5 Things 30’s Josh would say to 20’s Josh

The closer I am to hitting the mid 30’s mark, the more I think about my journey. I’ve definitely gained perspective, but it’s also caused me to realize what a moron I was in my 20’s. To be fair, I wasn’t a complete moron. There were many positives along the way, but I also made some basic 20’s mistakes that thankfully I’ve learned from. Maybe it’s a right of passage, a necessary journey of maturity. I don’t know. Either way, I went through it and have put together a few thoughts I wish that 30’s Josh could slap 20’s Josh upside the head with. I doubt that 20’s Josh would listen, but still, it would be worth it. Also, I don’t want to color myself this totally dysfunctional, disrespectful, irresponsible 20’s something. I was far from it, but I did have my moments.

So here goes. If I could text myself back in my 20’s, here’s what I would say.

Josh, you’re a cool guy, but please…don’t be an idiot. Pay attention to what I’m about to say.

1. You don’t know half of what you think you know, so stop pretending that you do.

If you haven’t walked in their shoes, don’t pretend that you have. “Faking it” is both stupid and demeaning. People already know this. They can tell in the first 15 seconds of a conversation whether or not you’re full of it. You can show real empathy, sincere sympathy, as long as you allow the true peacemaker (Jesus, The Holy Spirit) to work through you. So dwell on that.

Also. Don’t hate on people who HAVE earned it, who HAVE worked hard, just because they don’t agree with you. Don’t dismiss them because they’re “older or out of touch.” Please. It’s exactly the opposite. They have something you NEED. Wisdom. Experience. Just because you’re the loudest voice in the room doesn’t make you right. Just shut up and listen.

Or, consider this.

How about making more of an effort to learn and ASK people who HAVE gone through it, or experienced it, to share some insight with you. And then Listen. Be respectful. Ask intelligent questions. Show honor. Don’t interrupt. Write it all down. Reflect on it. Grow from it.

2. It’s just as valuable to serve as it is to lead.

Don’t worry about position, focus on the relationships. Don’t fuss about a title, focus on the people. Don’t argue about the office, emphasize the mission. In fact, the greatest leaders are those that put the welfare of others before themselves. The greatest leader IS the greatest servant. Locate more areas to serve. They are there, you’re just not looking hard enough or you’ve turned your back to them.

3. Learn to love yourself the way God loves you.

Don’t be so wrapped up in what people think about you. You’re a great guy. I know you’re young and it’s not easy following the big footsteps of your dad. Or the expectations that people place on you. Just remember that he’s proud of you no matter what. God thinks you’re pretty awesome too. Develop thick skin, but keep a soft heart. Be confident in who you are. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and don’t allow that fear to keep you from trying.

4. You don’t need that stupid shopping trip.

Seriously. Save your money! Or at least spend it on something worthwhile. Take that money and spend it on a weekend with your family making memories. This time next year…that shirt will be ugly, those jeans will be worn (and not in a cool way), your jacket will have a mustard stain, your shoes will be garbage. However, those memories…they’ll last forever.

5. Have faith that’s BIG, but be willing to start small.

Nobody is going to hand you anything, you have to work for it. You have to earn it. Don’t settle. Continue to push. Keep driving for more. Be a learner. But always stay thankful and learn to celebrate EVERYTHING that God does, no matter how great, no matter how small it is. It’s going to take time, a long time, even more time than you ever considered, but God is at work. Never forget that. Don’t burn bridges with people. We need each other more than you realize. So keep that in mind during every tough conversation, difficult decision or complicated situation. You can do this.

There’s more I would tell myself, which may or may not include previous Super Bowl winners and NBA Champs…ok, I’m kidding. What would you tell yourself? What would you say to your 20’s self if you could?

Weird Courage

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Time to wake this blog up after a two month nap.

Sunday we kicked off a two week series at New Life Church titled “Weird – because normal isn’t working.” Let’s face it – the new normal is a busted mess.

  • The new normal in relationships is –  divorce, regret, depression, guilt, unfaithfulness.
  • The new normal in finances is – broke, in debt, can’t afford it but bought it anyway, no margin, little or no generosity.
  • The new normal in church is – not growing, serving when it’s convenient, not reaching non-believers only reaching Christians, Christ isn’t center, skipping church because you’re tired.

