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Sifting for Truth Amongst the Fake

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Fake news.  False reports.  Fact checking. 

 

Here’s what I’m realizing:  everyone has a deep desire to know the truth.  Our hardest part is differentiating truth from opinions.  Truth is absolute and opinions are resolute.  Truth is factual and opinions are emotional.  Truth is accurate and opinions acclimate.  Truth authenticates and opinions speculates.   Truth is principled and opinion is personal.

 

If you think asking questions or doubting what you believe makes you less of Christian…you are mistaken.

 

I realize there are times when our opinion’s come into alignment with truth.  I would argue we want our opinions to be truth.  But what I’m simply trying to do is show the difference between how we analyze a situation versus how we feel about a situation.  Because there are times when how we feel about something is different than what is the truth about something.

 

Truth authenticates and opinions speculate. 

 

Recently my son and I were working math problems.  I have a hard time changing the oil of my car in my driveway to show my son that “his dad is valuable for life success” so I have to resort to showing off my video game skills, breakdance moves and keen math intuition.

 

(fun fact:  I was considering being a math teacher – but not the boring kind but the fun kind – the kind that says “If you have the high score in Call of Duty of 750,000 and your buddy, jacked up on 5 hour energy drinks beats you by 36%, what is the total points that ….” – you get my drift). 

 

My son begins to ask for help on checking his long division.  When I pointed out that 19 divided by 6 is not 3, he began to get upset and tell me how he knows it’s right because he “felt he did the right formula.”  He then points with his fingers and shows me that “see dad, three 6’s fit into 19.”  We all know there is a remainder of “1” that my kid couldn’t wrap his head around or understand. Even though he was right about three 6’s, the teacher would still mark it incorrect if he didn’t show that.  His feelings were very real and he was right in his logic up to a point but his limited knowledge of the truth of division and his passionate feelings about being right about the answer misguided him. 

 

 He felt he was right…but he was still wrong.

 

I hate to say it, but 2 + 2 will never equal 5 no matter how you feel about it.  It is simply a truth that we all live by.  We feel passionate about things.  We may even establish them as truths in our own mind.  However, there is a difference between opinions on matters and the truth of the matter.  As we spend time in our young adults communities and in your small groups or one-on-one, key cultural issues will surface in the midst of the conversation along with a variety of opinions.  So how do we find truth in the midst of opinions?

 

4 Thoughts To Help You In Your Journey For Truth: 

 

1. SCRIPTURE IS ALWAYS OUR STARTING POINT

As young adults and leaders leading this next generation, we can’t waver on the source of our truth. “Experts” are willing to give us their latest research and findings after studying a particular topic. Of course we should read, listen to, and chew on the findings in the areas of culture that we are passionate about? Absolutely! However, research and findings can never replace the complete source of truth: Scriptures.  So start with what the Bible says and work your way forward from there.

“Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

 

 

2. KEEP ASKING QUESTIONS

If you think asking questions or doubting what you believe makes you less of Christian…you are mistaken. You are owning your faith.  That is exactly what God wants and what the Christian community needs.  Followers of Christ who aren’t blindly following but who are sincere about what they believe makes the church relevant and stronger.  When we are in our communities, we don’t have to avoid the things that may seem difficult or may cause some controversy in the conversation. The fact that we are willing to talk about the hard questions of culture and faith breaks down a mindset that many young adults have:  You are not allowed to doubt or ask questions in church.  Simply not true.  The refugee crisis is divisive to Christians, some believe it’s our duty and some believe it’s dangerous.  So ask the questions and debate the answers.  You are not less of a Christian for doing it. 

 

The issues that we are reading about and talking about aren’t just policies on paper but are tied to human beings connected to these issues.

 

As said earlier, we have to point out that some issues are not as easily solved or answered with the Bible or the church.  That’s ok.  Live in the grey but let BOTH loving God AND loving people guide your actions.  Loving God without loving people makes you “religious” and loving people without loving God makes you contentious.

 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  1 Corinthians 13:4

 

 

3. ITS NOT “WHAT” YOU THINK BUT “HOW” YOU THINK

In a society where everything is figured out for us by typing in a few words in Google or asking Siri, we have lost the desire or ability to actually think through an issue. Recently, if you think differently than the other, you are labeled anit-_______ than celebrating our differences, we have lost our courage to have conversations with those who think differently than us.  As a young adult community, take the role of helping each other learn how to think.

 

In many cases...we have truth connected to our faith AND to a person. 

 

Ask hard questions—not information questions—but questions that intersect with the daily realities of life. Key individuals in my life challenged me to think. There were college professors and mentors who did not allow me to simply be satisfied with the “correct” answer or the “churchy” answers.  They asked me WHY I believe that which pushed me to consider how I came to that conclusion. I am grateful for leaders who gave me permission to “pushback” and helped me use my mind to find truth on critical issues. 

 

“Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

 

 

4.  THE TRUTH OF AN ISSUE IS DIFFERENT THAN THE PERSON TIED TO THE ISSUE

The hard part is when the truth of the Bible conflicts with our love for the person.  Recently I was at a restaurant and I was talking with some bright and smart young adults in my community.  When we were talking, I realized the world isn’t as black and white on issues as it used to be.  What I mean is that issues that we are reading about and talking about aren’t just policies on paper but are tied to human beings connected to these issues.  We can’t talk about the truths of refugees, abortion, same sex attraction, etc without connecting them to someone we know or someone who knows someone. 

 

 

This makes it complicated.  Because as Christians, we have a source of truth that is undeniable to us:  Jesus.  He made it clear that He is the way, the truth and life.  The Bible, the Word of God, is also our source of truth.  As Christians we believe it to be the ultimate source of how we develop our convictions and celebrate our values.  However, it becomes complicated when we are trying to decide how we feel or what we think about a cultural issue.  In many cases...we have truth connected to our faith AND to a person.  This is where feelings cloud our judgments, judgments affect our opinions, opinions direct our emotions, emotions give us reactions.

 

The truth of a matter doesn’t change the truth that we love the person connected to the matter.  Grace and truth work together to give us posture and narrative that builds unity in our community rather than unraveling our community.  If you don’t have truth, you will have a weak community that doesn’t stand under pressure because their foundation will shift when the opinions do.  If you don’t have grace, you have a community that is selfish and exclusive.   The essence of the word “grace” means charitable and favorable.  So if we choose to not show favor and charity to those different than us, then your community becomes prejudiced.  Let grace and truth work together.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.  John 1:14

 

Any other thoughts I’m missing?

 

 

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Want to Be Fruitful? Look to Your Roots

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We live in ambitious times. Ambition is celebrated and rewarded in our culture. Being ambitious to find your purpose isn’t wrong, but striving to obtain possessions and power is. Because when you strive for those things you miss out on enjoying what you have, where you are and whom you’re with. Success isn’t determined by how ambitious you are but by how faithfulyou are.

 

What’s underground isn’t as celebrated as what’s above ground: our platforms, our titles, our accomplishments, our things, etc.

 

Success will always call out for you. Especially if you are talented, gifted or have a platform that gets recognition. In our culture we have a tendency to overvalue 15 minutes of fame and undervalue 15 years of faithfulness. We curate 280 characters on Twitter but don’t cultivate 280 days of character in our lives. Faithfulness is an attribute of God, and a fruit of the Spirit. Faithfulness determines success.

 

Opportunities are everywhere.

 

Success is misleading.

 

Stop trying to measure success by comparing yourself to everyone else. Someone else’s success can’t be yours because their yes to God isn’t yours. Success will not always equal the outcome you want in a situation, but your success will always be youryes to God.

 

We curate 280 characters on Twitter but don’t cultivate 280 days of character in our lives.

 

Succeeding at the wrong thing could be your biggest failure. That’s why it’s important to steward your “now” well because it is training and shaping you for your “next.” Don’t take shortcuts. Shortcuts “cut short” the work of God on your life. Grow where you’re planted. Become grounded and develop a root system.

 

Success will always call out for you.

 

I was out to dinner with a great friend this weekend and we were talking about the unseen parts of our lives that are so critical and rarely celebrated. We don’t celebrate the prayer lives of others, we don’t Instagram our “dad diaper changes” so mom can take a breather, we don’t periscope our devotional lives consistently to show the world we know how to seek God, etc. What’s underground isn’t as celebrated as what’s above ground: our platforms, our titles, our accomplishments, our things, etc. The reality is roots precede fruits. To bear fruit that you will enjoy and that will endure, you need great roots. Stay grounded and focused and watch God bring your successes to life and build you a future you can trust.

 

(THIS POST IS CUT AND PASTE FROM MY LATEST POST AT OUTREACH MAGAZINE...YOU CAN FIND MY OTHER WORKS HERE)

 

7 ROOTS OF SUCCESS:

 

1. DEPTH

The depth of your success is determined by the quality of the people with you. Success is a team sport; no one ever succeeds alone. Therefore, the impact of your leadership ability is measured by the people you attract to lead alongside you.

 

2. CAPACITY

Your capacity for success is determined by your courage to take great risks, and the wisdom to know when not to. It’s your capacity for understanding, thinking and acquiring wisdom and knowledge and how you process and order your wisdom.

 

3. SUSTAINABILITY

The sustainability of your success lies in the divine tension between having a short memory in the courage department of your mind when you fail, and a having long-term memory in the wisdom department of your mind so you don’t repeat the same mistakes again.

 

4. POWER

The powerof your success is determined by the level of confidence you have in your own ability to complete the mission and the amount of trust you empower others with to help them accomplish their mission. The amount of faith you have in God’s ability to cover your weaknesses, as well as fix your failures is more powerful than you realize.

 

5. LONGEVITY

The longevity of your success is determined by your ability to reproduce world changers and history makers—people who can carry greatness into the generations you will never see. Its proof is in your level of ability to empower true greatness in others. Success is successors. Those who come after you and live on beyond you to carry your mission beyond you and to fulfill their mission because of you.

 

6. STRENGTH

The strength of your success lies in the grace you display in tough seasons, the level of kindness you give to those who fall short of your standards and the patience you display when you or others fail the mission.

 

7. DEFINITION

Your success is defined by your faithfulness to your divine call, not in the outcome of your mission. In other words, faithfulness is success because ultimately outcomes are determined by God, not you.

Read more from Alan Pastian »

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Building a Foundation of Success

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We live in ambitious times.  Ambition is celebrated and rewarded in our culture.  Being ambitious to find your purpose isn’t wrong but striving to obtain possessions and power is.  Because when you strive you miss out on enjoying what you have and where you are at and who you’re with.   Success isn't determined by how ambitions you are but by how faithful you are.  

 

Succeeding at the wrong thing could be your biggest failure. 

 

Success will always call out for you.  Especially if you are talented, gifted or have a platform that gets recognition.  In our culture we have a tendency to overvalue "15 minutes of fame" and undervalue 15 years of faithfulness.  We curate 140 characters on twitter but don't cultivate 140 days of character in our relationships.  Faithfulness is an attritbute of God.  Faithfulness is a fruit of the Spirit.  Faithfulness determines success.

 

Opportunities are everywhere.  

 

Success is misleading.  

 

Stop trying to measure success by comparing yourself to everyone else.  Someones else's success can't be your's because their yes to God isn't yours.  Success will not always be your outcome you want in a situation but your success will always be YOUR YES to God in a situation.

 

Succeeding at the wrong thing could be your biggest failure.  That's why it's important to steward your "now" well because it is training and shaping for your "next."  Don't take shortcuts.  Shortcuts "cut short" the work of God on your life.   Grow where you're planted.  Become grounded and develop a root system.  I was out to dinner with a great friend this weekend and we were talking about the unseen parts of our lives are so critical and rarely celebrated.  We don't celebrate the prayer lives of others, we don't instagram our "dad diaper changes" so mom can take a few minutes breather, we don't periscope our devo lives consistently to show the world we know how to seek God, etc.  What's "underground" isn't as celebrated as what's above ground:  our platforms, our titles, our accomplishments, our things, etc.  The reality is roots precede fruits.  To bear fruit that you will enjoy and will endure, you need great roots.  Stay grounded and focused and watch God bring your successes to life and build you a future you can trust.  

 

Don’t take shortcuts.  Shortcuts ‘cut short’ the work of God on your life.  

 

 

Here are 7 Building Blocks for a Foundation of Success:

1. Your depth of your success is determined by the quality of the people with you. Success is a team sport; no one ever succeeds alone. Therefore, the impact of your leadership ability is measured by the size of people you attract to lead alongside you.

2. Your capacity for success is determined by your courage to take great risks, and the wisdom to know when not to.  It’s your capacity for understanding, thinking and acquiring wisdom and knowledge and how you process and order your wisdom.  

3. Your sustainability of your success lies in the divine tension between having a short memory in the courage department of your mind when you fail, and a having long-term memory in the wisdom department of your mind so you don’t repeat the same mistakes again. :)

4. Your power of your success is determined by the level of confidence you have in your own ability to complete the mission and the amount of trust you empower others with to help others  accomplish their mission.   The amount of faith you have in God’s ability to cover your weaknesses, as well as fix your failures I more powerful than you realize.   

5. Your longevity of your success is determined by your ability to reproduce world changers and history makers – people who can carry greatness into the generations you will never see.  It's proof is in your level of ability for you to empower true greatness in others or shrink people’s confidence in others.  Success is successors.  Those who come after you and live on beyond you to carry your mission beyond you and to fulfill their mission because of you.  

