Working on a Dream


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Monday, August 30, 2010

Something is dying and something different is being born

Above is the tombstone of one of the greatest Christian singers, Keith Green. He was taken from us in the early 80's via plane crash. On his tomb are words of Jesus, "Unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it will produce nothing. Only when it dies, will it produce fruit." John 12: 24 Following Jesus over the years has had its many twists and turns. At times I feel like I can accomplish great things and other times I feel weak and pitiful. It is important not to base my faith on my emotions or feelings as they will change. Like a roller coaster, at times I am sky high and then a second later I am headed for a double loop. The words of Jesus brought my soul comfort today as I read them. I know that I am not the man I want to be but I am not the man that I once was. Every day I am being transformed into the likeness of the One I follow. This is encouraging for me and I hope for you. To know that Jesus has never and will never give up on the one who truly seeks after Him is a very comforting truth. I can say with certainty that along my life I have started and never finished many things. If it were up to me, I probably would have given up on Jesus some time ago. But thank God it is not up to me. Thank God this whole Christian life is based on grace -from beginning to the end. God is a God of grace. We are held by it, kept by it, and known by it.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chain of Events

Something to think about:
Thoughts inform your Actions
Actions inform your Character
Character inform your Habits
Habits inform your Destiny!
-What you fill your mind with will one day become your destiny....

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Friendly Fire

I read about something interesting that happens at wartime called friendly fire. Friendly fire is when a soldier either purposely or accidentally shoots one of his fellow warriors. Sadly, this happens quite often on the battlefield.
One place this practice should not be taking place is inside the Church. In the book of Acts, Jesus told us to be His Witnesses in all the world, that is, to be His representatives (Acts 1:8). The mission He imparted on His followers is humbling and at times overwhelming. That is why it is so important to keep this mission in front of us at all times. It seems to me, that when Churches lose this mission, often times, they lose their way. This is generally when friendly fire takes place. When we start looking inward and stop looking outward.
Consider the most recent sporting event in which you attended. Who does all the yelling and screaming? The Fans. The folks who are filling the seats, sitting comfortably, and watching ...
The players on the other hand, are busy. They are sweating, hurting, and engaged fully in the game. The players know they need their teammates to win and they support each other. In other words, no time for friendly fire when you are in the game.
Church, is it time that You wake up to Your calling once again?
Church, You turned the world as we know it upside down once ... You can do it again.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bad Leadership's Perfect Ingredient

I recently read about Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler in the book, "Followership." In the book, the author repeatedly asked the question, "If there was no Hitler, would there have ever been a Nazi Germany?" -Good question. That is almost impossible to answer, but there is still something interesting about the question that needs attention. Have you ever noticed how people love to place a single person in the limelight? Whether things are going smoothly or turning scary, you can usually find a single person to blame. For example, if you think of 9/11 you will most undoubtedly think of Osama Bin Laden. Whether good or bad, we love to place blame or honor on one person. My question is: Is this fair? Could Hitler or Osama ever have pulled off the terror they accomplished by themselves? ... Of course not. Followers are extremely important and according to Barbara Kellerman, "Bad leaders cannot possibly do what they do without bad followers." In every case, a bad leader has a trail of bad followers behind them that is not willing to stand up for what is right. It has been said that in order for evil to spread, good people just have to do nothing. Think about this, have you ever noticed how evil never takes a day off? It seems like the people who have an evil agenda work tirelessly to pursue it and more often than not, decent people just live day by day, not advancing something worthwhile. What is the point of all of this? Do not allow yourself to be the ingredient that bad followers use to create ugliness in this world. Live for a Godly purpose. Pursue reconciliation, the Fruit of the Spirit, and the things that promote Kingdom Values. .

Sunday, August 22, 2010

1 Thing I Love about Bruce

They say you gotta stay hungry
Hey baby I'm just about starving tonight
-Bruce Springsteen
Just a quick update on why I love Bruce. Bruce has never ever, even once, forgot about the thing that got him into this whole music business from the start. From day one it has always been about the music and when he wrote the lyrics to Dancing in the Dark, he was 35, and sitting on a pile of cash (not literally). 25 years after Born in the USA, Bruce continues to devote himself to the music and his fans.
Gotta Love him!

