Working on a Dream




Sunday, June 30, 2013

Paraprosdokians: it's ok, I didn't know either.

Paraprosdokians are figures of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected; frequently humorous. 

Winston Churchill loved them. 

Here are some examples:

1. Where there's a will, I want to be in it.

2. The last thing I want to do is hurt you.  But it's still on my list.

3. Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

4. If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.

5. We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.

6. War does not determine who is right - only who is left.

7. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit.  Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

8. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.

9. I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

10. In filling out an application, where it says, 'In case of emergency, Notify:' I put 'DOCTOR'.

11. Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.

12. You do not need a parachute to skydive.  You only need a parachute to skydive twice.

13. I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not so sure..

14. To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.

15. Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.

16. You're never too old to learn something stupid.

17. I'm supposed to respect my elders, but it’s getting harder and harder for me to find one now.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Does the Bible endorse slavery???

Does the Bible really condone slavery? 

I've heard the above ridiculous argument over and over in the past, and have tried my best to articulate a proper response. Luckily, I found this short & informative video that quickly clears up the controversy. 

This video features Wayne Grudem (theologian and general editor of the ESV Study Bible). In it, he explains clearly & powerfully the Biblical stance on slavery. 

Click on the link below & enjoy!

This might be worth sharing w/ a friend or on your FB news feed too!  

Thursday, June 27, 2013

7 Leadership Lessons Inspired By Nelson Mandela

Every time I think of Nelson Mandela, the great South African leader, the first thought in my mind is we need more like him. We are ready and in serious need of leaders to inspire us and motivate us with action as much as words.
Leadership is hard to define, mostly because it means different things to different people. We know it requires knowledge, strength and compassion. We expect leaders to be fair, to share our values and provide direction. That to me is what leaders like Mr. Mandela represent.

When looking to develop leadership skills, whether it is at home, with your peers at work or in the community, it is very helpful to look for mentors, role models that have spent years mastering leadership traits and putting them into practice. I have many mentors but Nelson Mandela is very much at the top of that list. I continue to learn many lessons from him, but the ones that remain timeless to me are as follows:
Inspire With Action: Motivate others with your words and actions. Give them courage, inspire them to learn more, instill in them a sense of possibility. Every action that you take will lead to a learning opportunity and will encourage moving forward movement in others. Teach others by example. If you do it, they will follow.
Be Better, Not Bitter: Nelson Mandela is the impersonation of this powerful lesson. He was put in jail by a brutal regime for 27 years simply because he was fighting for fairness and equality. But even while jailed, he continued to be a leader and the symbol of the struggles of South Africans. Amazingly, after his release from jail, he became a stronger leader, not bitter or ready for revenge. He found common ground, embracing those who were once against him and helping the country bridge a seemingly impossible gap.
Fail To Plan, Plan To Fail: People fail to accomplish their goals many times because of this simple premise. Planning and organizing ahead of time is key to the success of any task or endeavor, whether in your personal or business life. Organize your ideas, write out a plan with actionable steps to take and deadlines and set out your goals.
Work With The Willing Most: of us have gotten caught up at least once in the emotional roller-coaster that is wanting to work with or help someone who has the talent, the potential or the need, even if that person is unwilling or incapable. Move on from those that don't want to do or be where you want them to do or be. And don't carry their burden. Let them go through their journey and spend your time and energy looking for like-minded people who you can partner with.
Communicate: Communication is the simple act of getting a message across clearly and unequivocally to other/s. This sounds simple in theory but communication is one of the hardest things to do because there are so many things in play (body language, cultural idiosyncrasies among others) that can get in the way and cause confusion. Nelson Mandela is a master communicator, which is one of the top traits of a great leader.
Become A People's Person: Nelson Mandela is an incredibly dynamic person who was able to motivate an entire country to work together and move past a very difficult time in their history for the benefit of all. He wasn't attached to a particular ideology or goal. Instead, he was willing to build relationships on all sides in order to accomplish his goal of a united and successful South Africa.
Develop Strong Character: Nelson Mandela and his followers knew that they were doing the right thing, even it was dangerous and could have caused them their freedom (as it did for many years) or even their lives. But they had strong convictions and a strong sense of character and get got a lot of respect (and followers) because of it.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Don't Waste your Life

"Vanity of Vanities," says the Preacher, "All is Vanity."

Famous words from a very wise man. If you are not familiar with the phrase, let me help update it in a way that a guy living in the year 2013 can understand. "Life is hopeless, it has no point at all."  
Depressed?  Me too.

