Thursday, December 31, 2009
I think it's about being more proactive in our time spent together and what's talked about. I think our friendships should always have laughs, inside jokes....etc, but many friendships are deficient in the area of depth of conversation and challenging one another to grow spiritually, in our relationships and achieving personal goals. If our closest friendships don't have depth then what is their value?
Friendships also take time. Setting time aside time in your schedule monthly for meaningful friendship opportunities is a must for them to be cultivated. For me I have to stop saying, "Hey, let's get together some time" and start saying, "Let's figure out right now when we can get together" and put it on the calendar. For me if it's on my calendar it's going to happen (Lord willing).
Some might say that all of this should just happen organically, but if we are still wondering why we don't have really meaningful depth in our friendships, maybe there is something that we should be doing to nurture them?
Go Grow Together,
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Landon who is usually our resident dare devil was overcome with fear of falling off his bike. After a few trys and falls he had decided he didn't want to try any more. His mantra became I can't do it!" I tried every motivating statement, every bribe, EVERYTHING...... but he would not be moved. After an hour of "I can't".....I decided to pack it up again and try again tomorrow. Some lessons I walked away with:
- I can't make my son succeed. I can only provide an environment where he can.
- As a Dad I must model patience and love when my kids fail.
- When I think about how many times I've told God "I can't" and He has met me in that place with patience and mercy. I'm incredibly grateful.
I'll keep you up to date with the bike lessons,
Sunday, October 25, 2009
She takes my breath and heart away...and I bid them adieu for I am a better man with them in her possession.
She is my wife.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Depending on the circumstances in my marriage, family, friendships and ministry; I really can end up feeling a wide range of emotions. As the victories and losses of our lives ebb and flow we can all find ourselves overcome with the feelings of excitement and euphoria to the depths of anxiety and grief. It is vital that we make the truth of God's word our compass; a fixed "True North" for our souls. Without it our emotions can spin out of control and it can lead us to make erratic decisions as well allow us to go to some very dark places in our hearts and minds.
Quick Question: Did you know that God is not restricted by time?
"He is the Alpha and Omega, The Beginning and The End". He sees and knows all things. He knows our thoughts and words even before we speak them. He has already been to the end of your situation. He's seen the outcome. There are no surprises for God. Bottom Line: We can take comfort in knowing that our 'future' that seems at times so scary and daunting for us; is already God's present. He's already been there and got the t-shirt.
Monday, October 12, 2009
I can resonate with my friend's feeling of always wanting that "next big thing". I can become so forward thinking that I forget about today. And that next big thing is always elusive. It seems just as we arrive and accomplish that project, event or attain that "next ring", we find that the satisfaction disappears in our souls like cotton candy on the tongue. This constant striving left unchecked can cause us to live life like a bull in a china closet.
I have been on this roller coaster of emotions and it's not fun. I'm slowly growing in my ability to manage my emotions instead of my emotions managing me. For the sake of my marriage, my family and my ministry it is crucial that I get this right. Bottom line: I must remind myself daily that my life's pursuit is not to attain greatness for myself, but to point to Christ's greatness.
Today is Enough,
Friday, September 11, 2009
I realized that somewhere along the way in my desire to influence people through writing I began to love the feedback even more than the writing itself. I would constantly check to see if someone had "thought it was good" or "insightful". I'd check to see how many people had visited my blog or became followers. Then one night I could smell it. It was the pungent.....oderous smell of pride. That's the smell of wanting people to approve of me and my effort to seek out "kudos" from people. What started out as a great tool to influence people for good, turned into something that was influencing me for the bad.
All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight,
But the LORD weighs the motives.
The Lord weighed my motives and reminded me that HE is my supreme value.
So I'm back for now and asking Jesus to help me to continue to walk in humility so that I bring Him glory rather than be a hinderance to myself or others.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
I went back into the dining room to give Rob his water to find him crying. He said, "I don't know why I'm crying." I said, "It's OK.......Rob, I'm a pastor and I felt like I was supposed to ask you in. Can I pray for you?" For the next hour I had the wonderful privilege of sharing the gospel with Rob. He was incredibly receptive and I could feel the presence of the Lord with us as we spoke. I believe I had the opportunity to not only share my faith through verbally expressing but through practical kindness as well. There was a seed planted today that I'm praying someone else will water and reap. After a couple of glasses of water later our time together concluded. As he was leaving I encouraged him to drop me a line on Facebook and that I would be praying for him.
Bottom Line: We must allow for life interruptions so that we can embrace the joy of sharing our faith in word AND deed.
Are you Thirsty,
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
A few things I think are worth learning during these times:
1. There is ALWAYS TIME TO PRAY! (You'll "feel" and make things worse if you don't.)
2. No matter how much you "don't feel like it", READ YOUR BIBLE! It is our compass, our true north as it were when it feels like our life is spinning. We need more truth, not more feelings in crisis. (Psalms 46 is a good start.)
3. Don't believe that you have to be depressed because you encounter something heart breaking. Grieve....yes. Harbor it....no.
4. Make it a point to not make any major decisions when feeling overwhelmed. (Unless absolutely necessary).
5. Make sure you are eating right and getting plenty of rest.
6. Remember you can't fix people and fix every circumstance. STOP CARRYING THAT RESPONSIBILITY. THE GOD position is currently filled.
7. Get off your computer now and practice doing number 1.
I mean it....Off,
Monday, July 13, 2009
7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
This is not a politically correct passage even in Christian circles. I don't know how many times I have heard a preacher say, "God wants His people to be in total victory in this life: Health, finances, relationships." The irony is that Jesus lived day to day financially, had tons of strained relationships, and was murdered. It's not because Jesus didn't have a positive attitude or didn't have enough faith. If Jesus Christ suffered and we are called to follow him, why do we try so hard to avoid it in America.
That victory that Christ has given to us through his death and Resurrection is COMPLETE victory over death and gives us eternal life. Not only can we endure any tragedy or hardship through God's power but we can find ourselves more like Christ on the other side.
Friday, July 10, 2009
Something very similar causes me grave concern. Actually it made me sick to my stomach last night as I realized that my mindset had slipped into wanting more stuff instead investing more time and resources into the lives of people that are hurting physically and spiritually. I believe many us as Christians have become lulled asleep by a passionate pursuit to be comfortable and entertained. There seems to be a desire to accumulate wealth and more "stuff" instead of using that same drive to invest in the true mission of the Church. This world is temporary yet we don't seem to act like it. We are on auto-pilot pursuing this "American Dream."
Bottom Line: How is our lifestyle different from the world in regard to how we spend our time and money?
Let's Wake Up,
Thursday, July 9, 2009
While I have found a ton of great benefits in using Facebook (connecting with people and leveraging influence), I have also found a few negatives to these Social Networking sites (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter...etc.). Here are my thoughts:
1. Self-expression overload: This generation highly values self-expression. Everyone seems to desire to have some type of artistic expression and universities are reporting exponential increase in communication majors. With that being said, do you think there is such a thing as too much disclosure? Is it dysfunctional to share EVERYTHING with EVERYONE?
2. Friendships Vs. Acquaintances: Here's the deal we don't really have 657 "friends". Most of them are people we just know. A facebook friend is not always the same as an authentic relationship. Keep a good perspective on having quality relationships not so much focusing on quantity. You don't want to wake up one day and realize all your relationships are just surface depth.
3. Time Thief: When I first got on to facebook I spent a TON of time online. My family and work paid the price. Saying yes to being online means saying no to: someone else, your work, valued projects that you want to get done and much more. I think it's a great tool, but not at the cost of friends, family and your legacy paying the price.
Bottom Line: Don't let your desire to express and connect online overwhelm your desire to connect and express in person.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Let me ask you these questions: What to you would be complete happiness? How are you currently pursuing this course? Is what you are desiring God-centered?
What are you currently chasing that God is asking you to let go of?
Bottom line: Don't let your freedom to pursue happiness be the very thing that enslaves you.
"Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added." Matt. 6:33
Thursday, July 2, 2009
What they mean is that they don't feel like they are being challenged or nurtured spiritually at a church. Can the local church be failing at this sometimes? Answer: Yes. But my first question when talking to someone who makes this statement is: "What are you doing to feed yourself"? Daily reading of your Bible? Regular intimate prayer time? Are you proactive in your Christian educational growth by attending classes and reading?Are you serving the Lord by serving in your local church or are you just "consuming"?
When we attend church services with the desire to be entertained we're committing idolatry.
Realize that a pastor speaking on a Sunday is speaking to a wide spectrum of people from those just initially seeking God to those who have known Him for decades. As we grow in our maturity in our walk with God our role should be changing from just consuming at church to serving and leading.
Let's Grow Together,
Saturday, June 20, 2009
I believe we're called to focus on becoming the kind of friend we desire to have. It's about taking the wood plank out of our own eye before we worry about the speck in others. Lord, help me to think more about what I can bring to a relationship instead of what I'm not getting.
