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Cross belong on shoulders, not steeples.

 

Assume the position for contraversy. The title alone does it. This blog by no means is meant to disrespect the church or the idea that steeples are in any way or reason wrong. This is based on a thought I had this week.

In and around 300 A.D. when Constantine established locations set aside for the church to exercise corporate worship, he took the church out of its intimate, organic, communal setting of homes and public places. Church was the people, bound together in a committed love relationship with one another and the Lord Jesus. Merriment with food and fellowship, preaching and worship, and serving the world around them was just life lived out of this love community. Natural. Eventually the church coagulated inside of brick and morter, scheduled to meet, and isolated from the community they once served as neighbors. No longer are they walking in their midst (on mission), “going about doing good” as said of Jesus Christ Himself. Now we have become weekly isolationists awaiting the hour long gathering. How can we conitinue to feed, heal, and visit the downtrodden? We need to invite them to us! We need a sign, a beacon, a recognizable symbol. Aha, a cross! And we shall hoist it high enough, over atop all other buildings. Then the lame and halt can hobble themselves to us!

Ladies and Gentlemen, how many friends are tearing the roofs off our churches to hoist their lame friends down inside for a miraculous healing?

Jesus “went about doing good”. He positioned himself in community, often times traveling out of His way to do an act of good. He sent His disciples out to travel to the town in order to be blessings, commanding them to pray blessing of peace upon the houses they entered. He sent them to the highways and hedges- to the lame, the halt, the blind, the demonic- the lost. Each one baring their own cross to die upon as they loved their neighbor as themselves. Ok, here’s the thing…we need more martyrs and less celebrities. As a pastor, I can tell you, we are pressured to preach for numbers, not neighbors. We’ve confused missiology for methodology. Programs. Money. Most young pastors today have a seminary education…yet don’t have any training in a “tent making” trade. They know, without their church salary, they can’t survive. Believe me, that pressure. Pressures to perform,perhaps even emulate the “hot shot preachers” with the mega churches, skinny jeans, and book deals.

It’s time we pull the crosses down from the steeples and place them on our shoulders. We cannot be the center of attraction, we must be the catalysts for missions. Deny yourself, your comforts. They will know you not for the size of the cross upon your steeple but the love you have one for another. By that, they will know you are His. And by THAT, He will be exalted and there will be no need to exalt a steeple. The crosses upon our shoulders are the crosses that feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and unshackle the bonds of the oppressed. They do it without church votes and church funds. They do it whithout others knowing or seeing. They do it in the spirit of the early missionaries to Asia and India, who carried all their earthly belongings inside their own caskets.  They do it because the cross is love for their neighbor.

Having the faith to walk upon the water.

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Peter was the only disciple willing to step out of the boat and do something no other human had ever done before. He walked on water. As the Lord Jesus bid him to come, in Peter’s mind, it must’ve seemed safer with Jesus on the waves than without Jesus in the boat. The other eleven disciples, huddled in fear and dismay, must’ve thought Peter was crazy to attemp such a thing. Isn’t it, however, what Jesus is bidding us all to do? The boat of “safety” is no place for a follower of Christ. He is calling each of us to live in such a way, that what seems safe, casual, or predictable is essentially more dangerous and degradating than the seemingly foolish actions of following him! I’m going to speak as one who has walked upon the water. I’m also going to speak as one who is currently standing on the water.

What do I mean by that? Nearly a decade ago, I followed God in a vision to plant a church. I’d never done it. Heck, I’d never seen it done! With a wife and two babies at home, I resigned from a healthy, lucrative church position to step out of my boat of familiarity and comfort to follow Jesus into waves deeper than I had imagined. I resigned on a Sunday. I was jobless and homeless on Monday. That following morning I drove around looking for work and a home. I can tell you that in the days and years to come, as I found myself hanging out ouside of my boat, walking upon the waves of shear faith and dependance, I saw God move in ways I could never have imagined. The remarkable stories of Moses, Daniel, Elijah, even the disciples all became more real because for the first time, miracles in my life had become normal and regular. I identified with the feats and acts of biblical proportions that, up until tha point, I had only read in Sunday School lessons. It was that season of walking upon the water that gave me taste for that type of living, causing anything less in my life to become dissatisfying, to say the least.

