Thursday, November 19, 2015

How to Stop BURNOUT!

The day had finally come!  I was going to have my first real day off in over three weeks.  I had big plans.  While I was so furiously working, I thought of all the things that I would do when I had free time once again.  These things included sleep, different meals I'd eat, getting a long run in (I love to run), spending time with my family, catching up on some movies and tv, playing guitar, and writing. 
Whew!  That's a lot to do in my free time!  Didn't look like my free time would be so "free" after all.  I'd already crammed it full of expectations.  But it didn't matter.  Instead of spending my free time doing all sorts of interesting things.....I crashed........all day long I crashed.  I practically did nothing.  I felt like crap.  I felt so unproductive.  It was literally stressing about my day of destressing.
I want to be completely transparent with you.  I'm going to share things that some pastors or Chaplains might not share with you.  However, I'm going to share them, because I'm a real person with real struggles.
I've been hanging around burnout ever since I got back from deployment.  For a while, I thought I was fine handling it myself.  However, it increasingly became more prevelant and reared its ugly head.  Finding the strength to do even the most normal of everyday activities was getting harder.  To be honest, for the first time in my life, I thought I needed to see a counselor.  I have never considered counseling.  Me, as a caregiver, is supposed to be the one care giving.  I arrogantly manuerved about my life with the idea that I would never need counseling.  I've always talked to my wife, family, and friends about stuff, and honestly that helped me enough.  However, this was different.  It was different because I couldn't figure out what was burning me out so much.  I couldn't figure out why my strength, passion, and energy was being sucked out of me and zapped.
My first thought was maybe it was a spiritual condition.  I prayed.....and I prayed.  Honestly, I tried to seek Godly wisdom on it, but I still couldn't pin it down.
Then the day came.  After talking to my wife and a couple of friends, I decided to make a phone call.  I called someone that I thought I could talk to and hopefully get some clarity.  The phone rang....rang....rang...BUT NO ANSWER.  I hung up almost feeling defeated, but then I immediately went into prayer.  I prayed that God would restore the joy of my salvation.  I prayed for strength.  I prayed for energy.  I prayed for passion and excitement.  Then it hit me like a "DUH" MOMENT!
There was nothing I could do to stop the burnout!  I try to encourage people all the time to cope in healthy ways, exercise, delegate, get proper rest, and talk to people when they need a listening ear.  Those are all healthy things.  Talking to a counselor is a healthy thing.  However, doing these things won't necessary stop a burnout, fix a problem, or remove you from a crisis.  In that case, the best thing I can do as a believer is be reminded that God has purposed my context and mental being.  Thus, I'm reminded of how much I need him.
For me, the burnout wasn't exactly spiritual.  It was mental and physical.  I deployed, returned and have been going 'pedal to the metal' ever since.  I've counseled over 200 Soldiers in the past year.  The weight of taking on so many problems, issues, and heartbreaking scenarios is compounding.  While I do realize its a part of my job, the biggest revelation I've had recently is that I don't have to try and manage my burnout on my own.  I don't have to try and implement things into my life to keep the fire going.  God will keep the fires lit in me, even when they're struggling to stay ablaze.
My responsibility is to trust and take each moment that He gives me as His purpose.  He purposes my busy schedule and crazy days.  He purposes my "crashing on the couch in a vegetative state" days. 
There's a phrase in our culture that often gets attributed as biblical truth...
Sorry to burst any bubbles....but technically, this is wrong.  We often get way more than we can handle.  Many times we are forced to carry a load that we cannot lift.
This phrase comes on a loose interpretation of 1 Corinthians 10:13 which says,
 "No temptation has overtaken you that is common to man.  God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."
A better way of understanding is realizing that if you belong to God, He will not allow any difficulty to overtake you.  BUT REMEMBER THE KEY...."if you belong to God".  The difficulty will not overtake you because of Him, His strength, His sovereign hand.  On our own Charlie Brown its "good grief".  We're doomed.
So how has the helped my current situation?
Its shifted my mind back into a healthier perspective.  Burnout is upon me.  Its gonna happen.  Its a part of this life.  However, God is tracking.  He realizes this.  Not only that, He purposed it.  Thus, I know He's going to have my back and has awesome things for me to do in the midst of it.  You see, I don't have to stress about it.  I don't necessarily have to worry about deadlines, not getting a chance to rest, and not getting enough opportunities to be with my family.  Through God, He's got it covered.
The only thing I have to do is trust, and keep my eyes on the patch of road right in front of me. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Does God Make the Bad People?

