Back in Balance

Mike —  March 1, 2017 — Leave a comment

Whoever let me forget how much better I feel when I’ve been running (semi)regularly… Please don’t let me forget again.

It’s not a lot, but I’ve run more miles this first 2 months of 2017 than I have in the past several years. That says a lot more about the last few years than about the last couple months. I didn’t have to choose to stop running. I just took a little time to recover from a particularly long run once… got busy… missed a few too many days because of bad weather… then found that I hadn’t run in way too long. But getting back into the practice of running has helped me get some physical things back in balance. I’ve trimmed a couple pounds, my lungs feel better, I’m sleeping less fitfully, and I generally just feel better. Running helps me clear the clutter in my head and is a time of prayer for me to refocus and remember Who my life is really about. Which brings me to this…

Our spiritual lives can get out of balance through unplanned inactivity, too.

An easy stretch of life lulls us into thinking that we’re doing well. We forget how dependent we really are on God as we get caught up in our own little day to day. We stop noticing God at work around us. Soon, we realize, we haven’t really noticed Him at all lately or given Him much thought… in way too long.

Maybe running isn’t your thing – and that’s fine. This isn’t really about running. It’s about paying attention to your spiritual life – your real life.

How are you doing?

Is it time to get back into the practices of life that help you grow?

Don’t let unplanned inactivity wreck your spiritual life.

Let me offer a few suggestions:

  • Read Scripture. Often. Carve out time and listen to what He says in His Word.
  • Get outside. For some of us, being in contact with creation helps us get in touch with our Creator.
  • Make something. The Spirit He’s placed in us is His creative Spirit. Exercise it. Make something beautiful and new.
  • Read. Check out something from the library. Head to a bookstore. Or start with something off the list below. Just find some good words to make you think…

   

Or maybe you just need some of these:

Why Not?

Mike —  January 24, 2017 — Leave a comment
  • It will be cold.
  • It’s going to be really crowded.
  • Someone is probably going to get hurt… almost for sure.
  • You’re going to freeze… you don’t really need all those fingers and toes, right?
  • There is basically only a thin sheet of plastic between your carcass and a frozen hill of packed ice. That can’t be comfortable.
  • Have you thought about how cold it will be?

There are all kinds of reasons to stay home on a snow day under a blanket on your nice, warm couch.

Don’t listen to reason all the time.

Take them anyway.

Into the Mist

Mike —  January 23, 2017 — Leave a comment

I’ve been re-reading An Unstoppable ForceIt’s a wonderfully dangerous book and one of my favorites for 15 years! This line stuck out to me again this morning:

Sometimes, I forget this and think I have to have all the answers pulled together before I can invite someone into the question. But following Jesus and leading the church God’s way often means I only get to see the next step. Sometimes not even that! Sometimes I have to take the step God’s telling me to take before I can even see where my foot will fall.

It’s a little unnerving to be honest. It requires something to be developed within me that allows me to overcome the logic that says “stay put in the safety of what you already know…” It requires something to grow in me to break me free from the gravity of the solid and tangible… It requires a confidence in what I can’t see and a certainty in what I hope…

It requires faith.

And so, I step into the mist. Not because I’m brave or possess abnormal levels of courage. Not because I’m a super-spiritual answer man. Not because I know everything will turn up roses and sunshine. But because He stepped forward and I want to stay with Him. He is on the move and I want to keep with Him. So I step into the mist.

Want to go for a walk?

Use Your Words

Mike —  January 12, 2017 — Leave a comment

Why am I hiding?

What have I to fear?

My words, when kept deep within,

tear at my soul to find their way out,

gasping for a precious breath of life.

These invaluable words are not meant to be buried

and I don’t want to become the wicked, lazy

bury-er of what God has planted.

Their power to hurt is mitigated, sure,

but so is their power to heal, to stretch, to grow…

Their life-giving breeze is stifled within

when kept below the surface and kept away from the crowds.

“Out loud” is where they belong,

free to voice dreams and right wrongs,

free to run into stories and songs.

