Monday, December 30, 2013

Pheaney's Annual Superbowl Pick Contest

It's that time of year again...

Pick the Superbowl winner and win a prize!

It's that simple.  Fill out the form below.  If you win, I'll buy you a book off of my 2014 Reading List (Click Here to View) and take you out to coffee to discuss it.

If you can't see a form, click here.



Fine print: 
Any remaining ties will be decided by a coin flip. 
If the winner is a female, my wife will take you out while I watch my kids. 
Contest closes before the first playoff game begins (which is 3:30 Saturday January 4)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Ways we should be more like Adrian

My son Adrian turns 6 today.  Here are a few everyday things we could all learn from him:
  • Be more creative.  I wish I had the capability to invent latin words for dishwasher, but luckily with him in the house I have a never-ending source of ideas.
  • Write more notes.  Every time I turn around Adrian is handing his mom an "I love you card."  Married guys: When is the last time you did that for your wife?  Everyone: What about your mom?
  • Don't shoot unless you need to. .  Adrian has this funny habit of not wasting bullets when we're in a nerf-gun fight.  It's comical, but he takes about 1 shot to my 100.  I laugh, but I'm also the one out of bullets.
Happy Birthday Adrian!!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Book Review: The Longview

A few thoughts and points from The Longview by Roger Parrott:

Quotable: "If it doesn't win football games, don't do it." - George Allen

What I Liked: The concept of the longview.  We should work, serve, and live like we're in it for the long-haul.  Anything else is shortsighted. This isn't a new concept: My grandma asked me about that before this book was written.

What I Didn't Like: To be honest, this wasn't a very good book.  I could nitpick at a lot of things, but I think the biggest critique (and warning to the would-be authors among us) is that you're theme/illustration/narrative needs to be consistent throughout.  At times reading the book (or even individual chapters) felt like being in a car with someone learning to drive a manual transmission: it wasn't smooth at all.  The author just jumped from one illustration to another without warning or much explanation.

2013 Personal Impact Ranking: 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Check your tasks and calendar

Is making disciples on your calendar or task list?

It would be great if there was an actual item or event labeled "disciple-making" or similar.  But if not, can you at least point to something that is making disciples?

I think our calendars and task lists tell a lot about us.

If you don't have events on your calendar that disciple others towards Jesus, isn't it time you add some?
If you don't have tasks that help you make disciples, isn't it time you find some?

"Go and make disciples" is what Jesus said.  How is your planner (or iCal or Google Calendar) telling you you're doing at that?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Book Review: Lincoln - A Life of Purpose and Power

I took it upon myself to tackle Richard Carwardine's "Lincoln" for a couple of reasons:  First, I've been wanting to read an Abraham Lincoln biography for some time.  Second, this was a book, and it does a body good to read a BIG book every now and then.

Besides making me want to run for President, my biggest take aways were some awesome quotes from Lincoln himself:
"Most governments have been based, practically on the denial of equal rights of men... ours began by affirming those rights.  They said, some men are too ignorant and vicious to share in government. Possibly so, said we, and...you would keep them ignorant and vicious. We proposed to give all a chance and we expected the week to grow stronger, the ignorant wiser, and all better and happier together." 
"In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God.  Both may be, and one must be wrong. God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time.  In the present civil war it is quite possible that God's purpose is something different from the purpose of either party.  I am almost ready to say this is probably true- that God wills this contest, and wills that it shall not end yet.  And having begun He could give the final victory to either side any day, yet the contest proceeds."
Carwardine did a great job of making this a very readable and enjoyable book.  I wanted to finish it, and he paints Lincoln as a great man and American hero, but doesn't deify him as can sometimes happen.  I found most interesting his thoughts on Lincoln's relationship with Christianity, but you'll have to ask me in person about that.

I found this book at my local library, but you can also buy it on Amazon or get it on Paperback Swap.


2013 Personal Impact Ranking: 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Things I should do less

I feel like most New Year's Resolutions (besides not being very helpful) are always in the mode of adding things to do.  Which is one thing that makes them so difficult.  We already have such full lives, adding things to them can be really hard.  So here are a few things I think I should do less of in 2014.

  • Pay less attention to college and professional sports (especially the Minnesota Vikings)
  • When it comes to sharing the Good News, think less about it, do it more.
  • Continue to eat less sugar.
  • When I'm at home with my family, spend less time at the computer.

