What’s worse than having sex with your step-mom?

WHOA!!

Crazy question huh?

Well, this morning I was reading St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. I know what’s in this letter… I’ve read it dozens of times. I know that Paul is going to rebuke the church for being proud of one of their members who was having sex with his step-mom.

Do you remember that? Here’s what he says:

I can hardly believe the report about the sexual immorality going on among you—something that even pagans don’t do. I am told that a man in your church is living in sin with his stepmother. You are so proud of yourselves, but you should be mourning in sorrow and shame. And you should remove this man from your fellowship.

Even though I am not with you in person, I am with you in the Spirit. And as though I were there, I have already passed judgment on this man in the name of the Lord Jesus. You must call a meeting of the church. I will be present with you in spirit, and so will the power of our Lord Jesus. Then you must throw this man out and hand him over to Satan so that his sinful nature will be destroyed and he himself will be saved on the day the Lord returns. (1 Corinthians 5:1-5 NLT)

Now there’s a lot to catch there, but I want to direct your attention to this one thing – did you see “chapter” in which this rebuke is located? It’s about a third of the way into his letter to this young church!

Yea… it’s pretty messed up that a guy is having sex with his step-mom. It’s even worse that his church is proud of it! You’d think something like that might get addressed FIRST in Paul’s letter! But it didn’t!

Do you know what Paul tackled first?

After a nice, friendly greeting, which is instructive for pastors and church leaders – be gracious and kind… even to people who are really jacked up, Paul tackles FIRST the matter of divisions and rivalries in church caused by spiritual immaturity! 

Check this out:

Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in Christ. I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready, for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world? When one of you says, “I am a follower of Paul,” and another says, “I follow Apollos,” aren’t you acting just like people of the world? (1 Corinthians 3:1-4 NLT)

WHOA! BEFORE he addressed the crazy sex thing… he rebuked the church for being spiritually immature and divided! He rebuked them for being jealous and acting like middle-schoolers bragging about what brand of shoe they wear!

There’s something important here for all of us who call ourselves Christians…

If you are arguing and divisive… the greatest problem in your church probably isn’t the dude who is sexually weird.

If St. Paul were to write a letter to your church, my guess is he’d start by talking to you!

He’d get around to dealing with the sexual craziness, but because that’s not the worst problem, he wouldn’t start there!

Listen, if you are a Christian, please focus on building one another up; focus on creating a place where there is love and unity, encouragement and grace.

CHRISTIANS ARE NOT CURMUDGEONS!

Christians don’t do cliques.

Christians don’t do rivalry with one another!

There certainly is a place and a time for confrontation and difficult conversation, but this is all part of teamwork with the end goal of encouraging and building one another up!

So here’s the thing I’m thinking about…

If St. Paul came to my church… what is the first thing he would address? I hope it would not be cranky, divisive Christians!

Peace!

Why I stepped away from personal training

Last week I made the most difficult decision of my life thus far. I decided to step away from being a personal trainer.

For the last five years I have been a personal trainer at a place that literally transformed my life… Brutal Iron Gym.

When I first walked into that building, back in 2009, I was in a dark place spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. Through friendships, hard work, increased levels of self-control, and renewed courage and confidence I rediscovered myself.

When Rob Polenik (the owner of Brutal Iron Gym) asked me to be a trainer, and then asked me to consider competing in a bodybuilding show (in the physique division)… I didn’t know then, but he was saving my life.

When I walked into the gym I was close to walking out of ministry. I was burned out; disheartened; weak; and unhealthy.

Over the last five years I have worked with wonderful people, made incredible friendships, and rediscovered God and myself in the most unlikely of environments… surrounded by sweaty people, screaming music, and the nonstop clanking of iron.

I needed what Brutal Iron Gym gave me… strength. I needed to learn how to put a plan together and work the plan. I needed to learn how to persevere when I felt miserable. I needed to learn how to bounce back from failure. I needed to learn how to work on my weaknesses so that my strength would increase. I needed all of this… and found it at Brutal Iron Gym.

I walked in unhealthy and weak. I walk out healthy and strong. Thank you Rob. Thank you Brutal Iron Gym. Thank you to all of my friends and clients. I am different… better because of you.

