Working on a Dream




Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Are you (really) a Christian?

Are you (really) a Christian?

Have you noticed how whatever someone likes finds a way to mark that person?
Many of you know that I like the greatest football team in history, the San Francisco 49ers and ultimate rocker Bruce Springsteen. I mean, my blog is named after one of his albums for crying out loud! During football season you can see my running around in Scarlet & Gold rooting on my Niners and when Bruce is on tour, you can bet that I am at all the concerts within reason (<-- reason is relative here btw).

We see this type of thing all the time, anything a person really likes they sort of surround their life around and find ways to include their hero or favorite whatever into the fabric of their lives. Faith is similar. Did you know that there are certain marks that distinguish a follower of Jesus? I am sure that you mind is racing ahead to fill in those marks …

-go to church
-say your prayers
-be nice to the poor
-do not judge (ever)
-suits, ties, offerings …

I’ve got good news and bad news. Which one do you want first?
OK, the good. Congratulations! You named some important marks of Christendom. All the above have to do with how a believer acts, or should act. The bad news is that demonstrating those marks is only 1 of the 3 vital marks of being an authentic Christian. In the book, “A Call to Resurgence” Mark Driscoll shares 3 marks of the bona fide Christian.

Mark #1 is a profession of faith. This means to confess Jesus as Lord of your life. The first mark of Christianity is as follows, “Christianity is not behavior modification, it is heart transformation.” So the first mark is absolutely imperative. In fact, without the first mark, a person is not a Christian at all. Truth be told, Jesus spoke often about people that would do all kinds of “outward godly” things, yet be far from God (see Matthew 7:20-23).
Mark #1 = Transformed Heart. 

The next mark is to practice that profession. Mark #2 = Live out what you profess. Now you can start adding the answers you gave above into the equation. The fruit of repentance is a change life. Your outward actions will start to reflect that inner change. I like to say that your hands and feet will follow your heart. And this does not just apply to Christianity, this applies to any area of your life … A person always find a way to express what they truly behold in their heart of hearts.

Finally, mark #3 is to posses the faith. This is a continual renewal of that profession and practice. Hear this clearly, I am not referring to losing and regaining your faith. I am simply saying that in your faith walk, you will experience different seasons. Some good. Some bad. At times you will feel like totally giving up. Other times you will be on fire to the point where other people need SPF just to be in your presence.

I'll end the same way I started:
Are you (really) a Christian?

The purpose of this post is not for condemnation. The last thing that I want to do is finger point.
Instead, this is more from a standpoint of self-reflection. I do not want anyone to confuse “doing things” with Christianity because that is simply not the case. Re-read this post; then find some time to soul search.
And as always, if you want to go deeper, you can always write me.

-If this inspired you, please share it with others!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

100 Hours

When is the last time you read a book?

High school? College graduation? The reason I ask is because I recently read some startling stats that made me nervous. In 1997, the New York Times revealed that the average person in America spent about 1,100 hours a year watching broadcast TV, an additional 500 hours watching cable TV and 300 hours listening to music. While only 100 hours were devoted to reading.

James Emery White commented on the above by saying: “Neil Postman noted that the great fear of George Orwell (author of the book 1984) was of a day when there might be those who would ban books. Aldous Huxley’s portrait of the future in Brave New World was more prescient; Huxley feared that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one …”(A Mind for God, J. White).

I remember a documentary a few years ago titled, “Super Size Me.” It was about this guy that ate nothing but fast food. He gorged himself during breakfast, lunch and dinner and found out really fast that the food was having a negative effect on his body. He developed chest pains, gained weight and had trouble breathing. Imagine if we fed our brains in a similar manner. We forget that our brains were created by God to be taken care of and fed just like our stomachs and our muscles. It amazes me to watch the commercials filling in the spaces in-between our regular TV programs. I want you to become aware at how many emphasize beauty. From hair products, to fat loss, to skin care; it seems as if our society focuses solely the outer shell of individuals. When did developing our intellect with character drift away?