(You'll notice these do-less goals aren't SMART.   I should probably also make more of them.   This is just to get me (and hopefully you) started!)

Monday, December 9, 2013

If I were president...

Here is what I would fix:

Daylight Saving Time.  We need to scrap the whole thing.  As the comedian Dave Barry says: "You will never find anybody who can give you a clear and compelling reason why we observe Daylight Saving Time."  That being the case, I propose we get rid of it.

Protecting Thanksgiving.  By presidential order I would outlaw shopping on Thanksgiving.  This may not make me popular, but we've got to hold the line somewhere.  I don't think this is what Abraham Lincoln had in mind when he declared Thanksgiving a national holiday.

That's it. That's all I've got.  It may not be an exciting platform, but it's simple and you'll know after four years whether I accomplished it or not.  In fact, I can't imagine these two things taking more than four years, so I expect that I won't run for a second term.

Oh, and one last thing.  I'm not eligible until the 2020 election, so save your write-in votes until then.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Stop Complaining

"May I never complain about anything again."

The first time this thought hit me was when a friend had a child diagnosed with cancer.  That was a few years ago.  I dare say that I have complained plenty about petty things since that point.

The thought came back after the November 17th tornadoes.  "May I never complain about anything again."

Then my drain backed up.
And my kids were getting on my nerves.

At least I have a house with a drain to back up in.
At least I have kids that are in good health.

I'll say it again, and maybe this time it will stick: "May I never complain about anything again."

(No guarantees though.)

Monday, December 2, 2013

Discipleship Basics

I'm officially publishing a Discipleship Basics Bible study I'm using with Camp of Champions staff this school year.

It's been helpful to me as I've met with staff.  It helps me disciple them and helps them disciple others.  I'm posting it here with the hope that others can find it useful in their life and ministry.

Even more than passing it on, the biggest reason I'm putting it out here (for the world to see) is because I need to call it 'done.'

I've needed to call it "good enough" for a while, but instead of going out and making disciples with it, I find myself re-writing a Bible study yet again.  It's too easy to keep tweaking, editing and re-writing, so I'm posting it here to say: It may not be great, but it is good enough.

Without further ado: COCUSA Discipleship Basics Study

I'll update it once or twice a year as needed.  You can find the most updated version on this page on my blog.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Priorities

God, Family, Football

Hopefully you've got your priorities right today.  Which means maybe you shouldn't be reading this...

Be thankful to God for what he's given you.
Spend focused time with your Family, immediate and extended.
(Enjoy a little Football if the opportunity allows.)

Bonus material for later: I talked about being thankful last year at this time, give it a listen here.

Monday, November 25, 2013

362,174

362,174

That's the most up to date US Census Bureau number on the population of central Illinois' tri-county area.  (If you don't live in that area but do live in the United States, you can find your county or city's population here.)

362,174.  Obviously there are plenty of places that have a bigger population.  But still, this is where God has placed me.  Do I have that number in my head as I go about each day?  Or do I settle for far more reachable goals?

CS Lewis said "Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak."

Lord give me the desire to reach everyone around me with your Good News.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

I care?

When Joplin Missouri got smashed with a tornado did I care much?
What about the Philippines and their most recent typhoon?

It's funny, sad or maybe just the reality of human nature that we don't care about tragedies until they hit close to home.  I mean, I might "care":  I felt bad for a few minutes, made a donation, or even acknowledge the suffering of others in prayer.

But did I care like I'm currently hurting for central Illinois?

I'm not sure how to incite more care in myself.  Hopefully this current tragedy will do it.  In the future I want to feel for them and give to them and pray for them like they were next door.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Please comfort the hurting

Every morning one of the things I pray is:

Please comfort the hurting and thank you for being the comforter.

Some days it has more meaning than others.  Pray for Central Illinois and the extensive tornado recovery.  Pray also for the family and friends of Jacob Garber.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Mortgages and Margin

I recently sought a home loan pre-approval.  I already had in mind the amount of mortgage my family could take on, mainly determined by the amount of money we could commit to a monthly mortgage payment.

For the sake of this simplifying this illustration, the amount that I felt my family could handle was $100 each month.  The banker that I got my pre-approval from suggested I could afford to pay as much as $144 each month.  Remember, $44 is just for the illustration, that's a 44% increase.  (Add 44% to your current mortgage payment and tell me what you think.)

