Thursday, October 28, 2010
"Our struggle to put first things first can be characterized by the contrast between two powerful tools that direct us: the clock and the compass.
The clock represents our commitments, appointments, schedules, goals, activities -- what we do with, and how we manage our time.
The compass represents our vision, values, principles, mission, conscience, direction -- what we feel is important and how we lead our lives.
In an effort to close the gap between the clock and the compass in our lives, many of us turn to the field of "time management."
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Steven was homeless and was drunk.
I invited Steven to sit down and talk. He did. For an hour. We talked about everything from alcohol, to family, to Jesus. Steven told me about how alcohol ravaged his own life and the lives of his family. He told me about the many many cities and towns he had been roaming over the course of his life. He talked to me about his two children and how he has not seen them in over six years. Humorously, latter on in the conversation, Steven decided that I needed "a buddy." He said I needed someone outside of the church that I can just talk with. He then decided that he was that buddy. I said OK.
On our way out of the church, I ended up giving him a Bible and then we walked over to McDonald's for some food. We both had a sandwhich and then I bought him one more to bring with him. I also convinced the manager to give him a coffee on our way out the door.
When we left McDonald's, I asked if I could pray with him and he obliged. Afterward, I asked him to imagine what his life would be like without the drink. And how without the booze, he could use his life as a positive influence for others. After Steven walked away, I hoped that God would get ahold of him and that Steven would turn his life around.
All of this got me thinking:
You never know who God is going to bring into your life. The reason that I wrote about this is because something similar happened to me just last week. Maybe the reason God had entrusted these people to me is because I have shown myself faithful? I am not sure, but what I am sure about is when you are faithful with the little things then you will be faithful with the bigger things.
And this is about as BIG as you can get. God sending a hurting person your way... is perhaps like Him saying, "Of all the people in the world, I am sending Steven your way. So Anthony, look at his heart more than his clothes."
"I say unto you, 'whatever you have done to the least of these you have done to Me.'" Mathew 25:45
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
I am Christ's friend (John 15:15 )
I am united with the Lord (1 Cor. 6:17)
I am bought with a price (1 Cor 6:19-20)
I am a saint (set apart for God). (Eph. 1:1)
I am a personal witness of Christ. (Acts 1:8)
I am the salt & light of the earth (Matt 5:13-14)
I am a member of the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:27)
I am free forever from condemnation ( Rom. 8: 1-2)
I am a citizen of Heaven. I am significant (Phil 3 :20)
I am free from any charge against me (Rom. 8:31 -34)
I am a minister of reconciliation for God (2 Cor 5:17-21)
I have access to God through the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:18)
I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realms (Eph. 2:6)
I cannot be separated from the love of God (Rom 8:35-39)
I am established, anointed, sealed by God (2 Cor 1:21-22 )
I am assured all things work together for good (Rom. 8:28 )
I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit (John 15:16 )
I may approach God with freedom and confidence (Eph.. 3: 12 )
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13 )
I am the branch of the true vine, a channel of His life (John 15: 1-5)
I am God's temple (1 Cor. 3: 16). I am complete in Christ (Col. 2: 10)
I am hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3).. I have been justified (Romans 5:1)
I am God's co-worker (1 Cor. 3:9; 2 Cor 6:1). I am God's workmanship (Eph. 2:10)
I am confident that the good works God has begun in me will be perfected. (Phil. 1: 5)
I have been redeemed and forgiven ( Col 1:14). I have been adopted as God's child (Eph 1:5)
I belong to God.
Do you know who you are?
Monday, October 25, 2010
Generally, in this first phase, you spend a lot of time learning about great people. You pick up books about inspirational men and women, you pay attention to those admirable people around you and you start mimicking the qualities in them that you admire. I can remember in seminary watching many of my classmates mirroring our homiletics (fancy word for the guy that taught us how to preach) professor. The interesting thing is that the students did not even know that they were doing this. Over time, his voice became their voice. His emphasis because their emphasis and so on. There is nothing wrong with this, and is very appropriate during this stage. Great men and women are admired and worthy of our modeling.
Stage Two: Looking IN
Stage Three: Moving ON
This is the point in your life where you develop your own voice.
You are your own person. You express yourself in your own way. People know your style and more than this, people can identify it as yours alone. People stand back and say, "Anthony just preached a sermon that only Anthony can preach."
Unfortunately, for many people, their development stalls in the 1st stage. The reason?
It is easy to remain there. Don't kid yourself. In order to get to the 3rd stage, it will take all of your resources. And when I mean all. I mean ALL. Time, energy, money, family, friends, Etc.
-Watch and Listen to "Long Walk Home" by Bruce.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
2. He identified with those who were suffering (1:4): Nehemiah's heart broke for his people and this problem. Many people will tell you that emotions do not belong in business -but they are wrong. We are created with emotions and they can serve us. They key with emotions is to control them instead of the other way around.
