Cows vs. Buffalo

I was listening to a podcast interview with author and speaker Rory Vanden, talking about his new book Take the Stairs: 7 Steps to Achieving True Success. I bought the book today and plan on reading it right away.

One of the stories he talked about was about the difference between cows and buffalo.

In Colorado they have both cows and buffalo. One of the unique differences is how they react when a storm is heading their way. Cows will see a storm coming and will turn and try to run away from the storm. The storm usually catches them and they actually run with the storm and suffer along the way. The Buffalo will see a storm coming and will run right at the storm. They end up running right through the storm and only encounter a short time of suffering and discomfort.

Most of us act more like cows than buffalo. We try to avoid the storms of life by running away from them. Our natural response is to escape and run in the opposite direction, when we really should run right at the storm.

When we run at the storm we are facing reality and are doing the hard thing. But by doing the hard thing we minimize the pain long-term by making the difficult decision now.

So if your in the midst of a storm, turn and face it. Don’t allow the fear of the storm to make you turn tail and run. Have the hard conversation, ask the tough questions, set the firm boundaries, say no and run right through the storm.

The only way we can do this is with the help of God. If you are running from a storm, ask God to give you the courage to face that storm head on and the wisdom to know how to run through it.

The Power Of The Restart

For the last several years I have been running and exercising on a regular basis. I ran half marathons, ran the Warrior Dash (a 5k with obstacles) and ate healthy food while maintaining my weight and general fitness. Then I stopped back in December around Christmas. I decided to take a break and it led to a prolonged time of no exercise. I gained 15 pounds and regressed physically. I also lost my motivation to restart, for some reason I couldn’t get back into the habit of running and working out. I even made some bad choices in my eating habits and didn’t care.

The reason I share that is because that is what happens to lot’s of people with habits that are helpful. We can drift, stop and get out of sink. It is very difficult to start up again even though we know we should. We know we should read our Bible, we know we should eat better, we know we should exercise, we know we should date our spouse, yet the reality is we don’t do it consistently. So how do we get restarted with the healthy good habits that help us grow spiritually, emotionally and physically?

First you need to make a decision that you will start. Don’t underestimate the power of choosing to start doing something. You will never get healthy spiritually, physically or emotionally without choosing to start. Five years ago I chose to get healthy and started working toward that.

Next you need to develop a plan. For me I joined a local fitness club to get back into working out. I made a commitment and paid some money to help keep me on track. I also talked with some of my friends about what I was trying to do and asked them to hold me accountable.

Lastly you have to actually do something. I not only joined the gym, but the next day I drove there and worked out. Now I am planning my weeks and including times that I can stop and workout. You can choose, plan and learn all you want, but if you don’t do something you will never change.

Once I did that first workout my motivation came back and now I am excited about getting back into shape and am already starting to look for a race I can sign up for to give me something to shoot for.

If you have an area of your life that you want to change or get back on track, make the choice to change, talk to some people that can help you and hold you accountable and put a plan together and then go start. Choose, Plan, Do it.

7 Distractions That Keep Us From Growing

Most of us would agree that there are areas of our lives that are not where we want them to be.  It might be a marriage relationship that has deteriorated or maybe a relationship with a son or daughter or parent that is unhealthy.  Maybe we are not where we want to be in our professional lives.  For some it could be emotional health, hurts from our past that are causing problems in our present lives.  Many of us struggle to be where we want to be spiritually as well.  So what holds us back from growing in these important areas of our lives?  Why do so many people simple remain the same and maintain the status quo instead of growing and changing?

Here are some of the distractions that keep us from growing:

  1. Busyness – Being consumed in a rat-race to keep up and get things done does not allow us the margin to think deeply and focus on the important things. We keep adding things to our lives without stopping other things, so the list just gets bigger and longer.
  2. Comforts – Most people look for and desire comfort and when they find it they become trapped by it.  Getting out of our comfort zone becomes more difficult the longer we stay there.
  3. Too Many Options – Today there are so many opportunities to learn and grow and change that we can sometime be confused by the wide range of options and opportunities.  When we have too many options, we often choose nothing.  This can also lead us to simply be busy because we choose to do too much.
  4. Insecurity – If we don’t really know who we are, how can we know what we are suited to do or where we should go.
  5. The Past – Issues not dealt with will hold us back, and this is often expressed through fear.  Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of being misunderstood, fear of being inadequate and hundreds of other fears.  These fears pop up every time we experience something that connects us to our past hurts.
  6. Laziness – This is often what keeps us in our comfort zone.
  7. Secret Sin – This dulls our senses and blocks our ability to enjoy healthy emotions and relationships.  It keeps us from the vision that God has for our lives and keeps us stuck in darkness and slaves to sin.