Prepare for your Destiny

Abe Lincoln once said, "I will prepare and some day my chance will come."
Many people feel like God has something special for them in their future. Maybe it is an inkling of one's imagination or a dream deep within one's heart. But certain folks out there have this feeling that at times is hard to express and difficult to define...especially to others. Reading about our 16th President, I found that Lincoln had this sense of destiny. Abe was said to have read everything he could get his hands on and was an avid learner. When questioned about his thirst for knowledge, he responded, "The way for a man to rise is to improve himself every way he can." For Abe, destiny prepared was destiny served. Do you have something special in your heart? Is there a certain dream that you just cannot shake? Then go for it with everything that you have.
-Start today...scratch that...start right now-
Prepare for your destiny like Abe did. Along life's path you will certainly find naysayers, negativity and jealously. But the key is to keep your eyes on your goal and to push past the dream killers. Remember in the end, it is just you looking in the mirror ... and God. If God has put a fire inside of your soul, then like a flame that needs only a spark to rawer, let it burn.!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Mental Maps

So I was on my way to Erie, Pa. with my wife some time ago and we did not worry about directions because we have one of those "navigators." I am just going to summarize the path we took by saying we took a shortcut through Pittsburgh to get to Erie.*
After taking almost three hours to go 1 1/2 hours our frustration was through the roof. One of the problems that day was the fact that our navigator did not have the ability to predict detours and road construction. So it led us down some unnecessary paths. This is what happens in life when we are not open minded with other people. Everyone has a "mental map" that they live by. This map gives predictable answers to: What is right and wrong, how should people generally act, and so on. The problem is that every person has a mental map and in between generations, mental maps shift radically. So now you have people walking around separated by 25 years of age that are looking at the same thing externally through different internal maps.
Stephen Covey touches on this point in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. "Each of us has many, many maps in our head, which can be divided into two main categories: maps of the way things are, or realities, and maps of the ways things should be, or values. We interpret everything we experience through these mental maps. We seldom question their accuracy; we're usually even unaware that we see things is the way they really are or the way they should be."
To illustrate this point, just look at the picture again. The women is young and beautiful right? Look again, do you see the wrinkles and the age on her face? At first, you are certain of your perception but a harder look gives you another perspective.
Humility goes a long way in life, that is why James says, "God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble."
Maybe you should take some time and think about the things in life you are judging too quickly. What seems normal to you may be an anomaly to others and vice versa.
*If this statement made you scratch your head, then that is because you realized that Pittsburgh is the polar opposite of Erie.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

What is your God?
"If money be not thy servant, it will be thy master.
The covetous man cannot so properly be said to possess wealth, as that may be said to possess him."
-Sir Francis Bacon

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
-Anais Nin

Sundial's in the Shade

"Hide not your talents. They for use were made.
What's a sundial in the shade?"
-Ben Franklin

Examples of the 3 Myths in the Bible

Yesterday, I wrote about 3 myths most all of us believe. For each myth, I followed up with a truth statement. Well, for those of you "if it is not in the Bible types" below is an example of those myths being torn apart by a team of Israelites coming together to build the Tabernacle. After being delivered from slavery, the Israelites were given instruction by God to build a pretty elaborate Tabernacle. In Exodus 31, we read that "God appointed, by name, 2 men who were filled with God's wisdom and Spirit and ability in every craft ..." (v. 1-11) The point here is that these two men used their God-given unique gifts to help the team of Israelites. Think about it, these 2 guys were around long before the building of the Tabernacle and we never hear a word about them. But when it came time to start building and finding skilled craftsman...TA-DA! This is the way it should be. Paul the Apostle says that the Church is like a body and that although the body is one it is made up of many parts (I Cor. 12). The 2 men mentioned in Exodus were using their unique skills to better the team.
What are your unique skills?
What have others told you about yourself that confirms this skill?
Now, find a way to utilize that skill. When God entrusts you with a gift, He does so in order that you may use it in His Kingdom work. Just like Bezalel and Oholiab did.

Monday, August 9, 2010

"And can it be" Listen and be blessed!

