9 Insights To A Lasting Marriage

Leadership requires selflessness, mentoring, learning from others, patience, persistence, and the willingness to grow through your mistakes.  These also apply to making a marriage work.  And not to simply ‘work,’ but to THRIVE.

Today (August 31) marks 24 years with one AMAZING woman of God!  Both of us have had to lead ourselves and each other through some pretty challenging seasons.  But we have both learned that marriage is much more than a ‘relationship status’ on Facebook.  It’s a life-long investment in a journey together.

Here are 9 lessons on marriage I’ve come to realize over the years.

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Honeymoon | 1991 | Leavenworth, WA (Bavarian Village)

Marriage Insight #1 | Celebrate well, and remember often.

Turner Field | Our first MLB game

Turner Field | Our first MLB game

Marriage Insight #2 | Experience new things together.

Annual Family Vacation | Lincoln City, OR

Annual Family Vacation | Lincoln City, OR

Marriage Insight #3 | Cherish your family traditions while you have them.

Gloria Jean's Coffee | A Favorite From Our Dating Years

Gloria Jean’s Coffee | A Favorite From Our Dating Years

Marriage Insight #4 | Don’t forget to travel down memory lane now and then.

Every Time We Visit Nashville, TN

Every Time We Visit Nashville, TN

Marriage Insight #5 | Travel and explore together often.

The 'Chick-fil-a' of Hamburgers | Lake Forest, CA

The ‘Chick-fil-a’ of Hamburgers | Lake Forest, CA

Marriage Insight #6 | Experience good food together.

Multnomah Falls | Columbia River Gorge, OR

Multnomah Falls | Columbia River Gorge, OR

Marriage Insight #7 | Family memories are priceless.  Protect them.

Marriage Retreat | WinShape in Rome, GA

Marriage Retreat | WinShape in Rome, GA

Marriage Insight #8 | Invest in your relationship.  Otherwise it will run dry.

Myrtle Beach, SC

Myrtle Beach, SC

Marriage Insight #9 | Don’t be afraid of displaying your love for each other publicly.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  1 Cor. 13:7

To Cailey, the most incredible and beautiful woman I have ever known….Thank You!  Thank you for loving me, especially at times when I’ve been unlovable.  Thank you for patiently waiting for me to learn what it looks like to be the Spiritual leader of our home.  I still have much to learn here.  Thank you for being a loving, guiding, teaching, and nurturing mother to our children.  And lastly, thank you for constantly challenging me to become a better husband, father, and church leader.

Happy Anniversary…I Love You!

Words: Inspire or Damage

“Can’t you do anything right?”

When was the last time someone said something to you that left you feeling worthless or inadequate?

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How’s your intake…and how does it compare to your output?  Every day all of us intake (receive) words spoken into us.  We also output (speak words into those around us).  The negative criticism and judgments that we hear also tend to be the ingredients that feeds what we speak into others.  This can be our spouse, kids, co-workers, or even the innocent grocery store clerk.  It can affect our mood in a noticeable way. I’ve been guilty of this many times!

“Our encouragement to others often goes unappreciated, yet damaging words are often remembered for a lifetime.”

At one time or another, we have all been on both sides of this statement.  And it’s so true!  When we help or encourage someone, don’t we want them to remember it? Don’t we wish our efforts would be a lasting blessing?

It does not matter if we are talking about our place of employment, family, school, or community. Our choice of words will make some kind of an impact. And once they are spoken they cannot be taken back. This holds true of physical conversations as well as over technology.  In many ways, the human mind and the internet are very unforgiving.

“Don’t use foul or abusive language.  Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”   (Ephesians 4:29)

Today, may we strive to have our words spoken from our hearts…and not from our hurts.  Remember, what we say to a total stranger today just might be the only uplifting thing they will hear at all!

Has someone recently spoken words of encouragement to you?  How did it impact you and your day?

Leave a comment below.

An [infographic] on New Approaches to Your Spiritual Growth

Do the words ‘Spiritual Disciplines’ make you cringe?

