Working on a Dream




Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Shaving Tips


1. Prep

Wet your face with warm water! One of the most important steps in achieving the perfect shave is to make sure you get plenty of warm water on your face, this will soften beard hair and open pores. If possible, always shave after you step out of the shower or apply a moistened hot (warm) towel to your face for a few minutes before shaving.

2. Pre-shave

Lightly rub pre-shave formula onto your face and neck prior to applying shaving cream. This step will help protect your skin by allowing the razor to glide over your skin, reducing the chance of nicks, cuts, and razor burn.

3. Lather up

With a quality shaving brush or your fingers, gently massage lubricating shave cream onto your face and neck. This step will help the beard hair to stand up away from the skin resulting in a closer more comfortable shave.

4. The battle of the blade

Always use a sharp blade, there is nothing worse than dragging a cold piece of dull steel across your face! Shave in the direction of your beard growth (with the grain) Shaving against the grain can lead to irritation and ingrown hairs. If you dare to get as smooth as possible, go for a second pass against the grain this time using light pressure and short strokes. Always rinse the blade under hot water before you start shaving, and every couple of strokes during your shave. Rinse face with cold water and pat dry, not rub dry, pat dry.

5. Protect

Apply light non greasy non oily soothing after shave lotion. This lotion will nourish while protecting your newly shaven skin.

Following these 5 simple steps should help you to achieve the perfect shave. Never ever rush your shave, it’s the only face you got so take your time and enjoy this manly ritual!

*Tips provided by Crown Shave co.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Do you have your Father's eyes?

I heard a song in church yesterday titled, “Father’s Eyes.”
Below are some of the lyrics ...

“I may not be every mother's dream for her little girl
And my face may not grace the mind of everyone in the world
But that's all right as long as I can have one wish I pray
When people look inside my life, I want to hear them say
She's got her Father's eyes, her Father's eyes
Eyes that find the good in things
When good is not around
Eyes that find the source of help
When help just can't be found
Eyes full of compassion, seeing every pain
Knowin' what you're going through, and feeling it the same
Just like my Father's eyes ... “

As I listened I thought to myself how this could be every Christian’s first prayer of the day.
Before you and I ever walk out the front door to whatever beholds us we can pray to see the world through our Father’s eyes. Imagine how you would see things differently for a moment:
-That annoying kid that keeps cutting through your yard turns into a lonely young man that needs a mentor.
-The group of trashy gals dressed inappropriately morphs into young women that need a proper identity.
-Your frazzled co-worker transforms into a tired mother that needs a hug.

In the New Testament book of Ephesians, Paul is writing the church in Ephesus and tells them that, “I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power.” This may not strike you at first, but I want to you re-read the passage with an eye on 4 simple words: GIFT OF GOD’S GRACE. There it is. The ultimate perspective change. Before Paul was the Apostle Paul, he was Saul the persecutor (See book of Acts, chapter 7 & 8). Paul met Jesus on the Damascus road and had a radical worldview shift. He met the risen Christ and immediately started seeing through his Father’s eyes. Paul could never be the same thereafter, his life was totally devoted to knowing Christ and helping others discover a new set of eyes.

What about you? Whose eyes do you see through? Do you have your Father’s eyes?
If this is something that interests you I’d like to take a second and invite you to a bible study on Thursday Night’s where you will meet at diverse group that seeks to accomplish this very task. We meet at Northminster Presbyterian Church, (the church in Neshannock next to McDonalds) 6:30 p.m. I know this sounds like a shameless plug and it really is; though I feel it necessary to extend an invitation for those that want to see the world differently ... Those that choose to pray every day:

“When people look inside my life, I want to hear them say
She's got her Father's eyes, her Father's eyes
Eyes that find the good in things
When good is not around
Eyes that find the source of help
When help just can't be found
Eyes full of compassion, seeing every pain
Knowin' what you're going through, and feeling it the same
Just like my Father's eyes ... “

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Friday, July 18, 2014

My battle with Toxicodendron radicans.

35 years on this earth and I somehow managed to avoid Toxicodendron radican … otherwise known as Poison Ivy.

A few weeks ago, our church had a workday where we gathered on a Saturday to do manly-chores and spruce up the place. I chose the “sawing-stuff down” task along with a few friends and to work we went.

I felt good afterward; like I just did some blue-collar, sweating-in the-sun-stuff. When I got home I bragged to my wife about all the hard work that was done, she ignored me, and then I took a nice cool shower and relaxed!

It was a few days later that I discovered a “mosquito bite” on my right forearm. I gently scratched it and then ignored it. The next day I complained to my wife that mosquitoes must love me because I have even more bites than the day before … after almost taking a hatchet to my arm I decided to take a look at it in the mirror. There, I stood motionless as I came to the realization that those where not mosquito bites at all, rather I had contracted Poison Ivy.

Poison Ivy, I have discovered, is no walk in the park. See, the thing with Poison Ivy is that the MORE you scratch it, the MORE it spreads. It seems as if Poison Ivy WANTS to spread. Isn’t that a nice little trick? That is like feeling hungry and then eating only to feel even more hungry. I have to tell you, this reminds me very much of the Biblical concept of sin. Sin entices you; it leaches on to you when meddled with, and finds a way to stick around. And, the more time you give it, the more it spreads. Also, Poison Ivy does not discriminate. It does not matter how rich or poor you are, it does not care if you are black or white and it is not concerned if you are a guy or a gal. Another parallel can be drawn here as sin is no respecter of persons. Sin has an open door policy and the applications are always enticing.

