Friday, January 31, 2014

Get Ready

If you stay ready you don't have to get ready. Russell Wilson

I have dreams for my future. There are things that I want to accomplish, places that I want to go, personal changes that I want to make, and a legacy that I want to build. I have ambitions that are fueled by my personality, but most importantly by God's calling on my life. 

I have confidence that God will bring me into the right future circumstance at the right time if I will be obediently faithful in the present. I won't just accidentally fall into an opportunity for growth and increased impact, but need to prepare for that moment now. My prayers, devoted study, careful meditation, and daily character reshaping will create an avenue for God to prepare me for what lies ahead. 

Opportunity will knock and I don't want to miss it because I wasn't ready to answer.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Making Adjustments

"Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face."  Mike Tyson 

In his prime, Mike Tyson was arguably the most powerful boxer of all time. His heavyweight fights didn't last long as he decimated his opponents in record time. Opposing boxers would claim that they had the strategy to defeat him and then would quickly be knocked out. His attack was devastating to almost all planned maneuvers.

I like to plan ahead, but can attest to the fact that even the most carefully thought-out plans don't always happen like we anticipated. There will be moments in life where we feel as if we have been hit in the face and find that our strategies won't work. This may take the form of a devastating family death, a terminal diagnosis, an unexpected job loss, or the deterioration of a relationship. All of these are major life events that derail our well laid plans and expectations for our future. You are now left with two options: be knocked flat and be unable to carry on or resolve to adjust your plan and keep swinging. 

The punches are coming and we need to find the inner strength to keep fighting back.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Counting Down

I think about the fact that Jesus had a radical effect on the world during His earthly ministry and managed to accomplish that in only three years. He obviously had the benefit of divine insight, but that only led Him to carefully leverage every moment that He had over that three year period. He didn't waste opportunities or conversations, but was intentional in everything that He did.

I don't have that same insight, but I wonder how differently I would act if I knew that I only had three years:

  • To build a successful church
  • Set up financial security
  • Leave a legacy as a parent
  • Solidify my healthy marriage
  • Impact family/friends who aren't following Christ
  • Influence a community

What if you only had three years to create a lasting legacy for your family and community? What would we have to change right now to have that sense of urgency and focus? Imagine how much greater our impact would be if we emphasized the value of each moment instead of letting them pass us by.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Never Seen

And the man did it--got up, grabbed his stretcher, and walked out, with everyone there watching him. They rubbed their eyes, incredulous--and then praised God, saying, "We've never seen anything like this!"       Mark 2:12

God promises that if we will faithfully trust and seek Him with our prayers that we will see things that are beyond our imagination. My personal & ministry experience contains enough evidence for that to be true:
  • Cancer healed (in multiple people)
  • Addictions beaten (alcohol, pornography, drugs)
  • Passionate worship (in circumstances where it most unexpected)
  • Marriages healed (when they seemed destined to fail)
  • Suicide attempt overcome (when depression seemed to have too strong of a grip)
  • New, beautiful marriages made from broken pasts (genuine Christ-like love from people who had lost hope)
  • Me as a pastor (knowing where I've come from & my many faults)
  • Churches growing exponentially (while they are closing by thousands in other places)
  • Ridiculous generosity (from the faithful hearts of people with little to share)
God isn't done showing us things we've never seen if we are ready to keep asking to see them. Will we have enough faith to believe He is able and willing?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Moment of Action

"Sure the fight was fixed. I fixed it with a right hand." 
George Foreman

There comes a times when people of vision have to take action. This doesn't negate the need for prayer and careful consideration of our options, but instead calls us to do something when the time is right. We can't sit on the sidelines and hope that things will get better. If we want to see situations improved we have to be willing to be actively engaged and do what we can.

Will you commit yourself to doing what is necessary and within your power to win? That deliberate confidence is often the difference maker between success and failure.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Wasting Away

Atrophy (noun): degeneration, decline, or decrease, as from disuse; wasting away

I've seen the effects of atrophy up close. In athletic training we would work with athletes returning from broken bones and periods of immobility who had to work to rebuild muscle tissue. In ministry I have witnessed people who have neglected important disciplines long enough to forget how to do what used to be instinct. Both areas represent an important fact for all of us: if you don't use something you will lose it. It may not be gone forever, but it will take some work to get back to a comparable state. This is a life principle that applies to physical activity, spiritual disciplines, relationships, and overall positive life habits.

