Working on a Dream




Monday, December 23, 2013

It's DUCK SEASON! Anthony on Duck Dynasty (Pt.2).

I am a firm believer in getting all your ducks in a row, so before reading this, please go back to read part 1.
Up to speed? Good, now take out your duck call, cause things are going to go quack.

Let’s start things off with a quote:
"Even if you can prove you're right, you'll never convince anyone by being obnoxious"
-Brendan McGinley

Truth & Love:
All you need is love, love … love is all you need
See don’t things feel better already? Just saying the word “love” or singing that tune seems to get everyone in a better mood. And it should. We learned yesterday that a Christian is called to live out a Biblical principle where one balances truth and love. For our purpose, today’s post will focus on the other side of the seesaw: LOVE.

Pope Francis recently said, “The people of God want pastors, not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials.”
Reading in between the lines of the above quote is the heartbeat of love. The Pope is highlighting the need for a heavy emphasis on love in the Christian church. Perhaps he is weary of a Church that just sits by the sidelines preaching from a distance? Maybe he is reacting to a cold mechanical Church that huddles in its four walls hanging garlic from its doors hoping to ward off vampires? Whatever the case, the telltale sign of a dead institution is when its people are marked by fear, create isolated communities and demonize everybody and everything in sight. Sound like a church near you? Thought so (enter teardrop from Anthony’s right eye).
Unfortunately, the pendulum for the Church has basically swung over to the side of truth. This is what happens when you forget your mission by the way. This whole things is really confusing to me since Jesus repeatedly taught AND displayed love toward others on a regular basis.
“It is not the healthy that need a doctor, but the sick” “I have come to seek and to save that which is lost” “The angels of heaven rejoice with one repentant sinner” Any of that sound familiar? Dear Christian, what have you been reading?
I mean, turn off Joel Osteen and put down the Daily Bread crumb, then wipe off the 3 inches of dust from your Bible and read it. And let me answer your next brain buster of a question: Any Bible will do and any place that you start is fine. OK. It does not matter if you have any one of the zillion translations because the one you have in your house and are neglecting is probably the one that you should be reading.
The Anthony summary: Truth and Love are equally important. The Church seems to really like the truth-y part more than the love-y part. The people that are not part of a church/grew up in church/do not like church are tired of a church that stands inside of its walls looking outside its stained glass windows pointing fingers at everyone saying nana boo boo.

Love: God’s way.
This section is of utmost importance for the reader. Do you remember in my last post when I was saying that a Christian is to first look to God’s Word for guidance and then proceed? This applies here too. When I use the word “love” it is totally possible for you and I to think of different definitions for that word. This is precisely where the Christian and the non-Christian will have problems. Love, for the Christian is defined by God. Here is what I mean, in the book of 1st Corinthians we read:

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.”

This, among other texts in the Scripture aid to my understanding of what true love is. My understanding of love is directed by what God’s standard of love is. So let’s take an example from our modern society. Let’s say that I read in a newspaper column that a gal is bored with her husband and for no apparent reason decides to up and leave him just because she “fell out of love with him.” The girl asks for advice from “Dear Anonymous” and anonymous says to “follow her heart and be happy.” Now let’s say this girl comes to my office and asks me for advice. To put it simply, she will receive advice that in no way, shape or form reflects the garbage she received previously. Because when I consider love, I first bear in mind what the love of God is – as this is true love. In this way God is like a compass pointing me in the direction of true north.

This complicates things quite a bit as there will be people on both sides of the issue(s) both claiming to be doing the “loving thing.” So for the Christian, they will not actively aid someone in their sin. Look at the Corinthians passage again, “love does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.” So when I hear the popular philosophy “to just let people do what they want to do” I reject this because truly loving someone is being committed to their eternal good. So, along with God, I hate the sin that destroys them. And I do my best to offer a loving way to present the truth.
Again, this can all be very confusing and to be honest this is why I spend a ton of time during Bible study teaching on subjects just the ones you have been reading about the last couple of days (Can you shameless plug? Engage(D) Bible Study: Thursday night’s Northminster Presby. Church 2334 Wilmington Rd. New Castle Pa. 16105).

In summation: Love is super important. A Christian and a non-Christian will at times understand the word/definition of love differently. This happens due to the ultimate standard by which you live your life. This is not always the case, but when it is, both sides will express how unbelievably goofy the other side looks. Words get tossed around like godless pagan duck loving narrow minded meany AND ungodly atheistic devil horned immoral deviants.

