state to look like New York, you can vote with your ticket.” Robia continued, “When there’s a big box office opening weekend, it gets Hollywood the media’s attention. It lets the movie get to stay there (in the theater) longer, to reach more people. Believers have to vote on this with our tickets if we care about this issue and it’s serious to us. How is my one little voice going to make a difference? Right here.”

Robia is a full-time minister, speaker, author, and one of the stars of the movie, which was put together by the same team from God’s Not Dead. She is a gifted teacher of the Word, specializing in offering Biblical tools for transformation that promote freedom, healing, and wholeness. Robia often teaches principles from her book, Counterfeit Comforts: Freedom from the Imposters that Keep You from True Peace, Purpose, and Passion.

Robia began her professional career as a dancer in Hollywood at the age of sixteen. She appeared in numerous music videos before traveling the world with Prince starring as “Pearl” in his international tour Diamonds and Pearls. When the tour ended, Robia began focusing on her acting career. She appeared in over fifty national commercials and starred in various popular television shows such as Beverly Hills, 90210 and CSI. Robia is well-known for her three-year role as Jenny Calendar on the hit TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It was during her time on Buffy that Robia became a Christian. Yes, it is a great story! (We will be following up on Robia with a review on her book later this year!)

Shortly thereafter, she left her career in entertainment to venture into full time ministry. For the last fifteen years, Robia has traveled extensively across the U.S. and internationally, speaking at churches and conferences. Her God-given gift of artistic expression is now being utilized to communicate truth for the Kingdom of God. She has a teaching style that is dynamic, relatable, down-to-earth, and fun.

Robia resides in Orange County, California with her husband, James, and their daughter, Gemma.

Written By: Gary L. Richardson

What brought me to write a book on the subject of FEAR?

Growing up on a cotton farm in Deep South Texas, way out in the country, I was a kid that lived with a lot of fear. I didn’t ask for the fear, it was just there.

I could tell a number of stories as to how fear displayed itself in my life when growing up. But, as I grew older, becoming a teenager, I came to hate the fear that I lived with even more. Most wouldn’t guess it, since today I stand 6’ 2” tall, that I was very small for my age when growing up. When I graduated from high school I was still only 5’11,” having grown two inches in the previous two years. So, I was always small for my age until my second year in college. I later learned that this was something that happened in the Richardson lineage. The men got their height much later than normal, just as I did.

In my late 30s I decided to do something, whatever, to deal with my fear issue. In doing so, I went to the Scriptures to learn what was said about the subject of fear. Thus, my book evolved from several years of studying.

In this book, Fear Is Never Your Friend, you will learn what I have learned that has resulted not only in the book but also in my reputation for fearing no man. To understand more you will need to read my book and learn from a Spiritual basis as well as a practical basis why FEAR IS NEVER YOUR FRIEND.

Several years ago I had a meeting with a banker friend, and after greeting one another, she asked, “Anything new going on in your life, Gary?” I replied that I was working on a new book. “What’s the title,” she asked. As I said the words “Fear Is Never Your Friend,” I could discern by the look on her face that she wasn’t buying into that thought, so I asked her to explain why. She said, “Well, if I saw a snake on the floor that was set to strike, I think my fear could help me remove myself from danger.” I then asked what she thought a two-year-old child crawling on the floor would do under similar circumstances, and she responded, “Probably go to the snake,” to which I agreed. My point was that it was her knowledge (dangerous snake set to strike) and her wisdom (need to get out of harm’s way) that caused her reaction, neither of which the two-year-old was equipped with. When my banker friend and I had that conversation, I already had discussed the subject of my book with numerous friends and had received responses from them similar to hers.

The Bible is replete with the admonition that fear is never our friend (with the exception that we are to fear God, which is a reverence of God). Yet, it is all too common for believers frequently to use the words, “I was afraid to do” such and such, much like those who say, “I don’t do this or that for fear of getting hurt.” In Fear Is Never Your Friend, you will learn in a meaningful way the truth of taking fear out of your thinking. Again, it’s knowledge and wisdom that are your friends.

I have found over the years of doing seminars on this subject that it greatly impacts a person’s life by learning the importance of taking the word “fear” out of his or her conversations. In the seminars, time permitting, I give an overview of every chapter in the book, which is a great help, possibly a “must,” in impacting individuals to the place where they can walk away from the seminar totally convinced to remove fear from their lives and conversations. Much of the same can be accomplished by reading Fear Is Never Your Friend.

