The confusion of grace..

The other day my wife and I were arguing over something trivial. I don’t even remember correctly what it was about really. The point, however, is what helped us decide the answer. When we could not agree, I said, “Google it”. An endearing phrase we hold close to our hearts. In fact just today a co-worker and I were teasing each other over the random nonsense we choose to type into the search box.

We live in a world where the answer is quite literally at your finger tips. Even if the request is something absolutely insane. What you seek, you normally can find.

Armed with this prescription of today’s quick paced question and answer lifestyle, to me it’s no wonder the church continues to take a backseat. Now, to be careful here, I want to clarify a few things before moving forward. While the ‘church’ I reference is one of a Christian origin, based in the ideology of grace through a cross, I believe fundamentally all of us who find ourselves at the center of any faith can agree we are challenged in today’s quick resolutions.

The agenda at hand is to create a dialogue around an ever growing question the church is faced with… Why are people leaving? Why aren’t people coming? And I don’t mean this just physically – I mean this emotionally as well.

I’m not going to sit here and pretend I know the whole answer. Like most things in life the answer is normally the sum of multiples, but I do believe we can begin to understand a piece of it. To start pulling at the the root of this there is an assumption we need to get our hands around first. This assumption that the more we know, the more technology that advances, the more science that surfaces, and the more innovation that comes to life – the less of God there is. Or at least the less of the church there needs to be.

I agree with this, but maybe not in the way that you think.

I think the old, dusty way of “because I said so” needs an upgrade. Some will immediately argue with me, with ruffled feathers, assuming I’m in the business of changing God or defacing biblical messaging for my own use. This is what some have become comfortable with calling “alternative facts”. I have no intention of changing God, because well… I can’t and second because I don’t need to. Hear me out.

One of my life mantras is centered on the belief that we can only give and understand as much GRACE as we’ve been given. The basic principle here is that if life has been easy for you, if your greatest struggle was not getting into your first university choice or favorite wedding venue, or getting a speeding ticket… then you have had a blessed life so far. I celebrate that and am happy for you. In the same breath, your need of grace would be less than someone who has lived a rougher story and therefore your understanding of that need of grace would be less. However, if your life has been difficult… if you have experienced the pain of loss, the depths of loneliness, or the darkness of rejection/self hatred/ hurtful decisions… then your need of grace (either now or in the past) is much greater and therefore your understanding of that need much higher.

You can only understand grace to the depth of which you have received it. I sincerely believe this (and am happy to talk more on this further another time!). If that is true, then we can also take it a step further broadening the topic and ask – what if that is the same about God? What if we can only understand God to the depth we’ve been able to discover him?

There are so many arguments around not allowing the church to grow as our culture grows – that God should not morph to our ever changing standards (inclusivity, gender issues, etc). I’ve never seen it that way. I believe the more we are able to grow ourselves, see outside ourselves, and inside the heartbeats of those around us – the more we realize God is far more complex than we can or ever will be able to imagine. We are not changing God as we grow, we are simply catching up.

I believe that seats are collecting dust on Sundays in far too many churches, but I do not fault the ever changing times… I fault the never changing church. We cannot remain grounded in irrelevant teachings that no longer make sense to an ever-changing generation. It’s like arguing that it’s not raining, while it pours down on your “I have to be right” parade. It doesn’t make sense, there is literally profound evidence all around you saying otherwise, and it’s not effective. In fact, it is hurtful.

I’ve learnt a lot from church doings. A lot of good and sadly some bad. What I did learn from the church, however, at a young age that has stuck with me through the times are two things 1) Love God and one another as you love yourself and 2) remain humble. Over the years how I understood those two things, how I often failed at them, and how I came crawling back to them has brought me here… to this point. If our job as messengers of grace, as walking stories collected through experiences, is to love… then turning people away doesn’t work. If our job is to remain humble and open to those around us… then rejecting the changing norms around us doesn’t work. If our job is to defend the gospels above all else… then preaching fire and brimstone doesn’t work.

There are so many gorgeous torches of grace around this world right now. Eager pastors and counselors and reverends and just every day folk wanting to share the real light of love. And I want to be careful that I am not saying all churches, everywhere are falling short. I am saying too many churches, anywhere are not taking up the calling to grow as God opens our minds to grow.

Think about it this way… Science, culture, technology allowing us to have any known answer right in front of us at any moment, actually allows us to know God more. We have the opportunity to know God more than any generation before us. To understand how other cultures and communities worldwide praise God, see God, and respond to Him. To learn, in detail, the reasoning behind different denominations who agree with us or disagree with how we, ourselves, respond to God.

Opportunity, however, is a choice. A choice on which lens you use to view the world, technology, God, and grace. Seats fill and attendance grows when hearts feel safe. Hearts feel safe when the message of acceptance is circulated. The message of acceptance is circulated when people are able to more openly hear and learn from each other. And the list continues…

In a generation of innovators and pace changers, overly educated millennials have a responsibility to motivate the church back to its center. To create grace space.

Romans 14:1-3 “Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them.”

Grace calls us to seek understanding in one another – not through judgement, but through a sincere desire to let each story to be heard and celebrated.

Let us keep seeking – to learn who God is and the glory He can create through His creation. Through the people around us, the stories they are writing, and the challenges they are overcoming.

Let us keep hoping – to learn more through all the channels we are now so freely given.

Let us keep growing – to never believe we’ve come to the end of God… but merely continued to learn yet another beginning.

Recruit #LWDR

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The joy of new beginnings..

The last couple of months have been a whirlwind!

So what’s my new beginning?

My family and I have moved provinces. I’m happy to report we are totally loving it!

New beginnings can be filled with uncertainty but they are also filled with incredible joy and possibility. Think new job, new relationships, new house, new baby. All pretty exciting stuff!

Here are some of my initial thoughts on new beginnings.

You see possibilities and opportunities

Possibilities and opportunities are everywhere.

The problem is sometimes we just don’t see them because we are either stuck in a rut, too scared to move out of our comfort zone or feeling pessimistic.

After waiting for a transfer for months, I was starting to feel like I was running out of opportunities. I was definitely feeling pessimistic which clouded my thinking. Oddly enough when I stopped stressing about it and focused on myself, my family and my health, an opportunity came along out of the blue.

New beginnings are all about seeking out new opportunities and truly opening ourselves up to new adventures. Fresh starts allow us to see the world and often ourselves in a new light.

You see a clear path forward

New beginnings give us a chance to work towards what we really want. They give us a chance to let go of the past, focus firmly on a bright new future and commit to moving forward in leaps and bounds.

Fresh starts are a great time for reflection but more importantly for planning, goal setting and for having fun in the moment!

You appreciate the wonderful things already in your life

I have a lot to be thankful for. I became a dad for the first time exactly 5 months ago. My wife Ilze and I have been married for two wonderful years. We’re healthy.

Even though I haven’t had a lot of time for blogging lately (hence the lack of new posts in this space) I now have a renewed passion for my blog.

After the birth of my son, I gave myself permission to take a break. Granted I have had lots of occasions where my blogging was inconsistent but previously any breaks were riddled with guilt and a fair amount of being hard on myself for not writing (for the record, being hard on yourself is NOT a good way to get the creative ideas flowing).

This time around, I knew that it would be unrealistic to be adjusting to a new person in our lives, trying to create balance and blogging all at the same time. I wasn’t physically capable of doing everything at once.

Now thankfully I am. My creative mind is clicking back into gear and I’m ready to dive back into writing and creating new content.

Granted new beginnings can be a little scary, but there’s no doubt they can also be magical, exciting, joyous and thrilling!

Grace and Peace..

The mystery of a pregnant bi-polaroid..

So this post is obviously not about me, well kinda, but I’m not the pregnant one…well you know…sort of…anyway, the moral of the story is that it is almost due date.

Now the interesting part is that my wife and soon to be mother of my son is, as some of you that follow this page know, a bi-polaroid. She is staying extremely strong and keeping her head above water. If you don’t know, or didn’t know, she has to be off her meds – this makes things complicated and tricky. This one is gonna be long, but I have a lot to say…

It can be extremely frustrating to live with someone’s who’s been diagnosed, especially when she’s pregnant and it seems like the house is crowded with things that need to get done right now. What you think might help, might not. Or, could even make things worse. I had to remember, I cannot fix this. I cannot make this go away.  No matter how hard I tried or how much I love my wife, recovery from episodes takes longer than normal. You must be willing to wait this out with her. But not just that though, you need to try and avoid these episodes from happening – try, that’s the key word.

I had to keep these important points in mind and hopefully this post will help dads to be or current dads in the same situation. Research has shown us that a woman with BPD or depression will improve markedly with the consistent support of a significant other. The longer you pretend that the depression will go away by itself and deny it is really happening, the longer her recovery will take. The more you expect of her, the greater your demands, the more difficult her recovery will be. The harder you are on yourself, the less resources you will have to carry you through each day. You must take this very seriously. You have much more power to affect the outcome of how you both feel, than you might think you do. Your wife will get better.

Her moods and emotional vulnerability will get in the way of good communication at times.

Here’s what you’re up against:

  • If you tell her you love her… she won’t believe you.
  • If you tell her she’s a good mother…she’ll think you’re just saying that to make her feel better.
  • If you tell her she’s beautiful… she’ll assume you’re lying.
  • If you tell her not to worry about anything… she’ll think you have no idea how bad she feels.
  • If you tell her you’ll come home early to help her… she’ll feel guilty.
  • If you tell her you have to work late or extra… she’ll think you don’t care.

So as you can see, sometimes it made me feel like a bad husband and had me wondering if I was gonna be a good dad to my son. Here’s what I figured: I need to stay positive for the 3 of us. So despite what you’re up against, you can:

  • Tell her you know she feels terrible.
  • Tell her she will get better.
  • Tell her she can still be a good mother and feel terrible.
  • Tell her it’s okay to make mistakes; she doesn’t have to do everything perfectly.
  • Tell her you know how hard she’s working at this right now.
  • Tell her to let you know what she needs you to do to help.
  • Tell her you know she’s doing the best she can.
  • Tell her you love her.
  • Tell her your baby will be fine.

Naturally, there are things not to say (I learnt the hard way):

  • Do not tell her she should get over this.
  • Do not tell her you are tired of her feeling this way.
  • Do not tell her this should be the happiest time of her life.
  • Do not tell her she’ll snap out of this.
  • Do not tell her she would feel better if only: she were working, she were not working, she got out of the house more, stayed home more, etc.
  • Do not tell her she should lose weight, color her hair, buy new clothes, etc.
  • Do not tell her all new mothers feel this way.
  • Do not tell her this is just a phase.
  • Do not tell her you know she’s strong enough to get through this on her own and she doesn’t need help.