Attention. Attention. All Christians to the Principles office.
For this last section please unplug yourself from your latest podcast sermon and heed this advice …
Truth without love is a total fail. It is highly unattractive too by the way. Think of those bozos that go around with the crazy signs and picket military funerals. Can you say ineffective, unpleasant and unfortunate? 3 words -->They lack love. 
Have you noticed how love actually compels a person toward the hurts of others? It drives you toward the pain and brokenhearted. Love heals wounds, feeds mouths and offers advice. Love notices the individual and knows their name; love sits with someone in the middle of the night and offers a word of advice. Love gets you in the game. Oh, and a church lacking love is not a church. And a Christian without Christ-like love is hardly a Christian at all.

Remember when I kicked things off with the Beatles classic, “All you need is love?
Well, here is where things get a bit hairy. They got it wrong.
Beatle is actually spelled Beetle. No “a.”
Oh, wait, I didn’t mean to highlight that.

I actually mean the song lyrics. Love is not all you need.
And soon you will find out why …

Part 3 is where I take part 1 and part 2, smoosh them together and create a Christian worldview sandwich.
It’ll be yummy so stop back for a bite. 

If you enjoyed this post, share it! 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

It's Duck Season! Anthony on Duck Dynasty (Pt. 1)

I tried to resist until after Christmas, but I have itchy fingers.
It is time for Anthony to use the duck call to summon the flock.

I'll start off by telling you that I am not a fan of Duck Dynasty (and the Christian crowd goes silent!).  I have no problem with the show per se, it is just that I am not a hunter and do not watch people that live in the woods on a regular basis.  To each his own when it comes to the tube, OK? 
OK, let's move on to the wild goose chase over Phil Robertson.  I really hope that through all this pizzaz you actually read the GQ article in its entirety.  If you have not, please refrain from commenting on this post as you are lazy.  In fact, if you are passionately on either side of this whole thing and have not read what the man actually said there is a word for you: Useful Idiot. 

"It seems like, to me, a vagina - as a man - would be more desirable than a man's anus. That's just me," Robertson stated. "I'm just thinking: There's more there! She's got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I'm saying? But hey, sin: It's not logical, my man. It's just not logical."

Robertson described in the interview how sin is becoming acceptable in America and that the country needs to turn back to its Christian values.

"Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men," Robertson told GQ. "Don't be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers-they won't inherit the kingdom of God. Don't deceive yourself. It's not right."

The patriarch of the Robertson family said just putting one's faith in Jesus will help problems be solved.

"If you simply put your faith in Jesus coming down in flesh, through a human being, God becoming flesh living on the earth, dying on the cross for the sins of the world, being buried, and being raised from the dead-yours and mine and everybody else's problems will be solved. And the next time we see you, we will say: 'You are now a brother. Our brother.' So then we look at you totally different then," Robertson said.

Despite his beliefs, the 67-year-old says he doesn't judge others.
"We never, ever judge someone on who's going to heaven, hell. That's the Almighty's job," Robertson told GQ. "We just love 'em, give 'em the good news about Jesus - whether they're homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort 'em out later."

I have read many articles, posts and rants over this quacky issue and still a part of me feels like something is missing.  Can you believe that? Dear old Anthony adding something new to the conversation?  Or, perhaps a better word might be adding clarification to this swampy mess.   

I am a born again Christian.  The really annoying type to some.  That is because Jesus changed my life when I was a senior in high school.  He gave me direction, purpose and forgiveness.  Since, I have attended 4 years of Bible college, 4 years of seminary, 2 1/2 years of Biblical leadership courses and have been working in full time ministry for 13 years.  I think this gives me a tiny platform to share something of value here.  For simplicity sake, I will highlight a Biblical principle that I believe will shed a large amount of light on our bearded friend.  In the book of Ephesians, the Apostle Paul teaches, " ... speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ.”

SPEAK THE TRUTH IN LOVE.  A philosophy that the majority of men and women simply do not comprehend, nor live out.  Here you see, like a sea-saw at the park, two opposing factors that need balanced. Truth & Love. 
Let's look further at these 2 below: 

1) Truth.
An authentic Christian will speak the truth.  Plain and simple enough?  Our belief system is based on God's Word, the Bible.  This means our value system is based on what God deems as truth-worthy.  There are things that are black and white. There are things that are right and wrong.  There are lines drawn in the sand.  AND there are a lot of issues that the Bible leaves untouched or "in the grey."  (Personally I think most Christians get in trouble by not knowing the difference, but I digress).

