VISION

SO… what is your VISION?

 

AS someone who has immersed himself in the world of leadership for almost 18 years (I know some of you reading this will think I am still a baby in this realm) the one thing I constantly keep hearing, reading, and thinking about is the topic of VISION!

The REALITY is, there is no denying that VISION is a critical factor in shaping the future that God has for us individually, as a family, and organizationally no matter what that may look like. One of the most popular biblical texts on this reality comes from the collection of wisdom sayings in the OT known as the book of Proverbs (btw I highly recommend it even if you don’t believe in God). It is found in the 29th chapter of the book and reads very differently in the many translations of the Bible but the version that is often quoted and written about in leadership circles is found in the good old King James Version of the Bible where it says:

_Where there is no VISION the people perish!_ (1)

You know, I have constantly heard people, leaders, lecturers, TED talkers, and so many more people present the importance of VISION for our lives. And there is a reason for that and that is because there is an intrinsical link between VISION and HOPE!

When we have a VISION that compels us our lives are often more productive, happy, and exciting. When we have a compelling VISION for our futures it makes getting up in the morning more palatable when the time changes and we find ourselves going to the office in the dark and coming home in the dark as well! I love what one of the most recent visionary greats had to say about this TRUTH when he said this:

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The REALITY is, there is more evidence to suggest that when we have a VISION for our lives, our organizations, our families, or our churches that it pulls us towards it and at times arguably it pushes us along this journey called life and faith.

BUT here is something I have also come to understand over the past 5+ years of my own personal journey and that is when your health takes a turn for the worse it is hard to have a VISION for the future! The TRUTH is, one of the hardest things to do when you get unexpectedly sidelined along the journey is to have HOPE for the future, let alone a VISION for something better! Honestly, there are many days (and some of you can attest to this better than me) where VISION is the very last thing on your mind or your radar screen. When HEALTH goes sideways in our lives there are many days where the thing that is most pressing in our world is simply “HOW” we are going to make our way through another day! VISION in the day-to-day struggles can easily get side-lined, downgraded, and set to the shelf as we simply attempt to make it through one more day.

This morning as I write this, I know that there is more to THINK through in regard to this connection between VISION and HOPE. I know there is more to PONDER when it comes to the importance of looking beyond the STUFF that we struggle with from day-to-day when our HEALTH goes sideways, or something comes our way that we NEVER saw coming! I understand that this is still a thought in the working stages, but I am looking forward to the journey that comes with trusting God in the process!

 

Praying your day is surrounded with HOPE for you, the ones you love, and the world around you!

Rev Trev

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We all need HOPE!

So today is DAY ONE!

Day ONE you say… I thought your injury happened in July?

Well, it did but today is the first day since the accident that I have a new plan of attack for dealing with the concussion. You see, just over a week ago I got the incredible opportunity to get an appointment with the amazing group at Fortis Sport & Health who do extensive work with sports related concussions. After a good number of tests and assessments that I mentioned previously in an earlier post I was given a plan of action moving forward that started today. With some new medications to deal with the secondary concussion symptoms and some daily exercise there is a renewed sense of HOPE on the horizon.

Which leads me to today’s word that I am reflecting on this evening and that is the words HOPE!

Now, being a pastor and a Christian, HOPE is central to my faith. And it is something I feel like I have a good grasp on after 18 years of ministry where I have taught on, counselled on, prayed for, and encouraged HOPE in the people who I have had the privilege to serve and care for along the way. And along the way they also have done the same for me which would suggest that I should have a deeper understanding than some.

BUT here is the thing – HOPE can be a fleeting thing for many. And this journey has once again reminded me that despite the sometimes transient nature of this thing called HOPE, it really is ALL we have to hang on to in the long haul!

American evangelist and Christian writer Hal Lindsey once said…

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Now… I have to say I don’t always agree with everything that Lindsey has to say, but I have to admit that he has a point when it comes to this most precious commodity. HOPE is essential to our lives whether we profess a faith in something outside of ourselves or not. HOPE is the link that keeps our eyes on better days, on the stuff beyond our circumstances, situations, and conditions. Without HOPE we can easily find ourselves in places where we cannot see, think, or feel clearly. Without HOPE we can find ourselves in the places where we wonder (if not out loud we do deep inside) whether life is ever going to get better or is this as good as it gets!

One of my favourite verses in all of the Bible has HOPE at its core and interestingly as I have begun this new phase of the journey I NEVER saw coming, I was reminded of it once again today. It is a verse that is familiar to many people of faith and one that has supported people in all kinds of life situations and circumstances. It is a verse that was written to the elders, priests, prophets, and all the people of Israel who had been exiled to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar. Here is part of what Jeremiah had to say to them in chapter 29 of the Old Testament book that bears his name:

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The REALITY is… HOPE is essential to our lives, to our faith, and to the journey that we are all on together on this great big planet Earth!

