How To Choose Joy In The Tough Things

Jethani

Last week I had the privilege to hear Skye Jethani speak at our District Pastors’  Conference.

This is a quote from his talk that really grabbed my attention. Let me provide a little context.

Examples of some things we DO NOT choose: medical diagnosis, unemployment, depression, ministry calling, where we are born, divorce, changes in social behavior, our parents, etc.

Some of these can be GOOD, and we all know that some can equally be UNFAVORABLE.

Now, it’s easy for us to choose JOY in the things we actually choose; things we had a say in. But it’s another issue when a life circumstance makes its way into our lives that we have little to no control over.

The REAL QUESTION to ask, then, is this. Does God have a purpose for me in this particular situation? And even though I DON’T LIKE IT, can I embrace it as my current reality and TRUST GOD to work through me?

So you see, making a conscious decision to choose (own) what we didn’t actually choose in the first place can be a real game changer.

What UNCHOSEN circumstance are you in today? What might it look like if you chose to OWN IT?

I’d love to hear what you think. Leave a comment below. You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram!

 

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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.

You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram!

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.

 

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.

You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram!