Friday, May 29, 2009

Pet Peeve Alert.....

Pet Peeve Alert: People that don't do what they "say" they are going to do. I know what your thinking......"I can't stand that as well." No one likes someone that's a flake (you know someone you can't really count on what they say they are going to do.) Here is a personal confession though, I didn't learn this lesson until about 7 years ago. I was so motivated by pleasing people that I couldn't say "no" and would spread myself out too thin. I'd over commit myself and could not meet deadlines. People would get frustrated and I would just give excuses. I had to learn to set real expectations. Allow yourself some wiggle room. Don't paint yourself into a corner. It's much better to say no upfront if you can't do it then to say yes and disappoint someone after the fact. Bottom Line: Under Promise and Over deliver.


Keep Your Word,

Nathan

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Getting Up from Failure

My friends, the list is long of instances when I've been an idiot and made poor choices. From the mundane to the profound, I've made some doozies. Picture this, I'm driving down the road on the way to the office and I see a Texas Longhorn sticker on the back window of a guy's truck. Being in Phoenix I don't see a ton of these so I decided let him know "I'm a Longhorn fan too!". I drive up next to him and proceed to give him the "hook'em horns" sign with my hand, but the guy is looking at me like I'm nuts. I'm thinking what's the deal, show me some love! What I then realize is that instead of the "hook'em horns" sign, I was giving him the "I LOVE YOU" sign (Thumb, forefinger, pinky). As he drives on I feel again my actions confirm that I'm an idiot.

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,

Nathan

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Dreaded "N" Word....

I'm not a huge fan of the word "no". I don't like to hear it and even more importantly I don't like to say it. Because of my aversion to using "the word" I tend to use everything but "no": yes, maybe, we'll see, who knows, there's an idea or I just all together ignore the question, statement or cirsumstance. Recently someone asked if they could do something and they needed my approval. To not offend them and to avoid me having to say the tough thing, that they did not have the ability to do "this thing" I said "yes". I didn't want to say "no" because I felt that meant potential conflict. When I avoid saying "no" when it's called for I make myself out to be a liar because I'm saying "yes", but inside I'm screaming "no". When I placate people by putting them off and avoiding them, I let the issue become a wedge in my relationships. We need to be asking ourselves the motivation behind this: Is it my own insecurity? Am I intimidated by the person? Am I afraid of conflict?

Bottom Line: You can say no. The island will not blow up. Life moves on as will your relationships.

Say it with me........No,

Nathan

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Right Stuff

I was a solid "C" student in college. Don't ask about High School. I said don't ask. Graduate school is going much better because I see the value in what I'm learning. Recently you might have heard the educational phrase "teach to test". This is when school systems teach ultimately for kids to pass an upcoming test (State wide educational exams). The argument against this methodology is that it robs students of having a well rounded education and only focuses on a few fundamentals. The students might score well but something is lost in the process. The deeper thought behind "teaching to the test" is that the end justifies the means.

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,


Nathan

Monday, May 25, 2009

Expiration Date on Relationships........

I think it's fitting that I return to the blogosphere on Memorial Day. I put my writing on hold last week after I lost a dear friend last week. He had battled a health condition for over a decade. His name was Reid and he was 24. He had a beautiful mind and a gentle spirit.

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.


Remember,

Nathan

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Surprising Struggle....

I felt a call into ministry 15 yrs ago. While I have had the opportunity to learn and grow in my gifts for ministry there is still an area that I struggle with consistently: Prayer. Shocking I know. After 15 yrs of being a pastor....still struggling in his prayer life. Yes. Lately I've been on a great roll. Each day I've been taking time to journal my prayers and thoughts along with insights I feel the Lord gives me. Yet, I still can't get over how much "work" prayer is. Obviously not physically intensive, it takes everything within me to calm my mind and to slow my life down. My mind screams at me about all the other things I could or even "should" be doing. I many times crowd my schedule with things I tell myself are urgent and unavoidable. So I am having to make an actual appointment with myself every day to meet with God in prayer. Even my actual prayers can be a struggle. My prayers at first seem trite and redundant and just flat over all. There is something that happens though as I push through that feeling of uselessness. Something deeper happens when I wade through the clutter of my mind to talk with Him. Peace. Comfort. Real strength for a real life that is spinning around me. God, I need that today.