One or more of these may be keeping you from growing and making progress in certain areas of your life.  In order to move forward it takes a decision to face these things head on by first acknowledging the problem and then developing a plan to make a change.

I love to spend time planning this time of year.  It is a great time to evaluate where we are at in all the important areas of our lives.  If there is an area we are not happy with, we can begin to focus on how to make a change in that area.  It might mean getting help from someone that has been through what you are dealing with or taking a risk to try something new or different.  The important thing is to acknowledge that you do not want to remain the same and that you desire to grow.  Then start praying and asking God to help make this happen.  A year from now will you be the same person you are today or will you be in a new place spiritually, emotionally, physically, relationally and financially?

Dealing With Your Past

 

As I have interacted with people and worked at understanding them it has become more clear to me that the past is an important part of the actions of today and how people are preparing for the future.  I have heard many people say that you need to forget the past and move on.  That is a dangerous way to approach life.  Whether you like it or not, your past affects your decisions and actions today, and these, in turn, affect the future.  If you do not learn from your past mistakes and hurts, you will most likely repeat them.  There are also lies that you have believed and that have shaped you and what you believe.  Those lies steal your joy and cause you to be afraid.

The junk from your past causes you to react to conflict or difficulties in a certain way.  Everyone has buttons, that when pushed will take them back to those historical moments that feel similar.  When stirred up those lies and fears cause you to react or respond in unhealthy ways.  This behavior is often learned from your parents and other influential people in your life.  Many of the unhealthy responses like withdrawing, defending, attacking, and deflection were ways you could protect yourself when you were little.  Now that you have grown up you are still responding in those ways and it leads to death not life.

So what can you do about the junk from the past, the fears that lurk inside you and pop out when touched?  Major changes begin on the inside where these fears, hurts and hangups live.  Change starts as God works on your attitudes, beliefs, and desires.  When your attitudes, beliefs and desires start to change and line up with what is true, your outward behavior changes and the transformation takes shape.  Philippians 2:13 says “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”  This is telling you that God helps you to want to obey him and then gives you the power to do what he wants.  The secret to a changed life is to submit to God and allow him to do the inside work needed to transform the person you are.

So to unload the junk from your past means taking the first step of being reconciled to God.  If you have not taken that step, God will not start the transformation process.  God is at work on every person alive, drawing you to himself, but he never forces the issue, he just keeps it in front of you.  Once you take the step of believing that Jesus Christ was God and man, that he lived a perfect life, that he took all your sin on himself and died for you, that he overcame death and sin by coming back to life in three days and that he is alive today, then you can ask for forgiveness of your sins and be reconciled with God.  Doing that brings the gift of living forever with God in heaven.  It also begins the process of spiritual maturity.

If you have done that and are continuing to live with fears that are controlling your behavior, then start asking God to change you on the inside.  He will continue the process of change on the inside if you ask him. The way in which to do that is to take in God’s word on a regular basis and communicate with God on a regular basis.  Remove the distractions around you and listen to God, then ask for courage to follow through on what he is telling you to do.  One of the best exercises to help get that started is the Steps to Freedom in Christ by Neil Anderson.  Going through those steps is like cleaning up your house.  It brings your focus on God and shines a light on your past and your inside attitudes, beliefs and desires.  Remember that you don’t clean up your house just one time, it is an ongoing discipline.  The good news is that God is doing most of the cleaning when you let him inside and ask for help.

Once you have dealt with the past in the right way you can move on and never have to bring it up again.  These are the words that Moses used to encourage Joshua “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”  That is your message today.

Who’s Filling Your Cup?

 

As human beings we have basic needs. Some are physical like food, oxygen, water, sleep.  We also have needs for our inner being or our soul.  This includes the realm of our emotions.  This is what fills our cup and keeps us going.  There are four basic soul needs that all of us crave.  We are all created with these needs and we all search for ways to meet these needs everyday.  Most of the time we look in the wrong places to meet these needs.  So here they are:

  1. Acceptance – Knowing you are loved and needed by others.
  2. Identity – Knowing you are individually significant and special.
  3. Security – Knowing you are well protected and provided for.
  4. Purpose – Knowing you have a reason for living.

