How to be More Alive

How to be More Alive

One of my favorite quotes is by Saint Irenaeus and it goes like this, “The glory of God is man fully alive”.

I know it’s actually a miss-quote but I really like it anyway. The expression “fully alive” really inspires me. It reminds me of Christ’s offer of a rich and satisfying life. It also makes me think of how many of us aren’t really fully alive. We’re alive in the sense that our hearts are beating and we’re walking around, but we’re plagued by unfulfilled hopes, abandoned dreams, and lives that make little to no impact on the world around us. When our ideas of a good time are watching TV or taking the edge off with alcohol, then we’re missing out on a whole lot of actual living.

It seems more like we’re kind of alive but not fully.

There are many reasons why we don’t live fully. Too many to list here. But I thought I’d share four things with you that might help you move to a greater place of fullness in your life.

Never let shame settle in.
Nothing sucks the life out a person like shame. Shame over our appearance, shame over our lack of anything, and especially shame over our actions. I had a conversation the other day with a friend who was wrecked by shame because he lost his temper at work. It’s like he was stuck in that moment, unable to enjoy life. You can’t live fully and hold onto shame at the same time. You can’t learn from your mistakes either. Accept God’s forgiveness, forgive yourself, grow from it, and get back to living.

Don’t compare.
Comparison can be deadly. For years I struggled with comparing myself with my peers in the same age group. Most of my friends owned houses before I did, they made more money than me, and generally seemed to be enjoying life a whole lot more. In addition, my pastor friends seemed to be reaching more people than me, and I imagined that there was an excitement about their ministries that made mine seem boring. When I learned to accept the uniqueness of my own journey, and that God’s blessing and favor were on my life, regardless of my own definitions and expectations of success, I could stop comparing, and start enjoying life right where I was.

Give yourself permission to dream.
Disappointment happens. And the older you get, the more disappointments stack up and it’s easier to stop dreaming than it is to keep getting your hopes up. We focus on failures, missed opportunities, and unfulfilled hopes instead of believing that the best is yet to come. By the way, no matter how old you are, it’s still okay to believe that the best is yet to come. Dream! Have big hairy ideas. Set audacious goals and go for them. Without a vision, we parish so keep dreaming!

Appreciate where you are while taking steps to move forward.
How often do we look around ourselves and express gratitude for where we are in life, and how God has taken care of us? Gratitude is the gateway to joy and appreciating where we are gives us an excitement for what’s next. But don’t stay where you are, keep moving forward. Read another book, take another step, create strategies for reaching your goals and act on them. I heard once that a rabbit’s heart beats just as fast the day before it dies as it does when it’s younger. It keeps moving and running until the end. I want to be like the rabbit. God forbid that I ever choose to bench myself and spend my days watching TV and complaining that I’m too old. There’s just too much life to live!

I hope you choose to live a life that’s fully alive. I hope you accept God’s best for you, dream big, live gratefully, and never stop moving forward!

The Best Time to Change

I have an old friend that needs to make some changes in the way he lives. He doesn’t exercise and his diet consists mostly of fast food (LOTS of it). As a consequence, he’s obese, his energy is low, he gets sick a lot, and his marriage isn’t exactly on fire.

We’ve had many conversations (and even times of prayer) about his health, the way he eats, and small changes he could make to lose weight and improve his quality of life.

Over the years, he has made zero changes.

The tragedy of the situation doesn’t end with simply being overweight. It doesn’t take super powers to be able to see into his future. He’s headed for a mobility scooter, a heart attack, family members having to take care of him, or maybe worse.

Maybe a close encounter with death will inspire him to change. Maybe it will motivate him to eat a salad and go for a walk. Unfortunately, for many people, it takes a major crisis to get them to discipline themselves and start adjusting their lives to reflect what they SAY they value (health, family, finances, etc.)

Change is hard. We spend a long time developing unhealthy habits and they’re super tough to break. We usually don’t change until the pain of staying the way we are is greater than the pain we’ll endure changing the way we live.