Normal. Isn’t. Working.

So stop trying to be normal. Jesus called us to be weird. Not weird in a creep people out because I’m so spiritual kind of way. Weird in a – I have peace, my marriage has passion after 13 years, my life has meaning, Christ is center of my life, I’m there for my kids, I have joy in life, I am led by the Spirit of God and my life stands out in a good/God kind of way. Weird is better. Trust me.

Weird for you this week may mean doing something that you typically don’t do because you’re afraid people will think you’re weird. Well, it’s time to step up and get weird. Remember, normal is busted. Weird is better.

Here are some ideas for you to be weird this week:

  1. Invite someone to church (I recommend this Sunday when I finish up Weird – Part 2).
  2. Take breakfast to school teachers or surprise your bank with donuts. Invite them to church.
  3. Have a free garage sell. That’s right FREE. Give everything away and Invite everyone who shows up to church. (Maybe for the warmer months..but still!)
  4. Surprise someone and buy them a drink at a gas station. Hand them an invite card.
  5. Surprise your wife with flowers and a note that says “I love you, thank you for all you do.” Even though it’s not Valentine’s Day yet.
  6. Fast a meal and pray for God to bring lost people into His Kingdom this Sunday at NLC.
  7. Write an encouraging note to a teacher or someone who is helping your kids on a regular basis, and let them know you are praying for them. (You better actually be praying for them!)
  8. Did I mention invite someone to church this Sunday?
  9. Don’t spend any money on fast food this week and instead bring it as an offering to church Sunday.
  10. Turn off the TV and have a board game night with your family for an hour. Finish it up with a time of prayer and have each person offer a prayer request. Record the prayer requests in a notebook and then celebrate together when God answers the prayer!

Seriously, I could go on with this. You CAN do this. You CAN be weird. All it takes is a moment of courage. Just a moment. Becoming the “Weird” man or woman of God takes courage. Sometimes, it just takes 20 seconds of insane courage (Cue the clip below from the movie “We Bought a Zoo.”)

Praying today that you find that courage and get weird with me.

Things Christians Should Stop Saying Part 2

Hey Christian, stop saying “I’ll pray about it.”

When what you really mean is “There’s NO possible way, but instead of being honest with you about the truth, I’m going to put it off so I come across as a super spiritual person.”

Why do we do this? Why do we say things to people that we don’t mean? Why do I tell people that I’ll give them a call when in reality I have ZERO interest in talking to that person beyond the current conversation? I’ll tell you why. Other than coming across as a rude jerk-face (which of course there are more tactful ways to be honest), we choose the easy way out.

Let’s be perfectly clear about what’s really going on when we tell people that we’ll pray about something when the truth is they aren’t even making our fast-food-for-dinner prayer. We are being liars. Whoa-oah dude! That seems a bit harsh! For real, what’s the big deal Josh? What’s the harm in just telling someone that I’m praying for them when I’m really not? Won’t they still FEEL better? (Seriously…I’m about to go JIMMY-NINJA all up on you).

Here’s why.

Proverbs teaches us to choose our commitments VERY carefully because you have to live with the consequences of EVERYTHING you say. Count. The. Cost. Think before you speak. The words you choose to say can make you sick or well, happy or sad, rich or poor, can get you married or divorced. When you choose to say words (even good intentioned words) that aren’t true, you’re NOT speaking the truth. The Bible doesn’t say WORDS make you free, the Bible teaches that its THE TRUTH that makes you free. There’s a BIG difference.

Dishonesty always destroys. Always. It’s fake love. You don’t lie to people you really love. Dishonesty is always superficial. So when you say “I’ll pray about it” when you have no intention to do so, you may fool me, but the reality is you’re a superficial person who doesn’t really care. Only say it if you mean it. Level with people. Be honest. Think before you speak and when you speak, speak the truth.