Fast foward to today. My family has again sensed a very real calling into a vision of God’s plan for our lives. Only this time, He is calling us out further, and deeper than we’ve ever gone before. As our family prepares for a new season of church planting, we realize that we are headed for deeper, shark infested waters. No longer we will have the familiarity of being indigenous to our surroundings, with family and friends to help us. We are moving miles away into a location where we know no one. Not a soul. We’re going to a place that is entirely different than what we are ust to, into an area of incongruent values and lifestyles. And, to do this, we have had to shed every piece of possible flotation devise. Behold, how God has called us to walk upon the water this time.

We, in the recent months, have essentially paired down to the bare essentials. We started by selling our home, giving away the majority of our belongings, and moving into a 250 sq. ft. camper. Yes, this caused a circus type attention, whereby we became an oddity to our community. It got worse. We began to pair down more, and more, and more. Selling this…giving away that. And, so now, here we stand. Virtually nothing more than the clothes on our backs. We have commited to our church to go, having transitioned our leadership to function in a way as to send us as missionaries. It’s done. And also, having committed to our new location to come. I’ve broken my parents heart. The die has been cast. Our farm is sold. In a couple of days I will travel down and spend a week looking for a new home and a new job. As I am away, my wife and children will be packing our belongings, cleaning out the camper, and moving into a borrowed apartment owned by our church. By the time I return, we will be homeless. The foxes have holes, the birds of the air have nests…we will have no place to call our own where we may lay our heads. If the Lord doesn’t show up, we sink. 

THAT is the point. THAT is walking on water. THAT is what He has called us in to. We will either walk by faith or by sight. Faith saves. Sight sinks. Even as I write this, our decision has caused many friends to turn into distant skeptics. We are in a position of isolated abandonment. No longer do we have the friends, the family, the denominational support that we thrived in for so long. Many, or if not most, of them are still in the boat- looking at us with fear and dismay. Yet, we still hear our Savior bidding us to come.

So how does it feel to be walking on the water? You want to know the truth? A little stressful. To think it would be otherwise is sensational and idealistic. This was Jesus’ warning about following Him. It is NOT easy. It’s timultuous. At times, persecuting. All the while, challenging to stay focused and faithful. There are times I feel myself sinking. Everytime though, that sinking is met with a pulling up from my Savior’s hand. It’s definitely a feeling of adventure and it most certainly has a faith building component. You may ask, “you’re walking on water, how much more faith can you have?” Well, I believe there is a exorbant jump in faith even after the time spent walking on water as we are returned back to the boat. You see, after Jesus settles us into a new life, with our needs met and lives blessed, we will then take a deep breath and cry out with the same excitatory relief as the disciples to say “Surely You ARE the Son of God!” We will look in hindsight and say, “Did we really just do that!?” “Did you see what He did!” God, You REALLY are amazing!” That hypertrophic effect on our faith will initiate a spiritual growth as we’ve never seen before!

I am glad to be walking on water at the moment. It is the greatest sense of adventure I’ve ever lived. Total uncertain certainty! He’s got this! He’s going to protect, provide, and press us on to greater things. I know this, because my eyes are not on the waves. They remain fixed upon Him, the author and finisher of my faith. So, I’m asking you, to where…to what is He bidding you to, that you might be forced to step in to – that will require you to leave all that is safe, comfortable, or familiar? What safety nets are you holding on to? How can you know faith unless you step out of your boat, and tread water under your feet?

Becoming a better leader by trail running

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What trail runnning has taught me about leadership? Yeah that’s an odd sentiment, let alone a prfound starting point for a bolg. Sometimes my greatest profoundenty comes to me during the engagment of what otherwise may seem to be thoughtles endeavors. So i was trail running when this idea came to me.

