Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Who Am I?

I believe a lot of people, like me, struggle with this question. Sometimes I struggle with who I am and cannot get this doubt out of my mind. I wonder if I really matter. I want to be significant. I want to matter. I want to feel valued. I want to feel purpose and direction for my life. My life is filled with an awesome wife, family, friends and an awesome church - but sometimes I just don’t know Who I Am! Am I the only one who feels like this? Of course not! I believe there are seasons we all go through in our lives where we struggle like this. It is just a season of my life right now.

When I encounter seasons like this, I have to work extra-hard to meditate on God’s word. I have to figure out what God says about me? How does God view me? How does God feel about me? So I dig into the Bible. I chew on the following verses, in mind over and over throughout the day:

Isaiah 44:2 (CEV) “I am your Creator. You were in my care even before you were born.”

Psalm 139:15 (MSG) “You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something.”

Psalm 139:16 (Contemporary English Version) “But with your own eyes you saw my body being formed. Even before I was born, you had written in your book everything I would do.”

Ephesians 1:4 (MSG) “Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love.”

James 1:18 (NCV) “God decided to give us life through the word of truth so we might be the most important of all the things he made.”

Isaiah 46:3-4 (NCV) “…I have carried you since you were born; I have taken care of you from your birth. Even when you are old, I will be the same. Even when your hair has turned gray, I will take care of you. I made you and will take care of you. I will carry you and save you.”

Here’s a poem I found by Russell Kelfer that really sums this all up:

You are who you are for a reason.
You're part of an intricate plan.
You're a precious and perfect unique design,
Called God's special woman or man.

You look like you look for a reason.
Our God made no mistake.
He knit you together within the womb,
You're just what he wanted to make.

The parents you had were the ones he chose,
And no matter how you may feel,
They were custom designed with God's plan in mind,
And they bear the Master's seal.

No, that trauma you faced was not easy.
And God wept that it hurt you so;
But it was allowed to shape your heart
So that into his likeness you'd grow.

You are who you are for a reason,
You've been formed by the Master's rod.
You are who you are, beloved,
Because there is a God!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

New Years Resolution Follow-Up

Back in January I decided I wanted to lose 20lbs by the end of April - then reward myself by shaving off my beard. Well, I reached AND beat that goal! The picture to the left is me at 238lbs on Thanksgiving Day 2008. Well, I reached my goal by the end of March, not April! On January 1st I weighed 238lbs and today I weigh 217lbs! That's 21lbs - gone. I am really stoked about this!

It's not been easy- I've had to cut back on the Cokes, Cherry Lemon Sundrops and Sweet Teas I drink. I've also had to watch what I eat (just from my plate to my mouth), especially candy - see, I love Reese’s Peanut Butter cups and I also love second helpings as well as desserts. I didn't completely cut these out - I just cut these back, way back.

Finally, I've been getting up at 5am on weekday mornings and heading to the Y to work out for 30 – 45 minutes. This has probably been the hardest thing for me to do. I'm working hard, really hard to make this a habit.

The bottom line is I feel better. I feel great, I sleep better (hopefully I can eventually stop using my CPAP machine) and I had handle stress a little better. I'm actually looking forward to my physical with Dr. Ha in July. I'm excited to see what my cholesterol will be. Last summer it was 290 and I had a fatty liver. See, it was really hurting my liver’s feelings when my kidney and spleen kept calling him "fatty, fatty 2x4 - can’t fit through the bathroom door!" So, I'm looking forward to my physical results and seeing the improvements I've made.

Now I want to be down to 210lbs by the end of July and I want to run a 5K on Thanksgiving Day with Tiffani and Travis. I think I can do it! Oh, and here's the latest picture of me and my boy - taken this past weekend. Do you see a difference?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Bad Grooming Job!

OK, so here's the scoop - Courtney’s company has been cutting jobs, laying people off and cutting pay. Over the past few weeks Courtney has had her pay cut by 20%. So in an effort for us to save money we tried this evening to groom Mila, our 5 year Shih-Tzu dog, ourselves. This is what Mila normally looks like:



And, this is what Mila looks like after our grooming efforts. Needless to say we are going to keep grooming in our budget!

Friday, April 17, 2009

4 Down, 8 to Go!


I thought I was doing pretty well this year with my book reading until I found out Jimmy Britt, my pastor, reads a book every week! Holy smokes! I like reading, but not that much. Too many good shows on TV! Actually, it is because I am a slow reader. I have to even type this slowly because I can’t type and keep up with reading at the same time.

