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Live a Life of Balance

John Wooden is an NCAA Hall of Fame basketball coach, who led the UCLA men’s basketball team to ten national championships over a span of twelve years in the mid-1960s and 70s. Wooden was much more than a basketball coach to his players. He was the ultimate teacher of life. One of Wooden’s famous quotes is “Next to love, balance is the most important thing”.

Are you living a life of balance? Unfortunately, statistics today point to a majority of Americans feeling over worked, stressed out and short on time. Your time is one of your most valuable assets, so be careful how you spend it. Regardless of who you are or what you do in life, each of us is gifted with the same 24 hours in a day. It’s up to you how you choose to invest it. Too many people spend too much time on things that don’t matter much on the grand scale of life. Instead of investing in real relationships, they spend countless hours each week on social media. Instead of sharing more quality family time, parents are glued to their smart phones, while the kids are in their rooms playing video games. Instead of exercising more, people watch more episodes of their favorite reality TV show.

There’s nothing wrong with doing any of the above, but if you find yourself investing too much time on things that don’t have a positive return, then you lose precious time that could be spend on more meaningful pursuits – family, friends, your education, church, volunteering, exercising, etc. – that have a better return on investment.

I always say that you can tell everything you need to know about a person by how they spend their two most valuable resources: their time and their money. How are you spending your time each week? Are you making enough time to take care of yourself and your family? If not, it might be time to use time, and don’t let it use you.

Peace, health and happiness!

Rob

A New New Year’s Resolution

Every year many of us follow the same old routine of making yet another round of New Year’s resolutions. What’s just as predictable as making these New Year’s Resolutions is the fact that many of you have already given up on them before the month of January is over. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big believer in continually looking for ways to make improvements in any areas of your life. However, what frustrates me the most is when I see and hear people, many of whom I know and love deeply, make an oath to change the same bad behaviors and habits year after year.

It’s often said that the definition of insanity is repeating the same mistakes over and over again and expecting different results. I find this to be the case for many people when setting goals with each passing new year. Despite your initial will power and determination to succeed, the fact is that until you make some changes to your mindset and behavior patterns, you have almost no chance for permanent, long-term success.

If you find yourself constantly failing in your New Year’s resolutions, I’d like to challenge you to set a “New” New Year’s resolution for 2016. My challenge to you consists of three easy steps that I hope will enable you to bring about the changes you seek:

1) Make a resolution to adhere to your 2016 New Year’s resolution all year.

2) Make a resolution that you will commit your two most valuable resources every week towards achieving your goals. Your time and your money are you two most valuable resources. You only commit them both to things in your life that really matter.

3) Make a resolution to pray daily and seek God’s guidance for inspiration, strength and determination to once and for all conquer your New Year’s resolutions.

I can’t imagine you not having some degree of success in achieving any goal, as long as you abide by these three principles every day of your life. Make 2016 a year of year of permanent change by taking a new approach to your New Year’s resolutions.

Peace, health and happiness!

Rob

Redefined at the Athletic Business Conference

The 2015 Athletic Business Conference and Expo is being held November 18- 21 at the Ernest N. Moral Convention Center in New Orleans, LA. Wednesday November 18 will be dedicated to an entire day of seminars and sessions as part of the first annual Redefined – a Faith and Fitness Conference. I’m excited to be one of the presenters at Redefined, and we hope to inspire, encourage and motivate a future generation of new faith and fitness leaders and ministries around the world!

My presentation will be on the history of the fitness industry, and why I believe it’s important for churches to embrace fitness as a part of their overall outreach and ministry efforts. The health club industry continues to explode, with the total number of health clubs in the United States doubling in the past 15 years alone! The science and research clearly shows that exercise keeps our bodies and minds healthy. You can’t be your best version of yourself if you don’t take care of your body. As Jim Rohn once said, “Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” More and more churches are realizing the impact that fitness ministry can have on their congregation and surrounding community. Make your church the go to place everyday, not just on Sundays.

Exercise Faithfully.

I look forward to seeing you in New Orleans!

Peace, health and happiness,

Rob

Pope Francis is the Ultimate Teacher

Love, humbleness, peace and forgiveness are traits that the world could use more of today. Many Americans got the opportunity to see and hear Pope Francis as he made his first official visit to the United States this week. Pope Francis is perhaps the greatest example of humility in our world today. Francis is the first Jesuit Pope. Also known as the Society of Jesus, Jesuits were an order of priests founded by St. Ignatius in 1534. St. Ignatius believed that in order to reform the Catholic Church, reform must first take place within the individual. The founding members of the Society of Jesus took on three vows: a vow of poverty, chastity and obedience under Ignatius. Jesuits of the modern era also take on these same three vows, as well as a forth vow of obedience to the Pope.