“He who guards his mouth controls himself, but he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.”
Proverbs 13:3

Things Christians Should Stop Saying Part 1

Intro: We all say dumb things. I’m not sure it’s even possible to prevent. I say stupid things all the time (my wife is nodding her head). At some point we’re all going to blurt something out that we immediately know we shouldn’t have and regret it. (So, how does that foot taste? Need some ketchup?) There are what I would consider “accidental shootings” and by that I mean we immediately respond/say something without thinking, to a situation, conflict or question. We didn’t mean to say it, but we still did. It was unintentional, but it can’t be taken back and it still caused damage. (“Hey man, I’m soooo sorry I accidentally shot you in the back with my gun. We’re still good right?” Um, no).

Then there are times that we’ll say something to completely blame/cover up/justify our weakness/selfishness that is total false and basically a complete lie. The next couple of posts are going to be about the things Christians should STOP saying. This has as much to do about the MOTIVATION behind what is said as it does the actual words spoken themselves.

Hey Christian, stop saying “The Lord is Leading Me…”

Believers abuse that phrase more than my daughter abuses popsicles on a hot day. Seriously. I’ve heard it all. Hey Pastor Josh, the Lord is leading me to leave my wife. Hey Pastor Josh, the Lord is leading me to leave the church. Hey Pastor Josh, the Lord is leading me to stop serving. Hey Pastor Josh, the Lord is leading me to rob a bank. Ok, so I made that last one up, but you get the ridiculous point.

Just because you tell me “the Lord is leading me” doesn’t mean He actually is. In fact, it’s almost ALWAYS clear when someone is blaming/unfairly using God as an excuse to be selfish and get their way. If you haven’t taken the time to pray for wisdom, seek God’s Word for counsel or talk to your Pastor about the decision BEFOREHAND, then DO NOT tell me the Lord is leading you when its obvious that He’s not! God will NEVER lead someone to do something that contradicts HIS WORD! Duh.

That’s not how this works. Just by adding “the Lord is leading me” doesn’t mean you get to have your way. You can’t lie your way into God’s Will.

Have you stopped to consider the consequences for saying this when it’s untrue? When you falsely claim that the Lord is leading you, here’s what happens:

  • You lose credibility
  • You miss out on the opportunity for REAL GROWTH
  • You form the bad habit of not seeking God for answers
  • You promote self above everything and everyone else
  • You cut off Gods people
  • You abuse and lose relationships with true friends
  • Eventually, the truth becomes known and you look foolish

Do any of those sound good to you? Me either! So just be honest. You don’t have to come across as some spiritual giant guru who God texts the answers to immediately because you’ve done everything the right way. FYI, the people closest to you already know who you are. We know better. (I would also add that spiritual leaders also have spiritual discernment). You’re not fooling anyone but yourself. So just be honest. Just be open. If it’s not God thats leading, if you haven’t prayed for wisdom, if you haven’t searched God’s Word, then that’s where you start. Don’t blame God for your selfish motives. Honestly, I’ll have more respect for you if you just simply start with “I want to…” At least then (you may still be very wrong) but at least you’re honest about your motive.

Good news time. If you’ve already blown it, then thankfully/hopefully God’s Mercy will be kicking in real soon and He’s giving you the time you need to seek forgiveness and get things right. Take advantage of it and do it. Make the corrections and please STOP saying that “the Lord is leading me” when it’s obvious that He’s not.

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
Psalm 19:14

Thanksgiving Focus

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Philippians 4:8

One thing that I love about Thanksgiving (in addition to the crazy awesome food) is that I’m reminded to focus on all the things I’m grateful for. Whatever you focus on ultimately becomes your reality. That’s why the Bible teaches us to focus on the good things that God has done. Focus on noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable things. Focusing on God’s goodness fuels your faith.

If you’ll focus more on being thankful for everything you DO have because of God’s blessing in your life instead of everything you don’t have, you will literally/physically start to FEEL blessed again. Here’s the truth: You ARE Blessed! I don’t even need to know your circumstances. If you know Jesus Christ, you are blessed beyond anything this world has to offer.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Pinterest Imperfect

I began to notice my wife using a new app a while back that allowed her to pick and pin her favorite discoveries from the internet. It sounded pretty cool, so I asked her what it was and she replied “Pinterest.” Hmm. Ok. So, I downloaded the app, signed up (invite only at the time) and well, basically forgot it was on my phone. About a month later I decided to check it out and after pinning a 10 minute recipe for pizza rolls and a hot molten lava cake made in the microwave, I was hooked. Now I’m a pinning machine and you know what? I love it.

