Grateful Thinking

Good afternoon!

I hope you are having a fantastic Labor Day. I took the opportunity to sleep in and catch up on some rest this morning which has made for a fantastic day. I hope that you have been able to rest and connect with family, friends, and yourself in a way that has rejuvenated you and prepared you for the week ahead.

I want to take a few moments to encourage you on this Monday with our first installment of Mojo Monday.


Monday’s are a mixed bag in ministry. Depending on how your message went on Sunday or how your class went or what that little old lady said to you yesterday, Monday’s can be a day to look forward to or a day to review your resume and peruse the job boards.

Mondays don’t have to be this way. In fact, no day in ministry has to be this way.

I’m human just like you. I deal with frustrations, anxieties, depression, and emotional funks. When we get caught in these negative feelings and emotions the first thing we tend to lose is our perspective on reality. It is easy to believe the worst about any given situation and about yourself. I believe The Enemy’s best tactic to destroy you is to make you ineffective. When you get caught up in the Sads, the Mopes, and the Blahs they render you ineffective and keep you from experiencing all that God has in store for you and your life, family, ministry, and legacy.

Mojo Monday is about giving you hope and encouragement for TODAY.

Earlier this summer, I started to incorporate the Examen Prayer of St. Ignatius into my daily prayer and study. The Examen is a prayer technique that helps you reflect on your day and invites you to attend to the events, moments, and ways that God was present with you and guiding you. What I have found is that when I reflect with thankfulness and gratitude on the love and grace that has been lavished upon me by God in my life and ministry, my attitude changes.

My disappointments of the past lose their power.
My frustrations about the present fade away.
My anxiety about the future dissipates.

Essentially, there are 5 movements to the Examen and over the next few Mondays I am going to focus on each of these steps.

If you are struggling right now to find hope, joy, grace, and purpose in your life and ministry this first movement of the Examen could radically alter the way you see God, yourself, and your ministry forever.

The first step of the Examen is to Be Grateful.

Gratefulness is a powerful thing. Studies have shown that the pathways of our brains can be completely rewired when we think negatively or positively. In fact, neurologists believe that these pathways can become “hardwired in” depending on which thought patterns we feed. Think negatively all the time and your brain literally can become toxic. However, think positively and the opposite can happen: your brain and thoughts become more healthy.

When I’m talking about Positive Thinking I’m not talking about a new-agey-think-positive-vibes-eat-kale-hug-unicorns-and-all-will-be-right-with-the-world attitude.

I’m talking Word of God Truth here.

2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Philippians 4:8 reminds us to constantly and constantly think on the things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. The NLT encourages us to “fix our thoughts” on these things.

So here’s how to use the first step in the Examen prayer to take captive your negative thoughts and focus your mind on the thoughts God would have you focus on.

1) Start With The Master Prayer
Each morning and each night I begin my prayer and study time with The Lord’s Prayer. Jesus didn’t give his disciples a formula on how to preach the perfect sermon or give them 5 Steps to Walking on Water but he did teach them how to pray. Praying The Lord’s Prayer helps me center and focus my prayer time and puts my heart and my mind in the right pace.

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come,
your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

2) Reflect On Your Day
If this is first thing in the morning, you can reflect on the day before. If this is at night, allow the events of the day to pass through your mind. Review the day with openness and a heart of gratitude. Think about times when God was present. Did you respond in these moments? Did you ignore His presence at any point?

3) Be Grateful for God’s Blessings in Your Life
Express true and genuine gratefulness for everything God has done in your life today. I topically break up what I’m grateful for into 2 categories:

WHO am I grateful for?
These are the people and the relationships that I am thankful for. No matter what is going on around you or how you are feeling at any given moment, I am sure that you can think of at least one person or relationship that you are grateful for.

WHAT am I grateful for?
These are the things, situations, and spiritual truths that I am grateful for. Sometimes, a particular stressful event or time has going on in my day or week. When focusing on the things I am grateful for I often say, “I am grateful that that conversation ended?” or “Thank you that this situation is over…even just for today.” Saying, “God, thank you that today is done and help me tomorrow.” is a way of expressing thankfulness and giving control back over to God.

As I said before a posture of Gratefulness can help us turn around a bad attitude, rewire our brains, focus our thoughts on Christ, and put us on a pathway to spiritual and emotional health. 

