God Is Working On Your Behalf This Very Moment

Recently I’ve felt COMPLETELY overwhelmed! There is a helpful counseling tool known as the Holmes & Rahe stress scale. It measures ‘life change units’ in various point values to help determine how at risk someone is for medical illnesses resulting from stress. The scale measures 3 categories.

Score of 300+: At risk of illness.
Score of 150-299: Risk of illness is moderate.
Score <150: Slight risk of illness.

A few weeks ago I scored a 407. Then we discovered that we are moving into a better home TWO DAYS before Thanksgiving…and my uncle lost his battle with cancer. Now my score is sitting at 490. Not the type of score you want to go up.

GOD working

Let me be clear, my stress is comprised of BOTH good and negative things.
GOOD: weddings, better living space, different spiritual calling, approaching holidays.
NEGATIVE: death in the family, health & medical bills, tight life schedules.

With all of this going on, I was reminded this morning that God really is working on my behalf in every one of my MOMENTS. The moments that are filled with joy, blessings, and positive change AS WELL AS the moments that at times feel like they’re stopping me in my tracks and taking away my breath. God is at work in each one. I FEEL him!

Since ancient times no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who ACTS ON BEHALF of those who wait for him. – Isaiah 64:4

Now…’waiting for him’ acknowledges his role as Savior and Heavenly Father. It also hints at an EXPECTANT HEART. Faith permits us to expect God to work in our situation. It ALSO encourages us to exercise a HEIGHTENED AWARENESS of all that he is already doing!

This is the season I am in and I felt I would share it with you. If you are open to it I’d like to pray for you and whatever season you are in. It’s empowering to know that we are not alone in our struggles and pain. And that those things are not at all unique to us.

Feel free to leave a comment or DM me. I’d love to hear your story and support you.

You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram!

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Leadership Burnout: 4 Signs To Watch For

“Leadership is a marathon, NOT a sprint.”

You’ve heard this before.  Church leadership requires a healthy pace.  You and I;  we’re not Superman.  We’re definitely not God.  So we need to stop living our lives like we are.

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As leaders in the Church, you and I have a huge responsibility.  This is all the more reason we must be attentive to our spiritual, physical, and emotional health regularly.

Here are 4 signs to beware of:

Short temper | Anyone ever accused you of being snappy?  Maybe your spouse or a co-worker?  And when they address it doesn’t it make us even SNAPPIER?  When we have been going full throttle for too long, anything (anyone) that appears to be a speed bump in our way ends up really irritating us.  Watch out for this.

Fatigue | Staying up too late and getting up too early.  Have you ever said to yourself, “People survive on 3-4 hours of sleep a night all the time.  I just need to push through this busy season.”  Two thoughts here.  1. That is simply justifying an unhealthy lifestyle.  2. If you’re in church leadership, guess what?  It’s always a busy season!

Told by others | This one usually stings a bit.  And the reason is usually because the person holding us accountable is someone we have a close relationship with.  A spouse, close mentor, or good friend.  That’s why it stings…because you and I know they’re right!  Here are a few things I’ve personally been told: “Hey man, what’s up? You’ve been a bit distant lately.”   “You have not checked in on me and how my family has been doing in quite a while.  I miss that.”   Are you O.K? You haven’t been yourself lately.”

Isolation | This one is huge!  Beware when you reach the point of dreading being around anyone.  You stop going to Small Group with your spouse during the week.  You tend to be the last one in at staff meetings and the first one to leave.  Your list of friends you can confide in has diminished to zero.

If you can relate to any of these today, please….talk to someone.  Modify your schedule.  Take a true Sabbath rest.  Ask your spouse to pray for/with you.

If this isn’t you but you know someone who is in this place, do them a favor.  Offer some loving accountability.  Share this post with them.  Offer to pray over them.

Whatever you do, don’t ignore your gut on this.  Leave a comment below.

You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram.

 

 

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

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 

 

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?

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.”