Seven Decisions

7Last week I bought two new books: The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth by John C. Maxwell and The Seven Decisions (Understanding the Keys to Personal Success) by Andy Andrews.

I’ve started reading “The Seven Decisions” and already realize, “this is one of those books that will be read and re-read!” Andy Andrews does an amazing job of crystallizing the keys to personal development!

What I love so much about this book is Andy’s personal story!

When he was 19 he lost his mother to cancer, and shortly thereafter his dad died in a car accident! Reeling from this one-two punch, Andy began making bad decisions that resulted in him being homeless… living under a bridge!

During his period of homelessness he did odd jobs, but had lots of free time. Much of that free time was spent in a library… where he started reading the stories of successful men and women.

As he read his “self-pity turned to passion” because he noticed something… these men and women had some themes in common! Andy began to practice these principles… and his life began to change! Now he is a New York Times best selling author who writes about these commonalities!

After reading literally hundreds of biographies and autobiographies he has identified seven common practices of successful men and women, and in his book “The Seven Decisions” he identifies and explains them in detail!

I strongly encourage you to buy the book for yourself, but for your sake, and mine, I am writing them down here.

The seven decisions that determine personal success:

#1 The Responsible Decision

“The buck stops here. I accept responsibility for my past. I am responsible for my success. I will not let my history control my destiny.”

#2 The Guided Decision

“I will seek wisdom. God moves mountains to create the opportunity of His choosing. It is up to me to be ready to move myself.”

#3 The Active Decision

“I am a person of action. Many people move out of the way for a person on the run; others are caught up in his wake. I will be that person on the run.”

#4 The Certain Decision

“I have a decided heart. Criticism, condemnation, and complaint are creatures of the wind. They come and go on the breath of lesser beings and have no power over me.”

#5 The Joyful Decision

“Today I will choose to be happy. My very life is fashioned by choice. First I make choices. Then my choices make me.”

#6 The Compassionate Decision

“I will greet this day with a forgiving spirit. I know that God rarely uses a person whose main concern is what others are thinking.”

#7 The Persistent Decision

I will persist without exception. Reason can only be stretched so far, but faith has no limits. The only limit to my realization of tomorrow is the doubt to which I hold fast today.”

Oh this is good stuff! I’m glad I picked this book up! I hope you might think about grabbing a copy too7!

Killing Fear – Weekend Review (4/19/15)

Kill the Monster - Banner 4 - brighter (1)Yesterday was week three of our “Kill The Monster” series at Church180. Pastor David Roller was our guest speaker yesterday. That man can tell a story like very few people! He told the story of fear and how to kill it!

If you missed it, you can watch it here.

David Roller is not only a great storyteller, he is also a bishop in the Free Methodist church. For those of you who don’t know what that means, he is charged with the oversight of many churches. In fact, he oversees Free Methodist churches in Europe, Latin America and the East Coast of good ‘ole America!

After church was over, our pastors met with Bishop Roller and his wife to eat with them and hear from them; they also took the opportunity to hear from us.

I am so proud of our pastoral team at Church180. They are passionate, competent, and humble lovers of Jesus and people. We told our stories, laughed a ton, and were inspired as we heard from our bishop. I am excited and optimistic as our church continues to forge ahead to love God and do good in our community!

So, my favorite tweetable from Bishop Roller’s teaching yesterday..

“We are called to be kings, and yet are hiding among the suitcases.”

If you missed the teaching yesterday, I encourage you to catch it right here.

 

How to “fit things in”

A couple of weeks ago I was talking with a friend who is trying to figure out “How to fit it all in.”

That’s something I’m fairly conversant with… fitting things in. Sherri (aka “The lovely and talented Mrs. Peterson) and I have this conversation regularly, and overall, we do a decent job of it.

Here’s the thing about “fitting things in”…

Just about the time you fit everything in… something changes shape! For instance…

  • You get the kids school schedule figured out… then it’s summer time!
  • You get the work schedule figured out… then you decide you want to lose weight… so where do you add gym time?
  • You get your grocery shopping day nailed down… and then you get the schedule for your kid’s soccer games and they’re scheduled… right during your shopping time!

