#levelup

What if the key to having the best year you and I have ever had, is not the adding of something new, but doing the things that we currently do better. What if we were able to level up in the things we already do?

Advertisements

 

If your 2017 has been anything like mine, then I know it has had its ups and downs. Challenges, victories, losses, frustrations, elation, contemplations, anger, depression, worry, fear, anxiety, laughter, excitement, moments of pure joy! Those emotions have filled our days, that have turned into months, that have made our year.

It has become apart of my natural rhythm, and maybe yours too, to reflect on the lessons learned, and begin to plan and set goals for the New Year.

I don’t know about you, but I love setting goals. I love brainstorming, and pondering, and dreaming about what could be. What I am not so good at, is the follow through. You know taking those goals and dreams and bringing them into reality, allowing them to go from good ideas into life application.

I want to be transparent with you, a little venerable. Let me share with you some of the goals that I have set for myself over the past few years that have been an epic fail for me!

Read the entire Bible in 1 year, read the New Testament in 90 days, go to the gym at least 3 times a week, run a marathon before I turn 30 before I turn 32, 35! Journaling every night, journaling every morning, knowing where my journal is located.

You get the point. I am pretty sure, and it would probably be a safe bet that if you thought about it you could come up with a pretty long list yourself of New Year good intentions that never really materialized into anything.

While reflecting on this truth in my life over the last few months, I came to the realization why what I have been doing has not been working. What I learned is that every year I try to add some new “thing” to my life! Guess what? It doesn’t get done at all, or halfway is done at best, and then I repeat the cycle over and over again.

What I realize is, I don’t need to add anything more to my life, I need to do the things that I currently do better.

What if the key to having the best year you and I have ever had, is not the adding of something new, but doing the things that we currently do better. What if we were able to level up in the things we already do?

It makes sense, doesn’t it? You are already doing you. You are already living your life, and if we are honest none of us have arrived at perfection in any area of our lives so there is room for improvement.

2 Corinthians 3:18
“18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Here’s the thing you can miss it but it is so important, he said we are not only being transformed into the image of Jesus, but it is ever increasing. Another translation says we are going from glory to glory. We as followers of Jesus should always be leveling up.

We to often level off, become stagnate, in our relationship with Jesus, instead we should be pushing ourselves to be more like Jesus causing us to level up!

What does Jesus want to level up in your life? What areas of your life does Jesus want to take from glory to glory? All of it! Every area! Are you married? Jesus wants you to level up! Are you single? Jesus wants you to level up!

Are you a father, a mother, a grandfather, a grandmother, Jesus wants you to level up! Are you a student, an employee, an employer, retiree, Jesus wants you to level up! Do you have breath in your lungs, a pulse, if you do, Jesus wants you to level up!

In every area, in all aspects of your life, Jesus is calling you and me to get in the game, get off our spiritual coach and level up! To do so there are some things that we have got to let go of, some things that we can’t take with us if we are going to level up.

1. To level up we need to go from FAILURE to FREEDOM!

Do you know what the word redeem means? To compensate for the faults or bad aspects of something, gain or regain possession of something in exchange for payment. Because of what Jesus did for us on the cross we have been redeemed, redemption is found in the death and resurrection of Jesus.

There is freedom in knowing that we are in Christ. It is not up to us, he is making us new, he is making us into the people we were created to be. Leave your failures behind and embrace the freedom that is found in Christ!

2. To level up we need to go from I THINK So to THIS I KNOW!

The disciples walked with Jesus, talked with Jesus, ate with Jesus, had their hopes in Jesus. Then Jesus was arrested, tried, convicted, crucified, and buried. Peter, John, Matthew, must have thought was he the Christ? Was he really the Messiah? I think so? I thought he was? Maybe not. Guess its over!

Then Jesus appears to them, fills in the gaps in there understanding tells them to wait and receive power from on high, called the Holy Spirit, and then what happens they go from I think so, to this I know.

For us to level up we need to move from I think so, to this I know! Then we need to allow the Holy Spirit to work, and confirm His word in our lives and we need to proclaim that word boldly.

