Four Things To Do To Get Unstuck


How do you get going again when you feel stuck?  I have been reading and ruminating over the past few years.  I have listened to TED talks, articles and books.  I kept finding they all said the same things over and over again.  

Here is the truth:  We are NOT the same!


Yep, you and I and everyone else is different and when you or I get in a rut, we don't need to do what everyone else is doing.  Look at this blog and my writing.  I have been stuck for a while, and now it seems, I can write again.  What happened?  I really have NO IDEA!!!!  Still, as I look back at things, at my life these past few years, I think I can say I've learned a little bit about getting out of the rut I've been in.  Here are my four things that have helped me get unstuck.


1.  Be Patient.  No one seems to say this because, I think, folks just are so wrapped up in being busy, they think they just have to be doing SOMETHING!  I think this is just BULL!  You need to be patient.  Don't try and put an end date on it because you really don't really have control.  Remember, patience is a virtue and it will help you get unstuck.


2.  Do Old Things.  Do what brought joy in the past.  Find some of those old books you love.  Go on a walk you enjoyed or visit a place that has fond memories.  Look at old pictures.  Call up an old friend.  Do things you know, in the past, inspired and helped you find meaning.

3. Veg A Little.  Kinda like being patient again, ya know, wash - rinse - repeat?  Seriously, waste some time intentionally.  Do some things you "shouldn't" do because, well, you shouldn't.  I don't mean illegal but, ya know, eat dessert first for a change.  


4. Add Some Flavor.  Now, start doing new stuff, start trying to move forward.  Don't do a lot.  It is like my wife, Lauren, says about salt when cooking, "Add a little.  You can always add more but you can't take it out!"  Don't try to do too much, just a little and see what happens.

I am FINALLY done with my first draft on my new book on Breath Prayer.  It has taken a long time since I started and looking back, this is the pattern I followed without even knowing it.  You know what?  I am ready to start writing my next book already!  I know, crazy, right?!  And you know what, it isn't just about writing, it is about my relationship with God.  It has been personal in other ways too.  Whatever in your life that has had you stuck, you can move forward but don't just listen to the experts. Take some of the pressure off and try these four things that have helped me get unstuck.  They may just work for you too!

Let me know what you have tried to do that has helped you!  I'd love to know what has you stuck too.  Share below or send me an email!


Do No Harm. Do Good. Stay In Love With God - This is the Way!

Jedi Pastor Ken



A Tale of Two Crabs or "It Is Me O Lord, Standing in the Need of Prayer"

Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash


 “Why in the world do you walk sideways like that?” said a mother crab to her son one day.  She had seen him do this his whole life.  “You should always walk straight forward with your toes turned out.”  “Okay, mom, show me how to walk correctly.  I want to do it right,” replied the little crab.  So, the mother crab tried and tried, and tried again to walk straight forward.  But of course, like her son, she could only walk sideways.  When she did try and turn her toes out, she then tripped and fell.


There is no shortage, it seems, of people telling others how to live and seeking to justify a point of view.  I was reading this week about the ongoing investigation of the late Ravi Zacharias’s ministry and how it concealed and enabled his abuses.

(https://frenchpress.thedispatch.com/p/you-are-one-step-away-from-complete).  It is, of course, one more reason for people to dismiss Christianity and most certainly hastens the collapse of the evangelical moniker of the church.  It has been “par for the course” for Christianity for centuries has it not?  


What are we to make of this?


As we come to Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent, the words echo from the ye-olde-english: “Rend your hearts and not your garments... (Joel 2:13).”  It is time for the Church Universal to come to grips with its many failings and faults.  More importantly, it is time for you and me to do the same. 

I think it is most easy for us to do just what I did...hide in “group” and make “straw-Groups” as opposed to “strawmen.”  I do it when I write many times and have to check myself.  It is easy to cast stones at “Those people,” or “them,” or “they.”  I can right about “us” and “we” and that tends to be easier than saying what is really at the crux of the problem…


Me.  Just me.  I did.  I did it.  I do it.  I fail.  I fall.  I sin.  


The words of Jesus apply to me, first.  When I read them.  When I reflect on them.  As I prepare to preach them...

17“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Matthew 5:17-20, ESV


But how do I really handle it?  I think we have to go back to some of the other ancients of the early centuries.  As Dr. Roberta Bondi, who has written extensively on the Desert Fathers and Mothers, “they saw judgementalism as just about the greatest sin.”  Bringing the ideas of cancel culture into the church is so deadly.  There is no justification for it in the Church and both the so-called “left” and “right” should be listening.  Classical Christianity as John Wesley saw it, could not pick sides in these arguments. The idea such division was abhorrent to Jesus in his mind. 


Like the mother crab, it starts with me - I cannot tell another to do something unless I can set the example.  And, we must also listen to the words from the mouths, even from Balaam’s donkeys (those unlikely prophetic voices) that challenge us to “rend our hearts,” for you and I are sinners.


5 Things I Learned In 2020 (and still apply in 2021)

 

Photo by Steve Johnson from Pexels

Nobody has time for a big intro here.  The title kinda sums it up doesn't it?  Let's dig in then...

