How Do You Look at Indulgence?

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What exactly does it look like? Does it look the same for everyone? Is it a bad thing? These are all questions running through my mind as I think about the word indulgence. Why is so simple to over indulge in so many things in life. For example going back through the line at the buffet just one extra time, or for others it may be an extra drink at the bar.

I am not casting judgement on anyone for the Lord knows there are many things in life I have over indulged in. Right now it is sweets (chocolate, candy, cookies) items along those lines are my weaknesses right now. I have admitted in a previous post how I have and do struggle with addiction to many different things. Would you say there is a difference between addiction and the occasional indulgence?

A question I have for you to think about, “Is it possible to indulge too much in another person?” Can we have too much of someone else? I know you are used to me giving more answers and insight in my posts but right now I have more questions and I am hoping maybe you can help me to answer them.

Do you think it is possible to have too much of a good thing? I won’t get mad at your answer, I’m merely curious as to what you think. Today this post is about you and your thoughts on the topic at hand. I am learning to live a life full of moderation. It does not mean I am always succeeding at it, but it does mean I am trying.

For example I eat a meal with my family on Monday nights and then go to Bible study where there is usually (not always) more food brought for us guys to eat. Long ago before gastric bypass I would indulge and eat both places. Now I may eat my meal at home and so I can share in the fellowship around food I will eat dessert with the guys (usually, unless the wife has made an awesome dessert).

Are there places in the Bible which speak to this? At the moment I cannot recall them, maybe you can. I try and love the Lord and do things which are pleasing to him and I would say over indulging in something is not glorifying to Him.

Question: What do you tend to indulge in and do you beat yourself up over it?

Do Date Nights Make Love Stronger?

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This is a question I have pondered for a while. I have come up with several reasons none being more important than just needing the time alone with your spouse. That’s right I said spouse not significant other, boyfriend/girlfriend or what ever other title you may use for your relationship. It is something vital for a marriage.

There is something about having a wedding band on and then tack on kids it makes date nights hard to come by. For my wife and I we have had a hard time making them a priority. But we are trying to change that. It is one of my goals to take my wife out a minimum of once a month for some alone time with just me.

We both have some of the same struggles except for my health is worse than hers. We are both students, are married (duh!) and we have two boys. We try and divvy up the chores around the house. For instance I do the cooking and she does the dishes. But life can become bogged down with feeling ho-hum dong the same things day in and day out.

This is one reason why date night is so crucial. It breaks up the monotony. Most importably of all it lets your wife know you give a damn. When you go too long with out any really special time for the two of you to focus on your relationship it has the potential to crash into the wall. And it would be dangerous and hard to recuperate after depending on how severe things were.

I saw signs of danger ahead and tried to correct course. I am not saying I’m perfect, far from it actually. I’d hate to see someone else make mistakes that can easily be avoided. Nobody ever said date night had to be some extravagant event every time. Just don’t go to Wal-mart and think that is going to cut it. Go somewhere you can sit down and have a real conversation.

Lory and I enjoy going to our local coffee shop. We go there and sit at the community table and get pretty close to one another and just talk about life. What we are excited about, what are we scared of? It may not seem like anything special to an outsider to us it is vital to our marriage.

To lay out the bluntest answer possible to the question posed in the headline date nights are crucial because without the you will lose intimacy with your spouse, and my end up losing them completely in the process. They will become dissatisfied in the marriage, wondering if it is really worth it any more. Make any effort you can to take your spouse out away from the normal things of everyday life.

Make your spouse a priority you will never regret it.

Question: What do you and your spouse enjoy doing for date night?

For the Love of Money

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I’m going to assume most of know how the song goes. For the love of money people will steal from their brother. The Bible says the love of money is the root of many kinds of evils. I had a friend ask a question about selling the gospel to make a fortune. Do you think it is okay to make money off of the Gospel?

What a loaded question. If it were evil to make money off of the gospel no pastor would be able to receive a paycheck. I do believe there is another section of Scripture that says the worker is worthy of his wage. I think it depends on the context of how money is being made off the Gospel. Meaning that is it coming from an honest stream of income that seeks to glorify the Lord, or is it something that just seeks to build up that singular person?

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus speaks about seeking first the kingdom of God and everything will be added to you. Meaning that if you make the gospel a priority the things you need for life will be taken care of. Why do we allow money to get such a hold on our hearts? What is it about money that entangles us so easily?

It seems to be the promises it makes but cannot fulfill. Promises to make you happy, to make you enjoy life, to meet all of your needs and expectations. Yet we fall victim to it every time it comes around flaunting itself in the newest form. Some of us (myself included) are in debt and my never see the light of day. By choosing to be a student and better myself I have brought this upon myself.