I have often wondered why one would teach such a thing, until I understood the bigger idea that the author of Ecclesiastes is trying to convey.  Let me attempt to elaborate his message by way of an illustration.  
The Great Wall of China, in the height of its grandeur stretched for four thousand miles. It was guarded by a million soldiers during the Ming Dynasty and during its erection two to three million people died building it. Oh, and it took several centuries to build too. The Great Wall of China has been hailed as one of man's greatest achievements; yet today much of the wall has crumbed away ... literally miles of the wall vanish each year without constant attention and repair.

"Vanity of Vanities," says the Preacher, "All is Vanity." 
"One generation passes away, and another comes; but the earth abides forever..."

No matter now much you or I "toil under the sun" , the author teaches that man will never find true satisfaction.  People have insurmountable thirst for money, status, power, women, clothes, and everything in between, yet all of man's greatest achievements will eventually rot.

Think of the fabulous Egyptian empire.
A superpower in its day. Marvelous inventions, unfathomable beauty and colossal pyramids. Today, most of the greatness is found in history books.  The tombs are empty and the pyramids are crumbling.  And make no mistake about it, one day our great nation will do the same.

"Vanity of Vanities," says the Preacher, "All is Vanity."
"One generation passes away, and another comes; but the earth abides forever ... The sun also rises and the sun goes down, ad hastens to its place. The wind goes toward the south, and turns around to the north ... 
All rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full."

This can all be very dark, that is unless you realize that the Preacher is trying to emphasize a certain point: life without God is absolutely pointless. We find this point at the very end of the book of Ecclesiastes.  I believe the author does this as an alliterative device, so as to drive home his main thrust of life being meaningless without God. "When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is: fear God and keep His commands, because this is for all humanity." The idea is that God will put things in perspective for you. His Word is the litmus test for what is truly enduring in your life and what you should be spending the majority of your time pursing. I've found that His guidance is like a long strait stick that I can take and lay alongside anything so to show its true worth.  Follow His ways, and you will avoid wasting your life.  This is why you find many mega-stars pursuing meaningful endeavors like adopting and donating exorbitant amounts of money to charities.  Notice, they pursue these types of meaningful activities only after they make their wealth.  The reason? They search for significance. Somewhere along the line, they wised up and felt exactly what the wise teacher was emphasizing in his timeless book. 

In conclusion, I want to share with you a little poem I ran across that stayed with me.  It is by C. T. Studd and goes like this:

“Two little lines I heard one day,

Traveling along life’s busy way;

Bringing conviction to my heart,

And from my mind would not depart;

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,

Soon will its fleeting hours be done;

Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet,

And stand before His Judgement seat;

Only one life,’twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last."

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The 4 D's of a Dynamic Daddy

Didn't make it to church on Father's Day? Here is a summary of my sermon for you to contemplate.

I had 4 simple points that I elaborated on, below are all four.

I asked a simple question in my introduction.  What is the number 1 issue facing the church today? Is it money? Catchy advertising? Air conditioning and padded pews? The answer is none of the above. The answer, in my humble estimation, is the absence of Godly fathers.

It is with this thought that I will share the "4 D's of a Dynamic Daddy."

The first quality of a dynamic daddy is that he will discipline his children properly. In the book of Colossians, Paul writes these provocative words: "Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged." Fathers take heed. There is a right way and a wrong way to discipline your children.  Paul is encouraging fathers to discipline their children in a way that does not break their spirits.  Sure discipline is needed and necessary; however, always focusing on a child's negative behavior may not be the best idea.  Did you know the single best managerial truth is that what you focus on is what you will receive.  That's right, focus all your attention on your child's negative behavior and by default you will reinforce that behavior.  The opposite is true too. Let me illustrate this principle with something familiar.  Ever see a new baby trying to walk?  Now forget the baby for a moment and picture the people in the room as the baby tries to take its first steps.  Lots of encouragement, big smiles, loud cheering, clapping with every step ... this is precisely how fathers should discipline their children.  Focus on the positive; look for times when your child is headed in the right direction.  And praise the heck out of them when they do something almost right. Yes, almost right.  Notice I did not say wait till' your kid does something perfect.  Perfection never comes.  Some fathers need to re-read that last sentence carefully and then tattoo it on their forearms. 