Before you close your eyes tonight, spend 5-10 minutes truly expressing what it is that your are grateful for today. If you do that, the disappointments of yesterday and the anxiety about tomorrow will begin to lose control of your heart and your mind so that you can experience joy even in the midst of a difficult season or situation.

Until next time, keep Kicking at the Darkness and remember: The Goal is Soul.


Exit Questions to Ask yourself:
What do I have to be grateful for today?

How much do I take for granted?

Is there anything specifically that has made me ungrateful, dissatisfied, frustrated?

In general, am I becoming a more grateful and contented person?

Strategy Sunday


Welcome to Kicking at the Darkness!

This blog is for those of you who are in the leadership trenches of serving in a local church. You could be a full-time pastor, a part-time children’s director, or volunteer youth minister. It doesn’t matter what your title is or how many hours you work each week. If you love God and have desire or calling to serve Jesus and His people, than I hope you will find community and encouragement here.

Today is Sunday.

You probably taught a class, led worship, preached a message, or served within you ministry area today. I’m in the middle of a sermon series focusing on the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6. My message for us today centered around Jesus’ invitation for us to ask God to give us “our daily bread.” I also taught our Adult Bible class this morning as well. Oh, and I opened up the building before everything got started. I usually lock the building down but, a handful of people were around after service so they locked up for me today (very, very grateful to them) so that I could grab lunch with a family.

We had a great service today… even though it was a holiday weekend and we were missing a few regular faces.

So here is where my message on focusing just on today gets in the way of serving in the local church…

Today is Sunday… and another Sunday is coming.

The relentless onslaught of the coming weekend is always before us. It undercuts our ability to evaluate and improve week to week and it also robs us of finding joy in the moment.

Tomorrow, I want to blog a bit about how we can focus on TODAY each and every day but right now I want to talk about a strategy that you can use each Sunday night to connect with what you did today and plan your coming week.

I call this my Sunday Night Strategy Session. Each Sunday night, i go through this process to help me tie up any loose ends from the week before and prepare for the week ahead.

1) Pause
This is absolutely critical for your soul and your leadership. Before you begin mapping out and planning the week to come, take a few moments to pause and reflect on the week that was.

Ask yourself the following questions about last week:
What went well?
What didn’t go well or go as planned?
How can I improve next week?
What help do I need to get to the next level?

2) Purpose
Reminding yourself the reasons that you do what you do does 2 things. First, connecting my purpose is like a big vitamin B12 shot right to my heart. When I am reminded of why I am in full-time ministry and my calling to go and make disciples I get pretty amped up. Secondly, when my purpose is always in front of me, I can make decisions based on long-term vision and trajectory instead of making decisions in the heat of the moment. Purpose helps me say “Yes” to what I need to and “No” to everything else.

3) Plans
Here is where the To-Do lists, calendars, Moleskines, post-its, and everything else come into play. I use a combination of old school paper and new fangled tech. However, what’s on paper gets put in the tech and what’s digital gets put on paper. I don’t have a paper calendar with somethings and my tech calendar with another set of dates and information. One calendar, many locations.

4) People
Finally I ask, “Who do I need to connect with this week?” As a pastor, the lifeblood of ministry is people. Connecting with people is a priority for me and my ministry and by having a set time each week to think through this area I can be more strategic and intentional with the time I do have to connect with others.

So here’s is tonight’s challenge: Get Strategic. Pause and reflect. Remember your Purpose. Layout your Plans. Make room for People. I’ll talk to you tommorow to see how you did.

Exit Question: How do you plan for the week ahead?

Time Has Come Today

Last night I listened to a short message from Dr. Tom Long, author of The Witness of Preaching and Bandy Professor of Preaching, Emeritus at Emory University, entitled, “It’s About Time.” The message is based on John 11:1-44:

“Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.(This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.)So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”


When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”


“But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”


Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light.It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”


After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”


His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.


So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead,and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”


Then Thomas (also known as Didymus ) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother.When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.


“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”


Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”


Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”


“Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”


After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him.When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.

When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”


When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.“Where have you laid him?” he asked.


“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.


Jesus wept.


Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance.“Take away the stone,” he said.


“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”


Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”


So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”


When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.


Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

You can watch Dr. Long below:


What I love about this little sermon is that Dr. Long masterfully weaves the story of Mary and Martha’s emotional reaction to Jesus’ intentional delay in saving Lazarus from death with personal and historical stories of how God shows up at just the right time, every time.

Long kept returning to two powerful thoughts over and over throughout his message.

First, Long brilliantly points out that our view of who is running out of time is skewed. It isn’t Life, Justice, or Hope that is out of time. Through His life, death, and resurrection Jesus proclaims that it is “Death… Injustice…Despair” that is running out of time. Isn’t this the promise of the Kingdom of God? God’s rule is breaking into the here and the now. While Death, Injustice, and Despair may be among the ruling class, their kingdoms are breaking apart from within. Their death certificates have already been printed and their time is truly running out!

The second phrase that Dr. Long uses to great effect is that while our culture may participate in and get bent out of shape because of what he calls “atheistic anxiety,” Jesus Christ is the Lord of Time itself. As I am learning in my own life, the fundamental theological truth of anxiety is that our fearfulness is misplaced and out of sorts with what we proclaim that we believe. Anxiety is rooted in the fear of man and what man can do to us. When we give into anxiety and fear concerning a human government, a tyrannical boss, a gossipy-busy body at church we are, in essence, proclaiming that these things are more powerful than Almighty God. We deny His power, His control, His love, and His care for us.

John 11 says to us all… Jesus, the Lord of Time, the Beginning and End, has enough power to raise someone from the dead. Surly, He strong enough to overcome any enemy that you are currently facing.

Dr. Long’s entire message is a great reminder that the Kingdom of God, established by Christ Jesus, is breaking in the here and now and we will experience it in full when Christ returns and there will be no more time.

12 Things To Pray Over Your Kids

Today is a BIG DAY as our kids and teens start a brand new school year.  At the beginning of our worship service yesterday, I shared a handful of things that I am specifically praying over our kids this year and I invited our church to join me in praying everyday for our kids, families, teachers, and coaches. My hope is that this list will help you begin a prayer habit in your life and serve as a great starting place for you to pray with and for your kids this year.

God uses the number 12 over 180 times in scripture to signify holiness, completeness, and authority. Thinking of this, I wrote up a list in my journal of 12 areas of love and concern that I am entrusting God with when it comes to our kids and the 2015-2016 school year.

1) Strength – How you begin helps determine how you finish. My prayer is that our kids will begin this new year strong and that God will give them strength to endure through next May.

2) Boldness – In Acts 4, Peter and John were released from prison with the strict warning  from the Jewish and Roman authorities not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus at all. In a culture that encourages Christians to keep faith private, the early church’s prayer for boldness is a great reminder and challenge for us all. “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.” (Acts 4:29)

3) Protection -  “But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. Surely, LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.” (Psalms 5:11–12)

4) Peace – The school year can awaken all kinds of anxieties. Let us pray that anxiety will not rule in the hearts of our kids and teens.  “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

5) Rest – As the school year goes on, let’s pray that in the midst of busy schedules, tests, events, and games that our kids will find time to pause, find margin, and experience real, lasting, life-giving rest. “Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Psalms 16:9–11)

6) Growth – Our kids will grow in every way imaginable – mentally, physically, relationally, emotionally, spiritually. My prayer is that they will experience the same growth that Jesus experienced as he grew up. “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” (Luke 2:52)

7) Success – Success isn’t measured by a A on a test or GPA score. Success, for the Christian, is doing the will of God in all things. Romans 12:2 tells us that as we renew our minds so that we will have the mind of Christ, we come to understand, pursue, and be transformed. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)

8) Relationships - Friends will determine the direction and quality of our lives. Share Proverbs 13:20 and challenge your kids to “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.

9, 10, & 11) Parents, Teachers, and Coaches/Directors – To His disciples, Jesus was the perfect embodiment of a loving parent, a committed teacher, and a challenging coach. The men and women who have dedicated their lives to serving our kids desperately need our prayers. Let’s commit to praying for the adults in our kids lives consistently and intentionally. “I thank my God every time I remember you.In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:3–6)

12) Worth - One of the greatest thing that I am praying over our kids is that they will see that their worth doesn’t come a grade on a test, an achievement on the field, or the number of awards the receive. We are loved by our Holy, Heavenly Father and find our worth in Him and Him alone. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

In Memoriam

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,

because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and

who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

– Theodore Roosevelt
Citizenship in a Republic
Paris, France
April 23, 1910

To all those in the arena who have stumbled; who have been marred by dust and sweat and blood; who have fought valiantly; who have come up short; who have spent themselves on behalf of others; who dared greatly; who know both defeat and victory…

The credit belongs to you.