My son, who just turned 4-years old, asks some interesting questions when it comes to God.  He asks questions that make me as a parent, take a step back and say "Whoa!  I don't know if I know how to answer that!" and "How did you come up with that?"
Recently, he has asked.....
"Where does God live?"
"Did God make the clouds? Because I'm pretty sure we couldn't get construction equipment that high off the ground."
"What did God dress up like for Halloween?"
"Does God make the bad people?"
I'm not quite sure what prompted the last question.  Perhaps he heard me and Stephanie talking about the tragic news of the terrorism in Paris.  Perhaps he has an overactive imagination with his affection for any and all superheroes.  Nonetheless, it was a question that truly bugged him.  I could tell that he was uncomfortable in thinking of how bad people could come into existence.
My answer might not have been perfect, but I told him that God created everyone and that it is true that some people decide to disobey God and be "bad".  I reminded him how important it was for us to obey God and try to be good to other people (light in the darkness).
My prayer is that my answer satisfied him for the moment, but more importantly my desire is that he continues to seek Godly truth.
The truth is....YES, God made the bad people.  That is an answer that baffles even the most educated of adults.  The confusion lies in our own logic.  Why would a good God create evil?  Why would God allow evil and tragedy to happen?  Why does God let bad people do what they do?
Honestly, we may never truly get an answer on any of those questions that will satisfy the human brain.  The simple truth is perhaps best summed up in what the Catholic Priest told Sean Astin in the 90's football classic movie, "Rudy".  "There is a God, and I'm not Him."
God is sovereign and has a plan, and while He has revealed much to us, there is still much that rests in His ultimate design for this universe.  What we know is that God wants man to be free from evil and sin.  However, He also is so loving that He created man with the ability to follow Him or not.  Unfortunately, men have chosen not to.  In choosing not to, we start down a path of death.  (check out Romans 6:21)  Can we all agree that the people we label as "bad" today are on a path that involves and glorifies death?
None of us are immune to sliding down that path of death.  Sure, you might cringe in horror at the events of the day.  Sure, you may not be a killer.  But the more we dabble in a path apart from God, the more we entertain that which destroys us.  The bible is clear that we all have been on this path and therefore we will all pay the price....death (Romans 6:23).  Fortunately, the second half of that verse shows us that God offers a gift!
What we can't do is ignore these biblical truths and facts.  We're good at distracting ourselves from the fact that we are bad.  Instead we align ourselves with political parties, pridefully proclaim our opinions and defend them on social media, use scripture to our advantage when its convenient, justify the wrong we do and glorify the good we think we do, and assume that everyone else is evil instead of looking at our internal reflection.
Ironically we do this selfishly as a way of self preservation and reputation saving, but instead its what brings us closer to evil and death.
If we want to be bad people all we have to do is lose sight of the most important principle of  Love and serve God.  Love and serve others.  Break free from elevating yourself above the world. 
The bible talks about the behavior of people in the last days.
2 Timothy 3:1-7 says, "In the last days there will come times of difficulty.  For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.  Avoid such people.  For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth."
"Wait a minute!  Why do you let you 4-year old son watch superhero movies?  Aren't they too violent and scary?"
I'll say one thing about the idea of the superhero.  It teaches the idea that there is a struggle between good and evil, and always paints the good as the desired path to follow.  I like that concept. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Glamorous Veterans

I'm currently sitting outside in the woods, on top of a mountain, in the dark.  My ears hear a chorus of crickets, coyotes howling in the distance, and artillery being fired off just a couple of miles away.     The night sky is a remarkable painted canvas of stars. It all seems like the backdrop of a lovely camping trip.

However, this camp out is far from lovely. I sit in the woods with hundreds of fellow Soldiers in the United States Army.  We're all tired. This time last year, we lived in Afghanistan. Now that we're back in the States, the drum doesn't miss a beat.  We keep running.  We miss our families. We miss meals.  We're covered in filth.  But despite what is stacked against us, we continue to train.  

Why do we train?  We train because of what is at stake. We love our families and country so much that we push forward to protect their freedoms and livelihood.

