Sometimes you need another voice

mosesThis morning I read the story of Moses… how he led the fledgling nation of Israel out from under the oppressive hand of the Egyptians.

But before that actually happened something else took place…

Moses had gone to Pharaoh to tell him it was time to release the Jewish people from slavery. The conversation had some unintended, negative consequences. Instead of releasing them, Pharaoh doubled down on them; he essentially doubled their work load!

Of course this took the people to a new low. They were disappointed… discouraged… and ready to quit hoping.

Moses went to God and said, “Why did THAT just happen?”

God said to Moses:

say to the people of Israel: ‘I am the Lord. I will free you from your oppression and will rescue you from your slavery in Egypt. I will redeem you with a powerful arm and great acts of judgment. I will claim you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God who has freed you from your oppression in Egypt. I will bring you into the land I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I will give it to you as your very own possession. I am the Lord!’” (Exodus 6:6-8 NLT)

So Moses did.

The people looked blankly at Moses and essentially said, “We want nothing more to do with you.”

Here’s how the history writer recorded that moment:

Moses told the people of Israel what the Lord had said, but they refused to listen anymore. They had become too discouraged by the brutality of their slavery. (Exodus 6:9 NLT)

As I read this something hit me…

People still do this!

Discouraged people write off optimistic people as “naive dreamers.” They say things like, “You just don’t understand…”, and make any number of other excuses for giving up and living in slavery.

I’ve done it. You may have too… so discouraged that it seems like more work to escape than it does to just settle in and build a hut in the land of misery.

So I wondered, what made the difference for these people?

It was a leader… a leader who persisted… who wouldn’t let the idea of freedom slide off their mind. A leader who worked with God and eventually moved the needle in the lives of those slaves… helping them to embrace a new mindset!

If you’re a slave today, a slave to discouragement, maybe what you need is another voice… a voice that calls you to a better place. Don’t write that voice off! Don’t make excuses… excuses will only empower your inner slave master. Listen to that optimist who calls you to a better place… follow him/her… and someday you, like the nation of Israel will live in a new place, enjoying freedom and fulfillment!

Talk like today is your last day

This morning I got the call that every pastor dreads… “She’s gone.”

Only this time it wasn’t someone I was expecting.

It was Mary. Young Mary. Full of life. Great mom. Exceptional wife. Much-loved teacher. True-blue friend. Exciting, funny, caring, helpful… that Mary.

I can’t believe it.

No one can.

4 1/2 months ago I was pastor at Mary’s wedding.

This week I will be pastor at Mary’s funeral.

Today I sat with her family and listened as people recounted their last conversations with her.

Mary did well. As were most of her words, her last words were loving, fun, and helpful.

I often find that in these moments it is helpful to be reflective. Today I will think on this, “What if these words were my last words?”

mary

Stick with it a little longer

This week I’ve had a breakthrough!

For the last month I have been exhausted from the moment I wake up until I topple into bed.

I’ve wondered, “What’s wrong with me?”

Let me give you some back-story…

Last May I participated in a physique show. I placed second. After the contest I asked the judges what I needed to do to win first place. They mentioned that I needed to add size to my chest and arms. Well, I know what to do to gain size…

EAT and WORK!

Since May I’ve added 25 pounds!

But in the last four weeks I realized I need to take it up a notch, so I went from five meals a day to seven. It was about this time that I began to feel so exhausted.

As I began to think back over the course of the last month, revisiting my diet, work load, rest habits, etc. trying to figure out why I was so exhausted… it occurred to me, “You’ve just made your body do MORE work by adding an extra two meals per day to its regimen! Maybe that’s why you’re so tired all the time!”

Well, this Monday something changed. I woke up feeling better than I’ve felt in weeks, and that has not changed! Both my coach and I believe that my body has turned the corner! It has finally adjusted to the increased workload and has established a new “set point.”

I’m glad I didn’t quit.

And then I started thinking…

What would have happened if I would have quit? The bottom line is that my caloric intake would have dropped which means my body would not have the extra resources needed for further growth which means I would be less likely to achieve my goal.

And then I started thinking some more…

Are there other goals that I have missed because I quit too soon?

Are there other dreams that have not been achieved because the pain of getting there was to great?

Listen, to get where you want to go will require that you do some things you don’t want to do.

The joy of success is ALWAYS prefaced by the pain of sacrifice.

I’m happy with the changes that are happening in my body. I’m glad I stuck with it a little longer! I hope that if you are thinking about quitting that you will just stick with it a little longer! Your goal is worth it!

Think about your life

thinking-aloneWhen was the last time you sat down and thought about your life?

I mean, when was the last time you thought deeply about where you are spiritually.Financially. Physically. Emotionally. When did you last time you gave thought to the relationships you are involved in, for instance, your marriage, kids, friends, etc.

When was the last time you thought about where you are, how you got here, where you are going next, and how you are going to get there?

I am realizing that many adults end up where they are and then wonder how they got there! 

