What should we do now?

Church

 

There is no doubt that we are experiencing some very troubling times in America and throughout the world today. While there are many that believe that we may be in the last days, including myself, the question is what should we now do? How would Christ direct us to act?

Before I share my heart on that question, I want you to know that I am a retired State Trooper from Florida. I have been deeply affected by the recent events in Dallas, Texas as five of my brother Law Enforcement Officers lost their lives while defending the constitutional rights of Americans. But, I also know that there are communities and families that have also been impacted by the loss of their loved ones involved in incidents with Law Enforcement Officers. Their pain is just as real as those who lost loved ones in Dallas and we should all mourn for everyone that has lost any family member. My blog today is not to debate these issues but call us to a greater issue.

You see, I really don’t believe the ultimate answer to our situation is more debate and argument. It only leads to more polarization and lack of understanding between everyone. Does anyone remember the days when politicians of opposite parties actually liked each other? I think we have had enough of the great divide. Most everyone has grown tired of the current debates and arguments as they have done little to actually change our society for good. Today more than ever, we need God! What would Jesus instruct us to do if he were standing right in front of us at this very moment? I will go back to the late Dr, Martyn Lloyd-Jones and what he did when he took the pulpit in a church called located in Southern Wales called Sandfields.

The year was 1927 and the country of Wales was in great distress. The area that Dr Jones was in, Port Talbot, was particularly hard hit as there had been labor disputes for many years and the economy was as bad as it could get. There had also risen a steady decline in spirituality in the area as many believed that both the government and the church had failed them. It was a time when crime of every type was on the rise. People had abandoned the church and now they were abandoning the laws of society.  Add to that the rise of the Communist party that was looking to take advantage of this void and before long it was becoming hopeless.

While many of Dr. Jones contemporary Christian leaders were trying to bring change through the avenue of politics and social change, Jones took a different approach, one that I believe that we need to revisit today. As many continued to push for reform in the government, seeing that as the solution, Dr. Jones exclaimed that the greatest need wasn’t government reform but reform within the hearts and souls of men.

In an article written by Dr Paul M. Elliott titled Can God Change a Nation Through One Local Church? the following is stated about Jones and how he planned to approach the problems of his day.

He believed that the crying need of the hour was not reform in government, the school classroom, the economy, or even in public morality. The greatest need, he said, is spiritual rebirth among the unconverted and revival among God’s people. This can only come by the work of the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the Bible. All else flows from this, he said. There can be no genuine change in the externals of society without genuine change in the hearts of men. And that change must begin in the church.

The changes that came after Dr. Jones took this position were dramatic. Many say that as the church was revived and used to change the area of Port Talbot, that God used that one local church to actually change a Nation. In fact Dr, Jones, this preacher from a small community in Wales, is actually recognized as one of the two men most responsible for saving his country from Communism. You can read Dr Elliott’s entire article here through Teaching the Word Ministries  at this link: Can God Change a Nation Through One Local Church?

Today more than ever, we do not need more debate and arguments about the issues we are all faced with. There are plenty of people doing that for all of us.What we do need is more people calling for the Power of God and a genuine revival in the church. I really believe that now is the hour for all of us that call ourselves Christian, to enlist and let our lives count for God.

FullSizeRender
Baptism at Felinfoel, Wales

 

There are three things I believe every Christian should do during this difficult time.

  1. Turn to God. He is our answer in our time of need. Lets pray as Dr. Jones prayed, for God to save the lost and bring revival to the church.
  2. Return to Our Roots. Prayer, Bible Study and sharing the good news of Christ through word and deed. There is nothing wrong with other activities that reach and serve the community, in fact they are good works we were created for, but they can not substitute for God’s power to change lives, beginning with our own.
  3. Be Humble and Kind. Tim McGraw may have sang it but Jesus modeled it. No one wants anything from an angry or proud Christian. “It doesn’t cost anything to be kind but it really pays off” Bear Bryant. Let’s be kind, even to those we disagree with.

I really believe that one local church or even one local person can make a difference if they will start with God. Will you join me in praying for our country and the church during the month of July? Let me know if you will. I don’t know what will actually happen, only that I must do what He is leading me to do.

