Be the Hero.

 

I love my boys. If you have read some of my blogs about them you know that Henry is very timid, doesn’t like loud noises and calculates all risk. Willie is balls to the walls, consequences be damned, flying around head first (literally, he runs head first, arms back) taking on anything.

William, in his risk taking is a lot like me. At 5 I climbed a tree onto a detached garage jumped the 2.5′ gap to the house to retrieve an airplane because my mom was getting ready and couldn’t help me right then. Later, when my parents tried to get me to repeat the feat, I could not because I broke every branch on the tree on the way up and down. My mom told me I gave my protective angels heart attacks.

Henry on the other hand is not like me. He’s ultra timid. He might think climbing the tree is cool but then he would encourage someone else to do it. He would barely get his feet off the ground before a million thoughts of doubt would rush into his head and he would yell, “I can’t! I can’t!” and jump down. As a dad I have an extremely tough time with this. Being honest, it’s very frustrating, to the point I get angry when he quits.

I have prayed about this for a long time… A long time…

I developed an idea, I’m really excited about it. I’m going to call it “Be the Hero” because let’s be honest, that’s what every boy wants to be, the hero. They watch adventure movies and then act them out as the hero of the story. They want to be strong, smart, daring, suave, slightly antagonistic and heroic.

I am going to talk to Henry about what a Hero is to him, we will them develop that person and shape that person over the years and when Henry is doubting or worrying about whatever I can remind him he can be like his Hero and help him overcome. Because I’m using his ideas on what a Hero is, he is more likely to push himself to be what he has pictured in his mind.

The part I’m really excited about is when I start this with Willie because Willie is a strong willed child. I want absolutely no part in controlling that spirit but I want to help direct it down the appropriate paths. If and when Willie develops his Hero, part of the direction I will help him with is how that Hero would focus his spirit, harnessing it in the direction he wants to go in. That strong will, when directed and focussed, can lead to incredible results.

I can’t wait to see and share the results of this experiment. I will try and post successes and failures to see where this goes.

Be the Hero.

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Build up.

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My hand, torn and ragged, cut and bandaged, dry and cracked.

A few days ago a friend asked me if CrossFit was worth the money. For me it’s worth every penny. Before I found CrossFit I was a typical skinny guy that was getting a little chubby around the edges. I wasn’t overweight or even unhealthy but I was headed that direction and now that I was 28, I was headed there fast.

I am also just a typical average joe. I swam a bit in high school, played a couple years of football, I was decent at both but nothing special. I’m a fairly good writer but nothing to brag about, I’ve never really done anything of great importance. I have an awesome wife and two great sons, but I’m not winning any husband or father of the year awards. The only thing I can really brag about is my photographic memory… which isn’t always a good thing.

People like me get used to average. Average jobs, average pay, average car, average existence. One day I was sitting on my couch watching the CrossFit Games on ESPN and my son looked at me and said, “Are you going to do that daddy?” I laughed looked back at him and said, “No dude, I’m not strong enough and I’m too old.”

WOW.

Did that really just come out of my mouth? I was 28. Out of shape. Tired. Losing.

NO.

This is not happening. I was 28. I am not too old. I may be weak but that’s temporary. I found a local CrossFit box (that’s what we call a gym) the next week.

I’ve been told you eat an elephant one bite at a time so I started slow. For the first couple of months I started going 2 times per week and honestly that’s all my body could take at the time. My first WOD (workout of the day) was “Death by 10 meters” basically your first minute you run 10 meters your second minute, 20 meters, 3rd minute, 30 meters and so on until you could not complete the amount of meters required in a minute span. Sounds easy? Go try it. I almost puked. It was rough. But I finished to high fives and “Awesome job’s” from my coaches and other athletes. I failed to complete the sprints in the time allowed but they treated me like I just won the race.

I had found it. This is what I was looking for. You see, in reality I wasn’t average, I was a loser. I was a loser because I was losing. In life you can’t stay average, you are building up or you are tearing down. I was torn down. I had thrown in the towel. I had died, my body would catch up in about 40-60 years. But with the little bit of strength I had left, I found what I was looking for and I began to win.

I heard a line in a movie, “Losing is a disease.” That’s 100% true. The antidote, winning. When you start to win in one area of our life it spreads through your veins. It’s life giving, hope giving and deeply needed to have a great human existence. When I started to win the battle against my own body I wanted to start winning at everything I did. It’s been life altering.

So back to the “is it worth the money” question. Between fast food and coffee I spend way more than the cost of a CrossFit membership. I decided I’d rather pay to live than pay to slowly die.

I will continue to write about my CrossFit journey because the first rule of CrossFit is that you ALWAYS talk about CrossFit! 

Disclaimer: Obviously God is my ultimate hope giving but I also believe He put CrossFit in my path to redirect my life. 

THANK YOU to Jose for taking the time to talk to me that day I wandered into the box searching for something. Thank you to Marcos for having the dream to open you own CrossFit Box and thank you to Brenden for pushing me faster and heavier than I thought I could go. DON’T STOP.

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Bridge Builder.