This has been the hardest decision of my life. Seriously.

For the last 6-12 months I have had an “inkling” that this would happen. I ignored it… because I hated the idea.

Over the last two months I began to say it out loud – “Someday I may need to say goodbye to this chapter in my life.”

Last week God put His finger in my chest, and I knew with undeniable clarity that it was time to do what I had been slowly acknowledging. So I am doing it. After meeting with Rob and all of my clients, I determined that the end of this month (March) will close this chapter in my life. (EXCEPTION CLAUSE: I am working with two clients who are prepping for shows and I will complete my commitment to them.)

So why? Why am I leaving?

I’m not sure what you believe about God, but I believe that He creates and calls us to a purpose… a life mission. I know that my life purpose/mission is to pastor and lead in the church. In my case it is Church180.

It has taken me about ten years to fully recover from my “ministry miscarriage” (a church plant that failed to materialize). During these last years I have rediscovered strength, hope, vision, and energy, and now it’s time to engage all of those in the primary calling of my life… leading and loving the church.

I will continue to nurture friendships developed at the gym, and I will continue to work out… in other words, I’ll not be a fat pastor with no atheist friends!!! 😉

I have cried over this decision… and found deep peace in making it.

I am sad and excited! I am a little scared and a lot fired-up!

I have learned a lot from my time as a trainer… and now I’m ready to fully dive into the primary calling of my life.

To all of my friends at Brutal Iron Gym… I love you and am grateful for your input into my life. I’m better and stronger, and I know a lot more “bad songs” because of you! I love you!

To all of my friends at Church180… I love you and am excited about what God is going to do in us and through us as we line up behind Him and get to work lifting heavy things!

 

What do you mean?

This morning I was listening to the Bible on my way to the gym (thanks to The Bible app).

A phrase jumped out at me that I can’t quit thinking about:

“It’s your heart, not the dictionary, that gives meaning to your words.” (Matthew 12:34 MSG)

Here in the south we joke about one of our common phrases…

blessyourheart

Taken literally, these words (“bless your heart”) sound nice… but the heart of the speaker is something completely different.

Another example…

A few years ago I was talking with the leader of a Bible college and referred to his “minions.” I didn’t mean it harshly. I meant to refer to the people who were in his theological camp and would count him as a leader.

He took it differently! In his mind, my use of the word “minion” was a pejorative and unkind reference to his friends.

We talked about it and cleared it up… but only after he rebuked me and I blushingly looked up the meaning of the word!

In both of these instances we have words that take their shape from the meaning intended in the heart; one sounds nice but is meant to be mean, the other sounded mean but was meant to be nice.

Jesus had a caution for those who speak (that’s all of us):

“Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of Reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation.” (Matthew 12:36-37 MSG)

As I reflect on these words from Jesus, I am praying that God will fill my heart with love for people, and my mouth with words that give life to everyone with whom I come in contact.

Today I am reflecting on these words from Jesus, and this sentence from Solomon:

“The tongue has the power of life and death.” (Proverbs 18:21 NIV).

What will you do with your words today? Destroy or give birth to hope and life?

Getting back in the swing of things

I just wrapped up a podcast interview with Jennifer Ford Berry from the 29 Minute Mom.

We had a great talk about ladies, marriage, parenting, and exercise… and we did it in 29 minutes!

At the end of the podcast she pointed people to my blog! As soon as she did that I said (in my head), “OH CRAP! I haven’t posted in forever!!! I need to…

swing-of-things

So here I am… posting a blog to say “Hi” and “Welcome to my blog!”

I’ve been meaning to get back in the swing of things for a while now… but I’ve been distracted by other good things.

Today was a good time to kick this back off… so here we go!

For those of you who don’t know, you can track with me on various social media platforms:

Thanks Jennifer for inviting me on your show!

3 Ideas to get “Unstuck” spiritually

stuckI am in the middle of a conversation with someone who is “stuck” spiritually.

This person doesn’t like being stuck, but isn’t sure how to get “unstuck.”

I just sent them three ideas and thought it might be helpful for someone else too… so here they are:

Help someone who cannot return the favor

Most of the time when we are stuck, we have our head in a dark place. We’ve withdrawn and see or hear no one other than our own disheartened, discouraging voice.

