Join the #Identify3 Challenge

Needing a change of PERSPECTIVE this week…this month…this year?

Sometimes all we need is to modify our ATTENTION for our perspective to obtain clarity.

Try counting your blessings each morning. Like, REALLY counting them.

List them.

Acknowledge each blessing from God.

Challenge yourself to identify 3 ‘different’ blessings each day for a solid week. You will have a list of at least 21 unique, freely given blessings by day 7. Then, take time on the 8th day to give special thanks to Jesus for each of them.

And even if you’re not a follower of Jesus, that’s OK!  Simply recognizing the GOOD THINGS in our lives is something everyone should be able to do.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I’m going to do this myself!  Comment below if you’re going to accept the challenge too.  Also consider sharing this post wherever you are on social media.

Use the hashtag #Identify3 with your posts. 

To get you started well, enjoy this music video by Rend Collective! (they’re amazing)

 

Connect with me on Instagram. That’s where I spend most of my time.

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How To Weather The Seasons Of Life Like A Boss!

Ha, that title is the EPITOME of click bate (and I do hate click bate).

I’m not weathering my personal current season of life like a boss, so why would I even attempt to write something like this for anyone else?

Easy.  I’ll give you two reasons.  1. This isn’t really for you.  It’s for me.  Writing helps me process my thoughts, mood, and ultimately my actions.  So there!  2. Confession.  Yep, sharing my own shortcomings will hopefully keep me humble, and might even encourage someone else along the way.

So, with that….

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For many of us, changes in the four seasons require certain behaviors from us.  Here are a few examples.  Our clothing changes depending upon how warm or cold it is outside.  One season may call us to shovel snow or put de-icer on the driveway.  At other times in the year cutting the grass or raking leaves might be in the cards.  And the list goes on.  There is very little, if anything, you and I can do to avoid these types of elements.  We are forced to make modifications to accommodate the particular elements of each season.

winter

The seasons of life are absolutely no different!

We must look ahead, prepare, and sometimes expect the inevitable challenging elements.

spring

Take empty nesting, for example.  As much as I knew it was coming, it felt like it came out from nowhere!  This is still a challenge, even though it is going really well.

In the past 6 months, my wife and I have:

  • Relocated back to our home state of Washington from Colorado. (with two of our kids, plus a fiance’)
  • Begun discovering what leading a Missional Community looks like.
  • Started adjusting to military life with a son in the Navy. (he’s shipping over seas next week)
  • Getting used to another son living away in Colorado.  It’s hard when they’re not close.
  • Discovered the health and beauty of doing bi-vocational ministry in our community.

summer

In all of that, here are a few ways we have tried to weather these seasons like bosses!

Community | Authenticity changes everything.  Plus, God created us to live in community with one another and with Him.  To support and encourage each other.

Meditation | Prayer, or often simply sitting in the Lord’s presence.  In this current season, sometimes all I can do is sit quietly by myself and think about Jesus.  Sitting with Him while doing nothing is so therapeutic!

Exercise | Even when we don’t feel like it.  My wife and I go to the gym 5-6 times each week.  We’re not always excited about this, so it is helpful when we hold each other accountable to go weather we feel like it or not.  The key here is simply to remain active somehow.

Talk | With each other.  For us, this has made our marriage even stronger.  We share our real anxieties & pain with each other.  I realize this is a significant struggle for most men, but trust me.  Your marriage will advance to a level it’s never been before!

Journaling | I use Evernote and blog.  If you prefer the old fashioned paper and pen, try getting yourself a nice Moleskin tablet.

In the end, all seasons come to an end so that new ones can begin. The Bible reminds us that there is a season for everything, a time for every matter under heaven.  This should encourage us when we are in a dark season that better days are coming.  Likewise, it gives us advanced warning when things are sailing smooth that …

What about you?  What season are you in, and what have you found to be helpful to weather it?

OR….which of the items I mentioned above tend to be challenging to actually implement?

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Comments and questions are welcome below.

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3 Things To Do In The Middle Of Your Troubles

If you’re anything like me, when I have trouble or stress in my life all I want to do is eat, complain, and remain as inactive as possible.  Hey, I’m just being honest.  Can you relate?