Born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Pope Francis truly epitomizes what it means to live a humble life and serve others. From washing the feet of prisoners, to taking public transportation after being created a Cardinal by Pope John Paul II, Pope Francis continues to be true to his Jesuit roots. After being named Pope in 2013, Francis chose to live in the Vatican guest house quarters, instead of living in the official papal residence in the Apostolic Palace. He did the same thing as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, choosing to stay in an apartment instead of residing in the Bishop’s Palace. Americans got to see him carry his own bag while boarding his flight, and instead of riding in a limo during his U.S. visit, Pope Francis chose a smaller and less costly Fiat.

Pope Francis reminded all of us this week to take a harder look at the things we prioritize in life. Peace, love, understanding and serving others not only helps those you serve, but it also gives you a sense of security and fulfillment that no amount of success, wealth or materialism can ever provide.

The Peace of God Surpasses all Understanding

America witnessed one of our saddest days this week when nine innocent people were gunned down while attending a Wednesday night Bible study at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. There are few events in my lifetime that brought me the profound level of sadness, grief and devastation as this senseless act in Charleston. Unfortunately innocent people lose their lives everyday in our country, but when acts of violence take place in a school, or house of worship, it’s about as gut wrenching as it gets. Watching the news coverage on the Charleston shootings made me reflect back on three other horrific events that occurred in recent memory: The Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, 9/11 and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings that claimed the lives of so many innocent children and their teachers in December of 2012.

How do you make sense of events like these? The short answer is that you can’t. However, I do believe that God can take even the most horrible and sad situations and use them in a positive way. One of the most amazing displays of grace and forgiveness was shown when the families of the shooting victims actually forgave the murderer just two days after losing their loved ones! The first time they get the chance to look at the killer and directly address him, many people actually forgave him for his terrible act.

How do we explain this inhuman reaction to an inhumane act? There’s only 1 explanation: God. One must have outer worldly grace, compassion and peace to be able to address the killer of their loved ones in this way. We need look no further than Philippians 4, verse 7, which says “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” The men and women who lost their lives this past week were by all accounts wonderful human beings. They were pillars in Charleston who served their church and community with kindness, compassion and humility. That fateful night they demonstrated this same level of kindness, compassion and humanity to a complete stranger, who sat among them in the Bible study for almost an hour before he decided to gun them down. The nine victims will be greatly missed by those in their church and the Charleston community.

The family members showed that they, too, possess the same level of compassion, grace and kindness that only God can bring. If God can deliver them in a time such as this, then surely He will deliver you from whatever difficult circumstances you or a loved one may be experiencing. Make a commitment to God on behalf of the memory of these fine men and women that you will always place Him first in your life. For it is only through God that we will ever be able to experience this same level of grace, humility and care for each other. I can think of no greater gift you can give yourself and your children then demonstrating a peace that surpasses all understanding. This is truly what the world witnessed this week in Charleston.

The Difference Between Prayer and Meditation

Many of us know and value the importance of regular prayer sessions, but what about meditation? What exactly is meditation, and how is meditation differ from praying. Perhaps the easiest way to explain the difference between prayer and meditation, although some may disagree and it’s much more complex than this answer, is that prayer is us seeking and speaking with God, while meditation is us allowing God to speak to us.

I pray pretty much every day, and have done so since my youth. My prayers are on any number of things. I thank God everyday for all my blessings, health, loved ones and family members in my life. I pray for my loved ones, family members and friends. I ask God to forgive me daily of my sins, and for guidance in my daily decision making. I pray for God whenever I’m going through sad or difficult times, and ask Him to lead me through whatever storm I may be going through, and allow me to use whatever comes across my path as a way to grow, learn and be a blessing to others. Sometimes I may pray for someone I’ve never met before in my life. I may see a sad story on TV about someone battling cancer, or I may see someone in the grocery store that may be in seemingly poor health. Of course when and where I pray won’t always look the same. I wouldn’t get down on my knees in the middle of the produce section at a grocery store to pray like I would in my bedroom at night before I go to sleep : ) Driving in my car is also a good time for me to pray to God.

As you can see, prayer is our way to communicate to and speak with God about whatever is heavy on hearts. It’s amazing that we can seek God in prayer at any time we choose. God is always there for us.

Meditation for me requires a little more patience and discipline, as meditation requires us to sit still in silence and give our complete thoughts over to a unique, calm and relaxed state of consciousness, without becoming too immersed with those thoughts. We allow God to come to and speak to us in meditation through however He chooses to reach us. God doesn’t audibly speak to us, but rather He speaks to us through our intuition, and gut feeling during our state of consciousness during our meditation.

