Thursday, February 28, 2013

Guest Blog! Joel Anderson, Survivor Micronesia Contestant

Recently, I've had the incredible opportunity to speak with Joel Anderson, a contestant on Survivor: Micronesia in 2008.  Joel is a husband, father, firefighter and a big guy who was kind of remembered as the "bully" of the season. He was famous for angrily dragging around one of his fellow contestants during a challenge and some pretty intense outbursts on the show.  These are really not something any of us want to be remembered for, which is why he tried to forget all about his experience on Survivor for a long time.

This is not the Joel Anderson I spoke with the other day, though.  A lot has happened in his heart since his Survivor experience.  God used his time on Survivor to humble him and show him how he was coming across to others in life.  As I spoke with him, I couldn't help but think of Proverbs 15:33, "Fear of the Lord teaches wisdom; humility precedes honor." His humility in sharing his heart really made an impact on me. It was so inspiring to hear him tell me his story that I asked him to write a guest blog for me. Below is what he wrote. I hope you find it as encouraging as I did - and I hope you will check out his website and show him some support (www.thekickashlife.com).  You can follow him on Twitter, as well (@SurvivorJoelWho) God is using him and his message to help encourage others to live a life of authenticity and character.   -Leslie


“What was it like? Did Survivor change your life?” This was the number one question that was asked of me after my adventure on Survivor: Micronesia in 2008.  For years after Micronesia aired in 2008, I would angrily and curtly answer, “Nope, nothing changed.”  Part of my answer was because I did not want anyone to think I changed. I was pretty proud of who I was. Another major reason was because I was angry and bitter.
Now what in the world would anyone who was given an opportunity to play Survivor, win $1million dollars, visit another country, go scuba diving in Palau, spend a month in Phuket Thailand, have everything paid for, do almost anything I wanted and live like a celebrity for a month, not to mention be on the most popular reality TV show of all time, have to be angry and bitter about?
Good question.
The short answer is I felt misrepresented.  I know; I even sound like a child to me when I say it now, but I genuinely felt misrepresented and misunderstood because of it.  I felt the producers made me look like a bully, a crazed lunatic and like a jerk.
I looked at my opportunity to be on Survivor as an opportunity to share with the entire world my “awesomeness”.  Yes, I know exactly how that sounds.  I absolutely wanted to win the $1million and believed that would actually be the easy part.
When season sixteen aired in February of 2008, I was received as anything but great or awesome.  I never considered looking at the way I acted as a contributing factor for the reception.  After all, I was just being myself and being myself meant being “awesome”. 
I felt the edit played down my greatness and played up my weaknesses while also placing me in the shadow of returning players and so called “favorites”.  I was furious.  How could no one catch the great fumble by production and editing that the entire season was about me?  So what if I was only there fourteen days?  So what if I was voted out fifth?  So what if I was only on five episodes of the entire season? I was the greatest thing that Survivor or any of its fans had ever seen and the edit completely stole that reality from the audience! 
Like I said, I never considered that everyone was reacting to the fact that I was just being me.  I never considered that I was, in fact, accurately portrayed by the edit.  I never considered the fact that maybe my strengths were less than I thought they were and my weakness were greater.  I never considered that maybe I was harsh, abrasive or insensitive with the way I treated others.  I never considered that my social interaction was slightly inept.  The only possible explanation in my mind was that I was so great the editors had to tone me down so I didn’t overshadow everyone else on the season, without ever even consulting me about it!
That had to be the problem. I had to be made to look weak so that everyone else on season sixteen, and every other season, would not realize how weak they were in comparison to my greatness.  That was the only possible solution and it infuriated me that such a travesty would be allowed.
Fast forward through the next four years and through raising my two boys and my daughter.  My goal as a father is to raise my sons into men of honor and my daughter into a God-fearing woman of honor, too.  For me, it all starts with teaching them to love God, know the Jesus of the Bible and honor God with the choices they make.  This process actually starts with me modeling the same behavior which I desire to see in them.  Sure there are a lot of other details and factors but this is the big one. 
Each of my children is a little mirror of me and my wife.   My oldest boy is literally an exact clone of me.  From his attitude to his facial expressions, mannerism, competitiveness and even his need to be in control of everything; my oldest son is a mirror image of his father.  Naturally, when he was acting in ways that I considered unacceptable, inappropriate and not honoring to God I would ask him, “Where in the heck did you learn that?”  He learned it by watching me. In the same way people who watched Survivor saw something in me that I did not see in myself at that time. 
Four years after my season aired, a light bulb finally went on.  The light bulb shed light on the way I had been living my life for the last thirty-six years.  The realization was a large and tough pill to swallow.  The truth often stings but it is way better than wandering around aimlessly in the dark. 
I didn’t do anything different on Survivor than I had been doing in my personal life up to that point.  I treated people in my personal life the same way I treated my fellow castaways on Survivor.  I was no less aggressive, abrasive or a control freak in real life than I was on Survivor. 
Four years later, for the first time, I realized I had been pretty accurately portrayed.  Four years later I realized people’s interpretations and perceptions of me were pretty fair and true.  Four years later I realized something needed to change and that something was me. If I wanted to have the life I thought I had been working towards, if I wanted to be the man I thought I had been portraying, if I wanted to be the dad I thought I had been, if I wanted to raise the sons I thought I had been raising, I needed to change.
My theme song in life used to be "My Way".  My way was powerful.  My way was aggressive, independent, driven, determined, in control, resilient and relentless.  None of those things are necessarily bad, except for the fact that my way of using those traits was to glorify me.  My way was to share with the world my greatness, my awesomeness, my excellence and my glory.  My way had nothing to do with honoring God and living my way would never teach my children to honor God.  My way would never teach my children the person of Christ.  My way would never do anything except create two more men and one more woman in this world who believed the entire world revolved around them.  I think we have enough people in this world like that already.  I needed to stop living my way and realize I was actually lost in my ways.
I have a lot of blessings in my life and I see them now.  I have my wonderful wife of twelve years.  I have my awesome children, two boys and a little girl.  I have had some really incredible and unique experiences over the years, too.
So if you ask me now, “How did Survivor change your life?”  I will tell you it allowed me to see me for me.  I have another blessing, a sort of blessing in disguise, called my “Survivor Experience”.  I had the ability to look at my life on a big screen and see me for who I really was.  Not many people get this experience.  Not many people get the understanding to see what others see when they see them.  I got to take a look from the outside and look at my actions objectively instead of subjectively.
So often, so many of us think we are projecting a specific image of ourselves out onto the world while we are actually completely missing our mark.  I’m not talking about pleasing others here.  I’m talking about doing what we intend to do.  I’m talking about living intentionally instead of by accident.  I’m talking about living in the Light instead of wandering around in the darkness.  I’m talking about living on purpose and with purpose instead of just letting the chips fall where they may. 
If you want to tumble through life, then be tumbleweed.  If you want to drift through life then be driftwood.  If you want to be successful, no matter how you define it, you have got to live intentionally, on purpose and with purpose.  We cannot do this if the self we think we are projecting to the world is not the self we are actually projecting. 
Now, four years later, I can honestly say that this is how Survivor changed my life.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Wholehearted: Living the Life You Were Created to Live




