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      Wordless Groans On Our Behalf

      “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”

      ‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:26‬ ‭NIV‬‬

      http://bible.com/111/rom.8.26.niv

      Yesterday, I wrote about the decision to pray or not to pray.

      It’s Friday night, and I’m exhausted. The end of the week started with a renewed sense of purpose and energy. The purpose is still there, but I’ve expended the energy. I’m looking forward to recharging over the weekend. For now though, I feel a little weak.

      The verse about reminds me of an element of prayer. When we are weak, when we’re feeling in creative and disconnected, when we’re at a loss for words, the Spirit shows up to help us out. In fact, the Spirit uses wordless groans to help us connect with God.

      It’s like a Life Line on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

      We can barely gather the energy and strength to speak a coherent word or sentence, but the Spirit goes to bat for us.

      You don’t have to have your words polished and ready to go. You don’t have to “out pray” anyone.

      You simply must come before the Father and allow the Spirit to speak on our behalf.

      That’s prayer.

      To Pray Or Not To Pray – That Is The Question

      One of the greatest attacks of the enemy is to make you busy, to make you hurried, to make you noisy, to make you distracted, to fill the people of God and the Church of God with so much noise and activity that there is no room for prayer. There is no room for being alone with God. There is no room for silence. There is no room for meditation.

      Paul Washer

      Tonight, I received a phone call from my dad and mom asking me to pray for something related to my extended family.

      Obviously, this is something I’m praying for already.

      But the phone call got me thinking.

      How many times do you say you’ll pray for so and so? How many of those times do you actually pray for so and so?

      Asked another way…how often do you tell people you will pray for them? And many of those times do you actually follow up by praying?

      Maybe you are a prayer warrior like my wife.

      But I’m guessing many of us aren’t as consistent with our prayers – especially when we offer to pray for someone or something.

      The Bible talks a lot about prayer…

      …pray continually. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

      …love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. (Matthew 5:44)

      …pray for those who mistreat you. (Luke 6:28)

      …pray that you will not fall into temptation. (Luke 22:40)

      …pray that the Lord your God will tell us where we should go and what we should do. (Jeremiah.42:3)

      Look up prayer in your Bible application (like YouVersion) or in your concordance. You’ll find many other prayer references.

      If the Bible talked so much about prayer, I think it’s probably a big deal.

      What stops us from praying continually like it says in 1 Thessalonians 5:17?

      Lack of faith? Laziness? Impatience? Lack of focus? Fear of inadequacy? Failure to make prayer a priority? Self-dependence? Short-term memory?

      It’s probably all of the above for many of us.

      Prayer is an important discipline. It gives us the opportunity to talk to and listen to God. Prayer gives us the opportunity to acknowledge who God is. Prayer gives us the opportunity to confess our shortcomings – our sins. Prayer gives us the opportunity to express thanksgiving for God’s movement and provision in our lives. And prayer provides the opportunity to bring our requests and concerns to God.

      Next time someone asks you to pray for them, make sure you mean it when you say “yes.” Write down their request. Commit in your heart and mind to pray about the person or the situation. Follow-up with the person to see how your prayers are being answered or to adjust your prayers to changes that may have happened along the way. Consider praying for the person or situation right then and there when you are asked.

      If you’re not going to pray for them, don’t lie and tell them you’ll pray.

      One more thing…if prayer isn’t your thing, go find someone who is a prayer warrior. Ask them about their prayer life. I bet their answers will be helpful.

      How’s your prayer life? Share your thoughts in the comments.

      Busyness – Are We Aiming at the Wrong Target

      Beware the barrenness of a busy life.

      Socrates

      How are you doing?

      Busy?

      Unfortunately, busyness has become the badge the many people chose to wear. We think people will think we are important when they hear we are busy. Perhaps, we are too afraid to face the things we really need to face, so we get busy doing things that don’t really matter in the end.

      If your goal is to be busy, you just might be aiming at the wrong target.

      Tonight, I had a fantastic conversation with a group of men who are serious about becoming better husbands, better fathers, better leaders, and better men. We talked a lot about busyness.

      I shared with them the experience I had last week when I realized I was overwhelmed. (If you read my blog posts over the past two weeks, you’ll get a feel for what I shared.)

      I thrive on being busy. That’s what I keep telling myself.

      In reality, I need a break from time to time, and I must learn to slow things down.

      I was perusing an article on Lifehack in preparation for my conversation with these men tonight, and the article said “When you’re busy, your aren’t present.”

      And one of the men said, “Busyness is the enemy of intimacy.”

      Last week along with tonight’s conversation confirmed that I’m not alone.

      I don’t want to be known as the guy who was always busy.