Confession: I enjoy the mens style, garden, products and the holiday categories the most. Yep.

Last night I was searching on Pinterest to find some unique Christmas gift ideas and the thought just hit me.

If my life was on Pinterest it would be un-pin-able.

Seriously.

Think about it. Pinterest ONLY shows the perfect room, the perfect recipe, the perfect style, the perfect layout, its ALL perfect. That’s why we want it so bad. We want our lives to mirror Pinterest! We want to look like them, have the amazing house like them, have the super awesome theater room like them (man…do I want that room). We want to BE PERFECT. It’s ruined us. Let’s face it. Our lives are NOT Pinterest pin-able. With the crazy to-do list, the never ending cleaning, the dog that ALWAYS needs a bath, the kids toys everywhere and the crazy garage (or at my house the kids personal bike/toy storage facility). I’m not even mentioning my personal issues. Not even going there. I’m positive that my life would not be pin worthy (except maybe the “Jacked Up” category).

Here’s the great news: I don’t have too. Neither do you. Life is NOT meant to be Pinterest-perfect.

Jesus didn’t call us to live perfect lives. He called us to walk worthy. See Ephesians 4:1-6. If you’re a child of God, you have the Holy Spirit living on the inside of you. God has made you a new person, you’ve been set free from guilt, depression, the power and pain of sin. Perfection kills initiative. You’ll never achieve perfection, so if that’s your goal then you’ll ALWAYS end in failure. Perfection is NOT the plan. Passion is. Live life for Christ with PASSION. Stop being so concerned with perception. It’s not wrong to want to be the best you can, but when that’s driven by your fear of perception, it’s NOT healthy. It’s not Gods best.

So, keep pinning away. Keep stealing um, borrowing ideas. I plan to. 🙂
Just keep in mind that Pinterest isn’t real life, and its perfectly fine that way.

Off With Her Head!

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One of my favorite movie remakes has to be the movie “Alice in Wonderland” with Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter. If you know the movie, then you also know about the notorious villain, the oddly large headed Queen of Hearts. She’s known by one famous line. One line that defines her as the foul tempered, unrelenting, unforgiving, don’t-you-dare-to-cross-her-or-else monarch.

“Off with her head!”

If you DARE to disobey the queen or simply fail to answer her question within a timely manner then it’s OFF WITH YOUR HEAD!

If we aren’t careful, it’s so easy to allow this same merciless attitude/approach towards people we disagree with. If someone cuts you off, does you wrong, does something you don’t particularly agree with? Off with their head! (not literally of course) but you get the point.

A reminder to you Christian, as we begin the Holiday Season.

Mercy matters more.

You can choose to dissect every issue and flaw of every person who does you wrong, who does something you deem unacceptable, or you disagree with. And you can cut them. Post something about them on Facebook. Call them out in a comment. Or post some random generic anti-message that shows how spiritual you are. (By the way – It does the opposite).

Or.

You can show mercy and be like Jesus.

We are to be known as people of mercy and forgiveness. That’s who we are. That’s who Jesus is. Remember Him? Oh yeah, that guy. He forgave you for the ___________. (Fill in the blank…movie you watched, book you read, person you did wrong, place you went, time you…).

So do the same. Be a person of mercy. People are hurting now more than ever. Somewhere…

  • A single parent is scrambling to hopefully make Christmas happen.
  • Someone just discovered they have cancer.
  • A family doesn’t know what they’re going to do for food, NOT just Thanksgiving.
  • A husband who lost his loved one a year ago is fighting depression.
  • A parent is fighting a losing battle with their kids relationship.

Showing mercy doesn’t mean you accept or condone poor behavior, it also doesn’t make you any less of a Christian, or a Believer. In fact, it does the opposite. It makes you more of one. It shows that you’re focused more on the heart, then you are the action. Mercy reflects compassion. The same kind that Jesus showed to the crowds in Matthew 9:36. This world needs mercy healing now more than ever.

“For you, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy to all them that call on you.” Psalm 86:5