If we want to avoid a personal regression we can't ignore the practices that brought us to a place of growth. Rest when it's necessary, but be consistent in doing the things that bring good health to all parts of your life. Nothing healthy was ever achieved by wasting away.

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Tale of Success

There are many successful leaders that I look up to. I admire the organizations that they lead and the scope of their influence. I will even admit to a bit of covetous curiosity as I see what they accomplish and the impact they are able to have through their efforts. I admire their innovation and how it appears that so much of what they do brings tangible, positive results. 

There is nothing wrong with appreciating what these leaders are doing, but if I only pay homage to their current level of visible success I am neglecting the hard work that got them to this point. No one who is prosperous (financially or relationally) reached that level without enduring hardships, learning from failure, and persevering through tough times. A happy marriage, a thriving church, a profitable business, an influential mentor, and a winning coach all have definable successes. They each also have stories of striving through difficulties to be where they are today. 

Admire and respect what you see in front of you in the present, but understand that the hard lessons of the past were essential in the process. When you are seeking this same level of prosperity make sure you are ready to endure the tough trials that make it a reality.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Pathway Predicament

Those who do not conform will one day realize that the path of doing the right thing has diverged from the path of success, and then they must decide which path they will follow through life. Robert Coram

There will be moments in our life when we are faced with a crucial, character-shaping decision. It will be an opportunity to betray our values for a chance at success or the satisfaction of a base desire. In that moment we will determine whether or not we will sacrifice our character for advancement, temporary pleasure, or ill-gotten gain. The pathway we choose will reveal the depth of our integrity and what we hold to be most important. While we can eventually recover from the effects of a poor choice, the process of rebuilding our reputation can take longer than the perceived benefit of our immediate reaction.

It helps if we know the quality of person we want to become and keep our vision fixed on choosing the pathway that leads in that direction. Don't allow the moment to overwhelm the path to your preferred future.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


There reaches a point in every professional athletic season when it's apparent that some teams are not going to make the post season. It's in that moment that a decision has to be made by each player on that team. They can choose to continue working hard in preparation even though their ultimate goal cannot be reached or take the option of going through the motions and doing just enough to collect a paycheck. Either decision will reveal the depth of character of a person and their true motivation for their profession. Continuing to work with intense focus without immediate reward will often reveal more about a person than their performance in success.

How do you perform when it seems like a season is lost? Do you maintain the same focus when immediate rewards are not as evident? A leader of integrity will commit consistent energy and effort in positive and negative circumstances. Perseverance in adversity will strengthen and reveal our character.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Calling someone subversive doesn't sound like a positive description--certainly not one that should identify a pastor or a Christ follower. It instantly makes you think of someone who abandons teamwork and discards unity. It brings to mind someone that can't be trusted because they aren't working towards the same goal as everyone else. How does our viewpoint change if we realize how subversive the message of Christ really is? What if our understanding of the word is skewed?

Understanding that we are called to be subversive as a Christ follower requires an incredible shift in our thinking. We have to recognize that we are not called to blindly follow and agree to a worldly system that is in opposition to God's direction. Jesus himself came to work against an established system of religion and government. At the same time He brought about a new covenant that changed everything we thought we knew about a relationship with God. He was subversive in a peaceful way that is still changing a world of hate through deep actions of love. 

