Category Archives: Faith

Loving God is so much more than showing up to church every Sunday & Wednesday. Faith is a messy thing that will both strengthen & break down every aspect of your life if you’ll allow The Lord to do His full work. This is our journey.

When God Gives You a Puppy: Thoughts on God’s Extravagant Provision

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A Friendship Begins 🙂

I don’t think I’ll ever forget the way Kylie’s scream sounded as it echoed into the house the day our puppy, Max, was hit by that car.  That was the toughest of days for my family.

-Taking Max to the vet for x-rays and the subsequent bad news

-Gripping my little girls hand tight as she said her last goodbyes to her puppy

-Praising God in the storm…outside that animal hospital; resting in the truth that God inhabits the praises of His people and knowing that we SO needed to feel Him right then.

-Walking my little girl back into that same animal hospital 2 days later as she thanked the doctors that tried to save Max’s life

Life is Hard. God is Good.  But sometimes…God just SHOWS OFF!!!!

A few weeks after the tragedy we spent a good amount of time looking for a new dog.  Read the rest of this entry

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Christians and Ambition: The Struggle

Audacious: Bold; Daring; Marked by originality & verve

I don’t think I struggle with fear near as much as I do laziness.  I came to this realization about myself this morning so the weight of it is still sinking in.

There is an advantage to hiding behind fear…people excuse you because they can relate and now you have something in common to talk about.  Giving fear too much credit however, is a slippery slope.  The problem, of course, is that when you blame Fear for your lack, you’ve just given it tremendous power.

This morning I dropped my fears to the side and wrote down some Audacious goals in my journal.  I mean just downright silly stuff!  It was fun and freeing.

As a Christian I’ve always struggled with Ambition & Success.  Read the rest of this entry

My Top 3 Fears and How I Punch Them in the Face

MyTop3FearsWhen I was a kid I always feared rejection.

Whenever I was accepted, I feared losing it.

Fear is a Liar.

When I was a young man, I always feared being unloved.

When I finally had someone’s hand to hold I feared they’d pull it away.

Fear is a Thief.

As a married man with 6 children, I fear I am not being enough for them.

When my bride assures me that I am enough I dismiss her words and dwell instead on what I know I could be if I just tried harder.

Fear says you’re not enough.

I’d love to be able to wrap this post up with a nice, little bow of reconciliation about how I conquered fear once and for all, but that wouldn’t be honest. I think it’s always gonna’ be there in some way.  38 years and counting so far…

I think of this question often: Without fear, what kind of plot would there be in my story anyway? It certainly wouldn’t be a book worth reading!

I’ve found a bit of relief in these words:

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

Nelson Mandela

I’m pretty certain that the best I can do today is to decide to be brave once more.

To show courage when fear whispers and take just one more shaky step forward.

And in so doing,  punch Fear full in the face!

Where is fear telling you not to go?

What’s 1 step you can take toward that place today?

Do it!

*This post was inspired by Jon Acuff’s book, START!  If you haven’t read it yet, click the link and get a copy like, NOW!  It is that good!

Courage at the Tip of a Hat – A Tribute To the Bravest Woman I Know

courage.jpgYou took the news honestly.  It hurt bad and you allowed it to.

You’ve always held the undisputed title for me as the healthiest person I’ve ever known.  I must admit, it came as such a shock when I heard the news that you would be doing battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

I want to share with all my readers about the bravest woman I know.  Her name is Diane, and she has a knack for making life better for every person she meets.

– Diane grows & juices her own wheat grass shots.  She knows more about holistic health than anyone I’ve ever met, but is also the best student of health I’ve ever seen.  She was organic before organic was cool yet never makes a person feel stupid for just now learning about it.

– Diane has a smile that lights up a room. When her eyes lock onto yours in conversation you feel like you’re the most important person on the planet.  She’d be quick to let you know that you are!

– The chemo treatments have begun & they don’t play fair or nice.  Funny thing is, I’d never have known they had started unless it just came up in conversation.  She goes about life as if it’s a typical Saturday and she wasn’t in such a prolific battle.

