Exhausted? Get Some Grace!

Don’t you just love that feeling? Like the one when you run up an insane amount of stairs and are totally winded? Or when you’re watching your friends kids for the day for a total of 7 children and are totally wiped by the afternoon? Wouldn’t it be better if you could be sitting on a warm beach drinking ice-cold lemonade?

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Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Trying to be a good Christian is a lot like the first two examples. But I see so many others that seem to be sipping on that “lemonade of grace” and make it look so easy. Is it possible?

Growing up as a Christian through most of my college days I really tried to please God. I didn’t believe that my salvation was based on what I did, but I thought God wouldn’t like me if I didn’t follow His commands. He saved me, but it was up to me to do the rest. So I basically tried my hardest to check off all the boxes every single day.

Want to know where you can find this list? Go check out 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22. It kind of goes like this:

  • Respect those over you
  • Be at peace with each other
  • Admonish the lazy
  • Encourage the fainthearted
  • Help the weak (right here already sounds exhausting)
  • Don’t repay anyone evil for evil
  • Seek to do good to others….and everyone else too!

There’s more but I’ll let you read it. The point is if you and I have to do all these we will fail every time. That’s what I used to do. Fail. It’s exhausting, frustrating, and depressing.

But then I learned how to actually do it. I learned how I can check off all those boxes.

The secret is…I can’t. That’s it. We can’t actually do it. Because we weren’t supposed to in the first place. The next verse shows us that.

Verse 23-24: “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (24) He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” [Emphasis added]

You couldn’t do anything to save yourself. What makes you think you can live the perfect life either? Verse 24 is clear. It is Jesus Christ who does the good in our lives. We can’t aadmonish the lazy or help the weak. We need Christ to do that through us (Galatians 2:20).

Jesus already started a good work in you. He’s be the one to finish it (Philippians 1:6). So the next time you’re trying to be kind to that person, or stay away from evil, ask God to do that. Don’t rely on you. It’s the most refreshing thing you’ll ever do.

What’s something you can stop doing in your strength and willpower, and ask Jesus to do for you? E.g. loving on that annoying person at work. 

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How to have Passionate Volunteers That Keep Coming Back

When you’re a boss with paid employees, it’s easy to give orders and get things done. But when you have volunteers that choose to give up their spare time to help, it takes much more to get them there, keep them motivated, and possibly most important, keep them coming back.festival-hands-up-people-partying-picjumbo-com

From my experience of being a volunteer, and having volunteers under me, these are four crucial principles for interacting with your volunteers.

Just was a quick side note, this should not be seen as a way to manipulate people. This is simply you striving to be a better leader to those around you. Ok, let’s dive in.

 

  1. Remind them of why they’re there. When you do run your events week after week it’s easy to get lost in the busyness of it all. So it’s important for you, the leader, to remind your volunteers of the importance of their role, and also the impact they are having on the world.

    For example, I used to help with a children’s program for 1st-6th graders at a church. I was only there for a year, and had very little interaction with my small group. But recently I ran into one of my guys, who’s in middle school now. He informed me that there was just something about our time together that really encouraged him to grow in the Lord. Please hear me when I say I’m not trying to brag. What I hope you understand is that while I didn’t see anything particularly life-altering about our small group time, it had an impact on this kid. Hey, you never know.

  2. Have fun. Don’t be that guy that’s super serious and all business. No one likes that guy. Do your tasks, make sure things get done, but have fun with it. Crack jokes, be a little goofy. Maybe even playa prank once in a while (harmless ones, of course). Your volunteers might have hard jobs, but it doesn’t have to be boring.
  3. Do things with excellence. Have you ever had a job that you looked at and thought, “I am really proud of the work I did.” That’s the feeling you want people to walk away with when they volunteer. It’s a contagious feeling, and makes you want to come back for more. Maintaining high standards helps people appreciate what they’re doing.
  4. Correct problems with grace. Obviously, problems arise everywhere. How you handle them says a lot about you as a leader. I’ve had plenty of times when people under me made a mistake, and I handled it badly. When correcting someone, always listen to their side, don’t jump to conclusions, and correct in a way that builds them up. The Apostle Peter is famous for denying Christ three times. But when Jesus had the chance to talk to him about it, he was calm, and strengthened and encouraged Peter for the future.