Blessings,

Coach Don.

 

 

 

Keep Pedaling

13615506_10154716127272923_261013535245077835_n

 

As I was on my morning bike ride, I came across this sign. I’ve seen it thousands of times during my lifetime, but today it was speaking to my heart. As I was training for my next triathlon, I was praying about getting through a current rough patch of life. Nothing serious, but aggravating none the less.

As I saw this sign God reminded me that any trouble we experience has a limited lifespan. In short, it will eventually end. Like the road project in your city that may seem like it will never end, it will eventually end. The question God asked me within my heart was this “What will you do during that portion of “Road Work”? “Complain, Doubt, Quit? Or will you keep pedaling”?

I answered that I would keep pedaling because it would eventually end, and I want to enter the “Good Section” of road right on time and not a minute behind. No matter what you are going through today, Keep Pedaling. Happy 4th everyone.

A great reason to write and publish a book!

Have you ever considered the impact that your own writing or journaling would have upon your own family and your future generations? I often think about the impact of my own writing and the future impact of the book that I am working to complete now. in fact, while working on my book recently, I looked over at my young granddaughter and began to wonder. What will she think about my book when she’s older? Will she pass it to her grandchildren to read? Will future generations talk about what I have written the same way I love talking about my ancestors book?

The book my ancestor, Dr. Charles Wesley Pope, wrote is a family treasure that reminds me to keep pressing forward on my book. As I think about his book and its impact on me, I realize the books that each of us are writing will create eternal ripples destined to effect generations to come.

1. Our books and writings will let our future family know who we are through what we have written. Think of the people you have come to know only through the books or music they wrote.

2. Our books and writings will pass our faith and what we hold dear to those we will never meet in this lifetime. A book gives us the chance to pass the baton of our experience well beyond our years.

3. Our books and writings will inspire our grandchildren, and even great grandchildren, perhaps causing them to dream a little bigger. Some will even dream of being just like us, another author passing on their faith to the world and continued generations.

I encourage you to consider writing something and for you that are brave enough to take the challenge, I encourage you to write and publish your own book. What has God done for you or showed you that you really want your descendants to know about. You are the only one that can write it. Maybe your own book will be on the shelves of descendants all over the world. I know John Wesley’s is, what about yours?

What speed are you going?

Speed Limit1Every road has a speed limit! Do you know what yours is?

In life everyone is traveling down one road or another on their way to what they want to become one day. These roads and bridges are more than just pathways to get us to where we want to go, they are the very brush strokes and pigments that make us who we ultimately are. Too many times we are on the right road but we are missing the journey that really takes us to where we want to go.

“The problem is that many times we are in such a hurry to get somewhere that we never really become who we are meant to become, we only change locations.”

Dallas Willard is quoted by in John Ortberg’s newest book SOUL KEEPING with this powerful statement Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” As I read that statement my eyes teared up and my heart seemed to almost stop for a moment. It was as if I had just read the answer to the question that my soul had been asking of God for months. “What am I missing?” “Why am I having difficulty finding the center of my life, and of my soul?” Hurry! The enemy of my life hurry! The hurry I am talking about is best pictured by this word picture below.

Have you ever drove home from work with so much on your mind that you didn’t even remember how you even got home?  What road did you take? Did you run any read lights or stop signs? God doesn’t want us to just arrive at the next location, He wants us to remember the drive.

Think of the things that you have seen while driving down a scenic roadway. I know I have seen everything from a double rainbow that was at the tail end of an awe inspiring storm,  to multiple falling stars crossing the sky right at twilight. There is so much to miss if you are not present or open to it at the time it happens. Thats why hurry or busyness can dry up our soul.

Three ways to slow down in a crazy fast world.

1. Permit life to interrupt you from time to time.

One Sunday I was working at home, trying to get caught up on paperwork, when my granddaughter Paislee came into my office and asked if I would play “Let it go” from the movie Frozen. Well that request went on to the request to go to Disney World and yes I took her and the whole family. Having annual passes makes it that easy to go. In short It was one of the best days ever and my daughter Brittnee took the picture below. My quote for the day was “I got nothing done today, except was most important”.