6. Your definition of your success is defined by your faithfulness to your divine call, not in the outcome of your mission. In other words, faithfulness is success because ultimately outcomes are determined by God not you.

7. The strength of your success lies in the grace you display in tough seasons, and the level of kindness you give to those who fall short of your standards, and the patience you display when your or others fail the mission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When Monks Fly: More Christian Innovation and Less Cultural Immitation

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Recently I traveled to England.  Whenever I go to the UK, I try to visit new places that I haven’t been to before (Stonehenge, Oxford, Whales, etc.). This time I was introduced to a quaint English village called Malmesbury.  In the center of town there is an historic abbey filled with history, relics and incredible stories.   

 

Christianity is destined to be at the center of culture creating ideas, bringing inspiration and fulfilling aspirations.

 

While admiring this beautiful old Church and it's legacy, I couldn’t help but notice a stained glass window with a monk with wings named Eilmer of Malmesbury.  Inspired by the Greek fable of Icarus (Icarus father Daedalus crafted and fastened wings to his son Icarus inspiring him to fly),  Eilmer himself was inspired to take to flight  Being an avid stargazer and studier of astrology, he perched on the top of the Abbey and proceeded to jump...being the first man recorded to fly.  He is expected to have flown over 200 meters- stunning his colleagues and mesmerizing the town and becoming the first man (and monk) to fly!   

 

 

 

Greek poets have dreamt about it. 

 

Ancient myths and legends have written about it.  

 

Man has desired it.     

 

A Christian did it.   

 

 

Although his first attempt was his last (Eilmer only made one flight) it seemed to inspire many others to take the same leap.  Maybe this inspired Leonardo de Vinci coming up with more than over one hundred sketches for flying.  Perhaps that promoted two French brothers by the name so Joseph & Michel Montgotifere to come up with the idea of the air balloon. Possibly this compelled two American brothers by the name so Orville and Wilbur Wright to test their first flight at Kitty Hawk located in North Carolina opening their first flight school for public.   

 

Stop reacting to what you see happening and start responding to where you see Jesus moving. 

 

Here’s the point:  

 

Christians are meant to be cultural influencers.   Christianity is destinied to be at the center of culture creating ideas, bringing inspiration and fulfilling aspirations.  In Malmesbury and in many of these old communities, the center of town has a church with a steeple rising above the others homes where the community built itself around the church because the church was full of life, ideas and creativity making the community a better place.  Now many of these churches are hollow relics of outdated ideas and irrelevant beliefs.  While still physically located in the interior of these beautiful villages, they are spiritually perimetric to its village inhabitants. 

 

Once Christendom was central in community and the source of thriving innovation, it now seems peripheral to community and languishing with imitation.  

 

 

 

So the question is, “Where are the flying monks?” 

 

 

When culture had a dream to fly, God gave it to Eilmer.  When the community had a desire to believe for the impossible, God gave it to the church. All Eilmer had to do was take the leap. Despite rationale, reason and restraint, Eilmer chose to climb the stairs, open the window, scale the roof and take the leap.  And you should culturally take the leap, too.  

 

 

 

Taking the LEAP in culture means: 

 

 

  

L - LEAD TOWARDS SOLUTIONS

  

So much of what we are seeing in culture is a result of brokenness.  Broken people break people.  Hurt people hurt people.  But healed people heal people.  Free people, free people.  Stop reacting to what you see happening and start responding to where you see Jesus moving.  It’s easy to look at unredeemed people, places and things in culture and reject them.  Instead let’s be restorers of culture.  Let’s be the ones with the solutions to help fix what is flawed.  Have conversations not confrontations.  Live a lifestyle of generosity in front of others.  Model forgiveness.  Choose integrity in all circumstances.  If God has given you the ability to see the broken places around you then he will give you an ability to see a need to help the broken places around you.   Instead of creating walls, create opportunities.  Jesus chose to go into difficult places, not avoid them.  He was seen with the marginalized, the broken and the hurting.  He was a friend of drunks, sexual deviants, outcasts, etc.  He was more pro-woman than any political figure in history considering the context of the first century.  He was more “politically right” with his beliefs about Scripture, loving the religious, supporting the Roman military and leading with charity.  He also was more “liberal” with the way He chose to love:  Jesus fed the hungry, reached out cross-culturally, identified with the poor, loved the religious and fought for the outsider, etc.  He chose to live by breaking down walls.  When we break down walls and come together with those who are different than us, we show the world that we are His disciples and that Jesus is who He said He is. 

  

  

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.  

John 13:34

  

 

 

 

E - ENGAGE ENTHUSIASTICALLY

 

Take an inventory of what culture admires, enjoys and believes in as you attempt to engage with culture around you.  Humbly ask questions, look for signs of admiration in what they are talking about and start engaging.  When you discover what culture admires (i.e., the altar to the unknown god) that’s your starting point to engage and find the common ground in it.  If they love spirituality…so do you.  But your “center” is Jesus.  If they are talking about a movie, find out its theme.  Celebrate the themes of redemption, forgiveness, honor and sacrifice…all Biblical themes (don’t worry about rating, language, etc.; you’re finding common ground remember?)  Find spiritual themes behind music songs and celebrate those themes (Coldplay, Mumford & Sons, Ariana Grande, etc.)  .  Observe supernatural themes and redemptive analogies in tv and movies (American Horror Story, The Walking Dead, etc).  Use culture to speak to these things.  If you feel you can’t watch it but you hear others talking about it, then do easy research.  There is enough on Wikipedia and other entertainment sources to give you an understanding so that you can have some knowledge about these cultural pieces even if you don’t know the show. 

 

Because the world isn’t looking for someone to win the latest debate in the culture wars. The culture war is dying out and the idea of being in a “battle” is an imagery that is less appealing to both Christians and non-Christians. 

 

It’s easy for us to put people into catagories:  unsaved friends, worldly neighbors, secular campus, immoral co-workers, etc.  I understand that these are harmless descriptions in most instances but over time we place ourselves in a position of US and THEM when God is desiring WE.   Jesus created meaningful relationships with society’s sinners and outcasts.   Establish a relationship on common ground.  Instead of shaming culture for their false beliefs and gods, Paul does something that we also can do:  find common ground.  Paul does this by asking about, listening to and acknowledging their “Unknown God.”  This was his common ground and we can do the same. 

  

“So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: ‘Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way,for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about.”  Acts 17:22,23

  

  

  

A – ACCESS YOUR AUTHENTIC UNDENIABILITY

  

Rise above culture by being undeniable.  There was an undeniable authenticity to who Jesus was when He was engaging in culture.  When culture wants to dictate the rules and call the shots…Jesus made his own rules and called His own shots.  Culture was set on the agenda but Jesus was sent on assignment.  Jesus wasn’t drawn into the fights of others but instead, Jesus was demonstrating faith to others.  Jesus never allowed others to pull him into their debate.  Because the world isn’t looking for someone to win the latest debate in the culture wars. The culture war is dying out and the idea of being in a “battle” is an imagery that is less appealing to both Christians and non-Christians.  If we posture ourselves to a dialogue than to engage in a battle for truth, we will most likely be more effective.  So, Ignore becoming another whining or angry voice in the mess. Instead rise above it. Stick to the agenda Jesus gave us from the beginning because it hasn’t changed:  Love God, love others and make disciples. Let me tell you what evangelism is not: 

  

+  Having an acute knowledge of theology 

+  Being super bold about faith issues 

+  Reserved for only certain Christians 

+  Bringing people to church 

+  Being extremely educated and extraordinary 

  

Simply put, evangelism as moving someone one step closer to Jesus.  It’s sharing your story of how Jesus has impacted your life with someone.  It’s inviting someone into your life and having a conversation with them about your life. To be someone who can share faith with others, all you need to be is unschooled and ordinary.  

 

Simply put, evangelism as moving someone one step closer to Jesus. 

 

"Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus."  Acts 4:13

  

  

  

P - PRIORITIZE PATTERNS

You have the power to shape the culture. To do so, you must model the behavior you want seen.  This means acting the way you want others to act. This means doing the things you want done, done. 

  

Jesus showed a new behavior for us as followers of Jesus that we were to model:  erase the boundaries that divided up culture as “us and them” and declare “we.”  Jesus modeled living a life of going into broken places and fixing them.  Jesus modeled this idea of "living out restoration" so much that He confused others with his actions to be with those who were considered unclean that He Himself was thought to be a drunk, glutton, friend of the cheaters…basically a sinner just like those He was reaching (Matthew 11:19). 

 

Be an inviting person instead of a convincing person.

 

That doesn't mean we can just do what we want and go to wherever we want to go without thinking.  Jesus was intentional with everyone he met and everything He did.  Jesus set Himself apart with His disciples to worship, show devotion to God away from the world.  Jesus had his 12 disciples that He prayed for and with that were lifegiving relationships that were essential for him.  To live consistently as a restorer and to redeem culture, you need a healthy community that you can get encouragement and prayer from.  You need a place to get realigned with God’s truth regularly so that you don’t drift off course.  So model having more conversations and less confrontations.  Live a lifestyle of generosity.  Model forgiveness. Be an inviting person instead of a convincing person.  Don't get me wrong, being convincing is a good thing.  But don't sacrifice your access to others at the expense of being assured by others you are right.  This makes us not only lose touch with our culture but it isolates us as well.   Smugness and superiority in things of faith are not appealing but humility and serving goes a long way.   I think that’s why grace is so appealing.  Grace is inviting and not imposing.   Grace and truth go together (John 1:17). So let grace lead the way and truth will back you up when necessary. 

  

  

For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. 

John 1:17

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How To Keep Going When You Don’t Feel Like It

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As leaders, what inspires us to stay strong, keep growing and keep committed to what God is calling us to do without giving up? 

 

4 leadership thoughts to stay inspired to keep going when it gets tough:

 

Remember it's roots before fruits.

People are quick to celebrate what they SEE a person doing but tend to forget that what was SOWN determined it's success.  We don't live in a heavily aggregate society like in the past, but the Bible is clear that what we reap, we sow (Galations 6:8).  Many keep that in a negative context but what about the hope in those words!  If you are leading an organization or a team, what you say and do will produce fruit.  If you want to see your organization have a heart to help others, then take them to places where others are hurting.  If you want to have a generous church, then talk about the power of giving, etc.  What you sow is seed that produces roots that leads to fruits.  The reality is, it's what's underground that really matters.

 

Don't compare yourself to others because your obedience will never look the same but the blessing is guaranteed.

Comparison traps are far to easy to fall into.  The more I follow others in social media, the more I find myself sizing myself up.  When we do nothing but look through the instagram lens for what God is doing through other people, we are simply getting a snapshot of their lives. Social media is a billboard, not a journal. Ministry is hard, whether it's 10 people or ten thousand.  You're called to fulfill  what God has called YOU to do...not someone else.

 

Become better at responding to altars than making altars.

That's old-school lingo to simply say, reduce the high amount of spiritual activity in your life and choose seek God first, as often as you can, when you can.  We become good at being concerned about helping others become better spiritually at the expense of neglecting our own walk with God.  Your "yes" to God's request will produce far better results for you and others than your "yes" to everybody else's requests.  A well that is dry is just a hole in the ground but a well that is full of water becomes a source of life for a whole community.

 

In your weakest moments God is always the strongest.

Your maturity is evident when your leadership becomes less how you feel and more about your faith.  We have to move beyond emotion to believe that God loves us just the same when we're at our worst and when we're at our best.  It takes faith to believe that God will use us in my least confident moments to produce a strong result to affirm our leadership.  Strength is not measured by might or power but by God's Spirit (2 Corinthians 12:9/Zechariah 4:6).  So allow your weakest moments that you are experiencing to become the strongest moments with God to produce the greatest faith you have ever seen.

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DAGGERS & SPURS: Understanding the Difference Between Friends and Enemies

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One thing is for sure:  belonging is necessary.  We belong with each other and we need each other.  We need each other for wisdom, counsel, encouragement, perspective, support, inspiration, loyalty, faithfulness and to push us. 

 

Hebrews 10:24 says, "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”

 

We all know the uncomfortable feeling of experiencing the jab of a friend.  The times when we feel the prick of their words and actions and it doesn't feel good.  That sharp prick can be one of two things:  a spur or a dagger.  Because their is a big difference between a "spur in our side" and a "stab in our back."

 

Many of us know the pain of a dagger in the back when we lose the trust of a friend through betrayal, dishonesty and disloyalty.  We trusted them and they chose to stab us in the back.  But the purpose of spurs is different than the purpose of daggers when it comes to friendships.  A swords purpose is stop forward motion by "killing" the opposition but a "spurs" purpose is to unleash potential.  A spur's purpose is to unleash the capacity in the animal to go farther and faster.

 

Both are sharp and inflict pain but one is concerned about moving friendship forward and the other is concerned about stopping friendship all together.  That's why God is clear that we must "consider" or "to think carefully before making a decision" when you feel the prick and the pain in a relationship.

 

I think too many relationships ended prematurely because the pain of a spur was mistaken for dagger in the back.  A friends purpose is to push you past your hurt, past your pain and past your "past" so that you can run in such a way to not just gain ground but to win.

We need friends to challenge us. 

We need friends who we can be transparent with.

