My Process of Reflection

My Process of Reflection

At the end of each year, I take some time to reflect. I’ve followed the same process for quite a few years and it goes something like this:

Reflecting on the past

  • Read through my personal journal from the past year.
  • Reflect on any “moments” of significance in each of the four areas:
    • Faith
    • Family
    • Fitness
    • Finances
  • Read through my written goals from the previous year and then be honest about what I hit, what I didn’t, and what caused the hits AND misses.
  • Read my personal mission statement and see if anything has changed…or even gotten off track.

Why it matters

  • Consider all of the great things God has done.
  • Realize that many of the “worst moments ever” were but “light and momentary”.
  • Be honest about what my life looks like to others.
  • Be sure I am moving forward.

Looking to the future

  • What’s most important to me? Does my life image it?
  • What has to change?
  • What needs to be a priority?
  • What needs to be written down so it gets done?
  • Set big goals!

Over the next few days, I will be sharing my reflections in each of the areas above. My hope is that it helps you to reflect on what 2017 looked like and sets you up for an amazing 2018!


Loving One Another: A Survivors Reflections on the Las Vegas Massacre

It’s been just over a week since Route 91 in Las Vegas, and I still can’t shake the thought of losing a dear friend. The tears may not be as often, but the emptiness remains. I haven’t even started to process the personal impact to bullets flying over my head, the thought of dying or losing my wife, or the bullet that went through my wife’s hat. I want to erase it all from my mind, and even my life, but I can’t so instead I reflect.

clone tag: -4399218528874071376
clone tag: -6141759083360544138

As I reflect, I am a victim, a survivor, a husband, a father, a Christian, a pastor, and a citizen of this great country. I reflect on the unity I saw in the moments of terror and distress, but also on the division that quickly came back into view. Until we realize what our problem is, we will never find a solution to the acts of violence we (all too often) experience.

As I crouched down below the bleachers with my wife doing our best to avoid the hundreds of rounds of ammunition flying everywhere, I couldn’t help but notice the people. There were people everywhere. It was dark but I could see them nonetheless. Off-duty police officers and firefighters, ex and present military, medical professionals and random people (including one of my best friend’s) that attended Route 91 for a weekend of great music turned into first responders. They put themselves into harm’s way in hopes of helping an injured person. Most didn’t even think twice. What they definitely didn’t do was inquire of the injured person’s race, religion, political affiliation, or sexual preference before trying to help. They were human beings helping other human beings.

I also heard countless people crying out to God. They were begging for protection and preservation. I know enough about God to know that he didn’t only listen to certain people. He heard every cry of every person in that area. Whether they believed in him or not, he listened. Whether they truly knew who they were crying out to or not, he listened.

Not too long after the bullets stopped flying, and for the days that have followed, the unity has diminished. Maybe not between the people that attended Route 91 that night, but definitely from much of the rest of the country. Instead of learning about what to do in crisis from those that were in the crisis, the rest of the country went right back to pointing fingers and blaming others.

You’d think that as a pastor, I’d shift to talking about how great the church was in it’s response to the horrific Las Vegas shooting. Unfortunately, I can’t do that. Yes, there were a few wonderful churches that stepped up. But too many individuals that make up the whole body of Christian’s which proclaim to follow Jesus participated in the finger-pointing and blaming just like everyone else.

What has this world come to? Do we longer have concern for our brother’s and sisters? I don’t have the perfect answer, but I do have some thoughts. And as a victim, a survivor, a husband, a father, a Christian, a pastor, and a citizen of this great country, I felt it was my time to speak.

We must recognize that we are part of the problem. Yes, you and I. Prayerfully, we aren’t the ones taking other people’s lives. But we take sides on every issue, whether that issue is race, religion, life, guns, you name it. We blame everyone else without considering our fault in the matter. We are willing to overlook or ignore the facts for sake of looking bad or being wrong. We demonize people because of their affiliations. We will never be at peace with one another until we realize that none of those things leads to peace. That division leads to war, much like the one I was in on October 1, 2017.

