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Friday, December 30, 2011

PEOPLE ARE AWESOME (DON'S VERSION)

Watch this video and then ask yourself the question, "In 2012, what will I DO that will impress ME and take my breath away?" It may not be jumping off a cliff (hopefully not), but let us not live such safe lives that our very courage withers and dies before our Creative and All-Powerful God.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Approaching the New Year

Einstein said that “problems cannot be solved at the same level that created them.”

What has caused your problems in 2011?  What "way of thinking", course of action, approach to problems, etc...

If you need a change in the coming year, you've got to go to ANOTHER LEVEL. 

In your experience, WHAT ARE TRUE "LEVEL-LIFTERS?" 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

An Offensive Christmas

This is a hilarious clip from "The Office." It's so funny, because many of us are thinking what Stanley says. In our day of political correctness and equality of viewpoints, There has become a limit on expression of faith and beliefs (almost a reverse discrimination of faith). I'll explain after you watch this video:


SOAP BOX TIME: I read an article this morning entitled, "Atheists nudge out Nativity Scene." They were upset (offended) by the expression of their faith through the nativity scene. The atheist group claimed they just wanted equal expression, but my question for them is, "Expression of What?" What is their message?

They were able to secure the majority of the lots of which they didn't even use most of them. They secured them simply because they didn't want the "Christians" to have them. Reminds me of behavior in a kindergarten classroom.

The whole concept of "being offended" is ridiculous in my eyes anyway. This line of reasoning should say, "I take offense at your message." For instance, I'm not offended at the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. In fact during we've often wished our Jewish neighbors "happy Hanukkah." Why would I be offended by their belief?

If you are secure in your belief (or faith), then other views that don't agree do not threaten you. My faith does not need to "MUTE" all other voices. Besides, what was the atheist's message anyway? Just saying....

I agree with Stanley, "I want Christmas... Just give me plain, Jesus, lying in a manger, Christmas!"

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Moral Compass

Tonight, my family and I are watching one of my personal favorite cinema series of the 21st century taken from the Walt Disney World ride, “Pirates of the Caribbean.” Since its first block buster in 2003, the series has grossed over $4 billion. Not too shabby! The movies' star, Captian Jack Sparrow, played by Johnny Depp, wins over the affection of most fans through his kwirky ways, complimenting his deceptive... yet compassionate heart. Interesting mixture for a pirate.
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In each movie he carries with him his most valued possession, THE COMPASS. To most, it seems like a broken, useless instrument. Sparrow's compass spins uncontrolably, and never points due north. However, for the Captian, “"It points to the thing you want most in this world.” 

To draw a (perhaps) unlikely parallel, Sparrow's compass is not too unlike the Moral Compass that many of today's children have adopted. The compass is not directed by a TRUE NORTH. To put it another way, the END can justify the MEANS. Dangerous ground for our up-and-coming generation.
So, as a concientious parent, how do we practically help our children develop a good Moral Compass that will serve them past their years of dependence (2 yrs old to Junior High) and well into their launching years (High School, College and beyond). Below are a few basic, yet fundamental parenting skills that are vital to helping our children internalize Right from Wrong for themselves.
  1. Love them Equally: Morality always begins with love. It is the foundation by which personal value and worth are formed, without it there is little hope for morality to develop. While each child needs to be loved differently because of their differing personality and needs, the love they receive from their parents must be equal. No favorites!!! Choosing favorites hurts both the kids that are on the outside looking in, as well as the favored one. It does no one any good. This first principle cannot be overemphasized enough. If a child is not valued through true LOVE, they will never value themselves enough to eventually hold themselves to a moral standard they believe is valuable.
  2. Consequences: In the earlier years, morality is often formed through obedience. A child's obedience to a parent provides the self-discipline that is indispensable to their future. However, consequences not only provide assurance of obedience, it also communicates value and worth. As parents, we have to CARE ENOUGH TO CONFRONT. Without consequences, obedience is discretionary. Care enough to hold your children to the standards you have put into place.
  3. Model the Way: Our children aren't stupid. If our imposed standards are important enough for them to follow, you better be prepared to follow them yourselves. It always amazes me to watch parent tell their teenages not to drink alcohol, yet they themselves are permitted to not only drink, but go to “adult parties” and get totally drunk. Same can be said with smoking or even with movies. Why is a movie okay for us as parent to watch, but not for our children. While I am not suggesting total equality between parent and child, I am simply saying, we MUST model the way. If you don't, who will do it for your children? Answer: NO ONE!
  4. Fight the Right Fights: Finally, we must know ahead of time what issues we will go to war over. I've watched parents of teenagers yell at their teenage daughter about her skirt being too high (or shirt too low), yet allow her boyfriend to be up in their room alone for hours with door closed. SERIOUSLY!!! The issues in the earlier years may revolve around video games, or cleaning their room, or even how they speak to their siblings. The principle here: You have to major on the majors. The 3 Majors for my wife and I are: Respect, Responsibility, and Righteousness. You'll have your own list, but know and clearly communicate that list. 
Parent, don't let anyone fool you. You are the one who helps your children develop a stable Moral Compass. Even though the random compass Captain Jack Sparrow carries serves him well, our children need something much more... And you can help provide it. To quote the wisdom of the good Captian, “Not all treasure is silver and gold, mate.”