We need friends who we have been given permission to call it like they see it.

We need "Nathan's." 

David needed a Nathan who challenged him and was given permission to access his life in a way that no one else could to speak to him in a way that no one else could (Samuel 12).  Nathan showed David the error of his ways.  This friendship was not only reliable and trustworthy but centered in God.  Making Nathan's wisdom and counsel not just emotional and to the point but saturated with God's wisdom and authority.  Because that's when David's perspective shifted back to God's perspective.

 

 

Sometimes friends tell us what we don't want to hear and the question is are you listening?

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Inspiring Millennials To Lead

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Millennials want examples that can be trusted.  Many parental, political, spiritual, athletic and famous examples have let them down. So choose to be one of the few that they can look up to.  Many older leaders think millennials aren’t interested in generational wisdom transfer. This is not true. Younger leaders are hungry for mentoring and discipleship. 

 

LEAD BY EXAMPLE.  

 

Build it into your organizational environment!  Create a monthly mentorship group at a coffee shop with you and your younger staff, give them “office hours” to simply talk about whatever they need to (work and non-work-related issues. 

 

Broken homes have created a loss of role models for many young people.   There is a need for strong, “family-like” role models and the church is the best place to find them.  So create a family environment. Have “family dinners” as a staff.  Take time for “family prayer time.”  Make sure the work environment is experiential and family oriented. 

 

LEAD EACH PERSON UNIQUELY

 

Creating immovable standards or rules that apply to everyone no matter who they are isn’t helpful.  I don’t connect with my own children the same (they are at different ages and stages and genders).  So don’t be afraid to customize your approach at work.
 

BE A FATHER IN THE FAITH

 

Paul said we have a lot of teachers of faith, but a father in the faith is a rare find. Stop complaining about the person you wish they would be and start being the person they hoped you would be.  Even if you don’t’ have the time, find older mentors who do.  This gives them a chance to understand your church or organization while learning from a proven leader.

 

Some churches have started internship programs to inspire millennials with their best practices.  You can do the same.   Millennials love opportunities for quality time-individually and corporately. So make quality time a priority with your millennial-especially when they are new on the job. 

 

GIVE THEM SPACE TO RELATE

 

Throwing millennials right into their tasks when they come into organization is a set up for failure.  Give them a week to not produce but to simply relate.  Have them visit different department and simply soak up relationship, environment and culture.   

 

Churches can travel at such a fast pace that it is tempting to let new team members hit the ground running. This can communicate a negative culture to the new team member and also presents an environment that reacts to circumstances rather than proactive strategy.

 

Any you would add?

 

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People Didn't Get Me So Here's What I Did

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When you compare yourself to someone else you were simply saying you were trying to be someone else. Giving you a false inferiority under them if they're better or giving you a false superiority over them if you're better.  You never were supposed to feel superior or inferior but to be an admirer.  And more than admire be an enthusiast.  Celebrate what others are doing instead of comparing what others are doing is the best way to stay free from jealousy and pride. Your uniqueness doesn't and shouldn't make you superior or inferior but peculiar. No one can worship God like you or for you.

Since your life is an act of worship, every word you speak is a unique vernacular and sound that is distinct to the chorus of your community: every action is a unique expression to the mosaic of what the kingdom of God looks like the others.  If you don't know who you are and you don't know your identity then culture will tell you who you are and declare your identity.  The younger you are the harder it is to know who you really are because you haven’t had enough experiences, enough trials, enough pleasures to know what you like and what you don’t like.  But don't let that discourage you.  You still have history, past moments, passions, interests and relationships in your life that speak to who you are and what you're about.  

 

How do you learn who you are?  Here some fast points to get you thinking:

 

1.  Get Rid Of The Other ME’s

As you’re discovering yourself you will discover there are a few “me’s” you have to avoid: 

The ME I don’t want to be:  this "me" shows up in bitterness, unforgiveness, etc.

The ME I pretend to be:  this "me" shows up in insecurity, vanity, dishonesty, etc

The ME others want me to be:  this "me" shows up in people-pleasing performance, perfectionism, etc

 

But there is a ME that God wants you to be. That is the true you. Recognize the voices of these other "me's" and simply get rid of them.  Like assassins they will do everything in their power to sabotage your true identity so take them out first.    Henri Nouwen writes, “Spiritual greatness has nothing to do with being greater than others.  It has everything to do with being as great as each of us can be."  So let's find our inner greatness and watch God move through you like never before. 

 

Secure and self-aware leaders exude confidence and give confidence to others.

 

2.  Be yourself more often

Stay true to who you are. Secure and self-aware leaders exude confidence and give confidence to others. In a changing world, the habit of self-discovery is critical for the stability of your career, your relationships and your organization.  So if your relationships, environments, title or job changes...you don't. You stay true to who God has called you to be.   It’s not about what you do but who you are.  Which means your identity precedes your activity.  I propose Human being first then human doing.

 

 

3.  A better “me” is a better “we"

Great leadership starts with self-leadership, which means you know yourself. This is paramount. “Who am I?” is the foundation to “How do I ___________?” Everyone wants to be great. But few are willing to put in the hard work to get there.  You can’t take people to where you’ve never been so you’ve got to push yourself to get to where you want to go first.  When you discipline yourself and create habits to advance yourself, you have pioneered a trail that others will follow.  Essentially proving the point that a better “me” is a better “we."  Your self-leadership will always benefit those around you so lead yourself well. 

 

When you discipline yourself and create habits to advance yourself, you have pioneered a trail that others will follow.

 

4.  Know who you’re not

The best thing that you can do is invite honest feedback into your life.  Who has that permission to be honest with you, your career, your personality and your future?  We all know that girl on American Idol who was told “fulfill your dreams” and “you have an angel’s voice” only to have J-LO and leaving Seacrest to clean up the mess.  Don’t be that kind of voice to those around you…you are not avoiding a conflict but promoting a bad future for those in your life who need that honest feedback. 

 

Enlist a team of people around you to be honest with you and that you can be vulnerable with.  Do this regularly and ask them what you’re NOT good at.  It’s hard to receive criticism.  I know.  But think of it less as criticizing you and more of creating you…into a better person.  Teachability is a trait that is hard to master as a young leader so be intentional with others and cultivate a posture of teachability with others.  Give those you trust in you life permission to be honest with you and watch your gifts be brought to the surface.  

 

Teachability is a trait that is hard to master as a young leader so be intentional with others and cultivate a posture of teachability with others.

 

5.  Take a Test

Self-discovery tests are great tools to help identify who you are and what you're good at. It doesn’t matter if you prefer StrengthsFinder, Myers-Briggs, DISC, or any other reputable one. Pick one or two and get started. Know very clearly your areas of strength. Think of these tests as excavation tools.  They are unearthing what is already there. They will highlight areas, give you language and get you started.

 

Once you have a few results in hand, review them next to each other and look for words, phrases and patterns that come to the surface. This removes the emotion out of it.  A printout can’t “hurt your feelings” but will still be honest with your identity, gifts, and passions. And keep doing it every few years to see how your gifts and passions have changed.

 

6.  Schedule regular get-aways.

You need to put into your calendar times to "work in" your calling and "work on" your calling.  Basically, you have to pull out of the hustle and allow yourself time to work on yourself as a leader so that you can get back to working on your projects.  Book appointments with people you trust that you have given permission to speak into your life.  Run your current schedule, projects and life by these people.  They will give you insight as to what you need to work on. These must be personal retreats where you focus on reflection and introspection.  Go alone to a quiet place if possible and unplug from your phone, e-mail, and social media as much as possible.  Be intentional about answering specific questions about who you are and how you’ve changed since the last time you did this.

 

You need to put into your calendar times to “work in” your calling and “work on” your calling. 

 

7.  Keep Learning Because Self-discovery is not a one-hit-wonder

Self-discovery is about excavation and not production.  Producing who I am for others comes from outside pressures.  You mold yourself for the expectations of others.  Excavating who I am comes from the inside.  It’s already there and is embedded into my personality, etc.  It’s about unearthing who I am and what I’m meant to do.  Once you feel you have discovered your identity, you’ve probably changed. So self-discovery is not a one-time perception but a lifetime of excavation.  

 

 

Schedule identity-discovering exercises into the rhythms of your life. If you aren’t intentional about identity, you’ll ignore it because YOU are too important to be too busy to be overlooked or ignored!

 

What practices do you have that you could add?

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#blunt on conflict

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If you're in relationships you're going to be in conflict. My goal is to make peace with whoever I'm in conflict with.  If you're a peacemaker then you're a son of God (Matthew 5:9). Disagreement with someone does not mean misalignment with someone. I can disagree with my wife but I'm still in union with her. I can disagree with my boss end it doesn't mean I'm not unified with my organization.  A peacemaker's goal at the end of the day is reconciliation because a son values his family. So confront your bad attitude before it becomes a bad behavior leading to bad fight.

In most conflicts we are trying to "be right"  but it's more important to "do right."  So if you are at odds with someone go make it right then proving you were right. As a matter fact God says He values your right relationship with someone else more than your worship (Matthew 5:23-24).  Your community matters to God more than you think. Forgiving quickly and often is one of the most potent ways to show others Christianity really works.  Let your conflict be an invitation to cultivate a deeper community with those around you and not an excuse to dissolve your community.

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Part 2: Following Jesus When I Don't Feel Like It

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Following Jesus when you don't feel like will likely be one of the first tests you walk through when you start to follow Christ...and these testing moments will continue. If you haven't read Part 1 and catch up on what we are talking about you can read it here...

 

Spiritual living isn't void of feelings.  Spiritual living relies on feelings to affirm and confirm what God is doing and refuses to make feelings the primary source of God's will for your life.  The primary source of God's will for your life is and always will be obedience.  

Jesus made that absolutely clear when He said if we love Him we will obey Him (John 14:15-31).

 

Matthew 26:33-35 speaks about Peter who is a great example of a Christian whose emotions and obedience are in  alignment.  Peter is following Jesus and doing ministry with Jesus.  To the point where he emotionally outburst, "

 

33 Peter told Him, “Even if everyone runs away because of You, I will never run away!”

34 “I assure you,” Jesus said to him, “tonight, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times!”

35 “Even if I have to die with You,” Peter told Him, “I will never deny You!” And all the disciples said the same thing.

 

Peter and all the disciples are obediently following Jesus as close as possible.    They are also emotionally charged with passion and excitement for who Jesus is and what they will do for Him.  These are similar to our moments when we follow Christ with our own passions and our own exciting, "I will never deny You moments" :  At a worship experience and we are shouting out lout with all we have that we love our God, when we are sharing our faith at a coffee shop boldly and fearlessly, when we pray with someone at school or work and we don't care what others around us think, etc.  

But then we see a moment when we see Peter feeling like we do sometimes.  Peter, like us, has a moment where his own feelings about how he feels about himself and how Jesus feels about himself are misguided and not truly reflecting who Peter is and who Jesus is  

 

After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”

“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.

Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

“Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.”

“Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.

A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.   John 21:15-17

 

 

Peter felt Jesus didn't love him...but He did.  Peter felt Jesus was mad at him...but He wasn't.  Peter felt he wasn't worthy...but he was.  Peter felt he was unforgiven but he wasn't.   Peter felt he wasn't worthy to be a disciple (went back to old profession of fishing)...but he was to be the disciple leading the outpouring in the upper room in Acts.  He didn't feel like "the rock" but Peter realized that moment that how we feel about ourselves and how we feel about God isn't always true.  Peters misguided feelings are finally aligned with God.  Peter obeys God from that moment forward to obey the command of Christ when He said, "Feed My sheep."   Peter wasn't feeling it but Jesus certainly was.  

 

Finally we get one of the best highlights from Peter's ministry when he is preaching in Acts 2 and thousands come to Christ.  Passionately feeling it and purposefully obeying the call of God on his life that Jesus spoke to him in his early days, "Upon this rock I will build my church" (Matthew 16:18).

 

Obedience and feelings don't always line up.  When we don't feel it but we are doing it it's like our feelings are dragging.   Maybe I'll say it this way:  

 

OUR FEELINGS HAVE TO CATCH UP TO OUR OBEDIENCE.

 

Maybe that was the problem with Peter.  Peter was with Jesus.  He was following him from the boat to the shore, talking and eating together...but was he feeling the vibes?   No.  He was doing what Jesus asked but his feelings didn't catch up to His obedience.  Sometimes Jesus will call us closer to Him to pray, to love, to worship, to give to follow and we just need to obey because eventually our feelings will catch up and we will know because not only will we be doing the work of Jesus but also we will be feeling it as well.  Jesus said it best,

 

My sheep listen to my voice: i know them and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall enter perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.  John 10:27-28

 

 

How to not let your feelings get the best of you:

 

1.  Remind yourself that a loss of feelings doesn't mean a loss of faith.

I don't call my dad every day.  If I don't feel like I love my father every day it doesn't mean he doesn't love me every day.  I see my dad a few times a year but our love doesn't change and my feelings don't change.  God is my father and i'm His son.  Nothing can change that.  God is not a Father who abandon's and leaves you orphaned.  Quite the contrary.  He adopts you into his family and nothing can separate you from his love (Romans 8:15, 31-39).  So if you feel like God doesn't love you,  trust in the strong bond of the Father's love that he will not leave you. And even you cannot remove yourself from Him.  He's you're Father and he loves you unconditionally.  

