5 Steps to Progress

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I remember the first time I tried CrossFit, I absolutely sucked. I was weak, I was slow, I was uncoordinated, and for the life of me, couldn’t figure out how to rig up a band on the pull up bar. That was two years ago.

I remember when I came back to CrossFit and started doing it consistently, I was still weak, slow, uncoordinated, and finally figured out how to rig up a band on the pull up bar. Since that day, almost a year ago, I’ve seen some exceptional “gains” in my lifts. Many people have asked me how to get stronger or how to get in better shape. Here are the 5 steps I follow every day to see progress:

  1. Lift as heavy as you can – I know what you’re thinking. “But not if you have bad form.” If anyone in the world is an advocate for proper technique, it is I. But the reality is that you really won’t get stronger if you’re not lifting heavier.
  2. Lift as fast as you can – This is in regards to the metcons where you’re doing wall balls, or shoulder to overhead, etc. If you want to get faster, then MOVE FASTER.
  3. Lift as safely as you can – technique prevails….ALWAYS. In the world of CrossFit you can get away with bad lifts, but in the world of your health, don’t risk it. Learn the positions, drill the heck out of them, and watch your lifts get that much better
  4. Lift with as much intensity as you can – it’s not a social club; well for some it is. And that’s fine. But if you want to see progress, bring some intensity. You expect to move up from an empty barbell if you’re not moving with purpose? Not gonna happen.
  5. Lift as consistently as you can – You showing up once or twice a week isn’t gonna cut it. Get in and do work. If you’re not, then don’t complain that you’re not seeing results. I can tell you why you’re not seeing results. BECAUSE YOU’RE NOT IN THE GYM!!!

I guarantee you that if you follow these 5 steps, you will be well on your way to a fitter you.

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You, The Leader (Part 1 – Judges 6)

https://www.wesleylife.org/webres/Image/230x164/leadership-marker.jpg

Been loving the book of Judges for the past few weeks. It’s been absolutely profound and timely for me. When I was a teen, one of my mentors told me that they can see me speaking in front of people. At the time, I was a Tech Lead and enjoyed being behind the scenes. I loved mixing sound and doing everything in the background, so this made no sense for him to say this about me.

Maybe you’ve experienced the same kind of thing. Maybe someone told you what they see in you and it was just too big for you to wrap your head around. Maybe it just didn’t seem like you. Maybe you’ve been running from the call that God has on you out of fear, intimidation, lack of know how, etc. Judges 6 is just for you.

1. You ARE Ready and You DO Know Enough
When Gideon starts questioning if he can actually defeat the Midianites, God says something that revolutionized the way that I think now – “Go in this might of YOURS…”

Many times we feel like we don’t know enough or we’re not ready to do what God is calling us to do. But God says that the might is already in Gideon. It’s already in him. He’s already ready to do this. He has everything he needs in order to defeat the Midianites. You ARE a leader. God has called you. He’s prepared you ahead of time for the call that He has on you. You ARE ready and FULLY CAPABLE.

2. You Don’t Send Yourself; God Sends You
God says to Gideon, “Have not I sent you?”. This is after God frees Israel from captivity; after He delivers them from Pharaoh. God reminds Gideon of all that He’s done back in Exodus. And this is a great reminder of what God has done for you. Has he not delivered you from oppression? Has he not set you free from addiction? From depression? Has he not provided for you when you didn’t know how things would come together? Has he not sent you?!

You are a leader. It’s not because you’ve worked your way up to it. It’s not because you’re the smartest, or have the best work ethic, or because you’ve read a million leadership books. You are a leader because God has sent you and He prepared you such a time as this.

3 Ways to Ruin A Worship Set

I am not a professional Worship Leader…is that even possible? I do not know everything there is to know about engaging a crowd of people through music. I am not the premiere Worship Leader whom everyone goes to for advice and help. BUT I’ve been in many Worship Sets and have seen great sets and not so great sets.

