Ten things I love about Church180

I am a deeply fulfilled man. I am a pastor and a personal trainer (in addition to my other roles of man, husband, father). I absolutely love what I get to do every day.

I often tell people that “I love our church!” Today I thought it would be cool to list out some reasons why I love Church180. Here are the top ten things, in no particular order, that I love about our church:i-love-my-church---header

We don’t fake it.

I can’t stand the “Sunday morning best” that we’ve all heard about and pulled off. We put on our “Sunday morning clothes” and “Sunday morning face” and go be fake for an hour… then we get home and back to our “Monday morning self”… which looks totally different.

I love that at Church180 you can be real. No faking allowed. Of course some people still fake it… but that’s only because they haven’t realized yet that only when we quit faking will we discover the truth that God has for us and the love of the church!

There is little to no gossip.

We say this frequently from the stage, “If you are gossiping… please stop. If you cannot stop… please leave.” We mean that too. We want people to be honest about themselves. If I am honest and you start gossiping… I’ll probably not be honest with you again… and that destroys everything we are trying to create.

I rarely hear of gossip as a problem at our church… and I love that!

We aren’t scared to make changes.

From service times to leadership transitions… from stage design to building layouts… things are always changing around here. There is minimal complaint which is another reason I love this church!

People laugh a lot around here.

I can’t recall a Sunday when there wasn’t the sound of laughter ringing through the halls. Time can slip by quickly and if you’re not careful you’ll realize that “it’s been a while since I’ve laughed.” I think it’s hard to show up several weeks in a row at our church without having a laugh sneak out! I love our church for that!

People respond well to tough teaching from Scripture.

We’ve had some tough conversations over the years I’ve been here. You can look back over the series here. We’ve talked about race, sexuality, money, relationships, faith and science, etc.

People respond well to these teachings. Tough questions are asked and solid answers are sought after, and that’s another reason I love our church.

We are realizing our goal of increasing diversity (racial and generational being the two biggies).

From day one we’ve said, “We want to be a place where Sunday looks like Monday.” We’re working hard to make that a reality…and it is coming true. It is becoming common to see different ages and races worshipping together… and that is another reason I love our church!

We honor those who have gone before us while we learn from those who are coming behind us.

We know that our faith has been passed to us by “those who have gone before.” They have taught us and modeled it for us. We honor and love them. We know, however, that if the faith is to be passed to the next generation we must present it (without changing it) in a culturally relevant way… so we are continually listening to the next generation and working to present the Scriptures and our faith in a way that engages them. That’s another reason I love our church.

People are maturing in their relationship with Jesus.

This really is the most important work of the church. It is happening. Men are assuming spiritual leadership in their homes. Women are stepping up and pursuing God-given dreams. I love this! People are embracing spiritual disciplines and maturing in their faith… and I love this about our church.

We are willing to work through problems.

When two or more people get together at some point there will be misunderstandings… arguments… frustrations… etc. We expect that. BUT we also expect that Christians will work through not run from problems! I see that happen at our church… and I’m in love with that part of our church.

I can wear my Converse sneakers!

This sounds shallow… but it’s not. At our church you can come in a suit or t-shirt and shorts. It really comes back around to this… we love it when you are you. Max Lucado wrote something that I have never forgot, “God loves you just like you are, but refuses to leave you that way.” At our church we want people to be real and experience love. We also want them to grow in that love… but that only happens when they choose to be honest first. So… wear your Converse to church! #bereal

There are other things that I love about our church too, but these are some of my favorite.

How about you? What do you love about your church?

Be someone (#plantwhatyouwanttopick)

someoneHere is a sampling of the conversations I had last week with people who are experiencing tough times…

  • A man who survived multiple affairs and is working to put his marriage back together.
  • A lady who is going to die any day now.
  • A dad whose young son has cancer.
  • A man whose wife wants to leave him because he has functioned as a child when she needed a man.
  • A man who is trying to figure out the concept of boundaries.

 

My heart hurts for these men and women. As I listen to them and reflect on their stories I realize a few things:

  • Everyone needs someone who will listen to them.
  • Everyone needs hope.
  • Everyone needs instruction.
  • Everyone needs love.
  • Everyone needs someone

Whether you are trying to die well or live well, at some point you will need someone.

I hope you have someone. I hope you have multiple someones.

If you don’t, can I suggest something that can make all the difference in the world?

Be someone for someone.

Do you ever listen to anyone, or are you the one always talking?

Do you ever help anyone, or are you always the one asking for help?

Do you ever offer to pray for someone, or are you always the one asking for prayer?