They got busy with life. One thing led to another. Multiple voices and roles making demands on their attention, money, energy, and passion… and before you know it they end up disheveled, confused, frustrated and feeling like they’ve been dropped off in a jungle… far away from the life they imagined in their early years.

Know anyone like that?

I find it helpful from time to time to sit down and think about my life; to intentionally walk away from the dings, rings, beeps, and tweets and just think.

When I think, much of what I see I am happy with, but there are some areas that have been left unattended… and I’m not happy with them. These are areas that I may have overlooked had I not sat down and thought about my life.

Here are a few areas to think about in your life:

  • Spiritually – how is everything on the inside? Is the private me different than the public me? What role does God play in my life?
  • Physically – am I taking care of my body? Do my sleep, exercise, and eating habits give me the energy I need to live a full life?
  • Financially – How’s the money thing going? Do I tell my money where to go at the beginning of the month, or do I wonder where it went at the end of the month?
  • Relationally – Do I love people? When was the last time I encouraged someone… showed them I cared about them?
  • Professionally – Am I getting better at my job? Do I love it? Do I need to make a change?

I’m sure there are more questions you can come up with… and that’s the point. It’s your life… ask your questions!

Four questions that will help guide this process are these:

  1. Where am I?
  2. How did I get here?
  3. Where do I want to be?
  4. How will I get there?

I pray that as you think about your life that you find joy, and if not, I pray that you will find hope!

How to make a big change

A little bit at a time for a long time.

In most of the substantive arenas of life, losing weight, saving money, building a friendship, developing an idea, etc. this is how it happens… by simply showing up and doing the right thing over and over and over.

The danger is boredom.

The payoff is significant change.

It’s not the person who starts the fastest, but the one who is willing to go the longest that will win in the areas of life that really matter.

And with this post, I’m putting my foot back into the blogging waters.

A hug

dad and lexington

This moment was unplanned. We didn’t know anyone was watching… much less taking pictures…but I’m sure glad they were, and I’m sure glad they caught it on camera.

In this moment there is so much love, peace, acceptance, security… all expressed with a hug.

Hugs like this don’t come every day… big, full, eyes-closed hugs. Children with autism don’t always express this big emotion… so when it comes… you savor it. I am.

 

Words

This coming weekend at Church180 we are starting a four week conversation about words.

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This series of conversations is going to revolve around this key idea…

“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21 NIV).

The next four weeks we are drilling into these four areas:

  • God’s words to you.
  • Your words to God.
  • Other people’s words to you.
  • Your words to other people.

If you have been impacted by the power of words or want to impact with your words… this will be a helpful teaching series for you!

See you Sunday at 10 a.m. OR you can catch up on the teachings online at our website – www.church180.tv.

Physique show results and pics

Yesterday I competed in my third physique show! This one was a natural show… we had to take a lie detector test to confirm that we had not used any banned/illegal substances to artificially enhance our bodies.

I worked super hard for this show… and came in second place. I’m pleased with this result… though not satisfied. I’ll be working for first.

Sherri was amazing during this process! She encouraged me, helped prepare food, applied tanning to spots I couldn’t reach, never complained about the time I was gone from home training… and picked up the slack when I wasn’t there. I couldn’t/wouldn’t do this without the support of Mrs. Peterson. Babe, I love you!

Thanks too, to Rob Polenik, the owner of Brutal Iron Gym and my personal trainer for the last three shows. Rob has been a good friend and a great trainer throughout this process. I’m super happy working with Rob and look forward to the next show!

It was great watching Lisa and Rochelle prepare for this competition as well. These shows require months of long hard work, fanatical dedication, and uncompromising focus on the goal. These ladies (both of whom are over 40) proved that you can do amazing things when you have a clear goal, a good plan, and rock solid commitment.

So here are some pics from the event…

paul, rob, lisa, rochelle
Placement of the hands seems weird… it’s because they are resting on the sword I was awarded as second place finisher! paul and sherri 1

 

Two great posts on why & how to read

Sometimes I find myself in a situation where I really just need someone to listen to my problem and then give me good advice; someone who’s faced the issue I’m facing.

Often it’s difficult to access those people face to face… so I’ve found another way!

READING!

Sitting down with a book is much like sitting down with its author… only with the book you get MORE TIME with the author than you would if you simply had coffee with him/her.

In a book, the author gets to fully flesh out his ideas without interruption, and without time limits. He can thoroughly tell his story and explain himself… something he could not do over a cup of coffee.

When you hold a book you hold literally hundreds of hours of the author’s best thinking on the subject. You have access to her research, experience, and wisdom; and you can take as much time as you need to process it… something you could not do over a cup of coffee!

This morning I found two great articles that highlighted the why and how of a solid reading plan. I printed them out and then thought, “I need to share these with my friends!” So here you go…

Go check these articles out and follow their advice! I’m confident you’ll be better for it! And as you do this I want to leave you with a bit of wisdom I’ve gleaned from somewhere… I just can’t remember where…

For every book you choose to read you choose not to read hundreds of others so choose wisely!