A Christian is called to uphold God's standards.  This, I believe, is why so many find Christians unsettling.  Our worldview is dictated by our King. Our perspective is formed by The Alpha and Omega.  Not the constitution of the United States, nor the most recent popularity poll and certainly not any TV network.  Go back and read the book of Acts in the New Testament. The book is filled with instances like the one(s) we are facing today.  In every instance when the disciples had to, “obey God or man” they sided with God. Every time. Christians are citizens of heaven before we are citizens of the earth.  This is why when certain subjects out of the norm arise, or when there is a shift away from a Biblical point of view, people take sides faster than I get to the dinner table on Thanksgiving.  And that's fast, since I sleep on the table the night before. It is my way of calling dibs.  In summation: A Christ follower is called to speak the truth in love.  The truth we are called to speak is directed by God's Word.  Since we live in what some would call a "Post-Christian America" (meaning Judea-Christian values are being pushed to the side / substituted for other religious philosophies / world views) the lines of tradition are being blurred and this is when party’s from both sides take sides.  By all means, this trend will continue and more and more controversy is on its way.  AKA, this is just the beginning of a severely divided America.  

2) Consequences. 
There are consequences of truth telling.  Phil was asked a hot button question and he answered.  A & E did not particularly care for the way he answered.  Consequence = Phil, You are fired (In my best Donald Trump voice).  Simple enough?  Phil works for a company and he stepped outside their boundaries (whether you agree with A & E or not) and he was let go. Could A & E of handled the situation differently?  Maybe.  They could of issued a public statement sharing how Phil's comments in no way, shape or form reflect the networks ... Or a myriad of other actions.  Nonetheless, they did what they were entitled to do.  And since we are on the topic, please, please stop talking about free speech.  The guy was in an interview being asked questions, he answered however he wanted to and it was published in a popular magazine.  That is by definition FREE SPEECH.  
Please stop making me and everyone else dumber by not realizing that this interview was not done in Iran where a guy dressed to his eyeballs in black with a machine gun in one hand and a machete in the other is breathing over the guy just in case he says the word, "boo" in a tone they do not particularly care for on that particular day.  Geeez oh man, if you are reading this, you most likely work and if you act in a way that brings unnecessary shame or step outside the workplaces boundaries you will face some sort of consequences.  In summation:  Phil was in an interview.  He was asked a question that was controversial. He answered according to God's standard.  A & E do not necessarily agree with God's viewpoint on this matter.  Phil faced consequences.  Phil is not dumb and knew his answer would cause problems.  Phil stood for what he believes and does not care if he is let go by A & E.  Phil is happy happy remember? 

3) Dumb People that say dumb things.
Will people please quit using words like: Bigot, closed-minded, hypocrite and party-pooper!  I mean, do you even know what those words mean?  Or do you just like throwing around buzz-words?
-Bigot: A person who is or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices ; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance. 
-Hypocrite: A person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion. 
A person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings. 

If you actually read Phil's quote, you will clearly see that neither of these apply.  He is not treating anyone with hatred nor is he saying one thing and doing another.  And if you are the thin-skinned type that equates everything and anything with "hate" then this is your problem.  Lock yourself up in your bedroom and never leave.  And if you are the type that think Christians are to be perfect at all times, places and spaces, then you really misunderstand what Christianity is all about.  Go to your room too.  In summation: Stop saying buzzwords. Especially when those words do not add anything to the conversation. And especially when they make you look dumb(er) than usual.   

Next up is part 2.  
If you read this, then you'll want to read that.  

If you found this enlightening in any way, please leave a comment or share. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Did I ever tell you about my first Job?

Did I ever tell you about my first job 
It was at a Bingo Hall and I was in the 9th grade.
I punched in at 5:30 p.m. and worked till' 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday night's.  Oh, and by the end of the night my white T-shirt turned Carmel colored brown from the million cigarettes being smoked by all the Bingo-ites.

I am sure you have your own interesting stories when you think back to your first job.  I bet you remember the the place, the smells, and your co-workers.  Speaking of co-workers, surely you have some pretty interesting stories to tell ... there was the guy that was ALWAYS late. The gal that LIVED in the break room and the dude that never saw eye to eye with ANYONE.   Below are 10 C-Level titles that identify those who infest our workplaces and make our lives there a challenge.

CWO - Chief Whining Officer. All good things happen to everyone but you. Everyone has a better job, a better boss, a better cubicle, better pay, better perks, blah, blah, blah.

