God Provides When We Step Out In Faith

My wife and I were asked to talk to our church recently and share about how God has led and provided through our recent transition.

Walking by faith is not always easy, BUT it does get easier the more we say ‘YES.’

November 22, 2015: Hebrews – How Do We Worship Him? from Christ Community Church on Vimeo.

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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.

 

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.

Are You Standing In The Way Of God’s Will?

Gods WillHow would you feel if Jesus referred to you as Satan?  Have you ever argued with God about where your life is heading?

Jesus had just gathered his disciples to tell them about his Father’s plan for salvation.  He explained that he was to suffer and die, and then be raised from the dead 3 days later.  This was God plan.  But Peter didn’t like how this was sounding.

...And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.  But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan!  For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”  Mark 8:32-33

You see, he wasn’t literally calling Peter Satan.  Jesus was telling him that his thoughts were not in line with God’s thoughts.  Peter was allowing his human emotions and reasoning to create a potential roadblock to God’s will.

The crazy part of this story is that just moments prior to this, Peter was the first to verbalize Jesus’ identity the Christ…the Messiah.  (Mark 8:29)

“There’s a difference between knowing Jesus’ true identity in your life…and not standing in the way of God’s will.”

Can you relate to Peter?  I know I have in the past.  I’ve even told God ‘No’ a couple of times.  And like Peter, he has a stern but loving way of redirecting us.

What is God calling you to today?  And are you good with it?

Join the discussion, comment below.

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Comments and questions are welcome below.

You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram!

 

(background) photo credit: drawnmonsters.com 

Change doesn’t happen without a plan

Regular self-evaluation, or its absence, can greatly determine your degree of success with your goals.

This is a follow-up to a blog post I wrote back in January, 2013.

Little did I know that age 42 was going to be a turning point in my life.  Not because of a mid-life crisis, but because of  one simple word…..STRIVE.  That has been my focus for the past 10 months.  It all began with a mentorship experience I had the privilege of having with Jim Wideman.  He calls it ‘Infuse.’  This was the catalyst for a major life overhaul.  I was stretched in many ways with Infuse, but one thing particularly struck me.  At one of our Infuse retreats, Jim said, “When your goals go without a detailed plan and accountability, they never move beyond being a goal.”

So this intensive challenge to high-level self leadership was birthed.  I’d like to encourage you today by sharing my struggles and successes through this journey.

It all started at spiritual growth.  Now, I thought I was going to learn better team-building methods or how to recruit volunteers in my time with Infuse.  Those things became a bi-product of a more central issue.   Another powerful statement Jim made is that we can’t possibly lead others to a place we haven’t been ourselves.  He was talking about the daily exercise of spiritual disciplines as a vehicle to getting closer to Jesus.  In other words, we can’t expect our volunteers and support staff to be ‘good’ with God if we aren’t really practicing this in our personal lives.  Progress:  I’ve been more engaged in Bible meditation and prayer than any other time.  It’s been amazing!

Next came the need for exercise.  My wife and I decided we had to put an end to our sedentary lifestyle.  We literally had zero exercise aside from walking to and from the car and home or work.  We joined a gym just down the street from our house and the change has been incredible.  Not only am I more energetic and flexible, but we consider these daily trips to the gym our ‘workout dates.’  Progress:  We’ve averaged 3-4 days a week at the gym in 2013, and are now pushing for 2 hours a day when our schedule permits.

My long struggle with bondage to food followed just recently.  At 6’4″ and 250 lbs, I realized I needed to do something drastic with my eating choices and habits.  During the beginning of a prayer week at our church I was experiencing this overwhelming weight on my spirit (it wasn’t my stomach).  It almost felt like an anxiety attack.  But after praying through it, the Lord clearly told me he wanted me to experience the Daniel Fast.  WHAT?  Anything with ‘fast’ attached to it makes me want to run the other direction.  But this time was different.  I really felt the heart of God in this, and his desire for me to be healthy.  So I started that afternoon.  The journey was like none I’ve ever experienced before.  I went the full 21 days with NO sugar, bread, milk, cheese, or meat!  My success with this challenge was due to the high spiritual commitment I had to God, plus the encouragement and support I had from my amazing wife and co-workers like Kelli Wommack.  Progress:  I’ve lost 11 lbs, but I’ve also decided to maintain many aspects of what I learned about food during those 3 weeks.

Lastly, being the spiritual leader of my home has been a failing struggle for 22 years.  All this time I’ve felt inadequate and intimidated  at what this really meant.  I feared attempting and failing, but in avoiding the issue I failed completely.  Upon completing the Daniel Fast, it occurred to me.  If I can be successful in that and other areas mentioned above….why can’t I be just as successful at leading my home?  So I just stepped out and started.  Specifically, I am committed to sharing a verse, devotional thought, or encouragement with my wife and praying for her every day.   Progress:  So far, so good!  I am currently working on building some accountability into this for myself.

2013 has proved to be a turning point for me.  I haven’t fully decided on my One Word for 2014 yet, but I’m thinking it may become something like, MAINTAIN.

Do you relate to any of my story?  I’d love for you to leave a comment.

Isaiah 40:29 tells us that, “He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.”

Manage your life, or your life will manage you!

photo by: www.southernfriedscience.com
photo by: http://www.southernfriedscience.com

Are you tired, stressed, or in any other way overloaded by the pressures of this life?  Well, I have good news and bad news.