Lately, God has been leading me into a particular season of prayer.  It’s been one of seeking his heart and hearing his voice.   Life hasn’t necessarily been full of trouble or difficulty recently, but it has presented a lot of busyness.  And if you’re like me, busyness has the tendency to distract.  Auto-pilot becomes a natural and sub-conscious state of being.

When we come to realize that we are in this ‘funk,’ three key actions will aid to reset our priorities and improve our spiritual mental capacity.

Romans 12:12 reminds you and I to “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”

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Here’s what we can take away from this one powerful verse.

  1. Rejoice in hope – That’s right, we have real hope in the promises of God.  His word is reliable.  And whether we can feel him actively involved in our circumstances or not, we can be reassured in the hope that we really do ‘know’ that he is.
  2. Be patient in tribulation – In our pain, misery, and distress we can easily allow ourselves to become anxious.  But God’s word instructs us to be patient.  For me, this is a kind reminder that life comes in seasons.  They all come and go.  Sure, some last longer than others.  But patience allows us to chill out while God is doing his thing.  He’s not oblivious to your current state of life.  Release your stress to him and trust.
  3. Be constant in prayer – ‘Constant’…meditation is what comes to mind here.  Prayer doesn’t always have to be kneeling in a dark closet (I’m not sure I’ve ever even done this).  I would suggest that ‘constant in prayer’ simply means to remain in a state of continual awareness of God’s involvement in our lives throughout the day.  My prayer life totally changed once I learned how to remain mindful of God’s presence around me throughout my entire day…AND once I learned the habit of talking with him in the midst of that presence.

So, try this today.  Write it down.  Ask a friend or spouse to join in this quest with you.  Claim your joy in the hope we have in God, move patiently through the season you are in, and saturate your days in prayer.

Comments, prayer requests, and questions are welcome below.

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How To Listen When God Begins To Speak

I’m just being real with all of you here.  In the past 5 days, God has intentionally placed the same passage / theme right in front of me.  Different messages.  Different devotional books.  Some might chalk it up to coincidence after 2 or even 3 times.  But FIVE?

I wrote about it just a few days ago when it first hit me.   Have you been there before?

When God sends me multiple signs, speaking the same thing to me over and over…..my natural instinct is to work hard at trying to figure out WHAT and WHY behind the message.  But I continue to learn that this is not usually effective.

Here’s what I AM learning, though still not perfect.

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  • God rarely yells.  He whispers.  What do you and I tend to do when someone is whispering at us.  We cup our hands next to our ear, turn our head toward them, and try hard to block out all other distractions to decifer what is being communicated.
  • God’s timing is NOT going to accommodate our need to know now.  We try to figure out what God is saying and then get frustrated when we don’t understand right away.  He reveals whatever it is to us at the right time…NOT the desired time!

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2 Things I Did Not Expect This Week At Orange Conference

And no, I’m not talking about things like hitting every green light on the way to work on a Monday.  (although those days are pretty epic)

My wife and I attend Orange Conference every year as volunteers, serving and assisting one of the regular speakers.  One of the things I have enjoyed most is the networking with other leaders.  Some are well-known and have significant platforms.  Others don’t necessarily have the same level of influence, but their contribution to Kingdom work is still very notable.  I learn from all of them!

So, here’s what I DIDN’T expect while at Orange Conference.

 

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Soulcare Praise – About a year ago, I had the privilege to speak at another Children’s Ministry conference in Kentucky. We ran into a young lady in a local coffee shop who was also attending the conference.  We were able to listen and pray with her about the challenges she was facing in her ministry position at the time.  Well, we just happened to cross paths again this week.  Among over 8,000 attendees, my wife spotted her across the lobby.  We learned that she had taken a couple of ‘nuggets’ of encouragement from one of my conference talks last year and really worked hard to implement them.  She shared with us that she is doing so much better as a leader now.  Amazing, and Jesus gets all the praise!

The Praying Caterers – I know what you are thinking.  The food service workers made it a practice during the conference to ‘Bless’ each person’s food before they sat down to eat.  While that would be quite cool, it wasn’t the case.  You see, my wife was getting dinner in the volunteer green room area and was simply asking about the menu over the next few days.  I’m having gall bladder surgery next week and she has been helping me be to be careful with my diet.  The caterers (all 6 of them) just happened to also be believers AND all attend the same church!  They gathered around Cailey and I and prayed over me and the surgery.  Can I just say…I really miss the Southern Hospitality in the South.