We do have something that will meet those promises, or should I say someone. Jesus Christ will fulfill our deepest needs and desires, by taking the selfish ones we once had and replacing them with new ones. Ones based on Him, HIs kingdom and glory.

I’d much rather be serving God with a little bit than living an exhorbant lifestyle displeasing to Him. The reason being is he has changed my heart. I no longer long to live solely for myself, I live for him (or at least try to) and want to see his kingdom expanded. We have a choice to be made in lives. We can either choose to live and build our kingdom. Or we can live lives centered on building His kingdom and in the process reap due rewards.

Question: Who’s kingdom are you going to work on building today?

You Took Your Son Where?!

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Now, I have your attention I will happily answer that question. I took my son to a men’s Bible study. Every monday night (well most) for the last four or so years my wife knew where I would be. I was going to be with a group of guys who invest into me and I into them. There is a solidarity which takes place with this group of men I have never experienced anywhere else.

Over the last several months my youngest son Richard has been wanting to go with me to these meetings. At first I was rather hesitant, I mean come on he’s only six. Then I realized he’s only six and he still wants to spend time with his dad. He wants to do things like his dad does them. I am starting to appreciate that fact. There is going to come a time when he may not want to hang out with me as much and I will need to prepare myself for it.

When he first started wanting to go he was around four and he was just way too young. He has ADHD and has a hard time not getting into things. As he has gotten older he has gotten a bit better and I allow him to bring his Kindle Fire to occupy him while we have our study. Sure I would love to go back to when it was just me getting away from the family and having some alone time. But, I would be missing out on so much. This young man loves me dearly and wants to be around me.

He is seeing what male bonding can and should look like. He is getting a picture of brotherhood inside of Christ. As we get together around food and celebrate the Word of God. I will one day have the time to myself again but I will never be able to regain time spent with my son as a chid. By me taking him it is teaching me how to be less selfish and more of a role model.

While I long to take my oldest son, he has not desire to go and I am not going to force it upon him. I will take the opportunities the Lord is placing before me, to grow and nurture my little one the best I can.

Questions: What are somethings you can be doing with your child(ren) you have been avoiding? Is there a special way you spend time with your little ones?

Why Is Prayer Such a Challenge?

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Have you ever felt prayer is hard to do? If yes, then you aren’t alone. I can name a ton of benefits of the reasons to pray. I bet you can too. So why is it so challenging to take the time to pray? I have one professor who would argue, we don’t trust God to be God.

He would go on to say our faith is to small. Not saying it in a condescending way, but in a matter of fact type of way. We don’t trust God so we don’t grow our faith. We feel that when we pray God doesn’t hear us. And to be completely honest there are times I wonder “God, are you really there?” I would love for Him to respond in some majestical way.

I think we don’t make prayer the priority in life it should be. We don’t put it on our schedule. Michael Hyatt has said, “What gets on the schedule is what gets done.” in several different things I have seen/heard him do. I have to agree with this point. If it is important enough to make the schedule than it means it needs to be taken care of.

The sad thing for me is I have and app on my phone for prayer it even alerts me to when its time to pray. There are many times lately I have just blown it off to keep doing what I am doing. I need to be better about it, maybe change the timer he app wants my attention.

There is another aspect we need to consider also, spiritual warfare. Satan does not want you and I to pray. He would much rather us to stay unconnected from God. It is easier for him to pull us away from the things of God when we are not connected to him. Satan knows that when we are in real relationship with the Father, life for him is much more difficult.

We are in a battle let us never forget that and the only way to win is to be in constant communication with the leader of the troops. The man who has oversight and can see the whole battlefield. He may not give us all the details,but he will let us know our next move. I’m not saying he will show us everything, he does reveal things a piece at a time sometimes.

If we feel our prayers are not being heard we have to ask ourselves what are we doing to keep them from being heard. Are we asking for the wrong things? Are we being selfish? Husbands, Are you loving your wife well? The book of James speaks about several of these issues. I would suggest you check it out.

I know writing this post has been more for me than you. I hope it has been a blessing to you and encouragement to you to more than a discouragement.

Question: Do you struggle with prayer? How do you get back into the habit when you fall out of it?

Do You Have One Word for Your Year?

There is a movement going on right now called “one little word”. Where you pick one word you are going to help guide your year. I thought I’d join in on this movement and make my “one word” PERSEVERE. I have so many things going on in my life right now I need to have perseverance to make it through. It would be simpler to just give up and quit. Lord knows there have been times I have wanted to quit school.

