Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Recently, I’ve heard several people use the term “balanced approach” when they talk about their life and Christian walk with God. They’re referring to the many other things going on in their lives and the mission of Christ is among the “many.” This sounds helpful, but is it? Is it biblical?

Listen to  Jesus:

Matthew 10:35–39 (ESV)

35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Luke 9:57–62 (ESV)

57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Does this sound like a “balanced” approach to life? Does it sound safe or “normal”? The temptation to make Jesus and His Mission one of the many things in our life (“balanced” approach”)  instead of “the” thing in our life is a real one that we must avoid.

Living the so-called “balanced” life means the cross we’ve been called to carry is one of the many pieces of luggage we’re trying to juggle because we wouldn’t want to get too crazy, radical or fanatical and make it all about Him.

This doesn’t mean we drop all of our responsibilities and stop working and taking care of our families. What it does mean is that we need to take a closer look at our responsibilities, time and resources and ask, “Is what I’m investing in helping move Christ’s mission forward or is it a distraction?”

Thoughts?

SWAT Team In My Mind

Posted: May 19, 2011 in communication, Life, Thoughts

A few days ago I overheard my oldest son Ethan (7) blurt out in a moment of frustration, “I can’t do anything right.” I made my way over to him to see what was going on. It turned out he was struggling with something he knew how to do in his school work, but he was trying to rush it. He stated again, “I’m not good at anything.” Obviously, I told him that wasn’t true and I began to remind him how powerful our words are. “Just as important as the words we say to others; are the words we say to ourselves”, I told him as we sat at the kitchen table. “The thoughts we tell ourselves about ourselves need to be filtered by the Word of God. The Bible states that we need to take every thought captive.” (2 Cor 10:5). My son loved the idea of taking something captive in his mind. He said, “I’ll send in a SWAT Team to arrest my bad thoughts and put them in Brain Jail.” Not a bad idea.

What thought in your mind needs to be locked up?

Nathan

I answered a call  into ministry 16 years ago with a ton of baggage from my past. Some luggage was from choices I had made and some from the choices of others. I’d like to tell you that when I got into ministry all my baggage was thrown out to sea, but that wasn’t the case. Much of it I continued to carry as if it was the most important thing I owned. For me, the process was long because I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I honestly had no idea how much baggage I was carrying. I couldn’t see the toll it was having on my wife and my ministry. There were times when I would have glimpses of my dysfunction but for the most part I made it a point to be busy enough where I wouldn’t have to deal with it. What I didn’t realize is that when you don’t deal with the baggage from your past you inadvertently pick up more baggage along the way. Think of it as dysfunctional coping.

Here are 3 ways that I God took me a part and put me back together again over the last 12 years:

1. My wife: I’ve told her before she is what I never knew I wanted. She’s weathered much in our journey. She’s been an instrument of God in allowing me to see who I really am and who I am not. Some painful conversations, some breath taking realizations and a ton of grace. Marriage is a sanctifying work of God.

2. Pastoral Mentors: These were men who saw God’s best in me and called it out. They weren’t afraid to say difficult things at pivotal moments in my life. They called me up in love and God gave me the grace to respond in a way that was helpful. I’m grateful to still have men in this role in my life. Pastors need Pastors. You never get too old for accountability and growth.

3. Counseling: I’m a big proponent of Christian counseling. I found a ton of help here. I was able have a sounding board with a professional that could help me have a satellite view of my baggage and was able to speak biblical truth into some lies I had believed for a long time. I know some have said they’ve done counseling and it was either not helpful or a bad experience. To that I would argue you would not stop going to medical doctors because of one bad experience. There are some great Christian Counselors out there.

3. Deep Friendships: There have been only a few men that have walked in deep friendship with me over the years. Those that could allow me to be myself without expectations, loved me without reserve and were willing to  hold my feet to the fire when needed. Every man needs an ally in their life. God placed strategic allies in my life over the years to help propel me to major mile markers in my journey.

For some, God radically changes them overnight, others he changes over time. God continues to use people in concert in my life to allow me to trade in my baggage for fruit. (Gal. 5:22).