Me and Paislee

2. Look for the small details in the journey

Have you every just looked at your wife’s hair or took in the way someone laughs? Have you ever just looked at a heat lighting storm in the distance and allowed yourself a moment to be filled with awe and wonder? Have you ever forced yourself to hold your own brilliant idea to just let the person with the ok idea that will never work finish his or her explanation? What makes a diamond great and worth much value is all of the tiny facets and colors that make up its brilliance. I have missed more of the small moments than I care to remember on my way to becoming something. We have to look at the small details if we want to slow down. If a small child is asking you a silly question on the way to your big daunting business meeting. Stop and notice the seemingly small or insignificant details. They are God’s gifts in tiny packages!

3. Walk with God!

Have you ever noticed that God is never in a hurry. He has more responsibility than any of us will ever fully know, but He is never impatient or impulsive. If the creator of the universe and everything we can’t even imagine has time to spend with us in the early morning than He must know something that we don’t know. He must know that life was created for the tiny moments and the journey is all about becoming, becoming like Him! In fact it is only in the journey that we truly learn and become his follower, to become his friend.

Today, do something you have never done before and take in every single sight along the path that leads to your next destination. You never know, sometimes you can be going so fast that you might miss the turn you need to make to ultimately get to where you want to go!

 

What will make you change your life?

I began 365to50 last September when I was getting ready to turn 49 years old. I wanted to chronicle a year of my life before I turned 50. My goal was to help myself and others as I worked to change my life in three specific areas.

  • Lose Weight: I was almost 300 lbs when I started this journey, but now I am under 250 lbs.
  • Write my first book: Last year I had nothing but an idea in my head, the same idea that had been there for the last 15 years. Now, although I am still far from completion, I have character descriptions, chapter ideas, plot lines and a developing outline.
  •  Grow closer to God: My faith is deeper than it has ever been before! I am not the same follower of Christ that I was this time last year.

When I look at the three goals that I set for 365to50, I see one common goal in all three. 365to50 is all about changing my life! Here are some key thoughts that I have learned regarding change. I pray that they help you in your journey.

  1. Change is inevitable! Your life will change over the next 365 days whether you like it or not. The question is what will change about your life. I saw a series of pictures the other day of a teacher who wore the same shirt in all of the school pictures that he took during his career. It was amazing to see pictures from 1973 until 2003, all with the same man wearing the same shirt in every picture. While the shirt never changed, the man continued to change, from a young man to an older man.  You can never stop change from happening to you, but you can choose how and what you decide to change. “You are the captain of your own ship and while you can’t stop the wind, the tide or the currents, but you can set the direction and chart a course for where you want to go.”
  2. Time is a gift for change! Each new year brings you the wonderful gift of being able to change more. Think of it! Another year means that you will not die like you are right now. With another year, You get the gift of time and experience. Used wisely, that gift will make you a better person tomorrow than you are today. Time is a gift from God to change who you really are for all of eternity!
  3. Change will always look different in the end! When I set my goals to change my life last September, I had expectations of how it would all look when I turned 50 years old. It is not looking exactly like I thought it would, but that is not a bad thing at all. The reason it looks different is mainly due to the fact that parts of my original goals changed along the way. Certain things became a little more important during the journey, and like a good captain I adjusted my course slightly. Have you ever gone on a vacation and the destination looks a little different than what you thought it would look like? Well, you’re still glad that you’re on vacation, and you may even be pleasantly surprised that its even better than what you first expected.

What will change your life? Time will change your life. Treat it as a gift from God and maximize every moment of it to direct your course in the direction that you want to go in. Live life on purpose and live like your life depends on it, because it does!

Trooper Tales- (The pizza no one wanted)

I love Barney Fife! I mean he just has a way of helping us to remember to laugh at ourselves and to not take life so seriously all of the time. The Andy Griffith show is full of laughter and life lessons that will preach today, just as well as they did in 1960. By far it still remains as one of my favorite television shows. The following story is a true story that happened to me when I was a State Trooper. It very much illustrates some of the humor and life lessons that I experienced as a law enforcement officer. It kind of made me feel like I was having my own individual Barney Fife moment in time. I just needed Andy there to have the full effect!