“We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

My friend Rev. Wade Burleson wrote a four-page foreword for my book, and in conclusion he wrote these words: Former Prime Minister of India Jawaharial Nehru is quoted as saying, “There is perhaps nothing so bad and so dangerous in life as fear.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American lecturer-philosopher, wrote, “The wise man in the storm prays to God not for safety from danger, but for the deliverance from fear; it is the storm within that endangers him, not the storm without.”

Fear has reached epidemic proportions in America today. It’s as if it is almost a contagious disease rendering a person weak and ineffective, robbing him or her of the joy of life. Noted Christian writer Oswald Chambers says in his daily devotional book, “If Jesus ever commanded us to do something that he was unable to equip us to accomplish he would be a liar.”

In reading the book Fear Is Never Your Friend you can come to the place of overcoming the fear that many live with. As I said to my doctor once when he commented, “The only thing we have to worry about is…” I stopped him and said, “Doctor, I don’t worry about anything,” and then I added, “but if you tell me it will help to worry, then I will.” Of course, he did tell me to do that.

Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Read Fear Is Never Your Friend and become one of the many that have shared with me over the years how they have been liberated in removing fear from their lives.

Here is what one reader wrote that stands out among the many responses I have received from those that have read Fear Is Never Your Friend.

It is rare that a writer captures just the right words with just the right story examples with just the right tone to create a desire for change by and within another person, but that is exactly what Gary Richardson has accomplished with his remarkable book, Fear Is Never Your Friend.
I have agonized many times about making a decision – sometimes professional, sometimes personal – simply because I “feared” that someone would like me less or think less of me because of my choice. Sound familiar? Well, making those torturous decisions got easier a few years ago after I first read Fear Is Never Your Friend, which I describe to others as “medicine for a bad case of ‘I’m afraid to …’”

In this inspirational book, Gary lays out key tactics to help overcome fear, and it is these life’s lessons of his that have helped me navigate through life a lot easier. Here are a few of my favorites: * We have the right to decide what will be a part of our lives. * If we allow negative and fearful thoughts to live in our minds, we will discover they are expensive tenants; instead, stop negative thoughts with hopeful, faith-filled thoughts. * Choose your thoughts wisely; monitor what enters your mind and heart. * Choose your words carefully.

My summation of these gems of wisdom is, “Do not fear your fearful feelings. Challenge them and focus instead on how you will defeat them.” Fear Is Never Your Friend will not miraculously get rid of fear in your life, but it definitely will teach you how to do so.

Joyce Gideon
Public Relations, Editor, Writer

Check out where 3 other books I have also written can be seen. “Thank God They Ate The Apple”, “Black Robe Fever” and “I Want You To See Me”.

Written by Mike Henry Sr.: Follower of One

For a few years leading up to 9/11, even though I had trusted Jesus, I pursued my career without much concern for what God wanted me to do at work. Every day, I went to work thinking my faith would make me a better employee, but not much more. After work and on weekends, after my bills were paid and everything else was done, then I could “do ministry.”

The events of 9/11 caused me to rethink my faith. I was reminded of my goal to lay up treasure in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21), but I didn’t know how. As I read scripture, I was puzzled by a story about Jesus in Luke 10.

Jesus was in town visiting his friends, Lazarus, Mary and Martha in their home. He was in the main room talking with other guests. Mary was in there listening, too, while Martha was busy preparing. So Martha decided to ask Jesus to send Mary to help her. But Jesus surprised Martha: But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42 NASB.

As I watched the buildings smolder and the rescue operations take place, I began to question. Had I had missed opportunities to be with God during my workdays? Was Jesus there and I had missed him? Is spending time with Jesus really the only thing necessary? How could I join Jesus and do my job? I certainly couldn’t quit my job and sit around and pray all day. I had bills and responsibilities. I had a family.

At the same time, I realized God was actively working in the company I worked for. He’s more interested in the lives of my coworkers than I ever will be. And if that’s true, did I just waste years that I could have been walking with Jesus at work? Had I been like Martha, so busy about my own goals that I missed the goals and the work Jesus had for me to do?

So, I decided to ask God if he had a job for me. Daily I would ask him to show me how I might join him. Did God want me to go into full-time ministry? Would I need to quit my job? Did I need to apply for a job with a church or an overseas mission?