3 Myths Worth Noting

Myth One: As you grow, your personality changes:
-The truth is, as you grow, you become more of who you already are. Your values, skills, your self-awareness, and some of your behaviours may change. But the most dominant aspects of your personality will remain the same. Is it time you accept you for you and make peace with the person you were created to be(come)?
Myth Two: You will grow the most in your areas of greatest weakness.
-The truth is, you will grow the most in your areas of your greatest strength. You will be the most inquisitive, most resilient, most creative, and most open to learning in your areas of strength. If you find out what inspires you, pursue it at all costs...
Myth Three: A good team member does whatever it takes to help the team.
-The truth is that a good team member deliberately volunteers his/her strengths to the team most of the time. A great team member is not well rounded. The great team is well rounded, precisely because each great team member is not. Try putting Derek Jeter in right field and watch how his performance drops. He brings his one area of expertise to his team and and so do the rest of the Yanks' --that is why they are great every year.
*From, Go, Put Your Strengths To Work by M. Buckingham

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Bruce Springsteen & The Tyranny of the "Shoulds"

Back in the 10th grade of high school I got addicted.
 
It was an overwhelming experience and it almost totally consumed my life.  
Because of my addiction, I spent countless hours in my room ignoring friends.  I also developed those scary dark shadows beneath my eyelids; my parents even considered an intervention. 
The 10th grade was the year I became aaddicted to Bruce Springsteen. I believe the proper diagnosis is Bruce-a-holicsim.


Bruce Springsteen entered my life one day when a group of my friends in high school "ended up" at the local mall during school hours.  There, on that historic day I bought his Greatest Hits album.  "Born to be Wild" was the specific song that I wanted to blast on the car ride home.  Initially, I was disappointed to learn that Bruce didn't sing the song.  What can I say? I must have been Lost in the Flood to mistake Born to Run with Born to be Wild. (Let's see who gets that one).
 
One late school-night during one of my "binges", I was listening to his Live 75-85 album in the total dark with my earmuff style headphones on. A song titled, "Growin' Up" came on, and then right in the middle of it, Bruce and the band just stop playing and he starts telling this story:
"My dad and my mom have been following me all over California tryin' to get me to come back home ... they still want me to go back to college.  My mom wants me to be an author and my dad wants me to be a lawyer ... but what they do not understand is that I want everything. ... Anyway, mom you wanted an author and dad you wanted a lawyer, BUT TONIGHT YOU ARE JUST GUNNA HAVE TO SETTLE FOR ROCK N ROLL!"
I sometimes think to myself, "What if Bruce had went back to school?"
-What if he had listened to what other people were telling him?
-What if he had tried to live out his parents dreams instead of his own?

No Born to Run! No Darkness! No Nebraska! No Born in the USA! No legendary 3-4 hour concerts! [I am having a panic attack!] Bruce was once quoted as saying, "The first time I looked at myself in the mirror and felt comfortable was when I saw my reflection with a guitar around my neck."  Bruce never gave up on his dreams and I am glad he didn't.  Bruce knew that his calling involved  a microphone and guitar, not a law book or teaching the alphabet to a classroom of kindergartners. Something for all of us to learn from this is the importance of being attune to your God-given gifts and talents.  This is what makes you unique.  Like a fingerprint, you are the only person like you in all the earth. The strength of understanding and embracing this idea is what author / teacher Marcus Buckingham calls breaking free from the "tyranny of the shoulds."  According to Buckingham, the tyranny of the shoulds are all those voices -all those dream killers-  that stand in your way and negate the calling you have on your life.  The scary thing about this is that oftentimes you will find your closest friends and family as the ones shouting the loudest "shoulds" in your ear as you pursue your goal(s).  

This is personal for me. 
I remember a strong calling on my life upon graduation from high school to enter the ministry.  The college I applied to had a fantastic youth ministry program, but the college was located in GEORGIA.  12 hours away was a long way away for me, and let's face it, I did not do so hot in high school either.  The "shoulds" where their; at times loud and clear and other times in people's undertones. Nevertheless, I went. I never, even once, considered how much money my profession would pay, I just dove straight in, believing this was my calling.  I never gave the "shoulds" a second thought, other than to prove them wrong as they served fuel for my fire. I studied hard, spent many weekend nights in my dorm room reading and 4 years later I walked across the graduation floor to receive my diploma. 

Bo Bennett rightly said, "Every day, people settle for less than they deserve. They are only partially living --or at best living a partial life."
I know for certain that the Tyranny of the Shoulds would have killed at least two people's futures: Anthony Kladits' and Bruce Springsteen's.  One would have lived a life without the music and the other would have lived a life without a compelling message.  

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Bringing Out the Best in Yourself

-Know Thyself "During the course of your life you will inevitably be exposed to all manner of options, opportunities, and pressures. The key to sustaining success is to be able to filter all these possibilities and fasten on to those few that will allow you to express the best of yourself." -M. Buckingham