  1. Be Present.

This is kinda fresh on my mind because of The Upper Room Daily Devotional yesterday.  Still, when Jesus saw people and talked to people, he was right there - present with them.  I get distracted.  I start thinking about what I need to do next, heck, I even forget whether I told someone something and think that I did!  Maybe I am just getting old but I have learned how important it is to be present with the person in front of me. 

  1. Actively Listen.
    This goes with the first one but it goes a bit deeper.  Do you actually process what you are hearing???  I think about cooking.  All those ingredients are fine on their own but when you put them together, something totally different comes out and if not done correctly, we get something else altogether.  When you listen to someone else in an active way, you don’t add stuff that doesn’t belong but just what you get.  Then, you confirm, in your own words, what the person said they can confirm you got it or if you missed it.

    Throughout 2020, there has been a WHOLE lot of talking and not enough listening.  Ok, it isn’t just 2020, I’ve observed this happening for a long while. 


  2. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

My mom taught me this one long ago and it seems pretty clear, some of us have missed the lesson or forgot it.  In 2020 it seemed like no one could come up with anything nice to say about anyone.  So far, 2021 isn’t fairing much better from what people keep saying on TikTok.  This doesn’t go for just political posts but religious ones and most certainly Covid.  There is another saying that is much like this one...two wrongs do not make a right.


  1. Corporations are not people and neither are political parties.

Yes, this is a political statement.  In my opinion, if one is true, so is the other.  Joe Biden won 81,283,098 votes and Donald Trump got 74,222,958 votes.  Those are a lot of people who  voted for the winner and the loser of this election.  These votes are people and if you paid attention to first two things, you might recognize the many voices and the many reasons people voted as they did.  There is no doubt things will be different in the United States when it comes to voting in the years ahead but how “we the people” get along is up to us.


  1. Remember Three Simple Rules

They go like this

One: Do No Harm,

Two: Do Good,
Three: Stay in Love with God.


When John Wesley introduced those three simple rules, they weren’t intended to be the end all for the journey of faith but a minimum reminder; the starting place where a follower of Jesus can find their footing.  (David Watson has a great blog on the topic here: https://davidfwatson.me/2016/12/05/wesleys-caution-about-the-three-simple-rules/).  These outward signs should be experienced in an inward transformation.  That “Stay in Love with God” is a good reminder of what should be happening in us.  Really, that meme isn’t wrong, because if your religion is teaching you to hate, you are doing it wrong.  And it ain’t Christianity if you are being taught to hate.  That doesn’t mean Christianity is all about rainbows and unicorns and Kum-ba-yah, Jesus actually does challenge us and convict us regarding hate and all kinds of other nasty stuff in our souls.  Dealing with it isn’t easy.


But…


If there is one thing 2020 taught me and 2021 is encouraging me to continue it is that God doesn’t turn away from us because we are a mess.  God’s grace is more than enough!




A Season to Grow Up

 


Here in Alaska, it is the season of studded tires.  Now, as a southern boy, I have no concept of this and getting to see them for the first time on cars and bicycles, is just a little odd to me. They are far more practical than snow chains but it is just...odd.


Change does that to us.  As we change with the season and experiences of life, there is always an “adolescent” period where we awkwardly come of age and we must incorporate the changes, the “hormones” and growth spurts and growth pains, into the journey toward maturity. 

And the spiritual journey is no different. 


Even so, we don’t want to talk about it.  Though the great leaders and theologians of many faiths speak and teach on growth, even indicating how like infants they are, our version of the Christian faith is egotistical and built upon spiritual celebrities.

Paul speaks to the church at Corinth and rebukes their attitudes and how they stand so “mature” in their own eyes.  I have been “rebuked” as a pastor for not giving “meat” in sermons enough times to get how these words of Paul get abused.  If you and I determine we need more “meat” we don’t need to look farther than Paul’s words:

1My friends, you are acting like the people of this world. That's why I could not speak to you as spiritual people. You are like babies as far as your faith in Christ is concerned. 2 So I had to treat you like babies and feed you milk. You could not take solid food, and you still cannot, 3because you are not yet spiritual. You are jealous and argue with each other. This proves you are not spiritual and you are acting like the people of this world.” (1 Corinthians 3:1-3)

It seems to me, the Bible’s images are more often slow growth models.  Not only are the images of human babies like Paul, but also like the Psalm writer who notes we are to be “like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season.” (Psalm 1:3)  Not too soon or out of season, not forced or rushed but we grow and produce fruits “in season.”


Paul points out the church was acting like “the world.”  How does the world act?  The world is “jealous” and people “argue with each other.”  Uh... hello???  Anyone listening? 

The spiritual journey requires watering and maturing not steroids and botox.  If you are constantly in arguments and expressing jealousy then make note of it - the issue is in you and it is a sign you are not growing.



Ask yourself if you are keeping your soul watered?  What exactly does that look like?  Are you spending time in God’s word?  Prayer? Journaling? Meditating? Walking?  What fruit are you bringing to the world?  