 

2.  Be all in with God because God's all in with you

We may not always believe in us but God always believes in you.  What He starts He finishes.  The good work He begins in you is also the faithful work He completes in you (Philippians 1:6).

He's not like me when I'm trying to build an empire state building puzzle.  After I build it for a while, the border, then i'm out.  I'm not the guy who has the puzzle on the table for 6 weeks and delightfully shuffles over to the 10,000 piece nightmare and say to myself, this is so relaxing staring into a pile of chaos.  So I'm notorious for pulling out.   God's not...He's all in and will finish what He started.  

 

3. Know how God feels about me is different than how I feel about me sometimes

Just because you don't feel like you are worthy doesn't mean God doesn't think you are.  Just because you don't think you're worth the fight doesn't mean God isn't fighting for you right now.  Your perceptions and feelings about you are going to be different than how you feel about you.  

 

4.  Respond to God's promises than reacting to your feelings

God makes these promises to you when you don't feel like worshipping or praying for seeking God:

 

When you seek him with all your hearts you will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13)

When you press on to know Him, He will come to you like spring rain (Hosea 6:3)

When you come to jesus, your heart hunger will be satisfied (John 6:35)

 

 

5.  Remind yourself when we are faithless Gos is faithful

Even though I may not be loving God like I should every day, God is still loving me.  2 Timothy 2:13 says, "If we are faithless he remains faithful, for He cannot disown himself."  In the midst of my uncertainty he is certain to be with us no matter what

 

6.  Do what you used to do

When was the last time you were "on fire for God?"  What are you doing during those times that give you passion to keep going?  You're reading your Bible, spending time in prayer, hanging with other Christian friends, in Bible study, staring your faith?  Start doing those things and watch your feelings change

 

7.  Walk by faith and not by sight.

We walk by sight. We walk by feelings.  We walk by hearing.  We walk by feelings.  But God's best for us is to walk by faith as often as we can (2 corinthians 5:7).  Obedience is visible expression of our faith.  So follow God in obedience and see Him more than you ever thought you could.

 

8.  Don't live passively

The key here is refusing to be passive and making a conscious decision to do what’s right. Being passive means you wait for an outside force to move you or to feel like doing something. Use your will to choose what’s right. And pray for God’s grace to give you the ability to do it.

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Part 1: Following Jesus When I Don't Feel Like It

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Let’s be honest, there are times when it is really easy to follow Jesus, and then there are times when it is really difficult.

For example, when I am in a worship service and the song is powerful and moving to me then it’s easy to follow Jesus.

When I am sitting on the beach watching the sun rise, listening to the waves and looking at the ocean contemplating the peace and beauty of God, it’s easy to follow Jesus.

When I am sitting on my patio with a cup of coffee in my hands reading my Bible with my new Hillsong record on...it's easy to follow Jesus.

But …

Let someone be driving in the fast lane when they should be in the slow lane…

Talk behind my back and then forgive you for it...

Guy in front of me with 12 items in the 10 items or less lane....Oh, hail to the no.

 

These are meant to be funny...and to poke fun at how life is challenging in small ways as a Christian.  But what about the harder times in life when "I'm not feeling it" :  

 

When I'm reading Scriptures and when they are supposed to be the life-giving Words of God they just feel like words on a page to me...

When I'm praying to God who is my creator and Father but it just seems like I'm talking to myself...

When I'm worshipping in church and others around me are enjoying God and I just seem to be singing a song and I begin to wonder if this is all real...

 

There are times when it's hard to follow God and here's the simple reason:  I am not feeling it.  I don't feel like I love God.  I don't feel like worshipping.  I don't feel like reading my Bible.  I don't feel like going to church.  I don't feel like praying.  Again, I am simply not feeling it. 

 

 

And here's the difficult part:

Feelings come across so genuine.  Feelings are usually so authentic.  Feelings are so strong and they get me so emotional.  They are so vivid.  They seem so tangible.  They seem to validate who I am and what I am doing.  Which makes them easy to trust.   

But they are also misleading.  

 

Their are days and seasons when you feel like you love your spouse and then there are days when you don't feel it.  Because life happens:   You have to clean the house; you have to go to work; you have to change a diaper; you have to pay bills; you have to get up early or you are running late; you are short-tempered; you haven't seen each other in a few days...and the grind wears on you.  Ask me if I love my wife like I did on our wedding day when we are in the middle of a fight, the answer would be "not feeling it."  But ask me if she is the love of my life and I would say yes before you can finish the question.  Our marital love is a spiritual decision that started on my wedding day when she said yes. I chose Heidi when I felt like it and I choose her during the times when I don't...but I still choose her and always will.   I don't let my feelings dictate my marriage but I let my covenantal choice I made 19 years ago remind me that she's the one and all I need.  I can't fall out of love with her because I never stumbled into it but I chose her to be my love as she chose me.  My emotions don't disqualify my marriage when it's tough but my emotions affirm my marriage when we are close.  The point:  I don't always "feel" like I love my wife but I have chosen to commit myself to her even when my feelings don't match up.   My feelings where telling me that I didn't love her because I didn't "feel it" but the reality is our marriage is for life and I love Heidi more than anything in this world. 

 

There are days I don't feel like I love God.  But I am in a love relationship with God that isn't based on how I feel for the day but based upon the faith that God gave me to love Him and live for him 24 years ago.  So i trust my covenant  more than I trust my feelings or my emotions.  

 

But does that mean I shouldn't feel emotion or be emotional? 

No.  

God is emotional and has feelings.

 

 

 

If we are made in God's image, then we also are emotional and are supposed to have feelings.  Here's how God feels about spiritual things:  

 

God feels anger:  Psalm 7:11; Romans 1:18

God feels laughter: Psalm 37:13; Psalms 2:4

God feels Compassion:  Psalm 135:14

God feels grief: Genesis 6:6; Psalm 78:40

God feels love:  1 John 4:8; John 3:16

God feels hate:  Psalm 5:5; Psalm 11:5

God feels joy:  Zephaniah 3:17; isaiah 62:5

 

And the biggest point of it all:  God came into our world to know every temptation and every feeling and emotion we can experience but the difference is that as a human being... He didn't sin (Hebrews 4:15) while feeling everything we felt.  That's what makes God so trustworthy and understanding about your emotions and your feelings about a situation:   He knows what you're going through emotionally because He is emotional, He made you emotional and He knows what emotions you're feeling right now.  

 

We can live from faith to faith (Romans 1:17), strength to strength (Psalm 84:7), grace to grace (John 1:16)...but not from feeling to feeling.  

 

If you live from feeling to feeling you are in danger of "emotional living."  Emotional living is the opposite of a spiritual life in Jesus or "spiritual living."    So how do you know you are emotional living?

 

HERE ARE SOME DANGERS OF "EMOTIONAL LIVING":

 

Danger #1:  I don't feel God so God's not with me or cares about me.    

Emotional living says if you don't feel God then God is either mad at you, upset at you or doesn't want you.  Spiritual living understands nothing can separate you from the love of Christ (Romans 8).  

 

Danger #2:  I'm feeling it so I better jump in and just do it.   

Emotional living leads you in the wrong direction because what if what you are feeling isn't true...now you're heading in the wrong direction.  Spiritual living puts a reliability on God's wisdom and counsel and you choose not to make abrupt hasty decisions but calculated wise decisions with the right counsel. 

 

Danger #3:  I feel it's right so it must be true.  

Emotional living doesn't tell the truth.  Emotional living wants your emotions to speak first and then let truth back-up what you're feeling.  Spiritual living relies on Scripture to confirm and affirm the truth of a situation.  

 

Danger #4:  I feel it strongly so this must be my reality.  

Emotional living encourages that the only tangible and reliable substance to your faith is your tears, your joy, etc.  Spiritual living understands that what you feel right now is now what is actual.  

 

Danger #5:  I feel like I am the only one that understands what I am going through because no one feels it like I do.  

Emotional living isolates your feelings to be unique to you and that no one in your community could possibly understand.  Spiritual living relies on your community for support and prayer to help you navigate the decision or the season. 

 

Danger #6:  I don't feel like praying or reading my Bible so God must not be real. 

 Emotional living makes your spiritual life dependent on having a feeling to back up every spiritually good desire.  Spiritual living understands that faith is critical for moments when you don't feel like it and that faith sustains you till the next time you do. 


Spiritual living isn't void of feelings.  Spiritual living relies on feelings to affirm and confirm what God is doing and refuses to make feelings the primary source of God's will for your life.  The primary source of God's will for your life is and always will be obedience.  

Jesus made that absolutely clear when He said if we love Him we will obey Him (John 14:15-31).

 

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Part 2: How to Know If You Are Dating a Girl or a Woman

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Who you partner yourself with for life can make or break you and your future.  We asked the question on Part 1 of  "How To Know If You Are Dating a Boy or a Man?" in our most recent post here.  Now that we have asked that question...what about for our lady friends?   

One of the attributes that you can look for in finding the girl of your dreams is maturity.  A Good Guy is interested in dating a woman…not a girl.  I know there is a whole list for guys as well because girls want to date a man and not a boy, essentially.  However, I want this series of posts to help guys not only rise up and be the men God is calling them to be but also for girls to be the women God is calling them to be as well.  I have been talking hard to guys in the last few posts so here is my brief post to the ladies to encourage them and challenge them as well.  These are my thoughts with some females who have helped me develop them:

 

A VERY STRAIGHTFORWARD COMPARISON BETWEEN DATING A GIRL AND A WOMAN:

 

A GIRL CRITICIZES OTHERS BUT A WOMAN COMPLIMENTS OTHERS.

OK girls, if you want to turn the “good guys” away, just be a “catty” girl.  Be that girl who talks about other girls behind their backs, comparing yourself constantly to others and for the sake of all things in the universe, don’t ask me this dreaded question:  “Do you think she’s pretty?”  Because a guy doesn’t know how to answer that one outloud without causing the apocalypse.   A guys wants to find a woman who complements others; who loves God’s creation; who loves her friends and accepts others as they are; who affirms her church, her community and her leadership. A guy doesn’t want to date a girl who criticizes because it’s just plain draining.  

 

A GIRL WAITS FOR THINGS TO HAPPEN BUT A WOMAN MAKES THINGS HAPPEN.

A woman knows who she is, knows what she wants and goes for it...professionally, relationally and spiritually.  She isn’t afraid to ask the questions, ask for help and collaborate with others.  She has friends "beyond her best friends" and doesn’t have a trail of burned bridges behind her.  She’s assertive, smart and plans effectively.  A girl can lack ambition and patience.  She thinks short-term and thinks often only about herself.  Check out Proverbs 31 for some ideal lady characteristics, guys. 

 

A GIRL FLIRTS WITH MANY BUT A WOMAN IS FAITHFUL TO ONE.

A woman is confident, strong and knows who she is.  She knows how she’s acting in the moment and realizes that she represents her guy when she’s with her girlfriends and when she’s with others.  She is aware of what she's wearing, what she says and how she's acting around others.  She's clearly communicating verbally and nonverbally with those around her.  A girl however, is draining.  Her guys is constantly trying to "figure her out" because she's playing games with him.  She says things indirectly that are ambiguous and unclear.  Ladies, guys are already confused as it is...why make it more difficult?  She plays continued games that may work for now but he will eventually grow tired of the games.  So ladies, be a woman who doesn't need to flirt but desires to be faithful in all situations and watch your man only have eyes for you.

 

A GIRL IS ENTITLED BUT A WOMAN IS ENCHANTING.

Guys, women are magical.  They lure us to them without even trying.  It’s the simple things that seem to make her sweet, beautiful and alluring.  An enchanting woman loves the small gestures, the sincere romance and the authentic conversation (along with some gifts…come on, guys, we don’t go cheap on me).  A girl who is entitled talks about what she wants and if she can’t get it, she starts plotting what she wants through her and his friends.  Guys, we have a lot more fun by dating a woman whose priority is not material things and false expectations but is overwhelmed by the time and thought put into a simple gift than an extravagant one.  But guys, that does mean for you to know what her likes and tastes are.  Because when you give her what she wants because you know her well, that puts her over the moon for you.  At the end of the day, it's not about the price or the stuff but it's about do you know her enough to know what she likes.  

 

 

A GIRL TRIES WAY TOO HARD BUT A WOMAN IS HARD TO GET.

Heidi, my wife, was a woman from the beginning.  She had standards.  She knew what she wanted.  She loved God and wanted a man who loved God.  I found myself doing what I could to win her over.  I met her in church.  Not at the club, at an after-party, etc.  (Hello, single people...!!)  Church is a great place to meet people (Oh, and find some really awkward ones, too...did I just say that out loud?)  We went water-skiing with friends and I got to know her.  Eventually I took her out and the rest is history.  We grew to love each other.  We got married and have just celebrated 20 years in Hawaii.  You know what guys...I still romance her.  We celebrate birthdays like royalty, we go out on Valentines Day like we did in the early days, we have anniversary’s at some really great places that have really great pools (especially pools that have people that bring food right to you...we are a big deal and we are fine with that), I give her “just because” flowers at work, etc.  I say that because what "won her" to me while dating is what "keeps her" with me in marriage.  She made me work for it.  And you know what…I liked it.  When a girl pursues a guy, maybe it’s me, but it feels a little different to me.  Nothing necessarily wrong with that but I want to be the man who has to win her over … and it brought out the man in me.  So girls, stop throwing yourself at him but let him chase you...if he's the man for you, he'll "see you" and run right after you.

