Why You Need to Be Challenged in #2016

#2016 Challenges

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it will not change you.” – Urban Meyer

Can you believe a die hard Wolverine is quoting a Buckeye? If you understand sports and rivalries you will know what I am talking about. I am reading a book by Ohio State’s coach, Urban Meyer called, Above the Line. The book was referred to me by a friend. We were talking about coaching (I coach high school boys basketball) and leadership and he said it would be worth picking up despite your disliking of the boys in red.

The quote above is not just a good quote but it is a motto to life. As a former college basketball and semi-pro player I have always loved a good challenge. For instance, say I had a bad game, instead of sitting in pity at all of the things I could have done better, I take it upon myself to study the film, get back in the gym and work on how I can become better. This approach has helped me grow tremendously in life. – Taking on a challenge and allowing the challenge to help transform my life.

“Average leaders have quotes. Good leaders have a plan. Exceptional leaders have a system.” – Urban Meyer

As you may know, we are already a week into #2016. This week I have been reflecting a lot on life, my health, leadership, my many hats I wear, friendships, goals, relationships and my marriage. Here is what I need to keep in front of me in #2016: #Challenges – I look at challenges as goals I can accomplish. With each goal that is before me, the goal is a challenge that I want to accomplish in a timely matter before the year ends.

I have to be frank with you. I absolutely love where God is leading me. I am learning more and more about myself, my character, my identity, my work habits, what gets me fired up, my weaknesses and my strengths than I ever have. I find this to be a wonderful discovery gift to my life. I read more than I ever have, I ask more questions, I am more confident in who I am and in my leadership. I believe my growth is a result of my competitive drive and the hunger to be the best I can be.

What does all of this mean?

  • Set more S.M.A.R.T. Goals (Specific. Measurable. Actionable, Relevant. Timely. Goals.)
  • Find ways to challenge yourself.
  • Get some time to yourself to reflect on what you want to accomplish this year.
  • Know what your dreams are.
  • Come up with plans, systems and strategies to get you where you want to be in life.
  • Find a word, a phrase, a quote, maybe even a hashtag that will remind you of what you are chasing after this year. (For example: My hashtag is #BetterThanYesterday. My phrase: You are more than average, so work and act like it.)
  • Work hard, be consistent, build momentum and make great things happen this year!

P.S. In #2016 work on being less condemning to yourself. Instead, speak more positive life changing words. Don’t let a failed challenge discourage you. Treat a failed challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow from what didn’t go right. This is your year. So is 2017, 2018, 2019 and so on…

“You will not be successful as a leader if you are constantly changing directions.” – Urban Meyer

P.S.S. You got this!

Question: What challenges are you looking forward to this year?

Be #BetterThanYesterday in 2016

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#BetterThanYesterdaySimply means to let go of yesterday’s struggles and move forward, toward today’s success. 

Being #BetterThanYesterday begins by analyzing what is not working for you. There is something you do every day and throughout the week that causes you to struggle. Being aware of this habit and/or struggle is right where you need to be. As you move forward, know that change will be required of you.

Having a #BetterThanYesterday mentality, means each day you are being your best and you are living your life not stuck on the woes of yesterday.

Letting go of yesterday’s struggles is not as easy as it may sound. You and I both know, shaking a bad habit, creating change and beginning a new habit takes some sacrifice, dedication and accountability.

I truly believe you possess the will power and the desire to become better. As you move forward in your transformation journey your progress will come by, knowing the plan, working the strategies, executing the plan and enjoying the process of becoming the best you.

One of the biggest lessons I learned in 2015 was this: people who lack accountability, struggle in the areas they need to grow the most in. When people you trust know what areas you struggle in, not only can they speak words or encouragement but they can call you out when you are slacking.

 A great lesson of change is for you to create a circle of trust with people that have a #BetterThanYesterday mindset. 

Imagine how great you can become when you have people in your life chasing greatness with you!