I have an all new respect for Veterans.  Veterans Day is not just a pat on the back for all the men and women who have served in our Armed Forces.  This day is about appreciating men who worked their finger to the bone, gave up precious years of their lives, and for a time...never quit training and working.

There's a reason that the military profession is called "service".  Serving is what the Armed Forces is all about.  The life is far from glamorous despite what may be seen in commercials and movies.

Doing God's work is what most of my adult life has been about.  I've always claimed that I serve.  I serve God.  I serve  others. I serve the church.  However, it wasn't until I began my career as an Army Chaplain that I believe I fully began understand what it truly means to serve.

I'm thankful to serve God and country.  I'm honored to follow in the footsteps of so many great men and women who have served our nation, made sacrifices, and fought the good fight for freedom.

"Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God."
1 Peter 2:16

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The War We Forget to Think About

Sometimes it's easy to pick a fight.  We all have our hot buttons, triggers, causes, passions, beliefs, and opinions.  If they're pushed or threatened, depending on our comfort level with confrontation, we'll go to battle in some form or fashion.

We all have an awareness of the things that we believe are wrong with the world and what needs to change. However, what if I were to tell you that one of the most crucial wars in our world was often being ignored and being allowed to cause massive destruction daily?

That war is the war on the mind.  Bear with me.  It's true.

I took a month off of blogging to focus my mind on October.  I missed Fall last year with my family and I wanted to kick it off with full focus on them and enjoying time together in my favorite season.  Work also became unexpectedly hectic, so that was also a factor in the break.

However, as the calendar turned over to November 1st, I began to immediately think about my blessings.  It's a practice that many do in November these days besides not shaving.  Many people list things they are thankful for and share it with their friends on social media. This all culminates with the holiday of Thanksgiving where we all overindulge in our blessings.

I love the practice of thinking of our blessings. It's healthy. It's biblical. It brings a smile to the face.  But what's crazy is that it is absolutely necessary to get through life.  Otherwise, we'll destroy ourselves in the quicksand of self pity and loathing.

Last year while deployed, my Chaplain Assistant and I had small cut-out turkeys that we wrote something we were thankful for on each day.  We taped them up in our office.  In addition, we had our chapel service do the same.  Turkeys flooded the chapel and our office area!  On all the turkeys, you could read all the blessings that God has given.  I know, it sounds a little hokey and cheesy, but it honestly was a game changer!

Being bombarded with thankful turkeys, shifted the focus off things that were bad, awful, negative, wrong, etc.  Instead, the focus was on joy, goodness, and most importantly, God's sovereign provision.

It was literally the happiest month of the deployment.  It was powerful!

When we lose the war in our minds, we give into sin, feed negativity, worry, gossip, envy, build up anger, and lose all patience.  Winning the war, we get the exact opposite of that.  We can spend all day spelling this out and seeing the destructive effects versus the joyful optimism.  I think it's obvious.  It makes perfect sense.

This is why I believe it's such a powerful part of God's plan for us.  God wants us to trust him no matter what.  God wants us to smile amidst trial.  In this, we remain gospel centric and glorify His great name.

Paul, who had every reason to complain, from prison wrote the following words to the Philippians....

"4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."

Philippians 4:4-9

Could you imagine how powerful we would be as believers if we operated with a peace of God that surpasses human understanding?  We'd freak people out....but in a good way.

While negativity breeds negativity, I believe people are ultimately drawn to those who are positive.  It's contagious too!

The impact we can have for Jesus will be limitless when we operate the way God intends us to!

So yes, be thankful this month. However, walk every day of the year in step with the blessings that God has bestowed upon us.  There's no reason to lose the war by focusing on the negative.  

I would rather be happy.  I would rather get rest and actually sleep.  I would rather not live frustrated and anxious all the time!

God's too good to not live this way!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Best Birthday I Ever Had...