Don't rebel against the authority God has placed over you, but instead work to see God's system of love & compassion overtake what the world offers. Refuse to accept methods and a mindset that works in opposition to God's plan for influencing the world. Be zealous in your efforts to create change but work to do so through in actions of peace and confidence in our ability to overcome through Christ. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Be Brave

A friend of mine used the word "brave" to describe Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. today. While I am in complete agreement, I will admit that it isn't the first word that I think of to describe him even though it should be. While Dr. King was a passionate Christ follower who desired equality for all people, it certainly took a substantial amount of courage to stand so firmly in the face of adversity. His continuing example of fortitude can be seen in many different people:
  • A single mother who works multiple jobs amidst personal sacrifice to provide for her children
  • A couple who has just received a cancer diagnosis and begins the process of treatment and recovery
  • A teacher who spends personal money to help her students when they don't have the resources to help themselves
  • Pastors & churches willing to forge a partnership to reach a community regardless of differences in worship style and ethnic background
  • Friends that are willing to speak the truth in love even when that truth is hard to receive
  • Those that are unwilling to accept injustice as "that's the way it's always been here" and strive to do something about it
  • A recent widower who chooses to use his time to invest in local schoolchildren
  • A young man who seeks out a positive role model when he hasn't had one to follow in his own family
  • Parents that pray fervently for their children and strive to teach them how to choose to follow God's path for their own lives when the rest of the world doesn't always understand their decisions
  • Pursuing change for the sake of righting wrongs even if it makes key influential people uncomfortable
  • A church that reacts with genuine compassion for the LGBT community, victims of domestic violence, drug addicts, the poor, and those that are incapable of helping themselves
  • People who give up the comforts of home to serve in the mission field--both domestically & internationally.
Modeling bravery and doing the right thing are very closely associated with each other. They combine to create a legacy that is God-honoring and worthy of being followed. I am grateful for Dr. King and others whose names we will never know that we were willing to live a life of courage.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Best

I believe that 2014 is the most important year of my life. I don't have any special insight or prophetic vision for the future that guarantees that, but I still believe it to be so. This is my most important year to become more mature as a follower of Christ, to increase my devotion to my wife & children, and to become a more effective leader and pastor. This year holds tremendous promise and potential for the greatest interaction with God that I have experienced to this point in my life. I can accomplish more than I ever have before and see my faith progress in greater ways as I increase my discipline and devotion to what matters most.

There is nothing magical about 2014 other than the fact that it is the year that I have to work with. I won't ever get to repeat this year and once these specific moments have passed they are gone forever. It is the most important year because it's the one that I have. Approaching this year with that attitude guarantees that I won't casually pass through opportunities for personal growth. It helps me stay focused on the power of the moment and the seize the potential God places in front of me.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Appetite for Destruction

I have a voracious appetite. I enjoy eating and can eat more food than is wise for me to eat in one sitting.
When my appetite is out of control it results in very poor health and eventually in my own self-disgust. I recognize that this isn't just directed at my dietary habits, but is reflective of my personality as well.

I can throw myself into career projects and find that I neglect other important parts of my life. I can become enamored with a potential idea and spend ridiculous amounts of time developing the next steps. I can immerse myself in a series of books that capture my attention and shut out other responsibilities that warrant my attention. I've discovered that this can also be done in a positive light when I am being disciplined in the right areas. My "all-in" personality has the potential to be destructive or constructive depending on my focus. I have had to learn to be cautiously aware of where my appetites are directed or deal with the consequences of energy focused in an unhealthy direction.

God understands this about us. This is why He warns us in 1 John 2:16-17: "Practically everything that goes on in the world--wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important--has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out--but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity."

Is your appetite out of control? Are you able to recognize when it is centered in areas that should be left alone or handled with caution? Who do you allow to speak into your life in these moments to help you regain focus? An unrestricted appetite can be catastrophic to our health and prevent us from focusing on our relationship with God. We have to realize when that happens and take corrective measures to save us from ourselves.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Shared Investment

I had a great conversation with a good friend this morning. We connect on a regular basis and share life together via the convenience of FaceTime. We talk about our personal lives, our passion & vision for ministry, and seeking God's will for our future. We are able to provide accountability, encouragement, and prayer for each other as we both try to stay focused on what matters most and how to stay under God's blessing. It's a very important relationship for us both as we see how God brought us together and formed a friendship that is pushing us to grow closer to Christ.