As the days passed, no ministry offers appeared and nothing became clear. While I was waiting, I thought, at least I could pray for my coworkers and our customers. So, I began to spend time with Jesus, every day by praying and asking him to use me at work and to bless the people I knew I would see each day. As I drove to work, I would mentally walk through the office and pray for each person. Whether God chose to change my career or not, today, I could pray.

At first, I started asking that God would bless people and give them favor. For the coworkers I knew, I could make more specific requests. And for those I didn’t know very well, I decided I would try to get to know them better. Slowly, God started opening doors. I had more and more spiritual conversations. Some of the other Christians at work began to join me in praying for our coworkers. Slowly, things began to change.

At the same time, I began to change. Often, when I pray for someone, or something, Jesus changes me. He gave me a new heart for people and for my work. He showed me his purpose in my job. And I saw lives change.

I began to realize this was my ministry. Ministry is serving others so they can move closer to Jesus. The word most often translated “minister,” is also translated by “servant.” We serve others to make Jesus visible.

Please understand, I’m not perfect. I’ve made mistakes and been inconsistent. But every prayer matters. God will change people and he will change you.

Do you want to experience the joy and purpose of walking with Jesus daily? I made this challenge back in January, too. Pray for your coworkers for the next 30 days. As you drive to work, pray for the people who work near you, and those with whom you will meet. And watch Jesus work. 

But this time, when you see God make a difference, please write and let me know. My email is I’m sure you will see God begin to change your world, and he’ll probably start with you! 

Mike Henry Sr. is the president and founder of a new ministry called Follower of One. Check it out at

Written by Randy C. Cowell, M.S, LUTCF, CFP®, CRPC®

Most Americans are not aware that Social Security benefits have not always been taxed. Not until 1983 was there a tax on the once sacred retirement benefit. In a bipartisan compromise after recognizing the impending insolvency of Social Security, President Ronald Reagan and then Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill, agreed to allow up to 50% of benefits to be taxed. That opened the door. Later in 1993 during his first term, President Bill Clinton raised the taxation percentage to 85%. This article will discuss the impact those taxes have on retirees.

Before you can implement defense strategies one must first understand how the IRS thinks. There is a calculation that is performed specifically to determine whether you are over the prescribed income threshold. About this time you are saying, “There is an income threshold?” Yes, if married and filing jointly, it’s $44,000 and if filing single, it’s $34,000. So what does that really mean? The IRS, as one of its last calculations when calculating your taxes, determines your “Provisional” income. If you are not familiar with that term, just read on. 

Provisional income simply stated, is the calculation to determine if your SS will be taxed. First, they add all your 1099 income. This includes interest, dividends, short- and long-term capital gains, as well as any municipal bond income. (You read correctly. ALL muni-bond income counts as provisional income.) Next, the IRS counts all the “Ordinary” income from your qualified plans and retirement accounts. Then to cap it off, they add insult to injury and count 50% of your SS benefit. If you are married and it exceeds $44,000 or single and it exceed $34,000, then congratulations–up to 85% of your benefits will be taxed at the highest tax bracket you are in. 

So, now that you know what Provisional income is, let’s have some fun with math. First we have to make some assumptions. Let’s say you are married filing jointly and your SS income is $25,000. We have calculated your provisional income and it exceeds $44,000. That means 85% of your income or $21,250 is now added to your income at the highest marginal rate. We assume if you are in the 24% marginal bracket, your SS tax bill is $5,100. You now discover you have a $5,100 hole in your income. So how do most people respond? They withdraw more money from their IRA’s and saving accounts. Here is an important question. When they withdraw more income from their IRA account(s), if tax rates have risen, how much more will they have to withdraw?

So, why should you be concerned about preventing your provisional income from exceeding the threshold(s)? According to David McKnight, best selling author of the Power of Zero, retirees that allow their SS to be taxed tend to run out of money faster than those that do not. [1]Why? Because the mere act of withdrawing more puts that much more pressure on the assets to perform. To make matters worse when tax rates go up (assuming Congress does nothing), how much more will retirees have to withhold to compensate for even more taxes?