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Touching the Sky

I recently came across an article concerning the tallest skyscrapers in the world by 2020.  In this article, the phrase, "the global race to the clouds," grabbed my attention.  This has been the race of humanity for millenia.  It dates as far back as the Tower of Babel.

Interestingly enough, of the 20 towers listed, only one is in the Western hemisphere.  The Middle East and Asia are now leading the way.  The addage, "Go Big-or-Go Home" certainly applies when building.

The unfortunate part is that it has also been applied to often to Christmas and the presents under the tree.  Bigger... Faster... Stronger... More Memory, etc... have become the montra for the season.

Perhaps we should stop and think how this season all began:  The creator of the universe (John 1) layed down His spendor in Glory, to become a man, birthed as a baby, lying in a feed trough.

This year, instead of "racing toward the clouds,", we should STOP!  Get DOWN on our Knees & Worship the NEW BORN KING.  When will we learn that the way up is down!?!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Deliver what we Promise

My parents did what millions of Americans have done in recent decades. Their goal was to reserve a 10 foot truck to move a king-sized mattress. So they call a popular rental company (I'll refrain from giving the name, but if e-mailed, may share) and placed their reservation. When the time came for them to pick up the truck, they called the day before just to confirm and they were told "THERE WAS NO TRUCK FOR THEM."

You can imagine their surprise and frustration. As they inquired how this could be, they were told that their reservation only reserved a rate, not the truck itself. SERIOUSLY!?! A rate couldn't move a mattress set 100 miles away.  Talk about UNDER-DELIVERING!!!

As they shared their story, I also thought about my roles in life. Are there times when Over Promise and the Under-Deliver? As a dad, do I promise and then not deliver. As a husband, do I make good on my "I'll get to it!" promises. As a pastor who's church tries to deliver week-in and week-out... Do we "make good" on delivering what we say we provide.

How can we be sure to Deliver what we Promise?

1. Know your Role: Every role in life requires something different from me. For instance, if my wife asks me to pick up the dry cleaning for her, no big deal. However, if someone from my church make the same or similar request... Red Flag. Why? Not because I don't love those in my church, but rather because my role/relationship with them is different. Knowing and clarifying your roles will help you only promise and then only deliver what's is needed.
2. Know your Priorities: For each of my roles, I have actually mapped out what many have called "Critical Success Factors" of CSF.  These are the activities that are vitally important for you to DO that no one else can do for you.  They determine your success in your roles.  One example would be my roles as a parent. A CSF for me is to "Pray with each of my children in bed each night."  As a pastor, a current CSF listed is to Personally Develop Leaders (current & future).  Knowing what your CSF are in your different roles provides clarification for what you want to "deliver" and what you're willing to promise to do. 
3. Know your Purpose: My father-in-law is know for always coming up with silly sayings. One has stuck with me from early on, "God loves you, and everyone else has a purpose for you." I'm not sure if he even remembers saying it, but has stayed in my minds these 16+ years. It speaks of expectations. Everyone know what they want you to do for them, but only you (with God) can determine your purpose. I've never had a problem with a boss or authority giving direction or responsibility, but what does cause problems is reverse (or peer) delegation. Knowing #2 (your priorities) will help with this as well.
4. Know your Limitations:  This is one that I struggle with the most.  I would like to think I don't have any limitations, but I've learned the folly of this thinking and acting.  It is actually quite damaging to yourself and those around you.  A book that helped me a lot was Choosing to Cheat, by Andy Stanley.  The basic premise is that when you over-promise, someone is going to be cheated.  By our decisions we determine who.  To para-phrase Andy's decision, he determined at the beginning of his church that if he had to choose to cheat either his family or the church with his time, he would choose to cheat the church.  This meant that his family (and that of his staff) would not make ministry-martyrs of their families.  Knowing and setting your limits provides peace for you and those in your life.

