You and I Are Both in Full-Time Ministry

Let’s play a word association game. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when I say the following words/phrases.

  • Hipster
  • Netflix
  • Full-time ministry

My answers would be: skinny jeans, binge watching and working at a church.

Since I work at a church, people often ask me what it’s like to be in full-time ministry.

I hate this question.

It implies I’m in full-time ministry and you are not. Here’s the truth. If you’re a Christian, you are in full-time ministry.

So how about you tell me, what’s it like being in full-time ministry? What are ways we can all have that mindset each day?

The Secret Sauce to Spiritual Growth

Lately, I’ve been on a kettlebell kick.

I’m fascinated by the lure of just two kettlebell exercises causing a “what the hell?” effect.

The What the Hell Effect is well known throughout the kettlebell community. Doing kettlebell work, specifically kettlebell swings and turkish get-ups, has a way of improving all sorts of other physical activities that seem to be unrelated. (from Premeditated Fitness.)

Living in the world of kettlebell swings and turkish get-ups has surprisingly brought clarity to a question Christians often wrestle with. How do we grow in our faith and mature in our relationship with Christ?

The answer begins with those two exercises.

Turns out those two simple exercises are very challenging, technically. Do the turkish get-up wrong and you’re going to have brain matter splattered all over the floor. On the plus side, you won’t have to worry about becoming a zombie afterward.

All that to say, you need good form and technique. So I spent a lot of time reading and looking at YouTube videos.

Too much time.

As Christians, how often do we equate knowledge with spiritual growth? Deep doctrinal understanding with maturity? Or assume consuming spiritual content means we’re growing?

I’m following a YouVersion reading plan, listening to Tim Keller’s podcast, worshiping to Bethel Music and reading John Piper.

I’m growing!

Not necessarily.

It doesn’t matter how much I know about proper kettlebell technique. Until I start doing the exercises, I’ll never experience growth. I’ll never get stronger.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. ~James 1:22 (NIV)

Your spiritual muscles don’t get stronger just by reading this passage.

“Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. ~Matthew 18:21-22 (NIV)

You have to actually forgive.

Being aware of your sins doesn’t matter much. You have to actually confess and turn from your sins (Proverbs 28:13).

Knowing we are to be like Christ isn’t enough. You have to actually demonstrate love. Humble yourself, serve others and be willing to make sacrifices (Philippians 2:5-8, Ephesians 5:1-2).

People who do those things are the mature.

Honestly, I got more excited about learning kettlebell technique than the idea of getting healthier, fitter and stronger.

I want us all to have spiritual “what the hell?” moments.

Times when we look back on our actions and wonder how in the world did our faith get so strong? Where did the courage to invite someone to church come from? When did we feel confident enough to lead someone to Christ? How did we know to encourage someone with that specific Bible verse?

Those “what the hell?” moments only happen when we start doing. So here’s my challenge to you. Pick a verse and live it out this next week!

How have you seen your faith grow as you’ve been more obedient?

Photo courtesy of Rob Chandanais.

6 Uber-Practical Steps to a Spiritually Significant Fast

Fork and Watermelons

Honestly, I don’t ever look forward to starting the year with a 21 day fast. Yet I’ve done it the past eight years.

I don’t look forward to it because what should be a deeply spiritual act nearly always deteriorates into nothing more than a shift in what I eat.

I keep trying year after year to raise the spiritual bar, but haven’t quite nailed it (yet). What I have nailed is a few practical pointers that I hope will help on your next fast.

Here’s hoping year nine (finally) makes me look forward to fasting in year ten! :)

1. Jesus, Only Jesus

There’s no spiritual benefit to just not eating. So don’t get too caught up in the details of what (you’re fasting) and forget the why (deeper intimacy with Christ).

That’s why I recommend a food and reverse fast.

In short, a reverse fast is when you intentionally make time during your day to seek God more than you would typically. Where people tend to spend most of their time focused on the food-aspect of a fast, a reverse fast reverses the priorities and places it on God.

It’s been, by far, one of the more practical things I’ve done to increase spiritual engagement during a fast. Read about it.

2. Focus Your Fast

Fasting in the Bible always accompanied a specific reason.

Write down 1-3 main things you’re praying and believing God for during your fast. Be bold. Dream.

Give the fast a reason to matter personally and spiritually to you. Spend time praying for these things, listening for God’s direction (if applicable), reading related Bible verses, etc.

Know what you’re fighting for. It provides purpose and motivation. When you have a reason for going into battle, you’ll fight harder, longer and with more passion.

 3. 100%, Not 98%

Right now, commit to yourself and God that you’re going to honor your chosen fast 100% of the time. Not 98% or any other number lower than 100%.


Let’s be honest, when you make an exception due to “extenuating circumstances,” the odds of you completing the fast go down drastically. If you justify doing it “just this once,” there’s nothing keeping you from doing it again.

The next couple tips will help you stay at 100%.

And even if you do drop below 100%, start over again that day. You’re now back at 100%. God extends grace. Take it. ;)

4. Make an Allowed List

Make a list of the foods you’re allowing yourself to eat and only eat foods from that list. And be specific. Specific types of foods (e.g., apples, bananas) within specific food groups (e.g., fruit).

