Learn… or be normal.

A while ago I ran across a quote from Henry Doherty…

“It is the studying you do after your school days that really counts. Otherwise, you know only that which everyone else knows.”

Geeze… I don’t want to be normal. Normal assumes that things will get worse unless they are intentionally made better. I want to get better… so I expect to keep learning!

For me books are my go to source of information. I also find helpful coaches and teachers on YouTube.

Where do you go to keep learning? Take a minute to let me know on this poll!

#worstparentever – take care of you

Yesterday at Church180 we started a new teaching series called, #worstparentever.

Worst Parent Ever

If you missed it, you can watch/listen here.

The whole point of this teaching series is to encourage parents and to share information that we are finding to be helpful!

The first lesson in this series was this…

The better you are the better they are.

My heart hurts for so many parents! It seems like once they become parents they forget themselves.

Now before you write me off, let me remind you that I understand as well as anyone that parenting requires a shift in attention! Sherri and I have six daughters so I know what it requires.

HOWEVER, I regularly see parents completely neglect themselves once baby arrives… and that’s a mistake!

Here’s why…

YOU (parent) are the best gift you can give to your child! If you neglect yourself you won’t be a good gift!

Think about this, if you don’t care for yourself one else will. And if no one is caring for you it won’t be long until you run out of energy and passion… you will simply be a shell of the person you used to be… and that is not a good gift to your children!

No one else will care for you… least of all your kids! Their mission in life (at least the first few years) is to spill food, poop, scream, break things, and generally make things inconvenient as possible for you. Of course, none of this is on purpose… it’s just their default… until you teach them differently!

They (your kids) are not likely to offer to give you time to pray, exercise, or read. They are not likely to strike a deal with you that gives you time to nurture healthy relationships in exchange for an extra cup of juice.


If you are going to do those things it’s all up to you to find/make the time.

And here’s the scoop… when you do… it will make you a better person and parent!

If you say, “I don’t have time.” I call “Bull Crap” on you. Sherri and I find the time… and we have six kids. You can do this! You MUST do this!


The better you are the better they are!

So, take some time to watch this lesson and then go make a plan to care for yourself!

How to clean a guinea pig

guinea pigIn our home we have three guinea pigs (in addition to an English Mastiff, a bearded dragon, a bunch of fish, and almost as many kids).

Guinea pigs make great pets… especially if you have a lot of kids who all want a pet! They are small, fairly clean, and relatively low maintenance. They are also safe for children.

Our kids can only have a pet once they establish that they are responsible enough to care for it. Sherri and I have our hands full with the care and feeding of people… we don’t need the responsibility of another mouth… even if it is an animal. ;-)

Having said that, we do check in occasionally to see that the animals are neither dead nor living in squalor.

This morning I had a conversation with one of our daughters (she shall rename anonymous) that went like this:

Her: do you know how I clean my guinea pig when I run out of shampoo?

Me: No bud. How?

Her: I lick her.

Me: You what?!

Her: I lick her. That’s how she cleans herself so I thought I could do it too.

Me: You lick her?

Her: Yes!

Me: Go tell your mom!

And there you have it. One more way to clean your guinea pig… and save money in your budget ’cause you don’t need to buy shampoo!


Three ways to change yourself

Every month I write an article for the Brutal Iron Gym newsletter.

For now this is a free newsletter packed with good information and inspiration. If you want to receive it send an e-mail to brutalirongym@gmail.com!

This is the article I wrote for the June edition of the newsletter!


3 waysI’m a huge fan of getting better! In fact, one of my goals is to get better as I get older. Part of my plan for making that happen is by reading… constantly acquiring new ideas. One of the ideas that I ran across recently was something that I can’t wait to share with you! It has to do with how to change yourself!

First things first though… I am of the opinion that YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOU! You are where you are because of the decisions you have made up to this point! You made food choices, relational choices, recreational choices, etc. that have created the man/woman you see in the mirror today.

The good news about this is that if your decisions have led you to the place you are currently, they can also take you to another place! Decisions followed by action are powerful tools!

Having said that, there are powerful forces that influence our decisions on a regular basis. Let me share the three most powerful (I owe this line of thought to Darren Hardy’s book “The Compound Effect”).

  1. Input
  2. Associations
  3. Environment

Let’s look at each one for a minute…


This is the “stuff” that goes into your mind.

Think about it… what does your mental diet consist of? Facebook? Netflix? TV? And there’s always the silly nonsense we can gorge on via Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. (BTW, I have all of these and from time to time I actually learn some stuff from them!)

You know, if you drop a blob of mud into a perfectly clean pool that little bit of dirt will dilute the water! BUT, if you drop ten 5-gallon buckets into that pool… you’re going to have a mud puddle! That’s what we do to our mind when we fill it trash that does not inspire and motivate!

