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Monday, October 31, 2011

-The reason why I ain't scared of no ghosts-


 1 John 4:4
Greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the





*The inspiration for this post came when I was listening to the radio and classic theme song from Ghostbusters came on the radio. My mind started thinking about how over the centuries there have been great men and women that have fought for many causes. But no person, past, present or future will have come for a greater purpose than Jesus. He came to this earth to destroy the 2 ugliest things that mankind has ever faced: Death & Sin. He crushed both by his life, death and resurrection…


-Like I said, I ain’t scared of no ghost.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What has America become?

Editor,

Has America become the land of special interest and home of the double standard?


Lets see: if we lie to the Congress, it’s a felony and if the Congress lies to us its just politics; if we dislike a black person, we’re racist and if a black person dislikes whites, its their 1st Amendment right; the government spends millions to rehabilitate criminals and they do almost nothing for the victims; in public schools you can teach that homosexuality is OK, but you better not use the word God in the process; you can kill an unborn child, but it is wrong to execute a mass murderer; we don’t burn books in America, we now rewrite them; we got rid of communist and socialist threats by renaming them progressive; we are unable to close our border with Mexico, but have no problem protecting the 38th parallel in Korea; if you protest against President Obama’s policies you’re a terrorist, but if you burned an American flag or George Bush in effigy it was your 1st Amendment right.

You can have pornography on TV or the internet, but you better not put a nativity scene in a public park during Christmas; we have eliminated all criminals in America, they are now called sick people; we can use a human fetus for medical research, but it is wrong to use an animal.

We take money from those who work hard for it and give it to those who don’t want to work; we all support the Constitution, but only when it supports our political ideology; we still have freedom of speech, but only if we are being politically correct; parenting has been replaced with Ritalin and video games; the land of opportunity is now the land of hand outs; the similarity between Hurricane Katrina and the gulf oil spill is that neither president did anything to help.

And how do we handle a major crisis today? The government appoints a committee to determine who’s at fault, then threatens them, passes a law, raises our taxes; tells us the problem is solved so they can get back to their reelection campaign.

What has happened to the land of the free and home of the brave?

- Ken Huber

Tawas City


*The following is a transcript of a letter to the editor that first appeared on June 9, 2010, in the Iosco County News Herald. It is attributed to someone by the name of Ken Huber from Tawas City, Michigan. I feel that is equally relevant 6 months later and maybe it can be a barometer for how the Republican Congress is doing at making inroads into changing the current state of ship in the U.S.

DO YOU KNOW YOUR HYMNS?


Dentist's Hymn.................................... Crown Him with Many Crowns
Weatherman's Hymn........................... There Shall Be Showers of Blessings
Contractor's Hymn............................... The Church's One Foundation
The Tailor's Hymn................................ Holy, Holy, Holy
The Golfer's Hymn................................There's a Green Hill Far Away
The Politician's Hymn........................... Standing on the Promises!
Optometrist's Hymn.............................. Open My Eyes That I Might See
The IRS Agent's Hymn.......................... I Surrender All
The Gossip's Hymn............................... Pass It On
The Electrician's Hymn......................... Send The Light
The Shopper's Hymn............................ Sweet Bye and Bye
The Realtor's Hymn.............................. I've Got a Mansion, Just Over the Hilltop
The Massage Therapists Hymn............ He Touched Me
The Doctor's Hymn................................ The Great Physician

AND for those who speed on the highway
- a few hymns:


55 mph ........................... God Will Take Care of You
75 mph ........................... Nearer My God To Thee
85 mph ........................... This World Is Not My Home
95 mph ............................ Lord, I'm Coming Home
100 mph .......................... Precious Memories

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The 30-Hour Day

Have you ever wished for a 30 hour day?

Imagine all of the extra time to fulfill those loose ends that keep on building up around you.
-----Like that pile of laundry that is hitting your ceiling.
--------------Like those books that are sitting next to my bed.
-----------------Like those letters that needed sent out yesterday still sitting on your desk.


But would more hours really mean more productivity? 
I think not. 
If we are honest with ourselves, I am sure we would all find a way to fill those extra hours with more of the same unnecessary things we do now.  This is why Lord Chesterfield stated, "If you take care of the minutes the hours will take care of themselves."   

I came across a piece of advice years ago that has transformed how I utilize my time. 
It is called the "Tyranny of the Urgent."  The basic idea is as follows:
"You cannot let the urgent things crowd out the important."

---Simple, yet powerful advice.


I cannot tell you how many times I am trying to accomplish something important and magically I find myself involved in some type of nonsense. 
-Time to clip my toe nails.
-Time to catch up on my 1,320 Facebook friends.
-Time to perform an intense research study on the cast of "My so called Life."