May you find HOPE in the midst of whatever or wherever you may find yourself today in the journey!

Rev Trev

So… it’s SUNDAY!

SO… it is Sunday!

A day that used to be so full of things to do in my world as a pastor of a local church community. My Sunday used to be up at the crack of dawn or earlier, especially at this time of the year. Upon arriving at church I would be out setting up signs welcoming anyone passing by the building that morning that they were indeed welcome to join us! Then it would be inside the church and time to set up signs in the hallway and the sanctuary that not only welcomed but reminded everyone of the promises of God for their lives! Then it would be time to work on final sermon changes and PowerPoint and any pamphlets that were needed for the day! Then it would be time to pray, greet, welcome, and encourage all whom God would bring our way (and that was all before service started). When the service started there was all the usual things that a pastor finds himself involved in, corporate worship, prayer, building relationships, providing leadership and then the message of course! After the service ended there would be more relationship building, prayer, and encouraging all while wielding a broom, or vacuum or whatever task needed doing in order to clean up and leave the facility sparkling clean.

Now, here’s why the reminiscing so to speak!

Because today as I type these words my days are filled with simply having enough energy to do the daily tasks of average everyday life minus the work part. No longer are my days filled with all the tasks and complexities of leadership and pastoral ministry at this point. But that is not the reason for all the reminiscing!

You see, there is another thing that I have come to understand is intrinsically linked to all the DOING stuff of ministry life and that is it is completely wrapped up in RELATIONSHIPS! Very little of the things I mentioned above were ever done in isolation. And that is the thing that I have come to understand, that I miss the most, and that is all the friends and people that I did ministry with!

The REALITY is ministry, like life, is NEVER meant to be done in isolation! Life is designed by God to be lived out in RELATIONSHIP! We are relational beings not just human doings! And one of the things that has come with being off work  for the past two months (now heading into month 3) is that almost ALL of my relationships after 15+ years of ministry in one place have been marginalized, relegated to the sideline while recovery takes precedent. It is one of those things I guess, yet it is a difficult when there is much evidence that recovery always works best when you have a community of support around you. But at the same time, I know that there are many wonderful people surrounding me and my family in prayer. There are many faithful people holding us up in their thoughts as we navigate these waters that we never saw coming.

Honestly, I don’t even really know why this topic came up today except to say it’s Sunday and I miss those who I used to do life and ministry with. And I actually don’t have anything profound to share with you except maybe to say this:

 

life

 

May God bless you and those you DO life with!

Rev Trev

Facing our LIMITATIONS!

Well the past few days have been a REAL struggle!

Now, before someone reads these words and wants to shout out… “A struggle! You don’t even know the definition of the word buddy!”… let me just refer you to the following definition below:

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You know, here’s the thing. We ALL have our limitations and difficulties in this thing called the journey of life and faith! We all have our challenges in life’s short but sometimes tumultuous twists and turns. But what happens when our limitations change? What do we do when what was normal (if there is ever such a thing) is no longer normal? The truth is when unforeseen limitations come our way it can really challenge us and cause life to slow down unexpectedly!

Check out what Alison Bonds Shapiro has to say about this in an article in Psychology Today:

“When we think our limitations are “normal” we assume we can find ways around them. If we suddenly lose the ability to do something we may feel resentful, different and stuck and not remember this creative gift our human nature brings us. But none of us has wings, and if we can remember our innate ability to find ways to live around our limitations and put our creativity to work, we can find ways to continue to have a rich and rewarding life.”

The reality is simply this we (that means every one of us) all will from time-to-time find ourselves facing changes in “WHAT” we think is our normal, everyday experience of life. And when that happens, we have basically two choices. We either sink or find a way to swim! We either drown or we find a way to stay a float (we find our water wings so to speak).

Honestly, that has been my challenge the past three days. After having to confront some news I knew was coming, and after having pushed too hard in my recovery I came face-to-face with some pretty bleak days. It was hard to get motivated, hard to move physically, and hard to focus on ways to seek the “GOOD” in this journey I never saw coming! Even as I sit and type this into my computer the pain in my shoulder and arm make it difficult to hit the right keys and formulate the words I want to write. To say that my outlook had become compromised would be putting it mildly!

But here’s the thing. I have never been one to quit! Some might say I am stubborn at times to a fault even! And even though from time-to-time I fall a little more than short in the optimism category in this great journey, it is my stubbornness that causes me to push forward and get up one more time. And here is what I have learned and that is, the reality is, your life and mine will not be defined by how many times we fall down, but by how many times we get back up again!