– Sometimes the chemo makes her sick.  If that’s happening, she’ll let you know but she’ll also be the first to shout praise when the minute the pain passes.  She clothes herself in hope & wears dignity as a crown upon her head…oh yeah, her head…….

Diane, you sat across from me yesterday at dinner with that white baseball cap covering your freshly trimmed hair.  It had started falling out in clumps and you decided to take control.  The lady at Walmart cried as she cut it and you shared your story with her.

The night breeze was blowing across our table at Patio 850.  I promised you that I’d remove my hat if you would do the same.  That familiar grin spread wide across your face as you courageously set that hat on the table.  “That feels so much better!”, you exclaimed.

I wanted to always remember that moment so I snapped this picture of us.

Diane, you ARE that cool, refreshing breeze to the world around you! 

You are not empty positivity clothed in a a false facade of hope.  You are the real deal, and I wanted to thank you for it.

I admire you and the way you approach your victories and your challenges.  You are winning and WILL win this battle.

Thanks for being such a champion and for being such a beautiful fighter.

Honestly, you are the bravest woman I know!

The Art of Moving Forward When Discouraged: A Lesson in Farming

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Identify what today’s Win looks like and then accomplish that. Move Forward towards your goal but let tomorrow worry about itself.

We all have a desire to reap a massive harvest. We are bombarded by abundance and feel we are simply not keeping up when we see yet another person presumably ‘winning’. If you often find yourself discouraged then these words are for you.

Success in anything requires preparation. The difficult part about this truth is that we are bombarded on social media with proclamations of either harvest or discouragement.  It seems very few people take the time to proclaim that they pretty much just got bloodied, muddied & beat up in the field today but are ok.  There’s not much poetry in preparing a harvest of any kind unless you have the wisdom to purposely look for it.

Consider this:  Imagine the farmer who walks in the door, throws off his hat, slumps down in his chair and proclaims his day was a waste.  “All I did was plow, plant & pluck weeds ALL day!”, he exclaims.

Even the person with the most minimal of farming knowledge would be able to offer this fellow some comfort.  I could picture myself getting him a glass of cold water, putting my hand on his shoulder, looking in his eyes and saying, “I know you’re tired. You’ve worked hard today and deserve some rest.  Don’t worry, the harvest is coming.”

And that’s what I want you to know.  YOUR harvest is coming.

-Just like a farmer must plow stubborn earth that has been packed down by a combination of time and complacency, so, too, we must deal with a world that is resistant to change.

-As a farmer must deal with the painful jolt in his hands when the plow hits a stone, so we must deal with the obstacles in our business that we run into which we never even saw coming. Our plow might get a bit damaged but will you quit or move forward?

-A farmer plants seed & we must continue to do the same if we expect to see the harvest.

-A farmer cultivates his field with purpose.  He waters, feeds & protects his crop from weeds. As leaders we owe it to ourselves & the harvest to do the same.

None of this is pretty but it is essential to acquiring the harvest.

Above all, leader, I encourage you to look upon your field with Thankfulness & Hope.  Negativity is a poison to Faith and locks the doors of blessing.  Don’t just think positive thoughts…Stand firm with the absolute conviction that YOU WILL WIN!!!

Stay the course, my friend, YOUR harvest is coming.

What a Man Needs Most

whatamanneedsmost.jpgLadies, do you know what your man needs more than anything?  Oh, I’m certain I know what he says he WANTS more than anything.  But do you know what his deepest need is?

I’m going to keep this blog simple and to the point.

Your man needs to know that he is enough. That he has what it takes. That you believe in his ability to accomplish the mission.

Years ago, I discovered a profound truth in John Eldrege’s book, Wild at Heart. It said,

“In the heart of every man is a desperate desire for a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue,”

This truth has rattled in my brain now for nearly a decade and only recently have I fully realized it’s power.  This revelation has actually impacted what I used to hold dear as my favorite scenes from some classic films.