The American Revolution and The Wesleyan Way: An Election Reflection


I have been a voter since I turned 18 but I have been a student of our history and government since I can remember.  My mom and dad would take my sister and I to historic sites and battlefields.  In grade school, I walked the decks of the USS Constitution and threw “tea” over the side of a ship in Boston Harbor.  I have been to Valley Forge and later, to Monticello.  I would visit Shiloh Battlefield and have walked the fields of Gettysburg.   Today, one of the most significant books on leadership for me is “The Founding Fathers on Leadership,” by Donald T. Phillips.  In it, his quotes are numerous as our founders were very observant and wrote extensively.  One quote has long resonated with me from Samuel Adams, “A state is never free but when each citizen is bound by no law whatever that he has not approved of.”  Powerful words.



They are words that both build pride but cut through pridefulness.  While they were words that addressed oppression, they were and remain words that would address the oppression felt by minorities who were denied that same voice.  But the founders were wise enough to craft a legacy in our nation and Constitution which would allow for people to make a way for all to be free, even if there might be some struggle along the way.

On the other side of the “pond,” another revolutionary of a different sort was advocating for a different freedom.  In the Rev. John Wesley, the Gospel of Jesus found a new and passionate voice whose words and heart for God, prevented revolution in Great Britain.  It was (and remains) a message of grace that would cross the Atlantic and in Francis Asbury, find a champion who would lead the spread of Methodism in the new nation.  


What Wesley understood was a person must indeed be free, fully, so they might then fully respond, freely, to the grace and gift of salvation found by giving one's faith and life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  Wesley struggled with the revolution taking place in the colonies but came to understand the significance.  Though he could not prevent the revolution, what he lived and taught would change the heart of England.


Just as I keep the founding father’s lessons near, I also keep the Works of John Wesley close by in my office.  While traveling on horseback, Wesley read and wrote often. While preaching in England, on October 6, 1774, John Wesley wrote:

“I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them:

1. To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy,

2. To speak no evil of the person they voted against, and

3. To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.”


Consider these “Leadership Lessons of John Wesley,” if you will, that challenge us in our day to act as Jesus might to others who we might disagree with.  We might disagree without being “disagreeable” people.  Some might consider Wesley’s three points, an application of Jesus’ command to “love your enemies.” (Matthew 5:44), but are they really my enemy or the neighbor I am called to love into the Kingdom of God? 


Thanks to My Pastors

There are so many who have made a difference in my life and yes, many clergy but there are some I feel I have to mention during this month of clergy appreciation and as I step back into the world of blogging again.  I know I could name some more...maybe next year I'll revisit this list.  I know they likely won't even see the list but I can't help it (and those of you youth pastors and volunteers, I owe you a separate thanks!)

I know they didn't do it for accolades or thanks but thanks nonetheless!


Allen E. Bailey - the first pastor I remember as a kid at Starkville UMC.  Thanks for putting up with me and our confirmation class.  Based on all of us in ministry now, God's prevenient grace is indeed good.


Malloy Owens - I remember your smile and gracious words to all.  Your best sermon was your life.


Sid Huggins - You opened your home and allowed me to be part of your family and sent me into ministry.  Thanks for encouraging me.


Don Joy - The most influential pastor and professor in my life. 


Gerald Thurman - I can never thank you enough for being a mentor and guide as I matured and grew into my call.  You have been a gracious friend and support.


Christy Greenwald - Truly, you were and are a spiritual director and helped Heather and I during some trying days and times.


Walter Kimbrough - You made time for me and taught me the rich history of the African-American Church.  


Glenn Ethridge - When I was ready to throw in the towel, you reached out and helped me see clearly where God was leading.


Michael Selleck - You were a voice of calm in the storm and believed that God had something else in mind for me to be doing in ministry.


Warren Lathem - You NEVER allow me to be complacent and are a voice of convicting grace.


Sharma Lewis - A true friend and colleague.  You are an inspiration to all and I am honored to count you among my friends.


Doug Thrasher - When I needed a pastor and not a DS, you stepped up to the plate for me and our family. 


Andy Hinderlie - You helped me rediscover why I do what I do. We are still on the journey brother.  Thanks for being a friend.


To those who have passed on, Godspeed!  
For those who are staying the course, Follow Jesus!

For us all: Who has been there to bring you along the way? 


Time to Work on Words


Breathprayer for the week: "May my words be your words today, Jesus."

It is getting harder to live the life we once knew.  The changes in our world seem to throw us off our game and our plans.  Even our spiritual aspirations have been disrupted.  Looking at the Bible though, we find that we are called to simple actions, simple changes and more simple spirituality.  While I am not Jesus, Scripture tells me I am to seek Jesus' Kingdom, Jesus' way, first.  Well, today, I can start in my home to be more like Jesus with what I say to those near me and with those I connect with in the digital world too.

Looking at Paul's worfs in Colossians 3, we are encouraged to "take off old garments" and put on new ones.  Our words impact us and others.  It is a good and simple place to start today to make the most of the time and improve relationship. Invite Jesus to be part and do what God does best.

Do no harm. Do good. Stay in love with God.


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