Deputy Fife
Deputy Fife

One night when I was working an off duty job on Orange Blossom trail I had the following experience. At the time I was parked in a lane closure,  while a construction crew tore up the roadway in front of me to fix a broken pipe that was under the road. All I had to do that night was just sit there in my patrol car with the lights on and make sure traffic went around the closure. It was around 10PM when I decided that I was hungry and needed something to eat to conquer my hunger and my boredom. I decided to order a pizza from a guy that I knew that had a pizza shop on that side of town. Within 30 minutes I had a very large pizza sitting in the front seat of my patrol car. It was exactly what the doctor ordered! I can almost smell it now!

Even though I tried to eat the whole thing, I could not even eat half of it. I mean this pizza was huge. Like some of you that are reading this blog now, I couldn’t stand the thought of wasting the other half of this gourmet pizza. I quickly thought “I know what I will do, I will share it with the construction crew.” I then called out to the crew just in front of my car “Hey guys, do I have a treat for you.” I then pointed to the pizza knowing that they would soon be running over to my car. I called out again “come and get it guys.” Again, they just stared at me like they didn’t understand me. Finally one of them came over and asked me what was I saying. When I told of him of my offer, he informed me that they all were on diets and while they appreciated the offer, they would have to refuse.  I was shocked! I thought this was a joke. To find that they all were on a diet, well I have never ever seen this happen before or since.

Since the health conscious road crew did not want any of my delicious pizza, I started looking around for someone else that would appreciate a pepperoni pizza with extra cheese. I spotted the perfect person! A man had just walked out of the conveyance store across the road and he was carrying a cold six pack of beer. I thought “What goes better with beer than pizza.” I got out of my patrol car and yelled out “Hey Mr, come over here, I got something for you”, “It will go great with your cold beer.” I then picked up the box of pizza and started walking toward him and all at once he dropped his six pack on the ground and ran off into the darkness. I couldn’t believe it! Here I was, trying to share my food with a total stranger and he rejects my offer and then he leaves his cold beer that he just purchased on the ground outside the store. I was starting to get a complex at this point, I mean I really had to just laugh. I was determined more than ever to give this pizza to someone who wanted it. I never found out if the man was drunk or wanted or just hated pizza.

As I got back into my patrol car, feeling a little defeated, I saw the perfect candidate for my pizza. A young couple that was obviously homeless or hitchhiking. I thought “They have to be hungry.” As they came walking by, I rolled my window down and asked them to come over. Yes, they looked hungry! I was now sure that I had finally found the people who needed my pizza. As they approached the window I pointed to the pizza and explained that I had only had a piece or two and that I couldn’t eat the other half. I went on to explain that it was delicious and it was still hot. I mean I was not giving the pizza away, I was selling it away. I then went to hand it to them and as the young girl reached to get it, the young man stopped her said “Thanks ,but we’re alright.” I remember saying “But its free and it’s hot and its delicious.” “Did I already tell you that it was free?” They thanked me again and walked off into that darkness.

Now I’m not going to lie about it, at this point I was having some serious feelings of pizza rejection. I thought of how hard I had tried at doing something nice and no one would cooperate with me. I was just about to walk over to the trash and just throw it all away when I saw two guys walking by. I thought  “What do I have to lose at this point.” This time I didn’t try to sell it. I didn’t talk about the wonderful cheese or the buttery crust or why I thought they would like it. I just said “Guys I got a pizza here and if you want it, its yours.” The one guy walked over, looked inside my car and took the box of pizza out through the open window. I then watched as he split that whole half in two giant pieces. He then gave the other half to his friend and they both made giant pizza sandwiches. I then watched those guys walk off into the darkness. They yelled out to me as they walked away “Thanks Man.”

The lessons I learned from the pizza no one wanted.