If you want these things you must do/be these things! What you plant is what you will pick! If you plant isolation, you will pick loneliness. If you plant anger, you will pick anger. If you plant love… you will pick love.

The good news is that you can plant things that will be good picking later!

Jesus taught us how to do this:

“Do to others as you would like them to do to you.” (Luke 6:31 NLT)

If you want someone to be there for you… then be there for someone! In other words, plant what you want to pick!

When I listened to these stories last week I realized, some of these people have been someone for someone and now, when they need someone there is someone. Others are lonely… struggling… trying to do it alone.

I urge you to start being someone for someone today… because you never know when YOU might need someone.

#plantwhatyouwanttopick

 

4 things I would say to the younger me in the gym

Today I’m working on a project with the owner of Brutal Iron Gym. He is asking the trainers “What advice would you give the younger you in the gym?”

If I had this chance I would say these four things to me…

Remember the tortoise and the hare.

Consistency wins the day. I see this all the time as a trainer… people come in the gym and hit it hard for a few months, or even a year… then they get distracted, tired, hurt, discouraged, busy, or any other excuse… and quit showing up.

When they first start, everyone is watching them thinking… “He’s off to a great start!” “She’s going to be awesome!” Maybe he even participates in a show. Maybe she puts up big numbers quickly… but then “life happens” and before you know it she’s gone. The next time you see her (or him) you wonder “What happened?”

Then there are those people who just quietly show up and do the work every day. They aren’t necessarily blowing up Instagram with selfies… but they are changing who they are from the inside out.

Give it three years and see who has come further… the 6 month freak (aka “The Hare”) or the dude who just kept showing up (aka “The Tortoise”).

If you don’t remember the story… you have to watch this video!

If I could tell my younger gym self anything I would say “Show up. Do the work. Don’t stop.”

HINT: the best way to do this is to put the gym on the calendar! If you treat it like a meeting you will show up. If you try to “squeeze it in” it will get “squeezed out” of your busy life.

The second thing I would say, to myself…

You look and perform like what you eat.

If you eat Little Debbie’s you will look like and perform like a Little Debbie.

The biggest lesson for me these last six years has been the role of food. You can train like a maniac… but if you’re not eating right you’re not going to see or show the results!

I tell my clients all the time:

Working out gives your muscles a REASON to grow. Eating gives them the RESOURCES to grow.

If I could do it again, I would eat like a farm boy (meat, potatoes, and vegetables), drink a lot less pop (soda… or whatever you call it), and eat more meals throughout the day (5-7).

Keep learning.

Whether it’s nutrition, new exercises, improving technique, or developing mental toughness… I would never stop learning.

Every day now I set aside time to read an article or watch a video on something related to nutrition and/or training. It doesn’t have to take long. I actually do it while I am eating one of my six meals.

If you always do what you’ve always done… you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

If you’re not happy with your results… learn something new! Get a trainer! Read a book! Watch a video! Push your limits! Do something every day to keep learning!

Finally, I would say to my younger gym self…

Keep setting goals… and conquering them.

Some of my personal bests have come as a result of training for and participating in Physique Shows. I’ve done three of them to-date. In preparation for these shows, I typically cut 15-30 pounds and get shredded!

The discipline that it takes to stand on the stage and look like that is unbelievable. It is 16-20 weeks of self-denial, hard work, some tears, and lots of tough days. There’s a reason why there are hundreds of people watching and only a few on the stage… because it’s work that few are willing to do. 

BUT… after you’ve done the work and accomplished the goal, you look back and realize, “I can do really hard things!” It’s so empowering to set and accomplish really hard goals!

I would tell my young gym self to set goals, and conquer them.

Don’t just show up… throw some weight around, and go home! Throw weight around with a purpose! Eat with a purpose! Run with a purpose! Stretch with a purpose!

Your goal can be anything you want it to be… just set one… and crush it!!!

So how about you? If you could go back and tell your young gym self some things… what would they be?

 

Death and marriage

Sunday night Sherri and I sat with a couple and planned out their wedding. They were excited… and a little nervous. There was laughter and hope as we discussed the beginning of “happily ever after.”

Monday morning Sherri and I sat with a mom and her daughter and planned out the mom’s funeral. There were some tears; very little excitement; very little nervousness… just a hopeless acceptance of the inevitable.

The range of emotions within this 24 hour period was extreme. We love the couple who is getting married. We love the lady who will die soon. We celebrated and we grieved with those who were doing likewise. It reminded me of St. Paul’s instruction to us: “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).

Celebration… grief…

It is inevitable that in life you will do both.