As we share in this journey of life we are able to impact each other in very positive ways. I don't devalue the opportunity that I have each day to influence my family, but I am also grateful for the people that God brings into my life for the sake of impact as well. Not only do I have a chance to make a difference in their life, but they are also helping to shape me. I find deep satisfaction in this process of sharing and can see how hundreds of people have been part of the forging of my character. I find equal satisfaction pleasure in seeing how my life has helped others as well. Working together in a mutually invested community that cares deeply for each other is the way that God intended for us to thrive.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Changing View

It's amazing to me how the passage of time can change your point of view. Events that once seemed monumental are no longer as significant and circumstances that seemed insurmountable are easily forgotten. Even our perception of an environment can be radically altered with a shift of priorities and perspective.

My wife and I just experienced this today. We looked at a potential house for us to move to after our current lease is up-a house that we looked at a little over two years ago. I distinctly remember that we both were very certain that this house would be too small for us and would not work at all for our family. It was very interesting today as we walked through it and become excited about the potential. While it's not perfect (what is?) we could see our family there and quickly imagined how to arrange the space to work for our family.

We both laughed as we talked about our views shifting in the last two years. It has been a process of embracing minimalism and reorganizing what matters most to us. There are now certain things that we are unwilling to use our resources on because of our desire to use them in other places. For us it's a sign of maturity and a realignment of values that brought about this change. It's a change in vision that God is bringing about as He continues to prepare us for our future.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


"Insecurity makes you do things that aren't good." Bill Romanowski

I hadn't ever thought of it in that way before, but when I heard this quote on the radio I realized how true it was. He was describing the actions of Alex Rodriguez who is currently suspended for the entire 2014 baseball season for steroid issues. Bill was asked what he thought about the situation and responded with that simple, insightful statement. 

When we are unsure of our own identity and unable to accurately assess ourselves, we struggle with insecurity. While I know very few people who don't have issues with it in some way, it can become an impetus for stupidity when it is uncontrolled. It can lead you to:

  • Seek affection from someone that isn't your spouse
  • Cheat to get ahead at work
  • Constantly speak poorly about other people
  • Disregard other people's feelings for personal satisfaction
  • Abandon all principles of character to create an illusion of confidence
  • Cling to a lie(s) for so long that you've convinced yourself it's the truth
  • Destroy personal relationships-even those that want to help you

We all battle issues with insecurity on some level. The big question is whether you will admit it and work to create a positive, accurate self image or continue to spiral downwards in a destructive cycle of blame and hurt. It's best to realize it before the damage is too extensive and you are unable to see the truth for yourself.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Evaluate the Cost

To be successful at things that are important to you, sacrifices will have to be made. Losing weight
won't happen without a sacrifice in eating habits and time spent in exercise. Career advancement requires giving up personal time to focus on education and networking. Intentional family time decreases time invested in personal hobbies and at work. Saving for a new car will eliminate regular  disposable monthly income and impulse spending. Each important goal will have a corresponding cost that must be paid to see fulfillment.

Anything that we do of value will draw energy, focus, and resources from something else to be accomplished successfully. Before undertaking this endeavor be prepared for the cost that comes with it. It's incredibly discouraging to discover the unexpected high price of growth halfway through and even more deflating to find out you aren't willing to pay it.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Reasons Not To

Most people have something in their life that they want to change. Whether it's physical, lifestyle,
career, or circumstances there are areas of dissatisfaction and a desire for something better. Unfortunately, I see more people who are still searching for change and haven't done anything to make it a reality. I don't have all the answers, but I see several common factors that keep transformation from happening.

  • Low level of discontentment: people are not fed up enough with their current circumstances to work towards change; their personal level of desperation isn't high enough to motivate them
  • Laziness: either afraid of the hard work that is necessary to see change or just not willing to put in the sweat equity to see a difference
  • Uneducated: might be ready for a change, but don't know what direction to turn to make that difference
  • Fear: having genuine fear of what life will be like once things are different & being unwilling to pull the trigger
  • Slow pace of change: attempting change and then becoming frustrated when it doesn't happen as quickly as we would like
I can identify with each of these in some way and have used them as reasons not to pursue life change. They can all be addressed (in some fashion) by developing discipline and working to eliminate these potential excuses. As a former high school teacher of mine used to say, "Excuses are the crutches that weak people lean upon." I would say that excuses are the crutches that inhibit the potential for positive life transformation. Refuse to accept them as reality and move forward. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Guarded-Part 2

Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:23

What things do we need to protect our hearts from? We each have areas of personal sin that cause us more difficulty than it does for someone else. There is still a root of sin that has the potential to damage each of us if we are not careful. We have to learn what we need to guard against so that we can be successful in our protection. What do we need to guard against?