You might be thinking, “of course I won’t say those things!”. You’ll be surprised how stressful life can get in these situations. I guess I’ve learnt and am learning that there are also practical things that I can do to make her feel better. Things like helping around the house, making dinner and doing the dishes, accompanying her to doctor’s appointments. I’ve also decided to educate myself about the condition and symptoms. Remember that sometimes you could be the trigger so the single most important thing for you to do to help is to just be with her. Sit with her. No TV, no phone. Just you and her. Let her know you’re there. This isn’t easy to do, especially with someone who seems so sad or so distant. Five minutes a day is a good place to start.

Gents, remember to listen to her and be patient. I’m so looking forward to being a dad, but until then my focus and energy goes into this relationship now. There’s 4 weeks left for us but here’s the thing: its never too late to do your bit.

 

 

Follow Your Heart

I am finally a resident of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
I’ve wanted this for a while and it’s finally a present reality. What’s interesting is over time the reason for wanting to move has morphed and changed as my life and heart did the same.

Since I moved I’ve felt constantly in motion. This isn’t a complaint or even a bad thing just something different from the comfort, slow pace I had been resting in for so long. Its been an eye opener though. The reality that I miss home has officially started to sink in.

Back in Cape Town I wasn’t worried about how long I was out and away from my house because my sister just happened to live with me. I wasn’t concerned about traffic or getting lost or even about the time I came in or left work. I had a routine so deeply ingrained in me most days I wouldn’t even realize I was doing it. I would get up and do life without much thought.

But here I have to think through everything… I feel everything.

I worry my alarm won’t go off. I am painfully aware of what time I leave my flat to work; whether I end up being too early or whether I get the later shuttle and I’m pushing time because traffic was rougher than expected and I feel irresponsible for not being early. I think about the hours of sleep I get.

I’m constantly moving even if it’s just my mind – I have not quite settled. And this, as said, is completely different from where I was only a few weeks ago. The living conditions aren’t great but that’s just the different cultures. What might seem as sub-par to me in South Africa might be lavish to them.

But that doesn’t mean I’m sad or mad or even hurt – it doesn’t even mean I’m upset about it at all. In fact what I had hoped for was to be removed from the life I was living, not the people, but the life that was becoming mundane, routine, very…. average.

The thing is in life you normally find what you are looking for. What I mean is if you are looking for reasons to give up you will most certainly find them. If you are looking for reasons to judge another human being, again, you will find them. If you are looking for reasons to confirm you are elite… things that make you prideful or arrogant… you’ll find them. And on the same coin but the other side, if you are looking for wonder you will find it. If you are looking for reasons to be wowed and inspired and amazed… you will find it. And if you ask to move out of comfort and you are willing to take the path you seek… well my friends I have learned first hand you will find it.
There has been nothing easy about a cross continent move.

I won’t and can’t sit here preaching that it didn’t come without sweat and tears.

It was hard leaving.
It was hard packing up a home I had made with my best friends and then to say goodbye to them.
It was hard knowing I was leaving my family….saying goodbye to a really special person I just recently met was the hardest.
The first night was scary.

Because I feel everything I have been hyper alert of everything. I’m aware of my emotions, I watch them dancing across my heart. In some ways, I hate it. Let me just be honest: this place is not a hub of excitement. I’m bored a lot and I hardly ever get bored. There’s just no social life at all.

And because of that… the routine has become work, eat, sleep, repeat.

But for now I have no choice but to continue pressing on, even when it’s scary, because I know I’m living – because I know I’m building a base for the future I never thought I had the courage to step inside of.

Due to the stress and hyper alert state I have not found peace as well. It isn’t easy, but rarely is anything worth it very easy at all. I have found myself surrounded by some kind of friendliness even as I process a life farther from my family and friends than I ever have been. The last time I left home, I didn’t have that many close friends so it was a little easier and I was running away from something. I’m in a very different stage in my life now.

I feel like quitting and I might just do that before the year is up because I realised that, chasing your dreams isn’t about getting it right the first time. It took me several years and some disappoint to get here. It took great interviews and still not getting the job. It took leads that never panned out. It took months of falling in love long distance which is a painful patience. Chasing your dreams isn’t easy and you are among the rarest if success is found on the first try.

Chasing your dreams is about going forward when it would be easier to stop, it’s about saying “I am worth it” and putting action where your words are.

Chasing your dreams isn’t exactly what I expected but for everything that has been harder than imagined there is something much greater than I could have dreamed. This experience has made me realise where I need to be chasing my dreams and building my life. One thing is for sure is that its not here. I’m following my heart and my heart is leading me home.

The 6 Steps To Building Mental Toughness

What is it that makes some able to grit their teeth and hammer through the final painful moments of a session but sees others crumble and fail? The expression, “It’s not about the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog” springs to mind often when I watch people train. Some just seem to want it more than others. The funny thing is that when things get tough, it’s often not the natural born freaks that you’ll see succeed. Instead, it is the guy or girl who always seems to struggle who can grind out a great performance. Why is that?
 
Are some people just born with more mental toughness than everyone else, or can this skill be cultivated and improved, just like any other quality we look to improve in the gym?
 
One of the things I’m a big believer in is that the things we do in the gym should carry over to the rest of our lives. Discipline, toughness, stubbornness, and perseverance all have relevance to everything else we do. Knowing you have to finish with an all-out suicide sprint session can leave you dreading the rest of the session, just as looking at a pile of paperwork can be daunting. But once you start you soon realize it’s not as bad as you think. (Except suicide sprints really are as bad as you think).
 
I have some tricks I use on myself as well as my clients to work on improving toughness:
 
1. When the alarm goes, get upright ASAP.
 
Never, ever hit snooze on the alarm. I believe all adults should train early in the day, as that way there is no chance of a missed workout later when the boss drops a pile of paperwork on the desk or requests one more meeting for the day. But many struggle with getting going first thing. My trick is to get upright as soon as possible. I find once I am vertical with my feet on the floor the rest of my body just switches on. Before you know it, being able to get up, even when you’re absolutely dog-tired, will become habit. And when getting up is a habit then getting to training will be easier. Also prepare your kit the night before.
 
2. Trust your trainer.
 
As a trainer nothing makes me madder than when people tell me they can’t do something. “Yes, you bloody well can,” I say. “Which is why I picked this particular workout for you.” While it may be a stretch, you absolutely can accomplish what your trainer is asking you to do.
 
This always reminds me of things that seem dangerous, like abseiling. There is a high-perceived risk, yet the actual risk is nearly zero. Realizing that while you may be incredibly challenged by a particular workout, your trainer has suggested it knowing you can finish should calm you. If they believe you are capable of finishing, why don’t you? And if it was you who picked the session, then you should never second-guess yourself when you’re faced with the reality of what’s to come. Stick to the damn plan.
 
3. Use some proven tricks and tools.
 
Sometimes, as a trainer-entertainer-babysitter-psychologist I need to come up with ways to get people to do the things I know they’re capable of without looking like I’m leading them. My goal is not just to lead the horse to water, but not even let the horse know I was there. One of my favorite ways to develop toughness is an SMMF session (he use of a single movement to challenge mental strength).. Static holds are awful. They’re just painful. But they breed coping ability. Once someone has suffered through twelve to sixteen minutes of static holds they soon learn that they can cope with far more pain than they knew was possible.
 
Other ways to use this same idea is something like 100 push ups. There’s a lot to be said for a workout that is a single movement done for many, many reps. Similarly, take one movement and do it for time without putting the bar down. They’re all equally awful, and used in the right doses they help a client acclimatise to harder work – like easing yourself into a steaming hot tub, taking time to get used to the hot water.
 
There’s something to be said too for longer duration sessions. The fatness industry keeps trying to tell people that short, thirty-minute sessions are great for whatever ails them. The problem is that in today’s MTV-Twitter fueled world people can’t stay focused for long. A two-hour run will fix that. People fool themselves with their fitness by doing a short, heavy session. It’s easy to do ten hard, heavy reps and put the weight down huffing and puffing. But go on a long run and learn to cope with your heart rate being elevated for a sustained period. Learning that you won’t die from it is a valuable tool in teaching toughness. I’m a big believer in training volume. It fixes a lot of issues, massively increases fitness, and seems to work wonders for the mind’s ability to cope with duress.
 
An old military favorite, and not surprisingly a Spartan favorite too, is to lie about workout volume. In the army it’s not uncommon to finish a massive pack march only to be told that the trucks are needed elsewhere. So despite having hauled ass for a day to get where you are now you need to haul ass back to the barracks. This is always good for temper tantrums and guys will pout and chuck their toys out of the pram only to find the trucks parked up around the corner. Or maybe you really do need to march all the way back too. In either case, the next time it happens you won’t even bat an eyelid.
 
We can use this same set up in training in two ways. Firstly, by lying about what we’re doing for the day. It may be something as simple as telling the class your plan is to do four rounds of a workout when your actual plan is to do six. Wait until they get to the fourth round before telling them though. The alternative is to only write up the section of the workout you are currently about to do. I find people will pace themselves if they see a lot of work in front of them. However, if you just write up something short they’ll give a greater effort. This does lead to all kinds of moaning and whining from clients, but they learn to overcome adversity on a small scale. This ability to keep a flexible mindset will be important when things go awry during an event (and the longer the event the worse these things can seem).
 
4. Don’t fall for your own or your clients’ tricks.
 
Many people are so inundated with noise in their daily lives they struggle to be alone with just themselves and their own breathing. These people will speak up – maybe to give themselves a break and maybe just to satisfy their own need for noise. That’s one of the reasons why I don’t have music when I train – I want to get rid of the noise in their heads. If you need a soundtrack to row 2000m you’re going to be out of luck when the zombies come.
 
All those little client tricks you need to be vigilant for – the water break during the warm up (because they’ve become so dehydrated in the first five minutes of session they may expire), the coming late to avoid the warm up (because they’re trying to stay fresh for later in the workout), or starting a conversation mid-set with someone else (to cause a necessary break by entering into a social obligation not to appear rude) – all of that needs to be crushed on the spot by a trainer to help these people. Learning to work hard and avoid distraction will be needed later in the day when they have a deadline but Facebook beckons.
 
5. Remember, like anything else, it’s a process.
 
Finally, the best way to develop toughness is to realize that it’s not an overnight process. Just like no one walks into a gym and squats double body weight their first time, no one just waltzes through something like a 2000m row for time when they first start training. Learning to embrace the suck, to endure and hold pace even when everything in your body is screaming at you to slow down, is not a quick skill to learn. Even accepting that you look like a dribbling mess can be difficult for some. But slowly over time you learn to handle the pain and vanquish the voices in your head until the only sound left is the rasping of your breath.
 
6. The final step is simple: Quit being a loud-mouth and get it done.

10 Things To Remember In Your 30’s

So it was my birthday yesterday and I was meant to post this last night but I couldn’t find the time. For a long time I hated birthdays because I hated getting older. I always felt that I was losing something the older I got. I always felt that I missed out on so many opportunities when I was younger and felt that I was running out of time.