As an entreprenueral leader, a church planter, and a creative self-starter, I’ve learned some practices that help keep my head afloat. The other day I was on a trainng run, prepapring for a 13 mile trail rce through Kentucky’s stunning Red River Gorge. I’ve been road running most of the year, but now it’s time to venture off the beaten path into some rugged terrain to prove my internal prowess still matches my exteanal fortitude. Trail running has tested both. But, even more importantly it has taught me life lessons. ergo…

  1. be adaptable

I bought my new pair of shoes. I threw on my running gear. I set my course. And it started raining. I hate running in the rain. So, I went to the Kentucky Coffee Tree instead…for a little while. After the rain stopped I ventured out and started my run. Only now, the trail was saturated with mud and slick spots.

Trail running, as with life comes with unexpected circumstances. It may be circumstances that cause you to re-think timing and/or course. It doesn’t mean you have to quit or relegate yourself to anything less. If you keep yourself adaptible you can switch it up and keep moving. The thing about adaptability is that it means you may need to change with the changes. I drive a 4×4, sport a pretty grizzly beard, and raise chickens. That wasn’t always me. But, I planted a church in a community that this fits in. I had to adapt to the culture in which I was sent to serve. Apatability has saved me more than once.

  1. be amiable

You don’t always have to change and adapt, yet you may have to be amiable. The difference? Adaptaion is a change, amiability is the ability to bend without changing. In trail running it’s important to know the course and the destination. If not you will soon find yourself lost and GPS’ing your way home. Know the destination, yet ALWAYS be ready with 3 steps to change your immediate course. I have bit the dust on occasions, albeit a rock or stump that went unseen in too little of time. This happens, But, in order to keep your pace, to keep your step and footing, be able to bend to the trail and terrain in order to dart and pivot as needed when these unexpected delimas show themselves. I have had my personality assessed on several occassions for certaon missions egncies that I’ve served with. The finding is alway the same. 50/50 intravert/extravert. What this means is, that given the occassion and the need, I am just as comfortable being the center of attention and life of the party as I am being the quiet loner, isolated from the crowd. I can lead in front or in back. I am able to do this becuase I am amiable. I can bend without changing.

  1. be applicable

I’ll be homnest, I’ll drop a few dimes in good shoes. If I’m train running, I want a very specific brand, heel strike, sole thickness, toe guard, etc. Very different than my road runing shoes. The way that I train is very different as well. How I train and how a dress is in accordance with what I’m training for. My shoes are relevant to the terrain. I see a lot of people skipping relevancy for “practicality”. Example. I visited a church plant over the weekend. The new church established themselves in the deep urban, spray painted jungle of inner-Cincinnati. During the week they do a great job of engaging the community and byilding relationships. And then, on Sunday monring they attempt to stir awake the community with a cookie cut, traditional service. No one attends to their surprise. They’re not being relevant. They’re wearing slip ons and trying to trail run. Finf what fits for what you’re doing. Find what fit’s for what or who you’re trying to reach. Be applicable to the area.

 

I could go on and on with parallels and metaphors to intersect my two great passions. That’s not the point. In the end, it’s about being a better leader, and being better at doing what you love to do. Sport and life, neither are unilateral. Take these few tips to help you circumvent your next venture and come out on top as a success instead of bitng the dust and dropping out.

Why my family is givng away nearly everything we own; lunacy or liberty?

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I’m writing this blog in response to a spirit of bewilderment among my community and people who know me. I’ve been asked if I’ve lost my mind. Why? Because I’m giving away most of what I own. On the surface, that seems like lunacy. Even the thought of it makes me chuckle. Yet, with the proper backstory there may be some explanation, though, I can’t insure any more understanding.

My wife and I have been married for 15 years. For 15 years we’ve lived under the remorseful and shameful position of debt. Some of it was not our fault, most of it was. We pay our bills and survive and call that living. We have come to the conclusion that that is not living. We’re missing out on freedom. Freedom is living. We’re missing out on life experiences. Experiencing life is living. We’re missing out on the opportunity to bless others. Blessing others is living. And so, we took a huge leap of faith and decided to sell our home of about 1900 sq ft and down size into a 250 sq ft space. Even with this adjustment, we will still have running water, electricity, heat, air, fridge, stove, and satellite television! We’ll still be living better that 2/3 of the rest of the world. With this move we CANNOT take all our stuff. Stuff…that’s the point of this blog.

