Overwhelmed Part 3: Do Nothing

If you haven't read parts 1 and 2 of this series on being overwhelmed, I encourage you to go back and read them.   Let me preface this by saying these are simple tips on how I help deal with stress in my own life.  This is not a replacement for getting real professional help if that is needed.  If your stress has reached such a high level that you are unable to manage, I cannot recommend enough that you seek professional counseling from a licensed therapist or counselor.  

With that said this is my final tip on how to deal with stress.  When my life gets busy and I feel overwhelmed I have learned that sometimes what I really need to do is NOTHING. I need to REST. The Biblical practice of rest is so important to our mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health.

There are times when we need to escape from work and people.  I need to get somewhere by myself and do NOTHING.  I like to sit on my porch and relax in my zero gravity chair, listen to music or a podcast, and relax.  I often fall asleep.  I turn off work, facebook, and all other distractions and just melt into my chair.  

Sometimes my NOTHING is going to play golf.  I know this is crazy but even though golf is one the most frustrating sports ever created, I can actually relax while hitting that little white ball around.  I don't think about other stuff I have to do, tasks that need to be done, or any of my stress. 

It is a perfect escape and that is what you need when you are stressed.  Perhaps for you, it is some other activity. Find what works for you.  

My recommendation to those of you feeling overwhelmed is to FIND your NOTHING.  What is that thing that will completely take you away from your stress? What is the activity or place that helps you relax and let go of your anxieties? 

GO THERE. DO THAT. 

As you do that activity or go to that place, pray and ask God to help take your anxieties from you.  Lay them at his feet.  

Another thing that goes with doing nothing, is that sometimes what we really need is to take a vacation or have extended days off.  It is important that we plan this into our schedule and consider our need for time off.  Working tirelessly without time off is very dangerous and actually makes us less productive.  TAKE TIME OFF. 

I hope this helps friends.  Enjoy your weekend.  

As always, Love MORE and DO MORE for others. 

Overwhelmed Part 2: Write About It

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have a tendency to get overwhelmed.  This usually hits me at the strangest of times too.  I get overwhelmed during the summer when life should be great.  I can go outside, enjoy the sunshine and nature, and I can play with my kids.  YET, I get stressed.  

I think I get this from my dad because I worry about vacation, taking time off, getting all the work done that I have to do, and keeping things in order during such a busy season.  Summer for all of it's vacation time, it is a very busy time for me.  One of the ways, I help deal with this stress is to plan and organize my life. I write those projects, tasks, and needs down on a list and go through them line by line.  

Another way I deal with this stress is to write.  It helps me to journal my thoughts and my prayers.  I must admit that I am terrible about this any other time. However, it makes for a great recalibration tool when I am overwhelmed.  I am also very nerdy when it comes to picking out the pen and notepad I will write with.  I find just buying a new journal, planner, or organization tool therapeutic.  You should try it.  

If writing isn't your thing perhaps you could record voice memos on your phone.  The idea is simply to get the stress in your life out by communicating via writing or talking.  

Give this is a try. 

I hope this helps.  Look out for part 3 coming soon.  

Have a great day. Love MORE and do MORE for others. 

Overwhelmed Part 1: Plan for it

This past February marked 10 years of being in paid ministry.  Over the past 10 years, I have had several moments where I said, “I wished someone would have told me before I got into ministry.”  I had all these crazy thoughts and beliefs about ministry until I actually got into ministry.  One of those beliefs was that summer would be a slow season with a lot of opportunities to connect with students, get ahead on planning for the school year, and have time to myself. 

If I am being honest, I have never had time for any of that stuff during the summer.  The summer is probably one of the most overwhelming seasons outside of Christmas. It has often left me completely overwhelmed during a time when I thought I was going to be able to recalibrate and get physically, spiritually, and mentally refreshed.  

Have you ever been overwhelmed by something? Perhaps for you, it isn’t a season but it is a particular day, month, or year.  It might even be a place that overwhelms you or a person.  For the next few posts, I want to outline some of the tools and tips I use to help cut down the pressure and the feeling overwhelmed.  I understand this is not a fix-all for everyone but it does seem to help me.  It is possible this might help you too.  

My biggest help when I am going through a really busy season is to spend more time on planning and preparing for my week, month, or bigger tasks.  I get crazy about making sure my calendar is as detailed as possible. I make lists of all the projects I have to do and I even break those tasks into small to-do lists.  I am a very visual person and to see it all laid out helps me.  There is nothing I love more than being able to CHECK OFF an item on my to-do list. 

SO SATISFYING. 

I know if the list is too big it can be overwhelming.  If that is an issue, which it has been in the past, I break it down into smaller lists on several sheets of paper.  This listing concept helps me capture all the work that needs to be done and see it in a more manageable format.  

If you are completely overwhelmed take a little more time on planning the busyness and getting ahead of it.  This puts the control of your schedule back in your hands, rather than your schedule controlling you.  I highly recommend that you make sure to schedule break times and time for rest too.  If you don’t then it won’t happen.  

Hope this helps you with managing those overwhelming seasons of busyness.  

Have a great week. Love MORE and do MORE for others. 

Pride: A Crafty Assassin of the Heart

One of the most destructive sins that I think we rarely talk about is the sin of PRIDE.  It is a crafty assassin of the heart. 

I think the area I struggle with pride the most is when I drive around town and get stuck behind someone going slow.  Perhaps you could call this me being impatient, but I actually think it is me being prideful. Here is why I believe this to be a sin of pride.  When I get stuck behind someone that I don’t think is going fast enough, what I am really saying is that my life is more important. My schedule, my time, my job, my work, and ultimately, I am more important than you and you are in my way.  

Pride by definition is this: Pride is an inwardly directed emotion that carries two antithetical meanings. With a negative connotation pride refers to a foolishly and irrationally corrupt sense of one's personal value, status or accomplishments, used synonymously with hubris. I heard it stated this way, “Pride is the burden of a foolish person.”

When I am in my car about to lose my mind because I am stuck behind someone that doesn’t seem to have any interest in going the speed limit or arriving at an eventual destination then I am full of pride and I am being foolish. 

When we allow pride to take over it can be detrimental to our relationships with Jesus, to our marriage, to our parenting, to our work, to our friendships, and to nearly every aspect of our lives.  What is interesting is that we see it clear as day in other people but rarely identify it in our own life.  We’ve heard of marriages ruined or parent/child relationships strained We’ve worked for bosses or worked with people that let their pride run their life.  It is easy to see in others but not as easy to deal with in our own life. If we can get a handle on pride it could radically change our lives.

Jesus was a great example of someone that had every reason to be full of pride but was dominated by a heart of humility.  He was considered by others to be a friend of tax collectors and sinners. We see this being displayed in Luke 5:27-31, when he eats with Levi and other tax collectors.  

This set him completely apart from the other religious teachers and Rabbis of his day. They thought it was absurd that Jesus, a Rabbi, would lower himself enough to interact with the scum of society.  This was unheard of in this day.  No other religious teacher, Rabi, prophet, or god would have done what Jesus did.  The gods of this day were to be served but Jesus said he came to serve.  He lowered himself enough to wash the feet of his disciples and to the point of death on a cross.  

How do we overcome the sin of pride in our lives and be more like Jesus?  I think it starts with daily practicing certain behaviors or traits.  The way Bob Goff put it in his book Everybody Always was to fill our bucket with the characteristics of Jesus. 

We've got to start filling our buckets with patience, love, and humility

Patience can’t exist in the same place as pride.  Everywhere you go and in everything you do practice the art of patience.  It will not happen overnight, I promise you that.  PRACTICE.