 

It just isn’t easy. Life that is. Trying to raise a family and go to school, now I’m leading a Tiger den (cub scouts). I’m hoping to keep at my writing not only for you guys, but because it does me good. I’m going to persevere. Why choose this word when there are millions of other words that could have been chosen?

 

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Like I said previously, it’s easy to want to quit. However, I am starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. I have ten classes left including the three I will be taking in the spring. As long as I keep on the same schedule/course I’m on right now I will be done with my Mdiv in the Spring of 2016.

 

I don’t have all of the answers right now nor will I ever. As long as I choose to persevere I will win in the long run. Not at just anything but at the goal I have set of earning a degree. People are amazed when I tell them how many credit hours my Mdiv is (93 if you’re curious). I have had several people tell me that the amount of work I am putting in I could have earned a doctorate in a different field. All I can say is WOW!

 

What gives me the drive to persevere? The only answer I have is God. It is something I feel called to do. I have felt called to be in pastoral ministry since I was 21ish. There is no better feeling than standing before a group of people and telling them about God’s word. Writing and interacting with you all is a close second. I am starting to wonder am I called to be an author as well as a Pastor. Why should it have to be an either/ or situation?

 

My question to you is what is your one word going to be for this year?

A Review of Michael Hyatt’s book Platform

0FB6589C-009F-4370-BE2E-140C52E81FD5Today we are going to be taking a look at Michael Hyatt’s book Platform:How to get noticed in a noisy world. This book is a moderate length coming in at 288 pages long and just over 60 chapters. Each chapter is 5-8 pages long give or take a few. Many of his chapters are based off of blog posts he has published on his website. I wanted to share this book with you because at this point in my journey it has been very helpful.

As many of you know I am trying to build my blog in to a place where people come to see Jesus in the midst of everyday life. From time to time I do book reviews either of books I have chosen to read personally or for class. This is one I’ve chosen to read for pleasure and it was definitely enjoyable.

In this book you will find tons of tiny little nuggets of great information. If you are trying to launch anything to the next level I would highly suggest you look into getting this book. The version I read was the kindle edition. So in my references there will be locations and not page numbers.

Hyatt give us a very simple definition, “a platform is the thing you stand on to get heard”. (loc. 297) That sounds simple enough doesn’t it. But it begs the question of what then is my platform? He spends the next several chapters outlining what a persons platform may actually look like. He tells us, “As in times past, success today is not so much about what you know; it’s about who you know. And the who is your platform.” (loc. 304)

So now we know our platform is not our product, our blog, or even our service. It’s people. Building relationships with people and serving them is one way to build your platform. He goes on to tell the reader, “If you want to build a platform, it’s time to get the passion back.” (loc. 417).

If you don’t push yourself and others to expect excellence you are doomed to failure. You need to be excited about what it is you are offering, if your not you may want to reconsider what you are doing. You want to offer your customer/client a wow experience. He goes on to list about 9-10 different things a wow experience entails.

After spending several chapters talking about having a wow product. He discusses the why? Why do you need to do this and what will happen if you don’t. We should set S.M.A.R.T. goals, and think of was we can achieve them. He says, “before you can find your way, you must discover your why.” (loc. 903) After that he gives five reasons why you should commit your goals to writing.

Later in the book he moves into a section on how to work with and use Twitter. I found this section to be very helpful since i am new to the twitterverse. He gives a great tutorial on how #’s work and just a great overall introduction to the outlet.

This was a great book for someone just starting out on their exploration into trying to build a brand. This is a book you need if you want to be a better blogger, businessman, or general sales person.

I highly recommend this book to everyone. Especially to those looking for a place to start building their platform and brand recognition. I chose to write this review just because I have enjoyed so much of Mr. Hyatt’s work, not only this book but his blog as well.

New Year…Same You?

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With today being New Year’s day I thought it would be appropriate to make todays post about goals. Not resolutions, but goals. If you are like me you will make a resolution and completely forget about it before the day is over. I have been listening to Michael Hyatt about setting goals, if I could have afforded it I would have taken his course 5 days to your best year ever. It is a goal setting course to help you focus on and reach your goals for the coming year.
Goals are important to have. It has been said that if you want to be happy set goals. And your happiness will follow as you achieve them. In order to set good goals you need to set what are known as SMART goals.
S: Specific: be intentional about what you want to do. Don’t just say I want to lose weight. Instead say  I want to lose 20 pounds.
M: Measurable: there should be some form of measure whether is time, weight, money, or whatever you need to measure.
A: Achievable: You need to pick something that you are capable of doing. 
R:Results-focused: Pick something that will allow you to see results as you are doing it.
T: Time-bound: there needs to be a set deadline in order to reach that goal.