Our stuff has never brought us happiness. We’ve accumulated it, piled it up, shoved it in storage, tripped over it, and regretted it. Our treasure is just not in our stuff. Now, I’m not against having stuff. That’s just not where our sense of happiness is derived. So we made the decision to give it away. And this decision has caused so many to question us and even criticize us.

Our reasons

1. We don’t need it. What need do we have for 3 bedroom suites in a camper? Why would we hang on to things that we would only have to pay someone to store for us? THAT, to us, is lunacy.

2. Others have a need for it. Aaron is a young man. He’s a recovering heroin addict with a wife and a baby on the way. He is working hard at his recovery and finding his little family a house. The baby is due any day now. Aaron and his family had a need for our stuff. As he drove off with a pickup truck and tailer full of our stuff, he was teary eyed at the way God had generously provided for him.

3. I am raising world changers. My sons are 12 and 10. What they see in their mother and I are considered Gospel truth in their eyes. At this moment in their lives, we are making indelible marks that will shape their character and life choices forever. It’s important to us that they learn charity, love, grace, mercy and hospitality now, and to see that in us (the way that I saw it in my parents). We want them to see that we live by faith not by sight.

4. We our now investors- not spenders. Jesus warned against laying up treasure on earth where rust and moth corrupt or thieves steal, but to ‘store up for yourselves treasure in Heaven.’ We wake up every day considering how we might make eternal investments. As Emperor Titus would exclaim at the end of the day, “I have wasted today!”, if he felt he’d not blessed someone that day…we count our days, and lives a loss if we’ve ended it still full of out “stuff” and have not blessed someone else. Our treasure is on Heaven.

5. We are followers of Jesus. We read the red letters in our Bible and take Him at His Word. We follow Him, not American consumerism and aquire-ism.

Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. Luke 6:38

… freely ye have received, freely give. Matthew 10:8

Where is the confusion and how can that be misinterpreted to mean only things of little value? So, it’s ok to give little, but things of value? Lots of things of value? Big things? Well, yes, all of it.

I’m not monastic. I don’t believe any holiness or righteousness is accredited to me for living modestly or giving things away.

Why not sell you stuff? (I’m asked this a lot.)

For what? To buy more stuff? 

Well you’re going to have needs of your own.

My God has met every need I’ve ever had, He continues to do so daily. Why would He stop? My debt is from the moments that I failed to trust Him and got ahead of Him.

I think what people don’t understand is that THIS makes my family happy and fulfilled. Hard to believe for some, but actually we find immense joy in being able to meet needs of others, knowing that God has blessed with the ability to do so. Do we WANT to live in a camper while we slay the debt dragon? Well, no. But we’ve prayed long and hard for God to relieve our sin and debt and we don’t expect Him to send black birds with $10 bills paper clipped to their beaks (though He could) to pay off our debt…we believe we have a responsibility to the Lord in putting forth some effort. ‘If we pray for rain, we need to plow the field.’

Don’t worry, if it was up to me we’d live in a yurt, tucked away in the Cascades where we’d hunt and fish, smoke my pipe by a fire, play my banjo, and count the stars every night. What we’re doing isn’t THAT hard for homesteading hippies who love Jesus and others. 🙂

Our devotion to follow Jesus Christ and His teachings has created in us very personal convictions. These convictions lead us to do very odd things as far as Western Civilization is concerned, which sort of out of congruency with what Scripture actually teaches.

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. James 2:14-18

27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.

28 Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”—when you already have it with you. Proverbs 3:27

9 The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor. Proverbs 22:9

13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:13

Perhaps I’ve lost my mind. I feel like I’ve gained my heart…and freedom. 

Curtis Woods

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Check out my interview with one of the coolest guys I know, Curtis Woods. In this podcast, we go deep into some of the issues affecting leaders in the ministry. Curtis is totally passionate about helping others reach optimal spiritual and physcial health.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/episode-3-curtis-woods/id1195709802?i=1000380130675&mt=2

Abs in winter? The secret to a revealed 6 pack all year long.