Well, you’re not alone.  Many followers of Jesus in America wrestle with what they are and are intimidated when encouraged to practice them.

I really like this infographic  (by Tehanna.com)

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I’m speaking from personal experience here.  Most people over-complicate their spiritual maturity journey.  Mainly due to naivety.    The biggest key, I believe, is to put perfection out of your thinking and simply start somewhere…don’t quit…and focus on practicing one or two of the disciplines.

(I’d encourage you to click on the infographic and read the rest of their article)

Where have you struggled or flourished in some of the spiritual disciplines?  I’d love to hear from you.

Leave a comment below.

 

3 Surprising Sabbatical Reflections

All leaders require rest……but all don’t realize it!

Sabbatical:  Similar to the purpose in our weekly Sabbath, a Sabbatical (at least in church terms) is a number of days or weeks set aside for Prayer, Bible intake, reflection, and physical rest.

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Moreover, I gave them my Sabbaths, as a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them. – Ezekiel 20:12

I’m fortunate to be serving on staff at a church that sees the benefit in it’s pastoral staff taking regular Sabbaticals.  Recently, I returned from a 3-day Sabbatical.  Here are three reflections I came away with after comparing this one with others I’ve had in past years.

They are always different | These times away are spiritual journeys.  And since the Holy Spirit leads the way, it’s a good idea to not over-plan.  Enter it with a focus, but leave enough margin open for God to reveal his intentions for you.

They always have value | Sometimes we simply need tons of physical rest.  Other times fresh vision and insight is needed from reading the Word and listening to other teachers/preachers.  And then there are those times when we are desperately searching God’s will in a heavy decision.  No matter the ‘why,’ this time alone with God is always valuable.

They are never what you expected | This one was no exception.  As usual, I began this most recent one with a handful of specific expectations.  Things I wanted gain insight on from God.  In keeping with how he usually does things, God provided just what I ‘needed’ and nothing more.  And you know what?  What he spoke was better than what I had asked for.

What have been your experiences with Sabbaticals?  What challenges come to mind for when contemplating experiencing something like this for yourself?

Comments and questions are always appreciated.

The Proof Is In ‘How’ We Love

As followers of Jesus, our most effective testimony of Christ lies in how you and I treat each other. More specifically, how we LOVE each other. It’s not a question of ‘if.’ Jesus called it a new commandment.

“…love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  (John 13:34-35)

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Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Let’s be honest. How we conduct ourselves at the grocery store, driving through town, and yes…..even in church doesn’t always give the lost and broken in our community a reason to believe in a loving God.

To love like Jesus loves is a high calling. It is arguably unattainable. But that should not hinder us from working hard at it. The decision should be clear, coming from a heart of obedience. You and I should ‘want’ to practice loving everyone.

Let’s go a bit deeper with this. Jesus was not merely instructing us to get along with and like others. No, the Greek form of ‘Love’ that Jesus uses in this passage is agapaō.

Agapaō: to love, value, esteem, feel or manifest generous concern for, be faithful towards.

How might this alter our view of the grumpy grocery store employee? Or the person who cuts us off in traffic causing us to spill our coffee. If you and I were to pray for Jesus to give us the ability to experience real agapaō, how could that effect our thoughts toward those who are not like us? Those who make us uncomfortable?

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)

If we choose to really value the need to love one another in the same manner that Jesus did, the heart piece will follow. The decision is ours to make.

Prayer:

Lord, give us a genuine compassion for one another. Make us a changed people in a way that proves who you are and that we are your people.

5 Keys to Doing the Right Thing

Have you ever noticed that doing the RIGHT THING often brings a certain level of discomfort?

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Don’t you wish it was the other way around?  I do.  But I guess that is why God gave us tools like the Matthew 18 principle for dealing with conflict.  And he did tell us ahead of time that life was not going to be easy.  So how do we approach doing what’s right despite how painful or awkward it might feel?

Allow me to share 5 things I try to do:

1. Pray | Yep, good old Spiritual discernment.  When the answers are not obvious to us we must remember …they are very clear to God.  So why not ask for a peek into his knowledge?