The fourth book I’ve read this year is, “It: How Churches and Leaders Can Get It and Keep It” by Craig Groeschel. Craig is the lead pastor at Lifechurch.tv, He started the church in a garage and it is now a multi-site church. I was first turned on to Groeschel when I attended the Leadership Summit this past September. I had never heard of him before, so I was curious as to what he had to say and after hearing him speak I went and bought his book.

The book talks about many churches, churches that have “IT” and that don’t have “IT.” The churches that have IT, how did they get IT? And the churches that lost IT, how did they lose IT? There was a lot I took from this book. It challenged, encouraged, pushed and refreshed me. I felt the book was a candid conversation with one incredible leader who wants churches across America to get IT.

I tell you - there are so many factors to having “IT”: staff relationships, creative thinking and being able to fail but still move on. When you boil IT down to the simple truth: IT is about loving God and loving people. Too many churches, pastors and staff only have half of IT right. They try all the surfacy stuff; they try the “bring your friend Sundays” thing; they try free BBQ lunches. But, if you are not loving God and if you are not loving people, you can’t have IT.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

What motivates me

I have been challenged lately by what motivates me to do things. What is the condition of my heart? Why do I do the things I do? For whom do I do these things?

I am challenged by this verse: “Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself…” (Philippians 2:5-11, The Message) How did Christ think of himself? “(He) made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant… (Philippians 2:7, NIV).

This is what challenges me. The problem is I tend to think more of myself then I do of others - it seems to go against my nature. Thinking like a servant is difficult. It challenges the basic problem of my life - by nature, I am selfish.There are 5 thoughts that I have to continually keep mediating on. These thoughts are:

1)Servants think more of others than themselves*: “Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4, NAS). Often, we try to get others to like to us, to be admired or to achieve our goals - this is being self-serving. Check your motives. When you serve, it won’t always be convenient or fit in your schedule.

2)Servants think like stewards, not owners*: “The one thing required of such servants is that they be faithful to their master” (1 Corinthians 4:2, TEV). The gifts, abilities and talents God has given us are not ours; God owns them. He specifically created us and gifted us for a purpose that is greater then you and greater than me. Are you using your gifts and talents for his purpose, for his kingdom?

3)Servants think about their work, not what others are doing*: “We will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original” (Galatians 5:26, The Message). I know it is easy to look at other people and see what they are doing. It is easy to compare ourselves and compete with others’ ministries. But I am not responsible for what that other person is doing. I am only responsible for what I have been called to do, for what I am equipped to do. I need to simply trust God and keep serving.

4)Servants base their identity in Christ*: “Jesus knew that the Father had put him in complete charge of everything, that he came from God and was on his way back to God. So he got up from the supper table, set aside his robe, and put on an apron. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with his apron” (John 13:3, The Message). If you are going to be a servant, the first thing you must settle is your identity. For me, this is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. Especially as I made the transition from being a leader as a real estate agent to a support role as a pastor. I was afraid, and still am, of exposing my weaknesses and short-comings. When your identity is based on your relationship with Christ, then you are free from others’ expectations.

5)Servants think of ministry as an opportunity, not an obligation*: “Serve the LORD with gladness” (Psalm 100:2, King James Version). When I was growing up, I had a pastor who always said: “We serve because we want too, not because we have too.” I like to buy my wife flowers and candy because she likes those things. But if I really want to show her I love her I cook supper for her, clean the house and do laundry. I do those things not because it is my job or that I have too, but because I love my wife and she can see that I love her by doing those things. Your service should flow out of a love you have for the Lord - not out of an obligation.

To be a servant - I need to change my thinking. To be a servant - I need to change my motives. To be a servant - I need change my actions. And to be a servant - I need to start acting like one.

* The Five Points are Taken from Rick Warren’s book, “Purpose Driven Life” but the comments are mine.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Indescribable

Last week Courtney and I recorded “Planet Earth” on Discovery Channel. I tell you. It is amazing! I just don’t see how anyone can watch that and say we are an accident. The episode we watched was “Pole to Pole.” The weather pattern, the migration of animals and the changes of the seasons are intentionally designed to work in harmony. I wish my accidents worked like that!




I love the words to Chris Tomlin’s song: "Indescribable"

From the highest of heights to the depths of the sea
Creation's revealing Your majesty
From the colors of fall to the fragrance of spring
Every creature unique in the song that it sings
All exclaiming
Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
All powerful, untamable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God
Who has told every lightning bolt where it should go
Or seen heavenly storehouses laden with snow
Who imagined the sun and gives source to its light
Yet conceals it to bring us the coolness of night
None can fathom
Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name
You are amazing God
All powerful, untamable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God
You are amazing God
Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
All powerful, untamable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God
Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
Incomparable, unchangeable
You see the depths of my heart and You love me the same
You are amazing God
You are amazing God