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Tonight while I was walking around the house shirtless, my youngest man cub walked up to me and started poking my stomach. “One, Two, Three, Four…” he was counting my six pack; though right now it’s more of a four pack. The oddity of this is that it is mid-January. Not even body builders have six packs now. Normally winter months provide a season of shortned day light, less moving, more eating, bears hybernating, and me adding an extra layer of fat to my mid-region. Granted, I have added a little, yet still showcasing a very visable outline of my  transverse and rectus abdominus. I just recently listened to Arnold (if you need a last name youre on the wrong blog) on a podcast the other day state how the attempt to keep a year round six pack will drive you insane. I could see that. If you constantly have to work at it and fight for it, it would drive anyone insane. They are easily the hardest muscles to keep uncovered.

My secret, though, is that I don’t really try to keep a six pack. I try to stay on point with my diet and helath, and like a cascade effect, everything else falls into place. But antedotically  speaking, let me give you my training plan for keeping a low body fat percentage during the most difficult time of the year.

  1. I eat fat to lose fat.

I drop my carb intake which lowers insulin, and I increase my fats. Insulin is the hormone at the wheel of the fat storing car that drives fat retention. I eat until I’m full of foods that I love, that are nutrient dense, and full of healthy fats like grass fed butter, coconut oil, and olive oil.

2. I forgive myself.

My diet isn’t perfect every day. I will fall, and fall hard occassionally. The next day, I wake up, forgive myslef and start again. I don’t starve myself to get back on track, and I dont continue down the road of dietary depravity to a world of utter lostness and no return. I just start back eating the way I know I should…(see #1)

3. I intermittenly fast.

I eat only anywhere between 4 and 6 hours every day. Leaving myself with a minimal 16 hour fasting window, my body has the opportunity to reset crucial hormones, enter a fasted state of fat burning, and upregulate ketone production. The majority of the day I’m just burning fat stores as fuel. As an added bonus, fasting has been proven to increase testosterone and Human Growth Hormone, making adding muscle much easier.

4. I man up to the cold.

I don’t let the weather dictate whether or not I’m going to work out. Even though my crossfit happens to be in a heated facility, my running still takes place in the frozen tundra that is my local running route. My beard gets ice cicles hanging from it on occasion. I refuse to let uncomfortable conditions stop me from moving .

5. I sleep more.

With daylight shortened, I allow for the natural adjustment of my circadian rythym and I respect it. I go to bed much earlier and allow my body the recovery it needs. Sleep has a wonderful effect on fat loss! *Sleep is not the same as sloth.*

6. And lastly, I lift heavy things.

I dump loads of muscle glycogen for fat burning and hypertrophy. Building lean muscle mass is vital for increasing metabolism, burning fat, and regulating healthy hormone production. It doesn’t take much, just a couple or 3 times a week; bench, squat, deadlift with some added accessory lifts, overhead press, curl, dips, lunges.

 

These things have just become natural routine. I don’t stress it, and I don’t beat myself up at keeping up with it. And, for all of that being said, I get to enjoy (at worst) a 4 pack of abs in mid-January, without driving myslef crazy trying to. Which at best, leaves me closer toward summer to go ahead and lean into a ripped physique without much work.

Never meet your hero. They’re messed up more than you are.

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There’s an old adage that says “never meet you heroes”. Everyone has heroes, right? I mean, sort of? Isn’t there a person or persona that we all look up to and idolize? As a kid my hero was Bruce Lee. (If you’re a guy) don’t act like he wasn’t yours too. Or perhaps yours was someone like John Wayne or Wonder Woman. We can idolize these larger than life figures, well, because we will never meet them. Fictional characters can be perpetuated into whatever we like them to be and dead characters, like wine, only get better with time. Then there’s the real to life, seemingly large than life figures that we’ve spent time trying to emulate in our own lives. We see these people as who we want to be or be like. They’re successful, they have it all together, why, they are untouchable! If it were ok with our spouse, maybe we’d even hang a poster of them over our bed and dream up the perfect scenario of what we would do if we ever met them.

