Working on a Dream




Thursday, February 28, 2013

Anthony has a Nickname??

Have you ever had a nickname?

Not the nice ones either.  You know the kind that I am referencing here.  The ones that made you avoid walking down a certain hallway in school because so-and-so was standing at the end of it; waiting to unleash the new thought provoking title in a very loud manner. In front of EVERYBODY. Simultaneously humiliating you and enraging you... Don't worry, I have had that happen to me too once or twice in my life.

Nicknames are not always a bad thing, all of us have known a "scooter" or "slick" at one point in our lives.  Nicknames can actually reveal a lot about a person if you think about it. Pastor Craig Groeshel teaches that how a person addresses you will reveal how well they know you.  I think he is right.
Let me illustrate:

Let's pretend you are at dinner with me and we are waiting to be seated.  10 minutes passes and then you hear the server announce, "Klll U Deet US Party of 3."  Two things will go through your mind (1) Anthony you have a really messed-up last name and (2) the server absolutely does not know Anthony Kladitis.

Let's take this a step further. If you call me "Mr. Kladitis" or "Pastor Anthony" the chances are that you know me, but you are not that close to me.  You know of me, but the intimate details of my life are not on your radar.

Along the line there will be the people that call me, Anthony. Most people call me Anthony (at least to my face) and this tells me that we are, generally speaking, close.  At least closer relationally that the above groups.

But then there is this other group, the mysterious category of people that call me by a nickname: "Anth" or "Ant."  If you call me this, then this means we are tight. We have stories -scratch that- we share stories.  Private ones. One's that date us back years.

Here is a rule that I just made up: The way that you address someone will change according to your relationship with them. Take for example your spouse. When you are introduced by your spouse, they refer to you as their husband or wife.  I have never witnessed a wife walk up to her friends and say, "Hello!  I would like you all to meet Dr. John Wilson."  But I have experienced on several occasions a wife introducing her spouse the following way, "Everybody, I would like you to meet my husband, John Wilson."  The wife introduced her husband according to her relationship with her husband.

The names people call you reveal something about their relationship with you and it is no different with God. [The God-Bomb. You knew it was coming, it was only a matter of time].
David said, "Those who know your name will trust in you."
Let me ask you, How do you address God? 
-Lord of all Creation?

What do you call God? Do you feel close enough to call him Friend? Do you have in mind a distant Father?
Jesus had a nickname for God. It was something that a little child would call his father, "Abba."
Abba, translated into English simply means Daddy and was used by infants. Jesus was 30 years old and still called His Father Abba.  Let me ask you a question, Do you still call your mother and father by the same title today that you did when you were 3?
I thought not.
Jesus did.

It's pretty amazing what the nicknames people closest to someone will call them.
Isn't it?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Poem: Sermons We See

Sermons We See

by Edgar A. Guest

I'd rather see a sermon
than hear one any day,
I'd rather one would walk with me
than merely tell the way;

The eye's a better pupil
and more willing than the ear,
Fine counsel is confusing,
but example's always clear;
The best of all the preachers
are the men who live their creeds,
For to see good put in action
is what everybody needs.

I soon can learn to do it,
if you'll let me see it done,
I can watch your hands in action,
your tongue too fast may run;

The lectures you deliver
may be very wise and true,
But I'd rather get my lessons
by observing what you do;

I may not understand
the high advice you give,
But there's no misunderstanding
how you act and how you live.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Why Christen is my BIG rock. "Saving your Marriage Pt. 5"

One day an expert leader was speaking to a group of business students and to drive home a point he used an illustration that those students will never forget. As he stood in front of the group he said, "Okay, time for a quiz." Then he pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed Mason jar and set it on the table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, "Is this jar full?"
Everyone in the class said, "Yes."

Then he said, "Really?" He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the space between the big rocks. Then he asked the group once more, "Is the jar full?" By this time the class was on to him. "Probably not," one of them answered. "Good!" he replied.
He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in the jar and it went into all of the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel.
Once more he asked the question, "Is this jar full?"
"No!" the class shouted.
Once again he said, "Good." Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim.

Then he looked at the class and asked, "What is the point of this illustration?" One eager beaver raised his hand and said, "The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard you can always fit some more things in it!"
"No," the speaker replied, "That's not the point."
The truth this illustration teaches us is: "If you don't put the big rocks in first, you'll never get them in at all."

