July – The Second Start of the Year!

July is the beginning of the second half of the year and there is no better time than to evaluate the health of the most important areas of your life.

I love that we start the year with fireworks for New Years and then halfway through the year (in America) we get another day of fireworks. This along with many other details of July remind me that time is flying by and it is so important to manage my year well. So, what are the most important things that we need to consider and evaluate this time of year?

Are you spending time in God’s Word?

I love the YouVersion app. Except on the days when I break my streak!! Today is day 185 out of 365 in my 2019 Bible In One Year Plan, and I am almost halfway through the year. I do have a few days that I have missed that I still need to catch up on, but I love being able to track that I have had 17 perfect weeks in the Word this year and 173 Days in the Bible! What’s the secret? I was convicted earlier this year about getting on facebook before anything else… I made the decision that I would not go on Facebook until I have spent time in God’s book!

Are you spending time with your Family?

We went on our first real family vacation this year. It was wonderful. We went with some great friends to Washington DC. Everyone had a wonderful time. We made memories for a lifetime! We will be heading to Rhode Island to spend some time with Katie’s family later in July. We have been blessed with some rich family time this year, and especially this summer. So thankful!

Are you spending time doing things that you love?

I love spending time with friends and family. I love being outside! I love running and cycling. I have done well with some of this and not well with other parts. I have been able to manage my weight, but I would still enjoy more time running and cycling during the second half of this year!

Are you spending time working hard?

I believe that both I and my team have been working hard. We have been in a major transition and that has brought a whole new set of difficulties to work through. We are excited to get back to a normal schedule and a normal task list, but for now, we are working through whatever comes our way. Dreaming about the future and how we can serve Jesus better!

Are you spending time learning and growing?

I took two classes in the fall working towards my Doctorate of Ministry in Worship. I have one class in the second half of the year, but I have also been reading non-stop and even taking a personal course on music theory. I love learning. One of my favorite things that I have learned this year is Everything Enneagram. I will do some posts about these in the days to come.

What other areas should we evaluate at this halfway point?

Thanks for reading! Share your own thoughts below!

And remember, This is the start of a Great Second Half!! If you have not started well, you have time to turn this year around! If you have started well, keep at it and finish strong!

Lessons from DAYS in Jury Duty… PART 1

Well, last week I was able to fulfill my highest civic duty. At least that is what they told me. Action Jackson began by telling me that more than likely, I would be done by the afternoon and would only have one day of service which made me even more optimistic as I was called away from the masses in the very first group.

I was placed in a pool with 130 other jury candidates and escorted to a beautiful court room. The jury candidate questions began, and to make a 4 day long story short, they asked us question after question, after question, and then countered those with even more questions. In the end, I was praising the Lord because I was not selected to be in the jury. If one day of likely service turned into four days, then who knows how long a four week trial could last. Needless to say, I was ready to get out of that courtroom, but not without a few important observations and lessons along the way. I figured I would take the opportunity to share those thoughts here on my blog. Thanks for reading, I will try my best to be brief.

 

 

This Too Shall Pass

There were so many moments that I was ready to leave that courtroom, but as I reconsider the details today, I thought for just a moment that I would love to be back in that room with those people again. So often we long to be out of our current situation and in doing so, I wonder if we don’t miss out on what God is revealing to us in that moment. Yeah, it may hurt, I know I was sore from that wooden bench after all those hours. Yeah, we may be bored out of our mind. But, a wise man once told me: BLOSSOM WHERE YOU ARE PLANTED.

Application: Even in Jury Duty, God can work in your heart. Instead of trying to get out of something lame, difficult or painful, it is probably wiser to seek the lessons that can be learned and the people that can be served.

People Love To Talk About Themselves

Anyone that reads that title may immediately think that is a completely negative statement, but I don’t think it has to be. If people love to talk about themselves, then they especially love it when you listen to them talk about themselves. While we were in the courtroom, we were allowed to do nothing. I mean NOTHING. No phones, no laptops, no electronics. The guy beside me got busted for sleeping. So, on break I walked over to the Downtown Library to get a book, and before I got to chapter three, I was informed by the Bailiff that I was not allowed to read a book either. What was left? Nothing but sitting and listening. As I listened, I learned so much about many people. It made me wish that I could be assigned to jury duty with the people that I see every day at work, and church, and in my neighborhood. Maybe then I could truly get to know them.