This week I discovered a tattered Poinsettia that was left in church from the Christmas season.

It is so bad, it could literally star in a scary movie. It does not take an Einstein to figure out what went drastically wrong with the plant. It needs water! Somewhere along the line, something vital was withheld from it and it began to shrivel … whither … and die.

Then, providentially, I found these little tubes that you fill with water and stick right into the soil. I thought to myself how similar my blog subject is with this poor plant. The plant represents our mind and the tube filled with water represents the nourishing of our minds.
-Starve your mind and you’ll end up stagnate.
-Feed your mind and you’ll produce fertility.

“Can you spare 1 hour a day? Let me have 7 hours a week, and I will make a scholar and a philosopher out of you; in 4 years you shall be as well educated as any new-fledged Doctor of Philosphy in the land.”
-Will Durant

Friday, January 17, 2014

Colin Kaepernick, 49er Qb gives best Sermon!

On Christmas Eve, the Kaepernicks were driving to church in Turlock. Rick exited the freeway and pulled up at a stop sign, near a scruffy man holding a sign, "Merry Christmas, help the homeless."

Colin asked his dad to roll down the window, and handed the man a wad of bills.

"It could have been five dollars, it could have been 500, I didn't ask," Rick said. "Colin says, 'Merry Christmas to you,' and the guy says, 'Merry Christmas, son.' I roll the window up, drive, and ask him, 'How do you know he's homeless?' Colin looks at me and says, 'Dad, how do you know he isn't?'

"I got my first lesson before I even got to church that night."

"Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment."

"But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
-1 samuel 16:7

Friday, January 10, 2014

Birthday- You’re Invited

Birthday- You’re Invited

It’s about 12:00am and I’m responding to a message from a friend on Facebook. 
As I realize the time, I can’t get the birthday song out of my head. “Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday little Anthony, happy birthday to you.” it keeps chiming in my head. But it’s not the song sung how we usually hear it- it’s just not the same in my head and I definitely don’t feel the same in my heart. My chest is heavy and in my head it almost feels like I’m watching a scary movie, there is terror there, instead of the usual happiness a person sings at a birthday party. But for almost a half hour that song sticks and my visions of a birthday party for a little boy are still there…he’s wearing a birthday hat- the kind we make our kids wear even though they are pointed and silly. He has a gray t-shirt on, I can’t see his face. He is at the head of a table and there are people around, but I can’t identify who because I am trying to focus on the little boy at the end of the table. Streamers, some kind of theme…cake, birthday plates, children running around. I can see it all, over and over for the past half hour. Then I start to realize- this isn’t the birthday song and this isn’t the vision of where my child is on his birthday…maybe I should be singing the song differently. So I start the jingle again. “Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday up in Heaven, happy birthday to you”. 
My vision changes. It’s more peaceful now, just white mainly, but I don’t see him. Frozen. Tears. Anger. Peace. Snot dripping down my face. No need for a tissue. Frozen. More tears, quiet cries. Wipe my face with my arm. Why. Sadness. Empty. Wipe my face with my hand. Confusion. Frozen. Chest tightening. Peace again. All I can hear now is “His life, Glory be to God”. 9 days. No birthday. I saw your smile. I held you. I heard your beating heart and your breath. I got 9 beautiful days with you. Sad. Grateful. Memories. Your smile. Your eyes. Every inch of your body. Your hands. Your feet. Your arms. Your legs. Your tiny freckle. Your smile- Your smile. Balling. Holding in the screams. Time to get a tissue. Frozen. What a birthday. Grab the tissue. Thank you for coming to his birthday.
I sit quietly, alone, with your blanket. It’s your birthday- and I can’t see you.

Christen Kladitis, for my son Anthony Christopher on your 3rd birthday. 

Mystery to Me.

My son,
You will always be a mystery to me

When I pick up your tiny hospital band
So small, it fits right in the palm of my hand
When I do, I always picture the things together that we would do…

And then, Baby Anthony
Quietly, in my heart I often sit and wonder
Would you have grown up to play ball?
Like dad –would you have been big and tall?