But ever since I turned 30, I’ve become more aware that life just gets better and better as you age. I have younger people that look up to me and who I have to set an example for and mentor and they’re always watching. Since then, I’ve spent a lot of time with people older than me, my mentors, watching, listening and learning and I’ve come up with 10 Things to Remember in Your 30’s. This will help those that have just turned 30, are in their 30’s or are still to reach that milestone. Enjoy..

1. Start Saving for Retirement Now, Not Later

“I spent my 20s recklessly, but your 30s should be when you make a big financial push. Retirement planning is not something to put off. Understanding boring things like insurance, RA’s & mortgages is important since its all on your shoulders now. Educate yourself.”

2. Start Taking Care of Your Health Now, Not Later

“Your mind’s acceptance of age is 10 to 15 years behind your body’s ageing. Your health will go faster than you think but it will be very hard to notice, not the least because you don’t want it to happen.”

3. Don’t Spend Time with People Who Don’t Treat You Well

“Learn how to say “no” to people, activities and obligations that don’t bring value to your life.”

4. Be Good to the People You Care About

“Show up with and for your friends. You matter, and your presence matters.”

5. You can’t have everything; Focus On doing a Few Things Really Well

“Everything in life is a trade-off. You give up one thing to get another and you can’t have it all. Accept that.”

6. Don’t Be Afraid of Taking Risks, You Can Still Change

“While by age 30 most feel they should have their career dialled in, it is never too late to reset. The individuals that I have seen with the biggest regrets during this decade are those that stay in something that they know is not right. It is such an easy decade to have the days turn to weeks to years, only to wake up at 40 with a mid-life crisis for not taking action on a problem they were aware of 10 years prior but failed to act.” you do not have conform you life to an ideal that you do not believe in. Live your life, don’t let it live you. Don’t be afraid of tearing it all down if you have to, you have the power to build it all back up again.”

7. You Must Continue to Grow and Develop Yourself

“You have two assets that you can never get back once you’ve lost them: your body and your mind. Most people stop growing and working on themselves in their 20s. Most people in their 30s are too busy to worry about self-improvement. But if you’re one of the few who continues to educate themselves, evolve their thinking and take care of their mental and physical health, you will be light-years ahead of the pack by 40.”

8. Nobody (Still) knows what they’re Doing, Get Used to It

“Unless you are already dead — mentally, emotionally, and socially — you cannot anticipate your life 5 years into the future. It will not develop as you expect. So just stop it. Stop assuming you can plan far ahead, stop obsessing about what is happening right now because it will change anyway, and get over the control issue about your life’s direction. Fortunately, because this is true, you can take even more chances and not lose anything; you cannot lose what you never had. Besides, most feelings of loss are in your mind anyway – few matter in the long term.”

9. Invest in Your Family; they’re Worth It

“Spend more time with your family. It’s a different relationship when you’re an adult and it’s up to you how you redefine your interactions. They are always going to see you as that kid that grew up around them until the moment you can make them see you as your own man/woman. Everyone gets old. Everyone dies. Take advantage of the time you have left to set things right and enjoy your family.”

10. Be kind to yourself, respect yourself

“Be a little selfish and do something for yourself every day, something different once a month and something spectacular every year.”

April Birthday Month Challenge

Its April, its my birthday month and every year I take up a challenge in April for the full month and sometimes I stick to it for longer. Since I’m in the health and fitness field, I figured that a great challenge of the month would be to:

Avoid This 1 THING!

Do you REALLY know how much sugar is in the soda and juices that you are drinking?

It’s CRAZY how many calories you can actually consume in such a short period of time when you have a drink.

Did you know that sugary soft drinks are the #1 source of calories in the average persons diet!?!?

Needless to say, soda is one of the leading contributors to the explosion in our rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and a whole host of other problems.

Not only are there ZERO nutritional benefits in these sugary drinks, but they are absolutely harmful to your health.

Did you know that just ONE Soda a day can increase your risk of a heart attack EVEN if you are not gaining weight?

56% of 8-year-olds down soft drinks daily, & 1/3 of teenage boys drink at LEAST 3 cans of soda per day!

Are you Up for this challenge this month?  

So…. if you are a soda drinker, your challenge of the month is NO SODA!! I guarantee you’ll feel so much healthier!

Here Are Your Acceptable Alternatives to Soda:

Water (flavour with strawberries, cucumber, lemon, lime, etc.  Switch it up to make it fun!).

If you need the caffeine buzz, go with green tea (has anti-oxidants) or unsweetened tea.
 
Or…coffee. If you HAVE to sweeten it, find some coconut sugar. Its got a low glycemic load (won’t raise your blood sugar too much) and it tastes really great.

Do you accept!?  

Desire

My passport with my visa for the Middle East finally arrived a few days ago! Its been a total of 11 weeks since I first applied for it. This process was supposed to take 3 weeks. But a back and forth battle between myself, my employers and the embassy in Pretoria ensued.

Never take for granted the slip of a finger when typing out official documents especially for travel purposes! Also, my high school english language teacher always told us that the use of correct grammar is important. I guess I didn’t realise how important until now. I am grateful that I’ve been blessed with an awesome attention to detail skill. Unfortunately my employer, or whoever was completing these documents, not.

Anyway, as the story goes, I’m leaving the shores of Cape Town in a few days for at least a year because as I realised, I’m in need of something not quite defined. Suffocated by inability. Captivated by wanderlust.

My body yearns for exploration, adventure, freedom.
Subdued by inadequacy, intrigued by development.

My mind craves conversation, knowledge, debate.
Suppressed by insufficiency. Consumed by hindsight. My heart longs for the journey.
 
My desire for travel consumes my life. Once again, I’m grateful that I have a job that satisfies this craving and desire. In fact, I’m grateful to have a job. Period. God is Good.

Next stop: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.   

Where Are You?

If you wake up and not only see the sun peaking through your blinds, but also see the beauty of the dawn, the beginning of a new day and the portrait perfect landscape, I’m looking for you.

If you walk through the hustle and bustle of life in the city, yet still notice the small moments of a child holding his mother’s hand with a smile or the elderly woman who sits in the park everyday, I’m looking for you.

If when a breeze blows you feel it, smell it, taste it and let it linger on your skin, I’m looking for you.

If you feel rejuvenated in the softness that is spring when the blossoms wake up and smile at the sun, I’m looking for you.

If you are frightened of the ending that is autumn, when the leaves burn orange and fall to the ground, I’m looking for you.

If the tiniest of sensations can course through your veins and stop your heart, I’m looking for you.

If you can see the world with your eyes and your soul so that the vibrant colours of the music in the air engulfs you with its beauty, I’m looking for you. If you can define the thoughts of silence with your hand, I’m looking for you.

I’m in need of a poet. One who does not simply let life pass them by without notice. One who takes the moments of beauty in this life and makes them last forever. Need not apply, If you took the time to read this, I found you.

Recruit #LWDR

Starts with I

Integrity.

I think I have it. Or at least I pretend that I do and I judge the hell out of people who I deem to be lacking in that regard but I am a hypocrite; especially when it comes to being honest with myself.
I pride myself on my moral compass but sometimes I ignore it. Trust above everything. Trust is the air love breathes. Trust but verify, as the Russians say, but am I trustworthy? Doubtful. Especially because I don’t trust myself to not mess up every good thing that has come my way. So, no, I may look and act like a good man but deep inside I don’t believe I am. This is really the only critic I have to please and I can’t.

But then I came to my senses and realised, its not about me. Life is too short to be selfish.

I need to be a voice to those who have none and carry a message to places that otherwise might not hear it. I am as we all are God’s masterpiece, “the beautiful incomplete.” Each individual has a place in this calling, and together we are a stronger voice to direct people to God. We don’t have to be perfect. We don’t have to be the best preacher, singer, rapper, teacher or student, we just have to be obedient. We are the ones, the chosen people of God who are called His children and have heard His voice. We are the zeros, the imperfect vessels, the misfits God has chosen to be His voice so that He and only He can be glorified. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. We can boast in our weakness, because it is in Him we find our strength. It starts with I.

Recruit #LWDR

My African Dream

I have this dream of an overflowing stream with all different elements playing their part in the team. Different races with different faces from different places all utilising the same spaces.

This is how we do it out here in Africa.
A continent that was once rejected and neglected, but no longer shall we be subjected to being called or known as “the dark” continent. We shall stand up and produce “the light”.

I have this dream of black stars rising,
Yellow sun brightening not hallucinating,
Living the dream for all Africans.
Your Africa, My Africa, Our Africa.

Fighting together, side by side, like an army
In battle, we saddle up, its time to settle the score. We are no longer refugees to the rest of the world.

But this is just the beginning.
God said He will pour out His spirit on all men.
Sons will prophesy, old men will dream and the young ones, they’ll see visions.

I have this dream that we as Africans will rise up and shape the culture, shape the society and become a commanding force in the world. Nations will look to us for help. When that time comes, we will provide. This is my dream for my beloved continent.

Africa, are you ready to rise up? Are you ready to unite?

Recruit #LWDR

The Beauty Of Pain

Pain is so beautiful, isn’t it? When the Lord reveals someone’s deepest pain to us, it will break our hearts and make our hearts ready for the love of God to rush in. What is it about pain that can reflect God’s love? The Lord uses pain, a hated being, to teach us to love and to get to know His love. Pain is so hated among us humans.

How does the Lord use pain to teach us about His love? See, when we hear about God’s love, immediately we try to connect it to ourselves and wait to see how the Lord will prove His love to us. Mostly we expect God to show His love to us thru His blessings and favor, but He will prove His love for us by showing how much He loves the needy and those who are so afflicted by pain. It is not that He loves them more than others, but He shows His love to us by breaking our hearts for them. We can pray and ask Him to allow us to feel the pain of the afflicted ones, and through that we can taste His love. He uses pain to show His love.

We can hang around those who have so much pain and allow the Lord to break our hearts for them and show us how much He loves them. Suddenly they become so beautiful in their pain. God loves them thru us.
There are so many people who have no financial or physical needs but still have so much pain. We can start asking our friends about their pain. We can take this journey of pain – not necessarily our own pain but the pain of others. In this journey we will discover God’s true love for others and even for ourselves. Let us show interest in finding people’s pain and gain God’s heart for them. Let us learn how much our Father in heaven loves us all.

There is someone who holds a special place in my heart, since I met her I’ve began to discover that her character is based on discovering God’s love for her own life so she can see it in others and in turn love others. I’ve always loved God and loved people, but it was mostly people that I knew or that I wanted to love. But this year I told God that I wanted to love more and walk in love more. To me the greatest thing we can do for a person is to see their pain and to understand how much God loves them – so to Candice Marais, I salute you. Thanks for the inspiration whether you knew it or not!