      I want to be known as the man who was there – for my wife, for my family, for my friends.

      I want to make sure I’m aiming at the right target.

      If you’re interested in jumping into conversations like this one with other men, consider signing up for the Stretched Men Group. You can learn more at www.stretchedmengroup.com. Once you’re on the website, signup to schedule a free (no obligation) phone call with me. I’d love to talk with you!

      Are you too busy? What do you do to slow down? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

      Everybody Always – Thoughts on a New Book by Bob Goff

      I’m on a mission to read 52 books in 2018. I’m a little behind schedule. So far, I’ve read 18 books, and we are in week 20 of 2018. I’m just two books behind schedule. Not bad for a deliberate (slow) reader.

      I just finished my 18th book of the year – Everybody Always by Bob Goff.

      This is an excellent follow-up to Bob’s first book, Love Does.

      In Everybody Always, Bob shares more personal stories that help us see what it looks like to become love. As I read the book, I experienced a mix of emotions – joy, sadness, happiness, wonder, and love. Bob’s stories of learning to love the “creeps” of the world challenged and changed me. I was encouraged to think about what it means to love my enemies. And I was reminded that I am a work in progress.

      If you are looking for an encouraging, humorous, and heart-challenging read, I’d encourage you to pick up a copy of Everybody Always – Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People.

      I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

      “God’s endgame has always been the same. He wants our hearts to be His. He wants us to love the people near us and love the people we’ve kept far away.” Bob Goff

      Rest Rewarded

      If you’ve been following along the past several days, you know I was feeling drained. Thanks to the encouragement of some trusted friends and advisors I decided to take this past Friday off from work.

      Today, I returned to work after a refreshing three day weekend.

      Mondays are always a little crazy at the office as I try to get momentum on the week while dealing with a few regularly scheduled meetings. These meetings are a necessity; however, they sometimes leave me tired – even at the start of the week.

      Today was a little different. I still had all these meetings. In fact, my day was full of meetings. The difference was that I felt more energized. I felt a more positive attitude. I even felt excitement about what waits for me as I get into the week.

      I really do like my job (most days), but I still need a break from time to time. All work and no play is a recipe for burnout and overall job dissatisfaction.

      It was affirming to share with my co-workers about my weekend – especially my day off when I went golfing, went to the movies, went Mother’s Day shopping, and went for a hike – all mostly by myself.

      As I left the office today, I felt like I had been rewarded for taking Friday off.

      Don’t forget to take a break every once in a while. You need it. And an occasional break will actually make you more productive in your work.

      At least that’s what I experienced today.

      How was your Monday? When was the last time you took a break? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

      My Mom

      Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there.

      I want to take a few minutes to reflect on my mom. She has done so much to shape me and to make me who I am today.

      When I think of my mom, I think of kindness. My mom is one of the kindest persons I know. She is always ready to talk to anyone – stranger or friend. She is incredibly caring. Mom wants to make sure people feel welcomed and loved.

      I remember her being an incredible hostess. Her crescent rolls are amazing, and her pot roast makes my mouth water. She always finds room at her table for everyone – family, friends, and complete strangers.

      Mom did an amazing job putting up with three boys (four if you count Dad). We’re all a little different, and I’m pretty sure we all have a little bit of Mom in each of us. She stepped away from her career to take care of us, and she made sure we eat well, wore clean clothes, and stayed healthy.

      Mom’s love for Dad is an amazing example – not that Dad is not worth loving. Mom has stood by Dad through thick and thin, and I’m sure my Dad would agree that his ministry success (and survival) was significantly aided by Mom’s partnership. Mom and Dad aren’t perfect, but they sure have set an amazing example of marriage. They have worked on their marriage, and it shows today as they navigate the challenges of retirement and age-related illness.

      I had a chance to talk to Mom today. She lives in Milwaukee (and I’m here in the Philadelphia area). I try to talk with her at least once a week. Mom filled me in on some of the details of their past week. She told me about Sam’s (my nephew) fiddle show. She talked about Dad’s recent preaching opportunities. And she told me about Icee’s (the family dog) failing health. She talked about Uncle Wes who is in the hospital. And she talked about coming out for Isaac’s graduation. Despite her early onset Alzheimer’s, Mom is doing pretty well at remembering many things.

      I’m so thankful for my mom. She deserves the day to be celebrated (actually, she deserves more than just a day).

      Thank you, Mom!

      I love you!

      A Walk in the Woods

      The past two days I have taken time to hike at the Eva R. Meng Wildlife Preserve Audubon Sanctuary in Schwenksville, PA. Yesterday, I hiked just over 3 miles, and I hiked 2.7 miles today.

      There is something refreshing about a walk in the woods.