This is why I adhere to the 11th Commandment of time management,"Do not leave undone those things which you ought to have done; or you will have done those things which you ought not have done."  (forgive me for not sharing a simpler 11th commandment) 
With this in mind, everyday when I walk into work I have a list of the important items that I need to accomplish.  Then I work feverishly to accomplish that list and by the end of most days I do.  This method helps me sift through what is necessary and what is not.  In short, I have to be intentional about fighting the tyranny of the urgent because I know that without a plan, the seemingly urgent things will find a way to creep in and take over my life. 

I have found the diagram below as a helpful tool to help decide what is urgent and what is not.  I hope it can help you too!


Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity,
because the days are evil.
Ephesians 5:15


What about you? 
-Do you have any time saving techniques that has helped you battle the Tyranny of the Urgent that you could share with the rest of us?

Monday, October 24, 2011

(why) You are NOT happy for me.

I heard a story a couple of days ago that I just cannot shake.

It was about a waiter working the grind in the Big Apple.

The story goes something like this:
On a certain day, a certain well-known actress came in to eat where this young man was waiting tables and on his birthday decided to leave him a mega-huge tip.  Apparently, over the years this famous actress got to know this waiter, took a liking to him and wanted to do something nice for him on his birthday.  And when I say something nice for his birthday, I mean writing him a nice $25,000 dollar check.  (no need to rub your eyes...it's not $250, $2,500, it is twenty-five thousand dollars).

After I picked up my jaw from the ground, the person telling the story said that after the waiter's co-workers found out about the tip, his work environment became hostile.   

The ringing question in my mind is,
Why can't people be happy for others? 

There is this profound verse in the Bible found in the book of Romans that states,
"Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those that weep."

At first glance, we might be inclined to think that the difficult part of that verse is "weeping with those that weep."   But this is not true.  Most of us are really good at being there for others when they are down and need a hand.  Most of us go out of our way to comfort our loved ones when they are hurting. 

The truly challenging part of that verse is when Paul writes, "Rejoice with those that rejoice."  Indeed, it is certainly difficult to be happy for those that are happy.  Sounds odd but it is true.  Think about it...
-Envy grows in your heart when someone gets a new(er) car than your 1997 Buick Le Sabre.
-Jealousy creeps in your mind when someone gets a promotion in the same department you have been working in since Reagan was in the White House.
-Hatred fills your bones when your slacker friend buys a lottery ticket and hits big.

-The truth is, the sting of your own personal selfishness creeps up when good things happen to others-

Reflect:
When good things happen to others how do you respond?
Are you genuinely happy for them?
Are you searing with resentment?
Are you somewhere in between?


Rejoicing with those that rejoice is something we all need to get better at.

And I believe that the first step towards a healthy perspective is dependence on God.
Pray that He lifts your eyes upward to see His blessings falling on those around you and I bet it will be that last time you are NOT happy for others.  

Monday, October 17, 2011

Why being popular is a good thing ... (sometimes).

Yesterday morning before class begun, I was talking with some of the teens about their week.  Discussion usually ranges from the movies they watched, the events they attended or how they got dumped by their true love after two days of dating.

This week, one person in particular was talking about being popular. 
Her exact words were, "I am the popular kid at school."  I pushed her a bit further and asked if being popular was always a good thing.
---She said, "YES."

Irony began to run its course as we read from the book of Matthew.
"Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few."

In life, there are 2 paths that you can take:
The first one is the Narrow Road. This road leads to life, has less traffic than the Wide Road and was blazed by Jesus himself.
On the other hand, the Wide Road is full of people but its final destination is destruction.  This road also has a trailblazer, his name is Adam.

So you see, being popular is not always a good thing, it depends largely on which road you find yourself traveling on.
If being popular means following the way of the world, the Wide Road, then consider yourself popular in a very unhealthy way.  There is a powerful quote I heard years ago which states, "What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right." 
--Think about that statement for a moment. 
---Think about your choices that you have been making. 
-----Think about the people that you surround yourself with.

Now ask yourself
"What road am I traveling on?"

The flip side of this is that being popular can be a really good thing as long as you find yourself walking down the Narrow Road.  I watched the movie Soul Surfer recently which is based on a true story about Bethany Hamilton. At the age of thirteen, Hamilton lost her arm to a shark attack.  It was striking to see how self-aware Hamilton was/is about impacting her world for the good by getting involved in Kingdom living after the tragic event.  In a very real way, she is intentional about walking down the Narrow Road.


So there you have it.  
-2 Roads 
-2 Trailblazers
-2 Destinations
-2 Kinds of Popularity

Here is what I know for sure.

                 You and I will be making choices in life...

                               Those choices over time will reveal which of the 2 roads we are on.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Clean Teeth & Dirty Bibles

I can remember when I was little sitting in the dentist's chair getting a clean-up. 
As he scraped, sucked, and polished, I wondered if there was anything that I could do to prevent me coming back for another cleaning. 
So I asked the dentist a sneaky question trying to hide my real intent, "which toothbrush is the best one I could buy that will make my teeth reallllly clean?"


The dentist answered in a way that I will never forget.
"The best toothbrush you can use is the one that you will use every day...twice."