Bad news:  Join the crowd!  All of us experience this from time to time.  In our busy society, this is not going away.  (I know, encouraging, right?)
Good news:  These pressures of life can be limited to short seasons and not the daily ‘norm’ that most Americans have come to believe.
Let me suggest 3 methods that I have personally begun to implement over the past year.  Don’t get me wrong on this.  I’ve still got some improving to do here, but I’ve come a long way in this area.  I hope and pray for you to experience the same.
#1  Take a real day off:  Everyone needs rest…both mental and physical.  You are not super human.  Seriously, there’s no law that says you cannot take care of you.  And let me say this loud and clear.  If you happen to be employed at a company/business that expects you to work 10-12 hours a day seven days a week (and even working from home), you need to find a different job!  You can read more on how to take a day off effectively here.
#2  Set healthy priorities:  I’m not talking about writing a productive task list for work.  Try spending a couple of hours contemplating your current life while sitting in your favorite coffee-house.  Take a notepad (or notes app) with you to jot down your thoughts.  List 2-3 lifestyle changes you would like to make.  Maybe its reading a good book for half and hour each night before bed.  How about not responding to email or phonecalls (texts) after 6 or 7pm?  Perhaps its doing some intentional grocery shopping on the weekends so you’re prepared to eat healthier during the busy work week.  I think you get the picture.
#3  Plan ahead:  To make the prior two points a reality you must schedule them as if they are actual appointments.  Before my daily morning quiet time  and trips to the gym became routine I actually put them on my iCloud calendar.  Place all your work and personal items on the same calendar!  This way they won’t overlap.  And we all know what happens when they overlap…….our personal time gets bumped every time.  Plan your entire week before your work week starts.  If your job is a difficult one to do this with, plan for each day on the evening before.  Trust me, mastering this practice will greatly decrease your stress levels.  It has for me.
Whether you are an executive in corporate America, fast-food worker, pastor, parent, or student…these are all possible for you.  Make them a reality, both for your sanity and for your future (not to mention for those around you).
Pray and meditate on this Psalm each day.  Give your life focus.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.  Psalm 51:10 (ESV)
Prioritize your life, or life will make your priorities for you!  

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Comments, prayer requests, and questions are welcome below.

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8 Tips to Having a Good Day of Rest

photo by: www.fredmckinnon.com
photo by: http://www.fredmckinnon.com

Common excuses:

– My job doesn’t allow time.

– I don’t know anyone who really takes a full day Sabbath every week.

– I wouldn’t know what to do with a whole day of nothing.

– I simply have too much to accomplish.  Resting one entire day would be a waist!

Have you said any of these before?  Be honest.  I have.  In fact, I’ve said all of them.

God set the example for us.  He rested after 6 days of work, not because He was tired….but because He knew we would need real rest.  He was simply modeling the importance of a Sabbath rest for us.  And it wasn’t simply a loving, well-meaning suggestion.  It’s included in the 10 Commandments!  This is important, people.  Especially for those of us in church leadership.

We must take what God modeled for us, and model the same to those we lead!  It should be a large focal point of how we approach making disciples.  Disciples are learners……followers.  Therefore, they need to have something worth following.  

So, what does this ‘day of rest’ look like for us today?  Let me offer some suggestions of things I’ve put into practice.

Set your day – Schedule it…plan ahead for success.  Mine works best on Mondays, so I get things done on Sunday.  The things I don’t finish I add to my ‘to do’ list for Tuesday.  The only way to make your Sabbath Day a success is to make it Holy.  We need to treat it like gold!  Otherwise, it becomes just another day.

Communicate – Talk openly about it.  Let your spouse, kids, co-workers, and friends know what your Sabbath Day is.  This is an important piece of training.  Over time, most people will learn to respect this day for you.  The calls, texts, knocks on the door will be greatly reduced.  (wouldn’t that be amazing?)

Dont’ check email – Turn off email alerts on your phone.  Put your laptop away.  You could even set up an ‘out of office’ message every week to explain why you’ll be returning emails the next day in the office.

Screen your calls – Personally, I don’t answer any phone calls on my day of rest (except from family).  If the caller is not already in my contacts so that I can know who’s calling, it goes to voicemail.  Period!

Turn ‘chat’ off on facebook – I have a feeling you know where I’m going with this.  Have you ever been on facebook just catching up with family and friends before going to bed….when someone starts up a ‘live chat’ with you regarding work/ministry?  This is a simple issue of setting good boundaries for yourself.

Leave work at work – This is another type of boundary.  If you know that you lake the level of discipline to completely refrain from getting caught up on your ‘to do’ list at home…leave those things at the office.

Open your Bible – Sounds cliche, right!  But this really is part of honoring a Sabbath.  Growing closer to God needs to be a central theme.  And the easiest way to do that is to read His Word.  (studying for your next sermon or Bible study does not count here, btw)

Meditate – No, not sitting with your legs crossed in an empty room filled with incense.  Think about the things of the Kingdom.  About the character of Jesus.  About the goodness and blessings in your life because of Him.

Now, where have you succeeded or wrestled with implementing a day of rest?  How do you think you could benefit from having a regular day of rest as described above?  And the big question…are you willing to attempt practicing a weekly Sabbath?

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Comments, prayer requests, and questions are welcome below.

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