My takeaway?

“Jesus will often interrupt our journey of ministering to others so that OTHERS can minister to US.”

 

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3 Effective Ways To Conquer The Giants In Your Life

What are the giants in your life?  We all have them.  They simply have different names.  Marital confrontation, financial stress, worrying about my kids, and following God’s direction in incredible uncertainty have been just a few of mine.

For David, his was Goliath.  At church on Sunday, the message revolved around this incredible true event. As he spoke, something caused curiosity in me that had not been there before.  Have you experienced this, reading a familiar passage and having something  jump out and grab your attention is such a way that you can’t let it go?

I began digging in to this passage of scripture a bit deeper.  I had just started a 24 hour Sabbatical, so the timing was perfect.  Here’s what ‘bothered’ me in this passage.

David collected 5 smooth stones (1 Sam. 17:40), BUT only used one stone to hit his giant in the forehead!  There is so much in this.  It sent Goliath crashing to the ground, allowing David to use the Giant’s own sword to finish him off.

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I thank God that his Spirit stirs curiosity in me like this.  Here’s what I discovered.

  1. Be ready to face the giant that is right in front of you.  In other words, don’t be caught off guard.  Recognize the giants in your life as the enemy that they are and that God will deliver you from them.  You and I typically view our giant like the Israelites did, terrified and avoiding it as long as possible.  The truth is that we should be sprinting toward it with bold confidence (v. 48) screaming a battle cry that actually causes our enemy to question their own intimidation.
  2. Arm yourself and prepare for related attacks that are to come.  This is speculated on why David chose 5 stones but only used one.  Additionally, he only had one in his hand when he approached Goliath (v. 49).  It would have been more logical to have had multiple stones in his hand to allow for quick reloading in case he missed the first time.  The remaining 4 backup stones were likely reserved for Goliath’s 4 brothers (2 Sam. 21:15-22).  Knowing that family sticks together and that one or more of these brothers might be close by, David was prepared with one stone for each of them.
  3. Be bold in proclaiming who your God is and what He is able to do.  David said to King Saul, The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” (v. 37)  David remembered the times God had been there in the past, and he knew God would continue to show up in the future.  You and I must have the same approach with our giants! 

What would you add to this list?  I’d love it if you would leave a comment below.

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2 Benefits of Keeping our Blessings in Mind

I’m creating a Praise Challenge for the entire month of December.  Follow me on Instagram and Twitter to stay in the know each week.

I don’t know about you, but I have a TON to be thankful for.  The majority of 2016 has been extremely challenging for me.  The Lord, however, has his hands in all of our ‘challenges,’ usually in ways we are not immediately aware of.

Take a quick look at these two scripture passages:

My soul, praise the Lord,
and do not forget all His benefits. – Psalm 103:2
and
Rejoice always!
Pray constantly.
Give thanks in everything,
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

The issue of Praising Him in everything has been on my mind lately.  It’s been in my devotion time, and it was the topic of our Chapel time at work this past Friday.

Here are just 2 benefits to keeping our blessings in mind every day.

  1. Our challenges and needs become less pronounced as we go about our day when we intentionally try to identify all the different blessings that we do have.
  2. It can change our attitudes.  Our entire outlook on life can do a 180 turnaround when we realize that we really do have many more blessings in our life than we do hardships.

So, do you want to experience less anxiety caused by the things that worry you?  Would you like to have more of an optimistic outlook on life?  If so, start counting your blessings and praise the one who is the true source of all that you and I have to be thankful for.

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If you are interested, here’s the Praise Challenge for all of December.  Every Monday identify 5 blessings in your life.  Then, simply pray over them and praise Jesus for them each day of the week.  If you want, you can even post them on social media to encourage others to jump in too.  If you do, please remember to use #PraiseChallenge on each post.  Each Monday we will identify and share 5 new blessings to praise Him for.

How does that sound?

This December, may you be blessed in your search for all the ways Jesus really is actively taking care of you.

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