How Far Do We Go?

Recently I was challenged with how far we should go to help others. Not in a traditional how much to spend, or how long to stay kind of way, but rather in a conflict of beliefs kind of way. Let me give you an example:

Let’s say we have a family who is Mormon and they lose their house in a tornado. Most Christians wouldn’t think twice about whether or not to help them, it’s a resounding yes. People are in need and we need to help. The real question comes in when asked what to do if their place of worship was in need of repair. How far do we go here? Helping the person in one thing, but helping the religion is another. Continue reading “How Far Do We Go?”

What We Do

We just finished 31 days of traveling the U.S. helping other ministries and sharing our vision with anyone who wanted to hear. We were asked many questions, but one emerged as the number one asked. Here is what we had to say in response to this question in our June Partner Letter:

People ask us all of the time what we are doing. In a society that bases a person’s worth on their occupation, it makes sense. Scott usually responds by telling people our vision- to preach the Gospel to the lost, help the widows and orphans in their time of need, and build up believers to do the work of the ministry. Typically that is followed by a blank stare. It is almost as if you can see people thinking to themselves, “so what do you do?”. Continue reading “What We Do”

Running, Giving, and an Anti-Resolution!

New Year’s resolutions are seemed to be the topic of discussions right now. Personally I am not much of a hard-line supporter of resolutions. I have a difficult time with us spending one day deciding to make promises and change, and living 364 more days making excuses why we have not fulfilled them. In all reality, if you are not willing to make a change on September 4th, your probably not going to make it on January 1st. It seems to be nothing more than a depressing cycle of failure that usually creates a downswing in our lives and puts an early damper on our new year.

Instead of doing resolutions, I like to set goals for the next year. You may ask what the difference is. The answer, I’m not completely sure, but I do know that my mind wraps around goals better than resolutions. In setting goals I like to look at the last year and see what has worked in my life and what has not. I like to contemplate areas I need to improve, and others I may need to abandon. Through this process I am able to take inventory of where I am, who I have become, and take practical steps to change. With out a doubt, there are things from 2011 that I would like to change, others I would like to improve, and bad habits I would like to get rid of.

Some of you may remember, last year I wrote about increasing my giving for 2011. This goal came about by looking at where I was and where I wanted to be. I establishes a realistic goal and determined to accomplish it. I am glad to say that it looks like my 30% giving was a success. I also made a goal to be healthier in 2011. I started running again, eating healthier, and becoming more health conscience. I set a goal of running 500 miles in eight months, and finished the year with 515 miles. With these goals complete I came to a realization in my life, goal setting works better for me than do resolutions. So, in that spirit I present to you:

12 Goals for 2012!

  1. Become a better husband and leader
  2. Run 1200 miles in honor of the year 2012
  3. Run Chicago Marathon
  4. Shed 20 pounds in preparation for the Chicago Marathon
  5. Write the biggest offering check I have ever written
  6. Increase the 30% giving ratio
  7. Obtain a 501c3 tax exempt status for Right Side Up Ministries
  8. Expand Right Side Up Ministries
  9. Build on to the Purpose Driven Running concept
  10. Design my own website
  11. Travel to ten new states I haven’t been to before
  12. Become a better communicator, and an all around better guy!

Some of this may seem unreachable, but as I told hundreds of volunteers in Joplin, MO last summer, you eat an elephant one bite at a time. My job now is to come up with realistic steps to reach these goals and give it all I have.

Some may say, “what if you don’t reach your goals?” and my response to them is, I would rather set goals and not reach them than to not set any goals at all. Failure is only true failure if you let it keep you down. Real growth in our lives will not come without pushing ourselves beyond what we can see to accomplish what we could only dream of.

So this year I only have one resolution, not to have any resolutions. You could call it an anti-resolution of sorts. So my question to you is, do you set New Year’s resolutions? If so, what are they? What are some of your big goals for 2012?

Effort + ? = Growth

“Where there is no vision, the people perish…”- Proverbs 29:18

I spent a lot of time running this past spring and summer. At this current time I have run 34:04:16 hours, which equates to one day and twelve hours of running. I have run 235.2 miles around an average 9 minute mile pace. If you rarely run, that is a lot of mileage. If you are an avid runner, it may only scratch the surface of your mileage. Either way, it equates to a bunch of busy mornings, and tired and achy days for me.