Bow your heads with me,

Nathan

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Checking The Rear View Mirror

This morning I was almost ran off the freeway by a guy that did not look behind him before he changed lanes. I saw him look back at me through his rear view mirror to check out the reason for the screaching tires behind him. I wanted to share with him that he should have used his rear view mirror before this. It got me to thinking about the value of looking back and thinking about this question: As I move through the lives of my friends, family and coworkers do I touch their lives for the better or worse. Dr. Henry Cloud in his book, Integrity calls this our "life wake", He refers to our lives being similar to a wake that follows a boat as it moves through the water. Is there life and joy left behind as you move through life or is there a sea of drama, pain and hurt feelings. We can't live our life like a bull in a china closet thinking how we live doesn't effect others. Bottom Line: You are leaving a legacy whether you like it or not, what that will look like depends on you.

It Matters,

Nathan

Monday, May 11, 2009

Identity Theft...

When I was a kid I wanted to be everyone else but "me".......Fred Savage of The Wonder Years.....Ralph Machio From The Karate Kid.....The lead singer to the band 'Warrant'....(ummm, please keep the last one between us). We've all imagined of being someone else.....especially when we were younger. From time to time, however, I run into someone seeming to act odd. At first I might not be able to put my finger on it, but soon I realize that the person is trying to act like someone else. How they dress, walk, talk, what they do in their spare time. It really does become like identity theft. They want to be percieved as something other than who they are because either they don't really know who they are or don't like who they are. They select characteristics of someone they wish they were like and in some ways steal their identity. The rub here is that the person ends up throwing away an oppurtunity to embrace who they are and develop what makes them distinct. Bottom Line: it's great to have people to look to as mentors and and role models, but we must come to know who we are and realize our uniqueness is a God given gift.

I am Who I am,

Nathan

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Guilt Trips

I'm not a fan of guilt trips. This form of passive manipulation paves the road to hell. (OK that was a little dramatic, I'm just not a fan). We've all experienced guilt trips from people (Moms are notorious) and we've all ended up doing things we didn't want to do because of this tactic. People tend to use guilt as a motivator in relationships when they aren't getting what they want and don't have the guts to say directly what they are feeling. We must come to a place of maturity and say what we mean and realize there is a better way to get our feelings across. People in our lives are much more apt to respond to genuine communication even if that means voicing frustration and upsetting them. No more passive aggressive tactics. Own your emotions and communicate them.

After all I've done for you...,

Nathan
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Friday, May 8, 2009

Worst Job of a Parent......

"This is going to hurt me more than it's going to hurt you....", "Really? Because it looks like my butt is the one getting spanked." While there are varying ideas on disciplining out there, most parents agree that there is something within us that at times longs to not have to discipline our kids for several reasons:

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,

Nathan
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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Hearing the Last 10%....

Top 3 worst feelings in life....1. Throwing up 2. A Severe Sunburn 3. Being Corrected. Since this insn't a WebMD blog I'm going to address the third one. A few days ago I talked about the importance of saying the last 10% in our relationships (saying the things that are the most difficult). Tonight I want to talk about the other side of that.....hearing the last 10%. I was meeting with some friends tonight and they shared their last 10% with me. It wasn't easy for them to say and I can tell you that it wasn't easy for me to hear. As they shared I wanted in so many ways to be able to tell them that they didn't understand or they were way off base, but the truth is.....they were right on. In that moment I had a decision to make: get defensive and angry or listen and process. Thankfully, the Lord helped me to listen and own my junk. Bottom Line: God will use friendships and even people we can't stand to communicate truth. We must be mature enough to listen, process what was shared for truth and apply it.

Listen,

Nathan

Pushing Through....