These basic needs are the driving force behind what motivates us in life.  Just like we crave food and develop an appetite, we crave emotionally to have these needs met on a regular basis.  If we go too long with these basic needs unmet, we become depressed, anxious, fearful, angry, lonely, and numb.  These are needs, so we must have them met or we cannot survive.  The problem is that the way we seek to meet these needs is primarily through other people or things.  When we do that three things usually result:

  1. We will be disappointed with the results, no matter how well things go.
  2. We will lack the inner resources we need to love others the way we should and confront life successfully.
  3. We almost always will be hurt or offended eventually by the one we trust.

When we trust in people and things our inner security is dependent on someone or something we cannot predict or control and that is limited.  Often our ability to give is dependent on what we get from from others.  If I am not getting what I want, then I don’t give what I know I should.  This leads to a life of disappointment and frustration.  When our expectations are that others meet these needs it creates a negative atmosphere of tension in our relationships.  It can even push the people around us away and create a gap in our relationships.  We are constantly disappointed with the people around us, because they can never live up to our expectations of meeting these four basic needs.

The answer is to put our trust in God to meet these basic needs.  When we trust in God our inner strength and security are dependent on God who is faithful and has unlimited resources.  Our ability to give to others flows from God living in us.  When others are not giving to us, we can still love generously and unconditionally which strengthens all our relationships over time.  Our lives are filled with an atmosphere of blessing, satisfaction and optimism because our perspective has changed from other people to God.  Our expectations of others changes, which takes pressure off of them and us.

So, who is meeting your basic needs?  If it is other people, let me encourage you to turn to God and ask Him to meet those needs of acceptance, identity, security and purpose.  As your relationship with God grows those basic needs are met in a deeper and more significant way.  The results are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control.

 

 

Christian Mentoring

At NewPointe Community Church the way in which we help most people is through mentoring. Whether it is couples looking for help with their marriage, or someone struggling financially or someone struggling with addictions, hangups or broken relationships.

The idea of mentoring has been around for a long time, but it has mostly been associated with children and students and not adults. In the business world there is mentoring of new employee’s, but this is usually not a long-term relationship.

There is a difference between Christian mentoring and the world’s mentoring. Christian mentors do not build a reliance on themselves, but point their mentee’s to God. When we point people to God it puts them in a position to make different choices in their life. Mentoring does not change people or heal broken relationships, only God can do that.

Mentoring takes a longer term view of helping people. Instead of putting a band-aid on the problem, we want to help the person dig down into the problem to see what the root of the problem really is. We also want to help them get closer to God, so that He can bring peace, forgiveness and hope into their life.

God’s leadership is transformational. That is why we do mentoring, to lead people to a transformational, renewed life, the God life. God radically and permanently changes His people from the inside out. God never demands conduct that He does not first empower His followers to achieve. Here are seven things that God does on the inside of us if we allow Him full access to our lives:

  1. He Liberates us – He frees us from our past (guilt)
  2. He lifts us up – He encourages us and gives us hope
  3. He educates us – He gives us wise counsel and direction in life
  4. He fills our gaps – He fills areas where we are weak or lack competence
  5. He motivates us – He gives us a new vision for our purpose in life
  6. He renews us – He helps us do things we could not do on our own
  7. He pushes us – He encourages us to take action, to make a difference.

Mentoring is all about pointing people to God and the possibility of life change. We cannot fix each other, the harder we try to worse it gets. Husbands and wives are not called to fix each other or improve each other, they are called to love each other. The same thing goes for Christians, we are not called to judge other people or fix other people or change other people. We are called to love other people, care for other people, help other people. So let God do what He does best in your own life and the lives of those around you. Just point the way.

Life Change

Some of you that know me may have noticed that I wear a green band on my right wrist. The band says Life Change, and I wear it as a reminder that Life Change is why I do what I do.

Let me ask you this, what has changed your life? How have you changed over the last year? Are you changing for the better or worse? Are you growing?

