The #1 Trick To Getting More Treats

FullSizeRender-6Want to know the #1 trick to getting more treats?

Here it is: Don’t expect them to come for free.

Sure – you can get some decent treats in life for free. A miniature Kit Kat is nothing to scoff at.

But if you just go out asking for treats, no one in their right mind is going to give you a King Size candy bar for free.

If you want the biggest and best treats in life you have to pay for them. 

It doesn’t matter how good your costume is, no one is going to give you the best treats for free.

You have to earn them. You have to work for them. You have to pay for them.

That’s not just on Halloween. That goes for the other 364 days out of the year too.

If you’re looking for a free reward, you can usually find a small one.

But if you want the biggest and best treats in life you won’t find them being handed out for free. You have to work for them.

Sorry if this scares you today. Just a little bite-sized food for thought. 

Happy Halloween. And Happy Friday.



Why I Run

FullSizeRender-5Earlier this week I got a notification from my Nike+ Running App. The App urged me to pledge to run as many miles as I could this week. For every mile I ran, Bank Of America would donate 40 cents to (RED), a charity which looks to end the AIDS epidemic in Africa.

40 cents a mile doesn’t sound like all that much. But I’m a supporter of the (RED) organization and I know how far even that small amount can go. So I’ve pledged to run this week and add my miles to the tally. I encourage you to download the app and do the same.

It wasn’t a hard decision for me to make. I probably would have gone running a couple of times this week anyway.

But what I’m starting to realize is having a reason to run that’s bigger than myself is the best kind of motivation for me.

I wouldn’t classify myself as a runner. I like to run 2-3 times a week. (Occasionally more. Often less.)

I’m not very fast. I’m not very graceful. I don’t run long distances on a regular basis.

Running has just been something I’ve enjoyed as a hobby for the past 7 or 8 years. It’s something I do for my health. It’s something I do to clear my head. It’s something I do to listen to music or podcasts.

I enjoy running for the personal challenge. I’ve never been much of an athlete. Running allows me to compete against my personal goals rather than embarrass myself against a larger team or in front of fitter folks at the gym.

Running for myself is fine. I get a lot out of my time on the trails. Occasionally though I’ve run for reasons other than my own.

In 2011 I ran my first half marathon. Getting 13.1 miles under my belt was something I had been wanting to accomplish for years.

Time after time though I could not gain enough momentum or courage to do lace up my shoes on my own.

So I decided to take a couple of my youth group students along for the journey.

We researched half marathons in the area and committed to one. In addition, I decided to turn the run into a fundraiser for the Jamaica Mission Trip our youth group was planning that year.

Suddenly my training had a purpose behind it. Every mile I ran now had meaning for the students I was serving.

Peeling myself off the couch to run a few miles around the neighborhood didn’t become physically easier. But I had a deeper motivation to push me through the pain.

I found the same thing motivation when I ran a 5K the next year to raise money for Young Life, a ministry I’ve worked with since nearly a decade.

And I’m finding the same motivation the past few years when I run with my fiancé. Earlier this year I got to help push her to her first 5K.

When we run together my workout is no longer a solo endeavor. Instead we run for each other. She is not as fast as I am, but I think she runs a lot harder than I do. I’m motivated to not give up and start walking when she’s around.

In fact I ran my fastest ever 5K when we ran together.

It’s incredible to me what can happen when I have a reason beyond myself when I run.

I’m also learning the reason why I run is the same reason why I write.

Writing is a great outlet for my thoughts. It’s relaxing while at the same time challenging. It’s an adventure every time I get behind the keyboard.

Ultimately though I write at my best when I’m writing for someone else.

The moments when my writing comes alive are the moments when I recognize this blog has the potential to be bigger than me. When I remember that I want my words to not just be a personal journal but a gospel reflection, a ministry to those who read them.

It’s not always easy. It’s not always rewarding. It’s often a lonely and frustrating process.

But I keep on running the race God has put before me because I believe my writing can mean something for someone other than myself. I believe God has called me to write to touch peoples lives.

When I view my writing through a selfish lens, I often just want to give up. I’m not making money from the endeavor. My blog seems like it’s just spinning its wheels. I don’t see myself as any closer to my long term goals than I was 2 years ago.

When I remember the true reason why I write – to encourage every reader to see the presence of God in their everyday lives- then I am able to push through when I’m tired. I’m able to run a few more steps when it hurts. I’m able to keep going when I want to give up.

I refuse to stop running toward my writing goals because my goals are not about me.

I believe there is something built into each of us yearning to be part of something greater than ourselves. I believe God designed us to run better when we give ourselves to causes greater than ourselves.

When you find the place where your passion meets a purpose for serving others, you’ve found your sweet spot.

You won’t always be able to live in that sweet spot. You may have to continue to make small steps toward it each day for years.

But figure out what truly makes you run, what makes you forget about yourself in the service of others. Start pursuing it more and more day by day. Keep taking those gradual steps toward the goal until you reach the finish line.