And the winner is..................
All of them.
Is that cheating?
It never fails.  It seems like every year I'm asked the question, "which one of your birthdays was the best the one?".  Honestly, I can't really answer that question with absolute certainty.  There are many birthdays that I don't even remember.  There are others that I do recollect.
I remember my 10th birthday.  I had 4 buddies spend the night.  We ate pizza, stayed up late, played Excitebike on my Nintendo, battled the gridiron on my new electronic football game, and took turns passing gas in the face of the first one of my buddies to fall asleep.
I remember my 12th birthday.  My parents rented out a room at Aladdin's Castle.  It was the popular video arcade at the mall in Owensboro, Kentucky.  Each one of my guests got 10 free tokens.  I got like 50 free tokens.  My wrist was tired from weilding the heck out of the Mortal Kombat joystick.
I remember my 16th birthday.  My parents tried to surprise me.  It sorta worked.  Honestly, I just remember turning 16 more than anything!  I was the youngest kid in my grade.  I finally felt caught up to everyone else.
I remember my 21st birthday.  My girlfriend....(now wife) tried to pull off a surprise party.  Unfortunately, one of my buddies who was notorious for not keeping his mouth shut, ruined that one.  The party was still a lot of fun, despite me finding out about it beforehand!
I remember my 22nd birthday.  It was the first birthday in which I felt like an adult.  Just minutes before I celebrated with Stephanie and my parents, I was cleaning hair out of the shower drains in the men's locker room at the Clarksville Athletic Club.  Glamorous.
I remember my 30th!  Stephanie again tried to surprise me.  This time, it actually worked.  It worked because she scheduled the party 2 weeks before my actual birth date.  I didn't see it coming so early.  I remember a friend from church was sent to be a distraction.  He made up a story about believing in aliens and said he needed my counsel.  I remember trying to rack my brain to come up with the best theological advice that I could.  I was glad to find out he was faking, because there's no telling what kind of crazy advice I actually gave him.
I remember number 36.  It was just last year.  It was the first birthday I spent away from family.  I was in the lovely country of Afghanistan.  My battle buddy and I got smoothies and watched Mean Girls in the office.
Of course, I remember my 37th.  Its today.  I came home from PT.  My wife and kids had decorated the house so nice with signs and streamers.  I was also greeted to a lot of hugs and a hot breakfast.
I'm sure my mom will read this and likely be offended that I don't remember all the cool birthdays she planned for me as a kid.  Its not that they weren't great.  They were all great!  Its just that they all have something in common which makes them not individually stand out.  Trust me, I will probably be saddened too when my kids grow up and don't remember the hours I poured into creating treasure hunts, making signs and videos, and putting together birthday epicness.
However, I'm glad that they are growing up being surrounded on their birthdays by good people that love them. 
That's what all my birthdays have had in common.  God has blessed me to be surrounded by people that love me and that I love.  I haven't had to spend one birthday alone.  I've never had to wonder if there was actually someone out there that cares about me.  Its always been evident. 
I know this isn't true for everyone, but this leads me to be more diligent about celebrating the lives of the people around me.  I will always try to make a big deal and make people feel special on their birthdays.  Even though the Facebook wishes don't take much effort and leave you with a billion notifications, it still feels nice to be reminded that there are people out there that care.
I believe God wants us to show others that we do care.  Its a big part of His design.  So as we think about ways that we show love to other people, may we look at ways to celebrate them, be their fans, and build them up. 
"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor"
Romans 12:10

Friday, September 11, 2015

My Opinion on Everything

Now, to share my opinion on everything that's been dominating our newsfeeds.....

Okay okay, I'm not that arrogant to think that the world is anxiously awaiting my humble thoughts like children lining up at the ice cream truck.  However, I feel a strong sense to share my heart after keeping silent for much of the summer.

Today is September 11.  Last year I spent the 11th in Afghanistan, a part of the conflict that spurred out of that tragic day 14 years ago.  Out of all the things that I remember about September 11, 2001, I at least have fond memories of the humility that day brought us, the unity that characterized our nation, and the spiritual awakening and turning back to God that occurred. 

Fast-forward 14 years and it seems that our nation is more divided than ever.

At some point, we moved on from the good that came from the pain and the lessons we learned.  We've moved back to a life of pride, selfishness, and out of the scope of God's wisdom.

I can't control anyone else.  As much as my pride might want to tell me that I can....i can't.  

As a Christ-follower, I do best by coming to grips with the fact that God is real and I am not Him.  He is in control.  That's why I need His wisdom.  

With this in mind, this is why I've been reluctant to share my thoughts on Same Sex Marriage, Ashley Madison, Kim Davis, Planned Parenthood, and Deflategate.  (Okay, that last one really doesn't matter that much...ha!)