Friday, June 19, 2009
I can hear the arguments now. Nathan, you don't know what's been done to me. You don't know how I've been treated....Do you just expect me to get run over? Answer: No. Thinking the best of others doesn't mean being unwise or not being realistic. It means a balanced approach of wisdom and a love for people that always hopes. Bottom Line: Treat and view people the way you would like to be treated and viewed.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
It's natural to be frustrated with people that aren't "trying" or "investing" as much as we are in a relationship. Nothing hurts more than affection that's not mutual on any level. In the past I use to think that if I just show that person how much I care, how much I'll sacrifice, they'll finally see what a great person I am. I put so much energy into winning people that didn't want to be won. Scripture states, that "in as much as it is with you, live at peace with all men." That means we are called to do all that we can do. Bottom Line: We can't change others, that's God's job. We're not Him.
Maybe the family came from wasn't the ideal family. Maybe choices you've made in the past seem to haunt your heart and mind still today. Can I tell you that your past is not bigger than God's love for you. Know that God's best for your life includes redefining who you are with His love, mercy and forgiveness. Bottom line: Where you are going is more important then where you've been.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
With that in mind I'd like to ask a question. Are you living off of someone else's spiritual battery (experience)? Do you mooch off of other people for spiritual and emotional support all the time? If so, you need to know that Christ wants a personal relationship with you, not a religious one. He doesn't want you living vicariously through other people. Is your life compass spinning? Do you feel like you don't know where to turn? I encourage you to stop striving by calling one more person or trying that "next" book. Have your own authentic experience with God.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Sunday, June 14, 2009
1. Committed to pray about major decisions until I feel a secure "peace". If that peace doesn't come, it's a no-go.
2. Committed to completely hear out my wife's counsel. Her intuition is undeniable.
3. Committed to run all major decisions by a select group of men. Scripture states that we should, "Walk with the wise."
4. Committed to never make major decisions when exhausted and/or depressed.
For me these principles have already made an impact on myself and my family when making life changing choices. Bottom line: Our decisions in life don't just effect ourselves alone....why make decisions that way?
Time to Decide,
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Yes, own how you feel. Yes, confront the person with the offence but don't hold onto it. "Forgive as Christ has forgiven you." Surely you can think of a time when you've failed someone. A friend, a family member.....God. Forgiveness doesn't always mean reconciliation. Forgiveness means giving up your right for pay back. Leave that to God. He's much better at it.
Friday, June 5, 2009
1. We won't know the purpose behind all the efforts we are putting in.
2. We'll get distracted by other people or things that come along.
3. We'll give up more easily when we run into obstacles.
But if we know the "why" behind the "what" in our lives we can know exactly why we are in that relationship and exactly "why" we are in that job or chasing that goal. Take a bit and really examine why you are doing what you are doing. I think it will be worth your time.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
As my knees gave way to the thought of what just happened I sat down and made sure I hadn't wet myself. Then my mind went to those kids in the rear window........It's been 12 years since that day on the freeway in Dallas and I still think about those kids in the rear window from time to time. Where are they? How did their life turn out? How do they view life now?
Bottom line: We never know the background of the people we interact with. Let's make sure our interactions with them count.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
It was a good reminder that there is a huge difference between hearing and listening. Hearing means that you are hearing the audible tones coming out of someones mouth. Listening means you are proactively giving attention to grasp the content that another person is sharing. Are you a hearer or a listener? Hearers act like they're listening when really they are placating. Hearers mentally prepare their response while the other person is talking. Listeners allow the other person to fully share and then think about their response. Listeners stay present in the moment and ask follow up questions to show that they are following along. Bottomline: Your relationships (personal and business) will only go as far as your ability to listen.
Testing 1, 2, 3,
Monday, June 1, 2009
Sometimes things turn out better than we expected, but many times we find ourselves frustrated and discontent with how the cookie has crumbled. This discontent can leave marriages and families in ruins, careers in disarray and relationships struggling. I believe our life is made up of a combination of our choices, the choices of others and a sovereign God. While our circumstances can many times be a great motivation for us to move forward we can also end up spending way too much time looking at the past with regret and viewing the future as a fix. What we miss out on is the present. Don't.
Live the present,
Friday, May 29, 2009
Keep Your Word,
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Here's the deal, as I said before that story pales in comparison to some of the other things I've done in my life. When I look at the moments that I've fallen on my face and blow it there is always a wave of guilt and shame that rushes over me. It can be crippling and make me feel like I cannot move forward. Thankfully I've found God's grace to enough to cover those mistakes I've made. Bottom Line: Your Failure Does Not Have to Define You.