Available now!

To order, click here.

We want to be significant.  We want to matter.  We want to leave our imprint on the world.  These are 

all very good things to desire, but if we desire them “hole-heartedly”, we will never find our peace.  

Not until we fill our desperate soul with God’s incredible presence will we be enabled to live a wholehearted life.


In the pages of this new book, you will find the answers to many of the questions you may be asking yourself:
  • Is there more to this life?  Is this all there is?
  • My heart is just not feeling much like obeying God, is it even possible?
  • Why can’t I seem to find peace in my life?
  • I said a prayer to ask Jesus in my heart, so why don’t I feel “saved”?
  • I go to church, I volunteer and I wear myself out trying to impress God – do you think He notices?
  • Are all Christians hypocrites and judgmental?
  • I am caught up in a very sinful lifestyle but I don’t really want to change.  How do I change my “want-to’s”?
  • Do I have to clean up my life before I can begin a relationship with Jesus?
 The unfulfillment in my life was a symptom of undiagnosed heart disease, but not a physical disease; more of a spiritual one.  Until I stopped trying so hard to be good and began to realize I was dying, I was stuck in a rut of misery within an empty existence while I always felt like a fraud and a failure.  My “outside” life looked just fine, but inside I knew something was missing.  And I just couldn’t put my finger on it. Can you relate to this?

Wholehearted will take you on my personal journey but will also challenge you to examine your own journey, while giving you clear explanations and answers from God’s Word along the way.  Come join the journey with me to living the life you were created to live – your wholehearted life is waiting for you! 
-Leslie Nease

Here's what people are saying about  
Wholehearted: Living the Life You Were Created to Live:
 
Wholehearted is a joyful and inspirational read from start to finish!  Leslie Nease combines heartwarming true life stories with sound doctrinal principles that reach both the heart and the mind.  I was encouraged, convicted, challenged, and strengthened.  I strongly recommend this book for everyone who wants a closer walk with God.

