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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

The end of football season is a sad time for many

When I was a child growing up in Hampton, VA, I didn’t always have the best attitude. I often got into trouble at school and had more physical altercations (okay they were fights) with other kids than I care to remember. Fortunately for me I discovered football at a very young age, and quickly fell in love with the sport. Football proved to be a healthy outlet that enabled me to harness my aggression in a positive way. I started playing little league football when I was 9 years old, and continued playing all the way through high school.

The game of football helped me develop as a person more than I ever imagined, and I’m so thankful I was blessed to play this game. Football, as do many sports, help kids to develop life long habits and skills that transcend the playing field. Team work, preparation, discipline, physical conditioning, sportsmanship, respect and leadership skills were some of the important attributes I learned through the game of football. I was fortunate to play for some great coaches who taught us so much more than just the x’s and o’s of football, but were also interested in seeing us grow and develop into responsible young men.

The demographic breakdown of where I lived also meant that almost all of my teammates on my football team every year were of a different race. I recall some years where there was only one other Caucasian on the team besides me out of thirty kids. This experience brought me many great friendships with kids from all walks of life. I became extremely comfortable early on in life socializing, learning and playing with other kids, regardless of their skin color, or socioeconomic status. I quickly learned as a young boy that it’s not how someone looks on the outside that matters because all of us as human beings have the same core needs in life: the need to be loved and accepted, and having a sense of purpose and belonging.

I would also be remiss if I failed to mention the role faith served as a guiding principle in my youth football playing days. Although my grandmother certainly had the single biggest influence on my Christian faith, all of my little league football teams always prayed together before the start of every game. We recited the Lord’s Prayer, and to this day I can honestly say that the reason I know this prayer by heart is from all the times this white kid kneeled down and held hands with a bunch of black kids in football cleats and shoulder pads every Saturday in September and October.

Yes, another football season has come and gone. The NFL season culminated with a very disappointing finish in a blowout Super Bowl victory for the Seattle Seahawks over the Denver Broncos. The game was seemingly over as soon as it started. Although each year, football only lasts for a season, I’m thankful that the game I love has taught me so many valuable lessons that last a lifetime.

Peace, balance, health and happiness,

Rob

The Stages of Change – the Steps to Break a Bad Habit

Recognizing that change is an inevitable part of our life was part of our last message. Sometimes changes are sudden, and beyond our control. Other times in life we are the ones who need to be proactive in making a change for the better. In order for us to receive God’s best for our lives, and be as positive and productive as possible, we need to be honest with ourselves about some of our behaviors that hinder our time, health, productivity, and personal relationships with others. If you were to evaluate your life right now, what are some changes you could make that would improve your life? Take a few minutes and jot them down. Some of us may have several areas of our lives we feel we need to change. However, I’m sure we can all come up with one behavior that would greatly improve an area of our life if we could commit to making that one change. Healthier eating habits, exercising on a regular basis, or improving a negative relationship with a co-worker can all have a profound impact in how we feel about ourselves and view the world. Once you consider making a change for the better, what are the steps involved to move forward?

The Transtheoretical Model of Change

The Transtheoretical Model of Change, also known as TTM, is a model of intentional change where the decision making of the individual is the impetus for the positive change in behavior. TTM was pioneered in the early 1980s by psychologist James O. Prochaska, PhD, and researcher Dr. Carlo C. DiClemente, who used this model to help treat addiction problems, such as overeating, smoking and alcoholism. Understanding that change is a process, TTM consists of six stages of change:

1)      Precontemplation

2)      Contemplation

3)      Preparation

4)      Action

5)      Maintenance

6)      Termination

Stage 1 – Precontemplation

Individuals in the precontemplation stage of change have no intention of taking any action in the foreseeable future. They often don’t view their behavior as a problem in this stage. According to Prochaska, people underestimate the benefits of changing and overestimate the costs or cons in the precontemplation stage. People in this stage have usually been talked to about their behavior by family, friends, or health care workers.  For example, maybe your spouse and doctor have both suggested that you lose weight to improve your high blood pressure levels. Dr. DiClemente cites four specific reasons (the Four R’s) that many people are in the precontemplation stage: reluctance, rebellion, resignation and rationalization.

