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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Using the Power Inside

If you have been following the Genesis series, I recently wrote that although we are not divine, we are made of divine stuff. Often this is a difficult thing to see, especially in ourselves.

It is amazing how things frequently work together. A few nights ago I attended an online chat where the topic was empowerment. What it is, what it means to us, how we give it- and what that means to others.

We can be and should be empowered by ourselves, and other people- our parents, our family members, our employers, etc. And we will talk about this element in the future, but today I’d like to focus on dealing with the power we already possess.

We give our power away. In countless ways we let the forces of nature, the Fates, the angels, the weather, the opinions of others, the past, fear of the future, almost anything, keep us imprisoned

How do we become prisoners?

Everything that we do, every interaction that we have has some kind of impact on us. Positive interactions should be a boost, while negatives are generally downers.

The problem is that we fixate and focus on the negative interactions and the negative talk that goes with them. We then take the next step by taking the external input into recurring loops of self-deprecating self-talk. You know- “I’m not good enough,” “I’m not smart enough,” whatever your favorite is.

How do we give our power away? We do this in a number of ways:

  • We do things that we don’t want to do

  • We are reticent to say “No” to things we don’t want to be involved in or don’t care about

  • We are slaves to being “liked

  • We spend time with people we don’t really enjoy because there is something to be gained from them, some benefit to be derived; like a promotion.

  • When we blame others for everything that happens to us

We defeat ourselves before we even get started and then let others jump on. We let other people put values on us which are well below the value we should place on ourselves.

What do I want? What would your day feel like if you stood in the mirror first thing in the morning and said,

“Today, I take control of my destiny? I will control the things that I can and I will release those I cannot!”

Dig yourself out of that pit.

Value yourself.

Seize your power!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Search My Heart, Lord: Psalm 139

Psalm 139:23-24

"Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."

One of the things I never want to do when writing is to sound like I have it all together, know all the answers, or sound like I don't have issues of my own. Teaching and sharing help me learn.

Despite our claims to the contrary, we have all discovered that there are still some pretty bad things in our heart. Perhaps you have had the experience of praying and noticed a stray wicked thought or two suddenly popping into your mind. Or maybe you have a sin or two that you have been battling a long time, and have yet to see complete victory over it.

Possibly, like Paul, you have felt, "So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me" (Romans 7:21).You probably aren't really comfortable with the idea that some of the sins we are struggling against will be a part of our lives forever.But the sooner we can accept this, the better we can become in combating sin.

But what comfort can we derive rom the study of scripture?

First of all, we are not alone in our fight against sin. God is with us and in us. Jesus said, "I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt 28:20). Jesus has not left us orphaned or bereft. We are not alone in our struggle against sin.

Second, you aren't the only one going through what you are going through. "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it" (1 Cor 10:13).

Third, in order to defeat any enemy, we must know and understand who and what we are fighting. In Mark 7:21-23, Jesus said, "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man."

...from within our own hearts....Wow!

We need look no further than ourselves to find the source of most of the evil and sin that plague us. So daily we ask ourselves, "Who is the biggest sinner you know?" And, if we are honest, we must include ourselves before all others who may come to mind.

As Christians, we need to remain aware of the sinfulness and deceitfulness of our own hearts. Too many of us think that our favorite or pet sin is excusable because it isn't really that serious, because others do it, because it isn't our fault, or other such lies we too often tell ourselves. No sin is excusable and we must accept the fact that we are all sinners who have fallen short.

Why does the psalmist ask God to search his heart? I think, because we cannot truly know or understand the depths of the sin in our own hearts. Only God can know that. Sin is tricky and deceitful, and it hides itself inside of us. In our own strength and our own knowledge, we are not able to fully discern its depths or presence.

We must ask God to search our hearts and unearth sins that we do not even know are lurking there. We must look into God's word and judge our holiness by its words, not by our own. By asking God to search our hearts, we are asking Him to help us to identify sin so that we can confess it and resist it.

It sounds hopeless, but we have the TRINITY on our sides! The Lord has taken all our sin upon Himself on the cross and guaranteed us the right to be called His children. We are guaranteed heaven and eternity with Him. Our minds, guided by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God can help us gain control over ourselves and our sins.

Pray that God would help us search our hearts, reveal to us our sins so that we can turn from them, and get back to out true purposes...


Originally posted 2-26-11

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Universe and Happenstance, Genesis Series (6)

artwork: Jan Brueghel Rubens The Garden of Eden

The ebb and flow of the seas, the rising and falling of the sun and moon, the rhythm of the seasons…we all know these things do not occur by chance of happenstance.

And, so too our lives. They cannot be left unattended. If we expect to advance, and possible even succeed in both our spiritual and our secular lives we cannot leave that to chance or fate or happenstance, either. Note that I have not tried to define what that word “success” may mean for you. It has a slightly different connotation for each of us. And, I am certainly not talking about “pie in the sky” prosperity thinking or religious outlook. You have to put the work in.

Do you show up for work hoping to be magically discovered or unexpectedly honored or promoted; or do you put in the extra effort to show that you know what you are doing? Even when no one is looking?

Is your spiritual life and expected destiny like a game of “Wheel of Fortune?” Is it left to chance? In your spiritual life, do you let the fate of your soul hinge on a turn of good luck, or are you hopeful that you are sufficiently well-behaved when your number is up? Or do you do some work to help assure that you are working out your soul’s salvation?