Pride tells us to hurry through life, take what we can get, and make sure to look out for ourselves.  Jesus says to love others and be humble.  That will require patience, LOTS OF PATIENCE.  If we want to get pride out of our lives it will require us to slow down and give grace.  If we want to be like Jesus and wash the feet of others it takes patience.  It takes being willing to give those that hurt us a second chance, a third chance, a fourth, and on and on.  It means being willing to take time with your kids and spouse even when they are driving you insane.  IT means we tolerate each other even when we don’t understand or don’t agree with each other.  Paul said it this way in Ephesians 4:2, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” We have to bear with one another in love. 

This leads me to the second thing we must fill our bucket with. We have to start filling our buckets with love.  Love – covers a multitude of sins. It forgives. It doesn’t envy or boast, it isn’t proud.   1 Peter 4:8, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”  If we fill our buckets with love and patience we are quickly on the road to stomping out pride in our lives.  It is really hard to love others and be patient with others all while being prideful. It just can’t be done.  There is no room for unhealthy pride in a place where love and patience reside.  It won’t be easy but it takes a daily practice of loving others.

Lastly, fill your bucket with HUMILITY.  John Wooden former coach of the UCLA basketball team was a coach for a living.  He was perhaps one of the best coaches of all time but his calling was to impact people. Despite all of his success and numerous championships. Do you know what he could be found doing in the middle of the week? Going into the closet, getting a broom, and sweeping his own gym floor.  He would lower himself and sweep the floor.  We’ve got to be willing to go get a broom and sweep the floor.  Like Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. He ate with and was a friend of sinners.  He lowered himself even to the point of death on a cross.  Are we willing to lower ourselves? Are we willing to not think so highly ourselves?

How are we doing with our pride friends? May we be willing to lower ourselves like Jesus did. Let’s get our bucket and start filling it with patience, love, and humility. Let’s fill our buckets so full of the things of Jesus that pride cannot reside in our hearts.

Have a great day. LOVE MORE & DO MORE for others. 

3 Ways to Accelerate Your Spiritual Growth

Recently, I have read several books on productivity, maximizing your time, and efficiency.  These books are all geared towards leadership, exercise, dieting, work patterns, and motivation.  They have been full of great information but have offered very little from a spiritual point of view.  However, I believe I have been able to pull out some great concepts from the ideas presented in Peak Performance by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness and the Motivation Myth by Jeff Haden that could help you accelerate your spiritual growth. 

Aside from the obvious read the Bible, pray more, serve, or join a small group, I believe there are ways we can increase our spiritual growth.  In fact, there are ways we can improve upon the disciplines most of us already utilize in our spiritual walk.  

Here are 3 ways to accelerate your spiritual growth: 

1. READ THE BIBLE WHEN IT WORKS BEST FOR YOU:  

I think for a long time I have failed at this.  I have often pressured myself to become that early riser that gets up at 5:00 AM, pray for an hour, reads the Scriptures for an hour, and then journals for another hour. I am sorry but that just isn't going to be me.  I hate to wake up early.  I am also so much better at listening to the Bible than I am reading it.  I think if you want to accelerate your growth you have got to find a pattern that works for who you are.  

Read the bible or listen to it. Do this when it works for you. If it is at night, afternoon, in the morning, or in the shower.  Plan to read whenever you go to the bathroom.  We all take our phones with us to the restroom anyways. 

COME ON... You know you do it! 

Read/listen when it works best for you.  I have two recommendations that go along with this.  1) Do it the same time every day so that it becomes a habit.  2) Give yourself time to meditate on what you just read or listened to.  The Youversion Bible app makes this very easy.  You can set up a daily reading plan and even have it remind you to read at the same time every day.  

2. SCHEDULE & GUARD YOUR REST TIME

I think this is an area where Christians are across the board are failing miserably. Christians, like much of the world, have bought into the belief that business is a sign of importance, success, value, and even spiritual maturity or dare I say "holiness." 

I TOTALLY DISAGREE.  I think being busy means you are just busy.  It could also mean that you have a problem saying no, which could be a spiritual problem not a sign of spiritual growth.  

It is critical for our spiritual health and our ability to grow for us to plan time to rest.  When the tank is empty we cannot pour into others, love people properly, or even be used by God to our fullest potential.  We see time and time again the Gospel accounts where Jesus would slip away and take time by himself to be with God.  If Jesus needed it than we most definitely need it.  

It is a MUST.  

I encourage you to grab your calendar; plan for time with your family, plan time off, and plan rest periods during your week, month, or even your day if you can.  Don't make the mistake of thinking that never taking a vacation or a day off is a sign of strength and success.  It is probably more likely a warning sign that you are headed for a big burnout. 

3. JOURNAL SPORADICALLY

As I said, I have always been tempted to think that because I don't get up early, journal, pray, and read my bible before the sun comes up it makes me a bad Christian.  Perhaps that is true.  

However, I think that journaling sporadically can really accelerate your spiritual growth.  You don't need to get up and do it every morning but keep a note on your phone or in a small notebook.  Carry it with you throughout the day and make sporadic notes as God speaks to you throughout the day.  Make notes about what you read in the Bible that day, make notes about things you are grateful for or things that you struggle with as the day goes on.  

I don't know about you but I forget a lot of stuff and this helps me keep track of my thoughts.  I find that when I make notes of something God pointed out to me or something that I am learning it sticks with me way longer.  

We may not get it right every day but the hope is that we grow closer each day. I hope this helps you LOVE MORE and DO MORE for OTHERS. 

 

What is the Best Investment a Church Can Make?

If you had one invest you could make, what would it be?

Would it be an investment of your money? Your time? Your talents? Your other resources? An investment in a business or stocks? An investment in a start up or a person? 

If you are a part of a local church community, I think the best possible investment you can make with your life is to invest in CHILDREN AND STUDENTS - YOUNG PEOPLE. 

Make no mistake, this will be an invest of your time, money, talent, and resources but it is an amazing investment. This investment has perhaps more world changing potential than any other you could ever make. 

Unfortunately, investing in young people is not as common as you might think and this can be especially true in the Church.  In fact, I would argue that more often we make some pretty big mistakes with young people in the Church. 

Speaking as a young person, my opinion might be a little bias and considered by some to be too bias to write on this subject.  However, I think as a young person who has spent the last 10 years in student ministry, I am uniquely positioned to speak on these matters. For 13 years I have served in churches as a pastor (Student Pastor, Worship Pastor, or Co-Lead Church Planting Pastor) or as a volunteer. During this time, I've witnessed and even made a few mistakes myself with young people.   

I want to share with you 4 mistakes we often make with young people in the church: 

Mistake #1: We treat them like the next generation and fail to recognize that they are the CURRENT GENERATION. Millennials to generation Z, are desperate for recognition but not with trophies and accolades. They simply want to be recognized as valuable and important. They want to be heard just like anyone else.  They want to be considered for jobs, promotions, input on family decisions, and leadership positions.

Sadly, in the church we keep viewing young people like they just aren’t ready for real life yet.  We communicate that they don’t understand what it is like in the REAL WORLD.  Perhaps, young people don't fully understand what you who are older have experienced.  However, young people age 13 and up are not the next generation. They are the current generation.  Young people in there twenties are raising families, getting jobs, starting companies, planting churches, and becoming leaders in their community, company, and church. They have experienced the REAL WORLD. 

They are not "next in line." 

They are on the "ride of life" now. 

We must recognize this reality, lest we fall short in trying to reach young people.  

Teenagers are also doing amazing things these days.  They may not be raising families (hopefully not) or starting companies but they are using their creativity, passion, and compassion to change schools, lead their friends to Christ, start small groups, bible studies, and clubs that change the face of their schools. They are heavily involved with things like FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) and YFC (Youth For Christ) and youth group.  They care about their lost friends.  They are the generation right now.  We’ve got to realize this and we cannot treat them like the next in line.