I’d encourage you to start filling your mind with positive inputs by reading good books, listening to inspiring podcasts, and talking with people who are already doing what you want to do, because at the end of the day… if you want to change you, the first thing you should consider is your mental diet!


Oh, this is a biggie!

The people you hang out with will, according to one study, “determine as much as 95% of your success or failure in life.”

Think about it, if you hang out with powerlifters, you’re probably going to end up lifting heavy stuff! If you hang out with bodybuilders, you’re likely to end up eating lots of chicken and blowing out your shirt sleeves! If you hang out with people who binge on Moon Pies and Chocolate Milk… well… you’re going to blow out some clothes too… just not the sleeves.

Seriously, I don’t need to spend a lot more time teaching this point because you know it… the people you hang with will help you or hurt you.

If you want to change you then you might just need to get some new friends.

WARNING, shameless plug forthcoming…

I recently wrote an entire blog post about this subject titled “Who’s In Your Circle of Five?” I encourage you to go read that… when you’re done with this post!

The third influence in our lives is…


Your environment is the sum of all the things around you: people, art, furnishings, words, etc.

Think about it like this… how do you feel when you walk into Brutal Iron Gym? Got it? Now think about this, how do you feel when you walk into your doctor’s office? You feel completely different because the environment is completely different.

Your environment is a huge influence on the person you are!

Some things that I like to include in my environment are: positive music, encouraging words, sunshine, hugs, high fives (BTW, I prefer high fives in the gym), good books, etc.

Let me ask you this, if I were to walk into your environment (e.g. your house, office, car, etc.) would I be inspired or feel like taking an entire bottle of Xanax?

The point here is this…

If you want to change you, you can hasten that process by changing your environment!

So there you go!

Three factors that will help you change the person that you are and become the person you want to be:

#1 Input

#2 Associations

#3 Environment

Oh, and now that you’ve finished this post, go read this one about building your Circle of Five!

We might not be communicating

group-of-people-talkingFor the last several years I have made an effort to make friends who don’t look/believe/act like I do.

From racial to sexual to theological differences… I have made a lot of great friends.

I’ve spent a lot of time drinking coffee, eating sushi, and lifting weights with my friends. I’ve listened… and from time to time I’ve talked.

Over the last few years I’ve learned a few things, but perhaps the most important is something that’s been crystallized in the last few weeks.

Let me explain…

I am a heterosexual, conservative, white, middle class man. I have a set of presuppositions that I typically bring to any conversation. I have realized a problem though…

Many of my friends don’t have the same presuppositions.

If this is not taken into consideration, communication problems will ensue.

For instance, I base my decisions on what I believe God wants or doesn’t want. My friends who do not believe there is a God obviously don’t include Him in their decision making process.

Now here’s where the miscommunication happens…

In addition to being a friend, I am also a pastor. Every week I stand up and teach at Church180. I love being a pastor. I love teaching. I love talking about God and showing how His ideas work in our lives!


I make a HUGE MISTAKE if I assume that everyone in our church starts with the idea that there is a God… or that He is actively engaged in our lives. Not everyone believes this!

I’m realizing that if the church is not careful, we are going to be talking to a group of friends that have no clue about what we’re saying… because we’re not starting with the same set of presuppositions.

I presuppose that there is a God. I presuppose that humanity is made in the image of God but is broken by sin. I presuppose that Jesus was a real man who died for my sins, was buried, and resurrected to life three days later and now lives inside of those who believe in Him… empowering them to live lives of l0ve, courage, wisdom, self-control, etc.

I presuppose all of that. My friends don’t.

The result? Much of what I may say may not make sense to them… because we start with different presuppositions.

So how do we fix this?

Well, the last couple of years I have done a lot of listening. A LOT of listening.

I ask questions and then listen. I have listened to black men talk, gay men and women talk, atheists and agnostics talk… and I have learned… A LOT!

The more I learn, the more I realize I need to change my starting point in conversation and teaching from what I believe to what we believe.

No longer can I assume that everyone in the room has the same starting point as me. I must assume that many in the room will start with different presuppositions than myself. I must respect that/them, seek to find common ground, and start there.

How do I find common ground?

LISTEN! Listen to your friends who don’t believe, look, think, or act like you do… let them show/tell you what’s important to them… what they value… and start communication there!

We may be miscommunicating because we have not taken the time to listen!

To use the words of Steven Covey, “Seek to understand before you seek to be understood.”

Weekend Review (7/12/15)

Yesterday, at Church180, we continued our quest to figure out how to connect to God!
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We started off by showing this video:

And then we asked these questions…

  • What have we done that the first question people are asking us when we tell them about church is, “What do I wear?”
  • What have we done that the first thing people think about when they think about Christians is all the things they’ll have to stop doing and the things they’ll have to start doing if they are a Christian?
  • How have we taken something called, “the gospel” which literally means, “good news” and turned it into something that sounds like anything but good news?

The answer to this question is fairly simple… and heartbreaking…

We’ve come under the control of the “Tyranny of Trying.”