The reason I bring this up is because I noticed something interesting in my own running. I noticed that for weeks, even months, that I had little progress in my running times. I made very little improvement in my overall ability to run. It’s not because I wasn’t running regularly, because I was. It’s not because I wasn’t putting in the miles, because I was. It seemed as though I was doing everything right, but nothing was happening. What I learned through all of this is that the best intentions don’t automatically equate to the best results. I learned that there was a key element to my growth in running that was missing and that element was vision.

Let me explain this a bit further. What it boiled down to in my life was that I was running just to run. I had no real purpose or goal for my running. Sure I wanted to be in better health, but I could achieve that without lower run times, and I did. I wanted to run to give me more stability in my day, and I did. All of this was good and well, but it wasn’t improving my run times. What I really needed was a target goal that would help me push myself to a new level. The past few weeks I have been training for a 5k race in October, and an 11k race in November, with a possible half marathon in December. This has made me refocus my entire routine. I have had to revamp my run schedule, my sleep schedule, and my nutritional intake. The results speak for themselves. My run times have improved and my endurance has been brought to a whole new level. My average run time has increased by almost a minute per mile in the last month or so. All of this improvement because I made one adjustment, I brought in a vision of where I wanted to be and when I wanted to be there.

This happens in our lives as well. We can wake up one day and realize that we are no further along today than we were yesterday. Some days we can even say we are behind where we were yesterday. If this has happened to you let me encourage you to put some focus in your life. Create a vision in your life that, by achieving it, you automatically bring yourself to a new level. It says in Jeremiah 29:11 that God has a purpose for your life. God has a reason for you to be breathing air and walking this earth. I can tell you that that purpose is not so you can just sit around living a mediocre life. It is so you can make a difference in the world around you. It is so you can have an impact that reaches far beyond you and your lifetime. So much of where our world is today is because of people who had vision. They may be long gone, but what they accomplished with vision is still with us today.

In conclusion, my advice to you is to find out what your purpose is and set a goal for your life. Create a vision to get you to the next level of your life. Push yourself beyond what you think you are capable of. Don’t be afraid of failure, it only lasts for a season. Look to where you want to be and make decisions to move in that direction today.

Has this happened to you in your life? Have you felt like you are just living to live with little or no purpose to your life?

Are You Sure?

So many times in life I look at where I am and wonder out loud, “How did I get here?” I can’t help but look inside myself and see that, on my own, I would never be doing this. If left to my own devises, I wouldn’t be doing what I do. If I listened to all of the advice around me I wold have missed it more than I got it.

A few months ago I ran into a friend while I was at work. We started talking and I told him that I was leaving my job in two days so I could move to Joplin, MO to help with tornado relief. He caught me a little off guard when he asked, “Don’t most people there have insurance to cover the cleanup? Why do you want to do it for them?” To tell the truth, this response hurt a little, then I realized that what God puts on my heart is not necessarily what He puts on other people’s hearts. What seems so unquestionably God to me may seem totally nuts to someone else.

I remember the first time I saw this. I was meeting with my pastor about an important business decision I had to make. During the course of the conversation we got onto the topic of what I wanted to do long term; basically what I had in mind for the next ten years. I told him that I planned to preach the Gospel around the world. His response caught me off guard. It set me back a moment. He said, “You do realize that that is not normal? I mean, people generally don’t want to do that.”  I had no idea. I honestly though that everyone who knew what I knew about Jesus wanted to do what I wanted to do.

What I have learned to this point is that I need to know before anyone asks, “Are you sure?” that I am, in fact, sure. Another thing that I have learned is that even if I am sure, it is still very wise not to share with everybody. Inevitably there is someone out there that is not going to be as excited as I am about what I am about to do. Usually this is someone who a little more in the box than what they would like us to think they are, or they have an issue with everything that I plan to do. Regardless of the reason, they end up being like David’s brothers when he decided to fight Goliath. They started to back talk him and put him down. Or they are like Joseph’s brothers who put him in a hole and sold him into slavery so he couldn’t fulfill his dreams.

Maybe you’ve experienced this, or maybe your in denial, but the fact remains, you cannot let it get you down. You cannot let people see things from their limited prospective and try to convince you otherwise, no matter how pure their intentions may be. My friend’s genuine concern was for my well being and whether I would be taken care of or not. The truth be told, I did better with monthly income in these two months than I had in the previous months with a full time job.

In the end, it is more important for you to be sure with God than it is to be popular with your friends. God has the plan for your life, and He has the means to provide for that plan. Your job, and mine, is to trust Him enough to give Him a fair chance to prove it. Our lives will fair better in the hands of a loving God than they do in the hands of our friends.