I'm not reluctant because I fear criticism. I'm reluctant because I don't honestly believe that I'm always at a point where I can rationally share my opinion with a pure motive and heart.  Most of the time, I want to share it out of pride.  

Social media makes it too easy to lash out in pride.  It's easy to get your opinion out there and get into a competition of comebacks, clever memes, sharing articles that support, and trying to get the last word.  It all reeks of pride.  And I would normally be right in the midst of it, but I realized that I'd be acting in pride and ultimately, my arguing on social media is about as fruitful as trying to grow corn in a tub of charcoal.

That's why I need to focus on better things.  I need to focus on what I can control and that is asking God to help me walk in step with His Spirit and respond in Christ-like love to the world I live in never compromising the wonderful message of the Gospel.

When we have a moment of humility, we often leave it to indulge in a world in which we pridefully defend our way of life like it is ours to begin with.  

This may not be a popular view, but I think Kim Davis responded with pride.  In my humble opinion, I had to wonder why she didn't resign the moment she knew she'd have to do something that she convictionally could not do.  Waiting, defying authority, and going to prison communicated pride to me...not love.  

As burdened as I am for marriages, the Ashley Madison scandal wasn't surprising.  The bible communicates how rampant sin is in the flesh.  We have an enemy that is waiting to devour us.  My response is not to point fingers and act shocked at those individuals caught up in the scandal.  My response is to look at my own life and the sin that I allow to fester.  My little white lies make me guilty before a holy God the exact same as if I were to cheat on my wife.  Jesus says the heart is what matters, so it's not just the's the motives.  My lusting after another woman is the same as having an affair.  Having a short fantasy about a beautiful I encounter at the store is the same as paying Ashley Madison to have an affair.

Its easy for us to be critical of those who are unfaithful or of those in the midst of the same-sex lifestyle.  However, I wonder how many churches employ ministers and elect deacons that have been divorced and re-married, or that regularly look at pornography, or that have lustful thoughts about other people?  I find that we're okay with sin as long as we can't see it.  God's not.  How differently would things be if we looked at inner self with the same passion we look at other's sin?

No, I don't think Kim Davis should have gone to jail.  To send her to prison was a ridiculous abuse of judicial power.  No, I don't think that shop owners should be punished for denying business to same sex couples.  However, I think my response is better not to fall on the side of pridefully blasting my peers on social media.

The race issues are a shame.  This is proof that we have an enemy who has been hard at work to divide us since 9-11.  14 years ago, we praised police officers.  Today, they have to watch their backs because of prideful ignorance.  The fact that anyone willfully believes agenda-fueled media outlets is proof that we're not as smart as we think we are, or that we're comfortable operating in pride so much so that we like to only surround ourselves with people that agree with us.
Blaming guns.  Blaming police officers.  Its all agendas.  This is not reasonable thinking.  Reasonable thinking looks at self and asks the questions, "what do I need to change about me?".

A lot of people are scared to ask that question because as human beings, we fear change.  Remember, God wants to radical change us.

The Planned Parenthood issue has been the most troublesome to stay quiet on.  One, I think many fellow Christians have responded in ignorance and hate.  However, its also been hard because I am so passionate on this issue.  I believe abortion is the single most important issue in modern politics.  To me, what a politician believes about life tells me how much he aligns with my God who created life.  Obviously, I think Planned Parenthood is careless, hypocritical, and devalues life.  However again, I have to look at myself.  What am I doing to show value for life?  What am I teaching my children?  How am I taking care of my life and body?  Again, I believe the focus has to start on seeking God's wisdom and direction for what I do as His child.

Yes, there is a theme here.  It should be no surprise that sin resides in our world.  It should be no surprise that we have an enemy who is set on destroying.  We can only focus on examining our own hearts and asking God to help rid us of the things that don't belong there.  We can be bold.  We can communicate truth.  However, let the boldness start with examining self in a path to God-like holiness.  It takes boldness to give up the things the rest of the world holds dear in order to be more like God.

Take college football for example.  I see more passion out of my Christian brothers and sisters about college football than anything else.  In fact, I noticed quickly that when college football kicked off last Saturday, that the political and moralistic social media posts disappeared and the "Roll Tide Roll" statuses and stadium selfies took their place.  When it comes to college football, people stake their entire emotional state of mind on whether or not their team is winning or losing.  It becomes our life.  And if you ask most fans, they can tell you exactly what changes should take place to set their team on path towards a championship.