Application: I need to find ways to engage in conversation with people. It is likely that they like to talk about themselves, so if I am ready to listen without distraction, then I may learn a lot.

Four Days Together and We Feel Like Family

This was probably my greatest takeaway. I spent four days with these people, and I honestly felt love towards so many of them. Sounds crazy, I know. But I know their faces, I know their stories. I know where some of them live, their favorite restaurants. I know many of their jobs, and even their spouses job. I know a lot about their personalities, I know the ones who shake when the judge asks them to speak in public, and I know the ones who go on and on and on… 🙂 We spent four days, and I felt like I was at summer camp. These were my new friends and TRUTH: It was sad to say goodbye on the last day. Spending time together with people is a gift, it is a game changer for relationships.

Application: I am so thankful for the time that I get to spend with my family. It helps me  know my kids better. Time reveals so many details about their life, their desires, their heart. I also love the time that I get to spend with people in ministry, and this week made me ask the question: How can I spend more time, significant time, jury duty style time, with new friends, with my choir and the people I lead in ministry, and so many other people in my church that I long to feel like family with.

In Conclusion:

I learned too much for one post, but this will be the first part of my experience and it can be summarized in one word. People. They can be pretty awesome. Jesus thinks so. We should get to know them, serve them, and love them.

Life Lessons for the Week

Here are a few major lessons I am learning right now! They may help you as well. Read through them and spend some time thinking about any of them that will help you grow. Then after you are done, take some time and share a few things that have been on your mind lately in regards to personal growth.

MOMENTUM

I read a quote recently that says: “A weak leader with momentum, looks like a strong leader; and a strong leader without momentum looks weak.”

Personally it is so interesting in reference to my ministry. Right now our youth ministry is in a period of great fruit. We are experiencing the highest numbers and the greatest influence that I have seen in my ministry since I have been here. The question that one might ask me is: What are you doing differently? My answer: Nothing. I have been in youth ministry for 6 years and there have been many ups and downs. Right now things are definitely up. Is it because of my leadership style? I would say, no. It is because we have momentum. I have been thinking a lot about this, and I am currently trying to discover how to develop this same momentum in other ministries. I do not have all the answers regarding establishing momentum, but I know this, do what you have to do to get momentum and things will look up very quickly.

GRACE

I have an incredible leadership team that supports me in youth ministry. They are great for many reasons: These leaders build relationship with teenagers, they love teenagers, they love the youth ministry, and they are extremely faithful. But there is something about these leaders that has been especially encouraging and powerful as they have been involved in Suncoast Youth Ministry. It is that they are leaders with Grace. At Suncoast Youth Group we always define grace as “God giving us what we do not deserve.” The leaders of Suncoast Youth Group support the ministry and they support me with an incredible amount of grace. They understand that things do not always operate the way that they would prefer, but they show grace, and they support me anyway. Our leaders know me and all of my weaknesses and failures, and they support me anyway. They show grace and they look past themselves and their own preferences and comforts and they support both the youth ministry and the youth pastor with great grace. If every ministry of the church had such graceful leaders, the church would look very different.

PASSION 

I asked my wife this week what I am passionate about and she said that I am passionate about being passionate. I understand where she is coming from. Whether we are talking about my favorite restaurant, P.F. Changs, or my favorite drink in the world, Sonny’s Sweet Tea. I tend to be more on the passionate side of things. One struggle that I have been working with is that often my passion about something can be perceived as arrogance. Whether in casual fellowship, in praise team practice, or in staff meeting I have been told that sometimes I come across “more jerky” than I intend to. It is not my desire to be arrogant, or to be controlling, or in charge, but many times my passion gets the best of me, and I give off vibes that are not quite what I am going for. I read two great blogs recently that reminded me what the Bible says about this: James 1:19 “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath.”

