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.

Main_Slide_blank

 

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!

The value of well-chosen misery

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately… self-inflicted misery.

In three weeks I will be competing in my third physique show. Preparation for this show includes: strict diet (although I would bet I eat more than most of you reading this), rigorous workouts 5 days a week, mental and physical fatigue, and a constant stream of “No thank you’s” when offered food/snacks/drinks I would LOVE to otherwise have!

To be totally honest, I am miserable right now, but this is the result of the choices I am making. I choose to be miserable because it’s what is required to achieve my goal; and here’s what I realize… this is the prerogative of every adult and of power of choice. You and me… we have the right to choose our misery… and the choices we make will lead us to misery of one form or another.

OH GOSH! That sounds so awful!

Well here’s the thing…

if you choose to do nothing you will be miserable from the pain of atrophy.

If you choose to do something you will be miserable from the pain that growth requires.

Some examples…

Financial misery:

  • If you choose not to work… you must endure the misery of poverty.
  • If you choose to work hard and save… you must endure the misery of missing out on the little “extras” that your friends are having/doing while you work and save.

Physical misery:

  • If you choose not to exercise and to eat anything you want whenever you want… you must endure the misery of weakness, shortness of breath, and growth in places you don’t want to see growth!
  • If you choose to exercise, rest, and eat healthy… you must endure the misery of food planning, extra time for exercise, etc.

You get the point.

Here’s the thing…

One misery is followed by nothing but more misery while the other misery is followed by satisfaction and reward!

You are an adult. You get to choose what your misery will be. Will it be misery that makes you bitter, or will it be misery that makes you better?

On the surface I am miserable right now, but deep down in my belly… I am really content. I am happy. I am content to be miserable because I know what lies on the other side of this misery… a transformed body, but more important than that… a transformed man.

So, what do you choose today? What’s your misery?

Family pics

Last Sunday we had some family pics taken. As I looked over them I realized a few things:

  • God was really nice to me when He sent Sherri my way. I love her more today than I did seventeen years ago!
  • We have six diverse, beautiful, and talented daughters. The responsibility that comes with being “Dad” to all of these princess warriors is off the chart. I am reminded that prayer must be a part of my daily routine.
  • I hope my girls marry a man that loves them as much as I love their mom. And I hope they are even half the women their mom is.

OK, enough chest beating about my lovely ladies… Here are some pics for my journal and my friends.

paul and sherri

girls silly girls

family
paul and sherri kissing

Thoughts on another pastor’s fall

Yesterday I learned that David Yonggi Cho is going to prison. Here’s the scoop:

David Yonggi Cho, the 78-year-old leader of the world’s largest Pentecostal mega church, was recently convicted of embezzling $12 million and sentenced to serve three years in prison. (You can read the entire story here).

The following are my unfiltered soul rumblings…

I’m devastated. This man has been a giant in the other world in which I live… the world of the church. He has written books, created paradigms, and showed lots of pastors “how to do it.” He has effectively built a church that has brought honor to God and resulted in hundreds of thousands of lives being transformed… and now this. I feel betrayed. Angry. and even a little skeptical… for if David Yonggi Cho succumbed to temptation then who isn’t vulnerable? Are there any trustworthy spiritual leaders?

I’m not as surprised as I used to be. Over the last decade of my life I’ve watched many leaders fall; leaders ranging from political (e.g. Mark Sanborn) to religious (e.g. Ted Haggard). I’ve staggered and been nauseated as I learned, multiple times, of personal acquaintances and mentors who have made irresponsible choices that have led to their public disgrace and put a dent in the reputation of the organizations they represent. I used to be surprised… I’m not so much anymore.

I’m scared. I’m a leader. I’m also a man. The things that led to every other leaders failure (e.g. sex, power, money) could also lead to mine. I promise myself, my wife, my children, my accountability partners, and my God that I’ll not fail. I’m sure these leaders said similar things before succumbing.

I am grateful for the men and women I know who consistently model integrity. There are men and women who live lives of integrity. They are gentle and courageous souls who quietly live lives of righteousness. They remain consistent when the times are good and equally so when suffering is required of them. I am grateful to know people like this… I’d name names but I know some of them read this blog and I don’t want to embarrass them. I am grateful for you.

This is to be expected. Not to be a Debbie Downer here but if you believe that all of humanity is smeared by sin then you can expect that ugly monster to rear its head and crash a life. I believe that God rescues us from the damaging control of sin, but it is absolutely necessary to continually nurture our relationship with Him and “run from” those things that would make us vulnerable to bad choices. Check out what St. Paul said to his protege in ministry, Timothy, on this subject.