 

 

A GIRL GOES ON THE DEFENSIVE BUT A WOMAN GROWS IN DISCERNMENT.  

A woman knows her surroundings.  She is aware of the spiritual climate in the room and knows when the battle is not against others (“flesh and blood”) but when it’s a spiritual battle.  A girl assumes the worst and gets defensive towards her guy and others.  She gets offended easily and assumes the worst.  She becomes hurt easily and lives from a posture of defensiveness and constant mistrust.   Guys, you aren’t always going to get it right so find a woman that can help you discover what’s wrong with you and your situation because not everything can be solved by blowing things up, punching it in the face or driving really fast (although a 2016 Mercedes Benz C-Class Coup would be nice right about now and relief my current stress...just sayin'). 

 

 

A GIRL WANTS YOU TO CHANGE TO HER LIKING BUT A WOMAN ACCEPTS YOUR FLAWS BECAUSE SHE LIKES YOU.  

A woman knows your weaknesses.  She doesn’t expose them but covers you and makes you a better man.  I’ve counseled couples and their seemed to be some expectation that the other was going to change for the other.  News flash: not gonna happen. A guy is much more willing to become a better man when he knows he’s loved unconditionally by his woman. I mean isn’t that the foundation of relationship with Jesus?   A girl who tries to do a personality makeover on you (grunge to preppy, simple to sophisticated, etc.) is not the girl for the long haul.  I’m not talking about just manners or style that many dudes lack:  not putting the seat down, chewing with your mouth open or talking and using language like you’re from a Quentin Tarantino, wearing a bass-fishing t-shirt on your first date, etc.  It’s called get some manners, bro, because to keep a girl around, you gotta get civilized and while you're at it, take a look in the mirror and make sure you look halfway decent.  I’m saying if you have to earn love in a relationship by acting a certain way, then you are dating the wrong person because a woman’s love is unchanging and it was will last through the tough times.

 

A GIRL IS SELFIE-OBSESSED BUT A WOMAN IS OBSESSED WITH SELFLESSNESS.

Hey girls, “pouty lips” or “the duckface” is not always cute to guys.  Frankly, they can seem over the top.  Are the selfies in fun or do they point to a bigger issue?  Does she care about herself?  How she looks?  How many likes?  Or does she care about others?   Is she more concerned with numbers of followers or making a difference in others?  Her instagram feed will be pretty revealing if she’s a girl or a woman.  Take some advice from and  "The Biebs":

‘Cause if you like-the way-you look that much-oh baby, you should go and love yourself...'

 Not only that but a girl is selfish with her money but a woman is generous.  A girl is needy but a woman meets a need.  She lives a live of generosity by giving freely.  Her life is characterized by being a person who says that others matter.   Because when she prioritizes others, the others around her will prioritize her so she is never in lack or in want. 

 

A GIRL GOSSIPS ABOUT OTHERS BUT A WOMAN GAINS RESPECT FROM OTHERS

Perhaps life is just too boring or maybe jealousy is to blame, but some girls love the drama (I get enough of that for one day watching a Scandal commercial).  This type of pandemonium is unheard of with a woman because she’s too busy going for her dreams to waste her time and/or helping others achieve their dreams and potential.  You don’t want to date a girl who gossips and causes division. Just like her, you’ll waste your time getting wrapped up in the cray-cray.   Not to mention, she’ll probably do the same thing to you with her family and friends. A woman has a respect with you and with others in her community.  You want to find the girl of your dreams, ask others around you what they think about her….because that will be the test of if she’s right for you. 

 

A GIRL TAKES CONTROL IN THE RELATIONSHIP BUT A WOMAN GIVES HIM CONTROL IN THE RELATIONSHIP

A girl is controlling.  She is one of those girls who commands him to open the door for her, tells her what he should order for her, etc.  Although I appreciate the take-charge idea...wrong execution because in the end she is the one yelling at her guy because he's not being the spiritual leader in the relationship.  Plus, most some guys don't realize they are even being controlled in this.  They are enamored by her looks that he doesn't see her manipulation with him resulting in a guy who has lost his fighting spirit.  A woman let's him lead and take charge spiritually.  A woman wants him to own his faith, own his spiritual life and own the relationship.  

 

 

Anything I'm missing from this list?

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Part 1: How To Know If You Are Dating A Boy or a Man?

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When it comes to relationships, we don't want to awaken love till the right time.  And the right time is usually marked by maturity.  We will have a post similar to this to the ladies.  Now I am sending one out to the guys.  Here we go: 

 

How To Know If You Are Dating a Boy or a Man:

 

1.  A boy makes you feel like you're not good enough but a man makes you feel like you're more than enough.  

Hey girls, if you have to constantly prove to your guy that you are more attractive and better looking than the other girls around you then he doesn't deserve you.  From what i've heard, it's hard enough to navigate the pressures with other girls so she don't need some false pressure from a guy, let alone from the guy that is dating her.  If a guy truly loves his girl, she will be enough and what she lacks, he compliments and becomes her strength.  

 

 

2.  A boy is possessive but a man is protective.  

If the relationship is healthy, she will trust you.  If she doesn't, then you'll naturally be afraid of losing her.  So guys, what we do is we try to control the moment because of our own insecurity, pride, etc.  If you make her feel cherished and loved...what girl wouldn't want to be in the arms of a dude like that?  So lose the grip, son.  

 

 

3.  A boy is considers whether he could do better but a man is confident he has the best.  

Hey girls, a guy who is always looking for the next best thing that comes his way is not the guy you want to be with.  He should only have eyes for his lady.  Guys, if you are looking at other women when you are in the presence of the lady you committed to, then you aren't ready for a relationship.  A guy can change his mind, that's fine.  But a guy that has committed himself to a relationship but is only in it for the benefits for himself is a guy that is not ready to be dating anyone.  A man makes his commitment and sticks with it.  If he starts to question where his relationship is going, then he will have the conversation when necessary. 

 

 

 

4.  A boy is interested in "looks" but a man is interested in life. 

 How you mesh with your girl is what matters.  Looks fade.  Feelings diminish at times.  But how you do life together is what sustains you for the long haul.  Hey girls, how you line up with faith, passions, interests, raising kids, how you vacation, what movies you like, how you spend your Saturday Nights, what you laugh at, what you cry at, what you fight about...will show you if he's into your looks or into building a life with you.

A man is less concerned how you look to family and friends and is more concerned how you love family and friends 

 

5,  A boy makes her accomplishments feel threatening but a man makes her accomplishments worthy of protecting.  

I love celebrating my wife's accomplishments.  Heidi has had a great career in the music industry, orphan care, church life, the financial industry and ministry.  Her success at all these things doesn't threaten me but makes me proud of what a woman she is.  Guys, champion your lady to be successful because she's more capable than you think! 

 

 

6.  A boy plays in the moment but a man prepares for the future. 

 A lot of us guys can't think past the next 2 minutes when they're with a girl.  All we see is her beauty.  All we are trying to do is not talk like an idiot or act like a complete moron.  So every moment with our girl makes us feel crazy because we don't want to blow it.  And when we get to the romance part, we are going a 1000 mph.  So it is tough to pace, take it slow and enjoy the next few hours when we are with the girl of our dreams.  So guys, that's why you have to not live from feeling to feeling or moment to moment but think about the big picture.  Too many guys have lost a good thing from acting in a moment.  So when I say prepare, I am saying think about before-hand what your actions could do to her or to you or to those around you.  Think before you act, fellas.  

 

 

7.  A boy looks to gain popularity from your family and friends but a man gains promotion from your family and friends.  

It's like this:  If people she respects most doesn't like him or care to be around him, then it's probably not a good fit.  Plain and simple, y'allz.

 

8. A boy guesses what's happening and jumps to conclusions in situations but a man gains wisdom adjusts his composure.  

Guys get hotheaded.  We love a good fight.  We don't wanna be wrong and we can be very prideful.  So fella's, seek the wisdom.  The best for that is in the Bible so if you haven't read the Scriptures in a while, then there's your first problem, dummy.   Put yourself in the presence of those who are wiser than you and who have done relationships well.  They probably have a good piece of advice to give you.  

 

A man is always confident he has the best than always wondering if he can do better.

 

 

 

9.  A boy is concerned how she looks to his family and friends and man is concerned how she loves his family and friends.  

A man wants his girl to be liked by his family and friends.  Because those closest to his family and friends have a pretty good radar on if she's the one.  So girls, take special heed to the other special lady in his life...his mother.  How you interact and love those who are special in his life is a good way for you to make an impression.

 

 

10.  A boy spends more time with his friends because they're important to him and man spends more time with her friends because they're important to her.  

The girlfriends of your lady are just as important as your bro's are, fellas.  So when you double date with her bestie, don't make it a big deal...just make it work.  She'll love you for it.  

 

11.  A boy is reckless with his life but a man is reliable with his life. 

There is an understanding that in relationships that If there is one thing I look for in love, it’s security. Because I understand that there are many things in life that we depend on but can’t be 100% sure of — our job, our health and etc. In view of this, I want a partner whom I know is going to be there for me, in sickness or in health, for better or for worse. Because that’s what I’m gonna give him in the relationship too.

A real man lets you know that you can rely on him by being consistent in both his words and actions. He lets you know that he tries his best for you every time. He will not make promises that he knows he can’t keep, or do things that he knows may sabotage the relationship. Because he wants to make sure that you feel safe and protected with him.

 

 

 

PART 2: HOW TO KNOW IF YOU ARE DATING A GIRL OR A WOMAN...click here

 

 

Any I'm forgetting?

 

 

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Flourishing In Your "Life Grove" Part 2

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Our lives are made up of specific domains.  These domains dictate to us how we operate, succeed and flourish.  Each of these specific areas of our lives are expected to grow and prosper.  No matter what season you are in, you are already rooted in these places and are bearing fruit whether you believe it or not.  This space of fruit bearing in your life is your "Life Grove."  Check out Part 1 of last weeks post on "Managing your Life Grove" here.

 

We are expected to produce fruit in life because God has given us capacity to grow.  These specific areas are not just "supposed to grow" but they are to "flourish."  To flourish means to

 

"...to be in a vigorous state; thrive; to be in its or in one's prime; be at the height of fame, excellence,influence, to be successful; prosper." -Webster  

 

When something is growing, it's vigorous development is not just hoped for but expected.  When you are rooted in Christ, growth is an outcome of your connection to the Holy Spirit (Galations 5:22).  Your Life Grove is not supposed to be a struggling and languishing grove of sadness but an orchard of life where you and many are enjoying it's fruits.  

 

To see anything growing and producing fruit, there is intentionality.  Your Life Grove won't see the fruit you are hoping for unless you are purposeful in how you are growing these specific areas of your life.  Think of each of these specific domains as areas of your life that have to go through seasons.  Just as in the natural, our lives have a winter, spring, summer and fall to harvest from, each of these areas of our lives have to go through seasons to see the fruit come and for you to flourish.  

 

So we set goals and be intentional to see the "fruit" come from our labor.  Each time a season , each limb a goal and and each fruit a result of what you have done.   Your season depends on where God has you, what your stage in life is.  For example, your fruit from your relational tree will look different when you are in the season of being a new husband than when you are in the season of being g a father of a teenager.  Just like trees have limbs that are carrying the potential fruit, think of each limb on your tree as a goal for this year.  Each limb carrying the fruit buried in it's branches that will grow and develop over time till harvest.  Finally each fruit will be the result of your hard work, spiritual disciples and forged habits over time.  

 

So let's write down a goal from each area from your Life Grove.  Michael Hyatt says there is a study that supports how writing down goals helps us achieve them.  Gail Matthews of Dominican University of California, author of "The Effectiveness of four Coaching Techniques in Enhancing Goal Achievement",  did a study by recruiting 267 professionals from different careers:  attorney's, educators, artists, entrepreneurs, etc.  After tracking them over several weeks she discovered that writing one's goals increased achievement y 42%.   Writing them down helps you to clarify what you want, motivates you and helps you celebrate or as we would say "eat the fruit of your labor."  

 

You have heard of the SMART goal setting system:  Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Sensative.  I want you to see your Life Grove from a perspective and with the intention of you wanting these areas to FLOURISH.   For you to "flourish" in your life you need to set goals.  You need to be asking yourself questions about what specifically do you want to grow in and how you will accomplish this growth in your life.  

 


To FLOURISH you need each tree in your Life Grove to have these specific attributes to what you want to see accomplished in each of these specific areas of growth:  

 

F - Fearless   

The first attribute is about risk.  Let your goals be a little scary to you.  It's one thing for goals to be realistic but that gives you the potential to believe and set your goals to low.  Set goals that will challenge you and expose you to believe beyond what you are capable of.  Question:  How risky are your goals for this area of your life?  Are they challenging you and stretching you?

 

L- Lifegiving 

The second attribute is does this goal excite you.  The more excited you are to reach your goal the more motivated you will be.  How inspired are you by this goal for this area of growth in your life?  Does it engage our heart?  Does finishing this goal excite you? Is it fun to think about?