I recently shared my life story with a group of guys I am meeting with monthly. I shared some of the significant things that have happened in my life. Things that have shaped me into the man I am today. As I was sharing, I realized how much I have changed over the years.

For me, my life has changed most at defining moments. Times in which I made decisions about the direction of my life. One of those times was a golf trip with Steve Wingfield where I recommitted my life to Christ. Decisions on the priorities and focus of my life, like the time I surrendered to God at a leadership conference and gave Him control. Other defining moments included several mission trips to Mississippi (Katrina Relief), and the Middle East (Egypt, Jordan, Iraq).

During these times, God opened my eyes to what could be and what should be. These moments took my faith, character and leadership to higher levels. They also were times in which I built meaningful and long lasting relationships.

Life Change is not just about defining moments or experiences. Life change happens when we work on our relationships. When we make a decision to improve as a husband or wife. When we ask for forgiveness and admit our mistakes. Life change happens when we do the right thing, even though it may have been painful and difficult.

Life change happens when we become more humble and seek help. It happens when we make the decision to be ourselves and not someone else. It also happens when we step out of our comfort zone and do something that really stretches us. Once stretched, we don’t go back to how we were before.

So, are you experiencing life change? What defining moments have shaped your life? Do you need to work on your relationships? Do you need to step out of your comfort zone?

What is Mentoring?

I have been involved in mentoring for a number of years now. I have been mentored by others and I have mentored others. This is a passion of mine because I have benefited from having some key people in my life and pivotal times that have directed me, encouraged me and challenged me.

So what is mentoring? Here are a couple of good definitions that I think describe mentoring well:

  • Mentoring is a relational experience through which one person empowers another by sharing God-given resources. – Paul Stanley & Robert Clinton
  • Mentoring is a relationship in which a mentor helps a protege reach his/her God-given potential. – Bob Biehl

A mentor helps a mentee in some specific ways by having the:

  • Ability to readily see potential in a person
  • Tolerance with mistakes, brashness, abrasiveness and the like in order to see that potential developed
  • Flexibility in responding to people and circumstances
  • Patience, knowing that time and experience are needed for development
  • Perspective, having vision and ability to see down the road and suggest the next steps that a mentee needs
  • Gifts and abilities that build up and encourage others
  • Timely words of counsel and insight
  • Resources such as letters, articles, books, websites, etc.

Tim Elmore shares this simple word picture in describing what mentoring is all about. A little boy and his dad were walking down a rocky road one evening. After stumbling and falling to the ground, the boy looked up at his father and said, “Dad, why don’t you watch where I am going?”

Mentoring is about watching where others are going, and I would go a little further and say that it is helping the other person develop to the point that they can watch where they are going on their own and eventually watch where others are going themselves.

A successful mentor is going to be a:

  • Guide
  • Encourager
  • Resource
  • Evaluator
  • Provider
  • Coach

If you have an interest in becoming a mentor, I would encourage you to start praying about it. I believe that many of the experiences you have gone through happen so that you can in turn mentor others through similar experiences. NewPointe Community Church has an active mentoring ministry. Every Monday night at NewPointe mentors are meeting with mentees.

If you would like to join our mentoring team at NewPointe, please send an email me at cstutzman@newpointe.org

If you are interested in being mentored, you can email mentor@newpointe.org or call 330.602.2699 to make an appointment.

How’s Your Health?

Over the past several years my wife and I have been changing our lifestyle in the area of health and fitness. I have to be honest that early on I was not into it. I grumbled, complained and resisted. Yet, we pressed forward, not with the hope of just losing some weight, but with the goal of becoming healthy and staying healthy. We both decided that we did not just want to diet, lose weight and then go back to our old habits. So we worked hard at developing new habits, new tastes and new thoughts about food, rest and exercise.

Today I read this verse in 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20 from the Message – “didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you, God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.”

Over the years I have abused my body through overeating, lack of exercise and inadequate rest. When our lives are hectic and fast-paced, running here and there it is difficult to take care of ourselves. Stress begins to slowly build and it builds to the point of damaging us physically, emotionally and spiritually.

So, how do we counteract a frenetic lifestyle and work related stress?

First: Recognize that “Our body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit”. Part of growing spiritually is to become healthy physically. When we take steps away from our old habits of eating, bad attitudes toward exercise, bad habits of putting things into our body that damage it and thoughts that lead to the destruction of our body, we start growing more spiritually. It must be a decision to get healthy and grow closer to God, not just to go on a diet and lose some weight. We need to have a bigger perspective on how our physical health affects our spiritual and emotional health.