Yes, my family could have pinched and scraped and made the banker's number work, but I would hate to think what would happen if we did and any emergencies or unforeseen circumstances come up.

And yes, God can provide whatever we need, whenever we need it.

But I can't help but thinking that a little financial margin would do all of us some good.  And if you're making a financial decision, the established institutions aren't going to find your personal margin, that's on you to know and live by.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Star Method

I ran across the a group Bible study method listening to a podcast: The Star Method.  I've used it a few times now, and it's been a great and simple way to get a group of people into God's word.  I hope you can use it too.
  • Read the passage out loud together. (Make sure everyone gets to read at least one verse.)
  • Have each person read the passage silently. While reading, they should...
    • Write a Star ( * ) by anything that stands out. 
    • Write a Question Mark ( ? ) by anything that they don’t understand. 
    • Write an Arrow ( → ) by anything that feels like a direction from God. 
  • Try to write at least one, but no more than three, things in each category above. 
  • Have each person share their Stars with the group 
  • Have each person share their Question Marks with the group. (Only attempt to answer another person’s question if you know the answer.  If not, look it up and get back to them later.) 
  • Have each person share their Arrows with the group.
  • Pray for each other to follow the Arrows you came up with.
It's simple, but I've been amazed at how effective it is at getting people to discuss and apply God's word.

Thanks to Gary Stump and Onward Church for sharing.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Book Review: Saving for Retirement

I just finished Saving for Retirement (without living like a pauper or winning the lottery) by Gail MarksJarvis.  It was a good book and I would recommend it, but it wasn't one that would necessarily fit my normal book review categories.  (I'm not sure what quotable line about IRAs I would have picked from it.)

Even more than I expected, it took the idea of saving for retirement and laid it out in a way that anyone could do it.  Not only that, anyone could do it by themselves without outside help if they wished.

Maybe you currently feel 'set' when it comes to retirement.  You know your plan, you know you've got what you need.  Good for you.  If you fall outside that category, even slightly, this would be a good read for you.


2013 Personal Impact Ranking: 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Studying Thought Flow

So recently I was trying to think of a name for a new thing that Camp of Champions is starting.
  • I hadn't had any luck so I started checking out other Christian camp's websites for ideas. 
  • I came across an idea that struck me as funny, so emailed the other COCUSA full-time staff about it.
  • One of their responses referenced a book we had read several years before.
  • I visited that book's website and looked through several of the chapter titles and content.
  • One chapter title was a term I hadn't yet considered, so I looked it up on thesaurus.com.
  • And the first entry in the thesaurus was the perfect term for what I was looking to name.
Maybe it's just my mind that runs like this, but it's entertaining anyway.

Maybe the lesson is that, when brainstorming, we shouldn't be afraid to involve outside ideas and other people, as I certainly would have gotten nowhere without it.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween's Surprise

I find it ironic, or at least deserving, that Halloween merchandise is now being pushed off the shelves for Christmas merchandise, weeks before Halloween actually occurs.  While walking through my friendly neighborhood big box store more than a week before Halloween, I noticed that all of the Halloween items were on clearance.  Already! With a week to go.

Halloween, to me at least, was the first holiday outside of Christmas to become overrun with consumerism.  When I was a kid, a few people decorated their porch, and all with homemade items when they did.  Today, people spend hundreds, or even thousands of dollars to decorate their whole front yard for Halloween.  (I'm guessing the same trend happened years before my time with Christmas, I'm just too young to remember it and now we just accept or even expect most houses will have elaborate Christmas decorations.)

But unbeknownst to Halloween, even while it was making it's consumeristic grab, commercial Christmas was planning on striking back.  It's as if commercial Christmas was saying: "Sure Halloween, bring out your items in August, I'll just bring out the Christmas junk come out in early October."

I don't see any end to this silliness.  I'm guessing that soon you'll see Valentine's Day items in late December, maybe even before Christmas, as V-day seems to be the next holiday targeted to make money.  It will probably stop when we (as a society) stop wasting our wealth on things we don't need.

At least we Illinoisans can still celebrate Casimir Pulaski day without having to buy anything.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Shepherding a Child's Heart

One of the best parenting helps my wife and I have found (outside of the Bible) is the book Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp.  We regularly come back to it when we're going through "tough-spots" in raising our boys.