Good leaders never stop learning, never stop reading, never stop acquiring new knowledge and tools, never stop working and never stop moving forward!

We must be careful not to ever think of ouselves as fully arrived. There is always more to know, see, feel, do and teach. In fact, that's one of the reasons I enjoy teaching newbies. They have fresh eyes, they can put a new spin on something I have long taken for granted. And, even if I can't fully agree with what they are saying or thinking, it makes me say..."Hmmm, I never thought of it quite that way. Let me think about that for a bit." And, as my grandmother would have said, "I have learned something new, the day is not wasted." A really smart woman, born to a freed slave with minimal formal education.

As leaders, in addtition to continuing to grow, one of the most important things we do is to make other leaders. Even if you have never thought of yourself in a leadership position, someone is watching you, mimicking you and learning from you- the good, bad and ugly. It does not take a title to be a leader. Many of us do our best work to change organizations, and organizational culture, thought and behavior from the inside.

One of my favorite movies is “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” In it Tula’s mother says something like, “the man is the head of the house, and rules; but the woman is the neck, and she can move it wherever she wants.”

Even though you may not be the CEO, team leader, whatever, do your homework, make a contribution. Life is much more than just marking time. And who knows, if you contribute enough times, it will probably pay off. The least pay-off will be pride in what you do. Make a contribution!

Just as we do not leave our personal and spiritual development to chance, so too must we be conscientious about taking care of and training those who follow us. This is not an open invitation to producing more "Yes-men" and "Yes–women."

What we hope to produce are people who we have taken an interest in, who we pray will follow our best habits; but more importantly, people who can think!

Think about it yourself. Why build up any kind of legacy at home, work or church, if it is then left to no one who is capable of stepping in or stepping up?

What legacy are you leaving behind?

This is where you ask me, "Doc, how did you get that out of Genesis?"

Well, I’ve always (yes, always...I'm old) been a little disturbed about the story of Adam, Eve, Satan and the Tree. I am not re-writing history or the Bible, so don’t send me a note about that.

My personal questions are:
  • Who was the leader of this first family? We know, have been taught or simply take it for granted that it was God who taught Adam the “rules.”

  • Who taught the rules to Eve and the boys? You know,Cain and Abel?

  • Was the underlying cause of her sin and Fall from grace because of ignorance (the result of poor leadership), or was it just willfulness? And, sadly, many of these will sound like the same questions you ask after most business meetings. Hmmm...
    • What do I mean by poor leadership?
      • Was she ever taught the rules?
      • Did she not hear well?
      • Did she not understand them?
      • Did she think the rules didn't really apply to her, specifically?
      • Did she think she was above God's punishment?
      • Was she distracted by everything else going on in the garden?

    • What do I mean by willfulness? If you have any children, you don't need an example :).
      • Were she and Adam just determined to follow their own free will (which God had given them) and just do their own thing? And, this despite the punishment hanging over their heads?
So, that brings us to two questions for you, and I'm expecting some answers and / or comments:

1. What legacy are you leaving behind?

2. Was the Fall because of ignorance or willfulness? What do you think?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Purpose, Genesis Series (5)


What are we here for?

This is an age-old question asked frequently by the religious as well as the not-so-religious alike. Does our life have a meaning?

It's a thorny issue that most of us have given at least a passing thought to. Am I here for a reason? What am I supposed to do? Am I doing "it"? Where am I supposed to be? Am I living out my purpose, or have I lost my way?

Or,  to paraphrase that old Peggy Lee song, "Is that all there is?" 

I will never claim to be an expert, guru or sage about life (or much else), but I think we are all here for a purpose. And, I think that most of us can sense when we are in the right path. But this isn't just about my personal path, or even yours, but about the people around us as well. We must surrender to the fact that each of us has purpose and meaning for ourselves as individuals, and corporately, even if it is not readily apparent to us at all times.

Change and the wheels of progress will roll on, but we must not permit them to roll over the people in our care or those we feel responsible for. We must remember that we are dealing with individuals, many of who we can actually help

We cannot become so focused on fulfilling our own destiny and purpose, pushing on toward the manifestation and completion of our vision, that we forget that we are dealing with people who have feelings, emotions and history.

Every living person has a purpose. I would go so far to say that I think that for the people we come into contact with, our purposes tend to be interconnected, like a jigsaw puzzle.

We are all in this together, whatever THIS is, or what we would like to consider this to be, today.

We each have a purpose. And, I am completely wrong in feeling that my life-purpose is somehow more important than someone else's. or somehow supersedes another’s.

As the scripture teaches us, we are each bestowed with different gifts. These gifts are given to serve us as we in turn serve others inside and outside of the Body of Christ.

I may be your boss (or vice versa), but our gifts and talents should bring some level of complementation (is that a word?) or completion and wholeness. 

We each have different strenghths and weaknesses. As leaders, most especially as leaders, our job is to ferret out those strenghths and weaknesses, and to show people the heights to which they can soar with what they already have inside.

We are each made with a purpose.

Live out yours, and help others live out theirs.

Why are you here?

What have you come to do?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

I am Second: Dr Tony Evans

I have mentioned the "I am Second" series in the past. Here is one of the clips featuring Dr. Tony Evans as he shares a powerful story about how Jesus seats us in a high place and bestows value upon us. "I'm second because I've discovered what it means to put Him first," says Evans.