How to Save your Marriage:
Let me ask you a question: What are the 'big rocks' in your life? 
I want you to take a notepad & a pen, then take 5 - 10 minutes alone to write out what your BIG rocks are.  Don't lie either ... because the next step is for you to go to your spouse and show them the list. And trust me, if the things on your list do not square up with reality - they will let you know. Remember to put these BIG ROCKS in first, or you will never get them in at all. If you sweat the little stuff, then you will end up filling your life with little things you worry about. And do not be surprised if you never have the real quality time you need to spend on the BIG, important stuff. 

Many of us are familiar with the words of Genesis 2:24, "A man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife." But many do not know that the word "united" is a Hebrew word dabaq, which means, "to cling to / catch or to pursue passionately." Do you want a strong marriage? Then passionately pursue your spouse with the same fervish love that you once did when you where dating.  Here is one thing that I know for certain; before your spouse became your spouse, they were the BIG rock. For many, they were the only rock in the jar and everybody knew it.  I'll ask you again, Do you want a strong marriage? Then passionately pursue your spouse for rest of your life.

Charlie made me put a picture of him today because he says he is partially responsible for Christen & me getting along so well.  He says he's about 65 % of the reason.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Why I love my Mom & Dad

On vacation I found a biography by Jay Leno that he penned early on in his career
I was mostly skimming through it, until I found this story on the very last page of the book.
It was extremely moving for me because it reminded me of the sacrificial love that my parents showed me over my life. I am sure that as you read the story, you will also feel the same if you've been blessed with great parents.

"When I was 14, before I had my drivers license, I scraped up $350 to buy a crappy old 34' Ford pickup truck. Even though I couldn't legally drive, I just wanted to have my own car. The truck actually ran, but it was a dented up nightmare. Every day after school I worked on fixing it up: sanding, filing, painting, buffing.
As a present, my mom and dad got me brand-new upholstery for the seats.
Then, one day, I slammed a door a little too hard and the window just shattered. I did not have any money to replace it.

Around that same time. I finally got my drivers license. My favorite thing to do was to drive myself to school. My high school was a big flat building, where you could see the parking lot from every classroom.
----------One day it began to rain very hard
Because of the broken glass, I sat in class and watched my truck, and the new upholstery, get thoroughly drenched.  And I could not do anything about it
Then, suddenly, through the window, I saw my mom and dad tear into the parking lot. They screeched up next to my truck and dragged a huge piece of plastic out of their car.

Then they covered the truck in the pouring rain. My dad had known that the rain would ruin the new upholstery. So he left the office in the middle of the day, picked up my mom, and bought this hunk of plastic to save my seat...
I watched them do this.
And I just began crying right there in class...That memory has always stayed with me. There are so many things to miss about my parents..."

I am not sure why this story grips me so much.
It actually leaves me with a large empty feeling in the pit of my stomach each time I read it.
I am not sure if it does the same for you ...
Perhaps it is the way Jay tells it. He is reminiscing, which means his parents have passed on as he is writing it.  To me, there is a sadness to that.  Looking back and remembering the great times you had with those you loved the most and then having to put the pen and paper down only to live life without them is deeply sorrowful.

Or maybe the story moves me because I see my parents in the story...
Getting drenched in the rain for their son.
Putting themselves second for me ... again.
Sacrificing over and over.

--When I am honest, it is both.

I love you mom & dad.

Me & Mom! 
Some people say we look alike... ;)

Dad goofing off at Christmas.
He is wearing his new snow shoes on his head!
-If you have (or had) parents like Jay's share this story in their honor.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Should You observe Ash Wednesday?

Should a Christian observe Ash Wednesday?

Since the Bible nowhere explicitly commands or condemns such a practice, Christians are at liberty to prayerfully decide whether or not to observe Ash Wednesday.

If You decide to observe Ash Wednesday and/or Lent, it is important to have a biblical perspective. Jesus warned us against making a show of our fasting: “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen” (Matthew 6:16-18).

We must not allow spiritual discipline to become spiritual pride.

It is a good thing to repent of sinful activities, but that’s something Christians should do every day, not just during Lent. It’s a good thing to clearly identify oneself as a Christian, but, again, this should be an everyday identification. And it is good to remember that no ritual can make one’s heart right with God.

*The above was shared from an Orthodox perspective on Ash Wednesday.

Monday, February 11, 2013

How not to Punch your spouse in the Face "Saving your Marriage, pt. 4"

He hurt you.
You hurt him back
... Let the ugliness begin continue.

