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Barriers To Rest

From the beginning of creation, rest has been critical. The Bible tells us that God rested on the seventh day from all of His labors. When He created the law, a day of rest was a part of those commands. Rest is necessary for our bodies and minds to function correctly.

For most people, there are some challenges when it comes to rest. Whether we are looking at our daily need to sleep, a weekly time to rest and relax, or a block of time set aside to get away from the everyday routine, some things keep us from resting properly. 

I see four common barriers that keep most of us from resting as we should. Usually, one of these is dominant in our lives, but they can change depending on our situations. Identifying your current barriers may open the door for better rest in your life.

 

What Needed To Be Done

Successful people have things they are working on every day. They probably keep a running list of things to do. Most of us get to the end of our days without completing everything on our list. We attempt to rest, but our brain will not shut down because we are thinking about all of the things that did not get crossed off the list. The same is true for a day off or a vacation. We end up wallowing in guilt about the things we needed to do instead of appreciating the time we have.

What Needs To Be Done

Let’s say you completed all of your tasks for one day or one week. The next thing that happens is to think about the things you need to do. They may not have made your list for this week, but they certainly will be there next. We stress about Monday on Sunday or, worse yet, Friday. We spent the first two days of a vacation worrying about what we should have done, and we are spending the last two days consumed with what we will need to do when we return. Don’t let tomorrow’s to-do list rob you of today’s rest.

What Could Be Done

This one can be helpful at times, but it can also rob you of needed rest. I notice this most when I am away for a few days. My mind begins to clear. The new location opens up thinking that might usually be blocked. I start to think about all of the things I want to accomplish and the organizations that need my participation. Unlocking new ideas and creating new visions can be critical for your life and your health. But so is rest. If you are not careful, an idea to jot down for consideration at a later time will turn into a four-hour brainstorming session, and the rest starts to disappear. One way I try to work around this is to record the idea or thought immediately with a reminder for a day when I get back. I gain the idea but don’t lose the rest.

What You Are Doing

This one robs most of us. The food we eat affects our rest. The time we waste affects our rest. What we do just before trying to rest affects whether we can or not. Our phones are usually the last things we look at before closing our eyes. All of these things affect our brain and our body’s ability to shut down and rest. Having a nighttime routine or a vacation routine where you wind down before sleeping or leaving can elevate the rest you get.

Rest is a medicine; medicine for our brain and our body. It can also be medicine for relationships and organizations. You are much more valuable when you are healthy and rested than you are ragged and worn.

The Power Of Margin

I did not realize how much life-space some things were taking. I recently wrote about some reliefs I felt from selling my business. One of the clear things for years was the lack of margin I had in my life. This included the margin in just about any area, from time to finances to stress or focus. The last few years were especially difficult.

Over the last few weeks, I have realized even more of the things that the lack of margin was crowding in. My family. My spiritual life. My leadership ability. My work at the church. The relief has allowed me to think about things I had not thought about in some time. Margin is powerful.

Margin is an unused space. Margin in printing or typing leaves blank space around a large area that makes it easier to read. It allows you to know where the text begins and ends. It is space to add things that make an impact or note to remember something important. It also allows the machine space for a slight error without the page missing something.

Margin in your life is unused space. It allows there to be some definition about where some things end and other things begin. It provides space to think about things that have just happened, or that is getting ready to happen. It leaves room for changes and slight errors without there being significant damage. It gives you time to recover and to appreciate what is going on around you. It is empty so that if something needs to bleed over, it can without harming something else.

Margin applies to almost every facet of our lives. We need margin in our finances. We need margin in our time. We need margin in our relationships. Margin with our careers and jobs and places that we lead. Margin in our spiritual walk. No area will not benefit from some clarity and clean space.

Instead, we live in a culture that thrives on busy and runs on coffee. We no longer respond to the greeting “how are you?” with “fine.” Instead, now the standard reply is “busy.” We feel useful in busyness. The truth is margin could make us more effective instead of just feeding our useful ego.

I believe I will see some significant benefits of margin in the coming months. I have already seen some of it in my home and family. I encourage you to create some margin. Instead of packing every second, give yourself a little time to breathe. You might find the benefits of space are better than the hustle of busyness.