The best time to make a change is before you need to.

Don’t wait until you’re $10,000 in credit card debt to change your spending habits, don’t wait until your wife leaves you to change the way you relate to her, and don’t wait until you have a heart attack before you change the way you eat.

If you saw a steamroller headed down the road toward you, you wouldn’t wait until your shoelaces were under it to get out of the way. That would be foolish! Yet, we pretty much do the same thing with our health, relationships, etc. We live in denial about the cause and effect of our decisions and then beg God for help when the self-imposed bomb drops.

Proverbs 22:3 says, “A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.

I think it’s important to do some self-evaluation on a regular basis. Ask yourself, “If I keep doing what I’m doing, where will I be in five years?” Or more specifically, “If I keep eating/entertainment binging/spending/parenting/leading/working the way that I do, where will I be in five years?”

Once you’ve figured out where you need to change, start moving in that direction. You don’t have to train for a triathlon, but you can start taking the stairs and maybe cutting out that second dessert. Set small goals you can keep and get back in the saddle when you fall off your horse.

The best time time to make a change is before you need to. Start making them now. It’s prudent, It’s wise, and it will save you massive amounts of unnecessary heartache in the inevitable future.

What’s Going On With My Back?!!

Some of my friends have been asking, “Why were you at the neurosurgeon?”  “What’s going on with your back?” so I thought I’d give everyone a rundown of what’s happening, in an attempt to save myself from having to tell the same story over and over.

A high school injury, years of being hunched over a computer, and moving heavy furniture last November have all come together to form “The Perfect Storm” (Cue epic disaster movie music.)

It’s actually not so much of a storm as it is a herniated disc.  What is a herniated disk?  It’s when that soft, cushiony, cartilage-y thing (disc) that sits between two vertebrae gets squashed and bulges out.  In my case, it’s bulging into the spinal canal and putting pressure in the nerves running down my lower back and left leg.  It hurts, but I’m tough 🙂

Last December, I started going to physical therapy and got prayer from anyone willing to lay hands on me.  I seemed to get some relief and bragged on Jesus to my physical therapist.  Then he sent me away and said I was good to go.  It only got worse after that.

The pain increased and traveled down my leg so I decided to find a chiropractor.  I started seeing Drs Andy and Trina Boswell in Rock Island.  They have proven to be massively caring and attentive.  They’ve seriously been a huge blessing in helping me navigate this issue.  I also made a few visits to Dr. Bob Kaminsky in Davenport who practices A.R.T. (Active Release Technique).  Experiencing A.R.T. is a lot like being tortured.  You sprawl out on a table while one person stretches you in uncomfortable positions and the other person digs his hands deep into the places on your body that hurt the worse.  You may find yourself wanting to scream obscenities, shout out to God, cry, or all three at once.  It’s painful, but brings results.

Eventually, my Family Practice Doctor sent me for an MRI (see below) so that we could get a definitive answer as to what was happening and why I wasn’t getting better.  THAT’S when we found out it was a herniated disc.

After seeing the MRI, my Family Practice Doctor sent me to see a neurosurgeon for a consultation.  I can’t say it was a great experience.  We waited for an hour and a half for about five minutes of his time.  He showed us the MRI, then shared my four options: do nothing and it might get better, take an oral steroid, get a localized steroid injection, or get surgery.  When I told him I wanted the least invasive treatment possible, he gave me a prescription for oral steroids, asked if I had any questions, and excused himself.  He had no advice for me, I didn’t get any answers, and I never took the steroids.

So, I’m taking the difficult route of doing nothing (medically).  I’ve set up a way to work while laying down (getting out of that desk chair has made a big difference).  I’m using an inversion table.  I’m taking a handful of herbal remedies and have adjusted my diet to include less inflammatory foods.  And I’ve also reduced my workout to just walking every day.