2. Ask ‘why’ | Do the benefits largely overpower the reasons NOT to do it?  In other words, if doing nothing seems like a huge mistake then at least we know that something needs to change.

3. Ask ‘who’ | Seriously, who will this decision help the most?  Whatever decision I make, it’s almost always the wrong decision if I’m the only clear beneficiary.

4. Talk about it | Just start openly talking about the issue around others as if you are leaning toward that decision.  Pay attention to the body language, facial reactions, and verbal input you get.  Want to really be aggressive?  Ask them how they would come to a decision.

5. Take action | At some point we just need to make a decision.  And sometimes this can be risky.  But being willing to risk failure in order to lead well builds self-confidence and gives your team members more reason to follow your lead in the future.  Take the dive.  If it was the right decision celebrate and run with it.  If not, own it and learn from it.  Either way it’s a win-win situation.

What do you struggle with when making big decisions?  What filters or processes have you used?

Please comment below. 

 

Quotes From FMCGC15

It is inspiring when church leaders from all over the world unite to get on the same page.

Here are many of the top quotes from the past 4 days in Orlando at the Free Methodist Church General Conference 2015.

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Larry Walkemeyer 

“God’s vision always takes a team.”

“Too often prayer is assumed in stead of activated.”

“Fear robs, and obedience rewards.”

“Good is often the chief enemy of great.”

“When we live behind fear, we invite garbage into our lives.”

“Remain open-handed with whoever God gives you.”

“Without a strong WHY we will gravitate to what is EASIEST.”

 

Al Sones

“Obedience to the Holy Spirit ‘requires’ vulnerability”

 

Bishop David Kendall

“God’s love didn’t wait until we were known – God Loved!”

“The love God commands is the love God empowers.”

 

Bruce Bennett

“Jesus didn’t give us an impossible mission.  We’ve just been slow learners.”

“Calling will always interrupt what you’re doing.”

 

Keith Cowart

“Being a leader is being comfortable with your gifting and your lack.”

 

Stephen Gray

“Church multiplication is a Spiritual decision.”

“The local church is the only hope of the world.”

“Movements must be dangerous to be effective.”

 

Ben Sigman

“Numbers are not the goal.  If numbers are the goal, you will do ungodly things to get them.”

 

Bishop David Roller

“Love of others is not natural.”

“Never ask God who your neighbor is unless you want him to wreck your Tuesday night.”

“Don’t allow religious work to distract you from God’s heart.”

“If we are really going to love our neighbor, we cannot continue as we are.”

“Love demands that we move forward with dangerous plans.”

“We can only love when we invite God’s character to overtake our character.”

“We must love in ways that amaze and astound our communities.”

 

J.D. Van Valin

“If you want to see the kingdom of God at work, you’re going to have to deal with some odor.”

 

Bruce Cromwell

“May God bless you with tension.”

 

Bishop Matthew Thomas

“If the Lord is providing the power he’ll provide the way.”

“We must have a life worthy of showing them.”

“Jesus conveyed his power, and gave the command.  ‘Go…make disciples.”

“Why would anyone want to follow YOU?”

Where you there this week?

What quotes or takeaways would you add?  Now, let us go home to our churches a changed people.  And may God change our communities through us.

God Bless.

Leave comments below.

4 Ways to Ensure Your GOALS Don’t Become Your GOD

I don’t want to WORSHIP my fitness practices (goals).

But I also don’t want to go back to worshipping food either.  aka: donuts, candy, cake, soda, ice-cream… (I think you get the picture)

We all know these people.  Their health initiatives/practices are their identity.  It’s who they are known as.  I don’t want to become one of those people.  I’m a pastor and a strong follower of Jesus…THAT needs to be my identity.

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This was me about six weeks ago…only not a woman.  Sweets were a distraction.  They were easy, cheap, and tasted great.  Today, I can honestly say that I rarely battle the indulgent temptations that used to cause me to gravitate toward unhealthy things.  I’m enjoying exercising.  I’m doing great at hitting my daily health goals.  And that’s awesome!