As you know, 2015 is coming to a close. If you are like me, you find yourself reflecting back on the year. I enjoy and look forward to the last week of the year. I use the last week of the year as a reflection time, to look over my 2015 goals, challenges, victories, losses and memorable moments. This is a great way for me to establish momentum and to know what I am working toward for the new year.

My friend, be inspired, be encouraged, you made it through another year. Whether this year was hell or heaven for you, you are still here moving along in the journey. Don’t give up the fight of becoming the best you. There is still a lot of fight in you. You were created with a purpose. As you continue in your journey, your purpose will be used to bring major impact to this world. I am counting on you!

Here is what you can look forward to in #2016 from me:

  • Challenging content
  • Consistent and timely blogs
  • Authenticity and Relevancy
  • Bigger risks
  • A #BetterThanYesterday ebook
  • 21 day challenges
  • Cool #BetterThanYesterday gear

P.S.

Here is a #BetterThanYesterday video from yours truly. Enjoy!

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Help support the #BetterThanYesterday movement by getting a #BetterThanYesterday t shirt for #2016!

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Click this link to purchase your t -shirt. Thanks in advance! – > #BetterThanYesterday T Shirt

My goal is to get 100 people to purchase a t-shirt in 30 days. Considering helping this become a reality by purchasing a shirt.

P.S.S. Don’t forget to share in the comments what you are looking forward to in #2016. Lets be great together!

 

Confessing the Sins of Our Nation

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Let’s be honest here. Thanksgiving Day is not a celebration for everyone. There is a people group that is forgotten during this time of the year. We call them Native Americans. The Natives, from our understanding, were the first people group to live on this land we call America.

Our nation is guilty of the greatest tragedies this world has ever seen.

Before our nation was officially established, there was the shedding of thousand and thousands, if not millions, of innocent blood and lives. To this day, we still suffer from the atrocities and the decisions of the so call leaders of the “free world.”

It was not until the last two years, or so, I began to grieve during this holiday season. Call it an awakening or having a better understanding of history, I now can see and somewhat feel what my ancestors faced. Being bi-racial (half white and half black) I have somewhat experienced both sides. What I mean by this, I have been on both sides of the fence, where I have been mistreated poorly, and I have been treated with privileged. Either way, I grieve for both sides of my ancestry.

Turn on the news, and you will see, we are a nation struggling to know what it means to live out justice and equality, especially toward people of color. So many leaders have fought for change, yet and still, here we are in 2015, and it seems like we still haven’t got anywhere. People of color are still mistreated, protesting, marching, losing lives and wanting fair treatment. When will America wake up?

#BlackLivesMatter – What is it?

The ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter movement is not a violent movement. The media constantly tries to portray negative images of blacks. There is nothing new there. #BlackLivesMatter is a movement about peace, equality, fair treatment and justice. This movement brings awareness to this world about the unfair treatment blacks have to continue to face. Saying #BlackLivesMatter and supporting this movement does not mean other lives do not matter. All lives matter, this we know, but we cannot dismiss or try to downplay what’s happening towards blacks.

This is a battle blacks, and people of color have been facing since white Europeans took over someone else land and began in their quest to destroy every other person of color. May we not forget our terrible history and discover the truths our school systems did not reveal to us.

While we are in a season of thankfulness, this should also be a season of forgiveness. America we owe an apology first to Native Americans, then to blacks, and then to Latinos.

Racism, prejudice, greed, hate, evil all still exist. Until we begin to forgive and move forward as a nation, we will continue to kill those of color and those of color will continue to march on until something changes. #BlackLivesMatter! Don’t be afraid to say it and support the movement!

What can you and I do?

  • Begin to create relationships with those who are mistreated.
  • Love hard
  • Forgive often
  • Treat everyone with respect
  • Join the movement of peace, justice and equality
  • Understand life is bigger than your problems
  • Have compassion for those who continue to be mistreated

As a nation, we have to admit to our poor history. We may say we were found on Christian principles, but I think you and I know, from our history we were and still are far off from living out Godly principles. Call it misinterpretations or Bible gone wrong, we have to come to an agreement that something needs to change. I believe change starts with you and me, doing what we can to bring change and to influence those we have a relationship with to do the same.