  • Who is first in your life?

  • Why is this?

  • How do you demonstrate it?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Life lessons from Thessalonica (part 2) - 1 Thessalonians 1 (series 1)

Things are changing in Thessalonica.

As Christ entered into people's lives and hearts, the new believers developed an increased capacity to care. As a result, they reached out in love to others, and others grew close to them as well. Barriers between people of different cultures were breached in the transforming power of Christ and new found freedom to love (1 Thessalonians 1:3, 2:7-11).

3. Moral compromise was replaced by steadfastness and commitment. The courage to live by inner convictions, unswayed by circumstances, developed naturally within the growth of the new faith (1 Thessalonians 1:3, 2:14).

At my favorite online chat, we call it #leadfromwithin. It is a growing ability to lead from your heart and inner convictions, as well as your head.

4. People's selfish motivations also underwent an increasingly dramatic change. The self-interest, materialism, natural drives and passions that once controlled thoughts and actions were replaced by new values and desires. (1 Thessalonians 1:6, 2:4-6). The very core of these people's personalities underwent a gradual transformation as the new believers experienced more and more of the power of Jesus Christ.

5. Personal failures and an inability to see what they wanted to be nagged first century people, just as it does today. But much of the disappointment and shame gradually dissipated as believers discovered a new power for holiness.

6. Lack of goals and meaning. These letters from Paul show us a new sense of purpose and meaning, which could be expressed practically in daily life. A commitment to good deeds, to honest work, and to right behavior took on a fresher and deeper meaning as Christians recognized that every action could reflect on their Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:1).

Daily duties as well as the privilege of serving others began to bring new satisfaction.

The newness of this life did not come from improved circumstances or from sudden prosperity. The newness of these people's lives were deeply rooted within the believer's own personalities.

"Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed." (Roman 12:2)

Transformation is not automatic! It is a gradual and process. As we grow and as we continue to mature, we should be able to articulate and demonstrate our deepest values to people by the way we speak and act.

Our transformations are progressive, and should touch every aspect of our lives and personalities. Each of us, and n every aspect of our lives should actively be trying to evolve into better people and better leaders.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Life lessons from Thessalonica (part 1) - 1 Thessalonians 1 (series 1)

We have spent a few days discussing the mentoring relationships that the Apostle Paul was involved in and the great benefit they brought to his life. As Paul continues in Thessalonica, he offers an abundance of life and leadership lessons.

Paul speaks boldly of lives that should be transformed by securing new relationships with Christ primarily, but also our improved relationships with each other. These new minds and lives, and how we approach others will add significant value to the people we serve. What Paul is speaking of this transformation, he is imploring the Thessalonians, and us to become more righteous. More right. More correct.

He wants us to be more right in how we think, what we feel, what we say, what we do, how we treat each other...more right.

What areas is Paul speaking of?

1. Anxiety and fear were the order of the day, just as it continues to be today. Increasingly, the Thessalonians were able to act in faith, trusting not only God, but one another as well (1 Thessalonians 1:3,10).

This is a vitally important concept in every aspect of our lives. Not only are we to trust in God, we must learn to trust ourselves and others. We must have sufficient confidence in ourselves to make better and better decisions. This means educating ourselves, and learning from our errors.

And, it means trusting others. This requires an open heart and mind. We have to trust people to do the tasks we give them. we must be there for backup, if they fall. We must provide training if we need to. This means we don't micro-manage. We show people that we believe in them, and teach them to believe in themselves.

What the people at the church in Thessalonica learned was that, even when these people were suffering affliction, they were able to retain confidence (1 Thessalonians 3:4). They retained confidence in God. Confidence in themselves and confidence in each other.

Did this make life perfect? Hardly, but it made and makes it much more bearable when we realize that we are not in the sour alone. We are never alone.

2. Isolation was as much a fact then as it is now. Individualism created a lonely crowd of people. We have touched on this many times. There people we come in contact with every day who lead lonely and isolated lives. Now, don't get me wrong...being alone does not necessarily mean that you are lonely. There is a major distinction between the two. The difference lies in being comfortable with who you are, comfortable in your own skin.

Are you comfortable in your own skin? Do you enjoy your own company?

What do you do to combat anxiety and fear?


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

SoMe: What do YOU bring to the party?

If you have been following along, one of my favorite hours of the week is the #leadfromwithin chat on Twitter Tuesday night at 8pm. Yes, that a plug for you to attend. These are notes from the July 12, 2011 session.

This is a community engaged in a rapid discussion about what it means to lead from within, meaning to lead from your heart as well as your head. I am fairly new to the community, but they are easy to fall in step with; and, you can get the transcipt of the discussion. It is thought-provoking and enlightening. It moves so quickly that I think everyone has to shoot from the hip, and therefore from the heart. 

The people involved all seem to know their stuff, and aren't afraid to disagree. We all learn from the interaction, because we are not all at the same level of development in all of our leadership a life skills. And, we all have something to learn from those who "know" more than we do, as well as those we perceive as "knowing" much less.

So, I am passing along the questions to you. My suggestion is that you take each question by itself, and meditate on it for 5 minutes or so, and write out an answer.

Q1 When great leaders walk in the room, what comes with them?

Q2: How do you discover what qualities people bring with them?

Q3: How can you become more aware of what you bring along with you?