3 Reliefs From Selling My Business

Recently I sold a division of my business. I had owned a retail business that sold new and used foodservice equipment for over 30 years. We also have a division that does auctions and liquidations for major chain stores. Over the last couple of years, I have felt it was time to sell the retail part. It was the most time-consuming part of the business. I could handle everything else in blocks of time.

Over the last twelve months, we developed a plan to sell the business’s retail portion to one of our employees. That was a tedious process, but late in December, we signed the paperwork, and he became the new owner effective January 1 of this year.

People have asked me how it felt to be free. The truth is I still have plenty to do with the other things that we own, and there are loose ends to tie up from the sale of the business. I am going to find something to do regardless. But at the end of the first week, I noticed three things that were missing that were a relief. If you are a business owner, you most likely can appreciate these.

 

No Overhead

Selling equipment is a high overhead business. It is challenging to sell it if you do not have it. Foodservice equipment is large and takes up a lot of space. We had over 50,000 square feet of space, and it was packed full. We had five full-time employees. Rent and payroll costs were around $20,000.00 per month. This cost did not include any other regular expenses, only rent and payroll. People had asked about my new-found freedom, but the first Friday with no payroll was the first time I felt it. Some weeks were no problem, but it was stressful to make sure the business could pay everyone and still operate. That was the first relief I noticed.

No Scheduling

I am still consulting with the new owner to help guide him as he starts. A recent conversation we had over the weekend was about scheduling. He needed three things done on Monday, but there were only two trucks and two employees to do them. He was trying to determine what was most important and efficient. Money also played a factor. Those scheduling headaches can be challenging to manage. Everyone believes they are the most important, and telling them they have to wait an extra day or two can create tension that no one enjoys. I was glad I didn’t have to make a choice. 

Less Bookkeeping

I am a professional procrastinator when it comes to bookkeeping. It is not that I cannot do it, it is the fact that I tend to be a sales side person, and if it does not generate income, it usually gets put to the back of the line. That can cause some pain at times, and I have learned some expensive lessons by not being more diligent. With no payroll and no day to day transactions, the overall bookkeeping load is way down. I have been catching up on things that I had put off for over a year. It is almost exciting. My accountant will be happy.

I know over the next few months, there will be other moments when I recognize new freedom. I know my mental capacity is much freer already, and I am excited about the days ahead. I pray for the new owner. I pray for other business owners. Many people think it is all freedom and wealth. I know that it is often stress and debt. But they are fulfilling what they believe they need to be doing, and many of us benefit from their sacrifice. I am thankful for the relief I am experiencing, and I look forward to channeling my energy in other places where I feel called.

We Need Better Men

I feel confident that someone took offense to the title of this blog. I hope you will read on. This is not an anti-woman post. I have some limits to my ability to address issues of the opposite sex. I know my limitations and weaknesses, and many of them I share with most other men.

Men excel naturally at some things. Other things we have to work at while others we retreat from because of social pressure. I want to address a few areas that I believe will make men better, including myself.

Spirituality Is Not Feminine

The majority of church attendees are female. In some cases, churches have 70-80% women in the adult attendees. But this is not just about church attendance. Women tend to take the lead at home, teaching their children about the Bible, or praying with their children. Men abdicate their spiritual leadership to mothers. 

But statistically, when men are involved in their children’s spiritual formation, the percentage of children that continue those practices in adulthood goes up dramatically. To pray, worship, and teach your children about the Bible doesn’t make you feminine. It would probably raise the bar in your marital relationship as well as impact your children infinitely. 

You Can Be Bold and Kind

One of the flaws many men deal with is the belief that they cannot be gentle and kind while being bold and strong. This presumption is a myth. You can be bold, speak the truth, lead your family, offer correction and discipline, and be gentle and kind at the same time. Unbridled boldness leaves unnecessary destruction. It causes harm and wounds to people. Kindness, coupled with boldness, allows other people to join you on your journey instead of alienating others and forcing them to follow you because of position instead of connection.

Financial Provision Is Not The Only Provision Your Family Needs

Men are to provide resources for the welfare of their families. Multiple Bible verses emphasize this. One of the temptations is that it becomes the only thing we provide. We work hard, sometimes too hard, to provide the things our family wants and needs. We do it in the name of providing for our family. But our family needs other provisions; they need our time. They need us to teach them the things we know. They need our love and compassion. They need conversation. They need time to relax with us when nothing else needs doing. For most men, providing financial resources comes naturally. It also comes naturally to allow it to become our identity, and we fail to offer other things our family needs.

