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 We’ve withdrawn and see or hear no one other than our own disheartened, discouraging voice.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!

Making space in a packed life

Making Space1“When good things begin to happen, other good things begin to fall through the cracks.”

That is exactly what happened to the leaders of the church when it was in its early days. It’s something that happens to leaders today too. Things start going well, and then things start falling apart, and it’s often the important things that go first: spiritual vitality, relationships, physical well-being, emotional strength, mental growth, etc.

Look at this story found in the book of Acts (6:1-7) (I’m going to insert comments in bold throughout this story):

…as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent. The Greek-speaking believers complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food.

Believers were “rapidly multiplying.” That’s a good thing.

Meeting basic needs, like distributing food to the poor, is a good thing, but it was falling through the cracks because the leaders were too busy… they had no space in their lives.

When good things start falling through the cracks “rumblings of discontent” will soon follow. Sometimes those rumblings come from inside your home. Sometimes they come from inside your body. Sometimes they come from the organization you lead. 

How long it takes for them to come and from where they come are different for each person. What is always true though is that when good things get ignored the rumblings will come.

So what do we do? Look at what the Apostles did:

So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, “We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program. And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility. Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word.”

They made a decision to let go of some things. They did not STOP them from happening, but gave them over to others to execute.

Everyone liked this idea, and they chose the following: Stephen (a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit), Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas of Antioch (an earlier convert to the Jewish faith). These seven were presented to the apostles, who prayed for them as they laid their hands on them.

Look at what happened when the leaders let go of those extra responsibilities and focused on their sweet spot…

So God’s message continued to spread. The number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem, and many of the Jewish priests were converted, too.

Things went gangbusters when the leaders made space in their lives to function in and lead out of their sweetspot!

Now here’s the thing, if you’re in any kind of leadership position, you are going to be responsible for LOTS of people and details… and if you insist on handling everything you will soon run out of space in your life and the rumblings will begin.

Here’s something we talked about yesterday at Church180:

The things you hold onto will determine how far you go.

If you insist of doing everything and letting go of nothing… you will run out of space, the people around you will become discontent and unfulfilled… and you and your organization will soon flatline.
The alternative is letting some things go either by choosing to STOP doing them or HANDING THEM OFF to other people.
Making the decision to “hand off” is tough… especially if you love and feel the responsibility of your organization, but when you do hand off you will discover that there are incredibly passionate and capable people around you that can do things so well that the organization will be happier, healthier, and more vibrant than when you were trying to do it all yourself!
So are some self-evaluation questions for you (and me):
  • Are good things happening in your life? Business? Church? Organization?
  • Have you taken time to determine if other good things are slipping through the cracks as a result?
  • What do you, the leader, need to focus your energy and time on doing?
  • What do you need to stop doing?
  • What do you need to hand off to a team?
  • Are you willing to let go of some things and trust others to do them?

As you’re processing this, remember that the things you hold onto will determine how far you go!

If you are interested in hearing how I taught this story yesterday you can watch it here.

 

How to spend time with your kids

double-date-copy-2I am a busy guy. I’d bet a dollar you’re busy too.

I’m a husband to one lady and a dad to six ladies!

I am a full time pastor and a part-time personal trainer.

There are always things to do, and I make a valiant effort to get them done.

What I have learned though is that things will wait, but people won’t.

The project I’m working on will be there tomorrow… my ladies may not. If I am not available to them, they will go to places and people that are. I have a responsibility to invest into their lives… and they’re not going to wait, so I need to invest time into them now! And the same is true for you and your kids.

Because we’re so busy, how do we systematically make time to invest into our kids?

I have written about this before, but it’s worth mentioning again…

I date my daughters. Every one. Every week. (the picture I shared is of a rare double date… it was just too cute not to share!)

Right now I am not able to spend as much time on dates as I used to, but every week each girl gets a 30 minute date. Here’s how that looks:

  • Monday: 3-3:30 Ashton; 4-4:30 Lexington.
  • Tuesday: no dates
  • Wednesday: 3-3:30 Karis; 4-4:30 Reagan
  • Thursday: 3-3:30 – Riley; 4-4:30 Dallas
  • Friday night – Family night
  • Saturday – 6:30 – 9ish a.m. – The First Lady (The lovely and talented Mrs. Peterson)

These dates are not expensive; for the girls we budget $1 per date (Sherri and I spend $12 on our date). In fact, the last year or so the girls and I rarely even spend our $1! We purchased a key chain from Wendy’s that is worth one Junior Frosty every time you present it! So, for a one time purchase of $1, I get six Frosty’s a week.

What can you do with $1 and 30 minutes? Check this out:

  • Eat a Frosty and play Memory
  • Eat a Frosty and play Truth or Dare
  • Eat a Frosty and ride through the country singing songs as loud as you can
  • Eat a Frosty and tell stories
  • Skip the Frosty and go to Family Dollar to spend the $1 that is budgeted
  • Eat a Frosty and play basketball in the driveway (no one else is allowed to play with us when we are on a date)
  • Eat a Frosty and read a book together
  • Completely blow the budget and go to Wal-Mart to buy Shopkins. (Frosty is optional on this one)

I really don’t buy the excuse that says “I don’t have time/money to date my kids”. I call “baloney” on that. You can do it. Will you?

There’s another way too…

I call it “Filling in the cracks.”