What does that look like for you? What really makes you run – gives you something bigger than yourself to live for even when you don’t always see the rewards? How do you keep running the race?

Want More Thoughts On Running The Race? Check Out These Posts:

3 Lessons From The Color Run Finish Line

Relearning To Fly

We Hate To Wait

Or Subscribe to POP GOD to see every post Seeking God In The Present Tense

Monday Morning Music: Something From Nothing

Caution: This music may be too loud for your typical Monday Morning. 

It’s the type of music that busts through your speakers no matter what volume you put them on. It’s the type of music that leaves your ears ringing. It’s the type of music that wakes up your neighbors next door.

Maybe that’s just the type of Monday Morning Music you need.

(Click Here if you can’t see the video above)

Inspired by lead singer Dave Grohl’s documentary Sound City which explored a legendary California recording studiothe Foo Fighters decided to document the creation of their new album Sonic Highways with an HBO series of the same name.

Each episode highlights the creation of one song on the album. While this sounds like an interesting enough concept, Grohl and the band aren’t making a run-of-the-mill album with Sonic Highways.

For their 8th studio record the band embarked on an ambitious project: each song would be recorded in a different legendary music studio across America. Dave Grohl would interview the greatest artists from each town looking for musical inspiration. After spending a week in cities like Nashville and Chicago the band would then write and record a song influenced by the people and places they’d seen.

It may sounds like a corny gimmick at first. But I can’t recommend the show and the music enough.

140811-foo-fighters-sonic-highways-albumThe lesson I’m learning from watching and listening to Sonic Highways is this: not only does our city shape us, we shape our city as well. 

What’s really fascinating about the television series is hearing the stories of the hometown artists who were transformed by their own cities. In turn, their work often went on to make an impact on their hometowns.

We often think the greatest work we can accomplish is a million miles away. It’s true that God has called us to take His message to all the ends of the earth. He has called us to love our neighbors.

And I think we are also called to love our neighborhoods.

I think sometimes we make excuses about our service to God based upon our current location. 

A lot of us have places we would rather be. There are places we want to move to chase our dreams. There are mission fields we want to visit to make a difference.

These are good and noble desires. There will a come time for many of us to pursue them.

But if you want to rock the world today, you don’t have to travel to the ends of the earth.

Like it or not, where we live has a tremendous impact on our lives. Believe it or not, God has placed us exactly where we are for a reason.

For some of us the greatest story we will tell will involve our hometown. For all of us there is something we can do today to impact our city.

Here’s your challenge for the day. Take 3 minutes or so – the length of your average song – and think of 3 people you know in your city who you could have an impact on today. Then go do it.

Give them a call. Go say hello. Invite them to your church or just over for dinner.

You really don’t have to travel far to find someone to serve.

Just plug in your mic, turn it up loud and start singing a song to your neighbors next door. 


Why You Should Let Go Of Your Crap

FullSizeRender-4My dog The Roc gets walked 3 times a day. He goes to the bathroom on every trip. Multiple times.

Seriously – I can’t understand how this 20 lb. Min Pin can carry around so much waste inside of his tiny body.

At my old house this wasn’t such a big deal. There was plenty of space to let Roc do his business. I could also let him out in the backyard when necessary.

But at our new apartment in Atlanta there are no woods. There are no big grassy areas. Just a few patches of public walking space.

So 3 times a day I get to bend over with a green baggy and pick up my dog’s mess.

I carry it around as we walk. When we’re all done we head back down into the apartment.

Then I take the little green baggy and store it in the closet for safe keeping, adding it to the collection I’ve gathered over the past few months.

Ok – that’s almost too disgusting to even joke about.

Obviously the first thing I do when I pick up The Roc’s poo is toss it in the closest trashcan. I hold it out at arm’s length, refusing to carry it around with me any longer than necessary.

Keeping my dog’s waste stored in my closet would be weird. It would be unsanitary. It would be unhealthy for both of us.

I am my dog’s master. My job is to pick up his mess and dispose of it. I don’t hang onto it and lord it over him.

Our Master does the same thing. He walks beside us. When we make a mess, He picks it up and disposes of it.

God does not hold onto our garbage. He does not store it in his closet. He does not hold onto our crap to lord it over us.

He hurls our mistakes into the abyss, farther away from us than the east is from the west.

So if God doesn’t hold on to our crap, why do we?

Why can’t we let go of our baggage? Why can’t we forgive ourselves of our sins?

If our Father tosses our sins away, why do we ravage through the garbage? Why are we so reluctant to let go? Why can’t we forgive ourselves?

I think we don’t feel like we deserve forgiveness. So instead of tossing our sins in the garbage we carry around their baggage. We hoard our mistakes in our minds.

When our Master tosses our sins away we ravage through the garbage.

It’s like we’re maintaining our guilt when the judge has declared us innocent.

If God is content with tossing away your crap, maybe you should be as well.