  • Gossip: needless conversation about others that is not encouraging or uplifting
  • Lust: fixating (even briefly) on others & allowing your mind
  • Envy: becoming so desirous of someone else & their status/possessions/abilities
  • Pride: giving ourselves the credit instead of honoring God
  • Apathy: resigning ourselves to not caring 
  • Superiority: a hardening of the heart as we elevate ourselves above others
  • Self-worship: seeking our own satisfaction instead of looking to honor God

Determining our areas of vulnerability and developing a plan of protection will help us be successful in guarding our hearts. We may find that that old adage is true: sometimes the best offense is a good defense.

Saturday, January 11, 2014


Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:23

The heart is our most vital organ. While we can live (for a while anyway) with any other organ malfunctioning, we won't survive if our heart doesn't work. All other bodily functions are dependent on the heart and its ability to pump blood. Physically, our rib cage protects the heart from incidental & intentional damage by deflecting a blow that could potentially kill us. Our bodies are intentionally designed with this bony shield in place to keep our hearts protected.

On a spiritual level the heart is also where all of our emotions and desires flow from. It is what drives us to take action, to pursue relationships, change careers, and be passionate about making a difference. Our heart is the center of who we are and it fuels all other things--both healthy & unhealthy. What do we use to protect our heart spiritually? What barriers do we put up that keep us away from harmful thoughts & actions?

  • Accountability partners: allowing other people the right to speak truth and help us stay focused
  • Honest communication with our spouse: sharing struggles & working together in love
  • Daily prayer & confession of sin: constantly asking God to cleanse & heal our heart
  • Internet filters & reporting software: practical tools that will help us avoid potential pitfalls
  • Avoidance of tempting places & people: learning new behaviors and avoiding old ones
  • Consistent spiritual disciplines: practicing the habits of the Christian faith to maintain our commitment

Guarding your heart isn't a passive activity, but something we have to earnestly & diligently pursue. Our heart is valuable enough that the effort is worth it.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Sent With Power

The LORD turned to him and said, "Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you? Judges 6:14

I've known too many people who are clearly jealous of other leaders. They spend most of their time talking about the abilities that they wish they had, the experience that they are lacking, and the impossibility of the challenges in front of them. They become paralyzed by their perception of what they don't have instead of seeking success with what they possess. 

God makes the formula fairly clear for godly leaders to be successful. We are called to use the talents that we are blessed with and move forward to achieve this vision even if it seems overwhelming. Our confidence is in our submission to God's power to fulfill the mission. No matter how daunting the challenge in front of us might seem, He is asking us to take the abilities that we possess and be obedient to His direction. God is the one that will make up the difference between our current competencies and what is necessary to see the task completed. We just need to trust Him to cover that gap and bring all of what we have. God's strength and power combined with our complete submission will deliver almost unbelievable results.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Not Yet

The angel of the LORD came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, 
"The LORD is with you, mighty warrior."  Judges 6:11-12

This was far from the truth as Gideon hadn't fought for anything yet. He was more well known for being an inconsequential member of a small tribe of people. God chose to call him by a title that wasn't close to the truth--it wasn't his present reality. 

One of the unique things about God is that He speaks what is possible when He calls us. As difficult as it may be to believe in that moment we have to trust that God can bring it to fruition through our faithful obedience. If we are listening for His call, we then have the opportunity to take the risk of allowing God to make these words come true. We take a leap of faith and believe that what might seem impossible is very possible with God.

