Reconnect

Can I be honest with you? I hope so. I mean, you’re pretty much all I’ve got here.

I’ve really struggled with writing lately. Like, really struggled. I’ve written 2 blogs posts in a row that were last minute jobs. They probably have read like last minute jobs as well. In fact, this post today is a last minute job.

I hate that. I hate writing something at the last minute. It’s not my best work and the pressure to get something out the door makes this whole process feel way worse than it should.

Literally the only reason I’ve posted anything lately is because I made a promise to you at the beginning of the year that I would post 1 post a week all year long. I think that kind of consistency is important. Showing up every day is one of the keys to success. But it’s hard.

I’ve struggled with what to write about. Even though I have a hundred different ideas, I don’t really want to write about any of them. I’ve stuggled with making time to write. I’ve struggled with the words when I’ve finally sat down to write. So I think to myself “Maybe motivation is the problem? Maybe I’m just losing my motivation for writing.”

Or maybe it’s my job. I’ve been really busy at my work lately (we’re trying to ship a new app) and I’ve chosen to use the time that I should be writing as time for work. If I get up at 6:00am and I have an hour to do my quiet time and write for the day, I’ve been choosing to get up, maybe do my quiet time, and then get an extra half hour of work in before I actually go to work. That’s great - from a work perspective - but it sucks from a writing perspective.

Let’s just be honest, being busy at work is just an excuse for not writing. A “lack of motivation” is an excuse for not spending time where I know I need to spend it. Being busy someplace else doesn’t mean that I can slack on my other responsibilities, right? A lack of motivation doesn’t mean that I don’t have to show up every day. Just because I’m not feeling motivated or I’m busy doing other things on any particular day (or week) doesn’t mean that I can stop showing up at my job and doing what they are paying me to do. They would quite literally stop paying me and I wouldn’t have a job at all.

So I have to be able to work even though I don’t feel motivated. I have to be willing to show up even if I have other things to do.

But I’m not showing up. Not really. I’m posting, but it’s way less than half-hearted. I’ve gotten away from the habit of writing. I haven’t made the time to sit down and write on a regular basis in a long while. I don’t have the words to write effectively. So what’s going on? Here’s what I think is really happening:

Writing is where I have my best thoughts. Writing is one of those places where God and I tend to communicate best. So when I skip my writing time I lose out, not only on time to think but on time with God. Which is what I need more than anything else to be successful … in my job, with my family, in my life in general. The extra 30 minutes of work is great. Investing 30 minutes in God, writing, and my thoughts means that I can and will get way more than 30 extra minutes worth of productivity out of my day.

It’s the tithing principle, right? I can do a lot with 100% of my money. But when I am faithful and tithe 10% and allow God to handle my money, then He can do so much more with the 90% that’s left over than I ever could with the whole 100%. God desires the first and best of my finances because it helps us to trust Him. We and our money are blessed because of it.

In the same way, he desires the first and best of our days. So if I give him the first hour of my day (allow time for reading the Bible and praying and writing whatever it is that He wants me to write about that day) that means that I get to learn to trust that He is going to make me more productive throughout my day, and that He will bless me and everything I touch because of it.

So I guess if I were to boil all this down, my lack of writing shows my lack of spending time with God. I do a “quiet time” most days, but it’s probably 5 minutes reading through one of the plans on YouVersion. I don’t actually sit down, pull out my Bible, and read anything. I don’t usually take time to pray. I just move right into the next thing. Then I set about getting a head start on the work that is keeping my brain busy. I mean, we have an app to launch, right God?

What I’m learning in this season is that what I really need is this time with God. Three things specifically stand out.

  • I really need to pull out my Bible and read it. I need to listen for God to speak through the words.
  • I really need to take a few minutes - it doesn’t have to be long - and pray for a thing or things. I need to listen for God to tell me what to pray for and for Him to speak to me during that time.
  • I really need to write again. It doesn’t have to be journaling my thoughts for posterity (although that’s good too). It can be writing for my blog if that’s what I feel like God wants me to write. In the midst of that writing, I need to be attentive and listening to what God, through His Holy Spirit, wants to say to me and through me to other people.

So maybe in the end it’s not really a lack of motivation to write. I mean, this little bit of rambling is over 1100 words. Maybe it’s not that I’m too busy. Maybe, just maybe, it’s more about my lack of time, presence, and relationship with God. While it feels like the problem is motivation, perhaps it’s a lack of divine inspiration because I’m so disconnected from the source.

It’s time for me to plug back in.

What about you? Are you struggling with the motivation to do what you know you should be doing? Maybe, like me, you’re finding yourself disconnected from your source. I’m challenging myself - and now I’m challenging you - to reconnect and give God the time He deserves as the first and foremost part of your day. Together, let’s see what happens. I bet we find motivation we didn’t know we had, and a productivity that will rival the best of the “hustlers” out there.