To who? To yourself first! You can’t proclaim to the world something you have not fully believed yourself. You might be what you eat, but you are most defiantly what you think!

3.To level up we need to go from INTERESTED to INTIMATE!

There are a lot of things that I find to be interesting, the sun, the moon, the stars, politics, how people can be a professional bass fisherman, archery, the Olympics. There are very few things that I would say I have an intimate relationship with.

That I am closely acquainted with, have a very close connection to, a detailed, thorough, exhaustive knowledge off, that is what it means to be intimate.

God is not just interested in us he wants to be in an intimate relationship with us so much so that he did not say he would be by our side he said that he would take up residence in us and invite us to reside in him. If we want to level up then we must stop being interested in God and develop and purse and intimate relationship with him.

4. To level up we need to go from WANDERING to WORSHIPING!

Worship is not just the singing that happens at church, it’s a lifestyle.
We worship God in our work, in our family, in our attitudes and action. The Bible says we present our body to God, we give him all of ourselves and this is true worship.

Not a song that we sing but a life that we live. Yours and my heart want to wander, and it is a casual thing that left unchecked will lead us aimlessly away from God. Developing a heart of worship realigns our hearts and purposefully directs it back to where all true worship belong, before God.

Jesus came to take your life to another level, over and over again, each and every day! Make today the day you chose to take him up on the offer.

Stop hedging your bets, stop keeping him as just another option, or go to in a pinch. Make him your number 1 priority, align your will and life around him, make him the centerpiece, cornerstone, bedrock of your life and see if you don’t level up!

See if you don’t level up in your marriage, level up at your job, level up in your friendships, level up in your parenting, level up in your faith, level up in your joy, level up in your peace, level up in your long-suffering, level up in your patience, level up in your finances, level up in your witness to him, level up in your boldness, level up in your worship!

Are you ready to level up?

3 Ways to Love our Enemies.

It seems like there are forces everywhere trying to make people hate each other, use each other, attack each other, and divide from each other! It’s so easy to become enemies!

It seems like there are forces everywhere trying to make people hate each other, use each other, attack each other, and divide from each other! It’s so easy to become enemies! Maybe someone insulted you, and you can’t let it go.

Maybe someone stabbed you in the back, and you’re still recovering? Maybe someone intentionally, or maybe just inadvertently, did something, or said something, that cost you money, time, energy, or a whole lot more.

Maybe these people have become your enemy!

What about the woman you judge because you don’t like how she is parenting her children, or the co-worker you ignore because he got the promotion you deserved, or the gossip you spread about someone else because of the bitterness in your own heart?

If we are honest with ourselves, these people have become our enemies, we may smile and wave (or not ) as we pass them by, but there is no love for them in us at all. People like this may qualify to be your enemy, but they also qualify to receive your love.

It is human nature to love those who love us and to hate those who hate us.

We are not children of the world, but we are supposed to be children of God! And as children of God we are called to live unlike the world and show love to our enemies.

Our goal should be to turn our enemies into our partners and friends! If we can do that then we’ll be more and more like God, we’ll be less and less like the world, and we’ll begin the process of healing and of overcoming evil!

Our culture respects men and women who defend themselves, who look opponents in the eye and refuse to back down. When someone cuts us off on the freeway, the world expects us to retaliate with at least some kind of hand gesture. When a coworker ridicules us, we’re supposed to strike back with a sharper comment.

If we don’t try to even the score then people consider us soft or weak. But Jesus calls us to something different. Something Radical.

3 WAYS TO LOVE OUR ENEMIES:

1. Pray for them. Jesus tells us that one way we can love our enemies is to pray and seek God on their behalf. That’s not to pray that God pays them back, or that God gives them what they deserve, but to pray for God to bless them. Prayer will change, not only their heart, but yours as well.

2. Being good to them. As Christ followers the way we treat our enemies says allot about the God we serve. God loves all people even the one’s who we don’t like and don’t like us. Let’s take every opportunity to treat them well.

3. Bearing with them. We’re never going to heal everything. We’re never going to forget everything. We’re never going to get along with everyone. But we can pray for everyone. We can do good to everyone. And even when there’s tension, and friction we can bear with one another in love.