And when it really is Your breath in my lungs

there is no greater praise I posses to pour out

than to tell the story You’re writing.

To tell it well.

And to tell is whole.

And to tell it always.

When Jesus Wouldn’t Stay…

Mike —  December 28, 2016 — Leave a comment

There was a day, early in Jesus ministry that could have derailed the whole thing if Jesus had made a lesser choice. Imagine the high Jesus must have felt (yes, Jesus had feelings) after blasting through the devil’s lies as he tempted Him in the wilderness. Choice by choice, refusing to stray from the path His Father had revealed… You know how good it can feel when you succeed in beating temptation, right? Now imagine the crash when Jesus’ return to His hometown of Nazareth ended in a mob threatening to throw him off a cliff!

It had to hurt. But Jesus faithfully went on His way to nearby Capernaum, where He taught and healed some people and rescued others from demons. Unlike Nazareth, these people ate it up. They loved it and began bringing people with all kinds of sicknesses to be healed by Jesus. After the rejection at Nazareth, it had to feel good to be amazing people left and right. It must have been tempting for Jesus to soak it all in and bask in their adulation. He could have hung up a sign and made Capernaum famous as the home of the healer who never fails (and probably made Himself rich in the process). But He didn’t.

In Luke 4:42, we find Jesus out in a solitary place, away from the crowds for a moment, getting ready to leave Capernaum. But the crowds found Him and tried to get Him to stay. “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.”

Before He walked on water…

Before He called out a single disciple…

Before He rose from the grave…

Jesus understood WHY. He knew that He had been sent, and He knew why He’d been sent. No highs or lows could dissuade Him from His mission. I know that I’m prone to be thrown around a bit by the ups and downs, but it’s when I forget why I’m here that I can get most off track. I’m grateful for a God who reminds me that I’ve been sent, for His Sprit who reminds me why, and for the Son who shows me how to humbly accept what comes and continue faithfully on His mission.

I pray that your 2017 will be full of clarity about the fact that you are sent and about WHY God has sent you wherever He has.

Top 6%…

Mike —  December 14, 2016 — Leave a comment

If you play along here on this blog much at all, you already know that I recently published a book. If you have any book writing experience, you know that it’s one thing to write a book and quite another to actually sell copies of it. (Which is why writers have agents and publicity teams, etc.) I’ve read that the average non-fiction book sells about 250 copies a year and about 2000 copies over the “lifetime” of the book. Even though there are a ton of books published each year, there aren’t that many that actually sell very well.

Now, I’m not looking to get rich or get a major publisher’s attention/book contract with this little effort, but I’ve also never been one to be satisfied with average. I’m glad to already be very close to surpassing that 250 mark in the first several weeks, but did I mention that it’s a very different thing to sell a book than to write a book? The writing is done, and I’m happy with it. I wouldn’t have gone to print if I thought it wasn’t worth reading. I’ve very comfortable sitting down and grinding out word after word for hours on end… But I AM TERRIBLE AT PROMOTING myself (and my work by extension). It feels stupid asking people to buy my book all the time. I look back at my social media feeds and feel embarrassed… but the thing is, I ACTUALLY THINK THIS JOURNAL CAN HELP PEOPLE.

Find Fuel

The world needs a church that is in intimate conversation with our Maker, our Head. People need to know that they can actually talk to God and He will listen, and He will actually respond and we need to listen, too. We are absolutely dependent on Him to fuel the Movement that He has started and sustained to seek and to save His lost children. We have to learn again what it means to be a people of prayer, and I think a few weeks going through this book can help us do that.