What changes should take place to set your life on path toward God's holiness?

My opinion on everything?  It's what change needs to happen in my life to make me more like God.  Jesus is the answer.  Thankfully, salvation isn't up to our works.  God's grace is good.  However, as long as I navigate this earth, my goal is to be more like my maker.  That's where He wants my mind, not on policing the world's sin problem.

As for other people.  My focus is to be on putting their needs above my own.  My focus is to disciple those that God saves.  I invest myself and pour into them the love and teaching of Christ.  I can't do that if I am not reflecting that myself.


2 things....

1. Check out  Interesting findings.  26 NFL teams were fined more than the Patriots for cheating last year.  That's almost every team.  So the Patriots are actually one of the least cheating teams in the league.  The media goes after them because they're so polarizing.

2.  Did you watch the "deflategate" game?  LeGarrette Blount ran for 148 yards and scored 3 touchdowns.  Andrew Luck threw 2 picks and no touchdowns.  Brady could have played with frisbees and it wouldn't have mattered.

Again, look at your own team.  How much do they cheat?

Notice a theme?

Today is September 11th.  Remember those who sacrificially gave their lives.  Honor them by living in unity and seeking God.  It starts with you and God.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Congratulations, You're Banned for Life!

You're out like a fat kid in dodgeball!  When I was a kid, we actually played games in which you could be eliminated.  I hear it doesn't happen that way anymore.  Me personally, I believe getting out or eliminated builds character.  Its good for you.  You can't always win!
If you're like me, you've been eliminated in a game of dodgeball.  You've struck out in baseball or softball.  You've been frozen in a game of tag.  You've accidentally crossed the line in bowling and set the little buzzer off. 
Most of us know what it feels like to be disqualified!  Its not a great feeling.  But when it comes to a game, its not the end of the world either.
In life, we often feel disqualified.  Our view of God can sometimes get skewed in a way in which we believe that one mistake will get us "banned for life".  Now, without Christ, this is actually true.  We can't enter the Kingdom or have relationship with a Holy God apart from Christ.  One mistake builds a canyon between us.
In the wake of recent moral failures....(take your pick from the headlines), I believe its important to realize that in Christ we still go on.  We don't go on sinning, but we go on with the mission.  An unbelieving world frequently sees itself as unworthy and disqualified to come to God.  One of the ways the enemy deceives new believers is by telling them that they have too much baggage to be effective for God's work.  And yes, we as Christians will disqualify ourselves too.  We allow a moral brain fart or slide keep us from getting back into the game.
Thankfully the Gospel points to us not being banned for life.  When Peter royally screwed up, he left the game for a while.  He thought he was out.  He thought he'd been hit with the dodgeball.  He thought it was time to sit out and let the game go on without him.  However, even after Peter denied Jesus, went back to his life of fishing, Jesus still sought him out and told him to get back on mission.  Jesus wasn't surprised.  He knew Peter was going to mess up.  He predicted it!  He told Peter it would happen.  But Jesus also knew that Peter was "the rock".  Peter wasn't banned for life or disqualified.  Peter would be the one who preached the gospel to thousands during the moments of Pentecost and see thousands be saved.  It wasn't over!
The great thing about dodgeball is that we generally get another chance.  You might get hit and sit out for a moment, but usually another game starts up.  In fact, if your teammate catches the ball, you automatically get back in the game.  In freeze tag, if someone touches you, you're unfrozen and back in the game.  Its not contingent upon what we do.  Its all about the performance of someone else.  Through Jesus' performance, we have grace.  Yes, we will mess up, but he covers us with grace, makes us right before a Holy God, and has sent us His Spirit of power.  With that, God chooses to use us and impact the world for His purposes.  We can't use the excuse that we are all out of chances or that we've messed up too bad.  There's still work to do.  Its time to get back on the horse and try again! 
In no way does this give us a license to indulge in moral failures or tolerate them.  If anything, when I'm given a second chance, I'm grateful and I want to move on from my mistake.  I don't step back into the batter's box after a strikeout to strikeout again.  I step back in to knock the cover off the ball.
Are you struggling?  Have you failed?
Welcome to the club.  Jesus is ready for you to get your head back into the game.  Lean on Him and do great things!

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