Meditation also has several scientifically proven health benefits! This should give all of us even  more reason to meditate on a routine basis. Harvard University did an MRI study, which found that beginners who took an eight-week meditation course literally had thicker gray matter in the areas of the brain associated with compassion and self-awareness. The regions associated with stress actually shrank.

Scientists at UC Santa Barbara found meditation to help students reduce their mind wandering, and perform better on their Graduate Record Exams. Three studies from the University of Miami found that meditation reduced stress in all groups who incorporated short periods of daily meditation.

With all the positive benefits of meditation, I intend to do a better job in 2015 of incorporating meditation as part of my daily routine.

Give Thanks in all Things

As we find ourselves upon another holiday season, many of us will gather with family and friends to have large meals and exchange gifts. For many this is a special and joyous time of year. Yet for others the holiday season is one of loneliness, sadness and bitterness. For many people the holidays represent the most depressing time of the year. Perhaps they recently lost a loved one, maybe they’re battling some health issues, or they may be in between jobs and dealing with the added stress of a financial hardship over the holidays. The sadness, hurt and despair when dealing with these types of difficult situations are often intensified during the holidays.

Most of us have been in difficult or depressing circumstances at one point or another in our life. Maybe it’s not during the holidays, but if we live long enough we can virtually be assured that there will be some dark days in life. During these dark days it can sometimes be difficult to still feel thankful and grateful to God for what He’s done in our lives. 1st Thessalonians 5:18 calls for us to be thankful in all circumstances. In all circumstances? How are we to be thankful if our health is failing, if we just lost a job, or even worse, just lost a loved one? It’s not easy, but it can be done if we maintain a Christ focused perspective. A Christ focused perspective puts Him first, by being thankful for what God has done for us in the past and what our faith in Jesus has promised for us in our future.

A Christ focused perspective is being thankful and blessed that God put that loved one in our life for the years they were here with us on earth. Of course we’ll miss our deceased loved ones, and it will be a huge loss to us, but be thankful that we had them in our life for the time we did. A Christ focused perspective is being thankful to God for the job He provided you in the past, and trusting Him to provide another job opportunity for you in the future.

One of my favorite pastors is Charles Stanley, and one of Pastor Stanley’s favorite sayings is to trust God and leave all the consequences to Him. This sounds simple, and although it is simple, it’s easier said than done when you’re dealing with some of life’s most difficult and painful circumstances. This holiday season let us make it a point to give thanks in all things, trust God, and leave all the consequences to Him. Thank God for all that He has done in your life, and you can trust Him through Jesus for what He will continue do in this life and the next.

Learn from LeBron

You need not be a basketball fan to have heard the news  this week that basketball superstar LeBron James is returning home to play for his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. James was drafted # 1 out of high school after a fantastic school boy career in Ohio. James played seven years for the Cavaliers, before leaving for Miami, where he felt he could do something there that he was unable to do in Cleveland: Win an NBA Championship. James was right. He spent four years in Miami and went to the NBA Finals every year, and won 2 NBA Championships during his four years playing for the Miami Heat.

James departure from Cleveland four years ago was not without controversy, as many people criticized the young superstar for the way he handled leaving. Instead of personally contacting the owner, management and his teammates in Cleveland to inform him of his decision to leave, James held a nationally covered press conference to announce his decision to the world. People in Cleveland were angry, heartbroken, bitter and extremely disappointed to see their native son go. This news was particularly difficult because Cleveland has a very passionate fan base who desperately wants to win a Championship. Cleveland has not won a major professional sports championship in 50 years!  The owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers blasted James in an open letter calling James a “coward” for leaving. Cleveland fans took to the streets to voice their displeasure and even burned their LeBron James basketball jerseys.

After so much bitterness and hate, how could LeBron James ever consider returning back to play for a city of fans who despised him for leaving, not to mention an owner who called him out publicly and criticized him to the entire world? Yet that exactly what LeBron James did this week. James buried the hatchet between himself and the Cleveland Cavaliers owner, and showed a true character and professionalism that all of us should be inspired to emulate. James could have taken more money to stay in Miami, but he said in an open letter released by Sports Illustrated that he understands that his presence in Ohio is “bigger than basketball.” He also wants to finish out his career by doing his best to bring Cleveland and its fans at least one NBA Championship.

Most of us will never have the fame, notoriety and platform that LeBron James has as the greatest basketball player in the world. You don’t need to be a LeBron James fan, or even an NBA fan to take a page from LeBron’s playbook of life. I believe we’ll all find in life that if we learn to do the right things for the right reasons, life is usually easier and less stressful for all of us. I’ve always enjoyed watching LeBron James, although I’m not a fan of the Cleveland Cavaliers. That being said, I do want to see James get his full redemption, which will only happen if and when he helps lead the Cavaliers and the city of Cleveland their first major professional sports championship in over  50 years. I think when his career is all said and done James will lead Cleveland to multiple NBA Championships. I can’t wait to see it. It will be a great fairy tale ending, and both LeBron James and the city of Cleveland deserve it.