Here is my list of the 3 ways a worship leader can ruin a worship set:

  1. Preaching

One of the biggest temptations for any Worship Leader is to talk. But, that’s not what you do. You sing. You’re not called to preach. You’re called to lead in worship. Now if you choose to talk during a transition, it should be well thought out and be no longer than 30 seconds. You are a Worship Leader; you lead worship….unless you are indeed preaching that week ūüôā

2.  Closing Your Eyes

Why? In life, I will never “follow a blind man”. How can you lead the people you’re not looking at? There are times when I will close my eyes, but that lasts no longer than a few seconds. Otherwise, I’m looking at everyone in the church. I’m leading them. I’m telling them “come on this journey WITH me”. I’ve always felt that having my eyes closed leaves no room for me to engage and partner with the church.

3. Being Into Yourself

This is the biggest and most broad topic. This could mean relying too heavily on yourself to carry the music, rather than teaching your team how to play different parts. This could mean you hogging all the fun parts to play and leaving everyone else with the ever fun whole notes of death. This could mean being so into what you’re playing that you can’t smile. This could mean looking at leading worship as a show that people are attending, rather than a journey that they’re participating in. You’re not leading yourself in worship; you’re leading the church.

No, this is not the magic formula to follow that will cause the glory of God to fill the upper room and see people speak in tongues. Very practical things that I’ve seen that have NOTHING to do with music.

Yay!

5 Things We’ve Learned In The 1st Year of Parenting

Our son, Micah, is almost a year old and I thought it only fitting to share all the wisdom we’ve learned in the first year….mostly by error. Hopefully this helps some new parents and parents-to-be:

1) They’re babies¬†– …seriously. There’s such pressure as new parents to be perfect. I remember telling myself in the delivery room “Austin, do NOT mess this up”…this in regards to my son. The reality is that you will mess up. A LOT. OFTEN. DAILY. Some times, your child won’t go to bed on time. Sometimes your baby won’t walk when they “should” or talk when they “should” be. Oh well. Take all the pressure off of yourself and realize that you are not a perfect parent…nobody ever really is.

2) They grow quick¬†– I’ve often found myself (with the help of my wife) consumed in work or technology. I don’t know about you, but I’m constantly reaching out for some kind of technology to keep me busy. Horrible, I know. I’ve recently had to make a conscious effort to put things down and be present with our son. Be present.

3) They Babble¬†– Have you ever yelled at a sports team through the TV hoping they could hear your play call? Guess what! They can’t hear you. Hah. Think of your child as the TV. They will not understand “you better get outta that cupboard before i spank you”.

4) They cry – That’s what babies do. They cry. Deal with it. Don’t freak out or feel embarrassed when your baby cries in public. Who cares? Babies cry.

5) They poop – Why do we all act so surprised when our babies poop? Like we didn’t know they did that. That’s just what they do.

Disconnecting the Dots

…..huh? What’s that even mean? A lot of life is spent trying to “connect the dots” or figure things out. Funny how much of the phrases we throw around are completely opposed and abolished by what God desires for us.

When we’re tasked with figuring out what to do with the rest of our lives, a lot of us search far and wide for a career that is the easiest to get into and pays the most. We stress and spend hours of research, we ask our parents, we ask our friends, we ask Facebook, we talk to family friends, etc. All we’re trying to do is connect the dots and figure things out.

Here’s where the Gospel comes in. When all the voices in the world are telling you to go this way or do this or invest here or go to school here, Jesus is saying “come”. That’s all. A simple command. Just come. A lot of our lives turn into a giant mess of regret and missed opportunities because we’re busy trying to connect all the dots. But Jesus says that when you stop trying to connect all these dots, and you actually disconnect the dots of what you think you should do, THEN He can move. That’s where God can work. That’s where God can speak.

What areas in your life do you need to back off and start disconnecting the dots so that God can finally do what He does?

The Lord is MY Shepherd

Psalm 23

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack NOTHING”

I’m sure we’ve all heard this Psalm at one point in our lives..or a special rendition of it. But how many of you have read it in this version? Recently while reading through Psalm 23 and listening to a few sermons surrounding the scripture, I realized that I lack NOTHING.

God, my shepherd, leads me to rest (green pastures), nourishment (still waters), and He gives me strength. The only thing I’m responsible for is following the shepherd. The life of a Christian is less about DOING and more about RECEIVING.

If just a for a day…maybe even a week…what can God lead you to as you stop trying and you just start following.

Simon Says? Follow the Leader?