Not to pile on here, but if you listen to other experts like David Walker, former Comptroller General, and Ed Slott CPA, retirement expert, tax rates beyond 2026 are destined to increase due to the fiscal spending policies of the government. Ed Slott warns, “Those who saved most diligently, though, will soon realize that a substantial chunk of those tax-deferred retirement savings are sitting ducks for a revenue-hungry Uncle Sam. In fact, as your 401(k) or IRA funds grow, so does the government’s share since it is a partner, Uncle Sam can increase his partnership percentage of your tax-deferred savings whenever he needs more money, and that day is coming soon. The question is then, are you prepared?”[2]

So what’s the answer? Stay tuned for Part II in next month’s Community Spirit magazine for strategies that can insulate and buffer you from the impact of higher taxes. (2423086RM–Feb21)

[1] McKnight, D. “The Power of Zero.” 2013. Reprint. Boston: Acanthus Publishing, 2018. Print.

[2] Slott, E. 2013. Forward. In: The Power of Zero. Boston; Acanthus Publishing, xi-xii

Randy C Cowell is a columnist and President of ACT Financial Services, Inc., in Tulsa. Oklahoma. He is the author of “God Good­ Debt Bad”. Randy welcomes your thoughts and prayers. He can be reached at 918-664-0081 or by e-mail at

Registered Representative of and Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through Hornor, Townsend & Kent, LLC (HTK), Registered Investment Advisor, member FINRA/SIPC, 4111 S. Darlington Ave., Suite 800, Tulsa, OK 74135, (918) 664-6511. HTK is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company. ACT Financial Services, Inc. is unaffiliated with Hornor, Townsend, & Kent, Inc.

Dr. Jorge Gonzalez is known for his passion for concierge-level patient care. It is why patients follow him wherever he goes. It’s also why new patients seek him out.  When Mike Radke was recruited to work for Dr. G, he didn’t really know how critical his role would be.  Mike was given the responsibility as the liaison between the patient, the insurance companies and the pharmacies.  This role was an effort to help patients get the care Dr. G knew they needed.  It’s a fight unfit for those battling with neurological conditions just trying to find a path to wellness.  They needed help.

That help came in the form of a 24-year veteran of the United States Air Force.  Mike was given marching orders by Dr. G to go make sense of an impossible world of paperwork and forms standing in the way of the care his patients needed.  Mike said, “We are different here at Dr. G’s office, because we really are about patient care and not the dollars.  Dr. G employs me to help facilitate the process to get patients, like the veterans, the medication and care they need.”  He added, “It’s a full-time job just trying to navigate the system with them.  Imagine if they were trying to navigate it alone.  We fully believe we are in this together. Whether Dr. G is praying in his office to help patients fight their medical battles or entrusting me to do what I’m skilled to fight the battles with the insurance companies with them—it really is the highest level of care.”    

Almost immediately in his new role, Mike noticed a more troubling trend in veteran care.  Mike said, “Due to some changes in legislation a few years ago, veterans could seek care outside the Veterans Administration medical unit and come into Dr. G’s office to receive needed specialized care.”  Mike continued, “As a veteran, who suffered numerous injuries and disabilities from combat, I really appreciated the newfound freedom.”  The move was a nice step; however, as good as the move had been, Mike noticed getting the insurance companies to approve recommended prescriptions and treatments for these patients was next to impossible.  

Mike said “Dr. G would diagnose the veteran patient and then prescribe the treatment the patient needed; however, that’s when the mess really started.  The prescription was denied; mountains of paperwork and coding ensued, trying to find the path of least resistance to get the patients the help needed.”  Mike went on, “For veterans, it is next to impossible to get the right treatments through the system. When disapproved, it then requires a custom authorization created by the same insurance company, who denied it the first time.” 

Mike continued, “I was giving the medication briefing for a patient with migraines.  Come to find out, the patient was also a combat veteran.  We started realizing how much we had in common, even the timeframe of different operations. In the process, I found out he also suffered from migraines caused by undocumented head injuries in the service.  As so many veterans know, you need someone who believes you and is willing to listen in order to get the right treatment.”  Mike emphasized, “In the service, if it’s not written it didn’t happen. Documentation is a problem.  You are so busy and so focused on the battle you are in, caring for yourself becomes the last thing you are thinking about.  You are concerned with your comrades first.  The military has a bit of a demented or dark sense of humor. It’s common to say demeaning sorts of comments in regard to health and injuries–so you certainly aren’t recording them all. But, just because they weren’t recorded, it doesn’t mean they didn’t happen.”

