Have you ever started an activity only to quit after a short time because it seemed too impossible? I’m talking anything:
Learning a new style of dance
Learning an instrument
Picking up a new job
Often times we become interested in learning something new because we have witnessed someone else performing their trade perfectly. As we watch, in the back of our minds we think, “It would be so cool to be able to do that! I think I’ll try to learn.”
The problem is, we are left in awe by people who have been doing those things for years and have learned to perfect their art. We are just beginners, and as beginners often are, we are messy, awkward, and down right not any good.
So we get frustrated and we quit.
But we have forgotten something. Most of those people who left us inspired, have been working hard at it a long time and started out just as frustrated and terrible as we currently find ourselves.
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July 9, 2013
Being in a ministry position means often times working in an office. I mean, the church gives you a workplace and they expect you to use it.
It’s really nice because it means that I have a different place to store all of my ministry related items (or other random possessions that I enjoy) and they aren’t taking up space at home.
I was actually super excited to have such a big office when we moved here almost 2 years ago. That being said, I hated working in my office. It was greyish on the top half and purple on the bottom. I’m not talking a nice purple either. It was dark and dull. Basically, I felt as if I was working in a prison cell. No window, florescent lighting, not fun.
So I changed it. It’s yellow (like the sun), green (like the outdoors), several lamps light the room, and big posters of wooded areas and the mountains. It feels so much more alive and vibrant, and it actually helps me to be more productive.
I know sometimes people do not have the option to change up their work space. You can’t exactly do some major modifications to a cubicle, or there may be other restrictions in the way.
It is so important for us to find space (and time) to be productive. We may not be able to make the time every single day, but we need to have a regular time.
Finding a space we can call our own helps us to be more productive at work, home, school, and in extra activities.
These places help to rejuvenate us. In ministry, it’s really easy to get bogged down with the expectations I have of myself as well as the expectations 100+ other people have of me. My stress would only be multiplied by a work space that was dead and uninviting.
Special Room in the House
Working on a Project
Low Lit Area
Brightly Lit Area
It could be any number of places, and it may take some trial and error to figure out just where you can be the most productive. Even if you don’t figure it out right away, keep searching.
The next thing to remember is to not be ashamed of how your operate.
It is really easy to feel ridiculous for what makes your productive.
When I’m wanting to sit down and flesh out some lesson plans I make sure that the main light is off and turn on my laps. I turn on a certain kind of music and sit on the couch in my office. It doesn’t look super professional, but it works better than anything else I’ve tried.
Sometimes I start to think about what others might think when they see me working this way.
“Oh he’s slacking off today.”
“Why doesn’t he have his light on?”
“Who works like that?”
“Hope he knows he can’t always work like that, especially when he becomes a real preacher.”
People may or may not be thinking these things but they cross my mind and there have been days I’ve allowed these thoughts to change my working atmosphere.
Don’t let that happen. Work in an environment that promotes productivity for you. The results will speak volumes about how much you have accomplished! Don’t let the words of others (or just what you think the words of others are) get in the way of you doing the best work you can.
The last thing I would say is to remove distractions. If you do work best at a computer and desk, don’t have Facebook open while writing. Seeing or hearing those notifications while trying to focus is a distraction. If your music distracts you, turn it off. Don’t let any distractions keep you from doing your best work in the time and space you have designed to do it.
Find a place to be productive and then actually be productive. It is amazing how much we can get accomplished when we set ourselves up for success.
Don’t give up.
Keep plugging away.
July 8, 2013
I’ve been avoiding myself. I’m not even completely sure why. I have no idea what has been causing this illegitimate fear. I’ve been avoiding doing something that I absolutely love to do.
I had this blog and was doing a great job at keeping it up. I worked hard to keep my ideas flowing and write (or type) them down as soon as I could so I wouldn’t forget them. I actually looked forward to sitting down at the computer and typing out my posts. It was one of my favorite activities.
I enjoyed it so much there were days I got up early just to do it!
Sometimes my posts could have been more thought out, or maybe some should have had better grammar, but I was working on the blog consistently. I was working hard at it and enjoying the challenge of putting out a new post 4 or 5 days a week.
Then I started missing days. I would miss one or two here and there, but then I started missing larger gaps. I guess some part of me was worried that if I tried to pick things back up people would think, “Oh boy, here he goes trying again. We can’t rely on him to keep this up.”
Another fear I had was people wouldn’t like what I typed. They would think it was stupid or just so basic there was really no point in reading the material. I let these fears keep me away from blogging at all.
But here I am, starting up once again. But this time is different.