Some of my favorite times when I was a kid were playing games like Simon Says and Follow the Leader – they were so easy. You literally just did whatever someone said to do. Cake.

Many people these days think this is what the church does – that we’re just supposed to jump when the Pastor says jump and literally do what “Simon” says to do. But that can’t be the case. The church isn’t a dictatorship that follows after one individual just because they have a title.¬†

You are correct. But you are also wrong. (Crazy, huh?)

The church is called to submit to leadership and authority. That applies to the government, your boss at work, parents, and even….wait for it….your Pastor. But the church is completely different than the aforementioned arenas in that you are called, as a Christian, to submit to authority AND honor the leadership.¬†

Here is a list of ways you can heed to the calling of God and honor your Pastors starting today:

1) Pray for them – being a Pastor is a lot harder than you might think. It takes more work than you might think and is most likely more stressful than you might think. Anyone in their right mind wouldn’t choose to be a Pastor. But many are called. And for those who answer the call, there is much to be prayed for. You can pray for strength (it’s tiring, especially when you have a family as well), wisdom (to know how to navigate through the many problems that the congregation seeks advice for), vision (we want our Pastor to have clear vision from God to lead the church in the right direction), endurance (they can’t just put in your 2 weeks and then quit).

2)¬†Encourage them – Pastors spend so much of themselves encouraging the people in the church…but who takes the time to encourage them? Most times it’s nobody. Zero. Not one. Nada. Just because they have a title, it doesn’t mean they don’t get discouraged. Let them know how much you value their leadership, their faith, their prayers, the time they spend thinking about you and your family.¬†

3) Support them – Be there for your Pastors. The worst thing you can do to your Pastors is let them go through life by themselves; they are people just like you and I. In the same way that they are concerned with what’s going on in your world, be concerned with what’s going on in theirs. If someone in their family is sick, ask how you can help (bring them medicine, flowers, watch their kids). If something drastic happens in their world, cook them a meal. We don’t want our Pastors to feel like they are on their own little island and that they don’t have anyone to come alongside them and do life together.¬†

4) Defend them – I’ve served at a church consistently for the last 9 years of my life and this is one of the biggest truths that the church needs to acknowledge. We, as the congregation, like to whine and complain and gossip. But what do you do when you hear someone bashing your Pastor? Do you throw a stone too?¬†

#nuffsaid #nike #justdoit

Here’s a fun blog post from Craig Groeschel, senior pastor at LifeChurch.tv

http://swerve.lifechurch.tv/2010/05/19/honoring-your-church-leaders/

 

 

Enjoy!

Don’t Arch Your Back

How many parents are reading this right now? Maybe you’re not a parent, but have experience in taking care of babies. I’m a new father – 3 month old sitting at home…well maybe not sitting. He’s most likely cooing, playing with his stuffed animal, and giving mommy a headache. Then again, that’s what babies do, right?

Three months have taught me a lot: what I like and what I’d rather not deal with. I like when our baby smiles, I like it when he tries to laugh, I like it when he recognizes my face – whether he smiles or cries after that is never a sure thing. I have discovered that I don’t like waking up at 2AM and that I don’t like the feeling of baby urine or feces in contact with my skin. Now the ultimate thing I have discovered that I’d rather not deal with is: THE EVIL BACK ARCH!

It seems that Micah (our baby) arches his back at the most inconvenient times; for us at least. He likes to arch his back when we’re trying to put him to sleep, when he’s woken up in the early morning and needs to be fed, and when we’re just trying to chill. The most frustrating thing is that as much as I tell him not to arch his back, he does. Why? Maybe he’s uncomfortable, maybe he’s stressed out, maybe he just doesn’t feel right. And I’ve always wondered: Why are you arching your back when I, your father, have you in my arms and am protecting you? I constantly have to remind him – “Don’t worry, daddys here. It’s okay.”