Mistake #2: We make them sit on the sidelines. I am convinced that I will never understand this mindset but I have watch it happen time and time again. I hear it in the way people speak. I see it in their face and the way they react towards young people.  I've even experienced this personally on a few occasions.  

Ok... ON MULTIPLE OCCASIONS.

Typically, this mistake is made when we operate with the belief that young people can't serve until they have reached an age of “arrival.”  I think it is a travesty that we wouldn't let young people use the gifts and talents God has given them to serve in the Church (MFC this is not true of you) because they haven't "ARRIVED YET." 

REALLY?  

You could almost call this "reverse entitlement." Instead of feeling superior about your own gifting or skills like being entitled, we hold others back from doing things they may be perfectly gifted to do. It happens when we say, "You don't have enough experience or you don't have enough wisdom yet to lead or serve in a particular position."  It seems to me that this only really exists in the church (at least that is where I see it most).  If we want to reach young people, we have got to change this mindset.   

In fact, I think if we keep waiting on young people to reach what we consider the age of “having arrived” to lead, serve on boards, preach in churches, lead worship, to be pastors, to make business decisions, to lead ministries than it will be too late. They will move on to something else. 

The world has figured out that young people have a lot to offer and can make a significant difference and the church must catch up. We have got to let go of the fear that THEY MIGHT CHANGE SOMETHING.  THEY MIGHT DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT.  IT MIGHT NOT BE WHAT I AM USED TO. 

Let me give you some examples of young people that seem to have arrived even though they are young. Despite his current predicament, Mark Zuckerberg is now 33 years-old, and at the age of 19 he changed the world with the invention of Facebook.  He now has a net worth of $72.5 Billion.  Steven Furtick, at the age of 26 planted a church in Charlotte, NC and it rapidly became the fastest growing church in the U.S.  In 2017, they reported having 17 campuses with an average attendance reaching over 25,000 people.  

Young people can accomplish amazing things, if we step out of the way and let them serve. 

Mistake #3: We set very low expectations. I learned very early on in working with students from a seasoned veteran of ministry that if you set high expectations, most often students will live up to them. Students rarely have people in their life expecting much out of them. They want to live up to high standards.

We don’t expect our students or young people to do anything.  In fact, I think the expectation across the board is that young people are entitled, lazy, and unwilling to work to get what their parents have. They want everything handed to them. 

You know what? … In some cases that might be true of young people. But here is some hard truth… I know a lot of older people that have that exact same mindset.  That happens across all age ranges.  It isn’t JUST young people. 

We’ve got to stop setting our expectations so low for young people.  We need to believe that they can do big things, encourage them to take some risks, and do the stuff we wouldn’t have done or would have been too afraid to do.  Don’t encourage them to play it safe. Let’s shatter those low expectations.  

Lastly... 

Mistake #4: We under resource ministries that reach young people. This is an area of great passion for me because I have witnessed this mistake way too many times.  I have personally worked in churches that say weekly, "We believe youth are the most important thing in our church."

YET they don't invest financially.  They have ridiculously under resourced ministries for young people. 

If it was the most important thing to the church, the people of those churches would make sure the youth and children's ministries were fully funded.  Instead, those church leaders and board members encouraged those ministries to do poor profiting fundraisers like car washes. By the way, a car wash is the worst fundraiser and you never make enough money to even pay for the supplies.  These churches, also made sure memorial funds and cemetery funds had plenty of money in them. 

WHY DO DEAD PEOPLE NEED MONEY? WHY DO CHURCHES HAVE CEMETERIES?  

I may never know. 

Please CHURCH... I beg you... spend your money on the living.  If you want to spend it on the dead than spend it on the SPIRITUALLY DEAD.  Invest in those that don't know Jesus.  

We must do all we can in our local churches to NOT make these mistakes with young people because we may only get one chance.  We don't want to mess it up by doing something so senseless or selfish.  

I hope this challenges you in your thinking and helps put faith in you that young people really are worth investing in. Have a great day.  LOVE MORE DO MORE. 

 

 

 

Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash

4 Shifts That Would Totally Change the Church

I often wonder why God called me into ministry.  At times it can be one of the most frustrating and thankless jobs.  However, since I became a Christian I've become increasingly passionate about the Church. I am constantly thinking about what we can do better, what we can change to reach more people, or what are we doing that is driving people away. Unfortunately, I cannot turn this off.  

It makes me CRAZY sometimes.  

Others might say it has just made me crazy all of the time. 

Recently, I was thinking about some changes that we could make as individual Christians that would completely change the Church.  These shifts have the potential to transform gatherings of Christ followers in a very positive way.  The Church is the hope of the world in Jesus Christ and yet it doesn't always reflect Jesus and doesn't always offer hope.  If we were to make these 4 shifts, I believe it would be a game changer for our faith communities and our cities. 

1. AUTHENTICITY, BE REAL - Tell the truth.  We need to be who God made us to be and stop trying to put up a facade.  We like to say in the church that "it's okay to not be okay." We say, "We know we are all messed up people."

We know it. We say it. 

BUT WE DO EVERYTHING WE CAN TO HIDE IT.  

I think if more people would embrace their mess and testify to the loving grace and mercy of Jesus it would change the landscape of the Church.  We need to shout from the rooftops our stories of being messed up people that are loved, forgiven, and changed by Jesus.  If we hide our past and our stories of a messy existence before Christ or a messy journey with Christ than we are doing a disservice to ourselves and to the Church.  

What if we knew that the little old lady who seems to be so saintly now, used to be an alcoholic, had an affair, or got pregnant as a teen?  What if we knew that the man who has faithfully served the church for 30+ years was a liar, gambler, and a cheat? 

Here is what I think would happen. We would see that if the grace of Jesus and the power of God can reach and change a person like that than Jesus can do that for me too. 

May we let go of the burden of putting on the weekly facade and just be real.  Live authentically in the name of Jesus.  He has forgiven us, saved us, and set us free from our mess.  We don't have to let it define us but we also don't have to hide it.  

2. JUDGE LESS, LOVE MORE - This shift pretty much speaks for itself.  The Church is often a place of great judgment. If we would make shift #1 and be more real than we would probably be less judgmental.  Our capacity to judge each other within the walls of a place that is supposed to be built on the love of an innocent man who died on a cross for us is simply, unbelievable.    This has got to stop. WE are all saved by grace. 

"8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it." Ephesians 2:8-9

Let us stop lifting ourselves up as we judge others.  We should love them.  May people always say of the Church that we LOVED WELL. 

3. ACCOUNTABILITY -  This shift is one that can be taken way out of context.  Far to often, people become very judgmental towards others all in the name of ACCOUNTABILITY.  If we would make this shift in the manner that the Apostle Paul speaks of accountability, it would change the atmosphere of the Church.  Paul says that accountability is to take place among believers.  We cannot hold those outside of the church accountable for what they do not understand.  This is usually becomes a hotspot for judgement. It is almost our preference to attempt to hold those outside of the church accountable to the teachings of Jesus. 

However, we are supposed to hold each other as believers accountable.  This is not judgmental accountability but telling one another truth in love.  We must be both grace and truth to our fellow followers of Christ.  This is how Jesus lived and we should follow his example. 

DESTROY THE SILOS - This final shift is a fancy way of saying, "STOP MAKING IT ALL ABOUT YOU."  Sadly, this happens a lot within the church.  We build up our silos, which can be things like our ministries, our own pride, our desire for success, our space within the church, ideas about how things should be done, a desperate hold on the "way things used to be", or our ideas for the church's future direction.   

I would bet that whatever your silo, it is most likely linked to a deep desire to make it it all about you or to further your own agenda. 