Now, back to my parents dilemma. 

My Mom know that the same person that was giving this frustrating news, was also the same person that could help her find a solution.  She patiently (& kindly) persisted.  Although reluctant in the beginning, the company did find her a truck in  another location.  They even added extra miles to the allotted mileage so my parents wouldn't be charged extra.

I've always had success with U-Haul, and after my parents experience with another company, I won't be switching anytime soon.  After all, who wants to reserve a rate?  Oh Yah, my wife and I are enjoying that pillow-top king mattress just fine. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Story #13, The SEARS Wish List

Does anyone else remember the Sears Wish Book? I haven't seen one in years. As my 11 year old was scrolling and searching through Amazon.com, I told him of my childhood wish-lists that I would explore at my Gradparents' home in the Poconos. The first Sears Wish Book was printed in 1933. (I don’t remember that. I looked it up.) Over time it has diminished in size and was even discontinued at one point. It was revived in 2007, but the one I saw was nothing in size compared to the books I remember from my youth. Children today don’t really need one. They have the Internet and their high tech toys to cruise the information highway to identify their holiday “wants.” But “back in the day” the Sears Wish Book helped us answer the seasonal question: “If you could have anything for Christmas, what would you ask for?” Every year my sister and I would look through the catalogue and either dog-ear a page or circl our choices in pen. We didn’t want “Santa” to miss our requests. You may not need the Sears Wish Book today, but you have some wishes too, don’t you? Next Christmas how would you answer the question, “If you could have one thing in the world, what would it be?” Solomon had to answer that one. He asked for wisdom. And God gave it to him. But by the end of his life he had accumulated more and more: more gold, more horses, more wives. He had it all and wanted more. In the midst of all these gifts he lost sight of the Giver. He turned away from God and lost it all. Another King gave us another path to follow. He had it all and gave it all . . . for us. In the Christmas season, or any season for that matter, you can guard yourself from the tyranny of too much stuff by giving. Simply give so that others can simply live. That’s what the King born as a baby in the manger did. And my wish? That you visit the manger and find him.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Story #12: "The 3rd Week of March"

When Pope John Paul died, a man named Rogers Cadenhead quickly registered the web address www.BenedictXVI.com, thinking this might be the name chosen by the new pope. When Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Pope, he did choose the name Pope Benedict XVI, causing some to question what the Vatican would do to get the rights to that domain name. Cadenhead didn’t ask the Vatican for money. Instead, in a humorous manner on his blog he suggested a few things he would trade for: 1.Three days, two nights at the Vatican hotel. 2.One of those hats (referring to the bishop’s hat).
3.Complete absolution, no questions asked, for the third week of March 1987. 1 Wonder what Rogers did the third week of March in 1987? Me too, but does it really matter?. Most of us have at least a week for which we’d love to have total forgiveness. We discover in The Story that David did. One day when the army is at war, David, who is the commander of the nation’s military, neglects his duties and stays behind. He sees Bathsheba, seduces her, gets her pregnant, murders her husband, and tries to cover up his actions by deceiving his general and soldiers. Then he marries Bathsheba and she bears their child. It looks as if David will get away with all of this. But he doesn’t. God sends his prophet Nathan to confront David by telling him a story about a poor man with one lamb. David knows something about sheep and shepherds, so he listens. Nathan says that the poor man has a rich neighbor who needs to slaughter a lamb to feed a guest, but instead of taking one of his many sheep he steals the poor’s man’s one lamb. David is incensed and says that man should be put to death. Nathan then declares, “You are the man!” At that moment David must have wished he had bought a domain name that he could swap for absolution. He may have wanted to make excuses. Explain things away. Blame it on Bathsheba for taking a bath in broad daylight where he could see. But instead of making excuses, David confesses. “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Sam. 12:13). And God did with David’s sin what he will do with yours and mine. He put it away (Psalm 103:12-13). You can do what David did. Whatever your “third week of March” might be, sit down with it, yourself and God. Confess your sin. And then let another shepherd from Bethlehem forgive it. That’s better than any domain name you might secure.