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…

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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 

 

6 ‘Easy’ Ways To Begin Leading Your Home Spiritually

If you’re like me, this DOES NOT come easy.  In fact, this topic is overly common among men.  It is also increasingly difficult for single mothers, because in the absence of a father this responsibility (privilege) defaults to them.   All children need (deserve) spiritual leadership and guidance.

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Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Eph. 6:4)

For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. (Eph. 5:23-24)

Now men, this scripture is NOT something we’re entitled to.  It is something to be EARNED!  It is also not something meant for us to LORD OVER our family.  The intent here is simply to give us the platform to lead our wives and kids into Biblical and authentic living.  We are to do this through love and the help of the Holy Spirit.

Let’s look at a few ways you can begin leading in your home:

1. Pray with your spouse | For many men this can feel quite awkward.  But I can tell you from experience that it’s easier than you think.  Before you part ways each morning, try just giving her a hug and whispering, “Lord, bless my wife today and keep her safe.”  Simple, but powerful…and very meaningful to her.

2. Look for teachable moments | Not every Spiritual moment needs to be a Bible study.  There are TONS of ‘life lesson’ out there.  We just need to find them.  Hear your teen comment on a  questionable post online?  Maybe your 7 year-old walks into the living room and asks why bad things are on the news channel?  These are those moments.  Run with them.

3. Be authentic | You’re not perfect!  Neither am I.  And it’s ok (even healthy) to admit it often.  When you snap at your wife because you had a bad day.  When your kids notice you falling short of the Sunday morning message.  Simply acknowledge it…ask them to forgive you, and move on.

4. Lead yourself well (in the open) | I don’t mean to be ‘showy’ here.  Simply be visible when you exercising, reading your Bible, or praying.  This is a powerful way to model right living indirectly to your family.  Let them actually SEE how you are leading yourself.

5. Engage online | Let’s face it.  Social media is here to stay.  So when you come across a meaningful Bible verse on Instagram or a great quote on Twitter…share it with your wife and kids.  Doing this communicates to them what you find to have value.

6. Model Jesus | Ok, so this one isn’t exactly EASY.  But I couldn’t exclude it.  Your wife and kids will learn more about the character of Jesus by observing you than they will by you teaching them a Bible lesson.  Jesus taught much more by example than he did by preaching.

Don’t tackle all of these at once.  Start with one or two and work from there.  It really does get easier and more natural with time.

 

What would you add to this list?  Leave a comment below.  I’d love to hear from you.

3 Things I Did To Get Back To My Goals

So, three weeks ago I began a serious refocus on my personal health.  Specifically, regarding my obsession with food.  Then, I spent a week in Nashville for my son’s graduation followed by 4 additional days serving at a Summer Camp for elementary kids.  Let’s just say that those two environments don’t make it super easy to eat healthy and plan your meals ahead of time.

I ate the best I could for the most part.  I also indulged a little, but feel like I did pretty good.  I was able to refrain from most carbs and sugar, and DID honor my rule of not eating after 7pm.

During those 2 weeks, however, I completely stopped my daily push-up challenge.

In the past, I would have felt like I have failed for two solid weeks and thought, “What’s the sense in picking this back up? Why even try?”  And I would have returned to the former eating habits immediately.

Not this time!

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Here’s what I did when I returned home….

Forgave myself | This is a huge first step.  I need to be able to give myself grace in the low moments in order to excel into new higher moments.  Otherwise, I’ll continue beating myself up over the past failures and crippling future potential successes.

Reviewed my original plan | I looked back to 3 weeks ago.  I looked at how I was able to lose 7.5 lbs in my first week.  That motivation gave me the ‘can do’ attitude to pick up right where I left off.  No worries…no regrets…and only looking forward.

Determined to start again | Like Nike says, ‘Just Do It.’  Start somewhere, ANYWHERE.  And I did.  I began today with a goal of getting 30 push-ups done.  You know what?  I did 60!  I was also public (once again) online and with my family about my goals.  Putting my goals out there creates powerful accountability for me.

