Working on a Dream




Saturday, September 28, 2013

Introducing Isabella to Carrots

Baby's first taste of veggies.  
Below is a scientific description of her reaction to carrots. 

Step one:
 Introduce the food slowly ...
as she sits with 
She reasons to herself that this must be the best thing since sliced bread ...

Step two:
The taste test ...
this seams promising ...

Step three: 
A unique reaction ... 
It's kind of like carrots that taste just like ... carrots. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

I took your Place

A Story:
One day, a man went to visit a church, He got there early, parked his car and got out. Another car pulled up near the driver got out and said, " I always park there
You took my place!" 

Then the visitor went inside for Sunday School, found an empty seat and sat down. A young lady from the church approached him and stated, "That's my seat! You took my place!" The visitor was somewhat distressed by this rude welcome, but said nothing.

After Sunday School, the visitor went into the sanctuary and sat down. Another member walked up to him and said, "That's where I always sit! You took my place!" The visitor was even more troubled by this treatment, but still He said nothing.

Later as the congregation was praying for Christ to dwell among them, the visitor stood up, and his appearance began to change. 
Horrible scars became visible on his hands and on his sandaled feet. 
Someone from the congregation noticed him and called out, "What happened to you?" 
The visitor replied, as his hat became a crown of thorns, 

"I took your place."

DID you know that the Bible teaches that God literally took your place? This is what the cross was all about, God reconciling all who trust in Him. The Apostle says it like this, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." 
(II Corinthians 5:21).  To illustrate, I will recall a popular movie titled the Matrix.  In the third installment, during the final epic battle between Mr. Anderson (really bad guy) and Neo (good guy), Neo let Mr. Anderson punch his fist into his stomach.  When this happened, Mr. Anderson sort of oozed into Neo, thus corrupting him and winning the final he thought.  If you have seen the film, you remember that this was not the end of Neo, rather it was the final act for Mr. Anderson.  See, when Neo allowed Mr. Anderson to enter him, Neo took inside himself pure evil.  
Neo then died. And when he did ... the evil one died too.

Admittedly, this not a perfect parallel with our Lord, but there is something deeply familiar in both accounts, the good overtook the bad by becoming the bad on behalf of others.  So the next time you see a cross, you can be thankful that someone took your place.  

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


A man went to a barbershop to have his hair cut and his beard trimmed. As the barber began to work, they began to have a good conversation.
They talked about so many things and various subjects.
When they eventually touched on the subject of God, the barber said: 'I don't believe that God exists.' 'Why do you say that?' asked the customer.
'Well, you just have to go out in the street to realize that God doesn't exist. 
Tell me, if God exists, would there be so many sick people? Would there be abandoned children?
If God existed, there would be neither suffering nor pain. 
I can't imagine a loving God who would allow all of these things.' 
The customer thought for a moment, but didn't respond because he didn't want to start an argument.
The barber finished his job and the customer left the shop. 
Just after he left the barbershop, he saw a man in the street with long, stringy, dirty hair and an untrimmed beard. 
He looked dirty and unkempt. The customer turned back and entered the barbershop again and he said to the barber: 
'You know what? Barbers do not exist.' 'How can you say that?' asked the surprised barber. 'I am here, and I am a barber. And I just worked on you!'
'No!' the customer exclaimed. 'Barbers don't exist because if they did, there would be no people with dirty long hair and untrimmed beards, like that man outside.'
'Ah, but barbers DO exist! That's what happens when people do not come to me.' 
'Exactly!' affirmed the customer. 'That's the point! God, too, DOES exist! That's what happens when people do not go to Him and don't look to Him for help. 
That's why there's so much pain and suffering in the world.'

"I always wondered why somebody didn't do something about that.
Then I realized that I AM somebody." 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

How to Deliver a Rockem' Sockem' Speech! Pt.3

You've made it to the final day of the seminar!
You speak with confidence, you are organized and ready to conquer the world.
Or are you?