You see, Jon Acuff posted on his blog about starting an adventure, and I wanted in. So I emailed my information and have become a part of a Facebook group full of people who are just as excited as I am. We all have fears to “punch in the face.” We all have uncertainty and some of us are down right confused.
But we all want to beat out average. We want to take some steps to flip the switch from average to awesome. That’s what the group is for. We are going to spend time over the next 24 days (starting July 15) encouraging and challenging each other to take risks. These risks will help us on our adventure to achieve goals that God has placed in our hearts.
The first step for me, includes getting back to the blog. So although my mission doesn’t officially start up for another week, I’m getting started right now. I’m tired of pushing it off, and for me, it was time to get moving.
I hope you find encouragement in my writing. I hope you feel motivated to move on and take that first step.
I was terrified to send that first email to become a part of this Facebook group. I had no idea what was in store, but I knew I wanted to move towards living the awesome life God has in store.
So there’s a little bit about my fear. There’s a little bit about this adventure I’m starting. And it’s all a little bit scattered and crazy (much like the thoughts running through my head).
But I’m off.
I’ve left the starting blocks.
January 2, 2013
It has been a while since I have posted anything here. But I thought I would bring in 2013 by posting about the books I read in 2012. I had set a goal to read 30 for the year but fell a bit behind. So I matched my number for last year. I have a feeling this post may get long so I am just going to start right in.
Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship and Life Together by Mark and Grace Driscoll. This was an absolutely amazing book on marriage. When it first came out all of the reviews were about the sex part. The Driscolls take an honest and biblical look at sex without being crass but it still caught people off guard. The majority of the book is on being friends in marriage and how important that is. It is an incredibly helpful book and I would highly recommend it.
No Wonder They Call Him Savior by Max Lucado. This is a beautiful collection of thoughts on Jesus. Lucado takes an honest look at Christ and dives into the deep way in which he loves us. I read through it kind of quickly but this is a book I will definitely read again. It is enriching and very moving.
Monster by Frank Peretti. Monster was my fiction book. It was captivating right from the beginning. I love a good conspiracy and this book has some. I was reading it right before bed and there were some part that I wished I had waited til daylight to read. I felt as though I was right there among the characters and the way Peretti wrapped his book up was perfect.
When Work and Family Collide by Andy Stanley. All through Bible College I heard about how to be effective in ministry. Many of the professors talked about how they had put in 60-80 hour work weeks. It was just to be expected that ministry came before everything else. Stanley took a completely different approach. He is now the preacher at a very large and thriving church in Atlanta. But he mentions, even during the start of the church he would keep himself to a 40 hour work week and would be home by the time his wife requested. He wanted to make sure his marriage and family were not suffering while the ministry was thriving. I had often felt guilty about leaving the office at 4, but this changed my perspective.
The Coming Revolution by Dr. Richard G. Lee. I really enjoyed this book. Lee takes a look at our nations past to point to what he believes is a coming revolution. I mostly enjoyed this book for a purely historical read. I love reading about history and getting a good read on our nation’s history was wonderful. It is fair to consider Lee’s warnings about a coming revolution as well.
Nearing Home by Billy Graham. In his book, Graham discusses the struggles of being old and continuing to follow Christ. Nobody ever discusses how to be a Christian after you reach a certain age. How can you serve or teach or lead others to Christ? What is expected of you when you can no longer take care of yourself and most of your friends have passed out of this life? Even though I am not in this stage of my life, it was a wonderful read as I dove into this man’s thoughts.
Toxic Charity by Robert D. Lupton. I want to start by saying I highly recommend this book to others! Lupton discusses how giving away free charity in the magnitude that we have been has actually been hurting the very people we have been trying to help. The sense of entitlement that it brings is devastating. It also end up causing some to feel like dirt because they cannot take care of their own families. It makes those who are doing the service feel great about themselves, but what about those we are helping. He comes at charity from a radically different way than I have ever heard of but I loved it!
How Do You Kill 11 Million People? by Andy Andrews. This is a very short read, only 80 pages and the font is huge but it was great! Andrews writes about how important it is to tell the truth and not succumb to other people’s lives. He uses the example of the Holocaust. How was it possible for so many to be killed the way they were? They believed a lie.
Man Alive by Patrick Morley. I wrote a review on this book earlier this year. I was very pleased with it. In our world, men are skipping out on being the men they were created to be. So many kids are growing up without dads, men abuse, tear down, or live as boys their entire lives. We can be more than that, and this book points at a few ways it can be accomplished.