 

O - Operative  

The third attribute for you to flourish in your Life Grove is that they are operative.  In other words, how will you operate your life by asking what is the action that you have to take to get to the result.  To have a directive to accomplish your goal is critical (for example, "be more consistent at working out" isn't operative but "run 3 days a week" is operative).  What is the action step needed to accomplish your goal?  What movement is necessary for you?

 

U - Urgent 

Your goal should have an urgency to then to finish.  Or in other words, what you want to do should have an "end date."  Your goals should be time-sensitive.  It should have a deadline and a frequency.  Deadlines will force you to give it attention and action.  

 

R - Realistic

The fifth attribute of your goal is that it must be realistic.  You have to commit to this goal and believe that you can accomplish it.  This means you have to personally be wiling and able to work towards this goal.  Is the goal you are reaching for realistic?  Do you see yourself able to accomplish this? Are authentically motivated to do this goal?

 

I - Incremental 

Your goals should be measurable.  You have to know WHEN you reach your goal and you have to know HOW your progress is being charted.  Monitoring your progress is the fun of reaching goals and it gives you incredible satisfaction.  How will you measure your growth and progress?  How do you notice when you've reached your goal?

 

 

S - Specific

The next attribute is that your goals should be specific.  You should have focus because the more focused they are the more inspiring they are.  Identify exactly what you want to accomplish (for example, "advancing my education" is too vague but "get a masters from U of M" is more specific and will make your more productive).  What exactly do you want to accomplish in this area of your life?  

 

 

H - Harmoneous 

The final attribute is about having your goals be in alignment with your season, your values and your vision.  These goals are meant to relevant to the season of your life (If not, you won't see the growth your hoping for).  They have to have a "harmony" to them and work with the other areas of your life rather than having goals compete and create friction ultimately working against the others.  Do your goals align with your seasons?  Do they encourage progress for you and others around you? Do they compliment the legitimate demands and needs of others in your life?  Do they align with your values as a person, family and follower of Jesus?

 

Use this FLOURISH template to set goals (branches)  for each area in your life grove to see the fruit that you are hoping for in this season of our life (an example is given for you below as well.). Imagine below a branch on each tree in your Life Grove and just like a caregiver in an orchard goes out each day to inspect the limbs to look for the fruit, you can do the same thing for your own Life Grove.  See the example below:  

 

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for example:

 

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Managing Your “Life Grove” Part 1

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Our lives are made up of specific domains.  These domains dictate to us how we operate, succeed and flourish.  Each of these specific areas of our lives are expected to grow and prosper.  No matter what season you are in, you are already rooted in these places and are bearing fruit whether you believe it or not.  

 

We are expected to produce fruit in life because God has given us capacity to grow.  This growth of our spiritual lives is dependent on soil, roots and branches.  Each of our lives are being planted, rooted and should be growing and bearing fruit.  God is an “aggregate God” who uses the metaphor of agriculture as a means of seeing our spiritual lives be significant and have meaning by remain growing.    The Bible speaks of soil, roots this way : 

 

Roots.

 

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.“  Colossians 2: 6-7

 

Soil.

 

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.   Ephesians 3:16-17

 

Branches.

 

 “I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.  John 15:5

 

The soil, roots and branches of your life are connected to specific areas of growth in your life.  We will use the metaphor of a tree to represent these specific growth areas of our lives. These “trees of our lives” are producing fruit that are connected to branches that are growing because of roots that are continuing to deepen themselves in soil.  These domains we signified  as trees and these trees collectively represent your life or in other words, your “Life Grove.”  Each person has an “orchard of fruitfulness” or a Life Grove they are in charge of and are to be bearing from.  

 

Each “Life Grove” consists of these 7 life domains or what we are calling trees.  Each tree is specific and has a purpose that makes up your collective life in Christ.  The more we are aware of our Life Grove then the more we can set goals for growth and see our lives impact others in a greater way.  

 

The Seven Trees of our Life Grove:

 

Tree 1:  The Spiritual Tree 

This tree represents our spiritual life and it’s connection to God.  From our devotional disciplines, our Bible reading plans, our prayer lives...this tree is critical for all spiritual disciplines.    

 

Tree 2:  The Emotional Tree

This tree is significant for your soul’s health and prosperity.  Our emotianal health is how we think and feel so we can process our own feelings and emotions with clarity and steward them well. 

 

Tree 3:  The Intellectual Tree

Our intellectual tree is being rooted and grounded in significant ideas, processes and order.  It’s your capacity for understanding, thinking and acquiring wisdom and knowledge and how you process and order your wisdom.  What we are reading, the topics of conversations we are having and the images we are interested in all contribute to our healthy and growing intellect.  

 

Tree 4:  The Physical Tree

Plain and simple, your physical health.  How you take care of your body’s health and well-being is important for every human being.   

 

Tree 5:  The Relational Tree

This tree reflects the fruit of your relational health.  The way you are connecting to your friends, your spouse, your children, your social life and all aspects of relationships are the fruit of this tree.  

 

Tree 6:  The Vocational Tree

This is the growth of your professional life.  This tree reflects the fruit of your job, how you are influencing, the significance of your calling in your season of life, etc.   

 

Tree 7:  The Financial Tree.   

This tree signifies the financial successes, generosity and security in relation to your money.  

 

Each of these areas of our lives are “producing.”  Just as we see the fruit or the “produce” of a an apple tree for example, we see the fruit of what we are “producing” in our lives as well.  Jesus says it best,  

 

“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.”  Matthew 12:33

 

Jesus knew that our Life Grove needed to be attended to and each of these specific areas of our lives cared for so we can see growth in our lives. We are expected  to be checking our fruit and seeing what is being produced from each of our trees in our lives.  For some of us, we have noticed the relational fruit of our marriage slipping into a place of boredom.  For others, we are enjoying the intellectual fruit of our lives as we have engaged in  life-giving conversations obtaining wisdom and instruction on a difficult life topic.  Some of us see the emotional fruit of our lives as we let our insecurities come to the surface causing us to believe the worst about that person and the situation.  Others of us see the spiritual fruit of our devotional lives flourishing as we are devoting more of our time and efforts into reading the Bible and praying more.  

 

Here’s an action step:  Get out a sheet of paper and draw 7 simple trees.  

See the illustration below:  

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Now write the name of each tree under each one.  

Then write a fruit (good or bad) that you are seeing be produced from each of the 7 Trees in your “Life Grove” inside the leaves.  

Finally pray about that fruit ceasing or increasing in your life.  

 

CHECK OUT PART 2:  Flourishing In Your "Life Grove" next...

 

 

 

 

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Writing Your Own Rules

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How has your 2018 been so far?  Mine has been great.  New seasons mean forming new paths as you go.  It’s easy to be diverted and sidetracked.  It’s necessary to stretch the boundaries and try new things to go where you have never been.  Some call this stepping “outside the box.”  Don’t think outside the box ... just don’t step into the box to begin with.  I call this “creative discipline.”  Or in other words...make your own rulebook. 

 

I have forced myself to instead of “stepping out of  my comfort zone” i’ve chosen to “step into my creative impetus.”  Is there another way to live...I say yes.  The way I choose to live is from a Biblical perspectives and from an inspirational motives.   These spiritual axioms are paths that have been worn into my life terrain that when I see it I take it because they are trusted paths that guide me to my best places.  I like where I ended up.  So I’ll take it again.  The more I follow these spiritual directives, the more they make sense.  So I live by them.  I make these rules that I live by:

 

Rule #1:  Celebrate people as often as you can (...and laugh once a day). 

Rule #2:  Do everything you can to rise to the greatness you were always meant for

Rule #3:  It’s about life rhythms not life balance.

Rule #4:  Honor above all else and before anything  else. 

Rule #5:  Resist issues and insist virtues

Rule #6:  Be overwhelmed by God and not circumstances.  

Rule #7:  Love the process because it’s necessary

Rule #8:  Embracing your weakness shows others God is strongest.

Rule #9:  Be less convincing and more inspiring

Rule #10:  Chase callings not careers

Rule #11:  Talent disintegrates but character appreciates 

Rule #12:  You will be the most secure when you are in God’s presence.  

Rule #13:  Call out potential before performance

Rule #14:  Greater teachability leads to greater responsability

 Rule #15:  Know yourself well to lead yourself well

Rule #16:  Originality then authenticity

Rule #17:  Celebrate successors over successes

Rule #18:  Succeeding at the wrong things could be your biggest failure

Rule #19:   Don’t think outside the box ... just don’t step into the box to begin with.  

Rule #20:  Live life to the full  

 

 

 

Any rules you live by that I can adopt too? 

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The Christian Adventure You Might Be Missing

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Adventure is calling.

 

This is your rally cry to pilgrimage.  To go on the journey that is meant for you. There is a life that is waiting for you that is not what you think but that is more than you think.  This quest is not only meant for you but designed for you because you have and always have been destined to adventure.  

 

 

We all love epic stories:

 

A group of kids find out there is more to what is happening in their small Indiana town as they encounter a young girl known as “11” as they seek to uncover that their is more to their little town than they think. 

 

A fellowship of friends is forged through the journey of traveling across the land to protecting a gold ring at all costs.

 

A girl knows she’s meant for more as she escapes her confines from a desert planet only to have her facing the darkest of villains with nothing but the force and her friends including a Wookiee nicknamed “Chewie.”  

 

 

 

While these are notably modern-day parables giving us fantastic eye candy timeless pop-culture quotes, there are real-life adventurers:

 

 

John Goddard an American adventurer, explore, author and lecturers was 15 when he wrote down a list of 127 goals he wanted to accomplish rom learnt in to type to climbing Mt Everest and becoming the first man to to navigate the entire length of the Nile in a kayak and the first to explore the entire COngo River.  

 

Louise Arner Boyd was an American explorer of Greenaland and the Arctic who wrote exztensively of ther explorations and became the first woman to floy over the North Pole privately chartering a plane an crew.  

 

Bear Grylls is a British explorer being one of the youngest men ever to climb Mt Everest at 23 and continues to brave the elements as a survivalist in many wilderness survival television series continuously braving the elements.

 

 

The Bible is also filled with adventurers:

 

 

Moses braving the elements and leaving all that is familiar so that he could lead a people and start a new nation.  

 

Daniel being taken against his will and forced to accept and adhere to a foreign culture and work for King that threatened his extinction

 

Esther the orphaned girl who risks it all to stop a national genocide of her own people going from Beauty Pagent winner to national hero.

 

The Apostle Paul was inspired by God to travel over 10,000 miles and over 281 days to travel to to the farthest regions to bring the Good News of a better life  to those farthest away from truth.  

 

The quest for pilgrimage is in us.  Like Leonardo DiCaprio planting the irresistible desires in our deepest parts, God has been planted in us a desire to "seek" in us like the inception of all inceptions.  We cannot “not” pursue a greater purpose and partake of the greater adventure.  One particular figure in Christendom stands out with a spiritual theme of being a traveler on adventure.  This historical hero is  Augustine of Hippo.  I would argue that except for the Apostle Paul, no believer has affected the perspective and scope or our Christian faith more than Augustine (354AD-430AD).  Augustine was Born in North Africa to an unbelieving father named Patricius but a believing mother named Monica.  Augustine moved away to university where he spent his time on “wild living” ultimately living with a woman and fathering a child together.  Not only were his paths rough relationally and sexually but spiritually as well.  Augustine’s spiritual path took him on a journey through the Manichaeans religion (a form of Gnosticism) and then Neloplatonic religion (combining the teachings of Plato and Eastern mysticism). His "spiritual path" was about to take a hard right as Augustine eventually was led to a Cathedral in Milan to hear a preacher named Ambrose where God opened his heart.  God course-corrects Augustine out of his lifestyle of sin and darkness by leading him into the Milanese Garden where he hears a voice that says “tolle lege” or the words “take and read” which prompted him to open his nearby Bible.  As he did, and as probably in moments similar to you perhaps when you get a “Holy disruption” from your “norm,”  Augustine reads a passage of Scripture in Romans Chapter 13 that spoke specifically to his current life and compelling him to search for more: 

 

“...not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy.  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh in regard to it’s lusts.”  Romans 13:13

 

Convicted of his past and current life, Augustine repented and gave himself completely to Christ and was baptized on Easter morning by Bishop Ambrose.  That moment changes the course of his direction and sets up Augustine’s Christian life to have a distinct and dominant spiritual metaphor that he articulated and lived consistently:  “life as a journey.”   Augustine saw life as an adventurous trek to his true homeland of heaven. 

 

As with every venture there is progress and setbacks -  times of gaining ground and times when we lose ground.  Augustine presents the whole of our human existence as a spiritual quest where every step we take moves us closer God or father away.  In fact God uses the twists and turns on the terrain of life for Augustine (and us too)  to draw us closer to Himself.  Augustine understood the words of Jesus when He refers to Himself as “the Way” to inspire those he was discipling to go on spiritual journey just as he pursued his own Journey.  Solidifying the lessons from his own experiences of “finding his own path” , Augustine confirmed that no matter the starting point, when you seek God you find the ultimate adventure.    