Stage 2 – Contemplation

People in the contemplation stage are now thinking about taking action, but are still on the fence and uncertain as to moving forward with the change. They are open to new information and feedback at this stage, and are considering the pros and cons of their current behavior, as well as the risks and rewards of initiating a change.

Stage 3 – Preparation

People in the preparation stage are now committed to making a change, and have a plan of action, such as enlisting the services of a certified personal trainer to aid in their weight loss plan. It is recommended that people in this stage set a specific target date to begin their new change. I always like to use the SMAC formula here, as goal setting can be vital to charting your success. SMAC stands for specific, measurable, achievable and committed. Set a specific goal, such as I will drop 20 pounds in the next 2 ½ months. This goal is also measurable because you are quantifying it with a number that can be calculated over time. The goal needs to be achievable, in the sense that it’s a realistic target to complete within the assigned time, with a consistent effort on your part. Last but not least, you commit your goals to writing on paper. I cannot overemphasize the importance of writing down your goals. The majority of successful people I have met or read about in life constantly write down their goals. Think about your goals, pray and meditate on them, envision yourself being successful and accomplishing every one. As Joyce Meyer likes to often say, “Where the mind goes, the man will follow.” This is true of both unhealthy behavior patterns and positive behavior modifications.

Stage 4 – Action

This may be the most difficult, but most rewarding stage. You are now at the point where you are actively engaged in implementing your action plan. For example, if you’ve been told you have a drinking problem and you’re now in the action stage, you’ve started to attend AA meetings. If you’ve made a vow to save your marriage, you’re now meeting with a marriage counselor or church pastor. This is a break through stage because now you have sought out counsel and services by professionals who have the expertise and education to help you attain your goal and follow through with a healthy behavior change. Be sure to count all the small successes along the way. Your ultimate goal of change is like climbing a ladder, with each rung on the ladder representing one smaller goal of accomplishment, which brings you a little closer to your primary goal each day. As former President Theodore Roosevelt once said “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”

Stage 5 – Maintenance

The maintenance stage represents three to six months of continuous new behavior patterns within the action stage. In this stage your new behaviors have now become normal and routine, with the threat lessening that you return to your older behavior patterns. Congratulations are in order, as you are well on your way to making a permanent, life-lasting change. Don’t look back; forge ahead and continue your quest with a quiet humility and confidence. Sustain your efforts through God’s help with daily prayer and meditation. Maximize your efforts in making your change a permanent part of your life. Make some important changes to keep your old behavior away for good. You may need to frequent different establishments, or sever some long-term relationships. For example, if you quit drinking, but still have some friends who want to invite you out to a bar for a drink, then you should probably find some new friends who will help encourage you to stay the course of sobriety.

Stage 6 – Termination

According to Prochaska, only about 15-20 percent of people successfully reach the termination stage. People who reach the termination stage have successfully transitioned to their new behavior change, and the temptation to revert back to their older behavior pattern is completely gone. A couple examples of people successfully reaching the termination stage include the person who lost 60 pounds, and has been able to maintain this weight loss for several years. Another one is a former 2 pack a day smoker who is now going on their fourth year without having a cigarette. The key for long term success upon entering the termination stage is to continue to educate yourself on the behavior, and stay active in helping others with similar challenges that you once faced. No one knows more about the challenge of giving up smoking and the power of nicotine addiction than a former smoker. People who have been able to beat the same temptations are often the best sources of inspiration and encouragement for others who are desperately trying to make the same behavior changes in their own life. We’re all blessed to be a blessing. Now that you’ve reached your goal, help someone else reach their own goal!

Embracing Change

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-2

Change on many levels is an inevitable part of life, and every one of us will undergo seasons of change at different times throughout our lives. Some changes in life can be anticipated or known well in advance of occurring. Graduating from high school, or the birth of a new child are changes that come with some advanced notice, which allow us to plan and prepare accordingly for this next phase of life. Other changes can come suddenly, without any forewarning. Abrupt changes can sometimes be a joyous blessing, such as a surprise promotion from your employer, or a thoughtful gift from a friend. Other times unexpected changes may cause deep pain and sorrow, such as a failed personal relationship, or the unexpected death of a loved one.