I’m in this with you. Let’s go!

An Intentional Life

I have to confess … I haven’t been living very intentionally lately.

I’ve let my life be dictated by the situations around me. Instead of telling my life what to do I’ve been letting my life tell me what to do.

When you allow life to take you where it wants you to go you will end up in all the places you don’t want to be.

Life will take your money and tell you that living paycheck to paycheck and in debt is cool.

Life will take your time and tell you that busyness and hustle is the way to get ahead in life. It will threaten you and remind you how you don’t want to be left behind by all the rest of the “grinders” out there.

You will stop making time for the important things and instead work as much and as often as you can. You will start to skip “quiet time” for “I can get 30 minutes of work in before I head to work.”

You will stop making intentional choices with you diet and start eating whatever is in front of you. You will make bad choices at the grocery store. Because you have less money and time you will choose what’s cheap and not what’s best.

At least, this is what I have found is true for me. I didn’t even recognize that I was doing this at first. It was a revelation to me that I didn’t enjoy.

But there is joy in revelation. Even if the revelation hurts. We can always make corrections. We can always change direction. We can always choose differently.

I want to start to choose intention. I don’t want to be driven along by the whims of the world. Instead, I want to choose to do the right things … even if they’re hard. I want to redeem my time and use it wisely. I want to start to make the right decisions right away.

If you find yourself living unintentionally as well, I’m here for you. We can do this together.

October 04, 2019life

RX 2019

It must be conference season.

Last week I told you about a trip I took to Brooklyn, NY for React Day 2019. For 3 days this past week I was here in lovely Anderson, SC for RX 2019.

RX is a conference supporting Rock RMS, it’s product and it’s community. For those of you unfamiliar with Rock, according to it’s website:

Rock is an open source church management system that focuses on the heart of ministry - people.

At NewSpring, we manage all of our people and processes inside of the Rock church management system. Our website is run on Rock. And sometime soon, Rock will be the data provider for our new mobile app.

I love Rock. This piece of software was actually the reason that I originally got hired at NewSpring. In my first year or two I worked exclusively on helping get the Rock project launched. I don’t know that I was very effective, but it felt good to be a part of something that has the potential to change churches and how they do ministry around the world.

I haven’t done a lot of work lately on the Rock platform. I’ve been working pretty exclusively on our mobile app the past few years. But Rock has taken off in leaps and bounds. Probably because I’m not working on it any more. 😄

I spent the days of the conference learning about new things that Rock can do and how to help my church leverage the power of Rock. But that wasn’t the best part of the conference. All the things that Rock can do are awesome, but they aren’t the real power of the software.

The true power of Rock is its community. I’m an introvert by nature. People, small talk, and conversations wear me down and exhaust me. But for these 3 days, I caught up with old friends from churches around the country, met some amazing new people, and generally came away with a new found respect and admiration for all the people that are a part of this.

I got to meet a guy named Scott from a church in Washington. He is a volunteer with a full-time job and family responsibilities. Here he was, taking vacation time to come to this conference to learn how he can help his church implement Rock so that they can do ministry better.

I talked to people working at churches in Florida, Georgia, Arizona, South Carolina and plenty of other places. All of these people are working hard to reach people for Jesus with technology.

These are my people.

If you are in ministry, particularly if you are on the tech side of ministry, I think today I just want to try to encourage you.

You are doing an important work. No matter if you are one of 20 people on your team that focuses on just one product or if you are the 1 lone person at your church that takes care of everything, you are doing an important work. You are doing THE most important work. It’s tiring. It’s often thankless. But that’s okay right? We don’t do this job for the accolades. We do it because it’s our calling. It’s what we’re meant to be doing.

As the world leans more and more into technology it’s our job to try to keep up or surpass what the world is doing. There are big problems to solve and they are put squarely upon our shoulders. You, we, need to figure them out.

From the little things to help your church better shepherd the people in their care (“I just need this report to run”), to the giant issues of how to spread the Gospel to the world using technology, we are on the front lines. There is no problem too big or task too small.

I don’t have all the answers. Neither do you. Together though, through community and team, we can figure them out. “We” is always better than “Me”. One hundred percent of the time.

I’m proud of you and all the work you do. I’m super excited to be on this journey with you. Guys and gals, together we can change the world. Let’s go get after it.

Godspeed.

React Day New York 2019

React Day New York 2019

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to have been able to spend a couple days in New York and to attend React Day New York 2019 in Brooklyn. The conference was great and, having never been to New York City, the whole experience was a cultural eye-opener for me.