 

One of Augustine’s most famous quotes spoke not only to first Century Christians but to all of us as we navigate the “spiritual terrain” of our own lives: 

 

“To fall in love with God is the greatest romance, to seek him the greatest adventure to find him the greatest human achievement.” -Augustine

 

 

"Seeking God is the greatest adventure."  Adventures aren’t adventures without the traveler.  And that traveler is you.  According to Augustine, each of us is what he calls a "homo viator" - a traveler, a pilgrim.  Humans are essentially always “moving towards something.”  And this concept of the “Homo Viator” is another way of saying “man on the Way" or "man on the move."  We know what our 2018 looks like to be on the move.  Some of us call it "hustlin'" and some of us call it working hard.  Whatever you call it you are on the move.  And not just moving your career down the track but you are spiritually moving down the path.  This pilgrimage is not our choice but our existential situation.  We are not “home” yet but we are “on our way home.”  Which means we are never meant to be stagnant. 

 

But sometimes life has a way of slowing us down.  Spiritual boredom does subtly show up in our devotional lives.  Instead of moving we settle.  And when we do, we become frustrated at our life because feeling “stuck” is not how we were intended by God to operate but we are to be on a journey and essentially “moving towards God.”  We are made for God and we are meant to adventure.  When we become stagnant we get restless, spiritually “fidgety” and agitated at life.  Augustine knew this as he moved forward in his spiritually journey reminding us of our constant need of moving forward on this journey of life:  

 

“Thou has made us for thyself, o Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds it’s rest in thee.” -Augustine

 

To be “restless” is to find ourselves deeply looking inward and asking ourselves this question: there has to be more to life than this.  I have purpose, I have significance, I have meaning.  We are saying in essence, “I want my life to count and it feels like I’m just wasting my life.”  So the result for many of us is to: leave our jobs and go on adventure, begin start-ups of our own and “eat, pray love” our way to self-discovery.  While some of these “hasty” decisions seem normal and what many are doing, these powerful decisions to pursue our “quest for meaning” becomes a “wanderings in the wilderness” only to leave us wanted and uprooted professionally, relationally, spiritually and emotionally again and again and again.  

 

Maybe that’s why “losing our sense of adventure” is more tragic than we think. 

 

 

The other side of our restless hearts allow us to ignore our built in desire to pursue.  So we choose to ignore this decision by choosing to settle.  We make excuses giving us permission to be recluses.  We become dormant in our careers, docile in our spiritual life, sluggish in our relationships making our future seem stale and our passions and acquiescent.  Our restlessness becomes uselessness and we choose to accept our bland stationary lives and we never see or experience the “life to the full” that God has always had in mind for us.  

 

While some of these ‘hasty’ decisions seem normal and what many are doing, these powerful decisions to pursue our ‘quest for meaning’ becomes a ‘wanderings in the wilderness’ only to leave us wanted and uprooted professionally, relationally, spiritually and emotionally again and again and again.  

 

 Our need for social media, our access to unlimited information, and our condition of being an “orphaned culture” because of divorce and family stability leaves us stationary, secluded, uninterested and lazy rather than longing for adventure.  Stanley Hauerwas speaks of our nature as Christians as “adventurous  colonists” in a society of unbelief by making this provocative claim about Christianity, 

 

“...Western culture is devoid of a sense of journey, or adventure because it lacks  belief in much more than the cultivation of an ever-shrinking horizon of self-preservation and self-expression.” -Stanley Hauerwas, Resident Aliens

 

When we lack a sense of journey we lack our sense of identity.  God puts his people on a journey to not just find themselves but to find God, Himself.   Even the very essence of a disciple of Jesus is to “come and follow Me.”  If that's true, then perhaps a lack of belief results in a lack of movement.  Lack of movement causes us as Christians to exchange our “mandate as a movement” for a “montage of monuments” leaving us longing for a “time gone by” rather than a “terrain to explore.”  

 

Our restlessness becomes uselessness and we choose to accept our bland stationary lives and we never see or experience the “life to the full” that God has always had in mind for us.  

 

 

God knows our desire to follow, to pursue, to seek.  When Jesus comes to call humanity back to it’s purpose from the beginning (Matthew 6:33).  While many are wondering what path to take, where to go, what to believe, Jesus addresses the worry by and inspiring all present to make the priority “to seek first” then you will worry less and find your path.  In the Psalms God makes this claim, 

 

“You will make known to me the path of life; in your presence is the fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forever.”  -Psalm 16:11

 

Of the many paths in life, there is only one that is necessary.  There is only one that makes sense in the long run.  Augustine discovered, there are many paths to a life that is full of difficulty and hardship.  We know the journey we take in this world will be full of good people and good things.  But there are also evil people who do evil things.  Perhaps the essence of evil is moving away from God and the the choice of obedience is moving towards God. Like a compass, sin reorientates us towards moving the opposite direction while repentance continues to move us towards God and our spiritual homeland.  That’s the difference between repentance and simply “feeling sorry for what we’ve done.”  Confession turns us towards God but repentance moves us forward in God’s direction.  Confession with out repentance causes us to walk in circles.  God’s heart for us is to be confronted with the truth of Jesus, turn and move forward in obedience steps towards our future in God.  Repentance is turning from sin and moving forward into God’s Grace.  Christians are great at turning from sin but bad at moving forward.  Repentance without progression is spiritually walking in circles.  If repentance is forward motion then sin is backward motion.   

 

Lack of movement causes us as Christians to exchange our ‘mandate as a movement’ for a ‘montage of monuments’ leaving us longing for a ‘time gone by’ rather than a ‘terrain to explore.’

 

We can relate to Augustine.  Those same pressures back then face us today:  the pursuit of sex and relationships, power and prestige to become someone of influence, status and wealth, self-preserved and self-promoting.  All mirages while wandering the dry empty deserts of empty spiritual terrain.  Each of these a seeming oasis only to be false image with an empty promise with each step of this journey to once again find us lost and without direction.  

 

Repentance is turning from sin and moving forward into God’s Grace.  Christians are great at turning from sin but bad at moving forward.  Repentance without progression is spiritually walking in circles.  If repentance is forward motion then sin is backward motion.   

 

Augustine knew it was not just Christians, but all people are on a journey.  While in life, it is collectively discouraged to move backwards, there is a universal understanding that “forward motion” in life is positive no matter where you are at and even more significant as a Christian.  That when we are encouraged to take deliberate steps forward with purpose and intentionality then we not only move forward towards something better in life but specifically “Someone” better for our life.  

 

How's your life of "spiritual adventure" going?

 

 

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How to Navigate the "Christian Landscape"

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Life is a spiritual journey.  Christianity is an adventure.  Or at least it should be.  At times our faith seems to reflect sitting at our favorite coffee shop while “instragramming” the perfect shot of our roasted pour-over while angled in the right light and precisely placed on the reclaimed wood table next to your dream journal being #blessed marking the #perfectfriday.   While there is nothing wrong about that common experience, I would like to believe that the life of follower of Jesus is less about sitting and dreaming and more about going and following.  As a matter of fact, the life of a follower of Jesus has always been about this simple command,

 

“Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.” Luke 9:23

 

If uneventful is what you’re used to, underwhelming has been your experience and boring is what you're expecting then you may have been following a “list of rules” instead of following a “life with God.”   A lack of passion or excitement in your Christian journey might be because we have reduced our journey of faith to be centered more on the elimination of sin instead of exploration of God.  Resisting sin continuously is depleating but finding God continuously is inspiring.  Erwin Mcmanus says it like this,

 

“The entire focus of our faith has been the elimination of sin, which is important but inadequate, rather than the unleashing of a unique, original, extraordinary, wonderfully untamed faith.” - The Barbarian Way

 

Untamed is what we both admire and fear about the outdoors.  Describing your faith as “untamed” should feel unusually invigorating.  I like the word, "untamed" because there is "savage" state to the world (our relationships, our politics, our professions, etc) that is truly... savage.  But we won’t allow the untamed state of our world to limit us to retreat but to inspire us towards adventure. 

 

The life of follower of Jesus is less about sitting and dreaming and more about going and following. 

 

Justin Timberlakes latest release, Man of the Wood, has every girl heart-throbbing and every red-blooded American male high-fiving.  Why?  Because there is something about this album that is different from his others.  Maybe it's because we have seen Justin go from this refined and smooth performer to a raw and unfiltered outdoorsman.  Music is a spiritual experience.  As this album drops, there is something raw yet beautiful (and possibly spiritual) about the journey he is on that we as Christians can relate to.   When Timberlake took to social media to let us know he was not only announcing his album, Man of the Woods,  but that it would be dropping on Feb. 2 (just days before his Super Bowl Halftime Performance, NBD), I immediately started to make plans to break into the US Bank stadium and find my spot in the halftime show.  While my tenacious heart and passionate pursuit of collecting experiences more than things is a gift to many, Timberlake gifted us all with a teaser video that is just a little taste of what we can expect for his newest album: He's running through the meadows, he's kissing a Jessica Biel, and he's wading around in a river with his clothes on for some reason. It's a side of Justin we haven't really seen before. And we like it. In the video teaser, he talks about the inspiration behind Man of the Woods. He says,

 

This album is really inspired by my son, my wife, my family, but more so than any album I’ve ever written, where I’m from. And it’s personal.” – Justin Timberlake

 

It’s “inspirational” and it’s “personal.”  I love that he chose those words.  Our spiritual life is both inspirational and personal as well.  It's inspirational because true inspiration (even the nature of this word) means to “breathe into” as God breathes into us His plans and purposes for our lives.  It's personal because his journey is his own...and so is our faith journey.  Our pursuit of God is meant to have in inspirational and personal expression of adventure and rawness to it...no matter if your man, woman or Justin.  Who we are and what we are made of is not just fuel to keep going but our marching orders for our Christian adventure.  

 

If this generation is to really follow Jesus on this spiritual adventure, then we must abandon instant gratification, spiritual formulas and equations and embrace the true mission of Jesus and follow with all that is within us.

 

Being a Christian has, is and always will be about movement.  Many things qualify as movements these days.  But the heart of the Christian life is to find out where God is moving and to stay close and stay on course.  The Old Testmant has a great visual example of following God as cloud by day and fire by night.  We know Jesus' command "to follow Me" is for all of us who call upon Christ as Lord (just like the disciples in the Gospels).  Even when we may not even know how to get there, but there is someone that is following closely enough that if I follow them, I am in essentially following Jesus,  

 

“Follow me as I follow Christ.” - 1 Corinthians 11:1

 

An obvious point here: God is not a God that stays in the same place. It’s in God’s nature to compel us to follow Him forward.  To seek him and to move with Him.  Seeking is part of the Christian life.  Pursuing is a part of the believers nature.  As a matter of fact we are commanded to “seek first” (Matthew 6:33).  Let's put our quest for God first than our quest for all other person, places and things.  The meaning of seek in this passage means "to exert oneself vigorously; to make strenuous efforts toward any goal; to contend in opposition, battle, or any conflict; compete." Pursing God isn’t “natural.”  But there is an effort for the believer to exert.  There is an intentionality to seeking that we have to engage.  God makes it clear that “no one seeks after God” (Romans 3:11).  So allowing our human nature to take charge and "not seek" when we were "made to move" slowly transforms our lives of Christian pursuit into lives of "Christian couch potatos."  A spiritually lazy escape from the stress of real life and forget about the “outside world.”  God doesn’t put you on a "spiritual vacation" but a "spiritual venture" that involves absolute uncertainty as to the outcome but demanding risk and guaranteeing reward. 

 

If uneventful is what you’re used to, underwhelming has been your experience and boring is what you’re expecting then you may have been following a “list of rules” instead of following a “life with God.”  

 

The Christian life isn’t easy.  There are no quick and easy paths to spiritual life and maturity and if you want to experience a deeper and more meaningful level of maturity then prepare for a long and arduous journey.  If this generation is to really follow Jesus on this spiritual adventure, then we must abandon instant gratification, spiritual formulas and equations and embrace the true mission of Jesus and follow Him with all that we are.  The terrain is vigorous and the it isn't for the faint of heart.  And In case you thought you were the only one who thought it was supposed to be easy to move through the Christian landscape…it’s not.  In a way you need markers.  You need a legend.  A legend is a map key that show you where you are so you know where you are going. Because the Christian landscape can sometimes be difficult to know where you are and you have to know where you are to know where you are going.  If God calls us to be an adventurer, to be a seeker, to be a pursuer then charting a course is critical. 

 

Resisting sin continuously is depleating but finding God continuously is inspiring.

 

But God is not a God about North, South, East and West.  Instead God is about bushes that burn in the fields, oceans that are meant for you to stand upon, winds that whisper truth on the mountains and  waters that part when you need them to most.  It’s less about your direction in life and more about his declaration for your life.  When God speaks we go.  When God burns we turn and follow.  When God speaks our name we step out into storms to meet Him.  When God dries up riverbeds there is no direction but forward for the spiritual traveler.  Jesus didn't settle and neither do we.  For the Christian adventurer, it's less about settling and more about pioneering.  The Christian life is about moving because God is moving.  Where God moves we should want to be.  Movements collect momentum but monuments collect memorabilia. So where God goes we go.  No questions asked.

 

 

So what does the terrain of the Christian landscape look like?    

 

 

I believe the spiritual terrain of the Christian life is divided into 5 areas:

 

 


MOUNTAINS: “Unshakable Truths.” 