When we build silos they stand on OUR PLATFORM and not the platform of the Church or Jesus.  They carry within them an inherit selfishness.  Silos can destroy a church and any momentum that it has.  The Church and ministry in general, is a team sport.  It is a place for the community of faith to work together to further the mission of Jesus.

We cannot build silos.

We have to build teams. 

May we build teams that work hard, work together, and work for Jesus.  

Have a great day friends. Love More. Do More.  

 

 

Photo by Moss on Unsplash

10 Things We Don't See In Ourselves Part 2

A few weeks ago, I posted the first "5 things that we often don't see in ourselves" list.   These are all traits that others see very clearly in us and we even can identify them in others but rarely notice them in our life.  If you missed the first five you can go back and read them here.  I am going to do my best to keep this short and simple. I think most of these speak for themselves. 

Let's jump into the PART 2: 

6) We can’t make or fear making decisions. 
7) We’ve lost our joy. 
8) We aren’t listening to counsel. 
9) We started to isolate from others:  
10) We are headed towards burnout

As I said, I think these are very self-explanatory.  I'm not going to say much here because I think that if you are struggling with things like lost joy, can't listen to counsel, isolation, and burnout you really need to consider seeing a counselor.  These are simple fixes and things that can be changed with a quick remedy.  

Let me breakdown just one area that I think I can speak on from this list: 

Not being able to make decisions is a classic struggle.

Have you ever been with someone that cannot make decisions? 

I have been guilty from time to time of having a hard time picking a place for lunch.  I get frustrated with this struggle within my own life.  It can be even more frustrating to work with someone or work for someone that can never make decisions.  If you have ever had to work for leader or with co-workers that can't make decisions it can be painful to watch.  

Slow decision making or indecisiveness can be really detrimental to growth, progress, and accomplishing the mission or vision of an organization or team.  In certain situations it can be best if you struggle to make decisions to delegate those to other team members or other leaders.  I have used this strategy before. 

Last year when we went on our missions trip, I let one of our leaders plan this trip.  She took care of basically everything. She made nearly every decision and it turned out amazing.  I couldn't have done it better.  She did the research, connected with the host church and all their volunteers, and other than getting an extra van for travel I didn't do much.  I love having team members I can trust to lead and make great decisions.  

However, in some cases you might have to be the one to make decisions.  In this situation, it can make your team go crazy if you cannot make a decision.  I love the suggestion give from Pastor Craig Groeschel from an episode on his leadership podcast.  I think this will help if you struggle making simple decisions. 

He suggest narrowing it down to two options, flip a coin, and make the decision before the coin hits the ground.  It isn't very scientific but the reality is most of the time we already know what we want.  We get caught up in the minutia and just cant make a decision.    

Sometimes in life, we just have to pull the trigger on a decision.  We can't sit back and wait for all of the information.  

You might not have all the answers.  You might not know every step. But you just might have to take a step.  

When you do I challenge you to be decisive.  Make the decision and stick with it.  Trust God to lead you and trust God to work in you and through you.  

Have a great weekend and as always LOVE MORE and DO MORE FOR OTHERS. 

 

 

 

Photo by Shoaib SR on Unsplash

#FORMUNCIE

Have you ever wanted to make a difference? 

Do you ever feel like you should do more to change your community? 

We have spent a significant amount of time recently talking about how we can become more about our city. (We refers to both Allison and I and our staff at church). As a family, we want to engage in reaching our city and making a difference by serving people in Muncie. This has also been a topic of discussion over and over again among the staff and others at MFC. 

It is my hope that we will be apart of and are creating a community that impacts our city.  I want my girls to learn how to serve others by serving alongside fellow Christians that want to change their world. 

Recently, I learned of an interesting way to draw attention to this cause and help encourage a for-the-city-mindset.  It is such simple and almost silly concept but it has been proven over and again to work for rallying attention around a city.  The concept is to use the #formuncie in every social media post related to your church, community activities, or really anything you do within your community; serving, shopping, going to parks or museums, or any other activity within your city.  

This type of campaign is simple and perhaps unnecessary.  I mean come on... can it really make a difference to use a hashtag? 

Can #formuncie make a difference in Muncie? 

No.  But neither can one person.  Neither can one church. BUT WE CAN START WORKING TO MOVE THE NEEDLE FORWARD. 

The purpose behind the #formuncie campaign is to simply draw positive attention around anything and everything great happening in the community. It brings a desire to get involved in the community and to make a difference.  It builds passion for serving.  It could draw attention to our faith community and the impact we are making within the city. 

It says that we have a community of believers who are FOR MUNCIE.  We want to make a difference here.  We don't exist to see what the city can give us or get from the citizens of this community.  We are here to give back to the city.  We want to be #formuncie.  

So we shop here...

We work here...

We support local business...

We are active in our city.   

Let me encourage you to be #formuncie.  I challenge you to find places to get involved in your community and to be a part of the many groups of people that make a difference.  

Have a great week friends.  LOVE MORE & DO MORE FOR OTHERS. 

 

Photo by Ivan Vranić on Unsplash

What Should I Preach On The Next Sunday I Preach?

Recently, I have been working on some upcoming sermon plans for a series we are starting on Sunday mornings in a few weeks.  The new series will be focused on families and our current title is FAMILY TAKEOVER.  The series will span several weeks breaking into 3 parts: 2 weeks on marriage, 2 weeks on parenting for the future, & I will finish up the series with 2 weeks on the value of reaching students.  My plan is to spend one week talking about why investing in children and youth is the best investment a church can make. I've have spent a lot of time praying about this and working on some ideas. So far, for my second week I am drawing a BLANK.  

... 

Okay, not a complete blank.  I do have an idea. Recently, someone mentioned to me that when I preach on Sunday morning they would like to hear me preaching something that I would normally preach to students.  My idea has spawned from this suggestion.  I keep coming back to this question, what if I let students and adults vote on what they want to hear a sermon on?  So, I am putting together a poll of some of the best, most challenging, or interesting sermons I've done with Momentum Students and letting you pick.  Cast your vote below and I just might use your suggestions for my next sermon.  If you are really wanting to get creative pick other and write in your suggestion in the space below.  

Keep in mind this is just for fun and I'm trusting God is going to guide me in this like always.  However, I am truly interested in hearing from you. Please let me know what you think. 

Sermons: *
These sermons are single sermons from a sermon series and you can only pick one.

New Student Series Haters

We are starting a new series called Haters this week. Here is a preview of what is to come.  Also, parents there are some great links for you to connect with this content for more resources and conversation ideas to use with your student. 

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WEEK 1:  JOHN 8:3-11
It’s not our right or responsibility to judge others.

WEEK 2: JOSHUA 2:1-5, MATTHEW 1:5
A person’s past doesn’t dictate their future.

WEEK 3: PROVERBS 27:6
 Ask for accountability.

TALK ABOUT THIS:

WEEK 1:

It’s intrinsic to our nature and culture to judge others, for better or for worse. But judgment isn’t our job. We’re neither equipped for it, nor are we called to do it. Talk to your student about a time you were judged unfairly. Talk about how it made you feel, how it shaped your self-perception, and how you handled it.

WEEK 2:

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“People don’t change.” We hear this all the time, and yet the Bible is full of contradictory examples. We should be careful not to put people— including ourselves—into permanent moral categories. This week, ask your teen if there’s something about themselves they want to change, but don’t know where to start. If they ask for your advice, think of a few steps they can take toward making a change.

WEEK 3:

It’s counterintuitive to invite someone’s judgment. But, when we actively seek accountability, that’s essentially what we’re doing. Does your student have someone they can share their struggles with? Someone who isn’t you? Ask them. If their answer is no, talk about the qualities that person would need to have, and brainstorm a list of potential candidates.

