Why You’re Being Attacked

Does God’s Spirit ever hit you on the head when you are reading the Bible or a good devotional?  Well, that happened to me today.  And this quote particularly stuck out to me.

blessed.001.jpg

There’s a reason you are being attacked.  (If you’re not, go encourage someone who is)  You are blessed and favored by our Father in Heaven.  And the enemy…well, he comes after the blessed and favored.

By this I know that you delight in me: my enemy will not shout in triumph over me.  But you have upheld me because of my integrity, and set me in your presence forever. – Psalm 41:11-12

Yes…God does delight in YOU!  Keep your eyes laser-focused on Him and maintain your integrity.  The only power/influence the enemy has over you is what you give him.  We have already won because He already has the victory.

This is as much a reminder to myself as for anyone, but I thought I’d pass it on to you as well.  Hang tight….your current struggle is not without purpose and Jesus IS walking with you every step of the way.

 

 

3 Keys To Effectively Discovering Your Next Calling

Do you find yourself lost, confused, or even frustrated with your current season of life?  Be honest with yourself.

It wasn’t until recently that I became vividly aware that this was true of me right now.  But I also realized that this felt negative.  Why?  Since when did being honest with ourselves become a bad thing?

I’m reading an insightful book right now by Gary Barkalow.  The title: “It’s Your Call: What Are You Doing Here?”  A perfect read for this confusing season I’m in.   Here’s a quote I read that got me thinking.

blog.001

Since moving from GA to CO and from being a campus pastor to a barista, the word ‘transition‘ has been quite the buzz word in our home.  This quote made me realize that I have been viewing this transition in my life as temporary…..a buffer if you will.  But here’s what I’m slowing discovering (with the insightful help of my amazing wife).

Could it be that God isn’t planning to allow me to move into the next ‘official’ ministry position until I fully accept and own what he has me doing at the coffee house and in my family?  Could it also be that there is an ‘unpolished mineral’ right under my nose today?  My sense is that I’ve been straining and peering so hard into the future that I’m missing the gold mine of opportunity for ministry he already has placed me in.

blog.002

I absolutely love how Barkalow penned this.  It has definitely been true in my life.  How about yours?  Let me try to wrap this all up and offer you what I promised in the title.

Here we go!

1.  Your next calling is now | God wants you and I to give our all to his Kingdom work today.  Don’t merely get by until the next door of opportunity appears, glowing in gold neon and surrounded with smoke screen.  That’s not always how he presents his calling to us (insert mild sarcasm).

2.  Enjoy the journey | Sure, there are times of sharpening and molding of our character.  But I firmly believe that when we are fully owning his call on our lives today…in this precise moment…he desires for you and I to encounter joy in it.  Happiness that only the Holy Spirit can give.  Pray for that.  Ask him today!

3.  Continue the search | This is so important.  Most of us look forward to Spring while we’re in the Winter.  And once we’ve tasted Spring, we can’t wait for Fall.  Finally, it comes full circle when we are yearning for Winter.  But wait, it wasn’t long ago that we were wishing for Winter to be behind us.  It’s simple (I think).  God longs for us to fully enjoy the ‘season’ we are currently in, while joyfully seeking him and his Word on the doorsteps of the season that is still to come.

He really is a good, good Father.  How do I know?  Because as I was writing this post in a Starbucks that song started playing overhead.  I know, in Starbucks!  Take a moment to quietly listen to the words of this beautiful song.  And may the Lord speak joy and affirmation into your heart directly from his.  “…and I’m loved by you…it’s who I am…”

It is the glory of God to conceal things,
    but the glory of kings is to search things out.” – Proverbs 25:2

The 4 Dimensions Of Extraordinary Leadership

“Extraordinary leaders call others to their extraordinary best.”

This is simply one of dozens of insightful quotes by Jenni Catron in her latest book, The 4 Dimensions Of Extraordinary Leadership.

One of the leading voices in Christian leadership today, Jenni exposes readers to four dimensions of leadership through the lens of the Great Commandment.  She takes how we are to love God (with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength) and challenges us to lead others through the same dimensions.  Not only is it Biblical, it makes sense.  Think about it.  By focusing our leadership efforts in this way we are honoring, thus loving, our Heavenly Father.

  “When I consider my life as a leader, it means leading with all of who I am                    for the benefit of God and others.”

I don’t know about you, but I really like tools.  Well, Jenni Catron offers a free online assessment tool that will help you discover which dimension(s) you naturally lead from.  I suggest taking this assessment before reading the book.  If you’re like me, this can be beneficial in focusing additional attention on the chapters which relate specifically to you.