Dr. Tony Beam
Vice-President for Student Services and 
Director of the Christian Worldview Center at North Greenville University
Radio Host of Christian Worldview Today on Christian Talk 660

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In her powerful new book, Leslie Nease walks us through what to expect once God performs spiritual "heart surgery" on us. With humility, honesty and lifelong-friend-relatability, she weaves her own incredible story of God’s tireless pursuit of her entire heart with Scriptural truth that will encourage and edify yours. No matter where you are in your journey of faith, you will find encouragement as Leslie reminds us who God is: the Healer of our hearts, the Sustainer of a life dedicated to Him, and our only hope for living a fully wholehearted life!

Christian Recording Artist
"Come Rest" - as heard on His Radio 

********************* 

Wholehearted is not just a book – it’s a real, honest-to-goodness love journey that will move you deeply. Leslie Nease pours her life out on each page with tender courage to point you toward the peaceful and purposeful life that each of us long for.

Gwen Smith
Author, Speaker, Worship Leader & Songwriter
Co-founder of Girlfriends in God


*********************

Leslie has a way of walking you through the foundations of faith that make you feel like you've just been on a road trip with a girlfriend.  Wholehearted serves as the road map to the abundant life that you've always wanted.

Carol Davis
Christian Radio Host and Program Director at WMIT
Speaker and Writer

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In her new book, Wholehearted, Leslie Nease effortlessly relates in a way that captivates and encourages even the most skeptical and suspicious heart among us.  I urge everyone to take this opportunity to heal your weary heart with such sweet words of wisdom, grace, and kindness.

Courtney Yates
Fellow Former Fei Long Tribe Member, Survivor China, 2007
(when the show first started, it was obvious Leslie and Courtney were put on the same tribe because of their differences. But after spending time together in the jungles of China, they have become very close friends)

*********************

Leslie has written an inspiring and encouraging book, drawing deeply from the trials, struggles and disappointments of her own journey, that clearly shows that life's ultimate victory is only found in Christ.  If you, like many, are weighed down by the baggage from your "old" life that you allowed into your "new" life and simply cannot seem to get free from it...be encouraged.  Wholehearted is the book for you!

Pastor Steve McCranie
Gastonia, NC

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Leslie gets right to the "heart of the matter" by sharing her heart in her new book, Wholehearted.  The analogy she uses between a physical heart patient and a spiritual heart patient really brought this book alive for me!  Even if you've been on a journey with Jesus for years or if you have never heard of Him, there is something in this book that will stir and challenge your heart.  Thank you, Leslie, for being yourself and sharing your story!

Brian Sumner
His Radio Afternoon Host/Promotions Director 

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Leslie Nease's heart has been transformed by the power of God's grace and love. With authentic honesty and challenging truth, she'll help you discover how yours can be too! If you want to know God more intimately and experience all He has for you - from the inside out – then read this book! With the turning of each page, you'll feel like you're having soul-stirring conversation with a friend you can trust.

Renee Swope 

Best-selling Author of A Confident Heart
Proverbs 31 Ministries Radio Co-host & Executive Director

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Reactive or Effective?

I threw a spoon across the kitchen the other day.  It felt good for about two seconds and then I realized I was being an idiot.  My girls had been screaming and picking on each other all afternoon and I had reached my limit. "She's looking at me!"  "She's touching me!" "She won't leave me alone!"  "Why did you have to be born?!" Initially, I chose to stay out of it and try to let them work it out.  But it just got worse and worse and they were now pushing me to the edge.

When I finally decided to jump in and intervene, it was too late - I was an emotional volcano and I erupted with a spoon thrown across the kitchen floor while screaming at the top of my lungs "KNOCK IT OFF!".  Yeah, that was effective.  I'm so glad they were upstairs and did not see my 3-year oldish reaction.  What in the world happened anyway?!  Who was this psychopathic woman in my kitchen and where did that sweet, gentle mommy who was there a moment ago run off to?  Sure, the girls got quiet - very quiet - but I think it was because they were in shock!

Have you ever reacted to something and then really regretted how you responded?  You obviously know my answer to this question! I think it's when my emotions get all wired up and I lose my "filter" to be able to respond in a godly way.  I always regret a knee-jerk reaction - usually it's not the godly response I would prefer to have, but it feels right for about two seconds.  After the two-second window, my heart is sick and regrets creep in, along with remorse.

I think that when I'm hurt deeply, that is when I do this the most.  As I've prayed about this specifically this week, I've felt that what I'm hearing is "Be effective, not reactive".  I have been meditating on this and searching the scriptures for examples of how to be more effective in my life rather than reactive.

When I react spontaneously and without thought, it is usually out of pure adrenaline and emotion.  A reaction is so quick that unless my heart is changed completely, it will come from my human nature, not my new spiritual nature in Christ.  The key to being transformed and being able to be effective in my response is found in Romans 12:2:  "Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect."