Do this before you start your fast. Alternatively, make a list of fast-approved recipes and only eat those recipes during the fast.

Inevitably, you will ask yourself the question: is this allowed? I guarantee you’ll ask that question multiples times as you’re presented with catered work lunches, dinner out with friends or cooking at home.

The list is designed to make that decision extremely easy; saving your time and energy for much more important things – seeking God (remember #1).

On the list, eat it (yums). Not on the list, nope.

And as you’re making the list, don’t get too caught up in the details of what’s allowed or what’s not in XYZ fast. For example, does whole grains include whole grain pasta or just whole grain rice? It doesn’t matter. Put it on the list or don’t. You choose for yourself.

5. Plan, Plan, Plan

Create a daily calendar. Every day, every meal. Answer the question: what are you going to eat?

Again, it’s all about making decisions at the start which drastically reduce the number of stressful game-time decisions. Game-time decisions are often when you’re the most tired, have the least amount of energy and and zero willpower to stick to your fast. (It’s called decision fatigue.)

Cook as many meals in one marathon cooking session as you can. Store it and have it ready to eat when you need.

Identify potential roadblocks. Where in your schedule will you run into some challenges during the fast? Maybe it’s a work party or out-of-town travel.

What are you going to do in those situations. See #3. Stick to your fast. ;)

You can create a detour now that you know where the roadblocks are. Pack your meal for those occasions. Have something ready to eat when you arrive at a roadblock.


 6. Jesus, Only Jesus REEEEEEMIX

With all these practical tips, let’s not forget why we’re fasting in the first place. To know Jesus more intimately. To see Him work in our lives on a much greater level.

How can we do that?

Spend more time in prayer, worship and the Word. You created margin for those things with a reverse fast, right?

Those three things should be staples of your spiritual diet. Want those things just as much as you want food. Oh, and don’t forget to give God an opportunity to speak. Be intentional about listening for His voice and the Holy Spirit’s promptings.

If you need some worship music, follow whichever of my 30 Minute Worship Playlists (#1-6 and #7-9) floats your boat.

Use a daily reading plan during your fast. Try 21 Day Fast, 21 Days of Powerful Breakthroughs or any of these 23 plans.

Fasting is hard. You’ll be tempted. You’ll feel like a failure at times. Embrace your weakness because Christ’s power is made perfect in it (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Fasting enables the Holy Spirit to reveal your true spiritual condition, resulting in brokenness, repentance, and a transformed life. (from Why You Should Fast)

Fasting changes us. It breaks down the idols in our lives. Forces a reliance on God. Brings about humility.

But you know what the cool thing is?

Even though it changes us, fasting (in God’s goodness) can also lead to answered prayers.

Ezra 8:23 (NIV)
So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.

That’s humbling and also demonstrates the spiritual significance of fasting. Let this verse motivate you to honor your fast, seek Him more and pray for bold things!

What are some other tips that have helped you be more successful in your fast (both practically and spiritually)?

3 More 30 Minute Worship Playlists

Over the course of time, I’ve created a handful of worship playlists. Add some more time to that time and now I have three more worship playlists to share with you! ;)

Any worship songs you’re diggin’ currently? Share them with me in the comments!

Lately, I feel more drawn to the mellow stuff. While I love the high-energy anthem type songs, they just don’t work well for intimate worship at home…

The Unintentional Influence of a Parked Car

Parked Cars

As I was running by these cars, I realized this truth…

Often the small decisions and behaviors we think only affect us, unintentional influence others.

I heard a friend say they only brush their teeth once a day. Being the poster child of efficiency, I jumped on this idea. I’m the guy who only flosses two weeks leading to a teeth cleaning because the dentist has always said my teeth/gums look great. So why floss 365 days a year when you can floss 14 and get the same results? ;)

You know what happened when I did that? I was told my breath stinks.

In high school, I attended a youth group as a non-Christian outsider. I was really just there to hang out with friends and play ping pong. #truestory

As an indirect result, I learned a little bit more about Jesus and Christianity. You know what I learned? Christians are hypocrites. The same people who preached repentance and “what would Jesus do?” in the school hallways were the same people doing drugs, having premarital sex and getting drunk on the weekends.

Not very Christ-like at all.

Unintentionally, their decisions influenced me away from Christ. They had no idea the deep impact and impression their actions left on me. For the next three years I thought Christianity was nothing more than a label.

It held no eternal significance to me.

The line of cars above started with just one decision.

Lone Parked Car

A decision the person thought was no biggie and only affected them. But one decision ultimately led tens of others to follow their lead.

No one is exempt from that truth.

Who are the main people you influence? Think of them by name. Your kids, your co-workers, your spouse, your fellow classmates, your friends? Heck, even all your social media followers.

Are you doing anything that could negatively impact them? Because we are all influential, it’s worth taking the time to answer that question.

How would your kids define the word “family” based on what you do when you’re together? Is there quality time happening or does everyone do their own thing? How do you treat and talk to your co-workers? Are they attracted to you because you’re kind-hearted or repelled by all your gossip? Are people unfriending you on Facebook because of your endless stream of negativity and complaining?

And, don’t forget, as Christians we influence people either toward or away from Christ.

Steward that influence wisely.

How has someone positively or negatively impacted you with their decisions or behavior?