My Mother’s Best

This is a blog post for all you mothers out there. There’s a lot things I could write. But instead of trying to appeal to your struggle, or your frustration, or the feelings of inadequacy, failing, fear, worry, anger (only sometimes, right?), or not being good enough, I’m going to talk briefly about something else…

 

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…my mother’s best.

 

I never got it until now. But now I do. My parents did their best. Well, not all the time, but who can actually say that about their parents (if you raised your hand, I declare you a liar). Here’s some things I’ve learned about your family/parents that you grew up with:

 

  • They’re sinners, and have their own “baggage.” The more spiritual term I would use is strongholds. They have tendencies that they carried from their parents. And now you have to live with it. We all have it. I’ve seen it in myself several times, and I hope my child (singular at the time of this writing) can show me grace in the future concerning my shortcomings. My mom reacted to situations in her own way. The cool thing about my mom is that she’d be the first to admit she isn’t perfect. And I’ll back her up on that….and then get in line right behind her….because I’m not perfect either.

 

  • Parents have a lot of stress. There’s a ton of junk that parents have to deal with, on top of actually raising small humans. The list is endless, and would waste a lot of your reading energy, so just insert your list here: _______________________. I will only say that I never realized how much there was to do, until I had kids. Wow.

 

  • They did their very best. No good parent does you harm (although there are plenty of bad and wicked parents out there). I know my mom did her very best. That’s all that can be expected. Doing your best. There are days where things seemed to be going worse than others (just like every other family), but we got through it. We survived.

 

I know my mom did her best, and I’m sure yours did too.
So keep that in mind next time you see them. And make sure that you carry on the tradition…and do your very best.

4 Lessons I’ve Learned from Becoming A Dad

Here’s one thing I was told (and often): “Sleep now, because you won’t be sleeping once the baby comes.” Yeah, dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. You can’t bank sleep, only catch up on it. But that is typically the advice I was given as a first time dad.

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For our story, we didn’t have a perfect first-time birth. There were several complications, and some of them came back to bight us in the months following. But we’re here, and we’re alive, we’re sane (sort of, haha), and we’re wiser. There were several lessons I had to learn on my own. In fact, when I shared one of my learned lessons with a guy I know who was about to have his first child, he responded, “Thank you. I haven’t heard that one before.”

 

That got me thinking that maybe some others can hopefully learn from the things I’ve learned. That’s what the Bible talks about in 2 Corinthians 1:4 when it says “[God the Father] comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

 

So here’s 4 lessons I’ve learned from becoming a dad.

 

  1. Take care of your wife. Sounds obvious right? But here’s the thing. When you have a baby, everything changes. Simple tasks aren’t that simple anymore. She’s deprived of sleep, energy, and usually needs some time to heal anyways (She just pushed a human out of her body, for crying out loud). It can look like:
    • Doing the dishes
    • doing the laundry
    • getting the baby up, and bringing them to her so she can stay in bed.
  2. Inviting other moms over. This is one I wish I had done. It will be hugely encouraging to her to have other moms to talk to, even if only for a little while. And while it’s fantastic to have her mom over, I’m talking about also igniting young moms. Mothers that have gone through the same experience within the last five years.
  3. Take care of yourself. This also sounds obvious, but hear me out. You will be running ragged, adjusting to your new lifestyle. You will be way to tired. But in the middle of all that, you need to make sure to take care of yourself. If you don’t, eventually you won’t have anything to give to your wife and child. Take a short nap when you can. Maybe play your favorite video game for 30 minutes to unwind.
  4. Talk with wisdom. When you go out in public, a lot of people are going to ask how you are doing. What I would advise is to be careful with whom you share all the details. Obviously I’m not saying put yourself at medical risk by saying nothing. But if you’re having a really hard time and want to talk (yes gentlemen, you can talk with another guy about this), then do it with your very close friends. Go to your pastor, or better yet, invite them over for a brief visit. My point is, if you are having struggles, share it with the people that can actually help, that know you the best, and that truly care for you.
  5. Have your Quiet Time. Wish I was more consistent with this when our daughter was born, because I felt my need for God more then than I ever have before. You need God, bro. You will totally burn out if you ignore Him. It’s not guaranteed to be easy, but He will give you strength to get through it.