My mornings start early (4 a.m.), and I usually train clients at the gym from 5-7 p.m. So both morning and evenings are full. Because I start so early, I try to be in bed by 9 p.m. There is not a lot of time for extras right now so I’ve been taking advantage of two “cracks” of time I have with “the ladies”

  • 7:30- 8 a.m. I play basketball with the middle school girls (or get a makeup tutorial from one of them) while Sherri takes the elementary school girls to school. When they leave for school I head up to my office and get to work.
  • 3:30-4 p.m. I play with the elementary school girls while Sherri is picking up the middle school girls from school. When they get home I go on my second date of the day and then head out to the gym for my evening clients.

The point is that there are “cracks” in your day when you have access to your kids! Fill those cracks! Play a game. Listen to their stories. Enter their world for a few minutes. You’ll be surprised at the treasure you will find in those cracks!

So there’s two ways to find more time with your kids:

  • Schedule a weekly date
  • Fill in the cracks

I know we’re all busy… but someday we won’t be, and when that day comes I do not want to look back with regret because I didn’t spend time with my kids.

How about you? What are some ways that you make time to spend with your kiddos?

Making space

chaotic_craftroom(DISCLAIMER: this is not a room in my house. Mrs. Peterson would skewer me if I ever posted a picture like this of a room in our house… if such a room existed.🙂 )

We just started  a new teaching series at church called “Making Space.”

As I’ve been thinking about this series and in preparation for it, Sherri and I have been working on something for the last few months… a little project that literally makes space in our home.

We’ve been getting rid of stuff! Trip after trip to Goodwill… we’re making space!

We started doing this after we started reading some books (The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, etc.)

We realized that all the stuff we had took space in our home, our minds, our calendar, our budget, and our lives… so we’ve started downsizing!

I never knew how freeing it was to get rid of stuff! Stuff like the clothes we never wore, the books we never read, the toys we never played with, the games we never utilized, and on and on and on…

All around us is stuff we never use that just takes up space.

Now that we’re getting rid of it, we spend less time organizing stuff we never use and cleaning clutter we rarely pay attention to… and it is freeing us to spend time on the things and with the people we love!

I’m no home-cleaning guru but I’m telling you what, making space in our closets, garage, and rooms is doing more than cleaning out physical spaces… it’s also cleaning up spiritual and mental space!

Have you ever stopped to wonder how much energy (spiritual, emotional, etc.) is consumed by the “stuff” you have in your space? Based on my experience, and the wisdom gleaned from the experiences of others, it’s a lot more than you might realize!

If you’re thinking about making space in your life, I would encourage you to start with the physical and see what flows out of that!

Maybe it’s time for a trip to Goodwill!

If there is a God… why does he allow evil things to happen?

exhausted.jpg

I hear this question a lot. I’ve even wrestled with the “why God?” question myself.

This morning, while reading St. James I had a thought about this matter.

Let me show you what I read and then I’ll share the thought:

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. (James 1:2-4 NLT)

So here’s what I thought…

When we ask the “Why does God let this happen?” question we make one or more assumptions:

  1. This life/world is all there is.
  2. I’m as good as I can get.

Let’s break them down.

This life/world is all there is.

The “why God” question works if this life and this world is it… beginning and end. “Why would you let my one shot at life be this awful?” is a fair question if this is all there is.

However, Christians, and other faiths, believe that this life/world is NOT all there is! There is something after this life: experiences to be had, relationships to be enjoyed, and rewards to be received. The opposite of these is true as well. In short, the Scriptures teach us that there is more after this life.

Christians live our lives in this world with the hope that this is NOT all there is! There is more, and that faith helps us navigate suffering, evil, and death. While we grieve and feel pain we are never without hope… because we know there is more.

The pain, suffering, and evil in this world is in direct correlation to the abuse of our free will (but that is a subject for another day). The good news is that regardless of what it looks like here, there is another place… another set of experiences waiting to be had… and that knowledge gives us hope.
This optimism allows us to fully enjoy the good times and courageously navigate the hard times in this world.
And now the second assumption, the one that was highlighted in St. James letter…

I’m as good as I can get.

St. James teaches us that suffering and hard times make us stronger. Anyone who goes to the gym understands this. In fact, we’ve immortalized this idea with a slogan: “No pain, no gain!”

Once again, we see that what is true in the gym is also true in life! Pain makes us stronger… at least it has the potential too if we navigate it well.

For those who say “Why God?” may I suggest that this pain may in fact be your path to a better you? Pain is the flashing light on the dashboard of our lives that finally gets our attention!

C.S. Lewis famously said:

“We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

As I was processing these thoughts this morning I spent some time journaling and ended with this note:

Suffering, pain, and even evil may actually be the doorway through which we pass into eternal life or a better life.

So, I think that both of these assumptions are wrong: this life/world is all there is, and/or  I am as good as I can be.

I believe, on the other hand that…

This life/world is NOT the end for us. There is something else… so an end here is the first step into there.

I am NOT as good as I can be. I need to get better… and then do it again which means I will need pain and suffering… often delivered in the hands of evil.

If you are in that place… suffering… St. James tells us what to do in the sentences immediately proceeding his instruction on suffering. He writes:

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. (James 1:5-8 NLT)

I hope you’re not suffering, but if you are I hope you give some thought to these two ideas, and then shoot me a note. I’d love to hear from you!