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Now, recently my lovely wife mentioned that I have been a little “preachy” in a couple of my blogs (And I would say what do you expect from a sidelined pastor lol) but here’s the thing, the ONLY WAY I have been able to get back up again is I know I don’t fight this battle alone! My faith tells me over and over again that God is with me in the journey! That Jesus is with me in the battles, the struggles, the circumstances, and in the limitations that come my way along the way!

Personally, I have come to realize that for me, my stubbornness is not just based on my own strength alone but more importantly on the strength of the One who is for me and not against me! And when it comes to the limitations that we all will face one day in this amazing journey I would simply say this, and that is, you are NOT intended to face them alone! You were NEVER created to face life alone! We need something beyond simply our own strength and stubbornness to navigate the waters that often threaten to flood our existences. My personal prayer would be that in those moments you turn to Jesus because I have come to know him to be faithful in both the ups and downs of my own journey! But having said that, at the very least I pray you would reach out to those around you and not suffer in silence! Sometimes with injuries like brain injuries, it is difficult for people to “SEE” that anything is wrong based upon outward appearances. Which is “WHY” the onus is on us to speak up and to reach out more often than not!

Which leads me to this one final thought and that is… “Our LIMITATIONS are the OPPORTUNITY to ENGAGE those around us!”

In order to get past some of the limitations, challenges, and struggles that come our way in this thing called the journey of life and faith we have to be willing to REACH OUT! We have to be willing to SPEAK UP! We have to be willing to STEPT OUT! We have to be willing to ASK, SEEK, and KNOCK… because often it is hard for others to “SEE” the struggles and to “UNDERSTAND”!

Which is “WHY” if you would like me to be PRAYING for you as you FACE your LIMITATIONS just leave me a comment below and you can rest assured I will do just that!

Blessings in the journey…

Rev Trev

 

 

Walking in another person’s shoes!

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In the book “How to Influence People” author John Maxwell makes the above statement. As I was listening to the audiobook this afternoon as part of my ongoing plan of recovery (not the book itself but a return to study), I had to stop and take a moment to ponder this declaration.

You see, there is a very real reason as to “WHY” this statement hit me so hard this afternoon and I want to share it with you.

The truth of the matter is this, there are very few people who would challenge the assertion that Maxwell makes in his writing. The reality is, we all need a bit more understanding and compassion for one another in this broken and mixed up world we live in today.

However, the reason this hit me so hard was simply because for the past three days I have been struggling with something that has come with this brain injury that I have had very little experience with. That something is panic and anxiety attacks that almost take my breath away. Sometimes these attacks last ½ hour and sometimes they can last for upwards of 3-5 hours with little break from the waves of uncertainty, insecurity and fear that accompany them! The attacks can come and go quickly, or they can linger extensively, or they can follow one after another and leave me with little sleep and often little clarity.

Now, I hate to admit this but, in the past, I personally had little compassion for those who might suffer from anxiety issues of all kinds. Mostly, I would simply think to myself…

“Come on now, suck it up! Trust in the Lord and it will be okay!”

I think the “suck it up” side of things comes from my upbringing and nurture under a very strong and unemotional father. The “trust in the Lord” side of things comes from my faith and many years of “Christian easy” language. Unfortunately, or maybe I should say FORTUNATELY both of these perspectives have been swept from my vocabulary as I wrestle with this side affect of my brain injury.

NOW, the reality is, sometimes both of the above thoughts are necessary in the journey of life and faith. BUT at the same time they are NOT always the thing that we need while we are in the midst of the struggles! Sometimes we need help in other ways, ways that can be hard for people to understand. Sometimes we just need someone to reassure us that ultimately things will be okay and that it is okay to struggle! Sometimes we just need a friend who will sit with us and not actually say anything. And sometimes we need someone who is willing to put themselves in our shoes for a moment, rather than trying to put us in our place emotionally, intellectually, and even spiritually!

Today as I write this post the anxiety lingers in the background, I can sometimes feel it in very palatable ways. But I know this, and for this I am grateful and that is I UNDERSTAND better today than ever before what it feels like to struggle with anxious thoughts, feelings, and emotions! I know better today than ever before what it is like to carry the sheer weight of the moment, when panic for no particular reason sweeps into one’s life! In other words, I know better today what it feels like to walk in the shoes of many people who struggle with this on a daily basis!

(The ADDA reports that Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year: https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics)

Thankful for the perspective that comes in the midst of the STRUGGLES…

Rev Trev

PONDERING the STRUGGLES!

So… our WORD for the DAY is… STRUGGLE!

It is a word that is synonymous with life in general! The best reality we can come to in the journey of life and faith is to understand that God has never promised us a rose garden existence.

In FACT… Jesus himself said these words:

“In this world you will have trouble.” ~The Gospel of John 16:33b

The TRUTH is… we will all STRUGGLE from time-to-time in this amazing journey we are all on together. There will be difficult times that challenge us in a multitude of ways, situations, and circumstances. Some of these STRUGGLES will be of our own making and some will be thrust upon us in ways that we NEVER expected or saw coming!

