9 Months After Moving To Colorado

Well, it’s been 9 months since we moved to Colorado Springs from Georgia.  There has been A LOT that has happened in that short window of time.  This has been the most difficult stage of my life in 25 years of marriage and ministry…hands down!   A few months ago I wrote a post about taking a break from blogging for a season.  I’m still not blogging regularly until December, but I felt compelled to post this update.

Colorado Springs is amazing!  It is beautiful, has very few bugs, and virtually zero humidity.  I see the majestic Pikes Peak every day…multiple times a day.  But simply living in a beautiful place doesn’t necessarily make the experience beautiful.

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You see, when we moved to Colorado I left behind a son, an incredible church family, and a ministry career that had become my identity.  I didn’t know it while traveling across the country in a 26 foot U-Haul truck, but I was about to spend the next 3 months lost, confused, and depressed.

First, the family unit split in two.  We originally thought we were just moving with our youngest two sons.  Then just hours before hitting the road our oldest child asked to move with us.  This is her story so I’ll allow her to tell it on her own another time.  But this is a huge reason God led us to Colorado.

Our oldest son had a career and friends in GA and decided to get his own place and stay there.  My wife and I blessed his choice to stay, but I really struggled (honestly, I still am) moving without him.  I guess it’s a natural part of the whole ’empty nesting’ thing….but it really sucks!

Once we arrived here, I began working at a popular coffee shop.  Every coffee-lover’s dream job, right?  I have also been working hard to complete my Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology online.  After working there for about a month or so, I hit a wall.  For 2-3 weeks I remember feeling anxious and emotional driving to work.  There were even a few times I had to pray that God would strengthen me to overcome the flood of tears so I could perform like a ‘normal’ barista.  Those tears were sure to come later in solitude moments in my bedroom.  One evening here, another there…just me and Jesus.  Real men do cry, so don’t judge.

It was in this brief season that I realized that I had allowed ministry (being a pastor) to become my entire identity.  Loss of title, income, and the comfort of knowing a job well.  When you’ve done nothing besides pastoring full-time for over 20 years it’s not the easiest thing to transition out of that world and into retail coffee at 45 years old.

Slowly, I began to realize that God had me in a new, very specific, season on purpose.  First and foremost, I was to enjoy really being there for my wife and kids without the demanding work schedule of ministry.  Second, He was aligning  co-workers and customers at the coffee shop for me to interact with…to live my faith out for them.

In March of 2016 I had the honor of speaking at a Children’s Pastors conference in Kentucky.  This was a true gift directly from the hand of God to me.  He knew I needed this.  I loved it!  I got to share my ministry experiences with young leaders, and then encouraged them after each talk.  This rekindled a fire for ministry in me.

Yes, we left an amazing church in Georgia, but God led us to another one.  (we thought this would be impossible).  My wife, Cailey, is serving PT on staff there now working with kids and equipping leaders.  I am volunteering in the Connect ministry to help people discover a meaningful and fulfilling place of service in God’s community.

Most recently, the Lord provided me with a new job working with a medical bill sharing ministry.  Another new experience, but I’m trusting God in it completely.  Cailey and I have also begun co-writing our first book.  We welcome your prayers with this.

What does He have in store for me in the next 5-10 years?  I don’t have a clue and I’ve given up trying to figure it out ahead of time.  I used to have this quote hanging in my church office.  Now it is mounted above our couch in the living room.

“The will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you.”

This has proven to be true in my life and I’m confident it will be in yours as well.  My Jesus is faithful, he knows what he’s doing, and he really does care more about my personal success and happiness than I ever can.

Here’s to another year of adventure, obedience, and remaining in Him!

 

 

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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.

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(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.”