Recruit #LWDR

Floor Boards

There’s some worn down floor boards in my bedroom in my parent’s house. In fact, I grew up in houses with wooden floor boards.
I would pace back and forth there, trying desperately to chase after peace.

That house, to me, stands for many things but mostly growing pains.
I finished my first song there but it took me years to record it. I gained friends and lost friends while living there.
I struggled through understanding life there.
I tried to heal from self-inflicted wounds there but it was still during a time where people wanted me to break them open and show them my pain in order for them to trust me. Looking back I think they meant to help the wound heal better – constantly asking me to clean out the infection but with each dissection the scar got more evident. Now I walk around with it tattooed on my soul.

Mostly I ached there.

I learnt a lot about darkness. To live in it is one thing, to understand it and turn it over in your mind as you pace back and forth listening to your feet hit the hardwood floor well that is an entirely different thing.

I watched darkness form around people as they spoke. I watched it dance in the form of shadows.  I watched people claim what they had was this bright, radiating, eternal light but it was darkness with a flashlight. A disguise, they would learn, that has a short validity.

I learnt about what I was capable of there – that I could survive just about anything.

Which also brought me to understand surviving doesn’t actually equal being alive. You can survive tragedy and selfish actions and persecution and retribution but not really live in the sense that your soul is full or flourishing.

I almost settled for surviving there…
I wrote my first sermon there.
My nightly prayers, there, were sobs into my pillow case.
I felt pretty lonely there.
I learnt that many say they will stay but only few mean what they say.

I learnt the value of words – that grand but empty promises cause deep, wounding holes in the souls of people counting on you. I both experienced those wounds and caused them.

I learnt that your mother will always love you, even when you come up short. I would learn that lesson several more times before you would find me here in present day.

I learnt that everyone wants their pain to be beautiful but most only allow the superficial pain to really surface – they are more satisfied with the look of healing than the actual act of it.

I learnt that I was a judgmental person there – which was a disturbing realization being that I was in youth ministry and painfully well liked despite all my discrepancies.

I learnt that one’s social abilities are insanely powerful and it wasn’t just Spiderman who held great responsibility. I learnt that most people, including myself, would abuse that power simply to have people pat them on the back and tell them how right they are.

I paced the floor night after night rolling these lessons over in my head and jotting them down in journals until I couldn’t feel my fingers. I would feel liberated of them by the time I fell asleep but burned all the more the next morning with new thoughts that pricked like thorns into my once rosie universe.

Those journals begin my real journey to the understanding of grace and those floor boards the very thing that kept leading me back to the same place over and over and over again. It was this vivid, soul destroying moment that I realized I would never fully comprehend grace. That every time I judged someone and condemned them I was only showing them how small I was. That I was weak and unstable. That I needed the consistency of rules and who’s better than who simply to feel better about myself.

I didn’t heal at the house where my pacing started. I wasn’t better when I left. Too many of us have been handed the illusion that healing and growth come as we ask as if there is a drive through for the heart process of it all. There isn’t. When I closed the door of that house my hurt didn’t stay locked in those rooms. Healing is a process that takes a lifetime to understand.

Recruit #LWDR

Someone Failed You

Dear Friend,

Someone failed you. I don’t know if it was me as one of your friends or your parents or your first love but someone, somewhere failed you. Someone somewhere fogged your reflection in the mirror of worthiness and called you less. They failed you when they labeled you anything other than whole just as you were in that moment.

Someone failed you. Someone somewhere allowed you to run as fast you could forward to find the right door but they gave you the wrong skeleton. Instead of a fancy, old key to unlock the understanding of fulfillment and self-acceptance they created for you an entirely new backbone. One that would bend eagerly just to hold whatever was placed on your shoulders, hoping it would eventually claim you as worthy. They sent you on a quest to find something you’ve always obtained. Something you’ve always possessed. Something that beats like a drum line inside with every breath you take and sound you make and footprint you make in the sand.

Someone failed you. Someone somewhere failed to tell you what who you are is enough, that you are worthy as you stand.  You don’t have to move forward to escape where you are and you do not need to go backwards erasing what you’ve done. Right here, right now you are enough. You don’t need to engulf yourself in work to find wholeness; you don’t have to dive into another relationship just to feel complete.  As you stand you are enough.

Someone failed you. Someone somewhere failed to tell you that until you can wipe away the fog, until you can look yourself in the mirror and find acceptance you will never unlace your running shoes. You will jump from thing to person to job to person and thing again just trying to find something temporary to fill the unavoidable void deep inside you – the void that someone, somewhere put there, the void that should never have been a void in the first place. Because what you are seeking, what you are feverishly searching for is the very thing you have yet to look square in the eye. Yourself.

Someone failed you but I’ll be damned if today that someone is me.
Here and now let me be the elbow grease that gives you the courage to hold up that hand against the shiny lies telling you that you are unworthy and the self-righteous idiots who have let you run in every direction but to the source. I don’t know if they were threatened by who you would become if you realized your potential or if they needed you to be small so they could feel big but I’m ready to blow up that dollhouse of plastic imagery with hard, cold facts. Fancy titles, gold stars, merit badges, fancy cars and better clothes do not complete you. You don’t need them. You don’t need the lies that try to comfort you. You don’t need the running shoes because they only get you as far as the fence keeps you in. You don’t need the jobs or money or “fixer up’er” relationships to project or the approval of your parents. You don’t need any of it. Would some of it be nice? Yes. But they do not create, encompass, navigate, or dictate your worthiness.
You, my friend, are already worthy.

Someone failed you. Someone somewhere failed you but I’m here to set the record straight. I’ve given you the key and that heart that beats inside you telling you how right I am is your map but whether you take this journey forward… well that’s up to you. Now it’s up to you.
Allow this enlightenment to wash over you. Let this grace seep into your skin and deep into your bones and allow it to restructure your entire mindset as the days continue. You have a choice now – to keep running the circles, inside the fence with the pretty painted lies that tell you this zoo is freedom OR you can step out on this new path and press forward. It will not be easy all the time but it will be worth it . Don’t become another one of the someone’s somewhere who failed you.

Recruit #LWDR

Perfectionism vs Reality

We are borderline obsessive about labels, how we look to other people, what others think, image, status, and the list can continue. Perfectionism isn’t just a minimal piece of the puzzle, it is a living organism encompassing the entire operation.

We often talk about not wanting to fit into the box. We wave rainbow flags, hang crosses around our necks, preach about racial injustice, and scream for less prejudice between the sexes but in the same breath we create our own box. We box ourselves up and try to sell our product as the fix all. We begin to create a monster of people needing to agree with us, rather than our original message of wanting people to care. And when it becomes an extreme need it also becomes a crutch…

And it comes back to this fear of being less.
No one wants to feel less than. That’s part of being human. That’s part of being a creature who wants deeply to be loved and accepted.
But we’ve gotten caught up in receiving it the wrong way. The message has been misrepresented. We have come to believe that love is something you earn.

By success, fortune,
and if we must… by artificial beauty.
We have charted love like a retirement plan – showing people what they can have in the future if they invest in being perfect now.
But love isn’t like that and neither is life. Is it?
Life is messy, complicated, sometimes frustrating, most days pretty damn beautiful, and there are hundreds of days in between that are just average.

And love… well love is something we already have.
I believe in a God whose grace wraps his arms around us all day, every day regardless of our acknowledgment of him.

Our lives are dedicated to being accepted, seen, wanted, and loved. But the reality I have come to understand through grace is that we already have it. We are already loved. We are already accepted. We are already wanted.
God loves us purely and perfectly for being a creature of his creation. Yes simply for existing.

But the message has been misrepresented. We’ve been told by even the church that love must be earned. That we must say a certain prayer, attend a certain church, live a certain lifestyle, love a certain type of person, and be a certain type of “christian”. We must, essentially, fit in the very box we claim to reject. And though with our lips we reject it we spend our entire lives trying to fit into it.

We are like stars and circles trying to fit into a square hole. We weren’t all meant to be the same. We weren’t all meant to live a certain way and although we know it we seem to be much like a toddler trying to line up shapes that don’t match – forcing something that wasn’t supposed to be that hard.
This is where perfectionism takes such a nasty hit on our lives. Because it messes with our spirits too. Because we can’t fit into the box that’s being sold to us or worse because the box is cruel and mishaped and impossible so we run… we run hard in the opposite direction. And we try to perfect other things. If we can’t quite be perfect that way, in the spiritual lifestyle, maybe we can be the perfect husband or son or employee or friend…. And it doesn’t work that way.

I know this first hand.

I couldn’t fit into the box but I really wanted to. I wanted to fit. I pushed myself, I manipulated my emotions, I hurt myself, I nearly sold my soul to fit into that damn box. And when I finally realized I would never quite fit I tried to perfect everything else. I went to exhausting levels in order to look as perfect as possible but when I ended each day I was nowhere closer to what I really wanted.

Love. Companionship. Acceptance.

I had acceptance and sure even companionship but not really. I was being accepted for what I presented not for the whole truth. Not for a core part of me.
I was so pressed for perfectionism that I had lost sight of something.

That beautiful is found in all the uniqueness in the world not the manufactured, perfectly boring sameness of it. But we press forward. Chasing hard after something that is impossible to attain – hoping, maybe even praying that once we have it the hole will finally be filled.

Perfection encompasses so much of our world because we continue to sell it as the way to happiness. And despite the fact that the core of us knows otherwise we often times still try to chase after it with every fibre of our being anyway. But until we understand the reality of something how can we know the actuality of it? Well look now. Where in your life are you chasing something painfully unattainable? Do you know you are loved and accepted where you stand, as you are, in whatever you are doing, on whatever path you are taking… right here…right now? Not because you said a prayer. Not because you go to church or don’t. In fact not even if you acknowledge God at all. You are loved. Pure and simple for existing.

Today… try on that reality, even if it’s a little confusing.

Recruit #LWDR

Confession of a Reformed Flirt

I had a flashback the other day to some advice I was once given about relationships but to discuss that we have to travel back several years to a more pompous me. Pretentious is truly the best word to describe me at that time. Lost would be another.

I was not a participant at large of this particular discussion taking place. I was, instead, on the sidelines listening as I hid behind words of what I would do someday, as if life doesn’t tick by every minute.
And it was this arrogant guy who got the relationship advice. Advice, at the time, I assumed was beneath me. Advice, at the time, that was actually way over my head. But I want to share it. Over the years it’s become my own, tweaked with time and stretched with learning by failing.

I suppose it’s because I often see people (myself included) fail to understand what honouring the other person in their relationship means. I think we get it confused with praise driven actions.

Here’s what I mean: When we are present with the person we are dating or married to we focus on them. We open their doors, we compliment their appearance, we love on their needs, we are attentive to their words, and we are “publically” in a relationship. We do all these things and throughout are acknowledged for them. And that’s great. It’s not a problem, in fact they are needed actions in a relationship. Little gifts and romance and quality time.