REMEMBER THIS:

 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21 NIV

DO THIS:

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 MORNING TIME

There are certain times of day that feel more “sensitive” for teenagers than others. For most, mornings aren’t ideal for heavy conversations or probing questions. Keep mornings light around your house, and write down or text yourself any questions that can wait and bring them up later. Simply asking, “How can I make your day easier?” before they leave will set a calm, positive tone.

 MEAL TIME

Getting your student to sit down for a family dinner can become a real challenge at this phase. One night this month, make family dinner an event they don’t want to miss by asking them to invite a few friends over. Find out what their friends’ favorite foods are and incorporate those foods into the menu. Then make it a fun night to get to know a few of your teenager’s friends a little better.

 THEIR TIME

Send your student a sample text or email that they can pass along to someone they’d be open to meeting with for support and accountability. Asking is usually the hardest part for a teenager. Helping them over this hurdle will make it easier for them to find a mentor they trust and look up to.

 BED TIME

Bedtime is a natural time to mentally backtrack through our day—the good, the bad, and the ugly. But sometimes focusing on what we wish we’d done differently can make sleeping well more difficult. Try leaving a mint or some gum on your student’s pillow along with a note to remind them that the day is over, and that tomorrow is new and fresh start.

For more parenting resources visit www.ParentCue.org
 

Download the free Parent Cue App

Copyright © 2017 The reThink Group. Inc. All rights reserved. www.ParentCue.org 

 

This content is not created or owned by Ian Fancher but is the content of The reThink Group. Inc. This content is shared and posted here by Ian Fancher a registered user of Orange Curriculum.  

10 Things We Don't See In Ourselves Part 1

Several weeks ago now, I was reading through a book about leadership and the author was discussing the importance of self-awareness.  This idea really made me think because I would like to believe that I am pretty self-aware. However, I am not sure that most people are truly and completely self-aware.  I, like most people, always think the best about myself and see me as the best possible version I can be.  From time to time, I am a little self-deprecating but most of the time, I think I am GREAT.  You probably do the same thing in your life too. 

As I reflected on this idea over the next several hours, I had several traits or conditions pop in my head that we don't see in ourselves.  I put together a list of the 10 things we don't see in ourselves but others notice quite quickly.  It continues to amaze me what we can see in others but can't see in ourselves. These are in no particular order or rank and because of the lengthiness of this post I have broken it into two parts.  Here we go. 

Others see... 

1) We are holding onto hurt - We talked about this just last night with the students of Momentum Student Ministries.  If you walk around all the time holding on to past hurts it makes you a ticking time bomb.  It is only a matter of time before you explode and all that hurt you feel inside pours out onto someone else.  I would bet that nearly everyone who spends time around hurt people can see that they carry around the agony of past hurts but they can't see it in themselves.  In fact, they most likely have resided to believing this is simply how life will always be.  If you are holding onto hurt it is important to find an effective and healthy way to deal with those emotions.  Let those feelings come out in a safe environment before they unleash hell on the wrong person.  

2) We think we know it all -  If you have spent even 5 minutes in an elementary school then you have been around a know-it-all at some point.  They are impossible to talk to and insufferable to be around.  I don't think it is too far of a stretch to say that know-it-alls are usually arrogant, prideful, and opinionated.  It always boggles my mind that someone who never stops talking and has something to say about every subject in the history of the world doesn't realize they never stop talking.  Most know-it-alls don't know they are know-it-alls. Unfortunately, there is one in every group. So, if you don't know who the know-it-all is in your group than it is probably you. Please for the sake of your friends, take a moment to stop talking, stop telling everyone about all the things you know, take a moment to listen and let someone else have the spotlight.  When you are tempted to flex your knowledge muscles take a breath, pause, and wait for others to talk first. Then if it is appropriate share your thought but remember don't try to one-up others in the conversation. No one likes a know-it-all or a one-upper. 

3) We are living in the past - People who live in the past don't know that they are living in the past, which truly amazes me.  Far too many people go through life like Uncle Rico, in Napoleon Dynamite who wants to travel back in time so he can relive his high school football days.

We can't keep living in the past.  This is sadly something that others see in us but we can completely ignore.  This happens a lot in the church both personally and corporately. Living in the past is dangerous because it robs us of the future God has for us.  We miss out on all the good God is doing right now.  We put limits on God's future works and raise the past up like a trophy.  We make idols out of past experiences, church relics, buildings, methodology, and even objects like old pictures, paintings, an old bible, or a table. I remember making a comment about an old painting of a former pastor in a church I served.  The painting was large and kind of creepy.  I wasn't meaning to be disrespectful but I stated that the large painting made me uncomfortable because it looked like he was watching me.  It reminded me of those paintings in a castle that look like the eyes are always staring at you.  You would have thought I said we should never talk about Jesus again or destroy all the crosses in every church ever.  The painting and the pastor trapped in canvas were idols for the congregation. 

4) We are going through the motions - I will admit this is harder to see even in others than most of the traits on this list. It is possible to hide it and fake it for a season but eventually the facade will wear off.  A time will come when we start to go through the motions, we lose our drive, and we don't do things with passion anymore.  Life, all the excitement, and wonder of a day becomes just another list of obligations and tasks we must get through. Those who are close to us can see we've lost our passion. They can tell we are simply phoning it in. This probably happens to people most frequently at work but it can also creep into other areas of our life.  As an outside observe it is painful to watch someone go through the motions and it is difficult to know when or how to say something.  This may require the boldness to have a difficult conversation with a friend to let them know, "hey, it looks like you are just going through the motions." You can't sit back and hope they snap out of it.  I would argue that if your in this state of life, you are quickly headed towards burnout. You need a vacation, time away, or a break.  You need to recalibrate before something breaks for good.   

5) We are lying to ourselves- It is truly incredible the stuff we will tell ourselves just to get through a day.  We lie about a laundry list of things, mostly to make us feel better on the inside about how things truly are on the outside.  We lie about our health, our marriage, our relationships, our jobs, our friends, our happiness, our kids, and the list goes on and on.  Years ago, I had a student tell me that he lied constantly. He confessed that he could not stop lying.  He would lie about everything from what time he would be home to what he ate for lunch.  He would lie about situations that didn't even have consequences. No one cared what he had for lunch but he would still lie about it.  I believe this sort of addiction all begins with lying to ourselves.  If we cannot be honest to ourselves than we are on a slippery slope.  It is only a matter of time before we are unable to separate truth from untruth.  It won't take long before we no longer know what truth is and we believe the lies we tell ourself.  I think some people live in a constant state of untruth. They've lied so much in their life that they don't even know what truth is anymore.  As followers of Jesus, we cannot live like this.  We have to be honest with ourselves and with others.  After all, God sees the truth anyways.  He knows your thoughts and he knows every detail of every situation. We cannot hide the truth from him.  We will never be able to love our neighbor as ourselves if we don't live honestly.  

For now, let me challenge you to consider how self-aware you are. Do you ever recognize any of these traits in your own life? Have you been guilty of being a know-it-all, lying to yourself, living in the past, or going through the motions? If so, consider the steps need to changing these behaviors.  Allow Jesus to change you.  Pray that the Holy Spirit would help you become more self-aware.  

As always, have a great day. Love more and do more for others. 

10 Podcasts I listen to Every Week

Since 2010, when I discovered podcasts, I have probably listened to hundreds maybe even thousands of podcasts.  It has become a hobby and now I listen to audiobooks.  I have found that I learn and process better when I listen to things.  It takes me way less time than trying read and I absorb the material from a podcast or audiobook much better.  Over the last 8 years, I've listened to podcast from all kinds of people.  I mostly listen to Pastors and leadership stuff.  Within the last year and half, I've discovered a few other podcasts that have rounded out my listening selection.  Here is a list of the top 10 podcasts I listen to every week and a few others I would recommend.  I'll go backwards in order and give a few honorable mentions up front. 