When I was in my teens and twenties I recall absolutely being inspired by the final scene of a good guy movie.  Rocky (just pick one) and Cinderella Man were 2 of my all-time favorites. I used to literally fast forward to that final scene where our hero comes through and takes down the antagonist. That one glorious moment would always inspire me to persevere & fight whatever Goliath I was currently facing in my life. These days however, it’s the scene right before the big scene that I find myself craving & savoring.  You know the one….when our hero has the doubts. When his head is hung low. When he’s recalling all the times he’s failed.

This is the moment when we’re introduced to the TRUE antagonist in the story. That small yet deafening whisper of fear & doubt.

My favorite scene in a movie now rests in that holy moment when the beauty he’s been fighting for goes to battle on her man’s behalf.  Strong belief, measured words and a promise to celebrate this victory on the other side are her weapons of choice.  And they are all he needs.

I’m convinced that men today are still searching for a battle to fight, an adventure to live and a beauty to rescue even if they don’t realize it yet.

Ladies, fight for your man. It’s what he needs the most.

Check out these two posts on this subject from some ladies who I really have a bunch of respect for:

-You MUST meet Genevieve West, and read her post called, Men, Be a Woman But With a Penis

-Shanna Delap shares a very personal & transparent post on her blog. Click HERE to take a look!

A Most Dangerous Facebook Post

Be careful what you post on Facebook.  I realize on the surface you are dismissing that first sentence as obvious but I encourage you to look at it from a different angle for a few minutes. 

Words are powerful.  They have the power to bring both Life & Death.  God used words to bring about His creation in Genesis & his son used words to give up His life as a ransom for many, “It is finished.”

Last week, I underestimated the power of words. In a brief moment of availability and obedience I posted the following to my Facebook wall:

 “If you are struggling or hurting right now, would like someone to chat with & are available to go grab some lunch please send me a direct message. I don’t know who this status update is intended for but I’m confident that God will sort it out.”

 What has happened since that moment in time can only be described as ridiculous.  Turns out, when you obediently offer to wrap your life into the midst of others, ministry is bound to occur.

 What’s particularly intriguing is that most of the event of these last 9 Days were not a ‘direct’ result of that request but, rather, orchestrated by God himself.  I did enjoy a fabulous lunch & very intentional conversation with a group of 3 young people as a result of that specific post but it seems, when you rub the magic lamp of ministry, much more happens.

 The very same day I posted that I lost a good friend in a motorcycle accident.  He was a fiery & passionate young man I knew from my years in youth ministry.  How sad, I thought as I began to mourn. Then, I got the call. They wanted me to do his funeral.  WHAT?!? I’m retired from that……

 While my mind was wrapping itself around the death of T.J. I learned that another young man, Alex, from my days as both a teacher and a youth pastor had been killed in a motorcycle wreck.

 His funeral was yesterday. I could almost hear the hearts breaking as clenched fists & teeth fought death with the light of the promises of Christ.  There is MUCH ministry to do.

 This has been a rough week. 

 T.J.’s funeral was actually one of the most powerful ministry moments I’ve ever had the blessing of being involved in.  To stand before that room of grief & hopelessness and inject life & eternity into them was what I was made to do.  The words flowed & the spirit led.  Just how I like it.

 My angst now arises from my desire to do God’s Will.  While I feel like He is guiding me towards full-time ministry I can’t be certain.  Sometimes, I wish there was a script I could follow.

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I believe this journey is set to take a turn.

I’m as ready as I’m gonna’ get!

A Beginner’s Guide to Being Mentored

When I was young I used to dream that I would meet either a karate expert or a multi-billionaire through some random chance meeting. He would notice me, see the diamond within my rough exterior and throw himself at my feet for a chance to ‘teach me everything he knew’.  I’d begrudgingly accept his offer of a lifetime of servitude and he would begin to unravel the mysteries of life, business , self-defense & women to me over coffee every Tuesday for the next 30 years.

Well, I’ve made it through 38 Winters so far and I’ve yet to be offered any such deal.  I have, however,  had the opportunity to be mentored periodically over the years by some amazing leaders, so I figured I’d share a basic framework if you ever shared the same dream of being intentionally mentored. 