(I once wrote Paula Abdul a letter when I was 10. I lied and said I was very sick and hoped she’d visit me. She didn’t)

So, what if we could meet them? What is it about the afore mentioned adage that beckons a warning to prevent this disastrous occasion? What’s wrong with meeting our heroes? The answer… “There is none righteous, no not one.” Romans 3:10 In our eyes, they only seem so.

I’ve met many of my heroes. Over the course of the years, I’ve developed an odd knack for connecting with larger than life individuals. I have no idea how, it just happens. I’ve hung out with professional athletes, mega-pastors, internet celebrities, best selling authors, CEO’s of million, and billion dollar corporations, you name it. Many of which Ive found myself idolizing and emulating. Here’s the one take away from my experiences…they’re all flawed. This is the thing we don’t want to have to face. It destroys our image of them. I’ve found most of them to be narcissistic, neurotic, having tendencies to lie and over exaggerate, and possessing severe emotional or mental handicaps. I’m not saying they’re fake. I’m saying, I focussed on or was only allowed to see that which was impressive to me and others. However the truth is this, these men are screwed up, flawed men, who have crafted one thing very well. They got good enough at something, that it took the attention off of the bad things. Our heroes are not really deserving of that title. And, better yet, they don’t want it. They’d more readily eschew such attention than be clothed in it.

I’m not saying not to have heroes or people that you look up to. Remember, though, that they are your hero for a reason, their craft; not because they have it all together or are even a good person. Babe Ruth had a drinking problem, Bruce Wayne was bat feces crazy at times, my musical hero Tom Petty smokes too much weed, and every one of the Apostles that Jesus called to be His world changers had deep seeded issues each to their own. Peter was impulsive. James and John had indignant tempers. Judas…so yeah. So, my advise is to admire, but do so from a distance. If given the chance to finally meet your hero, DON’T. Just settle for an autograph.

and P.S.

Meeting your hero will not make you best friends. Your hero meets their fans everyday. In reality, you’re just another one and that doesn’t make them stuck up.

 

5 Key questions to ask for total body transformation.

 

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This time of year causes a massive explosion to take place in the fitness world. Gyms are bursting at the seams as newly committed resoltions fuel the desires and goals of the “not so in shape” crowd. Those, whove been waiting all year, waiting till after the holiday gluttony to get started, find their way to the treadmill or latest diet fad. Sadly, within 2 months 90% of the new gym memberships will go unused and the ‘ab master’ that was destined to chisel that six pack lays dormant and lonely in the corner. What happened? Where they insincere? Were they misinformed? Why do they fall off so quickly?

It could be because people generally start with the answers before they ask the querstions. “I need to get in shape”, or “I’ve got to get this weight off” are echoed answers to every mesomorph and couch potato who’ve ever decided to finally kick it in gear. The problem- the answer is not where you begin. We have to be learners before we can be doers. There’s honest questions that must first be anked and answered before we begin on this journey to Adonis like features.

  1. Where am I now?

Take an honest look. If you can’t run a mile then don’t try to run a 5k. If you cant fit into a size 4 then stop trying to fit into a size 3. If you weigh x amount, then that’s what you weigh. Don’t start with the end. Start with where you are, only having in the end in site. Take an honest assessment of yourself. The honestly will be sobering and the reality will be the perfect starting point.

2.Where do I want to be?

It’s up to you. But answer the question. Do you want to perform at a certain level? Define the level. Do you want to look a certaon way. Define the look. 2

3.When am I going to do this?

Set a specific time, day, place, etc. Make sure it’s set and set in stone. Are you going to start on Monday? Are you going to go 2 days a week? 3? If you don’t answer this question, you’ll never get started.

4. Why am I doing it?

This is your purpose and vision. Where there is no vision you will cast off restraints. There must be an identifiable, long lasting reason to why you are doing what you’re doing. It’s your reason. Don’t be ashamed whatever it is, just own it. Write it down and post it where you can see it every day.