In other words… we’ve bought into the idea that we connect with God because of what we do or don’t do (including how we dress on Sunday)!

This bad theology is not a new one. In fact, it’s the primary reason that St. Paul wrote a letter to the church in the city of Galatia! Fairly early on in his letter he had this to say:

Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross. Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ. (Galatians 3:1-5 NLT)

These early Christians were trying to connect to God based on the things they were doing/not doing! Paul called them “foolish” and told them to STOP IT!

I shared a quote from Tim Keller’s book, Reason for God, that gets ALL OVER this matter:

“It is possible to avoid Jesus as Savior as much by keeping all the Biblical rules as by breaking them.

Both religion (in which you build your identity on your moral achievements) and irreligion (in which you build your identity on some other secular pursuit or relationship) are, ultimately, spiritually identical courses to take. Both are ‘sin.’

Self-salvation through good works may produce a good deal of moral behavior in your life, but inside you are filled with self-righteousness, cruelty, and bigotry, and you are miserable.

You are always comparing yourself to other people, and you are never sure you are being good enough.

You cannot, therefore, deal with your hideousness and self-absorption through the moral law, by trying to be a good person through an act of the will.

You need a complete transformation of the very motives of the heart.

The devil, if anything, prefers Pharisees – men and women who try to save themselves. They are more unhappy than either mature Christians or irreligious people, and they do a lot more spiritual damage.”

What do you think about what he said?

Seriously, I think that some of the crankiest people I know are men and women who are trying to save themselves by “trying harder.”

Folks who are “trying harder” or “trying my best” may have religion… but they are not Christians.

St. Paul says that we’re connected to God NOT because of what we DO but because of who we TRUST!

So what does that look like? How does a Christian connect to God?

Here’s what St. Paul wrote:

“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:16-20 NLT)

This is how Christians live! By listening to and following the leadership of the Spirit of God inside of us. He loves us. We trust Him. We speaks… we trust Him. We asks us to stop… we trust Him enough to stop. He tells us to go… we trust Him enough to go.

My prayer for Church180 is that we will be a church filled with men and women who trust God and let Him lead our lives… and in the process begin changing the questions that people ask about church and Christians!

Let’s change it from “What do I wear” to “How can I become one?”

That’ll happen when we stop trying so hard to save ourselves and simply start trusting the leadership of the Spirit of God who lives inside of us when we trust Jesus to connect us to God!

BTW, you can listen to the teaching here!

The two most important parts of your day



The two most important parts of your day are… the beginning and the end!

Here’s why I say that…

Because, for most of us, these are the two parts that are under our control!

Our morning and nighttime routines are typically not impacted by the unexpected (e.g. unexpected visitor, a phone call that takes too long, etc.). Think about it… we usually follow the same routine every morning (e.g. brush teeth, shower, coffee, etc.) and the same routine every night (e.g. tuck the kids in bed, e-mail, prayer, etc.).

What happens between the beginning and the end of your day is often filled with the unexpected… but the bookends, the beginning and the end, there’s a lot of predictability there.

Because there is so much predictability, why not take advantage of these two points in your day?

I’ve found a couple of practices that are tremendously helpful during these two times.

In the morning I preview my day.

I sit down and write out the things I will do during the day. These things include the daily disciplines of prayer, exercise, loving my kids, etc. as well as the matters of business to which I must attend: meetings, study, training, etc.

Then at night I review my day.

I sit down, look at what I wrote that morning and ask, “Did I do what I said I was going to do?” I make notes of things I learned, attitudes that need to be adjusted, etc.

Reviewing my day helps me learn from my day and sets me up to have a better day tomorrow!

Now here’s the crazy thing…

So many people miss the two best parts of the day!

Here’s how…

They miss the morning because they sleep in until the last minute!

They miss the evening because they sit in front of a screen until they fall asleep!

If you are doing either or both of these… you are giving away the best and most controllable parts of your life!

Let me give you a couple of ideas that are working for me:

  • Get up 30 minutes earlier.
  • Don’t turn on a screen after 9 p.m.

It’s really that simple!

When you get up in the morning… write down what you will do that day. Taking time to ask God for wisdom, discipline, courage, and love is a pretty good way to start your day too.

When you sit down at night… look at that list and check off the things you accomplished. Take a few minutes to review your attitudes and experiences. Ask forgiveness, write down a lesson you learned, take a minute to enjoy the feeling of accomplishment.

Sure, doing this means a little less sleep and a little less Reality TV… but as Jeff Olson in his book, The Slight Edge, says…

“What is uncomfortable now will be comfortable later, and what is comfortable now will be uncomfortable later.”

I’d rather be uncomfortable with personal discipline today than uncomfortable with the results of a lack of discipline ten years from now.

Get up early and turn off the screens at night… and see what happens as you begin taking control of your life! It works for me… and I can’t wait to hear how it works for you!