I have noticed improvements, but I still have a long way to go.  Thank you all so much for your prayers!  I can’t wait to wrestle you all when I’m better!!

Thanks!! RSS subscribe by clicking here. To get new posts emailed to you click here.

My Personal Mission Statement

Mission statements are extremely important. Any business, church, or organization that’s moving forward has one and sticks to it.

A mission statement is like a compass.  It keeps you heading in the right direction when distractions or hard times come.  It keeps you focused on the main thing and urges you onward when passion wanes and feelings just aren’t there.

Since mission statements are so vital to organizations, I think they should be important to individuals as well.  After all, a stated ideal and standard for living helps to keep us moving toward the life God has for us when circumstances are draining our focus and passion.

A few years ago, I developed a personal mission statement that I could hang on the wall as a reminder when the going gets tough.  Needless to say, I reread it A LOT to keep me committed to what matters most.

Maybe it will inspire you to prayerfully write one.  What do you think?

I commit to always strive to grow in The Lord until the end of my days here on earth.  I commit to cultivating intimacy with God, communicating to Him through sincere prayer, passionate worship, and acts of service to Him and His people.  I will not give begrudgingly or sparingly, but I will give all of myself in relationship to Him because He worthy of this and far more.  I will read, listen, and run hard after Him with all of my soul, mind, and strength.

I commit to loving my wife with undying faithfulness, unrelenting commitment, and tender affection.  I will strive to treat her with great understanding knowing that she is my equal partner and God’s gift of new life according to 1st Peter 3:7.  I will raise my children in the way they should go and teach them to choose the right path according to Proverbs 22:6.  I will love them, protect them, care for their needs, and be a godly father to them.  I will be patient, gentle, nurturing, and honoring to my family.  I will refuse to allow work, hobbies, relationships, ministry, or the cares of this world to come between my family and me.

I commit to God’s calling on my life to creatively communicate His love and hope, to invest and lead those He gives me the privilege to do so with, and to be a blessing to those around me and abroad.  I will not forsake my calling because my calling will not forsake me according to Romans 11:29.  I promise to give, love, pray, sing, build, work, serve, and go beyond my limits for the sake of the call because His love compels me and my love for Him is beyond words!

Always and Forever,

Thanks!! RSS subscribe by clicking here. To get new posts emailed to you click here.

A Well Worn Book

This is a picture of my copy of My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers.  This poor little book in a mess.  I’ve been reading this very copy daily for over 20 years!  The cover falls off and large chunks of the book slide out of I don’t hold it just right.  I love this book and I’ve wrung so much out of it!

I know it sounds strange, but this beat up old book really inspires me.  I look at it and think, “I want to be like this book.”

Let me explain:

This book gets read. It doesn’t just sit on the shelf looking pretty.  It has a message and that message is heard and makes an impact.  You’ve heard the saying, “You may be the only Bible the some people will ever read.”  Well, I want to be a book that God’s message can be communicated through.

I catch something new every time I read through it. Chambers is deep and that’s one of the things that keeps me coming back to this book.  One of my greatest fears is becoming stale and irrelevant.  I long to be a deep well that others can draw from.

It’s old but powerful. This one is much like the second one.  I know I’m not really old, but I’m at the halfway point in my life and I think often about how aging will effect the impact I’m able to make on the world around me.  I long to hold onto my zeal for Jesus and to keep my vision strong.

It’s spent. Seriously, look at that thing.  I really don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to go without buying a new one.  I’ve brought it everywhere with me for the last 20+ years.  I’ve read it over and over.  I don’t want to reach the end of my life wishing I’d been spent more for the cause of Christ.  I want God to wring every last bit out of me for His glory.

I love how Paul puts it in 2nd Corinthians 12:15, “I will gladly spend myself and all I have for you.”

Lord, spend me to the last ounce of all I have and am.  Amen.


Thanks!! RSS subscribe by clicking here. To get new posts emailed to you click here.