Mentors are a rare find.  But I believe they are so recluse simply because they’re seldom asked.  I’ve been asked to be a mentor several times in my life…. Some were successful experiences while others, not so much.  None were wasted.

 While it is wise to learn from experience, it is wiser to learn from the experiences of others. If you honestly desire to have another person pour into your life I would keep the following five factors in mind.  This is not a formula for success but, rather, guideposts to ensure a more productive,  fulfilling experience for both the mentor & the mentee.

 Find a Mentor-

There are certain people in life that we simply ‘connect’ with for lack of a better word.  Note, I did not say ‘get-along’ with or share common interests with.  Right now there are individuals in your life who have already landed precisely where you are aiming.  They’ve paid the price. They’ve earned the scars. If you don’t currently admire someone in this  regard you probably have a humility problem.

 Your first step is to identify who that is in your life now and write down what exactly you would want from them if you had the opportunity to be mentored by them personally. 

I advise you at this point to take the cloak of mystery off of whatever you imagine this process to look like.  Remove the movie roles depicting mentorship right now because you’re life lasts longer than 2.5 hours! Oftentimes, mentorship simply looks like a weekly/monthly appointment over coffee (YOUR treat) where you interview them about their past experiences and share what your desires & actions have been.  The mentoring process & specifics will evolve over time, but not if you keep putting it off and never begin!

 Get their Permission-

Mentoring is not a simple task.  It requires you to become vulnerable and allow another human being (potentially a future competitor) to inspect your past, present & future.   It is one thing to invite someone over to your home…it is quite another to allow them access to the most personal places of that home.  Not all leaders are ready or willing to take on this task.  It is vital that, if their answer is ‘No,’  you are ok with that.

If you have your expectations clearly outlined & eloquently articulated (ie Find a Mentor) however, they will be more apt to work with you.  A mentor’s time is valuable, always treat it as such. Knowing exactly what you want and having a plan automatically separates you from the pack.

Settle on the Conditions-

A mentoring experience is not a marriage.  It is wise to clearly establish when/where your mentoring sessions will be held.  Further, I highly advise this relationship to have an agreed upon start & end date.  The longevity does not matter near as much as the fact that there is an agreed upon completion to your requirement of them. 

During my time in ministry I adopted a policy early on where volunteers would commit to a ‘season of ministry’.   Oftentimes, I find that leaders make the mistake of volunteering for something that does not have a clearly established end date.  Doing so then requires a person to do one of 2 things…1. Quit aka Fail OR 2. Burn out and become bitter. 

Establishing an agreed upon stop date allows both of you to assess the effectiveness of the relationship & extend it if you wish.

Also, be absolutely certain you share the same values as your mentor.  They will be guiding you and offering advice with the expectation (not the condition) that you will be following through.  If you see the world through different lenses in regards to ethics & social mores your relationship may not end well.

 Set up Camp-  

Requesting someone to open up their life to you is no small thing. It is absolutely vital that you always take the role of respectful student during this process.  A mentor is not merely a “head nodder.”  If what you are looking for is encouraging affirmations & pats on the back then just keep regularly visiting grandma and collecting ‘likes’ on Facebook by posting all the amazing things you’re gonna’ do…one day..ya’ know…in the future.  Mentorship is all about honest feedback & correction. If you are the type of person who goes ballistic whenever someone disagrees with you on social media then mentoring may not be for you quite yet.  While you certainly will never be required to do everything exactly as your mentor requires I would suggest you do almost everything.  An honest question for you to ask is simply this: 

-If I trusted this person enough to be my mentor in the first place why won’t I just step up and trust them now?

Possible answers: You chose the wrong mentor OR You don’t want to be where they are in life as much as you once thought you did which is fine.  You’d rather correct course now when you have less ocean between you and the port you set sail from.

Serve your Mentor-

If you are looking for greatness or success in life you will find the answer wrapped in verbs and sincere gratefulness:  Find a way to serve the many!