Then it got me thinking: How much more does God, my father, tell me not to worry, not to freak out, not to stress, not to fear? In the very same way, God has me in his arms. In that very same way, God has you in His arms. Your father is looking after you, watching over you, protecting you, etc. Sure, there are some uncomfortable times in life when finances are sticky, your future is uncertain, people are getting on your nerves. But in those moments, is your first reaction to trust who is in control or to panic and freak out? Jesus tells us in Philippians 4:6 not to be stressed or worry, but with everything submit your prayers to Him, and then an unfamiliar¬†peace will consume you. He says to cast our cares on Him and that He’ll give us rest. He says to fear not for He has already overcome the world. He says that we’ll never be tempted with more than we can bear…but in the case that it does happen, He’s always there to help. He’ll never leave us. He’ll never forget about us. Our smallest concerns are His biggest worries.¬†

So the next time that things get a little uncomfortable, don’t arch your back!¬†

Recipe for a Rockstar Worship Leader

Rockstar
 

You may not know me. And that’s fine. I’m a new husband (1 year), even newer father (3 months), and an even NEWER Worship Leader (1 month). God blew my wife and I away when an opportunity as a full time worship leader presented itself in the church that we were already serving in.

In the last month, I’ve met with 6 Worship Leaders in the San Francisco Bay Area to pick their brain about the ins and outs of what it really means to lead worship. 6 different people but all the same ideas. In no way do I consider myself a “professional worship leader”. I do, however, consider myself to have a good understanding of what worship means and what it looks like to lead others in worship.

That brings me to this article. I’ve played under quite a few worship leaders and have experienced enough different personalities that I have discovered what is actually required to be a Worship Leader. Not just someone who plays a guitar or sings, and then calls it a day; but someone who is committed to the calling of a Worship Leader. Many may be intimidated by the idea of leading worship, but it really doesn’t require as much as you would think.

Here is my recipe for a ROCKSTAR Worship Leader:

 

A – Heart for God

Above everything else, you have to be in relationship with God. And even more than that, you have to have a heart and passion to constantly chase after knowing who God is. I know many people who think leading worship is about being musically inclined or having solid vocal ability. NOT! The #1 pre-requisite for leading worship is to be completely consumed by the love of God and to seek after nothing other than knowing who God is. Nothing to do with music, nothing to do with singing. We worship God through our seeking and chasing after Him.

 

B – Heart for People

You can NOT have a heart for God without having a heart for people. That’s just the way it goes. When the Sadducees and Pharisees asked Jesus what the greatest commandment in the law was, He replied “Love God and love others”. Your responsibility as a Worship Leader is to point others to all of who God is. For me, this doesn’t stop in the context of the church. Leading people in Worship includes discipleship. We’ve all been called to make disciples, whether you’re the Pastor, or the janitor, or a greeter, or an usher, or a worship leader. You have been called to make disciples. Before you were called to be a Worship Leader, you were called to make disciples.

 

C – Humility

One of the saddest things you will ever see is a Worship Leader who is so consumed by themselves that they leave no room for God to lead. I see this happen most often with Worship Leaders who started out as musicians and then came into relationship with God. Are all musicians like this? No, not quite. There are some great musicians who are also GREAT Worship Leaders. However, I’ve seen a trend where people use the Worship Team as a way to fulfill their unsuccessful¬†childhood dreams of being in a band. This leads them to trust so much in their own ability, that there’s no room for God. Humility remembers what the point is and who the point is. It’s not about me; it’s about pointing others to Jesus and then getting out of the way.

 

With those three qualities, anyone can become a Worship Leader. Does musical aptitude help? Sure. But it’s not everything. Rockstar Worship has nothing to do with being a “rock star”.

 

5 Things A Man Should Never Say in A Delivery Room

This is a continuation from my last blog “5 Lessons For A Rookie Dad”. This time we’re going back and helping to prepare any prospective “baby daddy’s”.

Here is what you should NEVER say:

1) “I don’t know” – WRONG answer! This is the least assuring answer you can give your wife. Instead of saying “I don’t know”, use answers¬†like “let me check, honey”. Your wife is already in a place where she’s nervous. You need to be solid and give her a sense of comfort.

2) “I know” – No you don’t. You have no idea what your wife is going through. Don’t ever say this. What you can say are things like “okay”. That’s all.

3) “I understand” – See above.

4) How are you feeling? – It’s like asking an Eskimo how they are feeling…probably COLD! She’s most likely uncomfortable, in pain, etc. Be more sincere. Ask her what you can do to help her…..actually that might be bad idea. Don’t ask questions!

5) Any joke – at this stage, they are ALL stupid.