On the Christian landscape there are a range of truths that sit in the background on the horizon.  They are always in picturesque view everywhere you look and everywhere you go giving us a dividing line on the horizon as to what is worthwhile and what is trivial.  You may choose to climb these behemoths or simply admire their strength on a clear day.  Regardless these truths are sometimes in the center of your view but will always be peripheral to your view.  These truths will never fall.  They will never move.  No matter where you have come from or where you are going, these truths have always been there and always will be.  They are there to remind us of who we are and who He is.  These truths are Jesus is God, The Bible is God’s Word, Salvation through grace, etc.

 

 

PLAINS: “Common Ground.” 

There are places in Christianity that are simply level.  They are open and wide and beautiful wide-open spaces where all can gather together.  This is a place where no one is higher than anyone else but we are level and in agreement. No matter where you have come from on your journey, these common ground areas allow you to make progress because it’s easily passable level fields and meadows and find acceptance because everyone is welcome here.  These common ground areas include themes all Christians can agree on:  love, forgiveness, peace, hope, etc.

 

There are no quick and easy paths to spiritual life and maturity and if you want to experience a deeper and more meaningful level of maturity then prepare for a long and arduous journey.

OCEANS: “Deep Themes”

Going deep is part of the Christian life.  It’s a part of the journey that is left up to us and those we are with to compel us to dive in to subjects of the Christian journey that aren’t as easily understood or articulated.  Every ocean has a shore and that’s where we all start.  But while the shore is beaituful place to stand and admire, there is more.  There is a depth that is waiting for you to walk out deeper and to go farther.  Slowly you leave the security of the shore and the ground under you as the water rises until you find yourself treading water.  Even though you see the shore, you choose to dive in and swim.  Going benetath the surface and submerging yourself.  You will be forced to come up for air but for many of us we are just beginning to explore the seemingly endless terrain of these suberianian themes of our Christian life.  These themes include:  Sovereignty, eternity, God’s will, etc.

 

FORESTS:  "Cultural Views" 

Sometimes the journey isn't as easy to follow and the path as clear.  And it's not because the path is more treacherous  but sometimes the path is harder to find and discover.  There are parts of the Christian journey that are as thick and complicated as the growth of an untamed forest.  The branches intertwine like opinions and roots as deep as it's passions.  The beautiful yet complicated design of a forest reveals to all who pass through the beautiful yet complicated expressions of the cultural opinions we hold dear to our hearts.  But yet we choose to go out on limb and share our view because everyone's journey is unique just like each person.  Seeing the forest through the trees has never been more true as we navigate the cultural issues facing our fatih as we move forward on the path in front of us or finding our own path in these complicated woods.  These cultural forests include: tolerance, same-sex attraction, politics, right to life, etc. 

 

RIVERS:  "Inspirational Currents"

Starting at it's highest point on the mountains, rivers find their path and make their way over everything and nothing can stand in it's way.  Where the current goes the river goes.  Where the river moves life moves with it carving a path throughout the land and saturating the dry areas and flooding the wilderness with it's power.  It's current carries you and the it's refreshment sustains you.  When you find the current it carries you but resist the current and make waves.  So you respect it's movement and revel in it's beauty.  You rest on it's banks or wade into it's depths but once you find the river you won't stray far from it.  Because when you have drank from it you won't drink anything else.  When you experience it, you know it's pleasure and purpose.  These inspirational currents are those moments in the presence of God where you are filled, restored and marked by the Holy Spirit.  

 

As an adventurer following Jesus, you will experience this terrain.  While the Christian Landscape has these beautiful expressions, the journey is never easy. There are treacherous moments:

 

Because every ocean carries storms

Because every forest can get you lost

Because every mountain has a valley

Because every river has rapids

And even meadows can get crowded.  

 

So we choose to trust journey and lean into the direction God has given us.  Just because it's hard doesn't mean God's not part of it.  God's with you.  The journey is yours.  Follow Jesus.  

 

Anything you would add?

 

 

 

Highest point you are there…

Lowest point you’re there….

 

 

 

 

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Make a "to-be" List

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As the new year is kicking off, It's natural to think about goals.  But I'm doing it different this year.  For my personal life and ministry, I decided to not make a "to-do list" of things to accomplish this year.  Instead, I've chosen to make a simple 3-word "to-be" list of of who I want to be this year.  

 

We all know that doing flows from being.  How you see yourself will determine how you lead yourself.  Yet we seem to recognize what we "accomplish in life" instead of celebrating who we "appreciate in life."   To be honest, I'm more concerned who my two children become as human beings versus what career they have or how much money they make.  Would I want them to be monetarily successful so that I can stay at their guest house in their gated community when visiting their estate in California as they have grill-out's with Daisy Ridley and Chris Hemsworth  between films...sure.  But I have to realize that money, majesty, magnitude and materials things all fade away but seeing my kid become WHO they were always meant to be gives me a contentment and security for their future like nothing else.  I remind my children that God created Adam and Eve in His own "image" and not as His own

 

So God created making in His own image, in the image of God He created them: male and female."  Genesis 1:27

 

I am remind them that before you were born and as you are in the your mom's womb, God was thinking about you.  But God wasn't thinking about what you were going "to do" in life but more about who you were going "to be" in life.  God told Jeremiah who he was while in the womb and not what he was to accomplish, that came later!  God had to remind Jeremiah he was "prophetic" first.  See below, 

 

"Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."  Jeremiah 1:5

 

 God even used three words when commissioning YOU as a future Christian from Scripture.  God spoke to Peter to remind the church that they are:  chosen, royal and special.  And from there, God says "so that you may do this:  declare!  God didn't start out telling them what they were supposed to do but instead reminded them who they are so that they can have the confidence, the purpose and the significance of being a people that were to do what God wanted them to do which was declare praise! See below:  

 

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderous light." 1 Peter 2:9

 

Worship leaders, before we do any praising, let' God remind you of who you are rather than the world.  That makes all difference in how you carry yourself, what you say and how you act on stage.  Pastor's ... same thing.  Even in our everyday life, if we unconsciously have our 3 words as "entitled, stingy and pessimistic" then most likely we will be building your family, your team at work and your community around you as "a self- indulged and resentful, reluctant to be generous with a joyless and unhopeful future because others never cared or tried."   Maybe that's why we are called "human beings" instead of "human doings."  So let's choose to "be" who God has called us to be this year.  Let's make 2018 a year of being instead of doing.  Because as you discover who God is calling you to be this year, God will reveal and equip you for what you are to do this year.  

 

How you see yourself will determine how you lead yourself.

 

I'm sharing you my words this year to inspire you as you continue to head forward into 2018:

 

1.  Succint.  Why this word?  Because as a communicator I want to say it less to give more of an impact, because I want to simplify a few areas of my life, because I also am dividing my time blocks into shorter coffees with more intentionality, etc.  I've realized what you see in your life tomorrow depends on what you seek in your life today.  So I am simplifying by seeking God in all that I do.  I also put a Scripture with it to keep God as the originator and sustainer of this word.  I have Matthew 6:33 as my word because not only is the verse short but there is a simplicity build into it to keep it minimal yet powerful.  It says this, "Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be added."  There's that seek word, again! Love it! 

 

 

2.  Savvy.  Why?  Because I am trying to be more experienced and knowledgable on some of my career objectives, because I want to be sensible and more welcome-informed  on some other areas of my life I wasn't, because I want to be more perceptive and smooth in my leadership, etc.  I am using Proverbs 14:15 because it sums it up best, "The naive believes everything but the sensible man considers his steps."  

 

 

3.  Liberating.  Why?  Because I want to have more freedom in me to be more bold and daring, to see others become free to be themselves in my team and in my campus, because there are a lot of limitations culture puts on us and I want to be a man who lives and walks in freedom!  I love 2 Corinthians 3:17 for this one because where the presence of God is there is freedom and one of my goals is to do nothing without God's presence being seen, heard and felt!  It says, "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."

 

we seem to recognize what we ‘accomplish in life’ instead of celebrating who we ‘appreciate in life.’

 

Each word affects my persona life and professional life.  Out of these words, my behaviors change, my choices are different and I have already and will see a different outcome this year.  

 

 

What are you 3 words?

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Why I Am Not Finding Balance This Year  

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 With all the resolutions and goals being tossed around, I realized that there is a pursuit of finding your balance with our family, jobs, work, relationships, etc.  I am arguing that when has “finding balance” been the fulfillment of our lives?  I’ve tried to “balance things” and it’s not fun.  What kid wants a balanced “see saw” or one of those giant spring-loaded ladybugs or dragons that you can rock back and forth because the thrill is back and forth or up and down.  Last time I was dared to balance on fence when I was in high school, let’s just say it was I “split down the middle” as to what side I wanted to be on.  Jenga is not fun for me but I feel like I'm Tom Cruise defusing a bomb to save London and i'm sweating and shaking trying to keep that stupid tower of wood from crashing onto the table (or the giant jenga from falling on small children and killing them).   

 

Last time I checked, Jesus wasn’t into finding balance.  Balance says that we should give equal energy and attention to everything at the same time. However, not only is this idea not possible…it’s not Biblical.  I believe Jesus was more of a man of extremes: 

 

He was not balanced dealing with family: Jesus chose to prioritize work over his family because he knew the sacredness of the moment and knew his family had to wait –  (Matthew 12:46-47).

 

He was not balanced with work:  In the midst of saving the world, he stopped and focused on his family because He knew what they needed at the moment and so he was present and available (John 19:26-27). 

 

He was not balanced with ministry: He rerouted the team when he needed to and when it didn’t make sense because he knew the needs when the needs weren’t always obvious (john 4:4, 27)

 

He was not balanced with friends: He chose 3 friends as his favorites over the others knowing that sometimes you have to be exclusive as well as inclusive (Matthew 17:1).

 

ALL that we do is done with not Christ being a priority above it but Christ being a part of it all.

 

When He was supposed to be doing life with God or people, He was fully present physically, emotionally, and mentally. No one has ever been more passionate about people than Jesus. However, He didn’t just live at the whims of people, his family, ministry needs, etc. He was more concerned about doing everything with God rather than making God one priority amongst many other priorities.  It was less a “balancing act” and more of an “integrating it all together.”  Basically, Jesus made God the harmony of everything He did.  In other words, it’s not about God, then family, then work, then ministry, then…etc.  Jesus made God integrated into all he did.  So it was God and family, God and work, God and church, God and friends, God and....etc.   Rather than God being a primary note in the song, God was the congruency bringing the harmony of all the other parts together.  Showing both the mutual relationship of all parts.  The Bible makes it clear about whatever we accomplish this year it’s about the whole.  The bible says in Colossians 3:17 & 23-24:

 

 

Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Again, whatever we do, in work or business, it is to be done in the name of Jesus, with integrity and a sense of Christian service… Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving."

 

ALL that we do is done with not Christ being a priority above it but Christ being a part of it all.  So I am proposing that instead of finding balance…let’s find RHYTHM.  For any good harmony to work, it must have rhythm.  Rhythm has movement and rest.  What I have been doing for years that has helped me to never feel “burned out” or stressed out, is to divide my day, weeks, months and year into patterns with built-in rest. 

 

Rather than God being a primary note in the song, God was the congruency bringing the harmony of all the other parts together. 



Here’s an example of my basic daily work schedule or "rhythm."  I block my "cadence" into general 3 hour chunks.   It ranges between  2-3 hours due to schedule of others, meetings I'm asked to be at by my direct reports, family readjustments, etc.  I’m not rigid about the time but it’s simply a reference.  Here it is:

 

AM-9   REALIGN – Here I do my devos, workout, good breakfast, pray over kids, grab convo with the wife (she works full time), etc. Basically a body/soul/spirit alignment. (I put AM as sometimes I get up at 5 am and other times it’s 7am depending on how late I get to bed).

 

9-12     CREATE – Here I do my thinking, planning, discovering, investing, organizing my ministry, goals, etc.  I also think about who I need to connect with, what part of my performance needs work, what do I need to fix, where are we going and how do we get there, etc.  I schedule with people here as well who inspire me, who pull out the best in me, who are creative too, etc. It's basically my inspiration and direction part of my day.

 

12-3     RELATE – This is my intentional time of connecting with others, networking, coffees, go to lunches, get coffees with people that I need to connect with, etc.  I usually like to do lunches at 11:30 or so because you can beat the rush, so “12” is a reference point and again, not a hard start time. 

 

3-6       ADMINISTRATE – I am not an administrative person, so this is the admin portion of my day: I text others back if I haven't yet, I connect with my team on certain things, I organize and return my emails, etc.  Again, it’s an “all-things-admin” so it’s not just emails, but much more than that.

 

6-9       “FAMILATE” – This is family time.  It’s family dinner together, family devo’s, games, homework, etc.  All-things-family is here and it’s always going to look different as we all know!  

 

9-PM   REST – I call this “rest” because all rhythms have a rest amongst the notes.  A constant beating drum isn’t relaxing but putting a “rest” in the beat gives us the rhtythm we enjoy. So I rest by reading one of my books, catching up on life with my family (not stressful talks here, those are planned differently), Netflixin’ with the wife, working on special passion projects, etc.  I say “PM” because sometimes I’m in bed at 10:30 and sometimes it’s 12:30 depending on the day.  Again, it’s a reference.  I’m a big believer of getting 7 hours so you aren’t feeling like garbage.  So my sleep measures forward 7 hours to when I start to realign again. 

 

 

After you rest, you realign again.  This is my rhythm. 

 

 

What’s yours? 

 

 

 

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