God sees us as we are going to be and calls us to follow that future. He's not sharing an impossible dream and hoping it might come true. Listen for His voice and then follow where He leads no matter how ridiculous it might sound. You might be surprised at what God sees in you and shapes into a new reality.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Uncomfortable Fit

Have you ever been too big for your britches? 

In my adult life I have spent far too much time playing a game with fluctuating body weight. I let my good
eating and exercise habits go until I am uncomfortable then get disgusted with myself and switch back the other direction. It's been an up-and-down adventure for years. The turning point always comes when my waistline expands so much that it's extremely uncomfortable because I've literally become "too big for my britches." When that happens it becomes difficult to breathe, I feel incredibly unhealthy, and I make the people around me miserable as my own self-image suffers. The only way to make a change is to become humble enough to recognize the habits that led me to this point and discover the discipline to create positive life patterns that will decrease my waistline.

Of course the same effects are true when my pride gets out of control and I act like I'm "too big for my britches." I make it hard for people around me to breathe as I suck all the energy and positive momentum out of the room. I am emotionally, mentally, and spiritually unhealthy. My surging pride makes the people around me miserable as the focus becomes centered entirely on my own issues & ambitions. Sadly, it often takes a radical event to see the reality of prideful actions and the damage that's being caused. The remedy is very similar the physical one as well: humility that helps me to recognize the habits that have led me to this point and the discipline to create life patterns that will shift focus to God and others.

Neither of these realizations (and the process that follows) are enjoyable, but the derived benefit from lasting change is worth the effort.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


What do I have to lose?
We often ask this question when we are thinking about taking a risk. We ask it in a passing fashion without really stopping to answer the question, but cursorily dismissing the possible risks and simply forging ahead. I'm not opposed to risk taking (in fact, it's the only way to see truly great things happen) but there is wisdom in stopping to ask what we could potentially lose with this choice. Are we really taking a leap of faith that will bring growth & benefit or are we simply pursuing selfish ambition & satisfaction?

With some decisions, we can lose everything that matters to us:
  • Financial stability
  • Our marriages
  • The respect of our children
  • Trust
  • Confidence in our faith
  • The right to speak with wisdom
  • The right to lead
Be wise in your decision-making. Don't let people influence you who don't have the same things to lose that you do. Make sure that God is the one guiding you to take a risk of faith. Understand that there will be consequences for all decisions (both good and bad) and be sure you're ready to face them as a result of your choice. Know what it is that you have to lose & make the right move before taking the leap. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Showing Compassion

I've got a good friend who tells people that he doesn't have the gift of mercy. Since I have seen him in multiple interactions with people, I can attest to the fact that he is indeed a very compassionate person and cares deeply for others. The real truth is that he doesn't have patience for foolish people who are unwilling to change.

I believe that it's vital for us to show compassion to people around us in need. We should eagerly seek to bring blessing when God gives us the opportunity to extend a helping hand. I believe in giving people multiple chances because after all, isn't that what God does for each of us? I also believe that God doesn't want us to blindly tolerate foolishness. We have to have the wisdom to recognize when the time is right to change our approach and make the best use of what we have. Foolishness never decreases the amount of compassion that we have for people, but it does call us to be judicious in how we approach helping them. The desire for extending God's kindness doesn't change, but there are times when the methods by which we provide help need to be adjusted.

Being willing to take a "tough love" approach might actually be a greater act of compassion than it appears to be on the surface. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Pleasing People

I was driving to Macon today and listening to the Bengals vs. Chargers football playoff game on the radio. In a span of five minutes there were two plays that had to be reviewed by instant replay. One of them was in favor of the hometown Bengals while the other was for their opponent. Even through the radio, I could hear the two different reactions from the crowd. They cheered loudly when the outcome benefitted them and quickly rained down boos when it went against them. Their reaction didn't change the referee's decision, but he simply stated the outcome and moved on.