The truth is there are other people… other people who may actually have it worse than you… but you’ll never know that until you get in your car and go find them.

Once you’ve found them… do something for them. Need some ideas? Here are five:

  • Go to the local homeless shelter and offer to help them for an hour.
  • Get background checked so that you can volunteer at your local public school… then go volunteer with the kids.
  • Go to your church and ask what you can do to help.
  • Look across the street and see what you can do for your neighbor.
  • Go to McDonalds and see if you can spot a hungry person… buy his/her lunch.

Read a book that will give you fresh ideas.

Too much time on Netflix, Facebook, and any other social media site will just send an avalanche of “I suck” down on your head. Seriously, “stuck” people should not be spending their time reading the faux lives of their online “friends.”

Rather than looking at other people’s lives… go make your own!

If you don’t know where to start, and your stuck so you probably don’t… pick up a book! Interact with some experts. If you’re looking for a recommendation I would be happy to suggest some to you. Just shoot me an e-mail and give me a word or two describing why you’re stuck and I’ll put together a short list of recommendations!

Finally…

Take 30 minutes to pray and write down your thoughts in a journal.

Last week I taught, at Church180, about how Jesus was less busy, but accomplished more than we ever do or will. The question we asked was, “HOW did He do that?” One part of that answer is that he regularly “withdrew for prayer”. You can see that teaching here.

By incorporating prayer into your life you create space to hear a new voice… God’s voice. The voice you are most often hearing, if you’re stuck, is your own. It’s telling you all the reasons you cannot… will not… should not… did not…. God’s voice is different. He will speak… but only to those who are ready to listen.
When you are listening… and you hear… WRITE IT DOWN!
It’s amazing how many insights I’ve had that I don’t remember BECAUSE I DIDN’T WRITE THEM DOWN! Don’t make the same mistake! Always pray with a pen and paper readily available!
So there you go… three ways to get “unstuck.”
Have you ever been “stuck”? What did you do to get “unstuck”?

Thinking about “Urgency”

I’ve been thinking a lot about urgency lately.

Here are a few unedited and non-finalized thoughts about this subject:

  • When I am urgent about something I am laser-focused on it.
  • It is almost impossible to be urgent about multiple things simultaneously.
  • Urgency in one area generally means neglect of other areas.
  • How do I live with urgency while maintaining the other areas of my life?
  • It is impossible to work with urgency and multi-task at the same time.
  • Complacency is the opposite of urgency.

I know there is more to say and think about this… and I’m going to be doing that. In the meantime, what say you about this matter of “urgency”?

Do you feel a sense of urgency in any area of your life?

Have you been able to multi-task when you feel urgent?

What other questions should I be thinking about as I process this idea?

The genesis of this line of thinking came from Craig Groeschel’s podcast called “Institutionalizing Urgency.” Check it out in the links below:

 

 

Stop worrying about your clothes

nothing-to-wearRight now I’m really busy.

This weekend I will officiate at a wedding, preach a sermon, and then carry out my pastoral duties at a funeral… the funeral of a friend.

This busy weekend comes right in the middle of a teaching series I am doing at church called, “Making Space.”

As I am preparing to teach this weekend, I am reflecting on some words spoken by Jesus. These words are incredibly appropriate for every busy person… especially people who are driven and slightly distracted!

I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?  Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. (Matthew 6:25-34 NLT)

This is certainly not a call to forgo planning, hard work, or physical well-being. What it is is a call to STOP making secondary things the primary pursuit of your life.

I’ve realized this: when you pursue the primary things, you get the secondary things thrown in. BUT when you pursue the secondary things first you may never get the primary things.

Looking back over my life, I see that I have often allowed busyness to distract me from the primary things (God, relationships, physical well-being, emotional vitality, etc.)… and the result is rarely good.

The times in my life of which I am most proud are the times when I have kept the primary things in focus and enjoyed, subsequently, the secondary things.

So as I work through this busy season in my life, I encourage you to join me in processing what takes up space in your mind:

  • Is it clothes or close friends?
  • Is it paper or people?
  • Is it your job or your God?
  • Is it primary or secondary?

Give it some thought… and then take some time to make necessary adjustments. You’ll not regret it!