Let’s Talk React

For those of you that don’t know, I work as a developer at NewSpring Church where I work mainly on our church’s mobile app. Sometime this fall we’re hoping to release a new version of our app. We’ve been working hard on this for a long time and I’m really proud of what we’re building. I believe this app has the potential to reach so many people. I can’t wait for it to be out in the world, being used by thousands of people every week.

The app that we’re building is using React Native, Apollo GraphQL, and RockCMS under the hood. In going to the React Day conference we were hoping to get some new ideas or learn some things on how we can get better at the React Native part.

I learned so much at this conference. So many business and industry leaders from large companies all across the country were there to teach what they’ve been learning in the React space.

I came away with a bunch of ideas for stuff that we could be doing that we haven’t gotten around to yet. A/B testing, React Hooks, and Code Splitting just to name a few.

But the biggest thing that I walked away from the conference knowing was that as an organization, we are actually in a really good spot right now. A lot of what the people talked about we were already doing at least as well as, if not better than, they were doing it. When the folks from the Discovery Channel give a talk about how they are solving some of the same problems we are solving, we know we’re in good company. They might have a much larger scale, but they are the same problems, and that’s exciting.

We always talk about how the church should be leading the way in our culture, and I believe that should extend to the development space as well. We are right on the edge of what people are doing with React, and that makes me feel even better about what we’re doing and the space that we’re doing it in.

Let’s Talk New York

I’d never been to NYC. I’ve been to New York as in, the state, but before last weekend I had never been to New York the city. It was an experience for sure.

We took a train from the Newark airport into Penn Station pretty much right at rush hour as people were heading home for the day. The sheer number of people that were rushing to get to their trains to take them somewhere was overwhelming. So many people in such a hurry. It was honestly a little much for me.

Figuring out the subway/train system was something else that was pretty overwhelming for me. I was really thankful that I was with a couple of other guys from my team at work because on your own, that’s a pretty large thing to attempt to figure out. Which train do I take and what stop do I need to get off the train at? I suppose if I had done some research ahead of time it might not have been so crazy overwhelming. But since I didn’t, I would have been completely lost.

That being said, the whole public transportation system is awe-inspiring. The number of people that they transport through the city on a daily basis is incredible. Just think for a second about the sheer size of the whole system; the number of trains and how they keep everything moving and as close to on-time as possible. It is really, really impressive.

Also, I can visually confirm the presence of rats in the subway. Just saying.

While I prefer wide open spaces, Manhattan and Brooklyn were really neat places. I got to see some of the buildings I’ve only ever seen on TV or in the movies … which was super cool. Being able to put a real image in my head to places like Times Square, the Empire State Building, and Rockefeller Center is awesome. The next time I see the Avengers flying around New York, I’ll basically know where they are. Which is awesome.

All-in-all it was a great weekend and I’m actually kind of excited to potentially go back in 2020. See you then NYC!

Everything is Spiritual

We began this freedom series talking about some surface level stuff. Finding freedom in the every day. Being bold enough to follow after what you know you’ve been called to do. To know in your heart that you don’t have to be conformed to the image this world wants to lay upon you any longer. There are no gatekeepers, friends. You are free to live, love, and laugh. You are free to do work that makes you come alive and play like there is no tomorrow. You are free.

From there we started down a path that will eventually lead us to talking about how we can fight for our freedom. We have been given our freedom as a gift in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross - remember, freedom isn’t free. But as Galatians 5:1 reminds us, we get to choose whether or not we burden ourselves again with a “yoke of slavery”. We no longer have to be slaves to anything, but it’s going to be a battle to stay free.

So many of us choose to walk each day in the shackles of things that no longer have a hold on us. It doesn’t have to be this way, but it will be a fight.

You Might Not Realize It

Everything you experience every day in your physical world is real but there is a spiritual side to everything as well. Just because you don’t see something, doesn’t mean it’s not real. An example, perhaps?

You can’t see the wind, but it’s there, right? How do you know? It blows the leaves off the trees and around your yard. When you’re lying on the beach and baking in the sun, you feel that cool breeze as it blows over your skin. You can physically see and feel the effects of something that you can’t actually see or even touch.

Like Morpheus in The Matrix, I’m offering you two pills. You can either choose to stay in “Wonderland” where you believe that this physical world is all there is, or you can start to open your eyes to a world which up until now you may not have known existed. A world which, although invisible to our eyes (like the wind) can have an effect in our physical world.

Why Are You Telling Me This?

I offer this choice up to you because I feel like I would have failed you if I did not. You need to know. It’s really for your protection. Here’s why:

Living your life blind to your surroundings is dangerous. It’s putting on your noise cancelling headphones, closing your eyes, and walking down the street as a war is going on all around you. You can’t see or hear anything - which might be great for your adrenaline levels - but it could prove lethal for you.