Four Things You Can Do Today to Help You Manage Stress

Today I want to talk with you about STRESS. I don’t know everything there is to know about stress but I do know 3 things:

1) There is no such thing as a stress-free life. 

Jesus never promised us a stress-free life. In fact he promised just the opposite. In John 16:33, Jesus tells us, “In this world you will have trouble.” There really is only one thing you can count on in life and that is stress. (Death and taxes being two of the biggest offenders.) That’s the bad news.

The good news is found in Jesus’ promise: “I’ve told you these things, so that in me you may have peace… But take heart, I have overcome the world.”

Each of us have dealt with our own fair share of stress this year and unfortunately, as long as we draw breath on this planet, we will continue deal with stress. Jesus says that peace isn’t found when all of the stresses of life are gone. He tells us that we can have peace in Him even IN THE MIDST of the stress. The old saying is true: Know Jesus. Know Peace.

2) Even on its best day, leadership is full of stress. We can all swap stories from our most stressful days in leadership. Some days I look back on and think, “There was no classroom, book, or conversation that could have prepared me for having to deal with that particular issue.” (Ask me about the truck left in our parking lot overnight and the portrait of his beloved painted on the tailgate.) Tony Morgan’s book on leadership called, “Killing Cockroaches,” is the perfect picture of what it is like to deal with all the negative stresses in our lives and ministries. Headaches and pressure points arise from out of nowhere and we have to deal with them as fast as they come at us whether we want to or not. It’s just how it is.

There are the bad days of stress, but there are also the good days. Even on the good days, we experience stress. It is stressful to check in with our people. It can be taxing to lead and serve those whom we love and care for. People and their issues can be frustrating at every stage of life – babies, kids, teens, adults, and retirees. However, we get to share in their lives and help guide them from where they currently are to where God wants them be. We get to work side-by-side with them to build the Kingdom. It is rarely easy, but there are times when the stress pays off.

3) You’re never going to get it all done. You’re never going to get it all done. (I know I typed that twice.) One of the greatest sources of stress is our never-ending to-do list.

In Leadership: There is always going to be another problem. There is always going to be another budget issue. There is always going to be another meeting. There is always going to be another email to write.  As long as you are in leaders, there is always going to be something else to do.

In Ministry: There is always going to be somebody else to reach for Christ. There is always going to be somebody else to disciple. There is always going to be another pastoral care visit. As long as you are in ministry, there is always going to be something to do.

In Life: There is always going to be another project to complete. There is always going to be a parenting issue to handle. There will always be relationships that need nurturing, repairing, or reviving. There is always going to be mistakes made. There is always going to be times when grace must be administered wether we have the strength or not. As long as you are alive, there is always going to be something to do.

Four Things You Can Do to Help You Manage Stress Today

The question you should be asking is not, “How can I eliminate stress from my life?” Instead, ask yourself,  “How should I manage stress in my life?” You will never be able to eliminate stress but, you can minimize the consequences of stress in your life by engaging in some Stress Management Best Practices. Try these four on for size:

Be Still. Take a few minutes and simply be still. Put your phone on Do Not Disturb, close your door, and just sit, breathe, and simply be present. It will be ok. The world will not stop spinning. They will call back… they always do. I use an app called Headspace to help me meditate for 10 minutes each morning before I start my day. By pausing at the very beginning of the day it helps me focus and prepare mentally, physically, and emotional for whatever may lay ahead.

Pray. I can’t think of someone in scripture who had to deal with the stresses of leadership, ministry, and life more than David. Whether he was facing down literal giants like Goliath or the giant sin in his own heart; dodging spears from King Solomon or enemies on a battle field; herding sheep or wrestling bears David turned to God in prayer.  No matter what you are facing today, God knows and would love for you to share your stresses with him. The book of Psalms is filled with prayers for every season and emotion. If you can’t find the right words to express what is on your heart, David has you covered.