See, we are not going to like everybody. And guess what? Everyone is not going to like us! What God says to us, is, “I know you are not going to like everyone, but you need to bear with everyone out of love.”

This means we need to endure one another, show patience toward one another, accept one another, and deal with people’s quirks, hag-ups and differences, just as Jesus Christ must endures ours!

The next time you feel wronged, ridiculed, or exploited remember the radical love Jesus showed, and be willing to give that same love away to someone else!

How to be more Effective… Get SMART!

If you want to be effective, at home, at work, at the gym, at school, at church, in your community, then you need to develop a routine.

 

I’m sure that none of you woke up this morning, or any morning with the idea of how can I be ineffective today. How can I be unsuccessful, unproductive, inadequate, useless, insignificant? Has that ever been a goal of yours? Of course not! The truth is if we do not possess certain qualities, and if they do not increase then this is exactly what we will be, ineffective.

In sports, you know what the reward is for being effective? It’s more playing time, it’s more opportunity to be effective, to add value and give your team the best chance to win.

Do you also know what your reward is in sports for being ineffective? No playing time, a great view from the bench, watching other get to do what you want to do but can’t because you are a liability, you weaken the team’s chances of winning because you are ineffective. I don’t want to see you on the bench, you need to be in the game.

If you want to be effective, at home, at work, at the gym, at school, at church, in your community, then you need to develop a routine. This year is winding down, we are preparing for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We are looking forward to a New Year, a fresh start to have new goals and accomplish new things.

Let me tell you what I have learned accomplishing the same old is easy, accomplishing something new doesn’t happen by chance or luck it takes intentionally it take a new routine.

Developing a Routine will keep us from being Ineffective.

Do you know what it feels like to be ineffective? Ineffective as a husband, as a wife, as a father, as a mother, as a friend, as a boss, as an employee? I do. It doesn’t feel good.
I have watched as people got the promotion I wanted, took the actions I dreamed of taking, had the family life I wished for. I had to make a choice, to make excuses or make changes.

I had to realize that nobody was keeping me from achieving the things that I wanted but me and my lack of discipline, my lack of developing a routine that would allow me to go from being ineffective to effective.

Failure to develop a routine causes us to rely on Luck.

When we don’t plan we plan to fail. When we fail to develop a routine, a repeatable system that is pushing toward the desired outcome, then we are essentially just hoping we get lucky. I can’t tell you how many times I would sit down to have my annual review just wishing, hoping, praying, that I would get a raise.

Here’s the thing I had done nothing to set myself up to be worthy of getting a raise. What I have learned over the years is not to rely on good luck in my marriage, with raising my 3 boys, with my career. Instead to developing a routine, a system that will get me to where I want to go.

Your routine needs to be SMART!

Obviously, you don’t want to start a dumb routine, that is not what I mean by smart. I am referring to SMART goals. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

As you look to create a routine to get out of debt, go back to school, improve your marriage, apply for a promotion or whatever you need to be SMART about it.

Must Be Specific. What do you want to accomplish? Asking yourself this question is harder than it sounds because we tend to be vague and you need to be specific. Why do you want to accomplish this thing? Why is it important for you to accomplish it. Be Specific.

Must Be Measurable. If you can’t measure it you can’t see progress. If you can’t see the progress you have no idea if you are getting anywhere or just wasting your time. As you set up your SMART routine try your best to make it measurable. We love to win, and you can’t win if you don’t keep score.

Must Be Attainable. You can be specific, you can make it measurable, but if your routine is just not attainable then it is not going to work. If you need a degree to get a promotion, then going back to school could be a new routine you add to your life. Completing a degree in 3 months is probably not going to be attainable.

I have seen so many people come to the place where they want to make some huge changes in their life and this is great, but they set themselves up for failure because the routine they try to follow does point them in the direction they want to go, it is just not attainable. This cause frustration, fatigue, burnout, and failure. Set up a routine that you can do.

Must Be Relevant. Plain and simple is the juice with the squeeze? If the answer is no then no amount of planning will keep you motivated when life happens. If the routine is leading you to something that does not really seem relevant then you are wasting your time and you need to go back to step one and get specific again.