Needed but they are not the most defining part of honouring our relationship.

See we don’t necessarily honour our relationships in the presence of the person we love, we honour them in their absence. When we are conscious of our words and movements and interactions with other people when they are not around. When we are still “publically” in a relationship without them around our arm.

Some people say to me, “Calvin I have a flirty personality, I can’t help it.”

Me too. I HAD a flirty personality.

But I realised there is a difference between being genuinely friendly and flirting that communicates more… flirting that disregards and disrespects the person who trusts you when they leave your side. And that fine line is a dance each of us have to be careful to join.

“Calvin how do I know the difference?”

Some of the best advice I’ve ever been given about relationships was: “You should act the same without the person you are with as you do in their presence.”

Meaning: It shouldn’t matter if they are there or not.
Your behaviour, your words, your actions and interactions should be consistent.

Maybe some of you are rolling your eyes or assuming what I’m saying is juvenile or controlling or beneath you. Well then you are reacting the same way I did when I was younger, when I sat around that table acting as if I already knew. And as harsh as this may sound I’m going to give you advice I wish someone would have given me back then.

Grow up.

Seriously… we all could do some growing up. And part of growing up (no matter your age) is realising pride doesn’t get you very far and disrespect gets you even less. It’s very rarely big things that destroy relationships… it’s little things chipping away over time. And sometimes those little things are what eventually create a huge crash.

Want to know the difference?

Well ask yourself this,

“Would I talk to this girl (or this guy) the same way if my significant other was present?”

“Would I be acting this way if the person I love could see me?”

If the answer is “No” then you’ve ventured into harmful flirting.

Now this post isn’t about flirting.

This is a post about learning to respect the person you love. Sometimes I think we don’t realize how important the little things are. How over time they either build a relationship or destroy it. They either create a foundation or chew away at it like terminates to its core.

Trust is such a fragile thing. It can be solid as gold but one chip, one moment of falsity and the integrity of the piece begins to quickly diminish.

Ask someone who’s trust has been broken.
Ask someone who has had to rebuild trust they broke.

And trust is built or broken down as much by the little things as it is the big ones. It navigates one’s ability to take you at face value or need more information. It creates safety, comfort, and the diminishing need to control. If there is trust there is no need to control.

And trust? Comes from respect.

It all circles back. A connective web that binds together what we see as good, healthy relationships or unwinds like the ones that don’t put stock in the little, everyday things.

Because the truth of it all is you are either building for a future or you are wasting time. You are either growing something or stomping it down. You are either all in or you have a foot out the door. Which do you want to be?

I wish I would have listened to that advice years ago, I wish someone would have told me to grow up and get over myself. I would have had less heartache… more so I would have caused less heartache.

Thankfully I’ve learnt and I’m ready to put these lessons into practice.

Recruit #LWDR

Play Your Hand

There are so many things in life we have no control over:
The weather.
Who our parents are.
Where we grow up.
Selfish people.
Crime.
The list goes on long enough to make this blog post more than a lengthy piece of depression.

As so many say… we can’t change the cards we are dealt. And I understand that. In fact I respect it. There are so many things that had I been given an alternate card would have been easier. I don’t know anyone who says differently about their own life.
But I don’t think it’s the cards that define us, rather I believe it’s how we play the hand we are dealt.
Despite our greatest efforts of blaming the dealer for a shabby hand what really sets the stage for what kind of person we are is how we respond to what we are given.

No one deserves illness, an unexpected death in the family, the effects of crime, the hurt of heartache, or the pain of bruises but they happen. Every day good people are handed crappy cards.

It just… happens.

And a lot of times we curse at the clouds or cry on our knees and that to me is rather beautiful. Not the pain of course, but the response. The understanding we are being heard. As so many of you know I myself am a deep seeded believer in the power of prayer and grace and peace. But I do not believe my life is meant only to be passive, sitting waiting for the next step to be done for me. I do not believe I am defined by the cards life deals out. And I don’t believe God wants that for any of us either.
Life isn’t a waiting game; a hopeless saga of praying a three of spades into an ace of hearts. Trust me. If it was my life would be radically different. And I don’t say this as an outsider looking in, I say this as a once inactive participant looking out. I prayed. I “hoped”. I sat, constantly flipping over the card hoping it had changed.

You see there are the cards you are dealt and then there’s the fate you choose.
Your response is your fate… not your cards… not your circumstance.
We choose if we give up.
We choose if we become stagnant.
We choose if we let people bully us down.

So many of us take the excuse of a bad deck and run with it. We blame our standing still on someone else, on circumstance, on dumb luck. But forward, backward, bad attitudes, excuses, failed shortcuts, intimidation of our own fears, and everything in between is navigated or steered off course by us. And only us.

Life isn’t easy, but the ownership of our movements is simple. It’s us.
No one else. At the end of the day we are responsible for ourselves. We dictate if we are coming or going / if we are growing or wilting / if we are a big kid who can own up to our own actions or a whining kid who makes excuses.
And we are also the person who gets to witness all of the finger prints of grace along the way. It’s not just about owning where we need to grow up or give in or get our butts in gear. It’s also about enjoying our success – big or small.

We own our responses and we reap the benefits of it. We are the ones who harvest the fruit of our labour. That’s why understanding the root is utterly important because it grows the tree that produces the fruit which indicates what kind harvest we are going to have.

Too many people live in the passenger seat of their own story. They become passive for any number of reasons but the largest one I see those around me facing is this believe growth comes in large leaps and massive change. Most change, however, doesn’t.

You don’t plant a seed and overnight see a full blown oak tree the next day. You don’t plant a flower merely to see it blossom hours later.

Real growth… authentic growth is developed over time through small, every day steps. We don’t wish ourselves different or more trustworthy or stronger or wiser or deeper or more proactive in a moment. We become those things through actions that reflect such characteristics.
A wise person is not wise because they put a name tag on identifying themselves as such – wisdom is growth through decisions and experience over time. Just as a trustworthy person isn’t trustworthy because they puff their chest and say so. Such a characteristic evolves throughout their decision for honesty over and over and over again. Choose to participate. Make active steps towards who we want to be. Our fate is in our hands, every day.

There will always be curve balls, we can’t wish them away. But we can work on our swing…

I have tried every different way to be an inactive part of my story. I have tried wishing and praying. I have tried ignoring hoping the problem would dissolve itself or the growth would happen while I slept. But life isn’t like that. There will be an end buzzer. Time ticks by and age continues to count up no matter my opinion on the matter. That’s one of those “no control” situations. But my response to my time here… well that’s fate I choose. And that’s an understanding that has taken years to sink in.

Recruit #LWDR

Be Still

I am often thrown by curve balls. I have a tendency to panic into a projecting frenzy when I see them coming. I can be slightly neurotic. I make lists as if they are my saving breath. I analyze over and over again. But what keeps me sane is rarely any of my tactical approaches.
It is found in the moments I actually rest in stillness. When I allow peace and grace to invade where I was trying to control. When I step back and let reality that I cannot manage everything, everywhere, all the time, step in. When I come to remember while planning is great it cannot always be executed as I planned. It is when I am reminded to take a breath and let the cards fall that I often, more than all my efforts, find a seed of hope in the midst of a storm.

Exodus 14v14 – “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

Psalm 46v10  “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Recruit #LWDR

Heartbreak Kid

I’ve been thinking a lot about scars and pain and heartbreak lately. We are walking realities that these three things exist but more importantly – and here’s the kicker – that they matter.

Yep.

Heartbreak matters.
Pain matters.

Not because everyone should have to go through it, I’m not wishing agony on people I care about. It matters because regardless what I wish, it will happen. And it matters because it reinforces something we all must know in the depths of our core. And that is: THERE ARE THINGS IN THIS WORLD WORTH FIGHTING FOR EVEN IF IN THE END WE ARE LEFT WITH A FEW SCARS.

I know a lot of us believe it’s heroic to be numb to heartache. That if we can somehow shield ourselves from every feeling or if we only pour ourselves in halfway or if we keep people at arms length we’ve somehow cheated the system. But that’s just not the case.

You see the thing is if we keep people at arms length or we never allow ourselves to love again and if we fail to put hope and trust into another person or even into ourselves who we are actually letting win is the wound itself. What I mean is people don’t hold themselves back on a whim. We do it because of something that happened to us; we do it because of a wound we carry.

Please note that my words are specific here. I’m not saying because of a scar we carry, I’m saying a wound.
A scar signifies there was once a wound but now it’s healed – a scar says where we’ve been and what we’ve encountered but in many ways it is no longer present.
But a wound? A wound is not healed. It is still bleeding or festering. It still causes us to want to bandage it up and hide it away from each new day. A wound is something we itch at when things begin to feel like they are healing. We scratch away that potential, we hide it from the light, and we keep people at arms length from seeing it.

A wound is present. Constant. And until given proper treatment will not heal but instead do the opposite. It will remain, it will get infected, it will grow and deepen and if we are not careful we will begin to convince ourselves it’s ok.

But it’s not.

A song I know says, “heal the wound but leave the scar”

And it’s a line I want you to remember. See healing doesn’t mean forgetting (you may always see the scar) but it does mean forgiving.

Forgiving yourself.
Forgiving your past.
Forgiving your mistakes.
Forgiving others mistakes.

Forgiveness isn’t always saying “it’s ok what you did” sometimes we can’t get to that place but it does free us from the burden of carrying it again.

The real heroes?
I think they are the people who say these are my scars, this is where I come from, but I am still going forward. I still believe there is something worth fighting for, I still believe I AM worth fighting for.

Battle wounds are inevitable. I know no one untouched by pain but healing and hope and love and grace those things are real too. As present as pain can be so can healing. You are worth fighting for and sometimes that means finding healing and closure and…. yes…. hope.

Recruit #LWDR

Live Wise, Die Ready

To me there is nothing scarier than a life un-lived or to die a character who’s story was never told. I’m terrified to find myself stuck.
I want to be enough. I want to be enough for myself, I want to be enough for my love, I want to be enough in life. And I can’t be that saying “oh there’s time”. I can’t wait until tomorrow, I can’t pretend that the changing seasons are merely scenery. They, instead, are a reminder that time is constantly moving forward and with it, partnered hand in hand, is life.

I want to live like I’m 31. I want to keep making choices I’m proud to tell. I want to love beyond myself. I want to grow in my relationships and career and faith. I want to make every day an adventure even in the smallest way. I’ve been giving myself a break with the new job assuming that was enough but it was simply a new starting block.

Life is happening now. I refuse to miss it.
The plastic version of you will never equal in the worth of who you truly are. You matter and acceptance of your whole self-matters exponentially.

Own your mistakes – learn from them – remove the masks – fight for those you love – and walk away from those who call you to be less. This isn’t a game… you don’t get to pack up the board when you want or go back to start. You have one life to live – make it worth it. Live Wise, Die Ready.