Catron

Where do I lead from?  SOUL!  Some leaders determine a mixed percentage between a couple of the dimensions.  Mine, however, came up 100%.

Let me share just a couple highlights with you from chapter 5.  This is where she writes about leading from the Soul.  Following Christ is who we are, and it should overflow to our leadership.”  Yes…yes…yes!  Preach it, Jenni.  I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve witnessed church leaders make major decisions entirely from a worldly corporate mindset.  Prayer and spiritual discernment must always guide those of us who lead in the Church.  When these are absent we are essentially communicating to God that we don’t require his input and assistance.

Great leaders serve. They recognize everything they do isn’t for them.”  This is so true.  Self-serving leaders never breed health in a corporation.  Leaders who intentionally build accountability into their network of mentors are a step ahead of the rest.

Grab a copy of this book for yourself, or take your teams through it together.  I promise it will create some powerful conversations.  Here’s one final quote:

“Extraordinary leaders lead through the tension.  Then don’t get lost in it.”

 

 

 

 

My One Word For 2016 Is…

…CALLED…

As I was praying and thinking about this next year, words like accomplish, persist, achieve, optimism, and consistency made their way to my notepad.  Then, ‘Purpose’ popped up.  Next, a very familiar piece of scripture came through my quiet time.  Maybe you’re familiar with it as well?

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are CALLED according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28

Called OneWord365

That word, CALLED, seemed to jump right out and hit me between the eyes.  And that’s exactly what our One Word should do.

Let me flesh this out a bit (more for me than anyone else).

Romans 8 reminds me that I am CALLED according to His purpose.  I am CALLED by God, and His purposes are my calling.  As I meditated through this today the Lord lovingly reminded me that my present situation is indeed still within His calling for me.

I am CALLED… to constantly abide in him.

I am CALLED…to reflect the love and character of God at all times.

I am CALLED…to be the spiritual leader of my wife and kids.

I am CALLED…to teach, equip, and encourage church leadership (whatever that might look like).

I am CALLED…to obedience.

Now it’s your turn.  What’s your One Word for the coming year?  How do you plan to focus your efforts for maximum growth?

Visit my previous post for help/tips on isolating your One Word.  I’d love for you to subscribe to my blog.  We can stay connected through the year regarding our commitment to our One Word, and I’ll send you my first eBook on accomplishing your goals!

Comments are always welcome.  God bless and have an incredible 2016.

What Are Your Expectations For 2016?

Are they the same as last year?  Do you have a list of New Year’s resolutions that only have a 60 day shelf life?

I’ve been there.  And 2016 will definitely be new year of adventure and discovery for me.

oneword365

Something I have been practicing for the past four years is choosing a single word to focus on for the coming year.  A theme word if you will. My words for the past two years, for example, have been ‘Strive‘ and ‘Intentional.’  I make screen savers and lock-screen graphics for my mobile devices to keep my word in front of me at all times.  This week I am taking time to pray and meditate about what my One Word for 2016 will be.

So I ask you again…….what are your expectations (hopes) for 2016?

Check out OneWord365 for inspiration and community support in choosing your one word and sticking with it through the entire year.

Here are some things I do to discover my One Word:

  • Read scripture
  • Journal
  • Jot down a list of possible words
  • List things you hope will become reality in 2016
  • Use a thesaurus

Stay in touch as I will be posting on my One Word very soon.  I’m excited for 2016 and all it holds for YOU.

Have a very Happy New Year!

From Pastor to Barista

Well, it’s been 28 days since my last post.  I hate that.  But that’s what transition tends to do, right?  It can throw our daily routines and normal practices off track.  If we’re not careful those things will not realign.  This can lead you and I to a place of unhealth and confusion.

I want to share with you 3 discoveries I have made since transitioning from a Campus Pastor to a Barista…and since moving from GA to Colorado Springs just 9 days ago.

Routines are easily disrupted during transitions | Before we moved, I had a solid morning routine with God and my wife (Cailey).  I would have my coffee, spend really good time in God’s word and prayer, and then pray with Cailey as she headed out the door for work.  I was also going to the gym regularly.  We enjoyed doing life with an amazing community group on Friday nights.  We had a crazy-awesome church.  All of that has been tossed in the air and fallen in scattered pieces all over the floor.  I’ve had to be very intentional about locating all those pieces and reorganizing them to fit the new life I’m in now.