The Bible says that the greatest commandment of all is to love God AND love others. Jesus spoke those words together. Even if you are not a Christian, or don’t believe in the Bible, you have to admit that loving one another makes a whole lot more sense than hating (and hurting) one another. But what does this love look like?

Loving one another means being willing to sacrifice ourselves for others, much like those first responders were willing to sacrifice themselves for complete strangers (and some paid the price for doing so).

Sacrifice may mean being willing to squash our pride in needing to always be right.

Sacrifice may mean considerately listening to someone we are vehemently opposed to.

Sacrifice may mean we may need to step across “party lines” to make things better.

Sacrifice definitely means that we must be willing to give up some rights to protect the ultimate right, the right to life.


So the question is now, what will you do?

Fighting for joy

As I shared some recent head and heart trash I have with a friend, I garnered a response I was quite surprised by. He said:

You always seem like you have it together…you seem like everything is good even when it’s rough.

Now, I definitely do my best to “keep my head up” and “count it all joy”, but I don’t think I try to fake it (well, not most days). But his response made me realize that even though I thought I was a pretty transparent person (obviously, I’m selective with that), I am not doing a good enough job in sharing what’s really going on with my close friends. I don’t want to be a faker. I want to live an authentic life and I want others to see me for who I am (the good and the bad).

It’s been an interesting season of life for me, probably dating back to October of last year when a coworker took her own life. While I have had some difficult things happen in my 39 years, that one hit me pretty hard. It broke my heart and caused me to question things about God. Since that time, there have been some challenges within my extended family that won’t go away, challenges at work, and the ongoing fight to live the life God called me to instead of the life God called me from. If I’m honest, the pattern has been much like a rollercoaster and the dips feel longer than the peaks (don’t they always). That reminder of the fragility of life and my own confusion with those types of tragedies was again triggered when the lead singer of Linkin Park, Chester Bennington, took his own life last week. While I did not know him personally, nor did I follow his every move over the last 17 years, I did seem to have emotional ties to him and the band in ways I didn’t realize until he died. It’s produced thoughts and feelings that I don’t want or like. I trust God is at work and I see (some) it, I just don’t love it.

As I take a step back, I am able to count many blessings:

  • A loving wife and best friend who means the world to me.
  • Two young girls who treat me like a king (most days) and make me so proud.
  • Many friends who love me unconditionally.
  • A God who died so I could truly live.

But there are days that even a small heartache can blind me to the blessings. They rob me of my joy. And I start to wonder, how will I get it back?

Thankfully, I am reminded of a God who loves me and wants me to be full of joy.  John 15 says it this way (emphasis mine):

15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:1-11

I know deep down that while God has given me every opportunity to experience abundant joy, I have to fight for it. It won’t just happen.

I promise that you will continue to see me post felfies (family selfies) on social media and share encouraging words from what I read, but know that I I’m not doing to fake it. Instead, please know that I am doing it to fight for the joy often buried deep inside my soul.

*if you struggle finding your own joy and don’t feel like you have anyone to talk to, please reach out to me. You can email me at and I will do my best to respond as soon as possible. 

What About Me?

35811677 - sister jealous brother who eats candyThe “what about me” mentality has got to stop. It just blows me away to hear other people complain about not reaping the benefits of a nice gesture that was done for somebody else, or that they deserved to have something nice happen to them because it happened to someone else, or that another person was acknowledged for something they had a hand in. I’ve seen it happen in church, in business, in the home, and just about everywhere else I can think of.

What’s interesting is that if you ask somebody whether they want to see other people cared for, provided for, or blessed, most would emphatically say “yes.” Yet those very same people are the ones complaining that they don’t receive the same care, provision, and blessing others do.

The bottom line is that we can’t be selfish AND selfless. It’s about time we look at ourselves and consider the ways in which we view other people’s benefits and blessings. Are we truly happy for them or are we just happy because we kind of have to be because we said we’ll be happy for people in situations like that all the while deep down inside we’re hurt, envious, or angry because they got something and we didn’t.