Q4 What are you choosing to bring more often?

Q5: What has helped you develop those qualities?

Q6: What is more possible because you’re in the room?

Q7: How can you help others see that they bring?

Q8: What conversations happen more often when you are in the room?

Q9 What role does personality (eg Myers Briggs) play in motivating what people bring? (optional)

Q10 If you #leadfrowithin what qualities do you bring when you walk into a room?

What are YOU bringing to the party?


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mentoring 101, part 3 - 1 THESSALONIANS Series (3)

Be a Barnabas, Find a Paul and...

Train a Timothy

A third key life-development relationship we observe in the New Testament is embodied in training. When you find someone who is willing to listen, and motivated to learn, be sure to take the time, expend the energy, and invest in training and helping them.

Training is a recurring activity involving instruction, implementation, observation, and evaluation. In this model, the event of teaching/instruction is but a single component in the process of training.

Intentional training is needed today. Skills need to be learned and competencies need to be refined. Many young Timothys desperately need increased effectiveness.

While the primary result may be that the young person is trained, more competent, more confident and more effective, several things happen as a byproduct of all this activity. Miraculously, benefit also comes to the one doing the training. As the teacher shares the principles, they are further highlighted in the teacher’s mind and heart, thereby strengthening the faith and resolve in the one doing the training.

Additionally, a certain amount of accountability and responsibility is applied to the life of the one doing the training, “so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:27). Furthermore, joy wells up in the heart of the one investing the training energy whenever those influenced become effective. The aged apostle John, referencing his friend Gaius, said, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 4). Train a Timothy. In addition, the process and discipline of training another person can have a positive effect on the trainer through reinforcement of truths we hold dear.


If each of us would seek to be a Barnabas, pursue a Paul, and train a Timothy, many people sitting on the sidelines of life could become active and productive members of society. In pursuit of much needed mentoring, these lifelong learners, could be better prepared for the long haul.

When youngsters are mentored, they will be more effective in their work, both now and in the future. The more people we have who are better equipped for the real world, and who are in it for the long haul will have a profound positive effect on their future families and their communities.

Be a Barnabas, pursue a Paul, and train Timothy...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Mentoring 101, part 2 - 1 THESSALONIANS Series (2)

Be a Barnabas

How many of us have needed a modern-day Barnabas to come alongside to help us make the most of opportunities? How often do we sit dejected on the sidelines of life because of a failure? We gave up on school, and ourselves. We opened a business, but it didn’t grow. The program we tried to manage was a disaster. A marriage or family relationship disintegrated. We don’t have the right connections to get to that proverbial “next level” everyone is always talking about. Where is that brother or sister, like the first-century Barnabas, to look for the forgotten, to believe in us and our “call,” to hope for the best for us when we cannot do it for ourselves?

In this current age, we need a lot of Barnabas-minded people. Deserting our dreams has become an epidemic. The silent sufferers are hidden in the shadows of the success of others. The challenge lies before us every day. Take a good look around you; scan the landscape for the bypassed, the overlooked, and the rejected. Look for someone who has failed or is discouraged. So, I implore you, be a Barnabas to someone.

Pursue a Paul

Much is being said in the literature today about mentoring. The need, no doubt, is being aggravated by sociological changes in the family and in our schools in the 20th and the 21st century. There is a breakdown in many homes, where children may have an absentee parent or feel that their closest friends are online. In the “days of old,” sons worked alongside their father, and daughters would learn about running the household alongside Mom. All children would learn not only skill and competency, but also about behavior and values. Where does this happen today? A formal secondary education no longer prepares us for real life; it prepares most of us for college, instead...hopefully. There is no place to learn the practical application of the skills that will propel most of us forward.

Look for a moment at the list of individuals in the New Testament who were impacted by the apostle Paul: Timothy, Titus, Onesimus, Luke, and Silas? Their foundational training in the Scriptures did not take place in an isolated classroom. It was given in context and application as the teams went from city to city, and as they DID the work.

Who, is these turbulent, confusing and malevolent times is your 21st century Paul? Who have you pursued? Who have you approached? Mentoring takes place best as the one who desires formational input pursues. “Will you mentor me?” is probably not the right question. Mentoring takes place as we watch, listen, serve, follow, learn, read, glean, emulate others.

In the Old Testament, looking at the story of Elisha, this process took place as “the two of them walked on” (2 Kings 2:6). “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you,” embodies the resolve Elisha had in pursuing Elijah to teach him.

Each of us needs to pursue someone who excels in some area of life or leadership. Thanks to 21st-century technological advances, the whole world is open to us through various forms of media- print, interactive CDs, the Internet, conferences, and networking. This allows us to connect with any leader anywhere

Mentoring is not something someone does to someone else; it is the result of a diligent pursuit of another’s life. So, look for a Paul. Look around. Key in on someone you respect. Prayerfully ask to be led to influencers who can help you in your pursuit to become a lifelong learner.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Mentoring 101, part 1 - 1 THESSALONIANS Series (1)


The Apostle Paul is the writer of the letter to the Thessalonians. Thessalonica was a seaport city, located in the Macedonian area. And, as such may have been the largest city in Macedonia. There were Greeks, Romans, and many Jewish merchants headquartered there.