Grateful,

Nathan

>One Life to Live…..

Posted: January 9, 2010 in Heaven, Life, Priorities

>This morning my son came into my bedroom and asked, “Dad, why does God give cats nine lives but us only one?”. After explaining to my son that “9 lives” was more about getting out of some bad spots in life, I told him that we need to make sure that we live our lives every day being our very best. “If we only get one life that means every day matters” I told him.

Are you living that way? Do you live your life in a intentional way with heaven in mind or just haphazardly go from day to day with only self gain in mind?

We are headed for eternity at a speed that is staggering. The Bible states that we shouldn’t focus on gaining “treasures” on earth.

Matt 6:19-21

19 ” Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
NASU

It begs the question then, where is our heart? Do we long for heaven or do we long for further comfort here?

Bottom Line:

We do only get one life here. No do overs. Let’s make today a day of storing up treasures in heaven rather than putting more in our closet that’s ultimately not going to last.

Only Promised today,

Nathan

>Do Overs….

Posted: June 1, 2009 in God, Life, relationships

>What happens when you are hit hard with the reality that life has not gone the way you had planned it? The Play of your life has not played out the way you wrote it. People aren’t reading their lines as you envisioned. Your friendships, your marriage, your family, your career…even you yourself have not turned out the way you wanted.

Sometimes things turn out better than we expected, but many times we find ourselves frustrated and discontent with how the cookie has crumbled. This discontent can leave marriages and families in ruins, careers in disarray and relationships struggling. I believe our life is made up of a combination of our choices, the choices of others and a sovereign God. While our circumstances can many times be a great motivation for us to move forward we can also end up spending way too much time looking at the past with regret and viewing the future as a fix. What we miss out on is the present. Don’t.

Live the present,

Nathan

>Getting Up from Failure

Posted: May 28, 2009 in Failure, Grace, Life

>My friends, the list is long of instances when I’ve been an idiot and made poor choices. From the mundane to the profound, I’ve made some doozies. Picture this, I’m driving down the road on the way to the office and I see a Texas Longhorn sticker on the back window of a guy’s truck. Being in Phoenix I don’t see a ton of these so I decided let him know “I’m a Longhorn fan too!”. I drive up next to him and proceed to give him the “hook’em horns” sign with my hand, but the guy is looking at me like I’m nuts. I’m thinking what’s the deal, show me some love! What I then realize is that instead of the “hook’em horns” sign, I was giving him the “I LOVE YOU” sign (Thumb, forefinger, pinky). As he drives on I feel again my actions confirm that I’m an idiot.

Here’s the deal, as I said before that story pales in comparison to some of the other things I’ve done in my life. When I look at the moments that I’ve fallen on my face and blow it there is always a wave of guilt and shame that rushes over me. It can be crippling and make me feel like I cannot move forward. Thankfully I’ve found God’s grace to enough to cover those mistakes I’ve made. Bottom Line: Your Failure Does Not Have to Define You.

Time To Get Up,

Nathan

>Pushing Through….

Posted: May 6, 2009 in emotions, Life, worship

>Two years ago I was at Fort Jackson, SC doing some training with some chaplains. One night in the pouring rain I was on a live fire course (where they were shooting real bullets over your head). I was crawling face down in sand, in the rain, with all my gear and armor plated vest….crawling for about 200 yards. At first when I came out of the trench I was pumped and excited and the adrenaline was flowing, but after about 50 yards my body caught up with my mind. Every part of my body was hurting (did I mention I had been up 32 hrs at this point?) I continued to push on for about another 100 yards and had another 50 to go when everything within me said, “I’m done”. My heart felt like it was going to explode….my muscles were cramped and I rolled over on my back and cried out to God (literally) as these loud artillery shells were going off. As I gave my situation over to God I rolled back over on my stomach and dug deep and pushed through the pain, as I did that a Sargent at the end begin to call my name and told me to keep pushing, to keep pushing through the pain, that I could make it. Bottom Line: We must push through our circumstances and emotions. Submit and Worship God despite how you “feel”. Secondly, Call out to those that our struggling. Tell them they can make it…be an encourager.

You heard Me,

Nathan