I hope you celebrate with passion and loud laughter. Do it as often and as long as you can. That’s what the soon-to-be-married couple is doing. That’s what we did with them.

And when you must… I hope you grieve. Grieve thoroughly. Grieve completely. That’s what the soon-to-die lady and her children are doing. That’s what we did with them.

And while you are laughing and grieving with others, take a minute to contemplate this advice…

dream live.jpg

#livethelifeyouhave

The “Gut Whisper”

What if you did what everyone is telling you not to do… but your gut was telling you “is the right thing to do”?

Jesus did it. Martin Luther King Jr. did it. There are others, plenty of others, who did it too.

quote-almost-always-the-creative-dedicated-minority-has-made-the-world-better-martin-luther-king-jr-102452

Has there ever been a time that your “gut” was wrong?

In hindsight I see that some of my biggest mistakes and deepest regrets are the result of ignoring my gut. Likewise, my biggest wins are often the result of following that “gut whisper.”

It is possible that your “gut” can be wrong… but it’s not as often as you think.

The biggest obstacle to listening to your “gut” is your head… fear!

Don’t let the bean counter in your head shut down the entrepreneur in your gut!

Remember this, everything you want is on the other side of fear, and what lies over there is whispering to you… through your gut.

 

 

Don’t lose what you’ve gained

Last night I was reading the little letter that St. John wrote to a friend of his. He said something really important in this letter:

Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked so hard to achieve. (2 John verse 8)

You work hard to gain: spiritual vitality, physical strength, intellectual capacity, vibrant relationships, etc.

The crazy thing is that if you stop working… you start losing.

Most things of value are not “once secured always secured.” They must be nurtured and protected.

A huge mistake lots of people make is to work really hard to achieve a goal… and then once they achieve it they stop doing what got them there in the first place!

Some examples:

  • People compete in a bodybuilding show… after the show they gain a ton of weight… and often stop eating and lifting.
  • People go to church because their life is falling apart… it starts to get better… they quit going to church.
  • People pay attention to their marriage because divorce is imminent… it gets better… they decrease their intensity.

If you want to get it… you’ve got to work hard for it.

If you want to keep it… you’ve got to continue to nurture and protect it!

I urge you to look around you. Who/what do you love? Who/what have you worked hard to achieve? Then ask yourself, “If I keep doing what I’m doing will I keep/grow this thing I love so much?”

#dothework

Get uncomfortable

comfort-magicI’m 41 years old.

I like to be comfortable. Everyone does.

What I have realized though is that what is comfortable for me is rarely good for me in the long run.

What is comfortable is a box of Little Debbies and a Netflix binge. What is comfortable is sleeping in… spending as much money as I want whenever I want… saying everything that comes to mind… skipping the gym… not studying my Bible or reading good books… etc.

Yes, when I read that list of things I realize that my tendency is to be a sluggard. I work. I like to work; but if I only did what was comfortable I would work much less on things that are much less meaningful. I’m guessing you would too.

I realize something else…

As I get older there are fewer things that make me comfortable AND I love those fewer things more!

The problem here is that if I allow myself to only do those things atrophy will set in: physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, and relational atrophy. I’m not okay with that.

What makes me (and you) stronger is resistance… discomfort! The truth is that if you are not regularly uncomfortable then you are not growing… and if you are not growing then you are diminishing (because nothing is static).

So here’s the question: What are you currently doing that is making you uncomfortable?

  • What books are you reading that are stretching your mental capacity?
  • What are you doing with your exercise and eating that are making you uncomfortable… but better?
  • What risks have you taken lately that have pushed the envelope?
  • Have you had a difficult conversation lately? One that you started with a lump in your throat, sweaty hands, and a dry mouth? Tim Ferris said that “the level of success in our lives is directly proportional the number of difficult conversations we are willing to have.” Are you having them?

Look… you can play it safe and choose comfort for the rest of your life. That will result in a weaker, smaller life that is impoverished and boring.

OR, you can move into the discomfort zone. This is where growth happens!

Right now I’m working on an experiment in my life that is moving me into the discomfort zone. I’m calling it “Six Weeks of Awesomeness.”

I have identified a total of six actions I want to execute and/or six habits I want to establish by the end of six weeks. Some things require daily attention (habits), and some things require a block of time on the calendar (actions). The truth is that all of these things are a little out of my comfort zone… none of them makes me extremely comfortable… but all of them will make me a better man when they are completed and/or established as routines in my life.

Does that sound like something you know you should do? How about joining me?

If you decide not to do”Six Weeks of Awesomeness”, then at least consider this question:

What are YOU going to do to move out of your comfort zone and into a place of discomfort and growth?