OK, enough “soul rumblings”. Here are a few things I am doing in an effort to live a life of integrity:

  • Every day I put my face in the Bible. God gives warnings about this stuff and instruction on how to live a strong, long life of integrity. I really need to have this conversation with God every day… because I’m vulnerable to stupidity if I don’t… and often vulnerable even when I do!
  • I pray with my wife every night and give her a kiss before we go to sleep. This daily ritual reminds me of my spiritual and relational responsibility to my family. It keeps me humble before my wife as I talk to God, out loud, in front of her.
  • I have accountability partners who ask me anything and everything about my life. I tell them the truth.
  • I share my mistakes/sins in appropriate environments. Be wary of a man who never admits to being wrong. (You wouldn’t believe how many times I just edited that sentence! I had a pretty sophomoric way of saying that… but cleaned it up because of the nature of this post). On the other hand, I also like to hear, and share, successes so that others can see how it’s done! Sharing just failures leads to a sense of pessimism. We all fail. And we can all rise!
  • I have hope! I have hope because of this piece of wisdom from the Bible – “Though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again….” (Proverbs 24:16).

OK, the ladies are all getting out of bed… it’s time to get ready for school so I’ve gotta wrap this up.

Today I encourage you to pray for those in leadership, and then do a self-check… how’s your integrity level?

How bad do you want it?

Right now I’m working with a young man who is preparing to be a “walk-on” for a college football team. This requires brutal workouts that exhaust both the body and the mind!

Recently he asked me for a “motivational talk” that he could listen to that would re-engage his tired body and mind!

I know how he feels! Right now I am training for my third physique show. This is a mentally and physically draining experience.

I drew on my experiences from previous show preparations and also shared two videos with him that I have found inspirational during the training process, and I thought you might find this conversation helpful too.

Here’s how it went…

Hey man!

Two years from now you will look at yourself in the mirror and say one of two things:

  • “I’m glad I did it!”
  • “I wish I would have done it.”
The decisions you make about training, diet, friendships, etc. will determine which one you say.
A life of regret usually follows on the heels of a series of poor decisions. These decisions usually look like fun… at first (spend money you don’t have, half-ass workouts, eat like crap, indiscriminate sex, little sleep, hours of thoughtless activity, etc.). At the time these decisions seem like fun. But “at the time” is always followed by “a future time” and that’s where the payoff lies.
On the other hand, a life of satisfaction and fulfillment is always preceded by a series of hard choices and painful sacrifice.
To get where you want to be you are going to have to make decisions and sacrifices that others don’t understand, aren’t strong enough to make, don’t care enough to go through the pain for. You will lose friends, miss out on short-term fun, hurt physically, and even struggle mentally while you are going through these days… but the future you long for lies on the other side of “these days.”
You are a man. You get to make your own decisions. No one is forcing you either way. People will try to influence you… but no one can make you do it… only you. You are the creator of your future. What are you going to create? Another overweight, middle-aged man who talks about what he used to be? Or will you create a bad-ass monster who enjoys what he has made through consistent hard work, and unwavering personal discipline.
Your choice man.
Here’s a couple of videos that have been helpful for me while training for shows:

Why you should stop

This weekend I stopped.

I stopped all work related activities. I completely disengaged from work and fully engaged in Nerf gun wars, Uno, sled races, reading books, taking naps, cuddling with my favorite people, and I even had the chance to slide down a snow covered hill on a saucer with Mrs. Peterson on my lap!

This weekend we spent time making memories, nurturing friendships, and doing things that “normal” life doesn’t have space for.

Many people think a “stop” is a waste of time. I used to think that. I don’t anymore.

A large part of my change in thinking has to do with a book I read a couple of years ago and am now currently re-reading… The Power of Full Engagement.

The authors of this must-read book say: “Our capacity to be fully engaged depends on our ability to periodically disengage.”

Oh man are they ever right!

I find that when I don’t disengage I become less and less engaged in the work at hand. BUT…

When I intentionally disengage I am more engaged than ever when I re-engage!

Let me give you some examples of how this works:

  • If you’re a parent and you’ve had the chance to take a night away or a weekend away from your kids… you can’t wait to get back to them! It’s like the time away (i.e. the period of disengagement) has reinvigorated you!
  • When you miss the gym for a few days… you CAN’T WAIT to get back! Smart lifters actually build down time into their training schedule. They call it “de-load week“.
  • “Amazingly” distance from your spouse for a short period of time often serves to rekindle the passion in your romance!
  • Studies consistently show that people most often get their best and most creative ideas in the shower, while driving, on the golf course, etc. in other words, our best ideas of come to us in places in which we are most disengaged!

I really can’t wait to get back into the swing of life this week! I ready to re-engage because I have disengaged!

If you have trouble disengaging, take a minute to read this journal entry from a man who was more busy than you or I will ever be, David. He had hundreds of wives, multiple children, a nation to lead, wars to fight, literature to write, and on and on and on. Read this, and note all of the references to “disengaging” that he makes…

The LORD is my shepherd; I have everything I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the dark valley of death, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You welcome me as a guest, anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever. (Psalm 23 NLT)

Well, I’ve got to get going… the kids are waking up, but I hope that you can find a chance to disengage/stop soon so that you can re-engage later with increased passion and focus!