When you are a leader there will be times when your decisions are well received and others when it is less than popular. The key to great leadership is to be consistent in adhering to the vision and not wavering based solely on people's reactions. Not every decision you make will be met with cheers, but that doesn't change a leader's responsibility to make the best choice with integrity. Being consumed with people pleasing leaves very little time for vision and growth. A healthy leader will always be concerned with the people they are leading, but their focus will always be on making the right decision even if it isn't well received.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Left Behind

I have vivid memories of being chosen last as an elementary kid in all team sports. I was a geeky, poorly dressed, nonathletic child who didn't stumble into athleticism until I was older. I don't know that anyone was being intentionally cruel, but it is still unpleasant when you are the one the last team is stuck with. It quickly diminishes your self-esteem and deflates your enthusiasm for being involved.

Much like many other childhood experiences,  the effects of this can be noticed in adulthood. The damaged perceptions from seemingly innocuous events will carry over into the rest of life even if we don't recognize the root of the damage. The effects of my own experiences could steer me in one of two disastrous directions: resigning myself to being left out and falsely believing that I am a person without value or worth or working so hard to overcome this that my personality becomes a huge monster that damages anyone in the vicinity. Sadly, through my own choices I've seen both of these in action. The good news is that God's version of our story doesn't end here.

I am ridiculously grateful that when God redeems and restores us it's not just from our own sinful choices, but also from our brokenness. He is ready to overcome emotional scarring and let us see the great value we have in His eyes. God didn't "settle" for us, but chose us first. There was no obligation on His part, but only genuine love for His creation. Grasping that truth is enough to overcome any event in our past. Repeat this mantra of healing often and allow it to rewrite God's promises over the story of our broken woundedness.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Visual Aid

As I continue to refine my thoughts on the man that I want to be at the end of this year I am doing a lot of writing. I find that writing helps me to clarify my thoughts and flesh out the details of what I am pursuing. Throughout the year I can refer back to these written objectives, refine them as needed, and mark my progress. The visual of this is important for me to maintain focus and momentum.

I believe this is important for all true change. We need to be able to articulate the vision for our future and then have it readily accessible to us. This picture of our preferred future will encourage us to see our small steps of success and serve as an impetus to stay focused when we struggle to keep moving forward. The visual reminder is key to experiencing lasting transformation.

Thursday, January 2, 2014


A new year holds the promise of doing things differently. It speaks of the potential of being someone different and not being held captive by old patterns of thought and behavior. It is the anticipation of an unwritten story that we have the opportunity to craft out of our discipline and desires. It offers hope that we won't have to marked by the past year, but can change that nature of our character through God's divine power.

It's the idea of a new beginning that is so attractive to each of us. Will we trust God enough in 2014 to see it become a reality? Will we seek the vision of a preferred future and match it with daily decision making and perseverance so it comes to fruition? Will we trust that God's definition of "new" is richer than our own?

We won't be transformed at the end of this year if we only talk about it or write it down. Start with crafting the vision for improvement, develop a plan for action, pray diligently as if it will only happen through God's power, and work as if the outcome depends on you.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Surrender to Win

I am still processing all that I want to accomplish and how I want to grow in 2014. I know that there are others in this same position of seeking positive change & establishing new habits. I am also woefully aware of my past failings in this arena and want to make sure that I don't fall short again this year. As I meditate on what I hope to see take place, I realize that my best chance of success actually comes from my willingness to surrender. I don't mean that I should give up, but that I should surrender myself to God's will, direction, and power. It's in my desire to cede control to Him that I can truly be able to find the consistent success that I am searching for. This doesn't mean that I will sit back and do nothing to work towards my objectives, but that it will be fueled by the Perfect One who never changes.

I offer this simple prayer below as a help to me (and others) in an effort to surrender:

Lord Jesus, I need You in my life now more than I ever have. I have very little joy, peace, and passion in my life. I confess that I have been trying to have the best of both worlds, that I have been double minded, and that I have been seeking the God I have wanted and not the God who is. I am so sorry, and I repent. Please forgive me. Thank You for loving me so much that You would die for all my sins so that I can have eternal life. Make me into the kind of man I've been striving to be. Make me into the man I know that I can be with the power of Your Holy Spirit. Create the change in me that needs to take place so that I can commit my life completely to You. I pray this in Your name, Jesus, and for Your glory. Amen.*

*This prayer is adapted from Patrick Morley's book, How God Makes Men