Getting along can be tough.  In all actuality, it can be downright impossible at times.
I know some marriages resemble the War of the Roses, while some others sound more like the song, Bed of Roses.  Why do couples resort to such extreme measures when trying to solve marital issues? If you are reading this and have tied the knot, then you do not have the option to cold-shoulder your spouse till' death. Likewise, going round to round in a slug-fest like Mike Tyson's Punch-Out isn't a great idea either. If you have not already noticed, turning into an ice-berg on your mate is not that effective nor is transforming into a mixed martial artist about to enter a cage match.  Both are ugly extremes that will not work in saving your marriage.  So go ahead do me (and your spouse) a favor; take off your gloves and go sit by the fire place while I give you a better method that will save your marriage.

The method is a simple procedure called "the 7 A's."  I discovered the 7 A's years ago in a seminar dealing with church conflict and they have stood the test of time.  The 7 A's are simple guide that will help you get over any barrier that stands in your way to healing a relationship.  The 7 A's can apply to any universal conflict, but since I have been writing on marriage a lot lately, I have decided to apply them to the home. The reason is I have noticed how many of you want a great marriage, but just do not know how to have one.  So today, I am writing part 4 of my series title, "Saving your Marriage."

The first A stands for Address.  When there is a breach in a relationship, you feel hurt.  And when most of us feel hurt -we tend to recluse.  We talk to everyone about the situation except for the person or group that has offended us.  This is why the very first step is to go the person face to face. 
Fast Fact: Did you know that Jesus Himself prescribed this method in the Gospel of Matthew?  "If your brother offends you go to him in private ..."

A number two is Avoid.  As in avoid excuses.  If you are wrong then you are wrong. Words like: if, but, or maybe are all ways to soften the situation.  There is something about being totally honest and telling the person that you are sorry and you need their forgiveness. 

Number three A is Admit. You have to be specific.  This one is especially important for the ladies.  I have noticed that I have to be VERY specific when dealing with Christen.  She doesn't want to hear my fancy vague words, rather she wants to hear that I am really sorry for something specific that I did to hurt her.

Next A is Apologize.  More than just acknowledging the wrong,  you have to go a step further and show sorrow.  If you offended your spouse, then you should take steps to make things right.

Number five A is Accept.  Even after you admit & apologize, you have to accept responsibility.  There are often consequences to your words and actions (or non-actions).  The pain you caused is similar to a rock in water that sends a ripple effect to all the edges of the lake. You cannot reverse what happened, so you must be willing to reap what you have sowed

Alter is the next A. If you are truly repentant and genuinely care about your spouse, then it is time for you to alter your behaviour.  Many will read this and think that I am advocating a sheep-ish approach and I know that Mr. Macho isn't going to change for anyone ... but like I tell people in marriage counsel, "YOU CAN EITHER BE RIGHT or YOU CAN BE HAPPY."  Time to get over yourself. A marriage is a joint effort and both of you should be bending and giving and taking and working and ... you get my point.  Bottom line, if your spouse is not acting irrational or outlandish, then you should at least start to shrink the behaviour that causes so much disruption.

Finally, we have the last A, Ask.  Asking for forgiveness is a very difficult thing to do. The final A will take humility on your part.  But I must ask, "What is the alternative?" Who wants to live in a house that really is a prison with pretty wallpaper and fancy decorations?  I know that I don't.  And I'm guessing you don't either.

Picture of the Year!
Anthony & Christen right in the middle of Time Square
A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.
-Mignon McLaughlin

Monday, February 4, 2013

How I found myself.

Have you ever spent time with someone that was truly unique?
Even if you could not put your finger on it at the time, there was just something about that person, wasn't there?
-How the heck did they get that way? 
-Were they born that way?  
-Did they read something that I missed? 

Truth is, many times a person of influence goes through a process in life that had 3 stages.  Many are not aware of the process, while some others are; nonetheless, there are 3 phases that you will go through to find yourself.

Stage One:  Looking OUT
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 became 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       

Somewhere along the line, time passes and you start looking at yourself.  You notice that you do not want to sound just like your seminary professor.  You want to sound like you; like the distinct person that God created.  So you start looking within, and begin the painful and long process of discovering who you uniquely are.  During this stage, you realize you have to grow in all aspects of your life if you want to be successful and develop in to the man or women God intended you to become. 

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.

I have seen this process in my own life.  I can remember downloading and listening to every great preacher.  I can remember reading all the homiletics books that I could get my hands on.
But over time, a funny thing happened. 

-I shed my skin-

Today, I couldn't tell you who was the greatest or most famous preacher.  All I could tell you is if you come and listened to Anthony preach on a Sunday morning --- you'll hear a sermon delivered in the tradition of Anthony Kladitis. 

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to

 make you something else is the greatest


― R. W. Emerson