Honorable mention #1: Food Stuff
Honorable mention #2: Crooked Conversations
Honorable mention #3: Perry Noble Leadership Podcast
Honorable mention #4: Steven Furtick Elevation Church Podcast

10. Passion City Church /Louie Giglio - I am pretty new to this one but I love his books, so I thought I'd give it a shot.  This has a duel benefit. If you like Louie great but you also get a lot of guest speakers that come to speak at Passion Conference. It is worth listening to. 

9. Connexus Church/ Carey Nieuwhof - I've been listening to his leadership stuff but just recently subscribed to his messages because of a series called The Problem of God. This series is incredible and I plan to listen to many more from him.   

8. Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast - This probably would have been higher on my list but they only release one episode a month. Every episode is pure gold and if you are a leader in any kind of business, church, volunteer organization, or whatever you should listen to this stuff. 

7.  The Meeting House/ Bruxy Cavey - This crazy Canadian pastor with his wild hair and laidback demeanor always impresses me with his incredible knowledge of scripture and theology.  He is truly a "deep" preacher/teacher.  If you want to become a smarter more challenged Christian listen to him.  

6. Northpoint Church /Andy Stanley - He is one of the best preachers of our time.  I've heard people beat him up because he is very topical and doesn't get that deep with the scriptures but I am not sure that there is a more practical preacher out there.  You will never listen to a message from Andy Stanley and not know what to do with the information you just heard.  

5.  Pro Church Podcast / Brady Shearer -  This guy has changed my life.  He has recently gone to daily content and I can barely keep up.  He is 26 years old and knows more about church culture, marketing, advertising, social media, and videography than most people learn in a lifetime. If you are a pastor and you don't subscribe to this podcast you are missing out on life-changing information. 

4. Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast - Probably my favorite leadership podcast right now.  He hosts different guests for every episode and it is like sitting down with him at a coffee shop.  

3. Stuff You Should Know (SYSK) - This is the only non-church or non-leadership podcast that made it in my top 10.  I listen to them every week and they have over a thousand episodes now.  You could literally listen for days and never run out of material. They cover a wide range of topics.  They talk about anything from the Big Bang Theory to the Manson Family.  It could be an episode on brain injuries or how hoarding works.

2. Levi Lusko / Fresh Life Church - This guy has rapidly become one of my favorites.  His illustrations, amazing skills as a wordsmith, and inspiring stories get me every time I listen.  His books are incredible, his personal testimony is unlike any I've heard before, and he continues to challenge me as I listen each week.  I highly recommend this podcast.  As a church worship team they just released an album too.  That album has been on repeat for me and my kids. We actually sang their song The Whole Time this past Sunday at church.    

1. Perry Noble - When he was at New Spring I listened every single week without fail but he is no longer there. That is why I still list him as number 1. His stuff is posted on Facebook now, which I don't find as easy to get to for my listening pleasure. However, I do believe that his new church 2nd Chance Church just launched a podcast so maybe I can get into that.    

There you go. That is my top 10 podcasts, plus a few others. 

I hope this inspires people to go check out these podcasts. They are all full of great material.  I'm sure I haven't even begun to scratch the surface of all the good ones out there.  It never hurts to learn and grow more.  Have a great day and weekend.  LOVE more and DO more for others. 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Alphacolor 13 on Unsplash

Best of Muncie

Recently, I listened to something from Jeff Henderson that really challenged me in my thinking.  I am going to talk more about this in an upcoming post called #formuncie.  For now, let me say that the challenge was simply to find ways as an individual to be more about the community.  He challenges his listeners to shop local, eat local, and support local people in the community. With that inspiration in mind, I wanted to make a list of places in Muncie that I think are the BEST OF MUNCIE.  Keep in mind this is my opinion. Feel free to add to this list but please keep all comments positive.  This list is in no particular order and I'm only going to quickly comment on each place. I am not giving a full review or anything like that.  Here we go. 

1. Caffeinery - 401 S Walnut St, Muncie, IN 47305 - This place might be my favorite place to go in Muncie. I hope that so many people keep going there that they have to expand and make it bigger. The coffee is great with tons of variety and the bakery items are out of this world.  The strawberry donuts should be illegal.  They are rarely available but when they are it is like Christmas all over again. 

2. Twin Archers - 117 W Charles St, Muncie, IN 47305 - This place has incredible food, wings, and an awesome atmosphere.  The service is always polite and they take great care of the customers.  The brunch on Sunday is ridiculously good and more food than one person could possibly eat.  

3. Domo - 3124 N Granville Ave, Muncie, IN 47303 - This place was my introduction to sushi and Japanese style food. It is one of the best places to eat in Muncie despite its out of the way location and not so appealing decor. The food is amazing and the service is great.  

4. Savages - 127 N High St, Muncie, IN 47305 - Again, not to go on and on about the food BUT THE FOOD! This is a great hangout spot and an awesome place to get delicious bar food.  I've yet to get something from here I didn't like.  Love the food and love the people that work here. 

5. The Salon & Spa - 2606 W Jackson St, Muncie, IN 47303 - This is where I go to get my haircut and I go here for one main reason - Melissa Bjerke.  She is the best in town and one of the greatest people I know. I refer people to her often.  Prices are fair and competitive and the atmosphere is inviting and comfy.  It is more than a haircut.  

6. Muncie Music Center - 600 S Mulberry St, Muncie, IN 47305 - Great store and great service. It is much bigger now and way easier to shop around at their new location.  

7. Washington Street Toy Emporium - 500 E Washington St, Muncie, IN 47305 - My kids love this place.  If you like old fashioned vintage toy shops this is your place.  She has great toys and is a blast to talk with.  They also have a wide selection of Harry Potter collectables and toys.  That is my favorite part. 

8. Clemens Seamless Guttering -  7008 S 300 W, Muncie, IN 47302 - This might be an odd thing to put on this list but I mention it because of the service.  These guys are incredible and Shawn has been to my rescue on more than one occasion.  If you need anything done like gutters, roofing, or other home repairs call these guys. He is definitely one of the best. 

9. US Architects - 9200 W Smith St, Yorktown, IN 47396 - Again, probably a strange place to make this list but it is about the people.  I have never done business with them personally, but I know these people are amazing. They work hard, care about their clients, and will go out of their way to do the best job possible. At the end of the day, I believe they care about people not just the job. 

10. Black Sword Alliance - 604 W McGalliard Rd, Muncie, IN 47303 - Lastly, I put these guys on this list because they do incredible work.  The atmosphere rocks with the music and artwork all over the walls.  Josh and Sam are great people and they are a lot of fun to follow on Instagram too.  As a business they are quick about getting you in for appointments and the prices are very fair.  I would say better than most.   

Honorable mentions: 
- Victors - 700 S Tillotson Ave, Muncie, IN 47304
- Ninja of Japan - 831 S Tillotson Ave, Muncie, IN 47304
- Awards Plus - 610 W McGalliard Rd, Muncie, IN 47303
American Chevrolet - 6580 W Hometown Blvd, Muncie, IN 47304

This was a fun post to think through and I am sure I missed some places. Please let me know of any places you like and that make up the BEST OF MUNCIE.  I tried to keep everything local but feel free to mention any place you think is the worthy of being called the BEST. Have a great day. 

Thank you Rita!

For those that don’t know Rita Schildmeier has been the secretary at Muncie First Church for over 10 years.  Since I came to MFC in 2013, she has been a great helper, teammate, counselor, and friend.  She keeps her head in difficult circumstances and handles even the most stressful of situations with the utmost class. Rita’s retirement became official last Friday the 19th and it has been a whirlwind at the office for the last several weeks and even these first few days without her.  She will be greatly missed and we will forever be grateful for her service.  I personally will always be thankful for all that she has done for me and on my behalf over the last 4 years. 