The basic principal that he was communicating to me is that it is not the brand of the brush that counts.
Nor is it if the brush has medium or soft bristles.
It is not even how much you pay for your toothbrush.

It is the frequency in which you use the toothbrush that matters.

In a similar manner, the same advice applies to your Bible.
I cannot tell you the number of times people come up to me and ask me, "which version is the best?" 

I always tell people the same exact advice that my dentist gave me all those years ago while getting my teeth cleaned.

The best Bible is the one that you open up and read everyday ... twice
(or maybe even 3 times). 


-So go ahead-
-Find your old Bible-
Dust the dirt off of it and start reading through it-

"Thy Word I have treasured in my heart that I may not sin against Thee." 
 Psalm 119: 11

Monday, October 10, 2011

Baby Anthony: 9 months ago...

Yesterday,
I ran into an old friend that I have not seen in years. 
We talked for a bit and upon saying good-bye he asked me how many kids do I have?

It took me a second to answer because I was not sure what to say. 
In the second it took me to answer, so many things raced across my mind... 

My son.
9 days of struggle.
His empty room.
My wife.
The hospital.
Our loss.

The words that came out of my mouth were true, "I have one son in heaven." 
I never, not in a million years would ever have thought that I would be answering that question with that answer.

Baby Anthony, today you would have been 9 months old.
I can't help but wonder what you would have looked like and if you would be walking by now...

-In my arms...then, now & forever-

And I know it aches 

And your heart it breaks...

Anthony & Charlie "good-boy" Brown [october 11]

Just chillin' on a rare 75 degree day in Western, Pa.

Charlie just snuck a lick...he is so crafty!

Can you get any cuter?  Me and my dogie!
-I love this pic-

Sometimes, you have to get on his level to understand him.

-Charlie just told me how much he loves me-

He is trying out for Next Top Model...
Perfect pose Charlie!!

I was just talking with my wife Christen about Charlie.
I said that the difference between dogs and other animals is that dogs actually build their lives around us. 

-I have had cats growing up, I have had friends that had birds, rabbits, Etc. as pets, but there is just something different about a dog.
You can leave for a month and your bird would get along fine with a friend. 
You can leave for days on end and a bird, rabbit or Guinea pig wouldn't notice.
And have you ever heard of a "seeing-eye cat?"

What separates the dog is that you can literally walk out of your house, take the trash out to the curb and then as you return ... your dog is there wagging his tail happy to see you!

Long live man's (& women's) best friend!

"A dog can express more with his tail in seconds
than his owner can express with his tongue in hours." 
~Author Unknown

Monday, October 3, 2011

Breaking News: "Naked Fundraiser" @ Church!

I heard this story on the radio today as I drove to work:

"Unitarian Universalists in the Media," 
-A Massachusetts congregation's fundraising calendar of naked older men from the parish.

Twelve men, ages 64 to 87, from the First Parish in Framingham, Mass., posed nude for a calendar produced by the church to “raise funds and awareness that older men age like fine wine.” The same congregation has also produced a calendar of naked female church members in the past.
(Milford Daily News)

My thoughts: 
Fundraisers are a great thing, we have them at my church. 
The main difference is we like to have our clothes on during our Spaghetti Dinners.


Seriously, when is too far... too far?? 

-How is the naked fundraiser uplifting to others and more importantly to our Lord?

Anthony's (monday morning) Sunday school lesson


Last week I started Sunday school class by drawing the below diagram on the whiteboard.
I then read the below passage from the Bible and asked everyone if there was a connection between what was on the board and the verses just read.
Judge not, that you be not judged.
For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged,
and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.

Some time passed and one student suggested that the arrows represented "Karma."  "If you judge others then others will judge you", she said.  I continued prodding the students until another shared the following,"If you go around judging others too harshly then others will do the same to you." 

CorrectI explained that the concept presented by Jesus is a very important one that we all need to realize.

Look again at the diagram:
There are 2 vital elements that make up the circle. 

1. One arrow represents the way you interact with others. 
I look at it like everyone has 2 choices in life.  You can be the type of person that is always critical with others & ready to criticize.  Or you can be the person that is uplifting; ready to be the soft spot for people to land when they fail.  

2. The other arrow represents the response of others. 
Like Newton's 3rd Law of Motion which states, "every action has an equal and opposite reaction" you can expect similar treatment back from others that reflects the way you treat(ed) them.  This can either be good or bad news, depending on the way you have been treating others.  Bad news if you are the type of person that loves to find everything wrong with others.  Good news if you are the person that is consistently uplifting. 



Some things to ponder. 
-How would your significant other describe you?
Would they say that you are uplifting & gentle or critical & negative?
-What about your family, co-workers or friends?

Summary:
The way you treat people over time will be how you are known and others will mirror your behavior back on you ... which may be a good thing or a bad thing, all depending on you.
-the choice is yours-

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Anthony's Last Night of Class!



Master's in Organizational Leadership
Congrats to Cohort #70

-Me and my 'Congo-nese' brother Ben-