Nothing to sell here.  You'll have to find a copy yourself.  And I don't know Tedd Tripp.  But this is one of the best books written on parenting, so if you're a parent, you should read it.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

9 (Marriage) Things

I was recently blessed to celebrate my 9th wedding anniversary.  Here are 9 things my wife and I have found helpful to our marriage:
  • Keep dating. We aim to go on one date a month and stick with it despite busy schedules or anything else.
  • Serve each other.  What can you do today to help your spouse?  What can you do right now?
  • Have an anniversary date that's a little more special.  An overnight trip is great if it is possible for you, but at the very least do something extra-special.
  • Make short "thinking of you" phone calls or leave mushy notes.  Guys: If the note would embarrass your junior-high self, you're probably on the right track.
  • Read God's word together.  We started doing this more recently and it has been great.  Instead of each of us having our own "personal" devotion time, we decide together what we're going to read and then discuss it.
  • Work in the kitchen together.
  • Spend daily time together.  Our relationship is a lot better when we carve out 30 minutes a night to connect and talk.  We chat about anything, nothing in particular and everything in between.  Quality time is found in quantity time.
  • Ask each other for prayer requests.  My wife does a great job of remembering this one.  When's the last time you asked: "How can I pray for you?"
  • Laugh together.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Eat Less Sugar

Now I'm really meddling.

I know people say you should avoid religion and politics in conversation, but I think "eating habits" might be even more controversial.  Tell me my favorite political candidate is bunk, and I maybe expected someone to disagree with me.  Tell me I'm eating poorly... Hey now, that's personal!

All I want to do with this post is to simply offer you a challenge:  Starting today, eat half as much sugar as you normally did previously.  Cut the number of sweet things you consume in half, and unless you're on vacation, round down.

After 3 weeks, if you don't feel better, eat whatever sugar you want.  If you do feel better, cut your sugar intake in half again.

I can tell a noticeable difference in "how I feel" when I have less sugar (or more sugar.)  Maybe the same will be true for you.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Is this your life work?

I've been reminded of these thoughts recently so I'm reposting this from a couple of years ago.

"Is this your life work?"

I remember my late grandmother asking me this question about my job after I had worked just a few months full-time at Camp of Champions.  I don't remember the actual response I gave her, but I remember internally thinking:

"Huh?"

It seemed like a bit much to commit to my first full-time job as my "life work", especially since I hadn't even been at it for a whole year.

If she asked me that question today I think I would answer differently.  I think I would say:

"Yes, what I'm doing right now is my life work.  I'm all in.  I want to do the best possible job I can.  I can't see myself doing anything else."
You'd be missing the point of this post if you thought this was about Camp of Champions. 
What changed for me is not my attitude toward my present place of employment, but my attitude toward life and work in general.

What's the point of doing something (anything!) if it's not your life work?  I may not be doing this job forever, but for as long as I am, it's my life work.

Someday God may call me to a new position, a new place of employment or a new life setting.  When that time comes, I truly want to say: "This is my life work. I'm all in.  I want to do the best possible job I can.  I can't see myself doing anything else."

How about you?  Is this your life work?


If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’ – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Book Review: Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus

A few thoughts and points from Sitting at the Feet of Rabbit Jesus by Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg.

Quotable: "While the Gospels record many instances of Jesus instantly healing people's illnesses, we know of not even one instance in which he simply waved his hand to immediately fix an ugly habit for one of his disciples.  Instead, he simply kept teaching and correcting them, giving them time to grow." p56
"Unlike other gods, Israel's God was not confined to a geographic location, not even to the temple in Jerusalem. Instead of showing reverence for a certain place, the Jewish people have been able, through Sabbaths and other holy days, to sanctify time itself." p124

What I Liked: This was a great overview of some of the basics of Jesus' day to day life and practice.  I love the pictures and facts that the authors brought out that can illuminate the Bible as you read the stories of Jesus.  Jesus was (is?) a Jewish Rabbi, which has implications on how he did things and why he did them.  How Jesus did things has implications on how we should point people to Jesus and disciple them to be like him.  This book is a great primer on that subject for anyone to read.

What I Didn't Like: Despite the application questions at the end of each chapter, I didn't feel there was a lot of actual application I could take away and do.  It was more of an informational book than I expected.  Good information to be sure, but still just that.