My persuasion is that you could have all the best techniques in the world, and still be more scared of standing up to deliver a speech than going hang gliding blindfolded.  This is what day 3 is all about. It is about the tricks. The secrets that nobody ever really tells you. Thankfully, I am not interested in going to the grave while hoarding the best speaking methods.  Below is what will help your speech go from a single to a Grand Slam.

Grand Slam secret #1: It's what you say AND how you say It!
You are not a robot,  you are a living being. And so are the people in your audience. Think about the best speeches that you have heard in your lifetime and you will remember a speaker that utilized oration masterfully.  Long pauses, brief silences, vocal highs and lows, speeding up and the slowing down, Etc.  If you are having trouble conjuring up this idea, I'd suggest you go back to memory lane to when you where a kid.  Do you recall how your grandparents or parents would read to you? They'd use all kinds of different noises, in effect, they'd get into character and you would love it!  Practice reading a children's book, maybe even volunteer reading at an elementary school.  If  you can hook those kids bouncing off the walls, then I am betting you will do just fine in front of any audience.

Grand Slam secret #2: Getting Physical! 
I hope you have picked up on the number of times that I brought up the term "audience" in the last 3 days. Never, ever forget the fact that your speech is being evaluated by the group of people that you will be addressing.  This means putting yourself in their seat so to consider their perspective.  You have to really contemplate things like:
Q: What do I look like?  Do I need to shave? What will I be wearing? What will they be wearing? Where will I be standing? What do I need to successfully deliver my talk? Are there obstacles between myself and the congregation? Am I smiling or frowning? What is my body language expressing?  Etc. 
My rule of thumb for any speaking occasion is (1) dress 1 level above the group that I will be addressing and (2) arrive early.  This allows me to look over the room, remove anything undesirable, and practice.

Grand Slam secret #3: Practice!
As mentioned above, I always get to the physical location beforehand so to go over my presentation.  To this day, you can find me up front at Northminster going over my sermon.  In fact, there have been times that congregants have waltzed by staring at me and  then glancing into the pews only to see NOBODY there.  This allows me to get a "feel" for my sermon and it will most definitely do the same for you.  All those techniques mentioned above in number one will start coming alive during your practice run.  Finally, nothing, and I mean nothing helps cool your jets like being at the place that you will eventually deliver your speech.   

Grand Slam secret #4: Elegant Visuals!
The general rule here is less is more.  There are a variety of methods that I really love, however, I find myself utilizing one in particular every time I preach.  Storyboarding.  This approach is really easy and extremely effective when communicating.  The basic idea is that when you are completely finished with your speech, you find images that fit with your main points.  Each image should fill the entire screen and be simple.  For instance, a few months ago I preached a sermon on justice and during my point that "justice should be blind" I had behind me Lady Justice.  It was an effective way to connect with my visually included audience as well as the auditory learners. 
NOTE:  Since we just talked about visuals, then by default we just talked about technology.  Plainly put, technology can be your best friend or despised enemy. Do everything you can in your power to ensure that the tec stuff goes well. I advise getting to the place early and running through not only your speech, but also the audio and visual. 

Grand Slam secret #5: A Blazing Heart!
Let's get down to it. You can have the greatest methods known to man but if your talk does not flow right out of a convicted heart, you might as well sit down.  I will never forget when my R.A. in college stopped me in my tracks right before I was to deliver a sermon and he said these words. "Anthony, the secret to every great speech is that it comes from your heart." Those words have been branded into my mind & heart ever since.  The Greek word for passion is pathos and your audience will always be able to discern if you've got a fire in your belly.  I always say that, you must first deliver your talk to yourself before you go public and deliver it to anyone else. This is what the weeping prophet Jeremiah was alluding to when he said, "If I say, 'I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,' there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot."  For Jeremiah, his heart was set ablaze with a fire for God.  And I'd bet the family farm that his audience could tell...
Passion is what will ooze out of you and into the audience's spirit.  Passion is what will cause your point to become their conviction.  Passion is what will lift your congregation to idleness to action. When it comes to preaching, forget being a Candle Keeper  instead be a Fire Starter! 