Time To Get Up,
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Bottom Line: You can say no. The island will not blow up. Life moves on as will your relationships.
Say it with me........No,
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Maybe in your life you have some things that are "turning out well" but the way you are getting there is all wrong. No one else knows it, but you do. Maybe your skating by on talent and charisma or maybe you've just gotten so "tunnel visioned" on results and started caring less about "people". It's not just about doing the right thing. It's about doing the right thing for the right reasons.
Make it Right,
Monday, May 25, 2009
I am reminded from his loss how we never know how much time we have here on this celestial ball. I'd like you to ponder some questions I've been asking myself:
Am I making time for people that I "say" I value?
Do you call many people friends but have little depth in your friendships? We make time for what is important. If people in your life are important....make time.
What does my qaulity time look like with them?
Make sure you getting past surface conversation and on to things that matter. When they're gone we won't care that we talked about the weather.
Is there anything I need to say or do before one of us is gone?
Ask forgiveness and forgive where it's needed. Communicate to them how they've impacted your life. What have you always wanted to say or do? No more excuses...do it.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Bow your heads with me,
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
I am Who I am,
Saturday, May 9, 2009
After all I've done for you...,
Friday, May 8, 2009
1. Not wanting to feel rejected by our child
2. We Don't want to be bothered with stopping what we are doing
3. There is an underlying frustration that what we have been doing isn't working (not changing the behavior)
4. We'd rather the verbal threat work without having to act
The reasons are many.....but the issue is the same. When we avoid disciplining our children out of our own issues (time, annoyance, wanting to be the "Cool" parent, not knowing what to do) we deny them the basic boundaries of life. These boundaries provide the basic framework for their future behavior. After all scripture clearly says, "the Lord loves those he disciplines". Loving and discipline are not mutually exclusive. If we love them we'll make boundaries and hold them accountable. Bottom Line: Loving, direct discipline now means healthier relationships later.
Love Them Enough,
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
You heard Me,
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Get to Sharpening,
Monday, May 4, 2009
Changing The Channel,
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Friday, May 1, 2009
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Ok....you asked for it.
What is the thing in the back of your mind that's really nagging you? The thing you don't want to think about or deal with.
Let's look at it on two levels: relationships and career/tasks.
For instance in that relationship....the thing you need to address, but haven't. Maybe there is an issue you need to bring up that you've tried to ignore. Maybe a flaw in your character that needs to be dealt with. Or something that's been bothering you and just hasn't seemed right but you haven't wanted to rock the boat.
Maybe for you it has to do with your career or ministry. The thing that isn't going well, but you continue to turn a blind eye to it. An underperforming teammate, a failing idea, something that is just not working.
Dr. Henry Cloud, author of the book Integrity, talks about the need for people to "embrace the negative". The worst thing we can do is bury our head in the sand and hope for a change.
We live in a world where thinking positive is in vogue, but embracing the negative is not about thinking negatively. It is about being able to look the negative in the eye and face it head on to deal with proactively.
I've found that when I ignore the negative issues in my life whether they are in my relationships or ministry (workplace) that it doesn't go well. At best I eventually look like an idiot and at worst I end up hurting myself and others deeply.
You will not move forward until you learn to deal with the negative.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Many of us when faced with a conversation that we would rather not have tend to shrink back in the moment and not say the hard statement that may need to be said. This tends to create in us an underlying frustration of not being able to say what we really want to say, whether that's with a friend, spouse, a leader and so on. Bill Hybels (Pastor of Willow Creek) called that in a recent interview "not saying the last 10 percent". We instead to desire to say as much as we can without having to feel awkward, hurt the other person's feelings or put strain on the relationship. It is essentially communicating out of fear. Fear of people thinking we're over reacting, them not liking us anymore....rocking the boat essentially. When we reserve what truly needs to be said we are doing ourselves and the other person a disservice. Now hear me with balance: Saying the last 10 % doesn't mean ripping someone a part. It means communicating succinct truth with love, regardless of how they may or may not receive it. This will change how you communicate in your relationships, workplace and life in general.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
I shared with him that I thought it was great that he was here, but I also shared with him that God is really more concerned about some other priorities instead of checking off on his clip board that he had gone to church or not. Mark chapter `12 qoutes Jesus stating the two greatest commandments, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no cmmandment greater than these. A man replied to Jesus agreeing with him saying, "To love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all the burnt offerings and sacrifces."