Transparency Is Strength

Somehow we believe that to be a man means nothing hurts. Somehow we are invincible, and there is never a problem. We even make our children pretend, as well. They fall and get hurt, and we tell them, “you’re not hurt, just shake it off” or “be a man.” We mask our pain and internalize our shortcomings, making us toxic or blindsiding those we love with random reactions, and no one can connect the dots. Men, some things hurt. You are not stronger because you deny it. Being transparent about the pain will make you stronger and strengthen the relationships you have. You are not strong because you say nothing hurts. You are strong because you are transparent, and others are aware and know how to respond accordingly.

Words Are Not Just A Woman’s World

Some studies say that women use 25-35,000 words per day, while most men average around 10,000 words per day. That being the case, many men have exhausted their standard word capacity by the time they see their wife and family after a day at work. For your family to be successful, some of those words must be committed to conversations at home. Wisdom for your children. Comfort for your wife. Expressions of emotions and concerns. Don’t leave all of the talking to your wife. Good communication requires two dedicated communicators.

Apologies Do Not Make You Weak

Men usually find it difficult to say I’m sorry. Some view apologies as a weakness. We have even had leaders in recent times who boasted that they had never asked forgiveness. Apologizing is one of the most healing things you can do. It will reduce tensions faster than just about anything you can do. I recently read this quote: “The first to apologize is the bravest. The first to forgive is the strongest. The first to forget is the happiest.” Be brave, not weak. Learn to apologize sincerely.

Integrity Is Not Perfection

Integrity comes from a root word that means whole. Having integrity does not mean you are perfect; it means wholeness. When things are not perfect, you can acknowledge and find solutions that make the situation better. Pretending we are perfect only sets us up for huge disappointments when everyone finds out the truth. We are not superheroes. We are not God. We are men. We are not perfect, but we should have integrity.

The world will be a better place if we have better men. You can be a better man. I can be a better man. Take some of these things to heart, and let’s be the men our family and our world needs us to be. 

4 Of My Favorite Childhood Christmas GIfts

 

When I was a kid, Christmas was a big deal. We did not get anything we wanted all year round. My parents did not have a lot of extra money, but they would go out of their way at Christmas to make it memorable. 

Too often now, we just get what we want when we want it, and the surprise and joy of gifts at Christmas seem to be limited.

During a sermon recently, I shared one of my favorite Christmas gifts. It started me thinking about other gifts I received as a child that I distinctly remember. Here are a few of my favorite Christmas gifts received as a child. 

 

Go-Cart

We were celebrating Christmas at my grandparent’s home in Washington this year, and we were living in Wilmington. We had a Dodge station wagon at the time, and my parents had to transport this go-cart on top of the car in a box. I recollect that the box was unmarked, so we spent the entire trip trying to guess what was in it. We wore this go-cart out. We had a big parking lot at our church, and there were several go-carts in the neighborhood, so there was a lot of fun racing our go-carts.

10 Speed Bikes

Bikes brought newfound freedom to my brother and me. We rode these bikes all over Wilmington. This is one of the few big gifts I remember asking for as a kid. 

Fishing Boat

Our parents kept this gift under wraps. My dad bought us a 16’ boat with plans that we spend time together on the water. We were completely surprised. There are a couple of really adventurous stories about that boat. I know how much I enjoy being on a boat now with family and friends.

Merlin

“Merlin” was a very early handheld game. My dad liked it so much that he played it at night after we went to bed before giving it to us on Christmas Day. It was one of the first portable games we could take with us.

I am sure you have your favorite Christmas gifts from your childhood. I would love for you to share them in the comments. I hope that you and your family have a great Christmas this year.

3 Tensions Of A Covid Christmas

The Christmas season always brings joy along with inevitable tensions. The Christmas of 2020 will provide more strains than usual. There is no way to escape the 2020 Covid-Christmas challenges. So many things about the season have changed in light of this worldwide pandemic. Many churches are closed, parades and parties canceled and trips altered. Businesses have closed or have changed the way they operate. Hospitals are full, and the news is depressing.