I write this post this morning to gives thanks to Rita but to also inform you of a few changes we are making to help better fill the gaps in her absence.  Please be aware that offices hours will be from 9:00a.m. - 3:00 p.m. on Monday – Wednesday.  The office will be closed Thursday – Sunday.  Please keep in mind that that best way to reach staff will be via email or cellphone. If you go to the website staff page all the contact information is there (munciefirstchurch.com/our-staff).  As a result, of the absence of a secretary there may not actually be anyone in the main office during office hours.  If you need someone while in the building check Pastor Ian’s office and Pastor Mark’s office.  If possible plan to make appointments when and if you have needs from the main office. 

Very soon you will be able to call the office and get a directory to help you navigate through the staff that you may need to contact.  If you have any scheduling requests or building use requests please go to munciefirstchurch.com/buildingrequests. You will be able to submit a form with all of your details there.  Then it will go through the approval process.  If you have prayer requests send them to the office at munciefirstchurch@gmail.com.  The prayer requests that come in on connections cards or email will be sent out periodically throughout the week and remember that these requests are public.  They are sent to anyone who receives our newsletter.  If you do not want them to be made public indicate on the connection card or by check the yes box on the website form. If you currently do not get the newsletter, you can subscribe at munciefirstchurch.com and click subscribe to newsletter at the very bottom of the home page.

If you would like to submit an announcement for the newsletter please do so via the email before Tuesday at 3:00pm.  If you want something in the bulletin for Sunday submit it in the same manner by Wednesday at 3:00pm. 

As always, all doors will continue to remain locked for the safety of the daycare employees and children.  If you do not have a key and have need for getting into the building plan to call ahead or schedule an appointment via the above-mentioned email. When entering the building you can ring the doorbell on the left side of the doors under the carport and by the connection area and someone will answer the door promptly.  Even if you do have a key, keep in mind that not all of the daycare employees will be familiar with you and may question your presence in the building.  If this ever happens please let them know who you are, that you have a key, and why you are in the building.     

Thank you for your patience through this transition. Have a great week. 

Pastor Ian Fancher

5 Apps That Have Changed My Life

I have been on the hunt for great apps that will help me become more productive. In my search, I hoped to find apps that would benefit us as a team at church work.  The goal was to work better and smarter.  It has been a challenge to sift through all the thousands of apps but I think I've made some great discoveries.

Quick disclaimer: A couple of these apps are just for fun and having nothing to do with work. Also, I can't take all the credit for finding these apps because I've had several friends and other leaders offer suggest for these apps. Here are the top five apps that I've recently discovered and recommend you start using in 2018.  These are in no particular order. 

Trello - This is probably one of my all time favorite apps from a visual aspect.  This app is beautiful.  It is great for project management, team management, or todo lists. You can create lists, cards, and other categories of information. Each list or card has moving elements that you can slide from one column to another. I find it a lot of fun to move the cards from one list to another. It is a free app that you can get on your tablet, phone, or computer. You can add team members to each list of projects (card list), add comments, give details, and add checklists to track steps in the project. If you want a great project management app that is fun to use this is the one you want. 

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Wunderlist - is a simple todo lists.  This could be used instead of Trello but I don't think it offers as many quality features from a project or team management stand point.  I would recommend this for simple todo list making, shopping lists, or idea lists. What I use this for is for grocery lists, birthday shopping lists, Christmas lists, and other simple lists.  I share this list with my wife and we are able to use it simultaneously at the store as we shop for groceries.  This as a similar feature as trello where you can assign certain tasks to other people. 

Slack- is an excellent communication app that for me has replaced all the un-necessary group text messages, facebook messaging, and even email chains.  If you lead teams, have to communicate with a large group of people regularly, work in a big offices with a lot of people, or work virtually than slack is just what you need.  Slack is a combination of facebook chat, email, message boards, and a group text.  You can create one big workspace with multiple channels for different groups.  You can also direct message single team members.  It allows you to drag and drop documents, links, photos, and videos into the channel.  This app is great from a notification perspective too.  You can easy shut off alerts when you are away from the office or taking a day off. 

Currently, we use this to communicate among the core staff and the all staff teams.  I'd like to see us implement this for other ministry teams and even things like announcement submissions and prayer request submissions.  I think we could also use this for our board, youth teams, children's ministry teams, nursery scheduling teams, worship teams, daycare team, guest services team, or any other team for that matter. LOVE IT.  

NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT!

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TimeHop - this app has nothing to do with work but it is so much fun.  For a long time now, I've been on the outside looking in when it comes to sharing memories from Facebook.  I am not sure why but I have never been able to access the memories function on Facebook.  My wife and several friends had that feature on their Facebook but I did not. It was very sad but then I discovered TIME HOP. It is a great app.  Everyday you will be alerted to new memories from your various social media accounts that you link to the app.  For me it has gone back as far as 8 years.  It brings a lot of joy into my life when I see old pictures of my daughters and read posts from several years ago. 

Instagram Stories - has been a game changer for me.  This app has brought so much joy to my life.  I think instagram stories has stolen some of the mass appeal for Snapchat.  For me, I started to reach a point where I was just trying to keep up with way too many social media formats.  I had Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Pinterest.  That is a lot to keep up with.  It was getting overwhelming. Eventually, it gets impossible to manage that many social media accounts.  What I've done is put Snapchat, Twitter, and Pinterest on the back burner.  I focus mainly on Instagram and Facebook. The only reason I even keep the others on my phone is for the rare occasion that I need them to look something up.  

I highly recommend you check out Instagram and especially the stories function. If you are even remotely interested in Snapchat, I think you will insta stories.  

Well enjoy your day friends.  I hope everyone has a great week.  Don't forget to LOVE MORE and DO MORE for others. 

Truthful, Good, & Useful

Every once in a while you find a video on facebook that is really worth watching.  Recently, I watched a video where a guy talked about gossip and talking poorly of others.  He was talking about how he deals with gossip or what he does when someone wants to talk poorly about a friend. I loved the advice he gave.  He said anytime someone wants to talk about someone else he runs it through a 3 questions criteria.  He asks the following: 

Is what you are about to say truthful?  Yes/No

Is what you are about to say good? Yes/No

Is what you are about to say useful? Yes/No

If the answer to all of these questions is NO than he doesn't listen to the person or even contribute to the conversation.  He shuts it down immediately.  If the answers are yes then he gives the green light for the conversation to move forward.  However, not every situation is going to be a straight yes or no situation.  What do you do when someone is talking truth about a friend or brother/sister in Christ but the information isn't good? What if it isn't useful? 

He said some situations require more examination.  Think about your own life sometimes you have something going on that is truthful and useful but it isn't good. Examples of this might be an accident, tragedy, or illness.  Those things can be true and useful to talk about but not good.  You might even need to tell someone something useful or good but you aren't sure if it is true.  What should you do? 

I think it is important for us to filter all of our conversations about others through these 3 questions. Not everything will always fit perfectly but we should strive for a 2 out of 3.  We should also always think, pray, and pause before we consider talking about another person.  Gossip is a dangerous line to walk and even if our intentions are good we can really hurt others. I do want to point out, I think there is a difference between gossip and trying to get sound advice or counsel regarding a situation.  Perhaps I can touch on that in a future post. 

Lastly, I think it is important to say that I haven't always gotten this right but am working to do better in the future.  For now, have a great day and week.  I hope this helps you love others better.  