CNO - Chief Negatron Officer. You’re the self-designated dissenter, the perpetual fly in the ointment, always pointing out why it can’t be done - never how it can be done.

CSO - Chief Stress Officer. Your boss stresses you out. Her boss stresses you out. Your coworker stresses you out. Your job stresses you out. You couldn’t be creating your own workplace stress, could you?

CBO - Chief Blame Officer. Something goes wrong, it’s everyone’s fault but yours, and you’re sure to be the one covering your butt, pointing the finger, heading the witch hunt.

CVO - Chief Victim Officer. You have an abusive boss. The head of HR or IT hates you. Your peer makes life miserable for you. They’re all driving you nuts. Maybe you’re the one behind the wheel.

CDO - Chief Disruptive Officer. Always acting out or trying to get attention, the drama queen, disrupting meetings and making everything about you. It’s always about you.

CPO - Chief Political Officer. The player, manipulator, man behind the curtain, puppet-master, destroyer of enemies. Too bad politics doesn’t win business or keep customers.

CCO - Chief Clueless Officer. Always running around like a chicken with your head cut off, asking everybody and his brother for help, never having a clue what to do, how to do it, or even how to start.

CUO - Chief Unreliable Officer. When there’s work to be done, finding you is like shooting darts at jello. And when you do get tagged with a task, the only thing we can count on is that it won’t be done right.

CGO - Chief “Grass is Greener” Officer. Your friend works for a better company or a better group. Everything is better there. Everything about this place sucks. Well, it would suck a lot less if you quit.

(Source Unknown)

Leadership Application:
I bet as you read through the above list you quickly identified people that epitomized each C-Level.  The challenge for you is not over however.  A great leader looks inward and makes certain that they themselves do not embody the above characteristics in their own lives.  Gandhi said, "Be the change you wish to see in the world."  Remember, you cannot control the behavior of those around you, but you can control yourself.

Friday, December 13, 2013

My Best Christmas

The Christmas party was over.

Several of the men were sitting at a table reminiscing about the Christmas days of their childhood. The conversation turned to the best Christmas of their lives. As they went around the table, they noticed one man hadn't said anything. They asked, "Come on.. Frank, What was your best Christmas?" Frank said, "The best Christmas I ever had was when I didn't even get a present." The others were surprised. They had to hear the story. Frank began to talk...
"I grew up in New York. It was the great depression and we were poor. My Mother had died when I was just eight years old. My Dad had a job but he only worked two or three days a week and that was considered good. We lived in a walk up and we just barely had enough food and clothes. I was a kid and didn't really notice."

"My Dad was a proud man. He had one suit. He would wear that suit to work. When he came home, he would take off the jacket and sit in his chair still wearing his shirt, tie and his vest. He had this big old pocket watch that had been given to him by my mother. He would sit in his chair, the chain from watch hanging out, connected to the fob in his vest buttonhole. That watch was his proudest possession. Sometimes, I would see him, just sitting there, looking at his precious watch. I bet he was thinking of my mother."
"One year, I was about twelve, chemistry sets were the big thing. They cost two dollars. That was big money but every kid wanted a chemistry set including me. I began to pester my Dad about it a month or so before Christmas. You know, I made all the same kid promises. I would be good. I would do my chores. I wouldn't ask for anything else again. My dad would just say, 'We'll see.."
"Three days before Christmas he took me to the carts. There was this area where all the small merchants keep their street carts. They would undersell the stores and you could get a good buy. He would take me to a cart and pick out some little toy. "Son, would like something like this?" I, of course, would tell him, 'No, I want a chemistry set.' We tramped to nearly every cart and him showing me some toy car or toy gun, and me refusing it. I never thought that he didn't have the money to buy a chemistry set. Finally, he said, we better go home and come back the next day."

"All the way home, I pouted and whined about the chemistry set. I repeated the promises. I said I didn't care if I never got another present. I had to have that chemistry set. I know now that my Dad felt guilty about being able to give me more. He probably thought he was a failure as a Father and I think he blamed himself for my mother's death. As we were walking up the stairs, he told me, that he would see what he could do about getting me the chemistry set. That night I couldn't even sleep. I could see myself inventing some new material. I could see the New York Times.. 'Boy wins Nobel Prize!"

