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?

 

3 ways to develop spiritual strength

photodune-7653254-muscular-man-praying-s-1024x1024Strength is something that I want in every area of my life: physical, emotional, financial, mental… and spiritual.

Mark Bell, a powerlifting coach, always says that, “Strength is never a weakness.” I’m sure that some might argue that… but I think that fundamentally he is correct. Strength is the antidote to so much pain and so many problems!

This morning I was building strength in my spiritual life by spending some time reading and reflecting on some words written by St. Paul in the Bible.

Let me show you what he wrote, and then I want to ask you three questions:

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:6-9 NLT)

So here are the three questions:

  1. What are you praying about?
  2. What are you thinking about?
  3. Who are your models?

The answers to these three questions will tell you everything you need to know about your spiritual strength. Your weakness or your strength is directly proportional to your answers.

If you pray about nothing, think about negative things, and model your life after weak people… then you’re going to be spiritually weak (and probably weak in other areas too)!

If you want to change your spiritual weakness into strength then listen to what St. Paul teaches us…

Spiritual strength is developed and sustained when we:

  • Pray about the things that worry us.
  • Think about the things that encourage and inspire us.
  • Model our lives after people who are spiritually strong.

So with this information in mind, let me ask you again:

  1. What are you praying about?
  2. What are you thinking about?
  3. Who are your models?

Some “waddup”

It has been quiet for a long time here on the blog!

While I’m not particularly happy about that… there are reasons!

Let me tell you what’s been happening in my life recently…

  • I’ve been working on a book! It’s called “First Half Parenting – Help for Parents With Kids from 1-10”. I’ll be telling you more about this in the weeks to come… but for now I am super excited as this book is getting closer to a reality!
  • Our church, Church180, is going through some huge changes! From personnel to facility… we are growing and the changes that come with that are exciting, fast, and important!
  • I had the chance last weekend to head up to New York to talk with some great people about sexuality in the church. It was a gratifying and insightful experience to be a part of that experience.
  • We’re working hard on our “Kill Debt Plan”. We can’t wait to travel to Dave Ramsey’s office and scream “WE’RE DEBT FREE” at the top of our lungs… all eight of us!!! But between now and then we are nose to the grindstone… working hard… spending little… paying off lots!!! My kids hate debt… and for that I am happy.

I’m looking forward to getting back on the blogging scene and hope you will join with me as these next few months are going to be big ones for me and, I trust, a lot of other people too!

 

You don’t need more inspiration

Seriously… sometimes the last thing you need is another inspirational quote or another inspirational talk on YouTube.

Sometimes you just need to get up and start doing the thing you’ve been wanting to do.

We lie to ourselves thinking, “I just need one more person to tell me to do it.”

We procrastinate our lives away thinking, “I’ll sign up for one more motivational seminar, and then I’ll be ready.”

Sometimes… many times what will be most inspirational is actually seeing progress… and that only happens when you start doing the work.

So, put down that book. Set down that laptop. Put down the phone and get to work.