Christmas Confession

This year was such a challenging Christmas.  For whatever reason, all the stress that came this Christmas brought back a lot of old feelings for me.  I must confess that in the past before we had kids, I was kind of a grinch at Christmas time.  I enjoy the holiday, getting together, and even giving gifts but I hated Christmas music, didn't care for decorating, and the movies made me crazy.  I would tend to be a bit of a grouch during this season.   Some might say that is no different than normal but they can just be quiet. 

I think one of the reasons I've struggled with Christmas is because it reminds me of some bad memories I have about growing up living with my mom.  Christmas was always so stressful for her. She didn't have a lot of money and would get so upset about not being able to get us certain gifts.  I think if it wasn't so obvious from her behavior, we wouldn't have ever known there was an issue.  A lot of those memories or feelings came flooding back for me this because of all the sickness we experienced.  Like my mom, I wanted Christmas to be so great and fun for the kids I got extremely stressed out when things didn't go my way. 

It all began unraveling when my daughter Jocelyn woke up at 5:30a.m. Christmas Eve, sick. She missed out on family stuff all day and then on Christmas day my other daughter Lyla woke up at 6:00a.m. sick. They both fought through being sick over the next 4 days. They barely made it through Christmas day.  This was then followed by my wife who started to get sick the day after Christmas. She slowly got worse and worse as the days went on. As I write this on January 2nd, she is still sick.  To top it off, I wasn't immune to getting sick myself. On New Years Eve, I started to go down hill with a fever, sore throat, and headache.  This was one of the lamest holiday seasons ever.  It was truly a time when I wish I had a redo button. 

Here is my confession: it has been really hard to find the joy in this Christmas season. I've struggled greatly with just wanting to be grouchy and Grinch-like.  I think for a few days I was truly mad but have been able to pull myself out of it.  

I am honestly thankful that the kids are getting better, my illness seemed to be rather short lived, and I hoping my wife gets better soon.  This has been a challenging start to the new year but I'm hoping to turn things around.  Lord help us always to see your goodness even in the midst of our storm.  Lord help us to always know that you are there walking with us in the storm.  May we see you at work and not miss out on opportunities to be blessed, bless others, and be used by you. 

Have a great day today. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

Best Books I Read in 2017

Back in April of 2016, I made a personal goal to read one book per month.  I am not great at reading books quickly so, I purchased a subscription to audible.com.  This has been one of the best investments in myself.  I quickly bumped up the level of my subscription from one book a month to two books a month.  Since about June 2016, I've consistently read at least two books a month. Here is a list of the best books I've read in 2017.  I tried to keep list short but just couldn't. I read so many great books this year so I broke them up into categories. I also limited the categories to no more than 5 books.  

Leadership/Business/Work
1. Turn the Ship Around by L. David Marquet
2. How to Lead When You're Not In Charge by Clay Scroggins
3. Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win by Jacko Willink, Leif Babin
4. Meetings Suck: Turning One of the Most Loathed Elements of Business into One of the Most Valuable by Cameron Herold

Spiritual Growth
1. Love Does by Bob Goff  
2. Goliath Must Fall by Louie Giglio
3. Own the Moment by Carl Lentz
4. Through the Eyes of a Lion by Levi Lusko
5. How's Your Soul? by Judah Smith

Marriage/Relationships
1. Swipe Right: The Life-and-Death Power of Sex and Romance by Levi Lusko

Personal Growth/Productivity
1. Finish by Jon Acuff
2. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do by Charles Duhigg

Fiction/Other
1. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
3. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
4. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

If I had to recommend just 5 books total they would be the following: 
1. Love Does by Bob Goff
2. Turn the Ship Around by L. David Marquet
3. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
4. Finish by Jon Acuff
5. Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win by Jacko Willink, Leif Babin

 

 

Photo by Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

Friendly Fire

Growing up my family was big into fishing, hunting, and guns.  My uncles and my dad were big outdoorsmen. My grandfather was a game-warden and so he took his kids hunting, fishing, and camping as often as possible.  That tradition was continued by my dad and his brothers.  I started hunting at 13 years old.  The first year I went deer hunting was a total bust.  In those days, we hunted in northern Indiana on a rather large property. The land was full of open fields, areas with thick tree filled woods, and rolling hills.  Don't forget about the rolling hills, we will come back to them.

During my second year of hunting, I had finally found a good place for my tree stand. I placed myself in an unhindered area of the property.  I was off to myself away from my uncles and dad.  That season had been a struggle for me because I had taken shots at 4 different groups of deer without landing a single deer.  I was striking out.  It seemed hopeless and I was losing confidence. On the very last day of the season, I had a group of 3 does come in behind me and stop just to my right about 75 yards.  The shot was clear and a perfect opportunity to finally take down my first deer. I was nervous, excited, and shaking like a leaf as I pulled my gun up and took aim.  With a shallow breath and a slow pull of the trigger, I took my shot. BOOM! Bullseye! Down went the deer.  

I thought I could see the deer trying to get up so, I took another shot and another.  These shots were unnecessary but I didn't know that at the time.  I was excited and eager to go check out my prize.  What I didn't know at the time and would later find out, was that about 250 - 300 yards away from me my uncles were going through a very different experience.   

They were loading the two deer they managed to take down in the back of a truck just down the hill from where I was shooting.  I was unknowingly shooting at them.  Forty-five minutes before I took my shot, I thought I watched them leave the field in the truck but because of the hills I was unable to see them return.  They were right in the path of my shots.  My two extra unnecessary shots went skipping off of the frozen ground and whizzed past just above their heads.  My dad's oldest brother Nick, jumped to the ground like a solider under attack in some great battle.  His adversary was none other than his 14 year old nephew. This is not a proud moment for me and I was mortified later when I heard them retell this story.  We all laugh now but it could have a very different outcome. 

I was recently reminded of this story when a good friend asked me a challenging question.  He asked, "Why is it that in the church we are so willing to shoot our own?" To give some context, his question was in reference to how often church people judge one another, hurt each other, get jealous, or struggle to simply be happy for one another.  It is sad how church people find a way to kick one another when they're down. Perhaps I shouldn't say church people but RELIGIOUS PEOPLE.  Unfortunately, this can even be true among Pastors. Pastors are notorious for getting jealous, defensive, and territorial.

It is heart breaking that the one place on earth where people should be exposed to overwhelming acceptance, kindness, and love often have a story paradoxical to the character of Jesus.  I don't want to dedicate the entirety of this post to more time or energy on the problem.  I would like to propose a challenge/solution.  Consider these questions: 

What if we spent more time just being friendly? What if we stopped being competitive with each other? What if we could truly be happy for one another?

I love hunting but I really think that church should stop hunting one another. Instead of looking for opportunities to boost our own self-worth and self-image with judgment on others, we should look to encourage others.  We should search for opportunities to show gratitude towards others. Pray for those that frustrate you or make you mad.  Discover ways to love people who by nature are easy targets for judgment and ridicule.  

As a hunter, there have been many instances where I have tracked animals for hundreds and hundreds of yards only to come up empty handed in the end.  The rule in hunting though is if you shoot at a deer, even if you think you missed you at least go look and see.  I think in life our approach should be even if we miss the mark it is important enough to always go look.  By "go look" I mean keep trying to offer the world a better version of ourselves, to do things differently than others, and keep moving towards being more and more like Jesus every day.   You wont always hit your target but hopefully the target wont be another brother or sister in Christ. The target should be to be more loving, more kind, more like Jesus every day. The next time you are tempted to put the crosshairs of judgement, anger, gossip, jealousy, or pride on a friend challenge yourself to aim for something else. 

Aim for the fruit of the Spirit. May we live out the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. 

May God bless you and keep you. May his face shine upon you. Have a great weekend and a Merry Christmas. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Søren Astrup Jørgensen on Unsplash