Let’s be people of action. First start with confessing!

Dating vs Courting

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What if I told you, everything you ever learned about how to date, how a man pursues a woman and how a woman should prepare herself for a man was wrong, would you believe me?

As I entered my mid-twenties, I began to question my thoughts toward dating. I began to evaluate all of my past dating experiences. I began to read books on dating vs. courting. I began to search the Bible on what a healthy relationship looks like and I began to talk with married couples on their approaches toward their marriage. I began to talk with singles as well as non – married couples. After spending years analyzing and processing, below you will find my thoughts on this hot topic! By the way… I am no expert. 🙂

Let’s define dating:

Dating – Past the friend zone into a mutual liking of one another where two people are building a relationship. Usually built around selfish needs and physical intimacy while giving your best impressions of “who you are.” This is a relationship that is usually short term.

Let’s define courting:

Courting – Pursuing one another with healthy boundaries. Having a long term view in mind of the relationship. Building off emotional and spiritual intimacy rather than physical intimacy.

This is below list is in no specific order. I numbered the list so in the comment section; you can respond by saying I agree or disagree with # such and such… and you can share why you agree or disagree.

  1. Dating is usually selfish. – Why is this? Usually, both parties do not have the other’s best intentions in mind. You tell yourself you do, and think this in the beginning but really you are thinking, what is in this for me?
  1. Dating is usually all about “me” first. – Why is this? Shall we say self-gratification? Your needs and desires come first. Your needs and desires are important but the problem with this is, if your needs and desires aren’t being met, well on to the next.
  1. Dating is usually short term. – Why is this? All dating relationships are not necessarily taken seriously. I mean, who wants to date forever with no serious commitments or ultimate common goal in mind? It amazes me how women will stick around for years with the hope of getting married, when their man doesn’t have any intentions of getting married.
  1. Dating usually leads to break ups. – Why is this? Most people in dating relationships do not know how to handle conflict. All conflict is not bad. Conflict helps you grow. It is usually hard for those in the dating relationship to see this. There isn’t the same team mentality. For example: we may get into it and disagree from time to time, but this does not change our view of each other, our respect for one another or our relationship status. Why? Because we are still on the same team.
  1. Dating usually leads to looking for what’s wrong with the other person. – Why is this? People in dating relationships are constantly thinking and pointing out what’s missing in the other person, how he/she does this wrong, what you don’t like, how different you two are, and for this reason, dating relationships are called off. The self-centered view and perspective leads to going nowhere quickly. – I mean, what did you think? You would find someone just like you?
  1. Dating moves fast, and the relationship is usually rushed. – Why is this? Sparks are flowing, both of you are excited and maybe even too excited that the time being spent together on the phone, in person, and in conversation leads to confusing deep like and emotion for love. Usually before 6 months into the relationship someone says, I love you. – You mean to tell me, after 6 months, you love everything about a person you just met? Ok…
  1. Dating doesn’t usually start off with the end in mind. – Why is this? With dating, often, the two involved in the relationship do not have a common end goal. Hopefully, the end in mind is marriage. Most dating couples are not working towards marriage. What they are working towards is keeping a broken dating relationship together.
  1. Dating usually leads to not growing healthy as a couple. – Why is this? Stages of building in healthy ways are skipped. Such as: Getting to know each other’s personalities, the past, family backgrounds, life goals, life challenges, relationship challenges, dreams, goals, how to respond to conflict, and the list can go on and on.
  1. Dating usually leads to having sex or sexual interactions usually within the first 3 months if not sooner. – Why is this? Well, I am in a quote on quote relationship, so this should solidify that it is okay to now, go to the next level in our intimacy. In most people’s minds, this means having sex. There is not a lot of time spent getting to know one another, which ties into the last dating statement mentioned above. Sex can quickly lead to lies about how one feels about the other. – We all know a person does not have to love someone to have sex with him or her.
  1. Dating usually leads to hiding who you are. – Why is this? It is easy to put on display, my life is together, I know what I want, and I know where I am going in life. Usually, with dating the two in the relationship show their best versions of themselves. Especially in the beginning stages of dating. I mean who would want to date someone that has multiple struggles and issues in life? – Dating is much like our social media accounts. All good with little bad to show.