Our attitude plays a large role in how change affects us in moving forward with our life. Some people embrace change as time of new growth, and recognize that this is a normal part of life. Accepting change in a healthy, positive manner will enable us to become better people in all aspects of our lives. Our personal, spiritual and professional growth in life is not limited by the changes that come our way, but rather how we respond to these changes. Choose to accept that changes in life are an absolute certainty, and we can choose to make the most of them in every situation.

I’ll continue to address change in my next post by covering some key steps necessary to initiate positive changes in our own lives.

Peace, balance, health and happiness,

Rob

Claim 2014 as Your Year of Improving

As millions of people around the world celebrate Christmas, let’s not forget the true meaning of Christmas. Giving gifts is a great way to show our love and appreciation for those who mean the most to us. However, we can’t lose sight of the significance of Christmas, and the birth of Jesus Christ. Christ is the greatest gift of all, and His gift of eternal salvation is freely available to anyone at anytime. No other gift you will ever receive will be this great.

As we venture into 2014, let us make the decision to honor Christ by committing ourselves to being better people in 2014 than we were in 2013. We all have areas we need to improve on, and we must realize that we never have to go at it alone. Christ is there for us always. Here’s to a great 2014!

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me – Philippians 4:13

Always be Thankful

The Bible tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 to be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Be thankful in all circumstances. This has different meaning to different people. You may ask how on earth can I be thankful with what I’m going through right now? You have no idea how difficult and hard life is for me. It’s true that we often have no idea what someone else is dealing with at any given moment in time. All of us have someone we know who may be dealing with any number of hardships right now. The death of a loved one, sickness, pain, the loss of a job, financial stress…the list goes on and on.

Life is definitely not always easy, and I have wondered many times why God places more burden and stress on some people than others. Only God knows, and I believe that God will never place more on you than you can handle. One striking similarity I always seem to find is that regardless of what circumstance or difficulty someone may be dealing with, is those who are grounded and centered in their faith seem to have a peace and calmness about them. In Philippians 4:7 the Bible describes this as a “peace of God, which transcends all understanding.” No matter the storm that surrounds them, they know that God is still in control. As many like to say, do all you can do and leave the rest up to God.

The opposite is also true in those who don’t rely on God to guide them through the storm. These people seem to always worry, stress out and fear the worst about all the events surrounding their life. This is because they feel they need to control the outcomes of everything in their life. What a helpless position to be in! There is so much that is beyond our control in life, so why worry and stress out over those things? This doesn’t mean that we should not care or do all we can do on our end. Proverbs 14:23 says that in all labor there is profit. This means God rewards those who put forth the effort and work hard to achieve a goal.

Be thankful in all circumstances. This is easier said than done! You may be going through a difficult time in life, and it may be hard to feel very thankful about anything right now. If you are having a hard time feeling thankful this Thanksgiving season, I suggest taking out a pen and pad and writing down all the things your thankful for both in the present and from the past. You might be surprised at how long your list is if you really give it some thought. Your talents, skills, friends, family, being able to watch a sunset and being able to help someone else in need are all great reasons to give thanks to God. I lost my dog of 12 years back on August 31, 2009, but I still often thank God for blessing me with his love and companionship for those 12 years. I feel so lucky to have had such a great dog for so many years!  If you find yourself having a hard time thinking of things to be thankful for, above all else, be thankful that no matter where we are in life, God is always there for each one of us. As Pastor Rick Warren wrote in his best seller, the Purpose Driven Life, you;ll never know God is all you need until God is all you got.” Let’s all give thanks for what we have this holiday season, and remember that no matter what hardships you may be facing now,there will be a new day. Life is a journey, and as Joel Osteen likes to say, it’s not over until God says it’s over.

Blessed to be a blessing

Earlier this week I received a phone call from a customer who told me he had referred me to one of his colleagues for some potential new business, and that I should be expecting to hear from his referral. I immediately thanked my customer for the referral and told him how much I appreciated him thinking about me. His response brought a smile to my face because he used a line I frequently use myself….we’re blessed to be a blessing!

We’re blessed to be a blessing. Oh how true that is for everyone. God gifts each one of us in His own unique way with special skills, talents, abilities and resources. Some of us, like my mother, may be especially talented as an artist. Some people may have the gift of teaching, and helping others learn skills and concepts. There are people who are blessed athletically, and excel on the playing field, while there are others who possess an uncanny ability to fix and repair anything. For some people, their gifts and talents are obvious. Everyone knows a beautiful voice when they hear one. However, I believe there are many more people in the world who don’t fully realize and understand the gifts they possess.