Paul opens this book with a typical greeting, "Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians [which is] in God the Father and [in] the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace [be] unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ." (I Thessalonians 1:1)

Silvanus is in other verses referred to as Silas. Paul has very high regard for his friend Silas. They had been imprisoned together for the gospel of Jesus. Of course, Timotheus is Timothy, and it was not unusual for them to be with Paul. Timothy was an understudy of Paul.

And this brings us to what I want to explore with you for a few days... mentoring. Why we need it, why we do it, why we should be mentored and what we should mentor. And, before you get all crazy, YES, I have been mentored by some pretty outstanding people in my life, am still being mentored, and I mentor others. Yes, I am Timothy to someone else’s Paul, a Barnabas to another Paul, surrounded by many Silas’, and I mentor Timothys. You will see as we go along…


If we look back at the beginning of Paul’s life as an apostle, we would have to wonder if he would have made it without Barnabas. Paul / Saul had been a persecutor of Christians in his previous life. As he was thrown from his horse, blasted by a blinding light and hearing the voice of Christ, he would have pretty disoriented. As people approached him in his weakened state, the fear of Paul’s murderous threats toward those following Christ would still have been fresh in their minds.

However, Barnabas took Paul to the other apostles and vouched for the veracity of his testimony (Acts9: 26, 27). Barnabas did not have to do this, but this act of encouragement provided to be a necessary and important link between Paul, the other apostles and the fulfillment of his calling.

Several years later, Barnabas was prompted by the Holy Spirit to look for Paul (Acts 11:25). No doubt the Damascus Road testimony had been forgotten by many, but not by Barnabas. The tentmaker from Tarsus, Paul, had seemingly been overlooked by the established church and bypassed for any meaningful ministry assignments. But Barnabas remembered. And, because of Barnabas’ influence, the Antioch church found a place for Paul and helped him develop trusted relationships and a respected teaching ministry (Acts 11:26; 13:1, 2).

Regardless of the baggage or failure from the past, Barnabas was always there for Paul.


Tomorrow: The Up-side of slavery

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Genesis Series (3): Getting stuff done

If I am pinned down, I would have to say that I am not a big fan of to-do lists, but I still make them all the time. I am not a fan because I never get all the stuff done, except perhaps my grocery list.

So, I am challenging myself...and of course you, to do a better job in this area; a better job at getting all the important things done.

For our Biblical referance of course we have God...Who created everything in 6 days, and got a day off. 

One would think that I (we) should certainly be able to write down a few things to get done in a day…and actually do them. But, in order for me to make a change, I have to honestly (and painfully) figure out what I’ve done wrong in the past. The to-do lists of the past have been:

  • Too long

  • No deadlines...or should I say, no end in sight..Arghhhh!

  • Mixture of long-range and short-term goals, hard to find a focus and a handle

  • No organization

  • Always looks overwhelming

I am sure you'd have a few things to add. What items have I left out?

I have tried several of those integrated systems, like Franklin and Steven Covey, etc. I’m am ecstatic if they have work for you. I  have tried and then have abandoned each in turn. But there is some benefit to my friends, because I pass the material on to someone else who I looks like they need to be more organized. ;) 

I read many blogs, and I have been fortunate in that I have finally stumbled across a "place" to store all my Internet stuff, Evernote, at www.evernote.com. You know, all those pithy sayings, and well-written articles that offer insight into how to do _____________ (whatever) better, some new recipe, some cartoon that you are not quite ready to pass on, awesome videos, etc. Pretty much whatever you can pull up on the Internet, can be saved in Evernote. No, I don't get any kind of commission. This system works well, and cuts down on wasted papers (which, if truth be told, I can't find later when I need them, anyway). So, I suggest that you try it. It comes in a free and a premium version. That will take care of some of the paper, and keep you from setting your house on fire with candles or incense.

Back to the lists....
There are many good reasons to make them, and curiously, these are linked to the reasons I don't do well with them:

  • They should keep us from feeling overwhelmed

  • Help get the right things done; doing the important things first

  • Avoid wasting valuable time on things that are unimportant, and don't really need to get done, or at least don't require our attention (make sense?)
So, what lessons can we learn from doing wrong so many times? 

There are decisions that I need to make before the list is made:
  • What is the timeframe of my list? One day, one week?

  • I need to think in broad strokes-
    • What am I ultimately trying to accomplish? Where am I trying to get?
    • Accept that I cannot get it all done at once.

  • What steps do I need to take?
    • In what order? We serve a God of order. Think about it...It would not have made a great deal of sense to create people before there was breathable and sustainable atmosphere.

  • Once I have written this down, what is my first actionable step?

  • Complete each task before I move on.
    • The small steps in the beginning can have major consequences in the end.

  • Review the list the next day (or week)
    • What didn’t get done that needs to go on the new list?
    • If it keeps showing up, I need to examine why I am stuck here.
    • Do I need to get help?
    • Am I overextended?
    • Do I just need a different approach?

  • Is there a meeting in the week’s mix?
    • What do I need to get done for this, and when?

  • Make a fresh list…yes, write it all out again...and get it done!


One of the blogs authors that I read frequently is Michael Hyatt. He is was the CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing House. He is an awesome speaker and interested in all things related to leadership. In a recent blog of his (http://tinyurl.com/63lcpcq) , he mentioned batching as a way to get things done while referring to a method called Pomodoro. Sounds like a piece of fruit, doesn't it? It is! It's Italian for tomato. Yes, tomoato is a fruit.