 

Trust me, I have failed enough at doing the whole resolution thing. I want to finally succeed and plan on using this method. I have written about six goals that I want to achieve by August, when my wife and I are planning of going to Haiti to train pastors and work with orphans.
We need to have goals. Our Lord and savior had one goal and that was to do the will of Him who sent him. The use of goals is going to make a huge difference in your life. I plan on doing daily, weekly, monthly, and so on goals. That way I have short term and long term goals to shoot for.
Do you prefer to have resolutions or to set goals?

New Endeavors

     

This is season of my life where I am trying something new. I have joined a writing program called Tribe Writers. It is something I hope will be a good benefit for me and also for you my readers. It is helping me to find my voice in how I write. I am not sure if you guys like having the more personal side of me, or if you prefer the deeper theological side of me. I know for me it is easier to create the content that is personal with a small mix of the theological. I love to hear from you guys as to what are you looking for and how I can help you find that. While I plan on continue writing how I am, I want to try my best do do things that interest you.

     Speaking of new endeavors I have recently gotten into the world of Twitter, and I am hoping to reach 100 followers sooner than later. If I can do that I plan on having a book give-away. By now you may be asking yourself why do I care about all of this? And that is understandable. I hope you care because at some point you were blessed by a piece I have written and I want you to continue to be blessed. I am not the first person to do any of this. It is good to try new things in life because you never know what you will actually succeed at. I am finding out who I truly am and finding what makes my voice unique. If you would like to let me know what you think about my previous works I am all ears.
     Just remember I am not the only person to ever do something different the prophet Elisha was a farmer before he became a prophet. Jesus was a carpenter. Paul was  a tent maker. David was a shepherd. These are just a few examples of men in the Bible who entered into new endeavors from what they ended up becoming. So this is a step on my journey. Yes, I am still planning on becoming a pastor, but that doesn’t mean I cannot write on the side. I have several friends who are already pastors who do some form of writing along with their main job. Who knows maybe this will be the ministry the Lord chooses to use for me to bless the world. I can only hope that you will stick with me on this journey. It is going to be a fun ride (I hope). I cannot guarantee that I will not have some missteps along the way, but I’m going to enjoy the trip. Because it’s not just about the final destination its about the trip along the way. 
What is a new journey in life you are starting on? What impact are you anticipating on having?

Beating a Dead Horse

     Have you ever done a task and felt like you were beating a dead horse? Well that is how I started to feel after this last eight weeks of class. I was working on a homiletics class on preparing a sermon. The sermon was on Philippians 1:12:18, and almost all of my course work for the last eight weeks has centered around this one portion of Scripture. I have had to do a lot of praying in the last week to get the needed motivation to finish this sermon. There were a few faithful FaceBook friends who offered up prayers alongside of me, and the words just started to flow. 
     I am not sure why it was so hard to write this sermon compared to others I have written in just a few days. Like I said I think it was because I was beating a dead horse. While I am positive some of my contemporaries have a different take on this set of verses I had exhausted my knowledge and understanding of them. I will more than likely post the sermon here on the blog in a few days. There are several verses that help me realize that the work I do is not just for men but for God and they are 1 Cor 10:31, and Col 3:23-24. It is easy to get wrapped up in all the preparation of writing and never actually sit down and write the sermon. I must say that I enjoy all of the work that goes into it and learning how to come up with better illustrations has been helpful. This class has taught me some things I can use in  my own ministry here with you all(my readers) and with the world at large such as those I preach to on occasion. 
     I know that it is not easy to do something that at times can feel like a drudgery, but let me encourage you to finish the work that is set before you. In the end you will be proud that you set your mind to something and finished it and it did not beat you. There will be times you just can’t do somethings and that is okay too, give yourself permission to know when those times are. But, don’t give up just because something gets hard, if you need to ask for help. For instance my oldest son is one of the smartest kids I have ever met (I’m not just saying that because he is my son.) He is in the fifth grade reading at and eleventh grade level. But lately he has been struggling with his math homework and needing more help. He wants to quit because it is hard and everything has always come easy to him, at least pertaining to school work. We won’t let him quit we encourage and help as necessary. I know right now you are asking yourself “What does that have to do with anything?” The answer is simple, if we let him quit he would never learn how to persist in life, and deal with those dead horses that will arise. Have you ever heard the saying,”How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!” That is the process I had to use in writing this sermon heck even writing this post. 
It’s your turn now, what dead horses are you struggling with? How can I help?