When I'm confronted with a big decision, if I'm emotionally injured or stirred up or even if my children have done something wrong and I need to discipline them but I'm too emotionally upset to think straight, I need to wait before reacting.  When I react in a discipline matter with my kids, it's usually reactive and not as effective a punishment as when I take the time to think, pray and seek wisdom in the matter.  When I speak before thinking when I've been upset or emotionally injured, I will inevitably say something I'll regret two seconds later.

Proverbs 15:28 says "The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking; the mouth of the wicked overflows with evil words."  That's interesting, because if you read Luke 6:45 it says "...What you say flows from what is in your heart."  That means that if our heart is not being changed by Christ (transformed - by the renewing of our mind and changing how you think, which will trickle down into our heart) then our quick reactions will not be naturally good.  That is why I need to stop, think, pray and seek His response before I allow an ungodly one to erupt out of my heart.

After a heartfelt apology to my girls for my foolish reaction, we are now fine. Thank the Lord for grace!  Once everyone was calm, I was able to speak to them about their relationship with clarity and purpose.  God used my spoon-throwing reaction to remind me that if I'm in a process...and He's not finished with me yet.

Proverbs 29:11 "Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back."


Proverbs 15:1 "A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare."

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Is There a Right Way to Share Jesus?

If you look around in churches today, you will see all sorts of programs and artistic expressions that have been implemented to teach and share the truth of Jesus Christ.  Things like musicals, story telling, dramatic presentations, prison ministries, radio and television programs and so much more!  I have heard some people say that these programs are a waste - we should just preach the Word, like the Bible says!  Why waste money on programs?  Did God specifically tell us to create programs? We're being too much like the world, isn't it wrong to be like the world?


Yes, I do think we should preach the Word and I think the Gospel absolutely speaks for itself! I also think it's important that we are in the world but not of the world when it comes to our behavior.  I also believe preaching is very important. But I also believe our lives should be preaching the Gospel every day...not only in what we say, but also in what we do.  As I look through the Bible I see that God is truly the Initiator of these creative programs. 

Here are some examples I've come across in my reading...
  • Jeremiah - He preached through tears to the Israelites.  Some call him the "weeping prophet".  He was obedient to preach the message, even though it wasn't what the people wanted to hear.  Today, he'd be known as "sensitive" and probably be told he was too emotional.  But God sure did used this weeping preacher!
  • Ezekiel - He was the prophet who was always acting things out.  Not because he wanted to, mind you.  Because God told him to.  I think God knew that creative expression would be one way the Israelites might actually listen.  God is really into drama!  He uses it as a tool to share His truth with others, through those whom He has gifted.
  • David - David used his musical gift and wrote tons of songs that are still encouraging us today - you can find them in the Psalms.  This art form was a gift from God to us - and we are still being blessed by those who have this gift and use it to share truth with us today in our Music Ministries, concerts and radio stations.  Hey, some of them still use David's words!
  • Joshua - Now, Joshua was a true leader.  He was the Commanding Officer and people listened to him because he spoke with authority due to his faith and relationship with God.  I suppose he would be like someone who shares their faith through leading by example, whether in ministry, in the workplace or even on the battle fields at war. A true servant-leader.
  • Paul - Paul spent a huge portion of his ministry time in prison.  So, he was the first to implement a "prison ministry".  Just think of how many people were saved because he was in prison!  God used him right where he was to minister to prisoners and even guards.  And the people he shared Christ with were in a dire, hopeless state.  I can't think of a more effective witness for Christ than someone who will share, even while in chains, to people who are in a position of hopelessness and in desperate need of the hope that only Jesus can give.
  • Jesus Christ - Jesus usually spoke through story telling (better known as "parables").  He knew in order for folks to "get" the message, He would have to use His creativity and share in a way that would connect with the listeners - the ones who had ears to hear.  Story telling is still a very effective way to share the gospel.
There are so many more examples in the Bible, but those were the few that came to my mind this morning. Some churches have a lot of programs and some have few, if any. Neither is wrong!

So the question is...is there a right way to share the truth of Jesus Christ?  The answer is simple.  

Yes.  There is a right way.  

It's the way God has gifted you to share Him with others.  

Our examples are woven throughout the Bible and they confirm that God can and will use drama, music, preaching, story telling, prison ministries, and even our workplace to share His truth. He gifted us for the very purpose of using our gifts to bring glory to Himself and what an incredible privilege and responsibility it is to use those God-given gifts to share His truth with others.

So what are you waiting for?  Get creative and share His truth - after all, God is the Creator...and He is the One who gave you those creative gifts to use for His Glory! 

Got Questions?

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