3. He prayed (1:4-10): Nehemiah knew that this would be a very difficult task so he bowed his knees to the Father. He understood that without God moving in the hearts of the people, he was left leading an unworkable task.
4. He waited for the best opportunity to act (2:1-10): Nehemiah was no fool, he waited 4 months from when he first received the terrible news that the walls were destroyed in Jerusalem. This again, is genius on the part of Nehemiah. Just because you, as a leader, find out about an issue, does not mean it needs dealt with in that second. "In the abundance of counselors there is victory" says the Proverbs. Get your team together. Put on your thinking hats. Sure there are times for quick decisions,, but I have found that often times my rash actions have lead to an outcome that could have been ever better if I waited.
5. He quietly investigated the situation: (2:11-16): Upon his arrival in Jerusalem, Nehemiah didn't announce his arrival with a circus, rather he got first hand information. He did this by studying the condition of the wall and this is an element that needs underscored. Not only did Nehemiah, gather his team and get information from them, he went to the actual scene and walked around and observed first hand the destruction and the moral of the people. If you remember the events of 9/11 then you will recall Mayor Rudolph Giuliani doing the very same thing.
6. He assembled the right players (2:17-20): Jim Collins, in his excellent book, Good to Great, writes about a leadership principal that I believe is one of the most simple yet important facets of leading. He says that a great leader does the following:
(a) Get the right people on the bus
(b) Get the wrong people off of the bus
(c) Get the right people into the right seats on the bus.
Nehemiah does exactly this. As a leader, you must know your team. You have to get the right people on the right tasks in order to complete a successful mission.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
1. Is it possible that these political adds can be any dumber? And have you noticed the faces of the candidates in them? Next time they are on TV, notice how everyone looks angry and dumb at the same time.
2. Wearing dress pants with "short" athletic socks...please stop. When you sit down and/or walk, we can all see this, and it makes you look silly.
3. When guys wear polo shirts and shorts and then tuck in the shirt.
4. When guys do #4 and then wear sneakers.
7. When you are at the GYM and you are wearing head phones and people still insist on talking to you. Seriously, are you blind?
8. People who are "slow turners." You know the types. When they turn right. They STOP first. Then turn. I cannot continue on my with my thoughts with this one...
9. When I drive up to see my mom and dad and my mom asks me if I want some tuna. "Yes," I respond. Mom then goes into the house and comes out with a bag that has been pre-prepared before I even got to their house.
10. As I pull away, I dig into the bag, mind you there are things in this bag that just do not logically belong in this bag (that is for another time). I find the tuna....Wait for it...
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
If you are having a bad day, watch this and you might forget about your problems.
BTW: Something that I just cannot shake...his outfit.
I know it is not close to Christmas, but this song and this guys voice is off the charts. Listen to this...!
Did you know that their is one ingredient in the Christian faith that if left out will make things...BLAH? That ingredient would be Humility.
As I think a bit more about that statement, it also reveals something else about those Pharisee's. They did not see themselves as sick. Now lets be clear, I am not talking about a sinus infection but a spiritual sickness I affectionately call: SIN. They thought they had it all together. In other words, they did not comprehend their need for God. There is this really great Bible verse that says, "Humble Yourself in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you." It seems to me that people who just focus on the outward and forget about the inward are forgetting the most important ingredient of the Christian faith. HUMILITY.
The Pharisees' forgot that when you reach out to God -you start by being on your knees- in humility, acknowledging your sin and crying out for the grace and mercy of God. It is then that the "Lord exalts" you, not the other way around.
One last thing:
-Before you get all "humble" on me and everyone else. Remember that if you were to ask the Pharisees if they were humble, they would say YES! So it is important to keep in mind that there is a litmus test to this humility.
This, Oh God, You will not turn away."
Monday, October 18, 2010
Fall. A season I love to hate. I hate it because just after it, comes the dreaded Western Pa Winter. A cold that starts and then likes to hang around far too long...like company that will just not leave! I hate it because after the leaves turn all pretty, they fall to the ground...and I have to pick them up with an over sized fork.
Speaking of raking leaves, just last week I got all psyched up to get in my "fall gear" and do some yard work. As I was raking, Charlie Brown was in the house (for those of you new to this blog, Charlie is my co-dependent Lab). Now Charlie is no fool, and he KNEW I was just outside the house working. So about an hour into this chore, my wife comes out to check on me and I hear her yell, "CHARLIE! GET BACK HERE!!!"
If your reading this and you (1) have a dog (2) ever had a dog (3) seen a dog, even if it was your neighbors or on TV... You have never seen a dog quite like Charlie. When he escapes, he runs. I think he thinks it's a game where I chase him and he runs away, and then he stops and waits until I get about 2 feet behind him and them he runs again. This goes on quite awhile and I am sure the neighbors really enjoy watching this.