      I was alone with my thoughts as I enjoyed the fresh air and time to think (or to just be).

      Too often, we get caught in the hamster wheel of life – running from one activity to the next to the next and to the next. We fail to pause, to breathe, and to take in the creation that God has put before us.

      I have come to appreciate these hikes. They recalibrate me. They give me the opportunity to get away – even for a few moments. They truly are the calm that refreshes.

      Next time someone tells you to “take a hike,” I’d suggest you listen to them. A walk in the woods just might do you some good.

      Where do you go to rest, recharge, and recalibrate? Share your thoughts in the comments.

      Just What I Needed

      Following through on my post from yesterday, I took today off. My battery needed a recharge, and the day away from the office doing things mostly by myself was just what I needed.

      My day started with a 6AM meeting of DIBs (Dudes In the Basement). This is a group of men I meet with every week. This morning’s discussion was especially lively and encouraging. I’m thankful for this group of men who spur each other on towards love and good deeds.

      I then went golfing at Rolling Turf Golf Course with my friend, Josh. I haven’t been golfing in a few years, so my expectations were pretty low. The day was perfect for golf, and there was no one on the golf course. I had a fabulous time.

      After golf, I returned home for a few minutes to clean up and eat some breakfast/lunch. I then journeyed to the movie theater to take in A Wrinkle In Time for an 11:35AM showing. I was the only one in the theater for this movie – my own private showing. I enjoyed the movie (although I really liked the book a lot more than the movie).

      I then headed to the Providence Town Center to do some Mother’s Day shopping for Leanne, to have some frozen yogurt at Kiwi Yogurt, and to buy some socks (exciting stuff). It was so nice to go about these things at such a leisurely pace.

      I stopped at home again where I said hello to Isaac before heading over to the Eva R. Men’s Wildlife Preserve where I went for a 3 miles hike. I spent time initially on the white trail. Then I took the yellow trail to Ryanford Road before turning around. On the way back, I took the red trail and finally the blue trail through the wetlands. It was a spectacular day for a hike.

      When I arrived home, Isaac and I cooked dinner. We enjoyed grilled asparagus (from our garden), grilled onions and peppers, grilled portobello mushrooms, and Isaac’s homemade French fries.

      I haven’t had a day like this for a while. I’m ready for bed now, but I feel mostly recharged.

      As I mentioned yesterday, we must learn to take breaks. The breaks give us an opportunity to refocus, rest, and recharge, so we can be more effective when we get back to work and our normal activities.

      What are you doing to refocus, rest, and recharge? I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments below.

      I Got Your Back

      My post from yesterday (Drained) earned a direct email to me from a close friend. He wrote me resonating with my busyness and offering me words of encouragement.

      And today during a call with my entrepreneurial mastermind group, it was my turn on the “Hot Seat.” The four other participants took time to listen to my words of weariness. Then they took turns offering suggestions on how I could maintain momentum on some of my current pursuits while taking time to recharge.

      By the end of the call, I had made a decision to take tomorrow off. I don’t know exactly what I’ll be doing tomorrow, but I know I’ll be taking time for myself. I’ll be doing something that gets me away from my busyness, and I’ll be taking time to rest.

      My friend who sent the email today along with my mastermind group reminded me how important it is for each of us to have people in our lives who have our backs. We need people around us who will help us see around our blind spots. We need people who will challenge us to keep going and encourage us to take a break.

      I’m so thankful for people in my life who have my back. (I’m also thankful for the opportunity to be there for others.)

      We were made for community. We were made for relationship. We were made for each other.

      Who has your back?

      Drained

      The past two days (along with the past several weeks) have left me feeling drained.

      Don’t get me wrong. I’m thankful for the happenings of the past couple days (and the past several weeks). I think I’m just ready for some rest.

      The rest is coming. I have some time off scheduled for later this month, and it will be welcomed.

      (I’m sure I’ve written about this before. It just seems to be a theme for my life.)

      We must learn to take breaks. We must learn to take time to recharge.

      People often marvel out loud to me about how much I do. This is a trap!!!

      In my bent toward people pleasing and hearing the praises of my fellow man, I lose perspective on who deserves time, attention, and praise. (Clue: It’s not me!)

      The Bible may talk about the importance of avoiding idleness (or laziness), but I don’t see where it says to be flat out busy.

      In the story of Mary and Martha from the Gospels, we see how Jesus desires relationship with us. It’s hard to foster relationship when we’re too busy or too drained to give attention to others (including Jesus).

      Jesus instructs us (the weary) to come to him for rest.

      Maybe you are feeling drained like me. It’s time to take a break and to come to Jesus. He’ll give us the rest we really need.

      (Now if I could just listen to my own advice.)

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