Think New Year’s resolutions and their success rate. It’s not good!

Must Be Time-Bound. This is the key, setting dates motivates us to action. Having goals with no end lets us off the hook. I don’t know about you but I am my worst accountability partner, I give myself way to much grace and except all my lame excuses. Guess what dates don’t care that you had a bad day, or stayed out too late the date is the date.

Start off simple. What do I need to do today, what do I need to do over the next 2 weeks, what do I need to do over the next 6 weeks, the next 6 months. Putting time as the guard rails to your routine will keep you motivated and focused.
I wanted to take a big step in my career and I knew I was going to need a new routine and some SMART goals. So it wrote out my goals, the steps I need to take, the time it would take me, and then I spoke to my boss about my career development.

I explained to him my goals, my plan, and where I wanted this next year to take me professionally. He asked me what I needed to make this happen. I told him I needed to use one of my workdays, Wednesday, to be a part of a leadership cohort from 8am-2pm. In addition, I would need 2 weeks to travel for some onsite intensives.

Guess what? My boss didn’t say no! He was thrilled that I came to him with ideas on my career development. Take the time over these next few months to get your routine figured out. Align your routine with SMART goals, and watch how 2018 become your best year yet!

1 last thing! Here is a link for a template to set up your SMART goals.

http://www.aallnet.org/sections/all/storage/mktg-toolkit-2013-docs/stanford-smart-goals-worksheet.pdf

 

Stitches Not Band-aids

We can want, our family, our friends, our pastor, our church, even Jesus to just slap a band-aid on our problems instead of getting the stitches we need.

I was placing a welcome flag in the ground one Saturday evening before church and I cut my hand on a sharp piece of metal as I placed the pole in the ground. I walked back inside to find my wife who i knew would point me in the right direction to get a band-aid.

She looked at my hand, she looked at me, and said “you need stitches not a band-aid”. Whatever, I don’t have the time to got to quick care wait, be seen, go through the pain on getting stitches, then having to go back to follow up and have then taken out.

NO! I just need a band-aid, and I will be fine. My wife said ok, it’s your hand, it can get infected, it will leave a scar, but what do I know, I’m just a nurse here is your band-aid.FullSizeRender

Now i have learned my lesson, when your wife, “the nurse” tells you to get stitches, get stitches. I have also notice that we take this approach in other areas of our lives as well. We are prone to grab the band-aid, the quick fix solution over the longer more thorough method of the stitches in our daily lives.

We can want, our family, our friends, our pastor, our church, even Jesus to just slap a band-aid on our problems instead of getting the stitches we need. This takes time. This takes investment.

We need to be stitched people in a band-aid world.

I had a great conversation with a friend and mentor who was a full-time pastor for many years and now he is consulting. He was telling me that he got a call from an unknown number a few weeks ago, he took it. On the phone a lady said hello Pastor, this shocked him because he has not been called “Pastor in 6 years.

He said yes, and the lady said yeah you might not remember me but 8 years ago you help me get a new radiator for my car, and yeah I have still been looking for a church but just wanted to know if you could help me agin. This lady was looking for help, she called for help, she was looking for a band-aid, she needed stitches.

This ladies story is not unique, it has been my story, it has been your story, maybe it is yours right now. We need help, we need community, but only for emergency.
See band-aids are for emergencies, small emergencies, stitches are for the long term. Stitches takes time. If this lady would have found community, people to live and do life with she would not have been calling a stranger she meet 8 years ago.

My heart breaks because we have people all around us dying from flesh wounds, and paper cuts, that can easily be treated if they only had the time. Time to invest. Time to be real. Time to join. time to be known.

Time to deal with the pain growing in a healthy community. The pain of allowing others to walk along side as the antiseptic of a life done together through the power of Jesus Christ cleanses and heals there wounds.

It’s not easy. Its not fun. What is? I choses stitches over band-aids!

I Got 99 Problems, Politics Ain’t 1!