I am working on balancing my passion with this verse. Let me be clear, I love being passionate, and this verse does not tell me to be more apathetic. For me, it says, be passionate, but use less words.  Listen more, and think through your opinions and your thoughts, and then share them with fewer words. I believe that this will be a huge step for me, not an easy one, but incredibly important for my personality.

WHAT ARE SOME THINGS THAT YOU ARE LEARNING RIGHT NOW?

POST THEM IN THE COMMENTS! Thank you!

Lee

No Resolution Yet? It’s not too late!

I have read several great blogs over the last few days that have challenged me in several different ways. The main debate that has been on my mind over the last few days is to make a resolution, or to not make a resolution. In other words, what goals and challenges will I set for myself over the next year. I have asked several people this week to name a few goals that they have set for the next year, and suprisingly almost everyone that I had spoken with had not made any resolutions yet. One blog that I read about yesterday talked about how in the Bible,  Daniel made a resolution at the beginning of his book, and the rest of his story is history. Daniel is known as a faithful follower of the Lord, and it could be traced back to one resolution that he made. You can read that great post HERE. Well, because of that blog and a few others that made it clear that there is not a rule that states that resolutions must be in stone by the time the ball drops at midnight, I have decided to take some time over the next week and really ask God what some of my goals should be for the next year. I already know a few, but I am going to use the next week to write down some specific things to increase my effectiveness in serving the Lord and my family in 2011.

Here are a few things that I already plan to do:

Scripture Memory, both on my own, and with Ron Edmondson on his blog HERE

Blog more often by applying what I read yesterday on these two blogs,  HERE and HERE

Attempt to accomplish 27 credit hours this year on  my graduate work.

FIT Triathlon May 14th

More to come!

What are some of the things that you plan to accomplish this year? Please comment some of them, maybe you will give me more ideas! 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Free Fuel!

I read a great book about a year ago called: “Creating Magic” by Lee Cockerell

One of the points that jumped out the most to me as I read this book was a major point called Free Fuel. As I read this, we had just come out of a gas price hike, and those beautiful words: “Free Fuel” were sure to catch anyones attention.

The great thing is, there is no catch here, just a genuine truth, a flawless principle, that you can use today to get free fuel. Wondering what it is? Here you go: “Encouragement”

Can you remember a time when you were younger, and your Mom or Dad asked you to do something, like wash the floors or wash the car, or go pull weeds or something like that? Well, I sure do. I remember working decently. I would scrub for a while, I would pull a weed or two, and so on. But if my Mom or my Dad walked in the room and said, “Wow! Lee, you are really doing a great job” I was rejuvenated. I worked harder, I worked better, I was passionate about what I was doing and all they did is throw a little encouragement my way.

It doesn’t matter if someone hates what they are doing, if they are encouraged, they will try a little bit harder, they will go on a little bit longer, and more often than not, they will do a little bit better. Who is discouraged in your life? Why don’t you test out this theory? Why don’t you use some free fuel.

By the way: let me explain the “free fuel” line incase you did not catch it yet. Encouragement is a fuel, a source of energy that costs nothing. It will cost you nothing to lift someone up, it will cost you nothing to encourage your team, your family, our spouse, but you will definitely reap bountifully by spreading around some encouragement.

Who can you encourage today?

Men’s Reading Group

Alright guys! The time has come to get together and grow! I read a book about a year ago that was incredible for my spiritual growth. I enjoyed it so much that I just recently picked it up again to remind myself of some important disciplines that I need to grow in, and it hit me! This is the book that we need to read together!

Let me explain: I really want to find a group of guys that are willing to read one chapter of a book each week… (that equals about 2.5 pages per day). It might seem like a lot to someone who never reads, but trust me, it is definitely attainable and definitely worth it. You have to start somewhere, so why not now. My goal is to read the book and meet somewhere each week to talk about what jumped out at us. The book is “Good to Great in God’s Eyes” by Chip Ingram.

Here is the book! You can click on it to order it, or you can give $8.00 to me and I will order one for you.

Please let me know through email or a phone call if you are interested so I know how long we need to wait before we meet. I want to give every guy time to get the book in and have time to read the introduction before we meet together for the first time!

Thanks guys! I am excited to see how we can grow and influence each other in the Lord by reading and studying together!