AHHHHHH!!!

I’ve joked in the past that just about the time I figure out how to be a perfect parent, my kids have a birthday… and everything changes! And that’s a lot how life is… just about the time you get everything fit in… something changes!

So, what’s a decent way to fit things in?

Let me give you three ideas and then one practical tool that will help manage these ideas.

Idea #1 – Minimize

Let’s be honest here… most of us do a better job of adding than subtracting.

We add hours at work, gym time, hobby time, sport schedules, etc. but never figure out what they are going to replace! Typically what they replace are the most important things (e.g. church, gym, dates with spouse/kids).

I encourage you to do this… when you must add something, figure out what you will subtract! After all, you can’t fit everything in if you don’t take something out!

Idea #2 – Prioritize

Here’s an important question, “If everything had to be done at the same time what would I NOT do?”

For instance, if a soccer game and a doctor’s appointment were scheduled at the same time, which one would NOT show up at? The the soccer game of course (unless you are a terrible parent… yes, I’m judging you.) ;-)

Seriously, there are some things you MUST do to live a healthy life (e.g. grocery shop, work on your budget, go to church, work out, go to work, sleep, etc.).

To begin prioritizing, sit down and put these non-negotiables on the calendar, what time is left is for those “other” things… discretionary things..

On my family budget, under expenses I have two categories: non-discretionary and discretionary. Non-discretionary includes things like: mortgage, electric, etc.Discretionary includes things like haircuts, etc. If I have to choose between getting a haircut and paying my electric… I’m going electric.

So, figure out what the non-negotiable/non-discretionary things in your life are… put them on the calendar… and then fit the other things around them. To get you started, a few non-discretionaries for me include: gym, meals, church, family time, sleep, study, etc.

And the third idea for “fitting things in”… if it is possible…

Idea #3 – Delegate

Some things in your life that must be done can be done by someone else! For instance lawn care, auto repair, meal prep, etc.

Obviously there are some that simply cannot (e.g. relationships, worship, exercise, learning, etc.), but the ones that can… GIVE THEM AWAY!

Now…

The tool

Something that has helped Sherri and me stay on top of an ever evolving schedule is our weekly “Coin and Calendar” meeting.

During this meeting we review our budget, look ahead at calendar items, plan for upcoming expenses and events, and make sure we are on the same page.

Now, because I am part of this system, it is not perfect! We miss the road from time to time… but believe me… in a family with six kids, multiple income streams, and more commitments than you can imagine, if we DIDN’T have the meeting we’d crash and burn!

During this meeting we constantly look for ways to minimize, prioritize, and delegate, and we look at how we are going to fund those priorities!

This plan works!

I know life is busy! I know most people feel overwhelmed! I also know it’s possible to find some space to breath deeply and enjoy who and what is around you!

A couple of resources I’d encourage you to pick up as you navigate this journey include:

My prayer for you, and me, is that we will be persistent in finding and fitting in to our lives the best things!

I’d love to hear from you… what have you found most helpful as you seek to “fit things in”?

The most important person you can care for is…

YOU.

This may sound wrong to you… especially if you’ve grown up within the context of the church, but wait… let me make the case.

In the world of nonprofits (e.g. church, Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity, etc.) we are regularly called to “give yourself.”

“Give yourself” is great advice if “yourself” is valuable.

Seriously, we both know people who’s presence could not be considered a gift! In fact, after a bit of time with them, you might even consider “gifting” them to another organization!

What I’ve found is that the best gift I can give to my God, wife, children, church, clients, friends, etc. is a happy, healthy, alert self; and that requires that I engage in intentional, regular self-care.

The other day I read a quote from Parker Palmer that gets right to the heart of this matter…

“Self-care is never a selfish act – it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do it not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives we touch.”

Think about it…

  • Are you a better parent when you are tired or rested?
  • Do you work better when you are angry or happy?
  • Do you think more clearly when you are hungry or full?

You get the point, right? When YOU are taken care of, you show up and perform at a higher level… and THAT’S a gift worth giving!

Here’s the thing about “self-care”, if you don’t do it… no one will.