No one wants Christmas to be a complete bust. Adding the tensions of a pandemic to other family dynamics can create the perfect storm. If you know what some of the stresses are, it may allow you to manage them better. Christmas can be a more joyful time, even in the middle of Covid, if we take the time to work through the issues at hand. Here are a few of the tensions families are dealing with this season.

Do We Gather?

There is plenty of guidance encouraging people to limit their gatherings during the Christmas season. Limited numbers of people are allowed in stores. Restaurants have limited capacity. Some churches are not having in-person meetings, while others are with some safety protocols. Families are encouraged not to gather with people outside their household. 

Christmas is one of the most common times of the year for people to be in large groups. Stores usually are full of crowds, churches packed, and restaurants are bustling. Families are traveling great distances to spend time with one another. Now there are choices to make. Do we avoid these gatherings altogether? Should we worship in the church building during Advent? Do we see our children or our parents? Is there a better way to accomplish this? Are we irresponsible if we do? Gathering with your loved ones is one of the most joyful pieces of Christmas. When gathering is in question, tensions quickly arise. 

Who Do We Gather With?

Let’s assume that you are determined to get together with some people, even if not with everyone you would typically include. Who will that be? There are people most of us feel safe with, but we are making assumptions when we do. We are assuming they are not infected or that we will not get infected if we gather. Who is in and who is out presents choices that few people want to make. People’s feelings get hurt very quickly. People make assumptions, whether accurate or not. There is virtually no way to avoid hurt feelings when some people are left out. If you are choosing some and not others, know there is going to be significant tension. 

Are Needs Different This Year?

This is a question that could fill an entire blog. We spend lots of money on Christmas buying lots of things that no one needs. For the most part, if we need it, we get it when we need it. Christmas gifts are usually bonuses. This year, needs may be different. Maybe one of the most important things we can do is spend our money with local merchants. If children are remote learning, the gift they need might be assisting one day per week with school activities. A family member may need financial assistance or some tools for remote work. With all of the isolation, they may just need your company, which takes us back to the tensions mentioned above. There has never been a year where being aware of the needs around us is more important. 

I hope this Christmas season brings joy to you and your family. There is no way to avoid some of these tensions, but we can work through them to make the season better and more enjoyable if we are aware. Merry Christmas. 

 

24 Quotes From “The Third Option”

I recently finished reading “The Third Option” by Miles McPherson. Miles is a former NFL football player and now serves as pastor of Rock Church San Diego. The book deals with one of the most troubling issues of our culture: racism. 

Pastor Miles offers a compelling case for reconciliation and healing through what he calls the third option. Here are my favorite quotes from each chapter. 

  • I believe racism can only be conquered when individuals take ownership and responsibility for their own attitudes, words, and actions; when another’s experience is understood and honored; and when we decide to tackle racism together.
  • You feel guilty when you do something wrong, but you feel shame when you feel like you are something wrong.
  • When someone says, “I don’t see color,” they are simply ignoring reality.
  • When you don’t belong to a certain group, you’re relatively limited in your knowledge of them. You may have had one or two personal experiences, but most likely you’ve been influenced by other people’s comments and the media.
  • …we are equals because we each possess the same image of God. The image we carry comes part and parcel, with unalienable rights. These rights are unalienable because God’s image in us cannot be removed and because He gave them to us.
  • It’s impossible to honor the image of God in you when I’m obsessed with me.
  • A blind spot doesn’t mean you don’t want to see something; it means you can’t see what you’re missing.
  • Here’s a link to the test if you’re interested in learning more about your own blind spots: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/user/agg/blindspot/indexrk.htm.
  • Here’s a better way to approach media consumption: Ask yourself if what you’re watching or listening to helps or hinders your ability to love your neighbor. Does it make you feel more justified in your biases, or does it foster a sense of compassion in your heart?
  • Racial reconciliation won’t happen until we can love each other with a Godly love that takes over our will and breaks our hearts.
  • Many people confuse forgiveness with approval of an offensive or harmful act. Others have a false idea that forgiveness erases accountability. Neither of these concepts captures the real nature of forgiveness.
  • Forgiveness means that you no longer hold someone responsible for healing the pain of an offense toward you.
  • As William H. Willimon writes in his book, Fear of the Other: No Fear in Love, “In competition with other emotions, even strong ones like lust, fear seems to best them all in the intensity of engagement of our whole limbic (emotional) system.” When we feel threatened, we think less clearly, have difficulty receiving and interpreting new information, make far more mistakes in perception, and respond negatively to situations—focusing on the downside and taking fewer risks.
  • Selfish ambition stands in stark contrast to Godly ambition and is roundly denounced throughout the Bible.
  • It’s hard to hate someone you’ve really gotten to know—and just as difficult to agree with someone you don’t.
  • Dishonorable assumptions always lead to dishonorable results.
  • The better we understand the burden others carry, the easier it is to honor their pain, and the more likely we’ll be to try and alleviate it.
  • Schools in lower-income areas—often communities of color—have access to less funding, due to a lower tax base and marginalized political representation.
  • What is a meaningful conversation? I suggest it’s a dialogue in which all participants grow and learn a different facet of the truth. If you’re not seeing new truths from different perspectives, you’re probably not having a meaningful conversation.
  • Love simply means asking the question “How can I help you?”  …responding to the answer you get in a manner that’s consistent with honoring God.
  • Children are like sponges: they soak up whatever’s in their environment. That’s true whether the environment is positive or negative. So when parents intentionally act to include or exclude certain groups of people from their social circles, children take note of their parents’ actions and internalize the belief systems that are modeled for them. This can have long-lasting effects that reach into adulthood—effects that are either positive or negative, depending on how their parents raised them.
  • As members of the human race, the values we share far outweigh our differences. When we choose to look for commonality with others, their lights and ours shine in recognition of each other.
  • If you’re looking for a reason to segregate, you will find one. But if you’re looking for reasons to honor and unite, you’ll find many.
  • You’re guaranteed to make mistakes, so give yourself permission to make them, and grant others the same grace you extend yourself whenever they make theirs.