Anyway, Charlie's initial pressure was to get outside by me. But after his jailbreak, it turned into his favorite game of tag.
Here is what happened in "real-time" in that moment: After Christen yelled, I walked around the house and I see Charlie. Charlie sees me. Charlie starts running away from me. I start running toward Charlie.
I think real fast.
Why would Charlie ever choose to run toward me when I represent someone that is angry and/or hostile toward him? If anything, I only ensure that he will not. Think of how many times as a child, you wanted desperately to go to your parents and talk with them about issues in your lives but were just too scared. It is just like a dog that escapes and runs away knowing that the one place that is safest -actually is the most dangerous at the moment.
As a parent, you have to always be thinking about leaving the lines of communication open with your child(ren). If not, your child will find lines of communication, it will just not be with you. And you and I both know, that could be scary. Lunch table advice at the school cafeteria can often lead to some bad outcomes.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
2. That means I use the Bible as my source of ultimate truth and guidance.
"speak the truth in love."
2. In Love: But do not forget how you are going to say/communicate it.
Turning my attention to the Bullies:-When, and why in the world, would you think that beating, hitting, calling hurtful names is going to prove your case?
The only case you are proving is that your are not following the Leader. When you follow Christ, you are called to follow Him. Not the parts of His teaching that you like most. And yes, Jesus was and still does call people to change. He calls people out of their sin...ANY sin. Which includes your hate. So remember to ADD love to your message or you will resemble Luigi.
Finally, as for my stance on bullying: We should focus on the bullies behaviour and not the specific groups that are being targeted. Meaning, people have been made fun of for as many reasons as you or I could ever list...being too fat (me for the first 21 years of my life), too skinny (I wish), ugly, dumb, your race, your economic class, Etc... The point is, it is important not to go to the extreme in what is considered "worse" to bully than what is acceptable. If so, you will open the door to hypersensitivity that borders on insanity.
Let me conclude with a prayer: May God grant us wisdom for times like these. Amen.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Three examples come to mind: Bruce, Christen, Jesus. Over the next week, I'll choose one and write about it. I hope you join me!
The challenge so far has been filtering what to say, what not to say, where to start and where to end.
This one may be the biggest challenge of all...
Years latter, I found myself a Senior in high school. The time in between was filled with the stuff of everything a boy does from the ages of 13-18. Sports, hanging out with friends, thinking that everything I/we did was the most important event in the history of the world...
Then one day, I was invited to a church camp called Mahaffey and it was there I met a fellow named Pastor Dave Glass. His impact was felt immediately....literally his introduction was a tackle. Soon after, I started attending youth group and became interested in this "Christian life." Youth group was filled with fun, fellowship and a hearty dose of preaching. Most people complained about the preaching and wanted more fun, but I never really cared about the games. I had the idea that church is where the Bible is preached, so if you wanted fun and games --join the basketball team.
Anyway, some time passed, and I was seeing my friends dedicating their lives to Jesus. The really powerful element about this was that their lives were being changed. I saw new commitments, new lifestyles, and new passions arise in them. This made a very big impact on me.
Soon after, I started going to church and youth group and on one Sunday night in October, a man named Pastor Don Jones stood up and preached a message that has changed my life. He talked about sin, its consequences, and how to have a right relationship with God. I found myself broken inside. I remember sitting in the back of the church and just wanting to run up front, and give my life to this Jesus.
After the service, I talked with some trusted people, and I made my mind up that the next week, I was going to ask this Jesus in my life. As the next week rolled around, I made my way to the church and walked into the service with 10 minutes remaining. I had my Jerry Rice jersey on and just walked up front to the alter. There I was met by Pastor Dave and there I embraced Jesus.
That was over 10 years ago. Since that time I have went on to Bible College to major in Youth Ministry, received a Master of Divinity, and currently am working on my second Master's degree, which is Organizational Leadership. I say this not to brag, but to bring up the point that before Jesus, I had no plan, no direction, no real purpose.
David says in the Psalms that "God took him from the miry clay and put his feet upon a rock." (Psalm 40). In a real way, I was drowning in the mire and did not even know it. My life was filled but it was empty with anything of substance.
Sometimes I sit and I wonder...
-Where would my life be without Jesus?
-What would I be doing today?
In the end
"Come to Me, all who are heavy of heart and I will give you rest."
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Three examples come to mind: Bruce, Christen, Jesus. Over the next week, I'll choose one and write about it. I hope you join me!
I knew I had to do something, so to buy time, I pretended to look for cologne. I told the two guys to scram and I gathered my thoughts....
Take a second a peer into my mind at that moment:
-She smiled at me...that means she LIKES me!!!!!! pretty much all of my thoughts in a nutshell.