2013 Personal Impact Ranking: 
  1. T4T by Steve Smith
  2. What Jesus Started by Steve Addison*
  3. What Did You Expect? by Paul David Tripp*
  4. Stop Stealing Dreams by Seth Godin*
  5. How and When to Tell Your Kids about Sex by Stan and Brenna Jones*
  6. Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus by Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg*
*I own this one and you'd be welcome to borrow it.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Phone-Burn

Twice in the last year I've had a call coming into my phone.  Right as I am answering, the call goes dead.  That's no problem, except that when I call back, the two different people who were calling me both have the same response:

"Sorry, I had a call coming in on the other line."

Really?  I realize that I personally feel belittled, so maybe that's a reason for the rant.  But you called me.  You initiated the call.

If you can't use technology and care for people along the way... throw it out.
If you have to pick up the next call no matter what, I think it's time to go without a cell phone.
If you can't prioritize the person you decided to call, then who can you prioritize?


Monday, October 7, 2013

A little balance to the parenting discussion

Before you get caught up in a worrisome "I have to do all the right things as a parent" attitude, remember:

Parenting isn't as much about what you do as it is about how you live.

You can quote me on that.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Parenting with the Bible

The Bible is legitimately the biggest help to my wife and I as we seek to parent our boys well.  What does that look like?

1) The Bible for you, the parent.  Get into God's word regularly.  This sets an example to your kids and just as importantly refines you.  Specifically, taking time each year to review God's specific instructions about parenting is super helpful and encouraging.  For a list of those passages, check out this blog I posted awhile ago.

2) The Bible for your kids.  How do you get your kids into God's word?  Here are some things we've found helpful:
  • We love quality children's Bibles.  The Jesus Storybook Bible and Read and Learn Bible are two good ones.  Decent pictures and good versions of the stories are great for keeping kids attention.
  • Get them there own copy of the Bible as soon as they can read.  Our older boys have a "treasure chest" cover Bible and a Camo cover Bible (It can be hard to find when it's lost in the house, but very cool).
  • Short kid-friendly devotionals can be a big help.  Our boys have really been into Keys for Kids.  While I wouldn't make Keys for Kids the center of a theological course, they have helped our kids get into a regular rhythm of reading the Bible.
  • Lastly, our latest find is video versions of the Bible.  We've been watching through the Gospel of John every night, doing about half a chapter a night.  Our kids are screen junkies (mainly because we limit their media intake throughout the day) so they have been glued to it.  I realize some video versions of the Bible can be cheesy or lame, but the Gospel of John is one that is very well done and we are all into watching it.  My wife and I end up chatting about what we watched every night after our boys are in bed.  (Side note: as a parent, it's your responsibility to know about anything you show your kids.  I'd recommend previewing the crucifixion scenes. Based on our kids ages we opted not to show them Jesus' death until they are older.)

Monday, September 30, 2013

Don't Hide

I've noticed a parenting trend that I personally disagree with.

Hiding stuff from your kids.  (And I'm not talking about cookies and ice cream.)

More than once in the last couple of weeks I've heard reference to hiding your kids from something you don't want to explain to them because it is difficult to understand, something that is sinful in nature or makes you feel uncomfortable.

I'm not saying that right away you should explain everything in the world to your children no matter what age they are.  But I think that hiding the facts of life isn't going to help very much in the long run.

Kids will find out that other people believe differently than your family about a lot of things.  Kids will find out about "skeletons in the closet".  Wouldn't you rather have them find out about them when you are there with them and able to walk them through a God-honoring response?

Don't start the habit of hiding... because when do you stop?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Bible on your house

What does the Bible say about the physical place where you live?  If you're in the midst of shopping for a house, not as much as you might hope.  What's there is still instructional, but actually more about the home you make out of the physical house you live in...

Make your home a place where God is remembered.

A righteous home has a way better chance of lasting than a wicked one.

Seek wisdom for a solid home.

Don't validate yourself with your (big) house.  It won't work.

Take care of your relationship with God first, your home (especially a luxurious one) should be a lower priority


Looks like a good starting list for me.  Scripture references here: Deuteronomy 6:9, 11:20; Proverbs 3:33, 14:11, 24:3; Ecclesiastes 2:4; Haggai 1:1-11

Monday, September 23, 2013

Reactions to Our Culture

When we come across aspects of our culture that we dislike or find to be wrong, how do we react?  What do we do?

Three ways we (as Christians) typically react:

Abstain: We don't participate. We look down on anyone who does. We avoid anyone who does.
The problem with abstaining is not that we shouldn't avoid things that are wrong. The problem is that often abstaining means completely removing ourselves from the culture and the people who are in it that still need Jesus.