Now, I’m writing this just two days after restarting.  I’m hoping and praying that a week from now I’ll be able to tell you I’ve been able to #WinToday successfully each day with my goals.  And honestly, I’d invite you to ask me exactly that.

How do you bounce back from a day or more of slipping away from your goals?  Or maybe a better question is what do you need to do that you are not doing to get back on course?

Join the discussion.  Leave a comment below.

Health & Fitness on THIS Blog?

For years I’ve joked that being 6′ 4″ makes it pretty easy to disguise being overweight.

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While this is true, the truth still remains.  It’s impossible to hide it from YOURSELF.  So I got out of bed a week ago determined to make a permanent life change.  Mainly, this had to do with food.  Food has been my idol, my drug of choice, my depression medicine for far too long.

The problem, however, was that I needed some regular inspiration to keep me focused on my daily goals.  So I did a quick search on iTunes and found the Fat-Burning Man, a podcast hosted by Abel James.  Don’t let the title throw you, this podcast is so much more than just ways to burn fat.

Other podcasts I am following include: ReLaunch, The One You Feed, and Underground Wellness.

While I’m on this new journey to much better health, this blog may become more about journaling my progress and discoveries for a season.  BUT the blog title still remains to be fitting.  Because leading ourselves well is the most stable foundation to leading others well.

Why am I posting  this?  The more I can be authentic and public about it, the more I feel like others are watching.  There’s a level of accountability in it.

For me….my desire is to eventually lose 60 lbs.  My new approach, however, is to set daily goals that are small enough to achieve.  I’m not looking past the next 24 hours, other than to plan my meals.  So each day I will strive to #WinToday!  And starting off, a ‘Win’ at the end of the day means I’ve accomplished all 5 of these goals:

     – Nothing after 7pm but water.
     – Cut 90% of sugar and carbs out of my diet
     – Average 30 – 60 push-ups each day
     – Cut my meal portions in 1/2 (they were BIG)
     – Drink about 60 oz of water each day

When we’re not working on something we actually stop developing as individuals.  We become stagnant.  (btw, that’s not good)

What are you working on and what does your process (or plan) look like?

5 Things To Know When Asking Jesus To Work

I’m sure we’ve all been there.  Circumstances which are out of our control often lead us to saying things like, “Lord, I need a miracle” or “God, why is this happening to me” or “I’m not sure if I can make it another day.”

Can you relate?  (I thought so)

Take a quick look at this passage from Matthew 20:29-34.

And as they went out of Jericho, a great crowd followed him.  And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!”  The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!”  And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?”  They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.”  And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him.

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So try to keep these things in mind when asking Jesus to move in your circumstances:

1)  When asking Jesus for his mercy, make an emotional investment (Lord, have mercy on us).  These guys asked more than once.  They put their heart into the request.  If it’s not meaningful enough to us, it probably won’t be meaningful to Jesus.

2)  Ignore the naysayers (The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent).  There will always be those around us who doubt God, his ability to do anything, or that he even cares.  When this happens, surround yourself with believers who are mature in their faith who will partner with you in prayer.

3)  Be specific with your request (What do you want me to do for you?).  Jesus already knows, but it’s that relationship thing again.  He wants you be make it personal with him.  Notice, however, that he doesn’t ask the men ‘How.’  This is super important.  Simply answer the ‘What’ and trust him with ALL the details.

4)  Trust that he does care about you and why you are making your request (Jesus in pity touched their eyes).  When translated, the word ‘Pity’ literally means to have compassion.  Jesus was moved by their situation…and he’s moved in yours as well!  Remember this the next time you ask for something.  And imagine Christ looking intently into your eyes with compassion, caring, and genuine concern.

5)  Follow him, even more than before, once he answers your prayers (and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him).  Never take his touch on your life for granted.  There’s always a reason, and it will almost always bless someone else who is not even involved in your specific situation.

 Today, may you cry out to Jesus with all your heart and clear expectations.  And may you find peace as he turns and looks into your eyes.

Comments are always welcome!