Transitions will almost always make you question your identity | I think there is proof of this in a previous post I wrote as part of my processing journey.  Nearly 6 years ago I left a spiritually-devastating situation at a church and moved across the country (yep, we’ve done this before) as Cailely became the Children’s Pastor at an incredible church in GA.  I wallowed in my own pain and pity from the prior church hurt for seven months.  Shortly after that, I started working at LifeWay bookstore.  After being in full-time ministry for the majority of my adult life, working in retail again really challenged my integrity.  By that, I mean my identity was placed under a high powered microscope.  I didn’t know it at the time, but God was doing a work in me.  He was preparing me for my next season in ministry (even though I had already told him I was done).  This time I was more prepared.  I’m much more confident in my identity.  I’m still a pastor (at heart and in calling), but I happen to also be a Barista at Starbucks.  Leadership is influence…and I simply know that God has me where I am to be an influence and reflect him.  One final comment on this one.  I love podcasts.  It was a real blessing as we traveled for 5 days to Colorado as I listened to an episode by Lewis Howes.  He was interviewing Brad Lomenick on his new book.  Wow…I was blown away hearing how Brad had gone through his own transition and identity issues after stepping down from leading Catalyst.  His book is next on my reading list for sure!

It can become easy to get self-centered | Really!  For example, I have a new job (so does my wife).  I have just moved across the country (so has my family).  My emotions are all over the place most days (so are my family’s).  See what I mean?  If I’m not careful, I will neglect my place of husband and father.  The very real challenge is recognizing when I’m focusing on myself and then to intentionally reach out to them.  I’m still figuring this one out.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not an expert on this topic.  I’m still growing through this new season…and I know there will continue to be more as long as I have breath in this life.

Can you relate to any of these?  How have you weathered through these seasons in the past?

Today, may the Lord bless you in whatever changes you are going through.  Remember, they are never pointless.  God has a purpose, and it’s usually going to shape or grow you for something.  Look at it as training camp.  You want to be prepared, right?

Comments are always welcome.

 

I’m Moving To Colorado Springs! What???

I have a Love/Hate relationship with change.  How about you?

 arrow-945271_1920

In the Fall of 2013, it was revealed at our staff retreat that my wife and I were going to step out of our staff roles at the time to launch the first multisite church campus of Christ Community Church. Fast forward to Nov 8, 2015. On this Sunday we announced that our campus would be changing our video teaching model to offer live preaching. Not only did this change not include my wife and I (change in leadership), we also announced that we were moving to Colorado Springs in 4 weeks.

This has all happened so quickly.  We really have seen the finger prints of God all over this…not only in our own lives, but for the health of the campus as well.

So, this is basically a journal entry reflecting on my thoughts with this transition:  What I FEEL vs. what I KNOW.

What I feel | There is personal loss attached to big life transitions. Loss of close friends, co-workers, family, culture, and familiarity.

What I know | There often needs to be loss if God is going to bless us with new blessings. It’s His way of making room for the new. I have seen this over and over in my lifetime, so I’m not sure why I don’t get more excited at the onset of changing seasons when they pop up.

What I feel | 18 months is too soon after launching a new church campus for the leadership to move on. Ok, it’s too soon for my comfort level. There, I said it. I really thought I’d be shepherding this body of believers for at least 3-5 years. And that was my problem. I presumed God’s intentions more than I should have.

What I know | God’s timing is always perfect and always better than mine. On God’s clock, late and early are non-existent. This is so comforting (and frustrating) to me.

What I feel | Its not fair that I don’t get to be a part of this local church body in its next chapter. I want to see it grow. I want to meet all the amazing, new people. I want to celebrate with the new believers and disciple them.

What I know | God’s calling on my life (and yours) is never about fairness. And it is not about our personal wants. It is, however, always about obedience, faith, and a larger Kingdom purpose than my own little world.

What I feel | I worry about how my kids will weather through this change. Our 2 oldest are staying in GA, while 2 of our boys are moving with us. I often think, they did not ask for this life of ministry….constant change and moving from place to place.

What I know | They are only mine for a season and for the purpose of training them up in faith and life. Ultimately, they are The Lord’s. When we dedicated them to Him as babies, we were placing them in His care. As they have grown older, I have had to constantly re-visit those moments and ask myself a question. Do I truly mean today what I meant back then? Thankfully, the answer has been ‘yes.’ But I do find myself constantly rededicating each of them to God’s care and providence. This is mainly for my own sanity.