"The next day after work, my Dad took me back to the carts. On the way, I remember, he bought a loaf of bread, he was carrying it under his arm. We came to first cart and he told me to pick out the set I wanted. They were all alike, but I went through them, like I was choosing a diamond. I found the right one and I almost yelled. 'This one..Dad!'"
"I can still see him, reaching into his pant's pocket, to get the money. As he pulled the two dollars out, one fluttered to the ground, he bent over to pick it up and as he did, the chain fell out of his vest. The chain swung back and forth. 'No watch.' In a flash, I realized that my Dad had sold his watch. He sold his most precious possession to buy me a chemistry set. He sold his watch, the last thing my mother had given him, to buy me a chemistry set."

"I grabbed his arms and I yelled, 'No.' I had never grabbed my Dad before and I certainly had never yelled at him. I can see him, looking at me, a strange look on his face. 'No, Dad, you don't have to buy me anything.' The tears were burning in my eyes. 'Dad, I know you love me.' We walked away from the cart and I remember my Dad holding my hand all the way home."
Frank looked at the men. "You know, there isn't enough money in the world to buy that moment. You see, at that moment, I knew that my Dad loved me more than anything in the world."

author unknown

Monday, December 9, 2013

2 Evil Brothers

There were two evil brothers.
They were rich, and used their money to keep their sins from the public eye.
They even attended the same church, and appeared to be perfect Christians.

Then their pastor retired, and a new one was called. The new pastor could see right through the brothers’ deception. A fund raising campaign was started to build a new church hall. All of a sudden, one of the brothers died. The remaining brother sought out the new pastor the day before the funeral and handed him a check for the amount needed to finish paying for the new building.

“I have only one condition,” he said. At his funeral, you must say my brother was a saint.”

The pastor gave his word, and deposited the check. The next day, at the funeral, the pastor did not hold back. “He was an evil man,” the pastor said. “He cheated people, told lies, and stole whenever he had the chance, and …”

After going on in this vein for a while, the pastor concluded with, “But compared to his brother, he was a saint.”

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Preventive Medicine: How to Avoid Hiring Terrible Employees

Preventive Medicine

Remember when you were a kid and started developing a cough? If your mom was like my mom, that meant spoonfuls of nasty liquid medicine. I always remember begging dad to buy the “purple stuff” that tasted just like grape … or at least it was supposed to. Although I resisted most of the time, mom was quick to administer the medicine ASAP so to prevent further illness. Besides, everyone knew I wasn’t missing school unless my leg was gangrene.

It was wise Ben Franklin that once declared, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Preventive medicine can be practiced just about anywhere; however, today I will focus on the workplace, specifically in regards to hiring people. People often ask for advice when it comes to dealing with passion-less, lazy workers.
“How do I motivate John?”
“Why is Mary always performing below expectations?”

Recently it dawned on me that, generally speaking, the problem might not be in the workplace per se, but with the individual themself. If this discovery is made, then you have to break the bad news to the manager that the trouble they are experiencing is due to their lack of practicing preventative medicine. Hiring the right person will spare you a lot of painful and costly problems in your workplace. See, the preventative medicine is the job interview process whereby you see the problem before you obligate yourself to the person. Gregg Lederman, author of “Achieve Brand Integrity” agrees: “The wrong people are your company’s greatest catastrophe. These are the individuals who should never have been hired in the first place. They have drained training resources and been difficult to work with, leading to decreased morale and lower productivity. In many cases, these poor performers have found ways to directly or indirectly deter customer loyalty all the while exhausting your payroll … Your mediocre people are your company’s greatest drain on overall resources and infest your work culture with mediocrity while keeping your organization from reaching its desired results.”

What should you do?
Beef up your interview system with Grade-A steroids.
Check out these 10 helpful tips below suggested by Lee Cockerell, author of Creating Magic:
1) Define beforehand the qualities needed for the job / Describe the job completely.
2) Do not hire a clone of yourself.
3) Involved a team in the hiring process.
4) Select by talent, not resume.
5) Look for a good fit into your corporate culture.
6) Promote within (when you can).
7) Hire people that are smarter than you.
8) Check out the candidates personally in their previous environment. (If possible)
9) Have the candidate(s) demonstrate their expertise. (Real time interviews)
10) Select the best candidate –not just the best one available.

The hiring process is your preventive medicine. By focusing more on the hiring procedure you stack the deck in your favor. Look, the expectations are not for you to become a genie with a crystal ball, mistakes are bound to occur when hiring. The point is that you can take some control by being mindful ahead of time. So take your medicine by the spoonful early and often! By doing so, you will save yourself from the sneezes, coughs, and headaches that will spread throughout your workplace like a virus.