No one is going to make you eat right, get enough rest, exercise, pray, be creative, etc. You must do these things for yourself. If you don’t create space in your life for these things… they won’t get done.

Your spouse, kids, boss, friends aren’t going to create space for you to do these things, because they are all trying to get some space in your life too! You have to care for yourself!

And when you care for yourself, the people around you get a better YOU!

Think about it, is it better to be open 24/7 but offer sub-par service or is it preferable to be open 40 hours a week and offer high value service, friendship, love, insight, etc.?

I think we agree on this one….

I encourage you to do this… stop. Take some time to think about and plan the next 30 days of your life. As you create that plan carve out some time to do “self-care” and then watch what happens to your relationships as you begin adding true value to the people you serve/love.

Weekend review (4/11/15)

Kill the Monster - Banner 4 - brighter (1)Yesterday was week two of our series called, “Kill The Monster”. We talked about killing the Anger Monster. If you missed it you can watch it here.

This particular monster is a big one for me. I hate it. It surprises me from time to time… and I’m never like, “Oh hey! It’s good to see you!” NO WAY! I hate it! It embarrasses me, shames me, and more often than not makes me look like a fool.

I taught yesterday as one who has been scarred by my own anger. I talked with humility but eagerness, because I believe there is hope for people who struggle with anger!

We looked at three pieces of advice from a man who had struggled with anger… David… the poet/warrior/king. His reflections on anger came as he was being lied about and publicly smeared by jealous, angry enemies. After some reflection he wrote:

Don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you. Think about it overnight and remain silent. Offer proper sacrifices, and trust in the LORD. (Psalm 4:4-5 NLT)

Now I don’t want to write out all of the sermon, because you can see it online (right here). I do want to share some “tweetables” from the teaching yesterday…

  • Anger is a signal that a line has been crossed, a boundary violated, or that something is wrong.
  • Anger is a gift from God. The first thing we should do when we get angry is thank Him that our signals work!
  • Every time, in the Bible, that God gets angry, it is in response to a line being crossed… a boundary violated.
  • If we don’t address the problem to which anger is pointing, anger will destroy us.
  • I have a reputation for running out of gas.
  • Those who control their anger have great understanding; those with a hasty temper will make mistakes. (Proverbs 14:29 NLT)
  • When I’m angry, the first thing that comes to mind usually isn’t the right thing.
  • There are two things a person should never be angry at, what they can help, and what they cannot. Plato
  • (too long to be tweeted, but still really good!) “When you have done everything you knew to do, been as creative as possible, received lots of sound advice, gone the third mile, persisted, and prayed then it may be time to move past anger and problem solving.” John Townsend

Again, if you missed this teaching you can catch it here.

So how about you, do you struggle with anger? What’s your plan for destroying that monster?

The top five things parents say to their kids at the beach

Last week we went to the beach. I found myself saying a handful of lines over and over and over and…

The crazy thing was that I overheard several other parents saying some of the same lines!

So, if you are a parent headed to the beach, I thought it would be helpful of me to help you get your lines ready in advance. Ready? Here we go…

1) Get off my towel!

There really is not much worse than sandy feet walking on the towel you are planning to lie down on.

2) Stop throwing sand!

There’s an entire beach… why do you have to throw sand 2 inches from my oil covered, tanning body?

3) Do you have to pee or poop?

Pee? Let ‘er rip in the waves. Poop? We’ve gotta go back to the room. (Don’t judge me… you’ve done the same thing.)

4) Stop staring!

I agree that some people simply should not appear in public undressed like that… but we can’t stare… and certainly giggling is off limits.

5) Don’t bring that thing over here! AHHHHH!

My kids find sea creatures fascinating. I’m not particularly fond of dead jellyfish hovering over my head while I’m working on my tan.

We definitely said other things, laughed a lot, and made memories that will last forever. These are the things, however, that seemed to be said the most!

And you? What lines do you find yourself saying to your children at the beach?