5.How am I going to do this?

If you don’t have a plan in place then you have no orad to get you to your destination. Does your destination require specific suppliments? Eating plan? Recovery protocol? A personal trainer?

Take care of the where, when, why, and how and you will be taking care of all the details you’ll need to see a total body transformation.

When demons in hiding show their ugly face: A confession of a once broken pastor.

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I lay across my brother’s body, begging him not to leave me. In just a matter of minutes he was gone and his body lay lifeless. I was too young and not ready to take on the responsibility that he had left me with. How am I suppose to be strong for my parents and my newly wedded wife? The solution seemed to come in the form of sneaking into the living room in the middle of the night to burying my face in the sofa pillow while I unleash screams and sobs; a hidden sorrow. That wasn’t the only thing I buried. I buried my emotions and my weakness. I buried my vulnerability and in the end, ability to heal. Like a dormant malignant tumor, eventually it was sure to rear it’s ugly head. Ten years later to be exact. It came as unsuspected as an ice bath and in a most inappropriate time.  I was busy with life, successfully planting and leading an amazing church. I was innovative and full of energy. “The next high impact missional pastor”. None of that stopped me from hitting the wall and burning myself out, all the while secretly dealing with resurrected, unfinished grief.

In a matter of a few short months grief, laden with stress, sent my life reeling in a direction I never thought possible. I had become virtually non-functioning. Depression was full on. Not only was my body in excruciating pain form having twisted and kinked my spine into scoliosis from internalizing the stress, but my heart was black and suffering. I think of the words to Metallica’s “One”…

“Darkness imprisoning me. All that I see

images-1.jpgAbsolute horror, I cannot live.

I cannot die.

Trapped in myself, body my holding cell.”

I remember lying in a tub of water, sliding down to allow the water level to envelope my face thinking, “one deep lung full, and all this could be over”, or driving down the road thinking, “one whip of the wheel and ‘it’s finished.” Yeah, that dark.

I wonder if you’ve ever felt this kind of pain. I will spare much of the detail for now only to say that miracles ensued, healing eventually took its effect, and this experience left me with a life purpose to return the healing to those others who may feel as trapped or burdened by life. I’ll touch on those details later on. My ministry now is to enact triage to the bleeding, recovery to the lost, and optimization and prevention to the high performer. Those that know me today, who knew before then, know a completely different person and can attest to a holistic, identifiable change. I want to share the two greatest concepts that I came to terms with as a way to encourage you and point you in a direction of hope.

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1. ‘Who’ I am is not ‘What’ I do. 

I mistook my identity in what I did. I was a “church planter”. With that identity I believed more lies, like ‘how I perform’ or ‘how well my church functioned’, was a reflection on who I was and how pleased God was with me. Every day I awoke with a pressure to perform. I had to be reminded that ‘who’ I am is a child of God. That He just loves me. Period. He’s my Father that loves me without me having to perform at a certain level. He wanted to be close to me, and care for me, and shepherd my heart regardless of my weaknesses and depravity. I realized I was loved.

2. I didn’t need what I thought I needed.

I was seeking and needing acceptance from critics and enemies. I was needing affluence and applause from friends. I was needing a successful church. I was needing everything that I didn’t need. As a matter of fact this revelation of what I actually needed came by a book that I’ve never read. The cover was enough to bring a life changing epiphany. The book is called “Jesus+ nothing =everything.” I thought I needed Jesus + lots of other things. I realized,though,  He was enough. His acceptance, His applause, His strength in me was enough. His love was enough. His fellowship was enough. His grace was enough. And I already had all those things!

My delayed grief from my brother’s death was enough to trigger a severe power outage in my life for some time. We may never know or be prepared for what knocks us off our game. However, I have no doubt now what or WHO has the power to reconnect the power source and give life back; not just to live, but live with abundant life. If you’re struggling, don’t give up. Give in to the One that desires to sustain you, and heal you. He is Faithful and He is hope. And so, this is the primary role of Trent Holbert Fitness, to be a help to you to discover the healing you need, both physically AND physically.

Blessings

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