-Hmmm....but how do I get her phone number? Time for the silver tongue to work some magic.
I then walked right up to her and acted like I was interested in the products that she was selling. Which was...makeup for women! I had to think fast so I pulled out the mom card and played on it. "My mom loooooves this stuff! Can I have your number and then she can call you to set something up?" (I know, I am sad and it is OK to have pity on me...but remember, this actually worked and Christen is now my wife. So now who is laughing).
Anyway. She refused to give me her number BUT she gave me her work number. [Mistake]. I said thanks then asked a string of random and unnecessary questions about church and whatnot. When she said she was a churchgoer, I knew she'd be mine.
On the way home, I thought of a great first date, that is, if she was ever going to go on one with me. So I called her at work and over time convinced her to go to Barns and Nobles to meet me for coffee. My plan was to meet there, and if things were going well to ask her if she would like for us to go through the bookstore and pick books that best represent us. She liked that idea and in 10 minutes we got back together with a stack of books.
I suggested that we should go from least important to most significant. As we swapped books, we were learning about one another. I remember picking books that included: Chocolate Lab's (Charlie Brown, my dog), Italian/Greece (my Heritage), James Dean (my general cool demeanor), and a Bible (my foundation). Christen had similar picks: Butterfly's (her tattoo), Greece (Heritage), Bible (her foundation).
The Bible was the last books that we had taken out. As we did, we talked about how Jesus transformed both of our lives at one point and that the Bible is our foundation for living. If I only had come prepared with a diamond because at this point, it was the only thing missing! I can even remember a lady stopping us in the middle of our date asking us how long we have known each other. When we said over an hour, she almost fell on the floor. See, the thing about Christen and I is that we are the type of people that when you meet us for the first time you just met who we are. We are basically just two open people who live life out loud. What you see is what you get...no phonies here.
A few months after this date, I pulled out my cell phone and scrolled to the calender to let Christen know of the good possible dates to get engaged and then married. Time quickly passed and on Christmas Eve we got engaged and in August we were married.
Since our first date, we have been basically inseparable. Later on, Christen told me that she knew on our first date that she was going to marry me.
Today, we do almost everything together. And I love it. She is my love. She is my friend. She is my wife.
She is my destiny.
*The reason Christen was smiling at us? Well, she was actually laughing at all three of us. She says that the two guys I was with where wearing all red. Red basketball jersey's and red hats. And I was wearing an ALL jean outfit. Yes, from head to toe. So basically, what she saw was 2 Bloods with 1985 Springsteen. I would of laughed too.
Monday, October 11, 2010
I hit the eject button.
Put the Cd into the case and put it on the floor.
Over time, that Cd found its way back into the Cd player and caused something inside of me to start my Bruce-a-holic journey. Soon afterward, I found myself going to Wal-Mart to buy all of Bruce's albums.
Two years latter, the Twelfth grade rolled around and I graduated high school with Bruce.
I then was on my way to Georgia with Bruce for college. Now if you have been to college, this was a major make or break time for me and Bruce. As a freshman, you want to fit in. And listening to a guy in his 50's usually is the way NOT to accomplish this. Anyway, I started my freshman year with Bruce and four years latter and many converts latter, I graduated with Bruce.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
*I read this on Jay's facebook and thought it was very insightful...I hope this makes you think.
I saw the movie 'Baby Mama' a couple weeks ago, and it raised an interesting question in my mind. In the movie, Tina Fey wants to have a child but, due to health reasons, could never get pregnant. Therefore, she hires Amy Pohler to be the surrogate mother. It's Tina Fey's egg (artificially inseminated) but Amy Pohler is carrying it.
As I watched this movie, a thought crossed my mind. What if Amy Pohler decided to have an abortion? Even though she's carrying Tina Fey's egg, it's still 'her (Amy Pohler's) body', so she has a right to do what she wants with it -- as the pro-choice argument goes. Yeah, there might be legal ramifications because of the contractual nature of being a surrogate mother, but, when push comes to shove, would Amy Pohler have a right to an abortion? If not, what should she be charged with if she does get an abortion--murder or destruction of property?
Now let's look at this from the other angle. What if, in the first trimester, Tina Fey changed her mind and decided she wanted an abortion? Would she have the right to demand that Amy Pohler go through with an abortion? What if Amy Pohler refused?
The first scenario raises an interesting question for me as a guy. Men are in the same situation as Tina Fey in this scenario. If my wife gets pregnant, she will be carrying my child, just as Amy Poher was carrying Tina Fey's child. But according to law, if my wife were to decide to have an abortion (thankfully this is a completely hypothetical situation), I would have no say in the situation. So if Tina Fey does have a veto vote in the first situation, does this mean fathers should have a veto vote if the mother decides to get an abortion?