Change: We seek to change what we don't like through coercion, politics or other means.
The problem with changing the culture is it might be impossible.  Cultures and societal tendencies are big and have a lot of momentum and are difficult, if not impossible, to change from the top down.  But if we focus on the people within the culture, loving them in a way that shows them Jesus, by God's grace those people might change.

Create: We really like this one.  We'll create our own stuff.  Are movies getting trashy?  We'll create a Christian version.  Don't like where hip-hop is going?  We've got Christians artists covering that.  (In fact, I can say with confidence that wherever secular culture is going we probably have Christians looking into how to copy it and create our own version.)
The problem is that if we only create our own culture, we never engage with people who need Jesus in their culture.  We can get lost in the culture we created or become so used to it that we are literally shocked when we step out of it, and unable to engage the people we run into.

This whole post started from 8 words I penciled down after listening to a message on a college campus.  I think the speaker went on to share the correct reaction to culture, but I didn't write it down.  I guess I have to make up my own:

Engage: Abstain from the sin. Seek to change people. Create what God lays on your heart to create.
But all the while engage the people God has put in your path.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Wealth* We** Waste***

*Wealth = an abundance or profusion of anything; plentiful amount (from dictionary.com, definition 2)

**We = me, you and western civilization in general

***Waste = to consume, spend, or employ uselessly or without adequate return; use to no avail or profit; squander (from dictionary.com)

We have a problem.  We waste a lot of wealth.  It's literally everywhere.  We are spending, consuming, squandering, losing and otherwise wasting a lot of wealth that could be used for good.

It could be used to make disciples and share the Good News.  It could be used help the needy or hurting, both around us and across the world.

But instead, we lose it without getting (or even expecting) anything in return.  A few wasteful places that are standing out to me right now: mobile data plans, retirement, coffee (convicting but true), home improvement, new construction (both residential and commercial), and sports.

Please don't read this that I'd like to move into a cave and be a hunter/gatherer.  (My wife wouldn't stand for that...)  Go ahead and have a cell phone, plan for a comfortable retirement and drink coffee.  But while you're using wealth on all of those things, think about this:

What spiritual return is there for the wealth you're spending?

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Good News

Here's the Good News: We can have a relationship with God that will give us abundant and eternal life.

This relationship is available to us because of Jesus Christ, a real man who lived and walked on this earth.  Without Jesus, we cannot have this abundant eternal life because we have all chosen to rebel against God, to do our own thing and to be in charge of our own life.  The punishment for living for ourselves and in disobedience to God is death and eternal separation from God.

But Jesus died for us.  In doing so he took the punishment and death we deserved.  And now, since he did that, we are offered eternal and abundant life.  The thing is, like anything you're offered, you have to take it.  You have to accept Jesus and accept the sacrifice he made for you.

Even better, Jesus didn't stay dead.  He came back to life and calls all who accept his sacrifice to follow him, learn from him, and be like him.

Isn't this news good?

Here's where the Bible backs up what you just read: John 1:17-18, 10:10, Romans 6:23, 1 Corinthians 15:3-4,

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Parenting Helps

It seems to me that there is a void of people willing to offer parenting advice.  I even have a memory of a father of eight saying he wouldn't feel comfortable giving parenting advice.  At the time he already had three of kids well on their way to being adults any parent could be proud of... but because of the ongoing parenting he was experiencing with his younger kids, he didn't feel he could offer advice.

If that's the case, can anyone ever offer parenting advice then?  Does anyone really get to the place as a parent that they can offer advice with 100% confidence?

I'd like to suggest we change the verbiage: Is anyone willing to offer parenting helps?

You may not have it all together. You may still be figuring out your own kids.  But nearly every parent can share something that has been a help to them as they raise their kids.

So if you're a parent, what helps can you offer those around you?  ("Do you want to know what helped me in that parenting situation?")  Or maybe if you are the one needing help, it's on you to ask for it.  ("What have you found helpful in this situation?)

Some of my parenting helps coming later...

Monday, September 9, 2013

Reflecting on the past

I wrote this in my journal three years ago today:

Camp* can often be a distraction from making disciples.  
At times I'd love to shove off and wholly and solely pursue endeavors that make disciples.  
However, will that course of action develop a multipliable disciple movement? 
Is it better to make disciples while working a job that distracts from it?** 
For that would show others how to do the same...