It’s Little Red Riding Hood sweetly whistling a tune and picking flowers, all the while not knowing that a wolf is stalking her. She’s cute, but the whole time she’s in incredible danger.

If you’re on the outside of these stories, what’s your reaction? If I see the first dude walking down the street in the middle of the war, I’m yelling at him to get down. Waving my arms and jumping up and down. Maybe I’m risking my life to tackle him to the ground.

Tell me the first time you read the story of Little Red Riding Hood you weren’t shouting in your head “Look out! There’s a wolf! Danger!”

If we see something, we should say something. That’s what I’m trying to do here.

Take all of the things that we’ve been talking about, all the things that keep you locked up in your prison, and kind of step back from them. Give yourself permission to look at all of the things you’re experiencing in your life from a little higher viewpoint. As you do, you can begin to see things a little differently. You can begin to see patterns and ideas that you hadn’t seen before.

You can begin to see that you have an enemy and that you are at war.

At War?

Yes, at war. Again, perhaps some examples would help?

You happened to get a major migraine headache just as you were about to head out the door and go to church? Literally as you were about to leave. Do you think that’s an accident?

When you know you should be writing a post about how everything is spiritual and exposing a world to people and all of a sudden you are so overwhelmed by work that you don’t write anything at all … doesn’t that strike you as funny?

Do you think that the “night terrors” that throw your small child into convulsions are just the manifestations of some sort of dream? No, that’s an attack. On your child, on you, on your family.

Not to sound overly dramatic here, but you are being hunted dear friends. 1 Peter 5:8 says:

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Do you see that word? DEVOUR. That is not a nice word. You are being hunted with the express purpose of your complete annihilation.

So What Do We Do?

We talk about “God”, a “higher being”, the “big guy in the sky” as some sort of ethereal thing that exists somewhere … maybe. We talk about Satan in the same way. God, but opposite. We talk about angels and demons and we say we believe in these things. But do we? Do we really live our lives as if these were real?

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

– Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)

Because this war is spiritual you don’t necessary see it with your eyes, but you do see it manifest itself in your life. Maybe no one is physically shooting at you, but your soul feels like you were in a fight yesterday. You know that feeling? When you wake up in the morning and for no apparent reason you feel like you’ve been hit by a truck? Yeah, that’s because your soul was beat up yesterday. You’re in a battle you didn’t even know about.

Your sin is a problem, but it’s not the problem. The problem is that you’re fighting a battle against an enemy you can’t fight in physical hand-to-hand combat. If it was a physical enemy you would defend yourself. But your enemy is not physical. You’re fighting a battle against an enemy you may not even know existed and that you definitely can’t touch with your hands.

You wonder why you feel beat up all the time, like you’re losing ground at every turn in life? You wonder why you can’t break free from these sins that seem to be holding you down in your physical world? You wonder why the mantra “try harder” is not working?

It’s because you’re in the midst of a spiritual war, not a physical one, and it’s kicking your butt.

But there is good news. You can fight your enemy. You can win. It is possible.

Your real fight for freedom starts now.

22

I love celebrating milestones. I think it is one of nature’s best ways of tracking time. We all love to be remembered on our birthdays. We look forward to hitting that next tenure bracket at our jobs. “I’ve known you for 25 years but today we’ve officially been Facebook friends for 5 years!”

Today is another milestone day for me. On this day 22 years ago, Heather and I got married.

22 years! Man, it doesn’t feel like it was that long ago.

Time has a funny way of passing doesn’t it? The days go by so slowly but the years add up so fast.

In the past 22 years we’ve moved 7 times, had 2 children, 1 dog, and a few beta fish. We’ve seen some pretty low lows and some pretty amazing miracles. Hey Heav, remember that time we found $500 in an envelope on our door?

At times, being married has been the biggest struggle we could imagine and at others it’s been the easiest, most natural thing in the world. We’ve fought with each other and for each other. Here’s a hint: it’s better when you fight for.

There are so many great stories that happen in the course of 22 years.

We got lost on Mackinaw Island on our honeymoon. With Heather, before GPS, we always got lost. Always.

When Heather was pregnant with Trae, I was super afraid that I was going to lose both of them when I “just happened” to come home for lunch one day to find Heather having seizures. A frantic phone call to her doctor and then to 911. Me driving as fast as I’ve ever driven on the road, following the ambulance that came to take her to the hospital. And a story that ends with a “ruggedly handsome” son and miracles all around.

And so many more.

God is so good to have given me the gift that Heather is. I know, like many of the gifts I’ve been given that I don’t deserve such an extravagant gift. I count it all blessing from a Father that loves me.

Heather, I love you more now than I did then. You are everything a guy could hope for. You truly are my Wonder Woman.

An anniversary haiku and then I’m done.

Twenty-two years old

Happy Anniversary

Let’s go eat tacos