Let’s venture back to the Poison Ivy for a moment.
Not only does this green demon spread on your skin, it easily jumps to those around you. Got it? Let’s go back to the sin thing again. Similarly, sin not only has a destructive effect on your life, it also ruins the lives of those around you. That is the thing with sin. It not only destroys you, it destroys those around you. I remember listening to a wife of an addict complaining that she cannot find her keys. My first thought was that her husband had stolen them. Nope. Every day she had to find a new hiding place for her keys to prevent her husband from finding them in the first place. Sin wrecked his life, but it was not done yet, it now was wrecking hers.

The book of James paints a vivid picture of this process, Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.
Did you see it? L.S.D.

It is all there in a poison formula. Sin entices you. Sin overtakes you. Sin spreads. Sin produces ugly results.

Perhaps we can draw one last parallel here? Getting rid of my Poison Ivy has been a painstaking process. There were lotions, scrubs, wraps, and lots of weird glances. It even caused me to form some new habits, including wearing long sleeves the next time I am working in a wooded area. A perpetual sinful lifestyle has found its way in your life because of choices you have made (and continue to make), the patterns you have developed and the people you surround yourself with. Think deeply about those 3:
The choices you make (and continue to make). 
Now ask: How can I avoid making bad decisions?
The patterns you have developed. 
Now ask: How can I create positive new patterns in my life?
The people you surround yourself with. Now ask: How can I surround myself with healthy individuals?
Reflecting on those questions with some wise folk is a good step in getting you out of the weeds.

I guess there is a silver lining in everything as Toxicodendron radicans taught me so many lessons about sin. Hopefully, I am wise enough to avoid BOTH in the future. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

How a secure man leads

I know John Adams felt it after succeeding George Washington.

I know Steve Young felt it after filling in for Joe Montana.

And I know Joshua felt it after replacing Moses.

They all felt FEAR.

Following a legendary leader is a daunting task.  You have both inner doubt and outer unrealistic expectations.  You might think to yourself that you can never live up to the character, capacity or competency of the person you are now stepping in the shoes of. You're probably also aware of the crowds expectations -or lack there of-  concerning your leadership.

Joshua, the son of Nun was the person that followed the great Israelite leader Moses.

In Deuteronomy chapter 1 verse 38 we read: "Joshua the son of Nun, who stands before you, he shall enter there; encourage him, for he shall cause Israel to inherit it" (it referring to the land).

What stood out to me was how intentional Moses was with embracing his successor. Did you notice the two words right in the middle of the passage, "encourage him"?  Moses knew that Joshua would be following in some huge footsteps and that he would probably face self-doubt and also a rough crowd.

I think one lesson that we can learn from this passage is when there is someone young/new in a position maybe you can seek to encourage him or her like Moses is suggesting here.  I recall a classmate saying once, "you don't know what you don't know ."  It took me a second to get what he was saying, but I finally figured it out ... After that, my mind started to change toward those that were new to a position. I started asking myself, "how did I come to know the things that I know now?" or "learn the things that I have learned?"  In most cases it was because someone came alongside of me and helped teach me. They pointed me in the right direction and were a guide in my life. Similarly, it seems as if Moses is trying to get the people to positively surround Joshua as he leads them.

Another important lesson drawn from the scripture is how secure Moses was.  Often times, as the seasoned leader goes and the younger leader replaces him/her there is a sabotaging affect.  This is not the case with Moses however.  Notice again how he is the initiator of the encouragement.  He believes in Joshua and he knows the difficult task of leading the people of Isreal to the Promised Land.  Dr. Martin Luther King understood this concept as he once said, "The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood."  Moses was this kind of man. 

1) A secure leader encourages.

2) An insecure leader initiates. 

These are 2 really simple, yet powerful principles that if applied would improve all our lives.

A PRAYER: Lord, May I be an encouragement initiator to others, especially to those who have accepted God's calling in their life. Amen.

---Now go do it.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Out of the Closet

"Pray, but when you pray, move your feet."

This is one of my favorite proverbs and it has transformed the way I view prayer. The main idea conveyed in the proverb is that we should be men and women of both prayer and action: simultaneously.
It seems to me that too many in the Christian community are either one or the other.  There's the, "I'll be in my prayer closet praying ... till Jesus returns girl." And then there is, "I just served at the soup kitchen-went on a mission trip-healed a lepar-cut the grass at my church guy."

In Skye Jethani's book, "With" there is a telling account of the Rev. Billy Graham. 
In 1982 the today show scheduled an interview with the Rev. Billy Graham. When he arrived at the studio, the producers informed Graham's assistant that there was a room that had been set aside for him to pray before the broadcast.  Graham's assistant thanked the producer, but told him that the room would be unnecessary.  The producer was taken back due to Graham's rejection of the prayer room.  Then, Mr. Graham's assistant informed the producer that, "Mr. Graham started praying when he got up this morning, he prayed while eating breakfast, he prayed on the way over in the car, and he'll probably be praying all the way through the interview."  This, I believe embodies the African proverb perfectly. 

This is also a Biblical concept too.  The Apostle Paul instructs believers to, "pray without ceasing" which basically means that we are to commune with God throughout the course of our day. Hear this clearly, I am not discounting prayer in secret, (there is a time for this) rather I am calling you out of your closet into a state of action. The great American, Frederick Douglass said, "God never answered a single prayer of mine until I started praying with my legs." 

Do you need to close the door of your prayer closet, get out there and put your faith to work?  
Do you need to add a vertical dimension to your actions by communing with God in the midst of your day?

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