Two years ago I was at Fort Jackson, SC doing some training with some chaplains. One night in the pouring rain I was on a live fire course (where they were shooting real bullets over your head). I was crawling face down in sand, in the rain, with all my gear and armor plated vest....crawling for about 200 yards. At first when I came out of the trench I was pumped and excited and the adrenaline was flowing, but after about 50 yards my body caught up with my mind. Every part of my body was hurting (did I mention I had been up 32 hrs at this point?) I continued to push on for about another 100 yards and had another 50 to go when everything within me said, "I'm done". My heart felt like it was going to explode....my muscles were cramped and I rolled over on my back and cried out to God (literally) as these loud artillery shells were going off. As I gave my situation over to God I rolled back over on my stomach and dug deep and pushed through the pain, as I did that a Sargent at the end begin to call my name and told me to keep pushing, to keep pushing through the pain, that I could make it. Bottom Line: We must push through our circumstances and emotions. Submit and Worship God despite how you "feel". Secondly, Call out to those that our struggling. Tell them they can make it...be an encourager.

You heard Me,

Nathan

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Beyond the surface....

Know those people that say they have more than one best friend? How is that possible? Doesn't "best" mean "the top" or stands alone? Anyway, in thinking about friendship last night I was thinking about how grateful I am for true accountability. I'm not talking about the people I can seem to have fun with and just really enjoy their company. I mean friendship that runs deeper. Actual Accountability. A relationship where I give them permission to ask the tough questions about my life. When they know they can call me out on something and they give me permission to do the same. It's really Proverbs 27:17 in action: "Iron Sharpens Iron. So one man sharpens another." Relationships that don't have this type of intimacy aren't wrong. We just need to know that we will not have any type of accountability in a relationship like that. What about you? Do you have someone in your life that holds you accountable on a regular basis or do you always keep people at a distance?

Get to Sharpening,

Nathan

Monday, May 4, 2009

Don't Change a Thing....

I've often thought about what hell is going to be like......if it is as bad as I think it is, there will be infomercials. I continue to be amazed at the amount junk that is sold on television. One that I just got through watching was for a "fat burning" drug called Lipozene. It said that "fat accumulates on the body because of: having kids, stress, lack of exercise and poor diet. What makes this drug so great said the host is that, "You don't have to change any part of your lifestyle." This is crazy! But it hits home on key flaw of mankind that we want the benefits without the work. We desire the payoff without actual investment. If we truly desire change in any part of our life we must be willing to pay the price. Short cuts only produce temporary results and not those that are long lasting. Don't buy into an infomerical lifestyle. See the need, make a plan, execute the plan and stick with it.

Changing The Channel,

Nathan

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Last Words....

This last week I went to the funeral of a 19 year old. It was a tragic end to an incredibly short life. While his death was unexpected the grief at his funeral was not. The emotion in the room was palpable. As his father and brothers got up one by one to share things about him they loved. Thoughts they had never shared with him what they appreciated about him, memories that brought them laughter and joy. The undescribable pain they spoke out of was from not just his death but the fact they had never spoken the words to him while he was alive. It was another reminder that we are all mortal and not permanent on this earth. Here's my thought: Why not share those things with those that we care about now? Why wait? Don't let their death be the catalyst for expression. Go in the next room, pick up the phone, write a note..........say it.


No Regrets,

Nathan

Friday, May 1, 2009

Need to Love them Too....

I have a friend that I recently caught up with after circumstances had taken us different directions. He's one of those friends where conversation comes easy, we have the same humor, and we are in the exact same season of life. Friendship with him is EASY. There are others however that life propels me into their journey and it is not so easy. If I were to be honest there are some that I would rather not be around at all. But, there I am.....with them......torn between a lack of chemistry and the knowledge that God longs for me to push past my preferences and genuinely love them. Not the "I love you because God says I have to" but a love that comes from a reservoir that only Christ can provide. I don't have to skip through the fields with everyone (picture it in slow motion), but I do need to ask God to help me love them genuinely and practically. Someone might be thinking this about me.

Love,

Nathan