So, I’m learning how to tactfully (and hopefully humbly) promote the book/myself. Here are a few things I’m learning:

  • Stats and analytics pages don’t do anything good for the ego. They either puff it up or tear it to pieces. I’m learning to remember who God says I am regardless of how many books have sold.
  • There are a LOT of books available that aren’t selling a whole lot. I found out today, that PRAY was in the top 6% of books selling on Amazon. That sounds much more impressive than the equally true rank of #455,000 (out of 8 million).
  • I now know how to set up ad campaigns on Twitter and Facebook. (Twitter seems to be more exposure for me so far, but I’m not sure how much that’s converting to actual sales yet.)
  • No amount of promoting that I do can rival what you who have already bought the book could do collectively. I wrote it, of course I’m going to want people to buy it. But you… your “word of mouth” is what will get your friends (who don’t know me at all) interested in the book. If you could take a few minutes and share in a post on your own blog, or on Facebook or Twitter, or if you could share an entry of your journal to your Snapchat story or leave a review on Amazon… Get your small group to go through the journal together… It could be the beginning of an eternal difference, not just a book rank difference!

I wonder what it would take to get into the Top 100,000? Want to help me find out?

Marked

Mike —  December 6, 2016 — Leave a comment

Paul reminded the Christians in Ephesus that they’d been chosen to play a part in God’s fulfillment of His will to “bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head…” God was making them heirs with Jesus and reserving for them an inheritance that only His extravagant grace could provide! He was blessing them with “every spiritual blessing in Christ…”

Maybe, like me, you need reminded from time to time that you’ve been given such a role, too. You’ve been chosen, and given His Holy Spirit to work in and through your life and to guide you to the promised inheritance of God.

You’ve been marked.

Don’t let a circumstantial discouragement or a momentary setback cloud over His mark in your life. Listen to His whisper and let His promise light the world around you.

God has a dream for this world, and you’re invited to be a part of it. It is an irresistible dream that God has had for all eternity. It’s a dream for your life, your community, and the whole world.

God’s dream is that you would live each second of your existence with a confidence that he relentlessly and passionately loves you. His dream is that you would willingly risk loving others because you know God has risked everything in loving you.

Dave & Jon Ferguson, Finding Your Way Back to God

Maybe things aren’t going well right now…

Maybe life is alright, it’s just not what you’d hoped it would be…

Or maybe you’ve grabbed hold of everything you ever wanted, and found out it’s not enough…

We need to know there’s more to life than what you or I dream of. This life is not about our wishes, but about God’s. His imagination sparked us into being, and His imagination keeps echoing in our lives as He seeks to draw us deeper into His mission and heart. Take some time in the next couple days to dive in to His dreams for you. Take a risk to love someone that needs to see Him alive in you.

Buy My Book

Mike —  November 1, 2016 — Leave a comment

Several years ago, I developed a short devotional booklet for some of my students who were on a backpacking trip. My hope was to help them get a better sense of how people prayed in Scripture so they could develop a healthier life of prayer themselves. Since then, I’ve used it from time to time with others, and the time has finally come for an expanded version of this resource to be made available more widely.

I dug up the old file, re-wrote, edited, re-edited, and submitted the book through a self-publishing platform called Blurb. Thanks to some great supporters on Kickstarter, the process is done! Their pre-orders have been delivered (or are possibly still en-route), and the guided journal is now available to you. I hope you like it, but more importantly, I pray God uses it to help you be more clearly attuned to His Voice.

The book will be consistently available through this link to the Blurb bookstore, as well as via other booksellers like Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. (If you’re local, I do have a limited supply of copies available as well – just let me know.) I can’t wait to hear how God uses this in your life.

Today, the Barnes & Noble link has the best price, but those will probably fluctuate somewhat as various retailers do their thing. (The list price is $11, so you should always be able to get it for that, and if you want to order a bunch of them, you can get a good bulk discount from Blurb.)

Thank you so much to the many of you have encouraged and enabled me to get this project done.

Coming Soon…

Mike —  October 11, 2016 — Leave a comment

I’ve just ordered a proof of a prayer journal I’ve been working to publish. Once I’ve had a chance to review it and make sure everything’s where it needs to be, it will be available to purchase! It’s been a long process, but all that’s left will be done in just a couple weeks or so, and I’m excited to see how God will use the journals to move in people’s lives.

I’d love it if you would join me in praying for the launch over the next couple weeks. Not that there’s a book tour and launch party type of stuff happening, but pray that as the book goes out, God will be at work. And of course, keep watching to find out when and where you can get your copy!

Pray