Who you are is being shaped every moment you are awake. Your choices. Who you surround yourself with. The words you tell. The story you speak. The labels you allow. The roles you assume you are to play. All of it forms you. All of these things are what paints the picture of your life… and these aren’t water colours. You can’t go back, you can only go forward.

So… what are you painting today?
I have a long way to go, but every day I think it gets a little clearer.

The Revolution Continues »» http://mfi.re/?fp9w6tahkn6pm6z

Recruit #LWDR

You Are More

Your value is not dependent upon the number on the scale.
Your presence is worth more than a cheap one night stand.
Your heart should not be placed on a website or social media site like its for sale.
Because you are not for sale.
You are not an object.
You are more.

Now I’m not blaming any website or social media for that matter – for goodness sake they did not make someone post something. What I’m blaming is society. This horrific cycle of telling people the Jones matter more than the content of someone’s character.
That a person’s worthiness sits inside their physical image, accent of their voice, depth of their wallet, height of their intelligence, or degree of their popularity.

It’s just…. well it’s crap honestly. I know that’s harsh but all I smell is a pile of manure masked as a something of worth but it’s not.

YOU are worthy – not plastic stereotypes.
YOU matter – not the dollar amount in your bank account or the number of “friends” on your Facebook.
Personally I would rather have two amazing, supportive, authentic friendships than 200 plastic friendships that are more like charades than participating in something of substance.

Don’t sell yourself short.
Your story cannot be fenced in by parameters made by people who have never read from your pages.

You have wounds that you have overcome and some that you are still trying to bandage.
You have growth spurts and stretch marks where life handed you more than you ever thought you could handle but you are still standing.
And in the times you couldn’t stand – the times were life kicked the ever living crap out of you and you found yourself face down in the mud and that one person, that person you never expected picked you up and carried you until you gained footing again. You have those times too.

You have inside jokes and memories you share with something that have never actually been spoken out loud to anyone else.
You have first loves, heartache, inspirations, and heroes.
You have that one time when you can’t believe you actually stood up on a stage and did that.
You have secrets hidden in the journal beneath your mattress and a public blog you can’t believe people actually read.
You have future plans and an ungodly fear of bugs.

You have those things about you that you wish you could fix but they balance out with the way that shirt looks like on you or how your hair feels after you’ve been to the hairdresser.

You have allergies and favorite smells and a certain spot that you go to think at.
You have pet peeves and habits and a mother who drives you crazy but loves you more than life.

You are too complex to be simplified.
You are too beautiful to be painted.
You are too human to be described in 160 characters.
You are more.
You are more.
YOU ARE MORE.

Start to live before you get too old. Life is short. Fear is stupid. So are regrets.

I confess, I am human. I have felt that way. I have felt less… I have acted less… but I refuse to make someone feel less. Change occurs when people are willing to plant their feet in the sand and hold others while the waves come crashing in. You are worth more. And if today and as you enter 2014, you can’t possibly believe that, I want you to print this out and repeat after me until you can own it for yourself.

I AM MORE THAN ENOUGH.
I AM WORTH FIGHTING FOR.
I AM SIGNIFICANT SIMPLY BECAUSE I AM BREATHING.
I AM LOVELY AS I STAND.

Recruit #LWDR

Taking Christmas Back!

“Oh come let us adore Him, oh come let us adore Him, oh come let us adore Him, Christ The Lord”

This song has been echoing in my mind this Christmas season. More importantly, I pray to hear it on repeat every moment of every day.

Let’s BEHOLD Him in all of His awe and splendour, let’s fall in love with the heart of God our Father who is constantly drawing us to Himself and longing to show us His best. When we keep our eyes fixed and locked on Him, “the things of this world will grow strangely dim” and we’ll stop seeing what we don’t have, or even what we’ve lost and we will begin to see everything we do have and how blessed we truly are. Christmas can then be about what it’s meant to be, showing Christ. Pouring out undeserved and unconditional love on the world around us, because we are loved and adored equally in return by our Saviour. Being thankful and loving others lavishly, the way we’ve been loved first, is the cure to all that ails our heart. This Christmas and beyond, lets worship with our lives and lets simply adore Him for all He is and all He has already done. Let’s take Christmas back!

Life through the lens of Christ, turns the black and white, to technicolor.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Recruit #LWDR

God really can’t be that small.

The one thing I truly try to place in the hands of other people is their reality to choose. God gave it to them. That choice. It wasn’t some priest sitting behind a curtain, it wasn’t a pastor in the streets, and surely… yes surely it was not me who gave it to them.

But they have it anyway. God gave it to them.

See God believed real love was a choice. Free will came into play because he wanted us to choose him, to love him, to honour him with our words and our actions and our heartbeats. He believed forcing himself on us was manipulative and frankly wasn’t love at all.

The irony of that is hearing and being witness to and being victim of people trying to force God and more sadly religion down the throats of people. They march around with posters proclaiming they know of God’s wrath and fury for those who do not live the same way as them. They speak in arrogance yet call people who disagree with them prideful. And, as said, they manipulate the very love that was created as a choice.

Do I want people to choose to walk away from God? No way! I want them to know of grace and authentic, real, unimaginable love. But to be so blunt it hurts my soul… I absolutely understand why they walk away.

If the only example of “God” they have been exposed to is really just a little g “god” someone else wants us to serve I understand why it leaves a bad taste in their mouth. If the only “god” they know is cruel and broken and wants them to fit inside a specific box then I understand why they really can’t get into that “god”.

See in a lot of ways, despite the original beautiful reasons for religion, I fear religion, specifically the more fire and brimstone Christianity, has presented God like a jack-in-the-box. He’s good and he’s good and he’s good and then he strikes. They tell people September 11th was a way for “God” to punish the immorality and the rest of the sin of New York. They say school shootings are part of “God’s plan”.

Seriously? Yes, God is sovereign and He is in control but..

If that’s the “God” we are presenting, if that’s the “God” that people are being told about… goodness me… no wonder more and more people walk away every year.

Here’s what I think. I think arrogant, selfish, broken people flew planes into buildings and loaded guns prior to walking into schools. I don’t think God was holding a gun or steering a plane that day. But I sure as heaven believe he was kneeling on the ground crying with those mourning, he was wrapping his arms around terrified students and parents. He was agonizing with an entire faith that was manipulated that day as they watched a nation turn against them because of the choices of hurtful people.

God gave us a choice. Most days I’m grateful for that. Some days I just wish we lived in a world literally manipulated by Him where there was no hate or murder or brokenness. But the world isn’t manipulated by God. It’s given a choice.

We have a choice.

And honestly I hate to break it to you but I don’t believe there is one denomination who has it right, one “religion” who has perfected it. I’m not arrogant enough to believe I know, for certain, everything about God. Anyone who tells you they do are lying to you and to themselves. The bible, when used correctly and beautifully, is a looking glass into the love and grace and character of God. But when used as a weapon to break people down and to make them small and to say this is all there is about God… ugh well that just upsets me.

God really can’t be that small.

I am not going to be someone who trashes the bible. I love the gospels. I love what we can learn about the patience and grace and glory of God through the bible. But God is more. He is still more. We learn so much from the bible as a guideline but God can’t be boxed in. He can’t possibly be fully understood even by the 21st century human mind. That’s what I love. We can become the elite intelligence of the world but we still will never figure out God. He still isn’t as small as we sometimes hope He is.

Sometimes that can frustrate us. We want all the answers. But it is my greatest hope that we can allow it to inspire us. To blow our minds. To wow us. Because honestly… who wants to serve a God who can so easily be broken down by us? Who wants a God that small? Because if our God is that small then we begin to feel greater than Him. We begin to feel we no longer need Him. That we have it. We begin to believe our rules reign rather than His love. We begin to draw lines in the sand. We begin to preach about fire and anger rather than express love and grace.

And if we were honest…. well we’d realize there are far too many people out there making God as small as I just mentioned.

God really can’t be that small.

We have a choice. Every day. How we live. How we serve. What our life and heart stands for.

I will, every day, as best I can choose grace. I choose to believe the goodness in people. I choose to believe God sees goodness where I struggle to see it. I choose to believe love continues even where religion fails. I choose to believe God is bigger than the rules, Jesus is stronger than the burning flames of whatever manipulated “love” people are preaching, and above all… I will continue to believe grace is always, ALWAYS enough.

Relentless Grace

I believe in relentless grace.

Often times we hear the word grace and we think of loveliness and beauty – and to be fair I do too. I think those are wonderful descriptions but they are also only part of the story.

Grace isn’t puny: it isn’t weak, it doesn’t fold, and it never gives up.
Grace is the superhero of souls without a cape. It doesn’t ask for recognition or permission and it doesn’t wait until we’ve earned enough gold stars to make it into the platinum club of “heaven”.
Grace pursues without reservation, Grace loves without restriction and Grace gives without a need for reward. And honestly a lot of times grace makes us uncomfortable.

We live in a time and in a world that wants rules, even if we are the victim of them. We want to understand the rules of who’s in and who’s out. We need to know who’s good and who’s bad. We thrive on how far we can push the line. We need to know our boundaries so we can know how far we can go or step over them before it’s too far. Our constant question is, “how far is too far?”. Because we don’t want to be limited, we want our freedom, we want our free will, but we also don’t want to lose our ticket to heaven.

We don’t want to be limited by “religion” or faith but we also want to go to heaven comfortably.
Or at least that’s how it feels these days…. Doesn’t it?

But like I said… often times grace isn’t comforting to us, it makes us uncomfortable.
Why? Because grace offers everyone the exact same thing… unlimited, unconditional acceptance. And grace views us all the exact same… desperately in need of that acceptance, mercy, and love.

So it bothers us. Even those of us living inside the tension of a minority or a hot pressed debate in the “christian” world.

Why does that guy get the same grace as me?
How did she DESERVE that as much as I did?
How are we even the same?

And so these questions both intrigue us and haunt us. We are limited by our own judgments, upbringings, circumstances, and mind space to understand grace. We can’t quite wrap our minds and hearts around. And sometimes because of that we have a tendency to dismiss or put it on the back burner. We know it’s boiling but we don’t necessarily worry about it.

You know what I love about grace?
That we can’t quite wrap our minds and hearts around it.

Yes I once was a person who left it burning in the background. I knew it probably held value, I knew it was part of faith, but I put little to no understanding of it. In fact when explaining grace I have a hard time because no matter what I say or how I say it, well frankly it won’t be enough. And that excites me.

You see I don’t believe faith can be boxed in, packaged neatly, labelled, and handed out like the next fad. I don’t believe it can possibly be as small as we want it to be. That’s what should be ruffling feathers not who deserves heaven and who doesn’t. Because honestly… real talk time… none of us deserve heaven and yet grace calls us loved anyway.