There you have it.
If you would like to inquire more about speeking effectively feel free to call me.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Why do you have a problem with EVERYONE?

When you have a problem with EVERYone; everyone is NOT the problem ...You are. 

John Maxwell, in his interesting book, Winning with People, shares a principle worth repeating here in Working on a Dream.   He introduces us to a person he calls Bob.   

Bob actually has an entire chapter dedicated to him. 
The reason is because Bob has a problem with EVERYONE!

Bob's first problem is that he is a problem carrier.  Like a single chirping cricket that sits right outside your bedroom window, Bob loves to carry his problems around and use the world as his sounding board.  Sadly, this is only the beginning of Bob's troubles.

See, Bob is also a problem finder.  
You can find Bob criticizing people after events, because Bob never helps with them. Because of this, he reasons to himself that he is at liberty to mouth off; nitpicking what didn't work or what should have been.  Which translates into what Bob really likes; creating problems.  Let's face it, Bob is a major tool.  He sits back, frozen in his fear and just watches.  Never getting into the game, he stammers on the sidelines of life all the while searching with his critical eye. 

I have heard that we all carry two buckets in life. One filled with water and one filled with gasoline.  We can choose to either put out a fire with the water or douse gas on a situation and make it worse. People like Bob come equipped with 5 gallons of gas in one hand and a lighter in the other.

Finally, Bob is a problem receiver.   Misery loves company; birds of a feather flock together and so on.  The bottom line is that the Bob's of the world attract other Bob's.  So if you happen to stumble across a Bob, I'd suggest scraming before his fellow minions show up to ruin your day. 

Question: Are you Bob? 
Are you a problem Carrier?
A problem Finder? 
A problem Creator?
Or a problem Receiver?

Take some time to reflect on your life.  
If you where to ask those closest to you, would they say that you fit the above description? Going through life as Bob is no fun and will cost you a lot. The good news is that you can start making some changes in your life and turn things around! Lincoln wisley said, “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” 
Here is a suggestion; start with finding ways to compliment others.  I make it a rule to complement at least 3 people every day.  This has trained me to look for the positive in others.  If you have a better way, then great.  The point is making a plan that will get you to stop being that "guy" we all like to call Bob. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

I Want IT Bad !


There was a young man who wanted to make a lot of money, and so he went to a guru. He told the guru he wanted to reach his level of greatness. And so the guru said: “If you want to be on the same level I’m on, I’ll meet you tomorrow at the beach.”

So the young man arrived at 4:00 a.m. He had on a suit, but he should have worn shorts. The old man grabbed his hand and said: “How bad do you want to be successful?” The young responded: “Badly.”

So the old man told the young man to walk out into the water. It was waist deep. The young man thought: “This old man is crazy.”

The young man said to himself: “I want to make money and this guy has me out here swimming. I didn’t ask to be a lifeguard. I want to make money.

Then the old man said: “Come out a little farther,” and the young man did so.

As the young man was up to his shoulders in water he again thought: “This old man is crazy! He’s making money, but he’s crazy.”

The old man said, “Come out a little farther.”

The young man obeyed, but wavered as if he might turn back.

So the old man said: “I thought you said you wanted to be successful?”

“I do,” said the student.

So the old man ordered the young man to come out even farther, and when he did he pushed the young man’s head under water and held it down. Although the young man fought, the old man would not let him up.Just before the young man passed out the old man raised his head above the surface and said: “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.”