Be Thankful. Paul tells us in Eph 5:15-20, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We live is very stressful times but there is a simple antidote for feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and stressed out: Thankfulness. Instead of listening to Nirvana or Jason Aldean or Joey Jo-Jo Junior Shabadoo and the Morning Sports Crew on your way to work, turn off the radio and turn up the praise in your own heart. Simply begin each morning by listing at least 3 things you are grateful for. Keep a running list in your cleared or reminder app and refer back to it during the day when you are tempted to let stress steal your focus.

Rest. I’m giving you permission to rest. Don’t burn the candle at both ends. Rest is an important component to your health and your long-term ability to lead. I don’t get sick very often but, when I do, there is usually a direct correlation to the fact that I have not been sleeping as much as I should have. We all have seasons where we don’t get enough rest but when those seasons turn into eras, you are flirting with disaster. Go to bed 10 minutes earlier tonight. Put down your iDevice or turn off the tv. Use one of your vacation days to push pause. None of us would violate the 10 Commandments by murdering someone or building a golden calf to worship on the weekends. However, most of us have gotten way to comfortable violating the Sabbath and forgoing the rest that God has commanded for our lives. If your life has gotten out of rhythm, my bet is that you’ve for to long without getting enough rest.

Bonus: Want to find some rest “outside the box?” Studies have shown that taking a 15-20min “power nap” can have amazing results on your productivity, outlook, and overall health. Leadership guru, Michael Hyatt, has written a few compelling articles on the WHY behind taking a few minutes to rest in your day and HOW you can begin taking advantage of this powerful tool. Check out his article, 5 Reasons You Should Take a Nap Everyday or listen to his podcast on The Secret Power of Naps.

Exit Question:

What do you do to help manage the stress in your life? Leave your favorite Stress Management Best Practices in the comments and share what you do to manage the stress in leadership, ministry, and life.

Praying… Together

Prayer can sometimes seem like a lone act where it’s just you and God. Sometimes though, we need to experience prayer in community as we join together with others to share and carry one another’s burdens.

In Exodus 17, the Israelites are attacked by the Amalekites. Moses tells Joshua to gather his fighting men to engage the enemy in battle while he went up to the top of the hill. Joshua obeyed Moses’ commands and went into battle. Moses, Aaron, and some guy named Hur went to the top of the hill and Moses raised his hands in prayer to God.

Exodus 17:11–13
As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

Here’s what I believe this story is telling us about praying together with and for one another:

1) The outcome of the battle was directly linked to prayer.

God tells us in His Word that raising hands is a common prayer position (Psalm 63:4; 1Tim 2:8). While it may be common, it isn’t very comfortable. (In fact, while you read the rest of this post, try doing so with your hands raised over your head. Bonus points if you are in a public place.)

When Moses became tired and his hands began to lower, the Israelites started to lose the battle. The experience and skills of Joshua’s warriors didn’t matter. The number of Amalekites were inconsequential. The power of God is what mattered here and it is what matters today.

Too often we fail to bring our battles to the Lord or we fail to continue in prayer as the battle rages on around us. Don’t give up!

2) The battle belongs to the Lord.

You may be facing a variety of battles today. Don’t let the Enemy make you believe that you have to fight in your own strength or that the battle depends on you. Understand and believe that God is in control. He knows the outcome. He hears your cries. He knows what you need. He cares for you more than you could ever imagine.

3) We get to carry each other.

Jesus said, “When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there.” (Matthew 18:19–20 MESSAGE)

When we share with one prayers of supplication and petition (praying for our own needs) and when we pray for one another with prayers of intercession (praying for other’s needs) we grow in fellowship and increase in love for one another… right alongside with Jesus. Imagine that! Who is helping you keep your hands raised to God in prayer? Your brothers and sisters in Christ and Jesus himself!!!

There are many times, seasons, and reasons that you might need your brothers and sisters to join and help you persevere in prayer:

– seasons of intense spiritual conflict
– in the midst of a reoccurring struggle
– while we wait on God’s response
– when we are spiritually exhausted

Moses experienced physical and spiritual fatigue when he lifted his hands to the Lord as he prayed over his people. Aaron and Hur were there beside him to help him when his own strength was not enough.