Called to Controversy by Ruth Rosen. This was the first biography I read in 2012. It was spectacular. I sped through the book, completely captivated by the life of Moishe Rosen. The story of him becoming a Christian and starting and running Jews for Jesus was amazing. I would highly recommend this book!
George Washington Carver by John Perry. I guess after reading one biography I wanted to read another. I’ve been interested in George Washington Carver since about the 4th grade when I had to do a report on him. In Perry’s book, you find he contributed way more to the world than just peanut butter. He was a man of faith and worked his way up in life by working hard and doing what he believe God wanted. This is a short book and a great read.
Necessity of an Enemy by Ron Carpenter Jr. I did not particularly like this book. I think I get what he wanted to say. We have the opportunity to grow through our trials. But the way he calls evil “necessary” just rubs me the wrong way. It is like saying Satan is necessary for us to be great. That gives too much power to the enemy. The book also jumped around a lot, with the author talking about something in one chapter and then not coming back to it until several chapters later. I was not impressed.
Love Does by Bob Goff. Donald Miller promoted this book so I bought it. The book is easy to read. It is easy to follow and very easy to just fly through. Goff spends the book telling stories of his life. He tells of lessons he has learned, but mostly he writes about love. Love is not something we just think about but it is something we do. We live out love, we show it, it pours out of us. I really enjoyed this book and the message inside.
I Am America (And So Can You!) by Stephen Colbert. Colbert’s book was a bit of a break from the seriousness. It was a fun read. He takes a look at America from a comedic point of view. You can’t read this book thinking “I can’t believe he thinks this way!” The reader has to be ready for sarcasm and a lot of ridiculousness.
Fearless by Eric Blehm. I could barely put this book down. The story of Adam Brown told in this book is so moving. It is a biography written about Navy SEAL Team SIX Operator, Adam Brown. He faces so many trials in life and overcomes so much. His wife is an amazing hero in this book who was strong and stood by her husband. It was very moving and I was filled with a sense of purpose as I read and a need to work harder and do better.
What the Church Needs Now by B.J. Chitwood. It may have been written in 1973, but Chitwood’s sense of what the church needs for renewal applies greatly today. If you are in ministry, I highly recommend this book to you. Many churches are failing and this book may help us see what we need to do to get back on track.
Fatherless Generation by John Sowers. This is a short read with a big impact. Fathers are bailing out on their kids more than ever and it is leaving children to answer a lot of questions on their own. Why did my dad leave? Does he love me? What is a man supposed to be (for young boys)? What kind of man should I seek (for young girls)? It is a heart-wrenching predicament and this book discusses it.
Surfing for God by Michael John Cusick. Pornography addiction just keeps on spreading. Our culture continues to become more and more sexualized and more accepting of sex in every venue. Now, with high speed internet, porn is literally at our fingertips. Young kids (mostly, but not limited to boys) may come across porn on accident but the spark is ignited and they are curious for more. Before long the desire gets out of control. How can we battle this epidemic? This book explores some answers.
The Resolution for Men by Stephen and Alex Kendrick and Randy Alcorn. The Resolution goes along with the movie Courageous. This is yet another book on what it means to be a godly man. It is a great resource for a men’s small group. It is easy to read and raises some great topics to discuss as men work together to become who our God wants us to be.
Middle School Ministry by Mark Oestreicher and Scott Rubin. What a book! If you work with Jr. High students at all, this book is a wonderful resources! It is the most comprehensive book I have read on Jr High students and how to minister to them I have ever found. It talks about physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual development of a Jr. High student. The authors talk about pressures students face, and how to minister to them in the best way. It is a fun book (after all it is written by crazy guys who do Jr. High ministry) as well as very helpful.
America Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t by Stephen Colbert. This was another fun book to read after some heavy material. I enjoy the wit and humor of Colbert and this book did not disappoint. If you do not like Stephen Colbert, don’t read this book. If you do, go get yourself a copy.
Mondays With My Old Pastor by Jose Luis Navajo. I saw this book and knew I needed to read it. I was feeling a bit stretched out and bogged down. I was losing vision on why I do what I do. This book is about a guy who is feeling these same things and then starts to meet weekly with the old man who used to be his church’s pastor. It was so refreshing to read about the conversations they had and to see how this man, weathered by ministry and time, viewed his life. It was wonderful to see a man so devoted to his God, even after so many years. This was a great book.
Through Painted Deserts by Donald Miller. I may or may not have cheated with this one. I didn’t actually read it. I listened to the audio book. Don Miller takes the reader on a journey as he and Paul travel from Texas to Oregon. It is very conversational as he deals with questions he was having about the meaning of life and why it matters. I have always enjoyed how honest Miller is in his books and I was glad to finally read (or listen to) this one.