That’s where Dr. G is different.  He truly listens to the causative circumstances explained by the patients and uses that information to diagnose the problems.  It’s a nice feeling just to be heard, much less to get the right diagnosis and recommended treatment.  It’s unbelievable what some veterans go through just trying to find a doctor who will listen to them.  With Dr. G they were heard; he wanted to prescribe the proper medicine to bring relief to the veteran patient, but it would take an exorbitant amount of work to get it approved.  Mike said he works through rigorous amounts of coding, submitting and resubmitting the paperwork to get what is needed.  Then he added, “There are so many legislative guidelines that have actually become closer to brick walls between veterans getting the proper treatment and the proper amount of quality care needed.”  

“So, as I explained it to Dr. G,” Mike said, “I was given the power to go do something about it.  It really came down to someone needing to say something.  I’m sure lobbyists are talking in Washington D.C., but we never hear it.  It really questions the benefit of those conversations in D.C. if I don’t see any needed changes here in Tulsa, OK.  This individual with the migraines said he wanted to do something about it as well.  Since he and I had that common bond from a battlefield to a chance meeting in the doctor’s office, I could completely understand his plight.” Mike added. 

Mike continued, “So, we worked together.  I armed him with the information to take this battle up the chain.  We discussed the quality and quantity of care in the VA vs a civilian workforce. We selected the medication for migraines, so that we could show individual results as an example of this study.  The veterans aren’t a part of these normal drug studies.  So, when a medication has the ability to relieve the veteran of something that is chronic and debilitating—it’s just crazy we can’t get it approved.”  Mike added, “Migraine sufferers are really the only ones who understand just how life altering they can be.  We are incredibly lucky to have a doctor in Tulsa, who specializes in the care of these monsters—and he wants to provide that needed care to the veterans.  So, we really wanted to help get this case heard.”  

It is obvious veterans want care beyond what the VA system can afford them.  If we can’t get the quality of care we need, what was the point in creating the legislation to allow the veterans to step away from the VA in the first place?” quipped Mike. “It was definitely a double-edged sword.” said Mike.  “We knew our office had to be sharper than the legislation to push this level of care to the needed level for veterans.  It wasn’t going to stop with the freedom to explore other care. It had to be armed with folks like me, empowered by doctors like Dr. G, taking on the system to get that needed care approved and paid for by the system.  The VA have traditional medicines but unfortunately those medicines are often dictated by a federal budget and not by the need of the patient.” he said.  “Their physicians care changed but the company that approves the payment of the insurance and the treatments allowed didn’t.” Mike ended.

Mike’s plight was just the beginning.  “I had a chance meeting with someone I was able to help bridge that gap. I helped sharpen their sword or figuratively put a bigger round in their gun.” Mike went on, “I fear we are now in a situation where we are just at the tip of the iceberg with different types of care needed for veterans based on the last 20 years of conflicts.” Mike added, “With operations and conflicts such as Desert Shield/Storm, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq, those individuals are either retiring or getting older and now their service-connected signs and symptoms need more attention, specialized attention.  Now that they can get specialized care outside of the VA—the way they are going to pay for it should be two steps ahead of them and right now it’s five steps behind.”  Mike closed, “Veterans need Dr. G and our office to help get us the care we need and the help to navigate the war for coverage. It’s a sword this office is honored to take up in the fight.  We never leave anyone behind, and we’ll never quit fighting the good fight.”

Dr. G operates a concierge neurology practice off of 68th and Yale.  He’s also launching 3 new research study for migraine sufferers, Alzheimer’s/dementia, and seizures in 2019.  If you or someone you love suffers from any of these afflictions and want to be part of the study, just reach out at

Community Spirit with Dr. Gonzalez’s office reached out and received a great response from Congressman Kevin Hern’s office.  We’re looking forward to watching all of these amazing hearts work together to see what they can do for veterans:

“Congressman Hern is the son a of 22-year Air Force veteran, so he had a first-hand look growing up at the many sacrifices that military members and their families make every single day for our country.  Because of this experience, the Congressman has a special place in his heart for helping our veterans.

While we may sometimes disagree on the methods, both sides of the aisle seem to agree that our veterans deserve the best care we have to offer.  I believe the thousands of dedicated individuals working on behalf of veterans in our federal system, along with members of Congress from both parties, are always willing to listen to new ideas about providing the best service to our veterans. 