The young man in the story wants nothing more than to be successful in life. Certainly ambition is not a bad thing, however misplaced ambition is. In all reality, this story is about desire. It is about not quitting.  It’s about a dream and your pursuit of that dream.   It’s about wanting it bad, whatever the “it” is that burns inside your guts. Most people have an “it” and it keeps them up late at night … whether for good or for bad.  Know what? Not all “its” are worth your venture. Not all “its” are created equal.  Some are good, some bad.  Some are worthwhile pursuits that will reap meaningful rewards and some are filled with bleak despair.   Today, I want to tell you about a person that had it all, yet desired something most of us have either forgotten or misplaced.

In the Old Testament book of Psalms we read, “As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Psalm 42: 1-2).


I am not a hunter, but growing up in Western Pa. I know a thing or two about deer from the enthusiasts that I hang with. In the wild, an animal can become emaciated due to a lack of water and/or food. David is at a low point in his life while writing this passage and draws a parallel between a deer’s desperate desire for water and his own yearning to connect with God. Just as a deer pants after the water brook, David pants after God. See when King David wrote this he was down in the pits and removed from his throne. We both know that King David could have potentially missed a lot of things in his current situation; as King, I would have probably missed my comfy bed, deliciously prepared meals, a Mega-Huge TV to watch the 49ers play and my nightly foot massage.  Contrarily, we do not find David expressing a single word of regret as to his absence from his throne.  Rather his longing is for fellowship with God. Apparently, David had an “it” and it was the Lord.  


Like David, there is something that happens to us when we go through tough times. The trials of life reveal what is beneath our exterior; then our true character surfaces like the morning sunrise.  What is below the surface quickly becomes evident to all.  This, I am sure you have figured out, is either a good thing or a bad thing for a person. We’ve all see it. Experienced it.  When someone acts up and everyone is just sitting around with their jaws touching the floor. Shocked at what we have just painfully observed. Conversely, there are times when a person’s powerful character is revealed that leaves an indelible mark upon us.  For King David, his time of pain revealed his deepest desire. To connect with his Creator. Or should I say, to re-connect with Him.  Have you noticed that you or I never really miss water until we MISS WATER???  I get the feeling that this was David’s yearning during his crucible.  The thing that he took for granted was not near.  That connected feeling that brought him a sense of comfort was removed and now David wanted it back –more than anything.


Maybe you have wandered away.  You now find yourself in the wilderness wondering what had happened.  Where did my foot slip?  When did I go wrong? And more importantly, how do I get back? The answer is beautiful in way due to its simplicity.  Just go back to the source and drink. Partake.  You may have taken 1,000 steps away from God, but He has taken 999 and is looking right over your shoulder waiting for you to turn around and begin all over again.

Monday, September 2, 2013

How to Tie a Tie.

Men, it's time to throw away that clip-on and grab your sweet looking tie, because today I share how you can step up your look Marlon Brando style.  Properly presenting yourself involves looking your best while wearing a suit, and if you have not noticed, your tie can make or break your style faster than a boog hanging out your left nostril.  Let's be frank, if choosing the right tie is essential; knowing how to tie it is critical.  We both have seen the guy walking around with that one "knot." You know the one, where it looks like a 1 inch by 1 inch wadded up clump of mess. The one that kids wear to their 8th grade dance. 

Above, you will find a convenient video teaching you the steps to the perfect knot. 
Below, are 8 steps that will get you tying the perfect knot.

The Windsor necktie knot gives you a wide triangular tie knot that’s good for more formal settings. This tie knot is best worn with a wide spread collar.
1. Drape the tie around your neck. The wide end should extend about 12 inches below the narrow end of the tie. Cross the wide part of the tie over the narrow end.
2. Bring the wide end of the tie up through the hole between your collar and the tie. Then pull it down toward the front.
3. Bring the wide end behind the narrow end and to the right.
4. Pull the wide end back through the loop again. You should have a triangle now where the necktie knot will be.
5. Wrap the wide end around the triangle by pulling the wide end from right to left.
6. Bring the wide end up through the loop a third time.
7. Pull the wide end through the knot in front.
8. Tighten the knot and center it with both hands.