When I lived in Phoenix we used to drive to Las Vegas a couple times a year for a weekend getaway. For many years we had to cross the Hoover Dam. It’s an absolute engineering marvel and I love the Art Deco and old Americana designs of the buildings. But the most amazing thing was not looking down, it was looking up. They were building a bridge to span the river so if you’re like me and have crossed the Hoover a hundred times you can take the route over the bridge instead and cut 1-2 hours off your drive time depending on Hoover traffic.

Aerials Of Lake Mead National Recreation AreaThe bridge is a massive arch over 1000 feet long. As you can see in the photo while being built the arches were suspended with a mass of cables before the arch came together and the road was formed over top. Seeing it on a daily basis would not have shown much change but for us, we saw it about once every 4-6 months and it was breathtaking.

Obviously it took an army of engineers and builders to make this bridge a reality, one of them even lost his life in the process. On one of our last trips to Vegas, before we moved to Washington, we were driving as normal and saw that the road to bridge was complete and the bridge was open. We drove up the Arizona side and then saw the sign that said “Welcome to Nevada” I looked and Jenn and asked, “When did we cross the bridge?” The builder had built high walls on either side so drivers wouldn’t get vertigo from being suspended so high. We never even realized we were on the bridge.

I tweeted earlier, My most important goal is to teach my sons not to change the world but to simply build bridges. Building bridges is hard and messy and dangerous. People die, people ask why spend $240 million building the bridge? The road over the Hoover Dam works just fine. But then when the bridge is done, it changes peoples lives in a way they don’t even realize. They cross over at 75mph not even realizing they just crossed the bridge they were so critical of.

What’s worse, people commit suicide on the very bridge you built. They jump to their deaths on the very thing that you built to help people. BUT you still built the bridge. You see God doesn’t call anyone to be a World Changer. In fact a single man, with the exception of Jesus, cannot change the world. God calls bridge builders.

Even in business, you can’t change your industry, you can’t change the status quo. But we can build bridges for others to cross that may have a small or even large impact on the way things work.

The bridge over the Hoover Dam, it didn’t change the fact that you were crossing from Arizona to Nevada, it changed how you crossed from Arizona to Nevada.

Stop trying to change the world, you’ll fail.

Grab a shovel, a hammer, some wood and nails and be a Bridge Builder.

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Character Challenge.

No bones about it, I get pissed when ministers quit and move on because of challenges. This is especially true when it comes to youth pastors quitting because of authority issues with their Lead Pastor. Challenges, especially personality challenges, are put there to shape our character, good or bad.

My turn.

I work for a man, he’s not a deity, he’s not even that great of a man in fact his character is pretty lousy but I work FOR HIM. I’ve been at my current job for a month shy of 3 years. 3 tumultuous years. 3 humbling years. 3 frustrating years. We have a warehouse next door, there is a 2 inch dowel and countless used, empty boxes. More than once I have pictured my boss on a box and beat it into pieces with that dowel. Am I proud of that? I don’t know… but I do know it’s better than the alternative.

This morning, in a conversation with my mentor, he asked me if I felt I was doing a good job serving my boss. WOW. Gut check. Honestly, no. I haven’t tried to serve him in a very long time. It’s hasn’t been further from my mind. My mind is consumed by survival, as in, how am I going to get through this week??

I think in that moment I realized all the advise I have given to ministers about sticking it out, serving their authority and remembering it’s not about them, were a bunch of empty platitudes if I didn’t live that out myself.

What’s even more ironic, and even a bit comical, is probably my greatest pet peeve in ministry is when pastors who can’t submit to authority leave a church and start their own church in a rebellious nature. 

Doing just that but in a business sense has consumed my thinking recently. Man, I suck. Man, I need to repent. Man, I need grace

My character was just challenged in a huge way. I see a flawed, dirty guy who needs God’s wisdom in a fresh way. I’m glad I realized it but bummed it took 3 years to figure it out.

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Mavericks.

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Maverick – a rugged individual, one that refuses to abide by the dictates of a group.

I love C. S. Lewis’ writing. The word pictures he painted were unbelievably real. I find his writings on the Creation of Narnia to be the most beautiful thing I have ever read.

In The Magician’s Nephew, he writes about Aslan (God) walking around roaring as if in song and all of the sudden a host of other voices join Him and at the same time stars appear but not just any stars ALL OF THEM. Can you imagine, going from total darkness to all of the stars in the Universe being on display? It would be gloriously blinding.

The reason I think this is so beautiful is because it’s quite possibly the best personification of God creating Creation. He’s out, alone, creating, calling forth things were not and making them be.

In The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, when asked if Aslan is safe, Mr. Beaver responds, “‘Course He isn’t safe, but He’s good. He’s the King, I tell you!”

Today there is a popular uprising in the church in regards to community and that individual success isn’t something that should be sought for but all things for the betterment of the community.

I can’t agree with this. I was told that God created us in His image and Likeness. I’m sorry, I just don’t see God as a Community Organizer. God is a restless, unsafe, unbridled, free, supreme being that created a world of broken, disparaged people so that He could free us through His love and grace.

God isn’t a quiet whisper in a “holy huddle” He’s an ear shattering roar that permeates darkness like the stars when He called them into existence.