How do you determine what gifts and special talents you have if your not certain what they are? That’s a great question. Start with the causes, hobbies or interests you’re passionate and enthusiastic about the most. Do you like to tinker with cars or computers? Do you enjoy cooking new and creative dishes in the kitchen? Do you have a special fondness and love for animals? God wired each one of us with our own set of skills, desires and abilities. It’s up to us to sometimes figure out what they are, and then utilize those talents to help others. Our talents, skills, abilities and financial resources can be admired and respected by others, but the greatest sense of purpose and meaning in life comes from sharing our blessings with others.

Yes, we are blessed to be a blessing. I believe the more we bless others in our lives, the more blessings God will in turn send our way. The key is to always give with sincerity, and let God’s love shine through you.

Healthy 100 Conference Helps Churches Flourish

By Eric Schmidt of Faith and Fitness Magazine, www.faithandfitness.net

Church leaders of every kind are experiencing heightened levels of stress in the hectic, technologically saturated world we live in. Compelled by their devotion to their ministry, they take care of almost everyone, except for themselves. Church leaders aren’t superhuman. They’re just as susceptible to the hazards of excessive mileage and lack of maintenance as any of us. A recent study found that 1,500 pastors leave the ministry every month due to exhaustion and burn out. 26% of clergy are taking anti-depressants, 60% report frequently feeling empathy fatigue or burnout, and 72% are at immediate risk for heart disease or stroke. If a politician had the health risks that the leaders of our church face, we would likely be concerned with their fitness to serve in office and potential inability to cope with the intense rigor of governing. Wrongly, we assume that it is standard practice for church leaders to selflessly give of their time and physical capacity without limit or thoughtful care.

In response to these alarming statistics, Florida Hospital hosts a conference,Called to Flourish, to address and combat these very concerns. The initial conference is on September 20, 2013 in Orlando, Florida and is an initiative ofFlorida Hospital’s Healthy 100 Health Ministry Movement. Max Lucado, along with five other health and wellness experts, will explore ways for church leaders to empower themselves and ways that their congregation can lift their leaders up. The sole purpose of the event is to extend theHealing Ministry of Christ by empowering church leaders to lead their congregations into wholeness, which will permeate throughout their communities.

As implied by the title, Florida Hospital envisions church leaders flourishing. There are many different meanings people attribute to the word “flourish”. Each of the members of the Called to Flourishspeakers’ lineup showcase a unique facet of the concept. Max Lucado will share insight on how to deal with the trials of life and times of turmoil. He’ll explore the Biblical Joseph’s pathway to survival from slave to savior of the world. Dr. Dick Tibbits will show the bleakconsequences of holding onto unresolved anger and how forgiveness can literally save your life. Dr. Herdley Paolini shows how you can actually see, like an X-Ray or MRI, the impact of daily choices that contribute to or detract from our mental health and overall wellbeing. Dr. Sandy Shugart will offer his perspective on how the hectic demands of leading a congregation can often work against the leader’s humility, which stifles the ideal practice of servant leadership.

One of the ideas illustrated by “flourishing” is the embodiment of the principles of whole person health, while being an active member of the ministry. Living healthy in this “holistic” manner encompasses spiritual and mental wellbeing. However, an often overlooked part of Biblical wellbeing is the body component. We are told that our bodies are temples of God, but somehow we find this aspect of health secondary. In order to be flourishing, church leaders must be spiritually, mentally, and physically healthy. Called to Flourish speaker Steve Reynolds efficiently states: “Our bodies were made by God and for God.” Steve, along with Dr. Des Cummings, will showcase an inventive set of ways for Church Leaders to flourish “holistically.”

Flourishing doesn’t just refer to the end product of a garden, full of trees ripe with fruit. Rather, flourishing is a process. A seedling is flourishing as soon as sunlight shines down on it and begins to grow. Visit the website for more information about Called to Flourish or to register. Make a difference and make this conference your church and pastor’s priority. It is a great way to see your health budding, your congregation thriving, and your community flourishing.