 

I want to encourage you to read more. You could start by reading this book. We can all grow from the lessons shared here. I hope this will encourage you to be a reconciler.

3 Things I Am Thankful For This Year

Thanksgiving provides a time of reflection for the things in our lives. This year has provided plenty of opportunities to complain or not be thankful. We have dealt with many things beyond our control, and there was very little we could do to prevent or change them. But everything is not bad. As a matter of fact, there are probably some areas of your life that are flourishing despite the difficulties faced in other places.

I have found this to be true in my life. Some things have been challenging. Very challenging. I have had to work through situations I did not expect nor want to deal with again. But at the same time, some things in my life are better than ever, and I would not want Thanksgiving to pass without acknowledging those.

 

Strength In My Marriage

One of the things that have happened this year is the challenges I have faced have made my marriage stronger. We are talking more. We are focusing more on the important things and ignoring the insignificant things. We have used circumstances as a springboard for conversations that protect our relationship. We are praying more together. Our time together has been well spent this year. Marriages are never perfect, but they should always be getting better. I am thankful for our growth this year. 

Favor In My Finances

As I wind down the year, I will close on my business’s sale at the end of December. In the middle of a pandemic, this will be the best year we have ever had. I had a goal to be free of all personal debt by the time I sold the business. That is going to happen. We recently paid off our home and only have one more obligation to clear up before the end of the year. That is something that I used to only exist in my dreams. The freedom this creates for our family will matter for generations.

Commitment Of My Church

Pastoring has been difficult everywhere during the pandemic. Some churches will never reopen. Many churches suffered financially. Our church faced a couple of additional circumstances that were unexpected and heartbreaking. Through all of it, the church has rallied and continued to make things happen. Giving has been up. Volunteers have stepped up to fill unexpected vacancies. The atmosphere in worship has been great. Those who cannot come to the building are engaged online. Besides, two major accomplishments happened: the completion of a new preschool and the purchase of land for our second campus. I am thankful to be a part of such a great church.

I encourage you to think about the blessed areas of your life. Don’t allow the distractions going on around us to keep you from appreciating the good that is still happening despite it. I feel confident you have places that are flourishing during this season as well. 

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About Me

I currently serve as Lead Pastor at Open Door Church and I am a certified trainer & coach with the John Maxwell Team. I am also an Associate Trainer with EQUIP training leaders around the world. I currently own two businesses related to the foodservice equipment industry. I am a certified speaker, teacher and coach with the John Maxwell Team. I can offer you workshops, seminars, keynote speaking, and coaching, aiding your personal and professional growth through study and practical application of John’s proven leadership methods. Working together, I will move you and/or your team or organization in the desired direction to reach your goals.