Just like these men, when we experience times where we feel tired and weak, exhausted emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually, we can lean on one another to help us continue in prayer until the battle is won.

What prayer burdens are weighing you down today? Who can you partner with to pray for so that you can help to carry one another’s burdens?


Workout Wednesday 002

Before we begin, watch this video.

If that doesn’t get you motivated I don’t know what will.

I’ve had a few people ask me, “What are you training for?”

To be honest, the answer is, “Life.”

Today I turn 35. 2 months ago I dodged a bullet. I should have been in a coma or suffering a stroke or shuffling off this mortal coil. Instead I got a huge wake-up call. No more pressing the snooze button on my health. Something had to give. Something had to change. Not tomorrow. Today. Immediately. Now.

Thing is, you’re headed upstream. And when you make that choice, when you decide to turn your back on what’s comfortable and what’s safe and what some would call “common sense”, well that’s day 1. From there it only gets tougher.

So just make sure this is something you want. Because the easy way out will always be there, ready to wash you away, all you have to do is pick up your feet.

If you are going to get healthy, then don’t wait. Do something, anything. Get moving. Eat better. Rest more. Just start.

We will talk about the reasons WHY later. We’ll nail down the details of WHAT you want to accomplish at another time. We’ll plan HOW you’ll get there down the road.

Today is about starting. One foot in front of the other. No more excuses. Don’t wait another day.

Rise and Shine, Baby!

Workout Wednesday 001

Last week I shared with you how I was recently diagnosed with diabetes T2 and that through exercise and diet I have been able to get a handle on the disease and see some success when it comes to my physical health. I shared my story because I also want to help and motivate others who may be struggling with their health – physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Each Wednesday I want to post something related to getting healthy in a weekly feature called Workout Wednesday.

To kick it off, I wanted to write a fun post about some of the things that I am currently using to help me at the gym. From equipment to workouts to gear check out these 5 Things That I Use to Workout and then tell me what you are using to get healthy in the comments before you leave.

Have a great day and get healthy!

5 Things That I Use to Work Out

1) The Machine

Last week I felt like I was in high school again. I lifted weights MWF and then ran/conditioned on TTh.

Memories, pressed between the pages of my mind…

Sorry, I’m back. I am in love with this machine. As you can see all of the weights are mounted to the side of the machine so no walking around trying to find the right plate. I can do all of my barbell exercises (squat, deadlift, clean, bench, overhead press) at this rack, Love, love, love it. So far when I’ve gone up to the gym to work out this corner has been empty so I proclaim this machine for me and my people. I need a flag.

2) The Tunes

You can’t work out with out music.

Well, you can… but at what cost? I believe in living.

3) The Chute

I’m a chugger. I don’t take sips. I’m not a bird. I’m a sashquatch except, despite what you may believe about me, I have a small mouth. In my zeal to remain hydrated more water can get on my shirt than in my body. That’s why I love my Camelbak Chute. Not only does the bottle fit in my car cupholder but the spigot on the lid is the perfect size for gulping down larger amounts of water fast.

Get you one: Camelbak Chute


4) The App

I haven’t lifted weights in over a decade. I knew that I wanted to add strength training to my running but I had know idea where to start. I was reading an article about training for an event I was interested in and I came across and the 5×5  workout. The site claims that this program is “the simplest workout to gain strength.” While it is too early to gage the truth of that entire statement I will say that this is a simple strength workout that puts you through the paces, is fun, engaging, and challenging. The idea is simple 3 workouts every other day, 5 sets or 5 reps. That’s it. The app helps you keep tabs on your progress, lets you watch training videos, and even gives you an audible prompt when it is time to quit resting between sets and get after it. In a few weeks, I should know if this program works but until then I am enjoying get back under the bar and pumping some iron.

Check out

The 5×5 Workout Plan

5) The Beard

I’m growing my beard out until I hit a particular weight goal I’ve set for myself. Now, I have no intention to become the TX cousin of Duck Dynasty. I will trim and taper and take care of the beard but I am keeping it until (at least) until I hit my goal. That means that I have to endure my little girl grabbing fistfuls of beard and yanking as hard as she can. I’ll have to tough out the heat in the coming months. I’ll also have to answer questions as to wether or not I dye it this color red (Thank You St Paddy’s Day). But you know what… I don’t mind any of it. Beards are sweet. Achievements are even sweeter.