*"Camp" is my job.  What's yours? How does it aid or detract from your ability to make disciples?

** To be fair, camp doesn't always distract from it.  Often it is a huge help to it, but there are times in the middle of the busy season that are very distracting from making disciples.  When I wrote this there had been a good run of distractions.

Three years later I'm still thinking about these things.  I think my main message for you and me today is this: You can and should make disciples of Jesus right now.  I think your job isn't as relevant to the discussion as we often make it to be.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

What would you do with $____?

This is for my friends in a paid ministry position (myself included).

Put your full salary package in the blank space below.  (This should include benefits... What is your organization's total financial commitment to you?)

Let's say someone gave you $______ in a lump sum and said: "Make the biggest possible difference for Jesus Christ over this next year."

What would you do?  What would your strategy be?  What do you start dreaming about being able to accomplish?

How does what you're thinking about and dreaming up sync with what you are currently doing?

The reality is that you are being given $______ to do what you do each year.  It's not a lump sum, but it's still being given to you.  What are you doing with yourself to make the biggest possible impact for Jesus Christ?

You (as a person) need to be that strategy, you need to live and work in a way that lines up with your goals and desires to change the world.

A lunch conversation with Tim Reist was the inspiration for this post.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Welcome to September

It's September!  Here's a few things you need to know about pheaney.com:

Content Categories
Going forward I'm going to focus my blog posts on the following areas:

Following Jesus in...
  • Church
  • Everyday Life
  • Making Disciples
  • Marriage
  • Parenting
  • Raising Money
  • Sabbath
  • Wealth
I'd love to hear from you (comment or reply) on which of these you want to hear more about or if there are any categories I missed.


Speaking of categories, I'm going to stop posting my Best Of Online Reading (BOOR) with any regularity. If you want to see what I'm reading online, you can look to the left sidebar on my blog, visit Stuff Pheaney Found, or subscribe to the RSS feed yourself.

Finally, for those of you who share my love for football I've got two goodies for you:
1) I'm setting up another Eliminator Challenge contest for this year.  If you don't know what that is but are interested, click through and find out more.  Winner gets coffee or lunch on me!
2) I have some silly but hopefully realistic thoughts on my favorite team here.

Now stop reading and go enjoy Labor Day! You get a bonus high-five from me if you didn't see this until Tuesday.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Preach it!

But what should we preach?  Who should preach?

We normally leave "preaching" for a pastor and think that he should "preach" a sermon.  But is that a Biblical idea?  Awhile ago I did a word study of preaching (passages below).  Here's what I learned:

It was a word that Luke (the author of the Gospel and Acts) absolutely loved.  It seems that nearly every chapter he mentions preaching.

Nearly every time... enough that I could say "Every Time"... what was preached was the "good news" (or a similar variation like "the Gospel", "the message of Jesus", etc.)  There are only a few times you could even make a vague connection to our modern-day sermons.

Sermons aren't bad things, but when we delegate preaching only to those who are comfortable up in front of a crowd, we've taken away something that anyone should be able to do: Preach the Good News to those around them.

The sense you get from the whole new testament use of the word is that anyone can preach, everyone should preach and we should all be preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ.

So today.. preach it!

Matthew 11:5; Luke 1:19, 2:10, 3:18, 4:18, 4:43, 8:1, 9:6, 16:16, 20:1; Acts 5:42, 8:4, 8:12, 8:25, 8:35, 8:40, 10:36, 10:42, 11:20, 13:32, 14:7, 14:15, 14:21, 15:31, 16:10, 17:18; Romans 1:15, 10:15, 15:20; 1 Corinthians 1:17, 9:16, 9:18, 15:1-2; 2 Corinthians 10:16, 11:7; Galatians 1:8-9, 1:11, 1:16, 1:23, 4:13; Ephesians 2:17, 3:8; 1 Thessalonians 3:6; 1 Peter 1:12, 1:25, 4:6

Monday, August 26, 2013

Bringing back the Bible Study

Sometimes I think that good the old-fashioned Bible Study has gotten a bad rap.  I know this because I'm fully guilty of looking down on them.

Mentoring, accountability, discipleship, disciple-making... these all have a little more pizzazz than a Bible study.  And most people would rather go to a small group/core group/impact group/life group/(insert your favorite name here) group than a Bible Study.  Wouldn't they?