Before you decide to rip me apart, think about all of your dating relationship experiences. Now ask yourself, with the list mentioned above, how many of those dating statements are true? I am not at all saying dating cannot workout, or it doesn’t lead to marriage, or it cannot be healthy. What I am pointing out is the downside of dating that I see every day. The dating that I have been apart of in the past.

People can make poor decisions and try to justify those decisions by saying, “we weren’t that serious, we were just dating.”

If you are dating, what is your commitment? What are you committing to? What are you working towards? If you do not have clear answers, it is time to re-evaluate your dating relationship.

I do believe there is a significant difference between dating and courting. I would love to hear your thoughts on this blog post in regards to dating vs courting!

P.S. For Christians, I don’t think it is a sin to date or that it is wrong. What I do believe, there needs to be a re-defining of the meaning and purpose of dating.

 

Remember Your Story

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11/10/15 – Today, I realized I am living out a dream. A dream that I remember envisioning as a teen. I knew God had big plans for my life and a huge calling for me to walk into, I just didn’t know how God would get me there and to where I am today.

I am so thankful to know He cared about my future even when I struggled to see past my present situation as a troubled teen.

Growing up in the hood and being from the inner city, there were so many moments where I was hopeless. Being surrounded by negativity, influenced to do wrong and actively participating in bad choices, there were times where I thought, this is how my life will continue to be.

At the age of 16, I was selling weed at school, smoking weed before school, smoking before basketball games, getting drunk, skipping school, grades were at an all time low, emotionally unstable, on probation and ready to give up on a promising future.

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Today, I am a pastor, a high school basketball coach, a teacher at a college, a mentor, leader, college graduate and a husband. I share this because often as teens, we cannot see past our current struggles. We can’t see past our current false reality.

I am here to let you know, God can bring change, He can help you overcome, and He can get you out of your mess. It’s going to take some sacrifice, getting with the right people and letting go of the wrong people.

God has huge plans for you. Believe it, pray on it and act on it.

God bless you

#BetterThanYesterday

P.S.  Always be willing to share your story and your personal victories in life. Someone needs to hear them.

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My Marriage Exposed Me

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Here I was, thinking I had it all together. I had love and my relationship all figured out. I was going into marriage confident that I would never be the one to create conflict and confrontations in our marriage. I would always make my wife feel like she is the most beautiful woman that ever walked the earth. Boy, was I headed for a huge wake up call.

As I was preparing for marriage, reading books, listening to sermons, podcast, conversing and learning from married men, I came to a point where I felt like I had arrived in my relationship with Jasmine before we got married. The struggles from my past, such as, communication, not being me focused all the time were behind me and I had now become the man she needs me to be for a healthy marriage.

After about the first month or so of being married here is what I learned:

  • I am not as kind as I thought
  • I do get upset, frustrated and even angry
  • I struggle with showing the love of Christ daily
  • I am not the best communicator
  • I do have selfish tendencies
  • I can be self centered

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In result of being exposed to a lot of my weaknesses through my marriage, I have been able to own up to the fact that I still have a lot of growing to do. This is great. I am thankful for this but sometimes I get discouraged and overwhelmed. Some days I am not the best servant leader for my wife. Some days, I don’t put in the best amount of energy and prayer for our relationship as I should. Some days, I am mediocre.