Second: Establish a fitness program. Vikki and I had to get some help early on to learn the right way to eat and the right way to think about food and exercise. God made some incredibly healthy food that can do wonders for our body, but if we don’t eat them it is of no value. Ten Healthiest Foods in the World.

It took being intentional about meeting with someone and sticking to a program called “Thin & Healthy” for us to start breaking away from the old ways of thinking and doing. Here are some things we learned:

  1. Eat all the food groups every day: Protein, Grains/Carbs, Dairy, Veggies, Fruits. (No chocolate is not a food group)
  2. Eat the right number of servings of each food group every day.
  3. Understand how much one serving is – We had to measure and weigh a lot of our food
  4. We learned to watch the fat grams in every food we ate
  5. We started reading the ingredients of all the foods we ate
  6. We stopped eating foods with little or no nutritional value
  7. We learned that you needed some sort of movement every day
  8. We began to do more research on our own – Mostly Vikki, she is amazing!

Three years later we have both lost weight, increased our metabolism, improved our overall health and just plain feel better. We also have learned a lot on our own by researching and studying how to eat healthy. We lowered our cholesterol, improved our blood pressure, reduced our body fat and have increased our strength and overall fitness. We still have areas to improve and we have setbacks like everyone, but we have chosen to stay on this path.

Basically you need a plan, you need a coach, you need accountability and you need to decide. Since my wife and I have made these changes, it has drawn us closer as a couple, it has actually helped us to grow more healthy emotionally and spiritually, because we are able to better handle stress.

Here is a link to a local Thin & Healthy Program. Remember that this program or any others like it are not the magic answer to super health. We need to take personal responsibility for our physical health. That means a new mindset of learning about healthy eating and exercise and then actually doing what we learn. That applies to our spiritual and emotional health as well.

If you think taking care of yourself physically isn’t “spiritual” think again! It’s just as harmful to let yourself become run down through bad habits as it is to abuse drugs and alcohol. Instead of saying, “I don’t have time,” make time. It could save your life! In the meantime you will feel better and be a lot easier to live with.

Focus on these three areas of your life – Physical, Emotional & Spiritual. Develop a plan to grow in each of those areas and you will begin the process of transforming your life and your relationships.

True Compassion

Compassion has a way of turning peoples heads. The level of compassion to help the people of Haiti has been amazing. In times of crisis most people are willing to step up and try to help make a difference. The efforts in Haiti have been amazing as we continue to hear stories of people giving their time, talents and treasure to help. I am sure we will hear some truly amazing stories in the months ahead.

Jesus said this about the church, “You are the light of the world, a city on a hill cannot be hidden.” Jesus was saying that there is one force in this world that can shed life giving light on a dark and hurting world. Who was in Haiti before this tragedy? Many churches and Christian organizations were there trying to make a difference in peoples lives. The church is made up of people that are called by Jesus to love other people. That love for people is the motivator for churches to reach out and help people. That is why there were people on the ground with the people of Haiti trying to encourage and equip them.

So here is the question, how bright is your light shining. Is your bulb wattage at 25? 40? 60? or 150?

Showing compassion to the world is what we were called to do. We are not called to judge this world, but to love those in this world just like Jesus did. When we show unconditional love to a broken world it gets people’s attention. True compassion is unusual. Acts of compassion are not just giving money, although money is often needed. Compassion is helping people in need through relief, rehabilitation and development. If we never get to developing people, we are not showing true compassion. Relief is often the first step, but the real compassion comes in rehabilitation and development. That takes time and energy to help people become what God intended them to be.

Here are three reasons we should get involved personally in acts of compassion.

  1. When you let your light shine it will change you. True compassion changes you from the inside out.
  2. You change the world one person at a time. Every person matters to God.
  3. It does something to the heart of God, It blesses God when we show true compassion.

Being compassionate requires action. If you just think about helping, cry about a tragedy or talk about how awful something is, you are not compassionate. Compassion happens when something is done to help another person in need. When you do that little extra to show love and respect for a less fortunate person. I hope that everyone that reads this Blog post will pray for God to give them an opportunity to show compassion in a real way this week.