What motivates you to workout or what are you currently using that has helped you stay in the game, break a sweat, or stay motivated?

I Once Was Blind…

But now I see.

On Saturday, January 31, I brought my kids with me up to the building so that I could get some last minute things prepared for Sunday services. I put a movie on for them in the auditorium and noticed that the image wasn’t very clear. It was fuzzy, out of focus.

I didn’t really give it much thought. Maybe my allergies were acting up? Perhaps I had moved the projector out of focus?

On Sunday (Feb 1) though, the images on the screen remained blurry during our worship time. I asked a half dozen people if the screen looked ok to them. I was the only one who thought it was hazy. I could still read my notes from my iPad and I was able to read from my Bible though. I just figured that I was tired or my eyes were dry. Little did I know that that was the last time I would be able to see much of anything for at least another 3 weeks.

My vision started to deteriorate day by day. By the following Thursday, I couldn’t see faces clearly beyond about 4 feet. I went to my eye doctor that day and he changed my prescription and ordered me some new glasses.

That night I decided that I should no longer drive at night. On Saturday, I gave my keys to my wife and decided that I could no longer drive during the day.

Sunday (Feb 8), I delivered the hardest sermon of my life. I couldn’t see the faces of the congregation. I could (sort of) read from my notes but anything beyond my stand was completely unrecognizable. I tried to watch the Grammys that night but I couldn’t tell who was singing what. In a matter of about 6 hours I had lost most of my vision and I was trapped in a world of blur. That’s when a panic began to flood over me.

What was happening? What was wrong with me? 

On the following Tuesday (Feb 10) I was able to see an ophthalmologist. After looking at my vision, he sent me to get some blood work done. The results would not come back for another couple of days. In the meantime, I was able to get into my doctor’s office (an even longer story) to see his PA and get some other tests run.

On Friday morning (Feb 13), the ophthalmologist called me with the results of the test. It was not good.

“You’re blood sugar levels are 698. You need to see your doctor immediately!”

Wait… what!?! 698?! How can that even be possible? 

I should have been in a coma… or worse. Thankfully, I was able to see my doctor that afternoon where he told me the news… “You have type-2 Diabetes.”

They gave me a glucose monitor and some medication and sent me home.

I was devastated but determined. 

Devastated that I had let this happen. Determined to do something about it. 

Over the next week I was able, through diet changes, exercise, and medication, to bring my sugars back into normal ranges. My eyesight slowly returned  as everything in my body turned back to normal.

In fact, in the last 2 two weeks my eyesight has been completely restored. I am no longer taking any medications and my blood sugar numbers remain in the normal ranges.

I’m eating better, have lost a little weight, and I am working out every single day. I’m still processing what happened and thankful that God was watching over me, providing me with love and support, and guiding me to the right people who could help.

Here’s what I’m learning through this:

1) Health is Wholistic.  It was’t enough that I was running if my diet was in the toilet. If your ignoring your emotional health it will have an impact on your spiritual and physical health. You have to fight for health in every area of your life.

2) I am loved. I had so many people praying for me, checking up on me, caring for me, and helping me. On the days I could drive, friends and family drove me to work or to the doctor. Even though I couldn’t read them 9at the time), I was blessed by every message and text. When you are going through a difficult time, knowing you are loved can make all the difference.

3) The Power of Small Change. While it may seem that I have had to completely overhaul my lifestyle in a matter of a few weeks, the truth is that I have leveraged small changes for big results. In stead of working out every other day or so, I’ve added one workout a day. Instead of drinking sodas, I’ve changed to water. Instead of junk food, I’ve eaten more vegtables (which I loved more than sweets even before this). Don’t be overwhelmed by everything that you may have to change. Just change something… now.

So this is my new normal. I’ll eat a salad for lunch. I’ll see a dietician today to get some more insight into how I can better take care of myself. I’ll hit the treadmill later tonight.

I just wanted to bring everyone up to date with what’s been happening. Kicking at the Darkness has always been about helping me share and process what’s going on inside and around my life. Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to share this with you today.


The Goal Is Soul