How to grow spiritually (Re-post)

In light of the current teaching series we are doing at Church180, Spiritually Strong, this blog post seems worth re-posting!
Really there is no magic formula. It’d be great to have a drink, swallow a pill, or take a pilgrimage to some holy spot and upon arrival… “BOOM”… you become holy.
Well, don’t get your hopes up because after thousands of years and multiple experiments the verdict is in… spiritual maturity is not something that happens in a moment or after one exercise.
Spiritual maturity is the result of a lifestyle… a series of habits… a regular and consistent practice of “trust and obey.”
This morning I was reading from Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology and he wrote something that I have to share with you:
The New Testament does not suggest any shortcuts by which we can grow in sanctification, but simply encourages us repeatedly to give ourselves to the old-fashioned, time-honored means of Bible reading and meditation (Psalm 1:2; Matthew 4:4; John 17:17), prayer (Ephesians 6:18; Philippians 4:6), worship (Ephesians 5:18-20), witnessing (Matthew 28:19-20), Christian fellowship (Hebrews 10:24-25), and self-discipline or self-control (Galatians 5:23; Titus 1:8)
So how’s it going? Are you doing these things? Be encouraged and persistent in them and watch how God uses the best practices to grow your faith!

Why I go to church (or why I wear pants on Sunday)

Yes… I am a pastor so I kinda “have” to go. But even if I weren’t… I would.

A few years ago I wasn’t actively preaching, so I decided to skip church for a few weeks.

IT WAS AWESOME!

I slept in… puttered around the house in my underwear for a while… cleaned the garage… played with the kids… took a nap… put some pants on… took another nap… ate… went to bed.

After living six days of busy it sure felt nice to have one day of NOTHING TO DO!

I started going to church again and realized I had missed a few things…

  • Happy people. Sure there are some knuckleheads at church… but there are knuckleheads at the bar, work, and neighborhood events too! What I’ve found is that at most churches there are a lot of happy people working on making their lives better, and somehow just being around them made me feel better.
  • Helpful information. I’m a preacher so I know this… not every lesson is a homerun. I’ve struck out a few times and went home thinking, “Geez, if I were my pastor… I’d find something else to do on Sunday!” Having said that, most pastors work real hard to present God’s ideas in a way on Sunday that will be helpful for living on Monday! Sometimes it is new information, sometimes just some inspiration. Sometimes it is a kick in the pants, and other times it is an arm around the shoulder. What I find though is that I need all of these things from time to time and church on Sunday is a pretty safe place to get it!
  • Holy moments. I know you can have these on your own, BUT there is something unique that happens when a group of people are singing to, talking about, and trying to hear from God! It’s the difference between watching the Super Bowl on TV in your living room and actually being there! I’ve had some amazing moments with God alone… but I can’t deny that I’ve had some equally awesome moments with God surrounded by friends and other people who are listening to Him as well!

I understand why people skip church, but my experience showed me that getting up, putting my pants on and going to church usually has a payoff that makes the sacrifice worth it.

What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Let me know.

How to pray

Recently I’ve been reading a version of the Bible called “The Message.” I like to read through this version of the Scriptures every couple of years because of the fresh way it presents classic ideas.

Today I read something about prayer that made me stop, pull out my pen, do some underlining, and make some notes!

Here’s what I read:

“…when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?

“Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.

I LOVE this!

As a public speaker in general, and preacher in particular, it is easy to turn prayer into a demonstration of oratorical ability.

Jesus said, “Don’t.”

God doesn’t care how eloquent I am. Besides that, even if I were a master orator… I’d be competing against every other prayer He hears… and I’m pretty sure there are lots of people with bigger vocabularies and more engaging presentations than me! In other words, if prayer is a performance… I’d get lost in the shuffle of great performers.

Fortunately, Jesus set me free from that way of thinking when He said, “Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.”

I can do that!

Be alone and genuine before God!

Say what you feel, think, believe, hope, dream, etc. THAT’S WHAT GOD WANTS TO HEAR!

He’s not impressed with your big words and fake passion any more than He is impressed with artificial tears and trumped up faith. He wants you to be real… honest… just you!

I can do that!

Alone… honest… just me and God.

I can do that… and you can too!

And the good news is… that is what God is looking for! Someone who will be alone and honest with Him! He can and will help that person… that’s what Jesus implied when He said, “you will begin to sense his grace.”