If there is sin in your life you’re unwilling to let go of, it’s time you took out the trash. After all, you wouldn’t keep a pile of dog crap in your closet stinking up your house.

So why are you holding onto your own garbage, letting it affect your life? Toss it away and get back to enjoying your walk with your Master.

God is not a hoarder. He does not crowd his house with the records of His children’s mistakes. He tosses them in the recycling bin and creates something worthwhile out of the waste.


There Are No Rules

Hulk Hogan is 61 Years Old.

Seems like just yesterday “The Immortal” was threatening to body slam Andre The Giant through the center of the earth and carry Donald Trump to safety (seriously, this interview is amazing):

In sports (and even in sports entertainment) years Hulk Hogan is way past his prime. He hasn’t wrestled a match in 3 years. He’s had multiple back and knee surgeries. He really should never compete athletically again.

Yet The Hulkster can’t keep himself away from the ring.


Even in his AARP years Hogan still wants to fight. It seems in every interview these days he’s talking about the possibility of one more match.

John Cena, Steve Austin, Roman Reigns, The Rock. To Hulk Hogan these aren’t just the stars of today – they’re all potential opponents.

Hogan’s been a master comeback artist for years. People have been calling his career dead for two decades.

Time after time though the Real American refuses to believe he’s too old to offer anything to the wrestling business.

Some might make an argument that he’s desperate. Sad. Out of touch with reality.

These are all fair points. I just don’t see it that way. I see hope in Hulk Hogan.

Hulk Hogan doesn’t see himself as too old for wrestling. He still thinks he can go in the ring. He still thinks he can draw money. He still thinks he has something to add.

And why not? There are no rules that say you can’t have a match when you’re 61 and nearly crippled. So why shouldn’t he?

Hulk Hogan’s refusal to retire isn’t the sad posturing of a guy who doesn’t know when to go away. It’s the inspiration for all of us who want to believe There Are No Rules.

I think for many of us The Bible is not the only book we live our lives by. I think instead there’s an imaginary Rulebook which dictates a lot of the decisions we make.

This Rulebook has been developed from years and years of too many people telling us there’s only one way to live our lives.

Here’s the truth: There Are No Rules. 

There Are No Rules that say you can’t go back to school when you’re 30.

There Are No Rules that say you can’t get married when you’re 40.

There Are No Rules that say you can’t switch jobs when you’re 50.

The rules about ages are just one chapter in this imaginary Rulebook.

There Are No Rules that say what you have to look like.

There Are No Rules that say what shape your body has to be.

There Are No Rules that say you can’t move away and start over.

There Are No Rules that say you can’t fix what was broken.

There Are No Rules that say a dying person can’t be healed.

There Are No Rules that say a blind person can’t see, a deaf person can’t hear, a lame person can’t walk.

Really the only rules we need to remember are, to paraphrase Bob Goff: Love God. Love People. Do Stuff.

When we live our lives by those rules we are free to toss life’s imaginary rulebook out the window.

I admire the people like Hulk Hogan who live their lives like there are no rules.

Because the truth is the Rulebook is just like wrestling.

It’s fake.

What’s an imaginary rule you’ve been living your life by that’s been holding you back? What could happen if you threw away the rulebook today?


For more lessons from the world of wrestling check out some of these posts:

The Difference Between Ordinary And Ultimate

Why I Love Fake Things

The One Lesson Anyone Can Learn From Wrestling

The Long And Winding Road Of Regret

August 15, 2009. Paul McCartney played for tens of thousands at Piedmont Park in Atlanta. A blistering set of 34 songs out under the summer stars, from “Drive My Car” to “The End”. A night no one would soon forget.

I wasn’t there. 

There have been a good number of concerts I’ve missed out on in the past decade that haunt me. Maybe none more than that one.

I could have gone. I could have jumped in the car, spread my Wings and spontaneously headed to Atlanta to see Paul McCartney at Piedmont Park. I’m not even sure why I decided to stay home that day.

I’ve regretted ever since then that I didn’t.

IMG_4268-0.JPGLast night mostly made up for it. Continue reading

A House Is A Home

FullSizeRender-35 years ago next month I bought my first home. And starting on Friday I’ll have my first renter in that home.

Becoming a homeowner has been a strange journey, one I never could have (or would have) scripted the way it played out.

In the fall of 2009 I had just gone on full time as the Director Of Student Ministries at The Hill Baptist Church. I was back living at home after moving out for a bit in college.

With a freshly printed degree, a full-time salary and a wide-eyed optimism I was eager to move away from home. Originally I wanted to rent a small house in town.

At the time, though, the government was giving an $8,000 tax credit to first time homeowners. My parents and I decided this was a deal I couldn’t pass up.

So I found a 2 bedroom townhome a few minutes away from work and decided to pull the trigger on the American dream of becoming a homeowner.

It wasn’t long after that the dream started feeling like a nightmare.  Continue reading