The next D of a dynamic daddy is giving direction.  This is about the millions of little decisions your kids will face in their lives. I am sure you remember the popular book titled, "Don't sweat the Small Stuff."  Well, that advice just plain stinks.  A dynamic daddy helps their kids understand that the little things in life will make or break them.  Jesus taught that, "Whoever is faithful in very little is also faithful in much, and whoever is unrighteous in very little is also unrighteous in much." Consider the tiny mosquito.  Have you ever been caught in a tent with one?  Your size compared to the mosquito is not even comparable, yet that little critter has the capacity to ruin your camping experience doesn't it? The little things in life are worth sweating because they make up the BIG things in life.  This is something that all fathers try to get their children to comprehend.  

D number three is provide a sense of destiny.  All great fathers understand and teach their kids that the small things lead to the BIG things.  Giving your daughter / son a sense of destiny is vitally important.  In Psalm 128:3 we read these seemingly obscure words: "Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine within your house, Your children like olive plants around your table."  I can virtually see you scratching your heads.  What does this verse have to do with giving your kids a sense of destiny? Well, see that phrase, "your children like olive plants around your table?"  Notice the that the Psalmist refers to children as, "Olive Plants."  Plants. Not trees. In other words, fathers will understand that his kids are not fully grown.  Their roots are tender and just taking root.  Dynamic Daddy's understand this and help put things in perspective for their kids.  Great fathers use the dinner table for more than just eating, they use it for leading.  Leading your kids to understand and pursue a sense of density; getting your children to believe that the future will be better than the past ... this is what the third D is all about. 

The final D is decision. You've either heard the sermon or read the article. And I am hoping that if you are a father you agree with the above.   However, something else is missing. You need to make a decision.  Today.  I know that most fathers talk to their kids about most everything. Grades. Dating. College. Peer Pressure.  But let me ask: when was the last time you took your daughter by the hand and prayed with her?  When is the last time you led your family in family devotions?  When is the last time you shared an important Bible verse with your son?  Making a decision to be a Godly father is all important. Especially in today's hollow world.  

So there you have it! 

Anthony's Father Day sermon. 

I hope you both enjoyed it and at the same time have been challenge by it. 

PS:  It is not too late.  Meaning, I know that many fathers feel like they have failed their kids in one way or the other. I understand. The important thing to focus on is that you can start today.  
Start new. Start fresh. 
It is not too late for you to be a dynamic daddy.  

The 4 D's of a Dynamic Daddy:
1) discipline properly
2) give direction
3) provide a sense of destiny
4) decide to be a Godly father today  

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Happy Father's Day: Story #2 "The Wooden Bowl."

A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four-year-old grandson.

The old man's hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered.

The family ate together at the table. But the elderly grandfather's shaky hands and ailing sight made eating difficult.

Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor.
When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth.
The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess. 'We must do something about father,' said the son. 'I've had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor.' So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner.

There, Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner.
Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl.

When the family glanced in Grandfather's direction, sometimes he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone. Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food.

The four-year-old watched it all in silence.

One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, 'What are you making?' Just as sweetly, the boy responded, 'Oh, I am making a little bowl ------ for you and Mama to eat your food in when I grow up.'

"Honor your Father & your Mother"
-Exodus 20:12

Monday, June 10, 2013

Happy Father's Day: Story #1 "Drenched in the Rain."

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.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

An UNcommon Office Visit

A question I get a lot from others is, "What do you do at your workplace?"
After telling them about preparing for Sunday school, the children's message and youth group. And after I tell them about meetings, readings, and praying. And after I tell them about moving chairs, tables and occasionally putting more toilet paper in the bathrooms. When I start telling people about pre and post marital counseling, newsletter and bulletin information, funerals, crisis-counseling, hospital visits, and ... people usually just smile and walk away.
However, today was a different story.  Today I sat with Steven.
I did not know Steven, he just walked into the church and into my office and into my life. Steven had on a white T-shirt with a hole in it, an over- sized jacket, and a pair of stain-filled pants. He was carrying a plastic shopping bag with all of his belongings; including his Mad Dog 20/20.

-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 had not seen them in over six years. Humorously, later 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 sandwich 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 a hold 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."

Jesus said, "I say unto you, whatever you have done to the least of these you have done to Me"  (Mathew 25:45). The greatest aspect about our meeting was not the food or the things I gave him, but the time and the conversation that took place between us. I wanted Steven to know that I was taking him serious. I wanted him to know that I was someone that was not going to give him a Bible and tell him that God loves him -and then send him back out into the streets...

Steven told me at McDonald's that he has been to literally hundreds of churches in his life but he has only had this kind of encounter once. That made my day.
I was glad that for Steven I was someone who stood out from among the many and made a difference in his life.
Steven, wherever you are today, you are still my buddy.
Come back and talk to me whenever you want.

written 2 summers ago