Anyway, being the bottom line thinker that I am, it seems to boil down to being able to sustain your activity and attention-span on a focused area for 25 minutes at a time. There is a whole system of lists, and ways to tweak the method, but best of all...they offer free stuff at their website, http://www.pomodorotechnique.com/ . Did I mention that there was free stuff?

And, no, I don't get any commission or props from Michael Hyatt or Pomodoro. If you go to the site, you can download the book for free (unless you just can't live without the facncy hard-cover). Did I mention it was free?

I feel that part of my mission, mandate and task is to expose you guys, the readers, to things that may help you get better at being and doing you. Things that you, that you may not necessarily stumble across on your own...Using The Word as our guide, as our backdrop, to help us set our boundaries.

This is what I'm going to try for now...the Pomodoro Technique.

What system are you using to keep on track?

I'd be interested in hearing, and I am open to suggestions...I'll try (almost) anything once.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Genesis Series (2): Purposive Universe

The definitions of purpose, courtesy of Dictionary.com are:

(1) reason for existence: the reason for which something exists or for which it has been done or made "the purpose of life" 

(2) desired effect: the goal or intended outcome of something. "The purpose of the law is to control pollution."

(3) determination: the desire or the resolve necessary to accomplish a goal. "You need to act with purpose."

Purpose is the reason we do what we do, when we do it, and most importantly, why we do it.

Whether you are a proponent of Creation or the Big Bang theory, there is one thing that cannot be denied. And, that is that the world has been created with a purpose, and with us in mind. It has been created to sustain life…our lives.

God has given us all purposes that fill our hearts. Many of these are the things we once thought of doing that gave us goose-bumps and filled us with passion. For many of us, these things have fallen by the wayside, having given way to the mundane bits of existence that we can manage to hold on to…

What happened to our passion?

What became of those young, talented children we used to be- when the sky was the limit? What limited us? Did the sky or some person limit us, or did we limit ourselves?

I contend that all this, the passions, the dreams, everything, still exists within us.

Honestly, most of us won’t make a trip to the moon, or cure cancer; but we can, do and should be able to move the world in so many other ways.

When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone to help someone else?

  • Served at Mission, church or anywhere else for free?

  • Fed some children you knew were hungry

  • Had a conversation with someone you know is lonely

  • Spoke to someone at work (or church, or in the community) that everyone was making fun of
When was the last time you actually touched the life of someone else by doing something (probably) mundane and ordinary, but totally unexpected?

People need other people; not just cyber-friends, church-seatmates, cubicle-sharer…but real live human beings.

It sounds trite, I know, but we areJesus with skin on,” “the hands and feet” of the Gospel.

Challenge: Today, walk up to someone you don’t know well and say, “Hello, how are you?” Then, shut your mouth and listen with your heart, not just your ears…

What is our purpose? To help each other. By this all men shall know

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Resolved: 2. I Am Not My Own

Resolved: 2. I Am Not My Own

This was originally posted by Kenny Silva on his blog (June 30, 2011) as part of a new series about tranforming his life. With his permission, I am passing a few of these on to you for your consideration, and possibly implementation.

Resolution #2

Resolved, to never act or think in a way that would propose that I am in any way my own, but to remember that I am entirely God’s.

Click here to continue Reading…

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Resolved: 3. Doubts About God’s Love

Resolved: 3. Doubts About God’s Love

This was originally posted by Kenny Silva on his blog (July 1, 2011) as part of a new series about tranforming his life. With his permission, I am passing a few of these on to you for your consideration, and possibly implementation.

Resolution #3

Resolved, to be mindful of all things spiritual, emotional, or relational that would cause me to doubt the love of God and to battle those things from a position of victory.

Click here to continue Reading…

Friday, July 8, 2011

Just a thought or two: Consumers of Faith

How do we choose our religion or denomination?A few days ago I was involved in a chat with some marketers, and a discussion ensued about whether buying was driven by emotion or logic. And, if marketers could get a handle on that, should they strive to push one button more often than another, or try to touch both segments? Is there a difference between the emotional buyers and the logical buyers.

The bottom line question was:  Why do we buy?

Now your question is to me is, "What does that have to do with this blog or discussion about faith?"

Although it is much debated, I think we all know that we buy things out of emotion, whether we wish to admit this to ourselves or not. After we have made our emotional decision to purchase something, our minds then go to work to layer logic over it, so it “feels” better. We buy because we feel we “need” things (as opposed to wanting them). We buy to support a cause, or an idea. We buy out of impulse. Just take a careful look at all the useless and unused items laying around our houses.

QVC gives us an example, I think, of buying out of the need to belong; not even the need for the stuff. I’m not bashing QVC, I'm using them as an example, so don’t write me about that. If you are not a regular buyer, just think how many times you have flipped past their channel to hear some “regular” or "ordinary" person going on and on about how they bought some thing in every available color or style. (We should have some many testimonies and testimonials in church!)

I contend that it is not because they needed that particular purse in 14 colors, but because they want to be an “insider,” they wish to be perceived as cool and "in the know," whatever…

We are a nation of consumers. Most often we think of this word in terms of buying, but look at it carefully. It also conveys a message of using something up.

So, what does that have to do with religion?
Nothing. And everything. And it made me really think about how we tend to approach religion and worship.