But I’ve noticed something.

My quiet time with Jesus in the mornings has been affected.  Nothing serious.  But it could easily become a problem if I allow it.

What I’m really getting at is this.  How do we continue to work diligently at our personal goals AND NOT have our Spiritual growth suffer along the way?  Here are 4 things I believe you and I can (should) do regularly to T.E.S.T. where our priorities are.

Think | Right now, think about it and really ask, “Is _______ taking priority over my Spiritual growth and life?”  It starts by honestly asking ourselves this.

Evaluate | If something is out of order, why?  How did this happen?  Really take time to pray about this, because knowing the answer to this will become key in getting things back in alignment.

Scheme | Take what we know from that evaluation time and scheme a plan.  Somehow, we need to move forward with our goals differently so that we can avoid the mistakes that landed us here. Change things up a little.  Same goals, altered approach.

Tweak | (careful, not Twerk)  Similar to scheme, but this is taking that step.  This is making the new plan a reality.  Also, share your new plan with someone.  Ask them for accountability.  Trust me, this really helps.

For me, this simply means I don’t go into social media areas at all in the mornings until AFTER I’ve had my quiet time.  After I’ve at least read a devotional thought and prayed for my day.

Call To Action!  Has this been you?  What would you add to this list?  May you achieve your personal goals, and may Jesus walk intimately with you every step of the way.

I love hearing from readers.  Feel free to leave a comment below.  And be sure to hit the ‘SUBSCRIBE NOW’ button above to receive my FREE eBook!

photo credit: www.vegansgoraw.com

Coming Soon…My First eBook!

I’ve wanted to do this for a long time.  So, I decided to take the plunge.  And honestly, this eBook is coming right out of my own growth experiences over recent years.

Here’s the title…

LeadRightBookpromo

This is a small eBook, and will be used to give away FREE to those who subscribe to this blog.  This is the first in a LeadRight series.  Other titles will be listed on the last page.

I’d appreciate it if you could help me out!  Would you…

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Keeping with the theme of ‘Goals’…what are you working on?  What is something you really want to try that is new and challenging?  Go ahead, take a risk and post it.  I double-dog dare you!

Have a stupendous week.

Success is a Journey…NOT a Destination

You know why this title is true?  Because if success was a destination, success (or progress) would cease once we hit our target.  And we don’t want that.

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I wrote a blog post 4 weeks ago on the beginning of a new approach to my eating habits.

At 6′ 4″ tall and 44 years old, I had hit the most I had ever weighed that morning.  260!

Now, it’s pretty easy to disguise 260 when you are 6′ 4″…BUT I knew something had to change.

Something ‘SNAPPED’ in me that morning.  I believe it was Jesus kicking me in the rear.  I’ll admit, I haven’t kept to my goals perfectly through those 4 weeks, but I have made great progress.

I weighed myself this morning after 4 weeks, and I’m at 251.  I dropped 9 lbs!  My long-term goal is about 200 lbs, but I’m focusing all my energy on daily goals rather than looking too far ahead.  This allows me to measure results and bounce back from slip-ups quicker.

So why am I putting myself out there like this?  Just two reasons.

1. Accountability | By putting this in a public blog and on various social media platforms, I’m really making myself vulnerable.  I want this to be a permanent change.  So, this has resulted in a number of people asking me how I’m doing.  Am I meeting my goals?  Where am I slipping up?  Others have also been very encouraging as well.

2. Processing | Some people journal.  I write.  And my preferred medium is blogging.  It helps me mentally process things I’m growing through in my own life.  And if it happens to help or encourage someone else along the way…..awesome!

I’m thankful to God for giving me the strength to succeed each day.  And I’m thankful to my amazing wife.  It’s not easy feeding a family of 5 on a tight budget when one of them is limited to a lot of specialty foods.  She has been so understanding and gracious with me.

How about you?  What are you working on, or what are you grateful for?  I’d love for you to leave a comment below.

Photo credit: affirmyourlife.blogspot.com