    I would highly recommend Pastor James MacDonald’s Act Like Men devotional*. I think it’s the best devotional for men in part because it’s actually written for men. Short chapters, short paragraphs, plenty of examples, and biblical truth that cuts to the heart. Also, it’s 40 days long, so it will get you through the first month and a half of having a newborn.

 

“If you are having struggles, share it with the people that can actually help, that know you the best, and that truly care for you.”

 

*I do not receive any compensation from Pastor James MacDonald, Moody Publishers, or Amazon for promoting this book. It is simply a recommendation from me to you.

2 App Features that Could Lead Your Kids To A Dangerous Path

We’ve all heard at the warnings and dangers of Snapchat since their beginning. All about how it was meant as a sexting app. All about the way it has been abused. *snooze*

I actually have a Snapchat, and somewhat to my surprise, I enjoy using it. It has fun filters and they’re equally fun to send to my wife, family, and friends. But there are some downsides; downsides that parents and teens need to watch out for.

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Snapchat: On your left you have a list of your conversations. In the middle, your camera and filters. On the right however, is the thing to watch out for. It’s all a page for businesses and magazines. Whenever I have checked there, almost always there is a sexual or inappropriate article, usually following the Kardashians or Selena Gomez’s latest pose. At the moment, there is no way to customize what you see there. It’s whatever Snapchat wants to push at you.

 

Why is this bad? Because the subtle effects these articles have will build up over time. Looking at women who are 90% naked isn’t good for anyone (unless it’s your wife. What? It’s true).

Instagram: Instagram is one of those apps that is really cool. I love that you can share pics of your life with your friends and make them look really neat, even if you have no professional skills. *Raises hand*

 

But recently that added a new feature that has a serious creep-factor to it. Under your profile tab, there’s a “Saved For Later” button. Under any picture (ANY picture) you’ll find a ribbon. Click that, and the picture is now “Saved for later.” The creepy part is that no one will ever know that you saved their picture. To put it bluntly, it’s a great way to save sexy pics (or worse) in one spot, without anyone ever knowing. It lacks accountability, and is very hidden.

 

I would highly recommend having a conversation with your kids about this feature. Not one of those “Don’t you dare ever do anything behind my back” talks. Because those work so well. Instead, have a talk about why you’re concerned about this feature, and of the dangers and temptations it can lead to.

 

The important thing is to constantly have open discussion with your kids, teach them the principles of God’s Word, and then trust them to do what’s best. Will you need to set up ground rules? Possibly. That all depends on you and your situation.

 

What have you found useful in talking to your kids about their tech? 

What Are You Going To Do Now

To all my friends saying how horrible the future will be, stop it. I know you, and know you are better than that. I’ve been to college with many of you and/or served our Lord along side you. Inspire hope into the lives of those you influence, not fear. 
To those who chose third-party, Good for you. It’s probably because of your conscience. But don’t think yourself holier than others who didn’t have a problem voting for the lesser of two evils. It’s their conscience, and it doesn’t have to match yours. 
To those who’s candidate loss last night, I say this. A woman who wanted to make it far easier to kill unborn babies is not in office. I think we have far to go in expanding the rights of so many people in America, but that price is too high to pay. 
I’m staying friends with you all, and encourage you to do the same. 

Evangelism Should Be Like A Backpack

My backpack has been to MANY places. Traveling to friends’ houses, different countries, cars, busses, and more. In fact, with every compartment, seat, and floor it’s been on, it should probably have a biohazard sign on it. Confession: I only now realized that you can actually wash these things.

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As I thought about it, a question came to mind. What is a backpack for, exactly? Well, since you asked, and I’m so happy to oblige, I came up with my own loose definition: a utilitarian bag designed to carry objects from one location to another. (Pretty good, right? Okay, enough with the self-flattery).

 

Now enter Matthew 28:19, the famous missionary verse. The “Great Commission” itself. What’s the command here? “Go.” So what’s this have to do with a backpack? A backpack is only good if it’s being used, if it fulfills its purpose. It’s meant to carry things from one place to another, not sit in the back of your closet collecting dust.

 

Just like this, you and I are fulfilled in our purpose when we carry the gospel to those around us. Everywhere. Don’t start with another country. Start with your neighbors, start with your street. SO why don’t you dust off that old backpack, pack a lunch, go for a hike, and think of how you can start some conversations with your neighbors.

 

Then dust off your Bible, pack a lunch, and go carry the good news to someone today.