“The construction crew didn’t need or want what I offered”

“The man with the cold beer didn’t trust me or believe in what I offered”

“The young couple had too much pride to accept what I offered”

“The two guys were so hungry that they couldn’t refuse what I offered”

Through the lessons that I learned that night in trying to give away a pizza, I came away with this final point. You can never force anyone to take what they are not willing to accept, no matter how much you think they need it. As a Christian,  I learned that In sharing the good news of God’s Kingdom,  we really don’t have to sell it. In fact we really do not have to try to make people believe or accept the wonderful gift that God has freely given us. Instead, what we really need to do is just live it, pray for those who can’t accept it and work very hard to find those that are truly hungry and ready to accept it. My brother Robert taught me a saying as he taught me how to sell. We are not looking for those who won’t do it, we are looking for those who will do it!

Taking Life In! Finding balance between living and growing.

As I get closer to the end of my 365to50 journey, I have learned so many life lessons. One of the biggest is that even when you are working on a great goal, you have to stop and take life in. The hardest thing hasn’t been the 40 mile bike rides or 6 a.m. swimming sessions, it has been finding that delicate balance between working for the future and living in the present. How do I share time between my goals of being in shape and becoming an author with family dinners? If we stop growing, we give up the person we are supposed to become, but we must be people who achieve their goals without losing what’s important.

Last week my wife Tracee and I joined our best friends, Jeff and Linda Welker, in Chicago for the wedding of their youngest daughter Kaleigh to her fiancee Bill. One thing that stood out to me as I watched the wedding was how each moment counted. Each individual moment in that evening would never happen again; they were, in a sense, eternal. The procession, the presenting of the bride, the vows, the toast, the special dance Jeff had with his daughter and the tossing of the bouquet. All these moments were once-in-a-lifetime. That’s why we pay photographers thousands of dollars to capture them—because we know they’ll never happen again.

So how do I find the balance between achieving my goals of losing weight and writing a book, and still making the most of every moment? Here is what I believe helps me keep my priorities while still becoming a skinny author who loves God.

1. Have long-term goals. When you are in such a hurry to get somewhere, you feel the pressure to cut out everything else except for that which takes you to your goal. I set my goals almost a year ago. This allowed me time to live regular life while making small steps toward my goals. Small steps really do matter! I didn’t have to exclude my family from my life so that I could go after my goals. I had long-term goals, and small steps allowed me to keep the balance between being a husband and father, while becoming a triathlete and an author. What are your long-term goals, and what are your small steps?

2. Be Present for the Eternal Moments of Life. What are the eternal moments of life? These are moments you would choose above achieving your goals if you only had one month to live. I would choose to laugh with my wife and family during dinner instead of writing a best-selling novel if I had 30 days to live, but I wouldn’t choose surfing facebook over writing my first book if I had only 30 days. Yesterday I came home from a hard day at work to find my family having a cannonball splash contest in the pool. Everyone wanted me to join. I had a lot to do and a bike ride planned, but I was in my swimsuit within 3 minutes and made the biggest and best cannonball splash of the evening. My granddaughter laughed at me as I became a kid again, jumping into a carefree pool full of water and eternal moments. Do you recognize eternal moments when they pop up?

3. Cut Out the Stuff That Does Not Matter. What are you giving your time to that doesn’t 1) produce eternal moments, or 2) lead to achieving the goals that God has for you? Come on, don’t hold back! Have you been on any extended lunches with other people who you wouldn’t spend the last 30 days of your life with? There’s nothing wrong with having lunch with friends, but what would happen if you only did that 2 days a week and spent the other 3 eating at your desk and working on your goals? Maybe you need to trade some of your television for reading, studying, writing, whatever. Are you willing to cut out or limit things you wouldn’t do if you only had 30 days to live?

You will only get one chance to live your life and achieve your goals. I love the picture above of Jeff dancing with his daughter Kaleigh. He got both things right. He had a goal that he had to achieve as a father and a provider, but he was also present and living in the moment.

The good news is that you, too, can have both! You can achieve your goals and grow into the person you are supposed to become. Leave me a comment below and let me know how you plan to do that this week!

Follow me on Twitter and the 365to50 Facebook page.