Whenever I am exposed to a weakness, I want to go straight to work and turn whatever weaknesses I have into strengths. As a former collegiate and semi-pro basketball player, turning weaknesses into strengths in my game came natural. I watched film or my coach would point something out and boom, I’m spending tons of energy every day to become the best I can be. With my marriage, this is the approach I know I need to take. I need to continue to remind myself, with every healthy relationship, it takes a lot of time, energy and consistent effort.

Marriage has an unique way of saying, “you don’t have it all together. You do have a lot to work on.”

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Here are my closing thoughts about my marriage exposure:

I look at my marriage as God looks at His bride, a.k.a. His church. The church can be messy and so can you and I. The church can be out of order and so can you and I. The church can be a broken vessel and so can you and I. The church can have many flaws and so can you and I. The church can be a bad representation and so can you and I. The church can fall short and so can you and I.

But here’s the beautiful part about the church! Are you ready for it?

The church is beautiful and so are you and I. The church is God’s masterpiece and so are you and I. The church brings God great joy and so do you and I. The church is like a broken clay pot that has been pieced back together to make beautiful art.

This is what I have to remind myself:

I am apart of God’s bride. I am forgiven. I am redeemed. God’s mercy and His grace has been extended to me. Even though I will continue to fall short, and not meet all of Jasmine expectations, Jesus is her Savior and not me. Only He can fulfill her inner most desires. My role is to love her like Christ loves me: Unconditionally! This I can do. Through every struggle, shortcoming and battle, Jasmine and I are still on the same team just like you and I are still on God’s same team. We are all in this together.

God has an unique way of saying, “you don’t have it all together. I have a lot of work I want to do in you.”

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My Prayer is this: For all that God has given me to share through our story; that our story will inspire you to seek and desire a closer relationship with God. My prayer is for you to see that God is getting the glory for the work He has done and is doing in our lives. We are not perfect, we don’t have it all together or figured out. We love God and each other and we are willing to live this out so others can see they too, can do the same.

Be blessed my friends!

P.S. Here is our wedding video:

Here are my Wedding Vows:

Jasmine… When I think of love, I think of us
When I think of love, I think of you.
Bone of my bone. Flesh of my flesh.

Ripped from my rib. Created from dust.

There’s no denying what we share
Through the years. Through these tears
I share my heart. I give you my everything
My submission to Christ. Commissions me to love you
Like He, Christ, Loves the church

Jasmine…
You are more precious than gold
You are my love story that’s being told.
You are a virtuous woman
Your worth is far above rubies…

Jasmine…
I vow to be there next to your side
Through the good times
And through the not so good times
I am yours and you are mines
Together we can
No.. no together we will

Jasmine,
I vow to love patiently
I vow to be kind…

I vow to put even put the toilet seat down
I vow to keep my basketball shoes out of the bedroom.

I vow to allow you to wash the dishes.

In all seriousness…
I vow to not be jealous
I vow to not boast and be proud.
I vow to not be rude and demanding.
I vow to not be irritable
To keep no records of wrong doings
To never lose faith
To never give up,

I vow to always remain hopeful
To endure in every circumstance

Jasmine Marie Martin,
I vow to love you with all I got for the rest of my life!

 P.S.S. We would love to hear your love story and how we can be praying for you! Don’t forget to comment and share on social media to help encourage someone else that may need to see this.

 “God is far more concerned with doing a work in you before He does anything through you.

Give Her A Ring Or Move On!

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Give her a ring or move on. Bold huh? Not really. This is something I had to wrestle with. This is something I had to do. There is a Scripture in the Bible that says: “When I was a child, I thought as a child but when I became a man I put away childish things.”

Back Story:

I became an unashamed born-again Christian at the age of 17. Before the age of 17, I was a full-blown immature child. When it came to relationships with the opposite sex, I was no good. I struggled. Lying, manipulating, poor treatment and just doing whatever I wanted.

I didn’t grow up with great representations of how a young man should treat a lady. I learned how to treat women from the movies I watched, from my boys and what I thought in my head was right. So when God got a hold of me at 17, I knew there were many changes to be made. Starting with my view on love, relationships and women.  Continue reading