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NOW… what I love about this definition is the “action statement” that the authors choose to use in these two definitions of the challenges we find ourselves facing in life. Did you catch it? They use the words “to contend”! In other words, to stand up against, to wrestle with, to oppose whatever it is that comes our way.

YOU KNOW… sometimes as I walk through this journey, I want to give into the STRUGGLES that come my way. I just want to curl up in a little fetal position on the couch and cry out “WHY ME” (Ever been there? IF you are human you most certainly have to one degree or another)

NOW… the reality is, if I only have myself and my strength to contend against the STRUGGLES that come my way, I might just leave a permanent mark in the leather cushions of our living room sofa. You see, in any STRUGGLES that come our way we need more than just our own strength and resources to make it beyond the things that challenge us! We need friends, family, systems of assistance and so much more to make it through the things that come every one of our ways. AND we need something else that I will write about in a future post and that is HOPE.

BUT where does our HOPE come from? Is it something we muster in our own strength? Or could it be something that our family and friends provide for us as they do their best to walk with us through all the ups and downs we face? Or may it be that there is another source of HOPE that we can turn to in the inevitable STRUGGLES of this life’s journey?

PERSONALLY… I believe there is another source that is VITAL to recovering from the fullness of any challenge, but especially from an injured brain. It is a source that we all need in life’s journey, but I have come to learn that it is needed in this journey that I didn’t see coming for myself. And that’s because to contend with many of life’s STRUGGLES we need a source that goes beyond the things we often engage because the truth is all of those things are finite and limited.

In tomorrow’s post we will talk more about this SOURCE that can provide the HOPE we all need in whatever STRUGGLES we find ourselves facing!

Praying that you will find peace and comfort in the midst of your STRUGGLES…

Rev Trev

Where does my HELP come from?

WELCOME back!

I hope that the previous blogs have been helpful in one way or another to you or someone you love and cherish.

One of the things that I have prayed over as I began to accept the challenge to discuss the journey that God has placed me on at this time in my life is the “HOW” I was going to make this a worthwhile endeavour beyond just a simple personal daily update. As I prayed and pondered what I should consider writing about one of the things I could not shake is the idea of writing about key words that simply come to mind in my daily walk through this adventure called an “injured brain”. These words (and sometimes phrases) will be thoughts that have come to me through my interactions and encounters along the pathway that God has placed before me.

So, tonight I want to simply ponder the word “HELP”

You see, yesterday in my blog I mentioned about how for the first time in three months of trying to figure out this crazy journey I received some HELP from a visit to a clinic that specializes in concussion injury and recovery. It was something I had been yearning for and praying for since the day of the diagnosis.

But here is the thought that has captured me during the past day and a half of meetings and conversations and that is simply this:

“Do we ever truly know what kind of HELP we are looking for in the journey of life?”

You know, honestly, I think that many of us have some idea of the HELP that we desire as we encounter the challenges and twists and turns of life as we know it. But I wonder IF the HELP we think we need is really the HELP we really need! (Have I lost you yet?)

You see, yesterday as I sat in the clinic writing and waiting, I thought the HELP I needed was simply to recover from the concussion to the front part of my brain but to my surprise I actually needed to recover from the neck concussion first. In other words, I needed HELP in an area that I had no idea I needed HELP with. And that got me to thinking about the reality that when it comes to life in general, many of us really don’t know what HELP we actually need. Sometimes in the journey we call life, the HELP we need actually comes to us from a place or direction we had never thought about or ever even considered. It’s actually part of the mystery of life that many people like to chalk up to karma, coincidence, chance, fate, luck, or simply good fortune.

But for me personally, I love what the Bible has to say about the HELP that we need and the source of that HELP. Check out what the author of the 121st Psalms writes:

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Now, in these two simple verses that have been echoed throughout the centuries the author who is debated so shall remain ‘anonymous’ expresses that there is a source of HELP that comes not by chance, coincidence, or random luck. There is a source of HELP that comes at just the right time, not necessarily our timing that we can trust and place our hope in (both words that will be coming up in future blogs) in the many trials, challenges, joys, and sorrows of this life’s journey.

So, what HELP are you looking for today? Are you looking for HELP for a certain situation or challenge? Are you seeking HELP for a particular problem or predicament? Are you searching for HELP to an issue or concern that is troubling you or a loved one? Can I suggest that you actually look to the author of our HELP in life? The REALITY is He truly does love you and care for you even if you don’t believe it or if your circumstances suggest to your human understanding something different. There is a source of HELP for this life’s journey that is real and trustworthy and over this short journey I have been reminded of this time and time again.

Praying you reach out to the TRUE SOURCE of HELP in your time of need and beyond,

Rev Trev