What I feel | If I’m going to be really authentic here, I’d have to admit that I’ve said to God (more than once) that I didn’t ask for this calling of ministry in my life. I’ve often thought what it would be like to go to church at the same time as everyone else does. Or how it would feel not to have to live completely by my calendar. Or not having the heaviness of knowing so much of the pain and struggle many of our church members are enduring each week.

What I know | While that all sounds appealing on the surface, I know better. Yes, ministry is demanding and hard. But (there’s a huge ‘but’ here), it is also rewarding beyond words. The innumerable experiences, tragedies, joys, challenges, victories, and relationships God has gifted me with….none of them would have come to be if I had said ‘No’ to His call on my life. I would have forfeited the past 24 years of partnership with God. The thought that I could have given all that away to someone else makes me cringe.

“This is God’s universe, and He does things His way.  We may have a better way, but we don’t have a universe.”  – Dr. J. Vernon Megee

 How about you?  How have you maneuvered through major transitions in life?  When have what you FEEL vs. what you KNOW collided?

This has been the quickest, healthiest, and craziest change in my life to date…..and I’m really looking forward to it!

You Don’t Need To See All The Details Today

Have you ever wished that God would stop holding out on you and simply show you his plan for the next season of life?  I mean, we want to step out in faith and all that good stuff.  But why can’t he just let us in on the secret?  Give us the details?

Something caught my eye while traveling out of town recently.  It was a horse trailer, and the horse was wearing a mask like this.

CACFMASE

PHOTO CREDIT: WWW.HORSETACKCO.COM

I do know a little bit about horses, and there are two common purposes for having a horse wear a head mask like this while they travel in a trailer.

  1. It protects them (mainly their eyes) from insects.
  2. It helps to keep them calm.

That’s right.  The mask has a calming effect on the horse when it can’t see all that is going on around it.  The horse’s owner will remove the mask when the environment is mostly free of harm and distractions.

Meanwhile, the horse still needs to respond to the owner’s guidance.  It doesn’t just stand there.  It follows it’s owner even though it cannot see what it is walking toward.

Sound familiar?

Check this out:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.  – Isaiah 55:8, 9

If God is leading you somewhere and you can’t see what it’s all going to look like, that’s O.K.  There is usually good reason.  In my own life, I can think back to many times when I would have not followed him if he had shown me the plan before the journey.  Why?  Because it would have scared me to death!  He has bigger, better plans for you and I.  He provides and equips us as we need it every step of the way.

My encouragement for you today is this.  Be grateful!  What he’s asking of you today may seem like an incredible step of faith, but it’s likely to be just one of many baby steps toward something too amazing to wrap your understanding around.

Could this encourage someone you know today?  Share it online.

Perhaps this was something you needed to hear in your own life today.  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Today, may you be able to fully trust God even in the absence of big details.

 

 

 

3 Things To Always And Never Do In Leadership

“I will NEVER be that kind of leader.”

“I will ALWAYS lead with the utmost integrity in my church.”

We’ve all heard it said, “Never say ALWAYS or NEVER.”  And I think there is some wisdom in that.  These words can easily set us up for major failure.

Never and Always.001

In the right context, however, ALWAYS and NEVER can be incredibly useful for staying focused and intentional with who we desire to become and what we hope to accomplish in the future.

Here are 3 things I suggest we ALWAYS and NEVER do in leadership:

1. ALWAYS do your best | Our work effort should be high and directed toward God (Col. 3:23).  This also creates solid character.

2. ALWAYS forgive yourself when you fail | You and I are going to fail.  It’s inevitable.  But if we don’t learn from our mistakes, give ourselves grace and move on…we will end up self-destructing.  Give each new day a clean slate (Lam. 3:22-23).

3. ALWAYS look for the good in everyone | Noticing the positive traits in others (and acknowledging them) encourages and builds others up.  Who doesn’t need more of that?  This also changes the way we view people for the better.


1. NEVER Give up | You and I lose sight of our goals, hopes, dreams, and reason for living when we give up (1 Cor. 9:24).  When you feel like giving up, seek a mentor immediately.  Work through it with someone.

2. NEVER neglect your priorities | Relationship with Jesus, family, personal health, rest, and growth.  These are some of examples.  Whatever yours are, keep them in front of you at all times (Luke 12:34).  Examine them to see how you are doing.

3. NEVER lose sight of your calling | This one helps us to avoid giving up.  Whatever God has called you to, do it well (Eph. 4:1).  He believes in you.

What would you add to this list?

Join the discussion and leave a comment below.