Like everything else, we are emotional consumers of religion. That doesn’t sound so bad on the surface, because we should be seeking an emotional connection with God and with each other. But that’s not really what we do, is it? We go to worship experiences and stay until we feel we have used them up, until they have lost their flavor, and then-

  • We hop from church to church looking for the next emotional high.

  • We move on when we get bored with the worship leader, "they’ve lost their edge."

  • We change churches because the worship music isn’t to our liking…any more.

  • We leave because the service lasts too long, “And, oh my God, I’m going to kill myself if one more person goes up to the microphone!”

  • We move because the church down the street “gets it,” whatever “it” happens to be this year.

  • We move because our neighbors found a cooler place for themselves and their children; and we need to make better social connections

  • We use TV and social media to tap into the next celebrity preacher. (Do those words even go together?)

  • We don’t like the people we worship with any more. They’ve become stale, boring and stupid.

  • We move on because our parent's faith and worship is “old and moldy." We reason that if its boring us, it must surely be boring God to tears.

  • We move because the place we are at isn’t serving our needs anymore
And while all of these issues may be valid on some level……..

Have you noticed that I have not mentioned anything about God, serving God, worshiping God or honoring God?

Our faith and worship cannot and should not be driven by this consumerism mentality. Serving God has little to do with logic, everything to do with emotion, and nothing to do with consumerism. And, that is what we are here for, isn't it? To serve God?

God requires 3 things of us: justice, mercy and humility. See Micah series, here

Christ left two commandments: Love God and love each other. 

The Bible does not say anything about finding the perfect place with the perfect people who will fit in perfectly with my schedule. We are all imperfect and we need to get back to putting first things first.

The mission is first: become more Chris-like. [link

The (Great) Commission is second: Go out...

Simply put: Work where you are planted. God will order your steps and move you as He needs you to be moved.

I’ll finish up with a personal illustration: For most of the past 5 or so years I have attended a Baptist church. This is not too surprising, since I grew up Bapti-costal. However, through a series of events when I moved here, I attended a United Methodist Church for the 10 years prior. I got to know a lot of great people, made many wonderful friends, got involved in the life of the church, taught a lot, learned a lot, was exposed to WillowCreek…having a great time. God, in so many little ways, began to point my heart and my mind back to my roots, and toward some people not doing so well. So he sent me home to help, and to apply the knowledge that I had acquired in the interim.

Am I happy all the time? Of course not. Is it perfect? No! Is it easy? Hardly!! But in spite of a relocation that I would not have chosen for myself, I can still echo James when he says that we should "count it all joy!"

  • Why do attend to the "church of your choice?"
  • Are you there to serve or be served?

Comments? Thoughts?

Have a great day!
[In the future, we will talk about the difference between happy and joy.]

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Resolved: 1. A Life Devoted to Good Works and Humble Service

Resolved: 1. A Life Devoted to Good Works and Humble Service

This was originally posted by Kenny Silva on his blog (June 29, 2011) as part of a new series about tranforming his life. With his permission, I am passing a few of these on to you for your consideration, and possibly implementation.

Resolution # 1

Resolved, to diligently pursue a life of good works and humble service towards all those whom God would place in my path; to do this by His power alone, not mine, in a manner that would give Him all the glory and make His name great.

Click here to continue Reading…

[Just a thought ot two tomorrow...]

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Just a thought or two: Foresight (Bonus)

Have you ever given much thought about the things you do well? How you "lead" the team when you are in your zone. How you get your work done, usually without a hitch.

I think about this frequently. As most regular readers know, I am a gynecologist, which means I do a fair amount of surgery. And although I am usually pretty self-effacing about it, I am pretty good. But that's not my point. When I am in my "zone" in I can literally feel my way through things, and clearly see what's coming...foresight.

Last night's (7-5-11) tweetchat (#leadfromwithin) was about foresight.

When you are functioning out of your center and your confidence, you just do good work...no, great work. You get the team to move where they need to go. You get your projects done, well, efficiently and effectively. You can see potential problems and head them off, before they crop up.

How do you get it? Some of it is by training for your craft and getting in tune with your own rhythm. An important aspect of foresight that I think is overlooked is learning from our mistakes. Because you feel your foresight is 20/20, doesn't mean that you will hit the mark or be right every time.

Warning: Don't get so full of yourself and your "rightness" that you don't listen to the voices around you.

Good foresight means having and using good information, having the facts (not necessarily the same thing), trusting you gut instinct, honoring those who help with the process and then stepping out in faith.

IMHO (in my humble opinion), anyway...

Question: How can you improve your foresight, and how can you use it to benefit youself and others?

Francis Chan: Are You Pursuing a Supernatural Ministry?

When you’re alone with the Word of God, you probably have less peace than you’re willing to publicly admit.

You’re fine at church, attending conferences, or spending time with churchgoers. But when you’re studying God’s Word by yourself, a sick feeling creeps into your stomach. How can you reconcile Jesus’ teachings with what you see in the Church?

Start with yourself

Most of us know we can’t say with the Apostle Paul, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1 TNIV) Rather than pursuing the Spirit-filled example we could be, we hide behind churchy statements like, “I’m just a man” or, “I’m not perfect, just forgiven.” That will satisfy most, but you know deep down that you’re not “just” a man or woman. You’re a temple of the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you.