See despite our best efforts grace has been consistent even through our inconsistency to understand it. Grace has been bigger even when we tried to cage it in. Grace has been present even when we have remained focused on judgment, destruction, and self. And grace finds us in the darkest hour, when we are weak and broken with nothing to give and calls us worthy.

I am a living, breathing example of the second chance grace gives. I am a walking second chance.

And grace hasn’t given me just one… it’s been many chances over and over again.
So then the question arises, “Well how many chances do you get?”
and grace responses, “How many chances do you need?”

In today’s world love is presented as conditional. You must earn love through good performance such as success, attentiveness, good grades, great salary, saying the right thing in the right moment, and being whoever that person wants you to be.
We present love as conditional. It’s how we start relationships, it’s how we look at friendships, it’s what the working world communicates to us, and frankly churches have unfortunately been stirred up in that as well.
But grace looks at the good list and the bad list, the who’s in and who’s out, and grace wraps it’s arms around all of them as if it can hug the world with space to spare.

Grace shakes us up while it breaks us down.

I promise you one thing, above everything else, I understand this beyond the depths of myself.
Grace found me when I was at the end of my rope. I was defeated. Lonely. Abandoned. Selfish. I was laying in the pile of my own filth. I had no strength to get up, I had no fight left. I was ugly.
And grace reached down, far into the darkness I had grown accustomed to and said, “I love you still”
I felt it through friends who should have left my side but never did.
I found it inside the will to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
It was in my breakdown that grace rebuilt me; called me worthy when I was unworthy – called me loved when I was far from loveable.
And despite all my efforts throughout the years to write all of grace down I have come up thousands upon thousands of words short.

If you find yourself in a good place – grace celebrates with you.
If you find yourself broken – grace holds you.
If you find yourself alone – grace knows you.
If you find yourself surrounded but unseen – grace sees you.
If you find yourself searching – grace will lend a compass.
If you find yourself rejected – grace accepts you.
If you find yourself unsure – grace is patient.
If you find yourself rejecting – grace will remain.
If you find yourself judged – grace will sentenced you as loved.
If you find yourself in darkness – grace will find you.

And the thing about grace is… it doesn’t matter who you are. Even if others reject you or society rejects you or a people group rejects you grace sees you as loved.
… even if you are selfish
…even if you are arrogant.
…even if you are straight or gay or unsure.
…even if you are a bigot.
…even if you are a “sinner”.
…even if you are cheater, a liar, or a thief.
…even if you are screw up.
…even if you are nobody.
…even if you don’t believe.

And all of this remains, every circumstance, whether you choose to acknowledge grace or not.
Grace isn’t puny. Grace isn’t small. Grace is big enough. Grace can handle you. Grace… always… remains.
Jesus said to us “My grace is enough.”
Full stop.
There is a full stop at the end of that sentence.
Not a “but”, not a comment of you needing to earn grace, and not a list of requirements to deserve it.
Just simply… “My grace is enough.”
You do not have to earn grace beloved, grace has already surrounded you and called you love.
Today or next week or maybe next year it is my greatest hope that you are able, for even a moment, to realized it, feel it, see it, and hold it.
You are loved.
Grace is enough.
And you… yes you…are worthy even in your unworthiness.

Compromise but don’t compromise..

This past weekend, I spent time with dear friends that are close to my heart and who I hold in high regard. We had some deep discussions and I realised a few things.

If you ever venture onto twitter you’ll find a plethora of interesting information. Anywhere from song lyrics, to well written blogs, to grungy pictures, to flirting, to romantic conversations, to hysterical pictures, to well… things I would rather not put into this piece.

But what is most interesting, what I find to be the same on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram or Tumbler is the attention relationships get. I mean it makes sense. We are relational beings. We long for connectivity and conversation. We hope to be heard. Sometimes we throw a tweet into the universe and hope someone just stops to even acknowledge it for even a moment. We write blogs praying someone, somewhere understands even a word or sentence of what we are feeling. We long, more so we need relationship. Not just romantic but that, of course, is where I’m going.

I have pretty high standards. I don’t mean that as a snobby comment but an actual one. When it comes to myself and my friends and who we date, well… I have pretty high standards. I don’t mean to assume myself or even my friends are perfect – we aren’t. Ask our exes. Ask our parents. I don’t know ask any of us about the other.

We aren’t.

You aren’t.

No one is.

I’m saying this upfront because I want to shed light on something I think is often overlooked and yet one of the most fundamental pieces of a healthy relationship. And I want to make sure we realize this fundamental piece of advice (something I’ve learned the absolute hardest way possible) is for all of us completely imperfect people.

Compromise is what you do in a loving relationship, not what you do when choosing who to date.

Over and over again I have had someone come to me and tell me dating is about compromise. And that is a very, very delicate line to dance on. Because in relationships yes… compromise is essential. Doing things for both of you, learning you can’t be right every single time, and things of that nature are truly, deeply, intimately important. They are what keep a relationship going.

BUT.. When looking for someone to date, when beginning to get to know someone and if they are a person you want to invest in and settle into something with… well.. compromise really has no place.

Let me be careful here. I don’t mean be a complete idiot and demand your way with every person you meet. That really just makes you a sour person and well… a lonely one.

What I mean is you need to understand what you want, furthermore what you need and then find it. Sometimes we get so caught up in the bigness of the dating pool we forget to hold tight to what we actually need. And because we forget that, because we don’t hold it close to our hearts we allow ourselves to compromise and compromise and compromise. And then all of a sudden it’s three or six or nine months later and we can’t understand why the relationship is crashing and falling apart. We no longer know who we are, we need space, and we say we need “me” time. Which… makes sense. Because when we came into the beginning of it we had already let go of what was important to us, what our needs were, and therefore had begun the process of forgetting what keeps us going and thriving.

I don’t believe we compromise to hurt people. We compromise thinking it’s the nice thing to do. We try to be flex but we blur the line between bending and breaking. We misunderstand excuses for plasters (band-aids) believing if we wrap them around the wound and keep saying it will work, that it may in fact work… but it doesn’t.

See the problem with compromise is we did it, in the beginning, so not to hurt the other person. We were flexible, giving up some of the things we were looking for, trying to make someone fit the mold. But eventually that kind of compromise… the kind where you forget what you need, what you were looking for… well that kind eventually hurts people anyway. Because we will begin to ask them to be someone they are not, asking them to step up into a mold we didn’t hold our standards accountable to and at that point we are in error, not them. They were who they said they were and we pretended it was ok. Being too flexible hurts people more than being aware of who you need and going after it.

It’s not arrogant to know what you want.

It’s not foolish to have standards and morals and needs.

It’s not selfish to choose not to settle.

Honestly… it’s wise.

“Love is patient, kind, and does not demand its own way.” A beautiful piece from 2 Corinthians I know. But to get there, to get to love we must find a love worth fighting for. And that takes us understanding what we need, understanding the kind of person we are and therefore the kind of person who can best compliment us (and vice versa).

Don’t settle for just anyone – fight for the person worth settling down with.

And how you fight for her or him is choosing to be wise and honourable and kind in this crazy world called dating.

And remember something very, very key to this whole thing: You are worth fighting for too.

Don’t settle for someone who thinks they want you but doesn’t commit to it. You are worth someone’s undivided attention.

Don’t settle for someone who is vision casting your future together in secret while bound to someone else. You are worth someone’s whole heart.

Don’t settle for someone who takes from you only so you can give to them. You are worth someone’s time and energy.

Don’t settle for someone who kinda, sorta, maybe could someday come close to what you wanted. You are worth more.

When we settle like that we are telling ourselves we are unworthy… unworthy of being sought after and fought for and truly, really loved. And that’s nonsense.

You are worthy. You matter.

Waiting… weeks or months or years is sometimes insanely hard. It causes you to doubt and hurt and struggle and question. But I would rather walk or see you walk through those questions than settle time and time and time again for someone who didn’t deserve mine or your hearts. Because they keep taking from us and as they do they leave us farther, farther away from who I really am and who you really are.

A beautiful, worthy, wonderful person who should be loved, fought for, craved, cared for, needed every single day.

See I have high standards… for the people my friends date and who I date. Not because I’m a snob, not because I’m better, not because I’m perfect, not because I somehow think I have it all together (I’m a walking disaster half the time) but because it matters to me where we invest our hearts. It matters to me who we invest our hearts inside. And it matters to me who is handling our hearts.  It matters to me how we move inside those relationships – how we honour ourselves and that person’s heart. Why? Because every move we make, every word we speak leads us somewhere else. We are either moving deeper into who we want to be or farther away. Whoever each of them marries I want to be able to stand there that day and say,

“They never stopped fighting for you –  not with their words, not with their movements, and not with their choices. They struggled, they stumbled, but they kept fighting to be the very best person they could be… for you.”

I want to be able to say that for them, I want them to say that for me, and I want that for you too.

Take my advice or don’t. But what I will say is that if you want to settle down with the right person you can’t just settle for any person.

My advice doesn’t come from a place of authority but from deep in the trenches of reality. I know what it means to just… settle… because far too many times in my life I did just that. It wasn’t until I had the courage to understand what I needed that I began to look for the right person (I’m still searching by the way). There is no perfect story – fairy-tales are beautiful but stripped of the actualities of life. But you can write your own story – a story worth sharing and continuing to write each day. It’s ok if you got it wrong every day before this as long as today you work to get it right.  

Who you invest your heart in matters – remember that.

Hark, The Herald!!

Herald: A person who carries or proclaims important news; a messenger.

Hark: To listen attentively.

So many songs in history have been just that, songs that we sang about the Glory of God and about the anticipated arrival of the baby Jesus. Honestly, I didn’t quite understand the language of some of the old classics, so I decided to look up the meanings of the carol: “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing”.

I went to the dictionary and guess what I found out? The title of the song literally means “Listen attentively…. An angel that carries important news is singing”. After all of my years of singing the song I had never thought about what the title even meant. In Luke 2 v 8-14 you can read what the angels are proclaiming.

So many years of waiting for the prophecy of a savior to be fulfilled and finally it has happened. What are the words that God chooses to speak through his Herald Angels? GLORY TO GOD, PEACE ON EARTH, GOOD WILL TOWARD MEN. Do you need a little peace? Do you need a little good will? Isn’t it interesting that God sent his messengers to do 3 things… Give GLORY TO GOD, tell the world that the savior has come to bring peace on earth, and remind them that God was FOR THEM… not against them.

So what are we being called to do this Christmas season? It seems that we are to give Glory to God by being keepers, even purveyors of peace, and Heralds of the good news that all is not lost, that there is hope, and his name is Jesus…. OH and just in case you’ve ever heard anything to the contrary, HE IS FOR YOU. So go tell the world. Be the messenger. Be the Hope… and give all the Glory to God.

Are You A Flight Risk?