In my years of ministry, as a father, husband & full-time network marketer I have found that people love to be appreciated & served.  What this looks like in your particular mentor/mentee relationship will be different as it is in every relationship you currently have, but it will be just as vital.  Some very basic acts of appreciation should include but not be limited to:

-Show up on time every time

-Confirm your appointment 24 hrs in advance & communicate any delays that may occur

-Take notes of what they share EVERYTIME they speak

-Pay for their coffee/dinner

-Give them credit whenever you post or share something they shared with you

-Give them a gift at the scheduled end of your mentoring experience

Keep in mind, that every mentoring experience is unique.  To rely solely on the ideas above would probably result in less than stellar results. 

Have YOU experienced a time when you were mentored or were a mentor?  What was your experience like? Why do you feel it was successful or unsuccessful?

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A Pastor Revisited .. or.. Inconvenient Thoughts

If I had my way I’d enter back into the ministry willingly without having to be forced into it.

 Now, if I could just…

-Avoid the call I have to make to that mourning mother…

-Put off returning that missed call from my ‘Father in the Faith’….

-Delay sending that reply to that seeking, young man who said he needs Jesus, then MAYBE I’d have time to really think about what God wants me to do!

 Yesterday, I was thinking about what it would take for me to take a step back into the ministry.  For months (years) I’ve been avoiding my calling by wrapping it with noble pursuits…

-It’s time for me to step up & provide for my family. 

-I can finally be the daddy who never misses a field trip!

-I’m inspiring leaders and have a platform to impact 1,000’s

 And while all of these noble pursuits may accumulate a lot of ‘likes’ on social media (I mean, really, you should see my Klout Score!), they do little to sway the incessant prodding of the Holy Spirit.

 Here’s my Struggle: I feel God wants to use me in a mighty way in full-time ministry and it’s time to take bold action.

But I don’t wanna’.

 Honestly, I wear my faith louder than most, but I believe that I am compelled & commanded to do even more. From time to time I post boldly of my faith to social media, but only as a release valve when the pressure of conviction rises to high to bear.  Fact is, I want to be liked .

 I remember , just yesterday, wondering if I would ever just obediently step back into my role as a pastor because it was the right thing to do.

If history has proven anything it’s that I am a stubborn, sloth-like learner; disobedient & down right defiant at times.  I’m a bride who must be swooned and won…again & again; a whore at times.

24hrs ago I pictured myself being called to do the funeral of one of my teens from back in my days of ministry.  “That might jolt me back into the pulpit.”, I thought. God forbid it would take that for me to simply be obedient.

 -And then, this morning, I learned that T.J. died.

-And I missed a call at 11pm last night from a spiritual mentor who could only be calling me for one reason.

-And I awoke to a totally unrelated message that hung, suspended in my inbox from a young man that simply read:

 “Hey, I need help.  Been away for too long…realized the only thing I need is Jesus cause nothing else is working. Deep valleys give way to low tides.”

 

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So I ask myself now: What does, ‘entering back into the ministry’, even mean?

 

I think I’ll start with just taking action on these 3 things…Who knows…

Maybe I’m in full-time ministry already and only just now realized it.

 

rob

Sleepless in Boston | My Thoughts on the Boston Marathon Bombings

I write these words with a heavy heart after having the events of yesterday sink in a bit.  Pray for Boston
A coward or group of cowards set up bombs to destroy innocent bystanders watching the Boston Marathon to push forward their silly political agenda.

Boston is my people.
I grew up in Massachusetts.
I can still pull out that old accent with ease, love Manhattan Clam Chowdah & crave those tight city streets more than anyone knows.

Yesterday, some punk sucker-punched my friends and I always have trouble sleeping on nights like this.

I figured I’d just share what gets me through in times like this.

Re-watch the video and count the number of people who, despite the risk to their own self, ran TOWARDS the chaos to help.

In times of tragedy keep your focus on the heroes!  Evil & cowardice is what makes brilliant acts of heroism possible.

My suggestion is to celebrate the heroes lavishly.

It is impossible to remove evil from this world no matter how many laws are passed or lifted or which political party you choose to align yourself with. Evil is.

Focus on the heroes.
Celebrate the heroes.
Be a hero!