I know that this something I struggle with from time to time. I fight often against wanting what others have. But when I take a step back, I realize that God has given me exactly what I need, and far more than what I deserve. Hopefully you can do the same.

Questions for my Bible

With the new year upon us, I am certain (ok, hopeful) that many people have included Bible reading as one of their goals and/or resolutions in 2017. But before you just start plowing through a book of the Bible, or the whole thing, you should consider what you are going to do with all of that knowledge. Here’s a post I wrote back in 2014 which can be helpful in asking your Bible the right questions so you get the most out of your daily reading.

As Christians, our need to read the Bible is imperative. I am sure (or would hope) that immediately after you became a Christian, the first thing you were told to do was read the Bible. Simple enough right? Not quite.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

The Bible is a complex book, bringing together one grand narrative in which Jesus Christ is the only hope for a lost world. There are many components to the Bible. Approaching the Bible can be very overwhelming and while jumping right into a book can be fruitful (like the oft recommended Gospel of John for new believers), a little bit of guidance can go a very long way. With that, I would like to share with you some wisdom that was passed on to me in regards to reading the Bible daily.

Ask questions

A good friend and fellow pastor shared some great tools with me a while back that have helped me to get so much more from my daily Bible readings. I have gained an expanded view of who God is, why I need him every single day, and how I can serve him in a greater way.

It is good to be in the word of God each and every day. I typically do so first thing in the morning before the distractions of my day get started (I’m currently reading through the book of Mark for Easter). I suggest that in lieu of a daily devotional, or in addition to one if you are an overachiever, you choose a book of the Bible to read all the way through so you can challenge yourself to think independent of a commentator or writer.

It is very helpful to have guidance through what you should be looking for and asking. When you get to a place where you feel the author’s thought is over, or maybe to the end of a marked section or chapter, ask yourself the following five questions:

  1. What does the Scripture say? (Scriptural question)
    • This is your opportunity to say, in your own words, what you have just read. This may be a sentence, or a paragraph. Don’t try to use big words and don’t try to get creative, just right what you believe it says.
    • If you are reading through the Gospel of John, and you read John 3:16 specifically, you may say “God the Father sent his Son down to earth to die so we wouldn’t have to.”
  2. What does it mean? (Theological question)
    • Don’t wrestle too hard if you feel like you are just learning about God and/or the Bible. Take this question as a way to think through what you believe the passage to mean. Sometimes this answer and the answer to number 1 above may be similar.
    • In John 3:16, you may say “God is a loving God who cares so much about us that instead of punishing us for our sins, he sent his Son to take the punishment in our place. That shows me real love that nobody else can give me.”
  3. Why don’t I believe it? Why do I struggle with it? (Apologetic/heart question)
    • This becomes a very hard question, and one I have to think through quite often. Answering this question honestly doesn’t necessarily mean you doubt who God is or the fact that the Bible is God’s true word. It may mean that you are struggling to live out the truth of the passage in your own life. The goal here is to get to the root of doubt, unbelief, or even sin in our lives.
    • In John 3:16, you may say “I don’t understand how God could love the whole world yet allow people to go to hell. It just doesn’t make sense.”
  4. How is Jesus the hero? (Christological question)
    • We want to see why each and every passage of scripture points to Christ as the hero of the story. Everything, and I mean everything, points to him in some way. It is not always implicit, but it is there. Maybe it shows the need for a better king, or more humble servant, or even a calm word in a tough situation. All those point to Jesus.
    • In John 3:16, you may say “Jesus came to do what I never could.”
  5. Why does this matter for my mission? (Missional question)
    • Every Christian is on mission for God. We were saved so we could glorify Him, and lead more people to Jesus. How does reading the specific passage inspire this for you personally?
    • In John 3:16, you may say “Because God sacrificed his Son for me, I am willing to sacrifice myself and all my possessions in order that others may see Jesus in me.”

Get started

In order to do this well, you need the right tools. I suggest you get a good Bible (I recommend the ESV) and a journal for writing down your questions and answers. You then need to set aside some time in your day. Thirty minutes is a good chunk to start with (though fifteen is a great start), and it will allow you to read and journal. Make it a priority and if you have to, get rid of a bit of social media in the morning or tv at night.