It’s like buying a racecar and only using it to drive to the market at 30 mph. Not only would you be wasting horsepower, but the guy who built the car would go crazy if he knew what you were doing. Similarly, I wonder how our Creator feels seeing His Spirit-filled temples living so normally. Were you created to sit in an office, have meetings, and answer e-mails all day? You know there’s more to what God has called you to. It’s time to take a step of faith.

Pray for the supernatural

Honestly, a nonbeliever can accomplish a lot of what you’re doing. Pray that God would lead you into tasks that can only be done by the power of the Spirit. Pray for results that can’t be explained humanly. Ask Him to do what only He can do through you. Pray in faith (James 1:6) and stop looking at the men of Scripture as unattainable superheroes. “Elijah was a human being, even as we are.” (James 5:17)

Pursue unexplainable holiness

We don’t need leaders who put themselves on a pedestal and pretend they don’t struggle. Nor do we need leaders who say, “I struggle with sin just like you.” The Church is dying for leaders who admit failure but supernaturally “put to death the misdeeds of the flesh.” (Romans 8:13) They’re looking for “an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12) Don’t hide behind phrases like, “We all sin.” Use the tremendous power you’ve been given to live a holy life.

Serve diligently

We live in a time when Christian leaders are encouraged to be lazy. I’m constantly told to “take more family time.” In our zeal to protect the family, we may have idolized it. While there are still exceptions and pastors who work too much and ignore family, the pendulum has swung the other way. Now we have students graduating from Bible college and seminary expecting “the going rate” and more “family time.” Many of you know you ought to work more diligently and with greater excellence. Don’t give in to the whining you hear. There’s tremendous peace when we work as fervently as we ought (1 Thessalonians 2:9).

Give dangerously

Don’t be afraid to give extravagantly to those in need. While Christian leaders complain about their salaries, be one who is “content” regardless of a financial situation (Philippians 4:11-12).

Love the needy as much as yourself. See them as Christ and joyfully give. Let’s face it: It’s pretty hard to starve to death in America. Don’t be like many other American churchgoers who are more concerned about their standard of living than anyone else’s. Set the example in loving the less fortunate.

Seek His approval

Some of us are bold while standing in front of a crowd yet act like cowards when talking to individuals. We have enough socially awkward religious leaders who have no idea how to have conversations and develop friendships with nonbelievers—the world needs a new generation of leaders who can “become like the Jews to win the Jews.” (1 Corinthians 9:20)

Maybe your challenge is a lack of boldness when you’re in front of the church. I go through phases when I have an unhealthy desire for crowds, so I’ll often think about God’s presence in the room as I teach. This reminds me to seek His approval rather than others’. It’s amazing how bold we can be when we’re aware of God’s presence. It reminds me of Stephen who, “full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:55) Seeing Jesus gave him courage to stand peacefully as he was stoned to death. We are prone to do amazing things when we acknowledge His presence.

May peace motivate you

My desire is to direct you toward peace. I encourage you to take a leap of faith so you can experience it again. We waste time on things that don’t make sense in light of Scripture and eternity—many of you know it’s time for a change. I pray you have the faith to jump.

Thoughts? Comments?

Francis Chan is an author and church leader, formerly the pastor of Cornerstorne Church in Simi Valley, California. Chan has authored two books, Crazy Love & Forgotten God. He is also the founder of Eternity Bible College and sits on the board of directors of Children's Hunger Fund and World Impact. Francis lives in California with his wife, Lisa, and their four children.

For more information about Francis Chan, visit francischan.org

This article used with the permission of the author, Francis Chan and Churchleaders.com

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Urgent message: I'm going to stop blogging...

Go to fullsize image

Urgent: I'm going to stop blogging!!!

Here's the drill- I don't feel like I am making an impact or reaching those I set out to reach. Some days I feel like I am writing for no one except myself. So, the short version is that I will have to change my approach and / or stop blogging.

This new attempt will be launched next week.

In the meantime:

I have met some awesome people on this cyber-journey, and some I would even call friend.

First up, every now and then you read something that moves you, disturbs you, makes you feel uncomfortable; or in churchspeak...makes you feel convicted.

Tomorrow (Wednesday): I will run an article by one of the most popular pastors-preachers-church leaders around, Francis Chan. I would like you to read the article carefully, and comment. Tell me what you think.

Thursday through Saturday: One of my cyber-friends Kenny Silva has started a series on mid-year life-transforming resolution or challenges. With his permission, I will pass a few of these challenges on to you. Again, tell me what you think.

Next week: We will begin a new series, presented in a different fashion. I plan to use the same posting format of writing and publishing every weekday, and perhaps on Saturday. No new articles on Sunday.

What do I want from you?


What I need is some sense that I am not writing to and for myself alone. If that turns out to be the case, then I can just put it in a journal.

So, I need:
  • Feedback
  • Comments
  • Thoughts
  • Disagreements
  • Anything to let me know you guys are out there.
  • Tell your friends. Encourage them to share.
  • Encourage them to sign up to receive new posts for the blog by email.

We begin the journey anew next week!

And, a special thanks to all those who have stuck with me so far...

7-5-11  Addendum: Excellent suggestion from one of our readers. I will actively post Monday through Friday. No posting on Sunday. Saturday...we shall see. ;)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Love found me (video)

This video reminds me of a song we don't hear often; that's probably because it's a hymn. The song is, "Love Lifted Me."