Or like mom,
Would your favorite color have been blue?
When you grew up,
Would you have been eager to tell the truth?

Yes, My dear son
You are a mystery to me,
Now when you mingle with the angels-
I know that you are looking down on mommy and me

I can’t help but imagine…
When would you have taken your first step?
How would our doggie Charlie Brown have reacted when you two first met?

Every now and then
As I walk through the store
I catch myself wondering,
Would you have loved a certain toy?
Or would you be content to just hang out with the other girls and boys?

Sadly, other times I ponder how
We never got to hear your precious cry
And I hate that I will never get the chance to stand at the front door
And wave to you goodbye …

mystery to me you will always be-
Just nine days old
To mommy and me

Written by Dad, with love.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Do you want your son to be an Oak Tree or Squash ???

Before James Garfield became president of the United States, he was president of Hiram college. One day a father asked him about the curriculum, so Garfield began to list the courses the son would have to take to receive his degree.

The man, obviously irritated, interrupted and said, "Mr. Garfield, that is far too much work for the degree that he will get. Couldn't you make it easier?"

"Yes, I suppose I could," replied Garfield.

"But I am reminded that when God wants to build a tall, strong oak tree, he takes 100 years. But he only takes three months to make a squash.
What do you want your son to be an oak tree or squash?"

This story applies in a spiritual sense as well.
See, many people just scratch the surface in their faith walk. In a real way, they resemble a scratch lottery ticket. Take a nickel, scratch the surface with light pressure ... and they are revealed for what they truly are.  
Welcome to Phony Faith.
After the thin outer surface is brushed away, all that is left underneath is a puny list of do's & don'ts.

I have heard it said that it is better to have faith 2 inches wide and 2 miles deep rather than 2 miles wide and 2 inches deep.
Recall that the disciples themselves asked Jesus to increase their faith. I think they knew full well that they could not embark on the mission of spreading the Gospel while being a squash.
-And neither can you or I.

Are you tired of just going through the motions?
I hate to break it to you, but Jesus did not come to this earth to modify your behavior, He came to transform your heart.
And this takes a faith that is substantial.
A faith defined by truth and love.
Something that embodies you; that defines you.

Are you a squash or an oak? 
The answer depends largely on your attitude towards your personal growth. Make a plan for the rest of 2014.  Read 1 book a month. Attend 2 seminars a year.  Listen to an online sermon once a week.  
Make it work for you and you'll start sprouting oak roots! 

Nothing comes easy in life.  Remember, the strongest metal goes through the hottest fire.

Friday, January 3, 2014

The 10-4 Rule

My first read of the year was a little book titled, "Zingerman's."  
It is a book describing the wildly successful small deli located in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

In the book, you learn a lot about what makes great customer service and how to create a loyal following.  One concept I thought interesting was something called "The 10-4 Rule." This rule is more of a guideline on how to treat others and it goes something like this:

Anytime you get within 10 feet of someone you make solid eye contact .
And when you get within 4 feet of that same person, you greet them verbally and extend a hand shake.

Here is what I love about the 10-4 Rule ...  It is simple.  
No one, not even I can mess this up.  
Notice how it is not the 20-1 Rule?  That would be weird, wouldn't it?  Standing 20 feet away from someone and waving might lead to confusion.  "Who is Anthony waving at? Me or the guy behind me??" Followed up by, "Did Anthony eat Garlic AGAIN? I just wish he would stand further away when he talks to me and perhaps lay off the sauerkraut!" For the sake of humanity, let's just stick to the 10-4 Rule. 

TAKE ACTION:  This is something that transfers with ease when you are leading your group in better customer service.  Take time to train those around you and incorporate this into the fabric of your organization.  I'm betting you will see positive results if you decide to take action and incorporate the 10-4 Rule.  

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Advice that will save your marriage.

Read each mesage twice.
Find a practical way to implement this in your marriage. 

Marriage is hard work!
Give it everything you got in 2014.