Don’t get me wrong, I love and serve my community, but sometimes the best thing I can do for my community is succeed, is create, is be the best version of myself because inspiration through action is God’s model. “Faith without WORKS is dead.”

God is the original Maverick. I strive to be one like Him.

 

P.S. I think I will continue this thought/blog with “The Body of Christ” later this week.

 

 

 

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Leading from the Shadows.

I love movies where the main character is good but lives in the shadows. It’s more realistic. There’s some past that torments the would be hero until he inevitably overcomes its and lives in the light.

You see, today too many people want to be in the light without going through their time in the shadows. We want that stage without the back room, we want to be served without serving, we want the microphone without the prayer.

I’m guilty of this everyday. I have a message for the world and all I want to do is scream it from the rooftops! But I haven’t finished climbing the dark, dingy stairs. 

I feel like I’ve been climbing those stairs so long. I remember when I started, the stairs were decently lit, only a little dirty but I wasn’t worried. As I began to climb I smelled a bit of mustiness but nothing that would make me turn back. I told myself it was just a few more flights, it would be easy. After those few more flights, the stairs had gone from just a little dirty to pretty dirty, not something I couldn’t handle but probably something I wouldn’t have entered into in the beginning. It’s ok though, just a few more flights.

I keep climbing and with every new flight there is a new level of smell and dirtiness. “What have I got myself into?” I quietly ask myself, but I know it’s only a few more flights from being over. Another flight and the smell is now over powering, I pull my shirt over my nose but it’s seeping in from everywhere. The walls are stained, the lights are flickering, I can’t see them but I can here the faint scratching of rats feet as the scurry out of the way, there are puddles of God knows what that I am walking through.

I can’t really turn back at this point, I mean I could but I really don’t know what I’d be going back to anymore. And, I’m sure this time, it’s just a few more flights…

I’d really love to tell you the ending but I can’t. I’m not there yet.  

I really can’t compare my situation to what Job went through but it mentally feels similar. I’ve literally yelled at God and I constantly struggle with my anger. 

I’ve been told I just need the Joy of the Lord! OK! WOW! Yeah, come join me on this flight of stairs and then we’ll talk.

Did Job just need the Joy of the Lord? Nope. He needed to keep climbing, just like I do.

Don’t get me wrong, my hope is in Jesus and what keeps me going is that I know whatever God has in store must be huge because the pain of this trial is huge. 

I think the part that hurts the most is everyone has advice but only a few have actually been there. It’s kind of like that like that cliche, “Opinions are like…” You can finish it your head. I did and do, out loud most of the time.

Back to the mentorship and leadership part of this… 

Most people, when they hit that second or third flight, run back towards the entrance, back towards what’s comfortable because they don’t want the pain. 

You see I have a great mentor that has been to the roof already, and instead of staying in the spotlight he walked back into the gloom and is pulling me and sometimes pushing me onward when I think it’s too hard. 

Someday, when I climb out into the light, I’ll stop long enough to tell my story and then I’ll run right back into the shadows to pull the next person up with me because their story will probably be better than mine anyway…

As a leader or a mentor, you are made in the shadows. The shadows are where your foundation in laid. If you try and grow yourself in the light you’ll blow over with the wind.

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Trust.

Last night I wrestled with God. Not in a physical sense but in a spiritual sense.

I was angry, angry at circumstance. I had complained for the last two days about a decision I ultimately agreed with, just not the way it was delivered.

God finally threw the knock-out punch. He told me, “Complaining is you telling the world you don’t think I’m in control.”

I laid in bed for more than an hour, those words pouring through my heart, finally concluding, “Man I suck. I’m a jerk. I need Jesus in control of my life.”

In Phoenix, when Jenn and I moved into our first house, there was a grapefruit tree in the backyard. It looked a little ratty but there was a decent amount of fruit on it. We picked a fruit and brought it inside to eat. When we cut it open there was no juice, no real fruit at all. The exterior looked great but the interior was nasty.

Having grown up around fruit trees and gardens I grabbed the pruning sheers and went to town. Jenn not having seen a tree pruned before thought I had killed it, she thought the people who owned the house were going to be pissed. Essentially, I had taken every little life sucking branch off and just left the big ones. The tree looked like a shell of what it had previously been.

I told her to TRUST ME.

When time came next year for the tree to bear fruit it was about a month late but it had twice as many grapefruits as the previous years tree and they were huge and full of sweet fruit! When I took away all the needless branches the tree was able to send the sap, its lifeblood, to the fruit.

My Stone Church family is in disarray. Not only did we lose our leader but also two other pastors. We effectively have a senior’s ministry pastor, a family life pastor and a women’s ministry pastor. Larry, Gerry, and Sherri, WE LOVE YOU AND THANK YOU FOR YOUR FAITHFULNESS.

I believe this is a time of pruning. As a congregation we are freaking out because a great deal of our leadership is gone. God is saying the same thing I told Jenn after I pruned our grapefruit tree:

TRUST ME.

He is focussing the lifeblood of the church into the areas it needs to go to create some awesome fruit.

At the end of the day, I know this: I trust God and,

I AM STONE CHURCH.

Are you?

 

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