If you approach the word of God with an open mind and a humble heart, I guarantee God will speak to you in ways you never thought possible, whether you just came to Christ or you’ve been following Him for fifty years.

As 2015 ends…my personal reflection

Personal Mission Statement
I have always been a pretty big “goal” guy. I have been writing down goals since early in my sales career and about 5 years ago I added personal goals to the mix. But in mid-2014, I really thought through the purpose of my goals. Because I follow Jesus Christ, and desire to live for him, the purpose of my goals had to be Christ-centered. So in June 2014, I committed to the following personal mission statement:

To love and lead my family well as a husband and father.
To preach the word of God and disciple the people of God as a pastor.
To provide for my family and grow my sphere of influence in order to image Christ as a business professional.
To live a life full of joy in Christ, regardless of my circumstances, as a disciple of Christ.

The Journey of 2015
2015 was both an exciting year and a difficult year.

Fitness, by way of Crossfit, became a more significant part of my life than it ever had. I am part of one of the best gyms (Resolution Crossfit) and many of the coaches and members have become like family. The difficult workouts and supportive environment have pushed me to achieve many of the fitness goals I set for myself. Though I am not at my ideal weight nor do I sit at the top of my gym’s leaderboard, I can complete 5 unbroken muscle-ups, a 305lb front squat, and a 325lb back squat (all specific goals I had set for 2015). I’ve achieved many other personal records while flirting with lots more.

My business, RJM, saw more success in 2015 than it had since I started in 2011. I jumped back into the employed workforce in June 2015 by accepting a position as Director of Sales and Marketing with one of my clients, Centennial. I can say that it is hand-down the best company I have ever worked for and I am thankful everyday for the God-given opportunity. Taking this job allowed me to exceed my monthly income goal for 2015, which provided stability at home while offering my family opportunities to support needs outside of our own through the year. It has also provided an outlet for me to steward many of the gifts God has blessed me with in new ways. I am being stretched daily and I love it!

Our family is flourishing, though we have seen our share of hard days. I am daily blown away by the fact that God graced me with an amazing wife and two beautiful girls. We are regularly pressing to grow closer together, and do so by going on mini-adventures (with crazy family selfies), by seeking God, and by sticking together when times are tough. Memories have been made, but what lies ahead is even more exciting.

Personally, the year has been interesting to say the least. I had some of the best days of my life and I experienced depression for the first time in my life. I’ve questioned most every facet of my life (personal, professional, spiritual), yet as the end of 2015 draws near I stand confident in Christ believing with all my heart that I am exactly where He has called me to be. One of my big goals was to begin memorizing a book of the Bible. I chose Ephesians and sought to memorize the first chapter. It took a (long) while for me to really get going but I’m excited that 60% of the chapter is stuck in my brain!

I am happy that I achieved many of the goals I set out to achieve in 2015 while sticking close to my mission statement. That said, I have a long way to go in fulfilling that mission statement well.

Creating unbelievable outcomes in 2016
2016 is going to be the “year of the outcome” for me. I want to see awesome outcomes in fitness, family, personal, professional, and family aspects. Some of those areas have very specific numbers set to them, while others are tied to specific dates. But I know this. If I seek each one of those goals through the lens of my personal mission statement, 2016 will be my best year yet.


Does My Christianity Even Matter to You?

I have been thinking about that question a lot lately. But not in a theoretical way. I am really considering the point of my Christianity to the people around me. Specifically, to people around me that are not Christians. And even more specific, to those that I care about and/or care about me. This really stems from a lot that I have been reading lately as well as conversations I have been having. And this question then opens up a whole host of others:

  • If you knew me before I became a Christian, do you see any positive differences in my life?
  • How about in our relationship/friendship? Are you treated better now than then?
  • If I quit Christianity tomorrow, would it change how you see me? For good or bad?
  • Do you avoid certain things/areas of life with me because of my Christianity?


So does it? Does my Christianity even matter to you?