Our office, like many, has a full-time staffer focused solely on providing answers to veterans about their benefits, making inquiries on their behalf, and helping them navigate the federal process. We can’t promise outcomes, but we certainly take enormous pride in being able to assist our veterans in any way that we can.”

-Robert Aery, District Director for Congressman Kevin Hern

Written by Mike Henry, Sr., Follower of One

Love At Work… It’s Not What You Think

Do you love your coworkers? Chances are, if you enjoy your work, you enjoy your coworkers. Going back to 1999, Gallup has polled people in their workplaces for their level of engagement at work. Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman first wrote about employee engagement in their groundbreaking 1999 book, First, Break All The Rules: What The World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently (Gallup, 1999). They asked twelve questions to measure how engaged people were in their jobs. Two of the questions measured how loved people felt at work. Question 6 was “Is there someone at work who encourages my development?” And question 10 was “Do I have a best friend at work?”

The Great Commandment

Jesus said the greatest commandment (Mark 12:28-31 NASB) was first and foremost that we should love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. He then continued, “The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31).

My neighbors have always been people at work. I grew up working. Often my job called me to leave the house at 6:30 in the morning and I would return home between 6 and 6:30 at night. So, my neighbors were always people I worked with. We even joked that during one period in my career, I left and came home in the dark. I felt like Batman. No one ever saw me unless I was in my Batmobile or at the office.

Love can mean a strong sense of affection, or it can mean wishing and working toward whatever is best for someone else. Paul urged the Philippians to consider others more important than themselves (Philippians 2:3 NASB). He went on to cite Jesus as the example (vs. 4-10). Jesus laid aside his position as God and became a human, even a baby, to a poor family in the middle of nowhere. He lived as one of us, yet without sin, for around 30 years before even beginning to talk about his role as our Savior. And then he went on to suffer the shame of death on a cross as a pauper, between two thieves. Even while we were against him, he was for us. Jesus even said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13 NASB).

Give Love Away

Jesus set the example for us to love. His kind of love wasn’t a feeling, it was action. Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith and Wayne Kirkpatrick wrote a song based on Jesus’ love for us, titled Give It Away. The lyric was, “love, isn’t love, till you give it away.” If you think of love as something pointed toward you, you’re not thinking about the kind of love Jesus lived. His love was pointed toward others. It was designed to be given away. Jesus’ love inspired him to give away everything for the best interests of people who didn’t appreciate him at all.

Questions to Ask

What does it mean to love a neighbor when that neighbor is a coworker? Let’s start with what it means to be a best friend. Do you think of them when they’re not around? Do you actively look for ways to bless them? Do you help them with their work? Do you know their family? Would you recognize their family members or even know their names? Do you know what their hobbies are or what their kids are involved in? Do you appreciate what they appreciate? Do you ever take your time and money and invest it in their lives, their passions and their interests? What do you give away because you appreciate them?

How would you encourage your coworker’s development? What do you do to help your neighbors at work find the energy and courage to take a class, give extra effort, or get ahead in their own career? Do you encourage others to take a chance? Do you know what your coworkers’ value, so you can encourage them to pursue their passions? When your friends have ideas, do you “help” them by pointing out all of the obstacles or questioning their judgement? Or do you help them find ways around obstacles, so they can move toward their goal? Do you help your friends believe they can reach their dreams, or do you help them accept the status quo?

Go Beyond Your Job Description

When I love my neighbors at work, I find ways to go over and above my own job description to work in their eternal best interests. Every time we do something for someone else, without expectation of return, we cooperate with Jesus. He is at work in the lives of everyone we meet, encouraging them to experience eternal life in his kingdom today. Jesus will use our love for others as a tool. He will show us ways to bless and serve others if we actively work toward their good.

And after we love them, we will find we like them, too. When we treasure our relationship with our friends at work, we will find our heart follows. Jesus wasn’t joking when he said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21, NASB). Jesus knows our greatest need. We find love when we give love, and we find life when we give life. Give Jesus’ love to others and increase your joy, in your life and in your work, too!

February 25 – March 1, join Follower of One on their Marketplace Mission Trip. Go to your own workplace every day, pray for your coworkers and join God at work. Learn more and sign up at