Peace, balance, health and happiness,

Rob

Celebrate Independence Day by Depending on God Everyday

Independence Day is a special time of year because it’s the one national holiday that is most often associated with the summer. This means picnics, barbecues, cookouts, Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest and nightly fireworks celebrations around the country. Who doesn’t love Independence Day? For 2014, our Independence Day happens to fall on a Friday, which couldn’t be better, as we can celebrate our independence on a long holiday weekend. When you think about it, shouldn’t we celebrate Independence Day on the first Friday of every July, instead of on July 4th? This would give everyone a 3 day weekend every year! Besides, we already have two holidays that signal the start and end of the summer months for many of us. Memorial Day and Labor Day are both always celebrated on a Monday. I say we should always have Independence Day celebrated on a Friday! We’re already up late celebrating with fireworks. Let’s start a petition to get this done. While we’re at it, let’s all jump on board to end daylight savings time, since it serves no purpose other than having it pitch black outside at 5 pm for part of the year.

Independence Day is much more than barbecues, picnics and shooting fireworks. Independence Day is an official federal holiday commemorating our independence from Great Britain, as written in the Declaration of Independence and adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. Today this holiday is more often referred to as the 4th of July. If we observed Independence Day on the first Friday in July every year perhaps this holiday might  take on a different meaning for many Americans.

As we celebrate our country’s independence in 2014, let us not forget that our independence is due to the freedoms and liberties we have today. These freedoms and liberties have come with a steep price, with many men and women giving their lives in order for us to have a free America.

The most important person to ever walk the earth also gave His life for us. He died to cleanse all mankind of all sins forever. When we celebrate Independence Day this year, let us remember to always keep our dependence on God and His Son. Everything we have comes from God…our bodies, mind, intelligence, skills, abilities, compassion and love all starts and ends with God. We can live in peace and experience true joy and freedom today because Jesus died on the cross to repent for all the sins of the world. Let’s celebrate our nation’s independence by also celebrating our dependence on Christ. We can accomplish this without a petition, regardless of whether or not Independence Day is changed to a Friday.

Peace, balance, health and happiness,

Rob

Do what you can where you are, with what you have

Theodore Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States, and he’s known for many famous quotes that are still referenced today. Prior to becoming President, Roosevelt served as the second in command with a group in the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry known as the Rough Riders. The Rough Riders were called into action in the Spanish-American War, and it was during this war that Roosevelt said  ”Do what you can where you are, with what you have.”

Roosevelt’s quote serves as an excellent strategy for churches looking to add fitness ministry. Churches from around the world contact us every year inquiring about adding fitness as an outreach ministry for their congregation and community. Church Fitness ministry is extremely rewarding and fulfilling, and it’s an outreach that any church can launch, regardless of its size. It’s fantastic if your church has the budget and space to launch a full-blown fitness center with the latest strength training equipment and cardiovascular exercise machines. However, this is not the reality for most churches. Most churches looking to begin fitness ministry need to start off on a much smaller scale, but the key here is STARTING! Famous evangelist Dawson Trotman once said ” The greatest time wasted is the time getting started.”

A few ways your church can start fitness ministry on a small scale, with little to no budget include hosting some group exercise classes 2-3 days per week. Fitness and fellowship go hand in hand, and group exercise classes are a great way to keep each other encouraged and motivated. Classes can be held in a multi-purpose room, meeting room or gymnasium at your church. Hosting group exercise classes, fitness boot camps, obstacle courses, TRX, indoor cycling classes and small group personal training are great ways to make use of extra space in your church. Have a certified instructor ( perhaps one or more of your church members meets this criteria ) lead the classes, and make sure all participants obtain medical clearance from a physician prior to beginning any church sponsored exercise program.

If your church lacks any extra space to hold group exercise classes on the church grounds, seek out an alternative location. Schools, cafeterias, meeting rooms, hotels, outdoor parks and play grounds, or even a warehouse space can all be suitable to host small group exercise classes.  Members in your church could have a relationship with a facility or business that may be able to allow your church group to utilize some space to exercise each week. You can also seek out a local fitness center or YMCA to host your church group, or provide a special church group discount rate for weekly and monthly exercise classes. Most of these workouts can be held indoors or outdoors, weather permitting. The key is to foster a fun, energizing and creative way to encourage your church members to exercise every week.

Get your church fitness ministry going, and please contact us with any creative ideas your church has formulated that may help other churches in launching their own fitness ministry!

Peace, balance, health and happiness,

Rob