And there you have it! The 23 books I read in 2012. I am going to shoot for 24 this year. That will be 2 books a month and I feel it is pretty doable.
What were some of the books you read in 2012?
December 6, 2012
I saw this book was up for review on booksneeze.com and I knew immediately that I needed to receive it. I’ve recently become very aware of how much I need the presence in my life of people who have “gone before.”
There is such wisdom in those who have lived a full life and have spent time contemplating it. Reading the name of this book and what it is about, I deeply wanted to read it, and I’m glad I did.
Mondays With My Old Pastor is written by Jose Luis Navajo who is a preacher. He was feeling defeated in his ministry and even tossing around the idea of throwing in the towel. His feelings were not hidden from his wife, so she suggested he visit his old pastor. After having a vivid dream which included the old pastor encouraging him to come to the cross, he set up the first appointment.
They began to meet regularly on Mondays and the old pastor (called that because this man used to pastor the younger man but was now retired) would pour out wisdom and stories to the younger man. Navajo always felt rejuvenated and challenged after his meetings. They met together regularly until the old pastor passed away.
I read through this book with much contemplation. There are so many great lines and teachings from this older pastor. I found myself being rejuvenated and feeling as if I had been right their in their meeting.
I would highly suggest this book to anyone in the ministry. Even if you are not currently feeling like throwing in the towel, this book will be a great resource. I would also encourage the reader to find an older individual who can pour their wisdom out for you and challenge you to continue on the work of the kingdom.
October 15, 2012
Sexual addictions are very common in today’s world. This is obvious through the accessibility of pornography, TV ads, shows, movies, scandals, and the amount of books written to help battle the issue. Surfing for God by Michael Cusick is another book written about the problem of sexual addiction and how to overcome it.
Cusick goes about it in a different way. He doesn’t give a 12 step program on how to overcome the addiction. He doesn’t tell the person to work harder. The way Cusick goes about helping is very personal. He tells much of his own story. Cusick was a long time addict and he openly shares some of the lowest points he faced before he was able to overcome the hold this sin had in his life.
Some of this book discusses brain chemistry and why just “working harder” doesn’t work to overcome sexual addiction. He writes about how the brain is changed through addiction, and how powerful the chemicals in our brains can be. His conclusion is that through prayer, allowing God to circumcise your heart, focusing on who you are to become, and correct accountability, people can overcome this sin.
I really enjoyed most of this book. It can be an amazing tool to those who are currently struggling with this issue as well as to help others understand how to help people who are struggling. The way Cusick tells his stories is very helpful. It is easy to feel what he felt and to see where he was coming from, even if you have never gone as far as he had.
I was very concerned about his promoting of Centering Prayer or Contemplative Prayer. As I read his description of this kind of prayer I became very uneasy. This “praying” is very similar to the Eastern Mysticism practice of meditation. It is true that as Christians we are told to meditate on God’s word but that means to dwell on it. We focus on it as we go about our life, we let it change us. This kind of prayer is going into a quiet room and focusing on a word or phrase until you feel something. I am not comfortable with promoting this, and I believe it is very wrong.
Every other part of this book I enjoyed and believe it can be very helpful. I would encourage others to read this book, but to do so with discernment.
October 2, 2012
I don’t know anyone who likes to feel the eyes of judgment staring down at them. There is nobody I know who just enjoys putting themselves in a position where people judge their life, their actions, or even their motives.
In fact, I often hear people saying things like, “don’t judge me!” or “this is my business, don’t you worry about it.”
There is an account in the Bible about a woman who didn’t let that bother her though. Check it out in Luke 7:36-40, 44-48.
36 One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”… 44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
This woman was completely aware of her lifestyle decision. She knew by walking into this gathering she would meet judgmental eyes. She knew people would talk, spread rumors, whisper, lie, or do anything else to make her look bad.
She didn’t care.
All she care about was washing Jesus’ feet. All she wanted to do was to serve and worship the man she knew could make a difference in her life.
This is the kind of abandonment of ourselves to which Christ calls us. If we stopped worrying about what other people thought and stopped letting them rule our actions.
Sometimes people will spread lies about us. Other times they will take what we have done and make it seem bad in some way. We live in a world that values darkness. When we begin to live in the light, the world does not like it and the dark will do what it can to squelch the light.
We cannot let the perceptions of others stop us from living the life God has called us to live. Just like the woman who washed Jesus’ feet, we must worship Him, no matter who is around. Jesus forgave the woman for her sins and spoke highly of her to those around.