Jesus is alot more concerned with our relationship with God than he is on our attendance @ church. Now I believe that going to church and being in community with other believers can be one of the things that strengthens our relationship with God, but I know A TON of people that think that alone does it for them. It's about intimacy. A person could be in church every sunday of the year and never have an intimate moment with God. Intimacy equals vulnerablity. When was the last time you were vulnerbale before God? It's the heart that Christ is interested in. You love God? Then you'll want to hang out with Him and His people.
Let's equate these "burnt offerings and sacrifices" that this man talking to Jesus brings up as doing anything of a religious nature to please God. Jesus agrees with the man's assessment. God cares more about us loving others then us checking the box on a religous to do list. David said it this way in the Psalm 51: 16-17, "You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacfrices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." NASV God wants your heart. If he has your heart he has your life. If we aren't willing to make others a priority by loving them as Christ asks us to, then how does sacrificing to God our time, resources and energy make any sense? Love God, Love people. Let's get busy checking those boxes.
Here is a few principles that have helped me wrestle this to the ground:
1. Determine what you value most. This might sound trite, but much of our frustration with there not being enough time is that we feel we can't spend time doing what we value most. Make a list of your top 5 priorites.
2. Reality Check: How are you really spending your time? Over the next 7 days keep a detailed account of how you are spending your time. Don't record how you planned to spend your time. Write down how you actually spend your time. You can use a hand held device to accomplish that or go retro with a small pad and pencil. Be as detailed as you can. Avoid generalizations like, "3-4pm worked on stuff" you need to be able to look at your recorded days and categorize your time spent.
3. Compare reality with your priorities. Lay these side by side and categorize how you are you really spending your time compared to your priorities.
4. Plan your week a week out. First put in non-negotiables (devotional time, work hours, picking up kids, going to class, worship services) Once all of these have been put in you are left with your discretionary time (free time). Now begin to put those priorities into your discretionary time. These need to be like gold. Keep these appointments with yourself. Many times we view "optional" items as appointments we can throw away. DON'T DO IT! Barring a 911 situation or Jack Bauer himself calling and asking you to help him save the nation AGAIN. DON'T DO IT!
You might need to make adjustments as you go, but try to make your priorities the priority in your time. You just might start to feel that 25th hour in the day.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Jesus himself is recorded during His earthly ministry in the book of Mark traveling with a group of followers to do ministry in Jericho. Along the way a blind beggar begins to cry out to Jesus, "Son of David, have mercy on me." Those followers that were with Jesus began to scold the beggar, telling him to shut up. But, he began to yell all the louder. Jesus stops the entire love train and tells those with him to bring the man to Him. Jesus asks the beggar, "what do you want me to do for you?" The man answered, "I want to see." Jesus tells the man, "Your faith has made you whole." The Bible says that, "immediately the man regained his sight and rejoiced and begin to follow Jesus."
What might look like just another extraordinary healing in the ministry of Jesus actually is a reminder of what matters in ministry. Those that are in ministry are always on the way to "Jericho" by that I mean their God breathed Dream, their next leadership Destination, their Godly Destiny. I can't really scold the followers of Jesus that tell the man on the side of the rode to shut it, because I've been just like them. Maybe not in the literal since, but I know what it's like to be consumed with doing good work that I'm blind to the priorities of God.
Allot of things can get ignored when we get tunnel visioned on "our next big thing". Here are a few of the victims that I've hurt with this disease: my wife, my kids, my family, my friends, my staff, my church family, and people along the journey that didn't seem in my mind to fit in with my next big goal. Jesus puts the brakes on this leadership conference to remind those that are following Him what he really values: the rejected, the refuse of society, those on the fringe. It's not about hanging out with Jesus and being associated with him so that we can exalt our Kingdom. It is about being his disciple and being like him. Maybe being like Him means putting down the habit of feverishly reading every leadership book that comes out for a while and picking up people that matter to Christ.
My life is not about the next destination, it is about the journey. If I stay consumed with making Christ priorities mine, my steps will be ordered to my God dream, that God destiny, or hoped for destination. There always be another Jericho in the distance. Let's maybe think about the destitute.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
As funny as this urban legend sounds.....I found myself not laughing at all when thinking of the parallels I see in this story when it comes to my walk with God. The list is long and detailed of the times I've been in a great place in my relationship with Christ, but I've allowed that great momentum to convince me that I can compromise my time with Him in reading His word and meaningful prayer. Each time I say yes to that thing that can't seem to wait or that which is incredibly urgent, I'm also saying no to the very thing that I cannot do without.....Jesus. Walking away from the wheel of my faith...thinking I can coast on a experiance from a worship service, camp, conference or season of life is a disaster waiting to happen. What about you? Are you at the wheel or in the back eating a turkey sandwich?