“I don’t have time for politics. There is a mission, and that is to save lives,”

“I don’t have time for politics. There is a mission, and that is to save lives,” said Mayor Cruz, regarding the Devastation in Puerto Rico in the wake of the hurricane.

There is a time for politics, to argue for policy change, to vote on and discuss the best ways to move forward in government and as a country. Now is not the time. Now is not the time to pass blame on who should have done what, or where better leadership should have come from.  Not now, it is not the time.

Vegas is not a platform to spread your views for or against gun laws. There is a time and place for this. Now is not the time.

As follower of Christ, we to can find ourself playing the polical blame game. Instead of seeing our mission as a mission to save lives and offer hope to the world, we too can get stuck in the mud of playing politics. Pandering more to pundits than to God.

Our world is crying out, reaching out, begging for answers, looking for a way forward. We can miss the opportunity to add value, offer hope, point to an all sufficient savior, or we can continue to stay stuck, divided, and ineffective playing politics.

Like Mayor Cruz, I ain’t got time to play politics, we are on mission and lives are at stake!

Stop Misquoting the Bible!

In times of tragedy, people like to quote the Bible.

In times of tragedy, people like to drop the following Biblical passage from Isaiah 55 as a form of consolation.
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

neither are your ways my ways,”

declares the Lord.

9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.

-Isaiah 55:8-9

Stop it. Stop using this verse to attribute tragic things to God that go against His character.

Dropping that verse in a time like this, is to strip this passage right out of it’s context.

What was the context?

In the prior part of the chapter, God is telling the people of Israel that He was going to summon nations they didn’t know to come and be a part of the people of God and experience His mercy.

This passage is ultimately about God opening His people’s minds to His vision for a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, diverse worldwide family.

He knew this wouldn’t be easy for them to swallow, as it obviously isn’t today considering the division that still exists in our culture. He was saying TRUST ME.

God was saying in essence ‘Diversity might not be your way, but it is MINE, and it is HIGHER.’

Pursue the HIGHER things my friends.

#prayforvegas

What kind of fan would I be, if I cheered for the end of the game to come quickly so my team could lose?

Today I woke up as I do every Monday morning, tired from church, and earlier than I would like to drive my son to school. As usual I turned on ESPN radio to listen to Mike & Mike on our drive and I heard something I was not expecting. It wasn’t a football update, but the sad news that 50+ people had been killed and

over 200+ injured after a man open fire on them from a Vegas hotel!
The largest mass shooting in America had taken place while I slept, and now the world was waking up to the news. I dropped my son off as we both were shocked and still sleepy, and then I began to pray on the drive home.

Then I opened social media, not while driving, once I got home. The outpour of support and prayer was refreshing, it highlights the best of us. Then I started noticing something that did not sit well with me.

So many of my Christian friends were praying for Vegas, witch I do agree with, and they were asking for the Lord to come quickly. That is what made me feel uncomfortable. Lord come quickly, I long to be in God’s presence, to feel perfect peace, no more sorrow, no more pain.

I long to see the Lord come and make everything as it should be, a new heaven and a new earth. I also understand that there are so many who have not experienced the life changing relationship that comes from knowing Jesus as their Lord and savior. If he were to return today as so many have prayed he do, it would be great for those who believe, but devastating to those who do not.

I have never once been cheering for my favorite team when they are losing, and trying to make a comeback for there time to run out. No I want them to have a much time as possible, because I want them to win.

What kind of fan would I be, if I cheered for the end of the game to come quickly so my team could lose?

John 17:15 Jesus prayed “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.” Jesus loves the people in Vegas more than you and I ever could. Jesus knows that sin does not reside in a city, but in the hearts and minds of people everywhere.

This is why Jesus wants us to not be taken out of this world, not to abandon the world, but to be a beacon of light and hope to the world. Jesus wants us to use every second on that game clock to reach as he can, and to point them to him that they might be saved.

Yes please continue to pray for Vegas, please continue to pray for the kingdom of God to show up and show out in this world, and then go be the answer to your prayer, by engaging not disengaging the world and be a reflection of Jesus that you were suppose to be. It’s 4th and long, the world is watching, waiting, and hurting, times running down on the clock, what are you going to do?