I recently watched the movie “Flight” and really enjoyed the concept and acting and the entire movie as a whole. I don’t watch a lot of movies because I end up being disappointed after sitting for 2 hours and sometimes more. But anyway, I am a Denzel Washington fan and he played the leading role in this movie.

Without giving too much away, the story is about a pilot that gets himself caught up in a web of lies after his plane crashes. He constantly has to be running away and looking over his shoulder. Eventually, he has to come clean and he feels such freedom afterwards. This lead me to once again see and understand that the truth sets you free. The Bible clearly states this in John 8v32 “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

If you live a life of lies and dishonesty, I can guarantee that you’ll have to keep on telling lies to cover up the last lie and it’ll just continue until you either get caught and be forced to come clean or you come clean on your own. Either way, once the truth is out, you’ll wonder why you kept lying in the first place. I’m speaking from experience – I’ve been there before and I’m sure many of us have.

Come clean, don’t be a flight risk.

Watch the trailer here: Flight movie trailer

Network Love

I want a hug not a poke or a smiley. I don’t want to write on your wall or comment on your status. I would rather hear your infectious laughter than read it on a screen. Don’t send me smiley faces and LOL’s.

If I could choose I would rather see your laugh lines and your eyes light up or the way your nose crinkles up when you find something really funny. They could tell me so much more.

Would you sit next to me in silence so that I could hold your hand? Or rather try to connect through the emptiness of your network connection? Or is it safer to sit on your side of the screen where you could hide away or be a superstar? Where you could create your own reality, with no weakness, wounds or scars.

I don’t know what this is all about, all I know is that after hours and hours on social networks, I’m still sitting here, alone..

Real Men Get Sleep

Our physical frames matter. People see God in and through them. We have spiritual natures, yes, but our physical frames give our spiritual selves home. They also give home to God the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). From an eternal perspective, they’re temporary. But our actions here and now affect our eternities—and we act, here and now, through our physical frames. Spiritual discipline matters more, but physical discipline and physical condition still matter (1 Timothy 4:7-8).

The prevailing culture of this world tells us men our jobs should be our utmost priority—physical care is good, but must be disregarded when and if it interferes with workplace ascent. “Get it done.” “Do whatever it takes.” “Man up.” To these codes we sacrifice our physical selves, and especially our sleep. We stay late at the office; work late at home; live in hotels, on airplanes. But this is not what our Father God intends:

“It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep” (Psalm 127:2).

God blesses his sons with (and in) sleep. It’s a time to restore and heal; to relinquish worry and stress; to, quite literally, leave everything to him. We should appreciate it fully, be thankful for it, accept it wholeheartedly. We’ve all felt the results when we don’t: racing hearts; pounding heads; clouded thoughts; a lack of productivity, creativity, patience; a compromised resistance to sin. We are never the husbands, fathers, friends, bosses, employees we must be when we sacrifice sleep.

Okay, so what do we do?

Fight for sleep. The struggle is hard but worthy. Minimizing it is neither responsible nor manly. We’re designed for sleep. You know how much—but how much are you actually getting?

Love is Manly.

You might have heard the phrase, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways” (1 Cor. 13:11).

You’d think Paul wrote this phrase right after his call to the Corinthian men to “act like men” in 1 Corinthians 16:13. But he didn’t. Instead he wrote it after a passage you expect to find ensconced in flowery greeting cards:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Yeah, the “love” chapter. “Love” in our culture is like WD-40. We spray it on everything: I love burgers; I love football; I love my wife. Hopefully our love for our wives means more than our love for cooked cow or 22 men chasing after a round ball.

Paul indicates there a came a time in his life when he grew out of an immature, boyish love and embraced a more mature, and dare we say, manly love.

If we’re going to love our wives like Christ loved the church, we must let the boy die. And in marriage, that’s far easier said than done. Check out the comparisons below:

Boys retaliate quickly when hurt; manly love is patient and kind.

Boys require constant affirmation; manly love is not arrogant or rude.

Boys hold grudges when they don’t get their way; manly love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful.

Boys try to win every argument; manly love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.

Boys have a short fuse; manly love bears all things.

Boys write people off when wronged; manly love believes God’s best for the relationship.

Boys lose hope after they’re hurt; manly love always hopes for reconciliation regardless of the pain.

Boys expect to be served; manly love endures all things.

What’s one way to let the boy die in you this week? Endure a minor offense? Reflect on a criticism rather than retaliate? Serve in a tangible way (i.e. put the toilet seat down, offer to take the kids when you are tired, make the bed with all the throw pillows placed perfectly, etc…)?

At the end of his letter to this small church in Corinth, Paul wrote, “stand firm, act like men, be strong” (1 Cor. 16:13). Then he says, “let all that you do be done in love” (1 Cor. 16:14).

One of the manliest things a man can do is love his wife in a manly way.

Fixed Fight

God is completely mindful of the plans he has for your life (Jeremiah 29:11). Before your existence God knew about your past, present and future (Psalm 139:16). When one takes time to ponder on the truth of God’s grace, mercy and loving kindness regarding every aspect of their life, individually we should find comfort in God’s promises of being our helper in all of life’s greatest fights.

God knows all and nothing can succeed against him, absolutely nothing! No matter what you are going through you are already a winner, victorious and a conqueror.

God has already set it in place for you to win, the fight is fixed. Fix your faith as God continuously fights your battles.

Grace and Peace.

God would you forgive us?

Over the years, many Scriptures have come alive to me as I sought out what it means to be a worshipper of God. Not all Scriptures that impacted me were nice little encouragements.

One of the more straightforward Scriptures that molded my worship is found in Amos 5:21-24: “I can’t stand your religious meetings. I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions. I want nothing to do with your religion projects, your pretentious slogans, and goals. I’m sick of your fundraising schemes, your public relations, and image making. I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music. When was the last time you sang to me? Do you know what I want? I want justice—oceans of it. I want fairness—rivers of it. That’s what I want. That’s all I want.” (MSG)

Yep. That definitely cuts to the chase. I think sometimes we have to take a step back from all of the activity and the noise and realize it is easy to lose focus of what and who really matters. We can sing our songs, say our prayers, say “Amen” through every sermon, but when it is all said and done, never really put into practice the things we just heard and declared. A.W. Tozer said it best when he said, “Christians don’t tell lies they just go to church and sing them.

We speak of hope, but ignore the hopeless. We sing about healing, but never reach out our hands to the sick. We cry out for prosperity, but mostly for self-preservation. We ask God to give us the nations, but don’t speak out against racial injustice in our own communities. There is such a thing as worthless worship. It is worship that has words, but no action. It is worship that has sound, but no heart. Jesus defines it in Mark 7:6-7, when he quotes the prophet Isaiah saying, “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’

We in the church have sat around too long saying all the right things, but doing nothing. We have spoken powerful declarations, sung the songs, and prayed the prayers, but now we need to take action. I don’t want to hear us talk about love; I want to see it lived out. I don’t want to just sing about justice; I want to fight for it. I don’t want to dream of every nation, tribe and tongue worshipping; I want to facilitate it.

May we be a people who turn back to God, let our actions line up with our words, and let justice flow like a river and mercy run like a stream!

Grace and Peace.

Being Noticed #TheChristianKid

We all want to be noticed. We all want to be known. We all want to be famous for something. Take your pick.

King Saul, the first king of Israel, was the man. He was popular, handsome, and had the appearance of a leader. His only problem was he didn’t really trust God and chased his own desires. The Lord saw the pride in Saul’s heart, withdrew His leadership from him, and chose David, “a man after God’s own heart,” to take Saul’s place.

God selected David to be the next king when he was the same age as a middle high school student, but David didn’t rule as king until he was 30 years old. David never demanded attention or manipulated his way into the spotlight. Instead, he was obedient to God in everything he did.

“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12).

If we’re being real, everyone wants attention, but most of us go about it in the wrong way. King Saul compromised his faith and integrity to gain a reputation of fame, while King David was patient to trust God, and earned a reputation of humility. One was brought low, and one was raised up.

Your outward appearance and personality don’t matter nearly as much as your faithfulness and obedience. When you listen to Jesus and do what He says, people take notice.

Now what?

Do the choices you make portray you as a man or woman after God’s own heart?

If you got the attention you wanted, would you have the character to sustain your popularity?

FOMO

It’s a Friday night, and you’re planning on chilling and watching Netflix. Just you and your TV. None of your friends have texted you to hang out, but that’s cool. You didn’t feel like hanging anyway.

You pull out your phone and start scrolling through Instagram. Wait, what’s this? Some people went pool-jumping next door? And what about the group who went to the best concert ever? Why is everyone having so much fun? What’s wrong with you?

BAM! FOMO!

We get it. No one wants to miss out on fun. According to your social media, someone always seems to be sky-diving into a Kanye concert. Meanwhile, you’re doing something pretty average—like eating.

The truth is that most of us are more concerned with looking like we’re having fun than actually having fun. We’re afraid of our lives looking normal, so we filter and edit and post the days away to make everyone think our lives are “SOOOOOO LIT!.”

Now the big question: Is it possible to follow Jesus and have fun? Even crazier—is following Jesus more fun? Let’s scroll through the Bible real quick. We will use a “Before Jesus” and “After Jesus” filter:

David

Before: Shepherd and annoying little brother

After: Killed a giant and became king (1 Samuel 17:45-50)

Solomon

Before: Semi-spoiled little child king

After: Became the wisest and richest man who ever lived (2 Chronicles 1:11-12)

Peter

Before: Fisherman

After: Walked on water and lead a church movement (Matthew 14:29)

Paul

Before: Murdered Christians

After: Church leader and walked right out of a guarded prison—TWICE (Acts 12:6-10, Acts 16:25-26)

These guys (and so many more) realized that the fun they had been searching for could only be found in a life lived with and for Jesus. You want some REAL fun? You want Jesus.

Recruit.

Money….

Let’s face it—we all want more money. Money can buy stuff and money can buy fun. (Have you ever seen somebody frowning on a Jet Ski? Thought so.)

The truth is money isn’t a bad thing. Money is like a brick: You can build with it or throw it through a window, but it’s just a brick. The brick itself isn’t bad. So it’s possible that wanting to make money is not a bad thing. At the same time it’s important to ask ourselves honestly if our priorities are straight.

“If I just had more money I’d be happy.”

Ever had that thought?

“Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17).

Money isn’t a bad goal, but it makes a lousy god.

Money always leaves us wanting more. Everybody wants more money—no matter how much or how little they have. Money can give you all you think you want, but won’t give you anything you need. Only trusting in Jesus will give us all we need—not just for our survival, but for our enjoyment.

You might miss out on a Jet Ski or two by trusting Jesus with your money, but you’ll gain all that Jesus knows you need. And honestly, He knows what we need better than we do anyway.

Try tithing. God can do more with just 10 percent of our money than we can do with 100 percent. Also, Practice generosity. It builds faith in God’s ability to give us all we need.

Grace and Peace

Recruit.