When we live according to what God tells us, we will be blessed, and that is worth all of the trash people may say about us in the mean time.
October 1, 2012
It is hard to believe that we are already in October. The month of September had many things happen both in and out of the blogging world for me. We will stick with what has happened in the blog today.
I wrote 16 posts during September.
That is as many posts as I had written from April all the way through August!
It is also the most amount of posts I have written in a month since starting this blog. I was very excited when I realized it.
I have been much more consistent about writing my posts than I have been in recent months and my plan is to continue that this month. I know it didn’t always work out this way, but I still plan to put up a new post Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and on Wednesday put up a link to my post on Hammer on Anvil.
My traffic to the site was actually down from last month, but this is the first month of writing consistently so I wasn’t expecting any different. Here are my top 10 posts from September.
I wrote all of these posts, except the book review, this month. I had several people start following the blog or liking my posts this month. My top liked posts were “Don’t Give Up on Others” and “Share it.”
Thank you all for continuing to visit the site and read the posts I put up. If you ever have feedback, just leave a comment and I’ll get back with you!
What was your number one post for September on your blog?
September 28, 2012
You may or may not know this about me, but sometimes I get frustrated. I mean fists clenched, jaw set, my mind can think of no good things frustrated. In these moments of complete frustration it is hard for me to think of a way out or possible solutions.
Instead of taking charge of the situation and deciding to be spurred on to change the outcome or not allow the drama in my life, all too often I just accept the situation as is and decide nothing can be done about it.
I’m guilty of feeling this way about people as well. I like to see people grow into the individuals in the community of Christ that God desires them to be. But sometimes there are set backs or temptations and people fall. Many times I am available and help those who are struggling.
However, there have been times that instead of being willing to help, I get frustrated and begin to write the people off. “Well, I guess their faith is no longer important to them.” I thought about how I have done this in the past. There is one struggle that I become aware of in someone else and I immediately begin to wonder how they could just throw out their faith.
It is so wrong of us to think or feel that way. Yes, we should be concerned when a brother or sister in the faith is struggling. We should be concerned when we see less of them than normal, or when some of their actions are changing for what seems like the worse. We should not give up on them though.
In these moments of struggle, temptation, questioning, or weakness are exactly when our brothers and sisters need us most! They need to know we are not giving up on them or just assuming they are “too far gone.”
Think of times when you have gone through the same thing and think about the people who were there for you. If there were no people there for you, think about how much of a difference that would have made.
We can’t just give up on people. They are too important. God sent His Son to this world to take away the sins of the people we are giving up on. He followed through to the death. We need to have absolute commitment and follow through as well.
My encouragement is just to not give up on others. Keep praying for them. Keep loving them.
If the person is your child, don’t give up.
If they are in your youth group, don’t give up.
Don’t give up on your neighbor
Don’t write off your sibling
Keep being there for your roommate
Whoever it is, don’t give up. Right now may be the time they need you the most.
September 27, 2012
I don’t like to look stupid. I know that may come without saying, because most people don’t like it, but I really do not like it.
When meeting people, I am often pretty quiet. I think it’s because I like to evaluate the people I am meeting. I want to hear and see what they are like before opening myself up. My mother-in-law made the comment once that she thinks I said about 3 sentences the first few times I met her.
I am beginning to realize, and maybe I’m a bit slow in this realization, that there is a lot of stuff happening in my head at any given time. I have quick thoughts, long drawn out thoughts, or a series of them all strung together. The problem is, so many times I never share them with anyone.
So I have these thoughts floating in my head; sometimes I write about them, sometimes I think about them for months, and then other times I forget them until much later.
My wife and I talked yesterday about a couple things she has been thinking about for a few months. Sharing stuff out loud helps make it so much more real. It is no longer just some abstract idea. When it comes out of our mouths it has the ability to now take form. We now have someone we can share these ideas with.
Sharing our thoughts really does make a huge difference. Sure, there are all kinds of reasons to not share. Someone may make fun of us, push back on the idea, poke holes in it, not understand, or they may tell someone else.
But some of those reactions, like the push back, may actually help our ideas to grow. We grow as individuals so much more in community with others than we ever could by ourselves. This is why it is so important to find someone with whom you can share your thoughts.
That idea you have, may just change the way you live your life. It might end up helping so many people around you, and maybe even others you don’t know. Your idea could turn out to be a blessing, or develop into a book. It may be just what someone else needs to hear.
You have no idea the power in your ideas, and you won’t begin to discover it until you share it with someone else. So find someone, and tell them what you have been thinking.