But what better way to mentor someone than with the Bible?  What better to hold someone accountable than God's word?  What better tool to disciple someone than the Bible?  And what better centerpiece to your Cool Group than the Bible?

I realize that a Bible Study can be brutally ineffective if done poorly.  But instead of throwing them out altogether, lets just lead great Bible studies.  Discussion-based, obedience-oriented and God-honoring Bible studies.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Task Management

Type that phrase into a Google Search and you're hit with literally hundreds of options, all promising to make you more productive and organized.

So what do you do? Which do you choose? How do you get it done?

I can say with confidence that if you're reading this and you're an adult (or at least pretending to be one), you're going to need something.  The world is too complicated and there's too much to keep tabs on to not have some system to organize yourself.

The reason there are hundreds of task management options (both hi-tech and low-tech) is that no one has created the perfect system for the entire human race.  I wouldn't wait for that.

The only real answer here is to pick something.  Organize your life and tasks.  Get it done.

Monday, August 19, 2013

What is church for?

I recently heard of someone who, because of a messy divorce, decided to leave their smaller church (of less than 200).

Their solution? Attend a larger church (1000+) so they could blend in better.

Excuse me?  Blend in?  What is church for?

God didn't give us the body of Christ so we could hide.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

31 @ 31

  1. College is overrated, not useless or unimportant, but overrated.
  2. This side of heaven you'll never stop battling pride.
  3. The Bible is easier to understand than most people think. Obedience is the hard part.
  4. Good coffee is worth paying more for.
  5. I haven't seen good evidence that Jesus is dead.
  6. Talk less, listen more, ask good questions.
  7. Kids are awesome.
  8. Being lost is still scary.
  9. What you do with today is more important than any future plans you are thinking about.
  10. Good authors, professional and amateur, are approachable and responsive.
  11. Blogging is easier than you think.
  12. Quality time is found in quantity time.
  13. Make disciples.
  14. The people around you are a bigger influence on you than you realize.
  15. Good wholesome food is worth the money, time and effort.
  16. The ability of the human body to heal itself is nothing short of miraculous.
  17. Cohabitation is wrong.  Unless you're married, then it's a great idea.
  18. Keep TVs and computers out of your bedroom.
  19. He who finds a wife finds a good thing.
  20. We put too much emphasis on our own safety, security and comfort.
  21. Saving $100 is better than earning $100.
  22. Scamming the elderly is one of the most shameful crimes around.
  23. One of these days I'm going to start acting my age.
  24. 95% of the population pretends to be busier than they are.
  25. Children's sports leagues are getting ridiculous.
  26. What you don't know can hurt you.
  27. Raising children well is a hard job that shouldn't be taken lightly.
  28. Most guys aren't as good at grilling out as they claim.
  29. Just because you can and want to doesn't mean you should.
  30. I wish I could be more bold.
  31. Life is a whole lot funnier than we want to admit.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

HIRI: What Did You Expect? by Paul David Tripp

A few thoughts and points from What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage by Paul David Tripp

Quotable: "You can probably name only two or three life-changing situations you have lived through. We are all the same; the character and quality of our life is forged in little moments. Every day we lay little bricks on the foundation of what our life will be. The bricks of words said, the bricks of actions taken, the bricks of little decisions, the bricks of little thoughts, and the bricks of small-moment desires all work together to form the functional edifice that is your marriage." (p58)

What I Liked: Reread the quote above.  That thought alone, applied to any area of your life, is worth the book's weight in Gold. I love that concept as it is one to live your whole life by, and especially so in marriage.  I also liked his discussion of self-love verses true-love and how we often confuse the two (in chapter 11).

What I Didn't Like: Nearly every chapter had a negative example of a marriage gone awry. I felt like each example was extreme.  I think the author's point was that any marriage can go really bad if we don't work on it.  But the extremity of the examples made it hard for me to personally apply the truth in the book.  Almost without trying I would think: "Well compared to that marriage I'm not doing too bad." I realize that's partly on me, but still some less extreme examples would have been nice.

2013 Personal Impact Ranking: 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Write Stuff Down

I'll tip my hand.

If I tell you something and you say "Wait, let me write that down" I'm going to think you know what you're doing and you're someone I can rely on.

The truth is we all have thousands of things coming our way everyday.  To simply say, "I'll remember that" doesn't give me a lot of confidence that you will.

I think if I had to hire 10 people out of 1000, I'd start narrowing it down by the people who write down things they need to remember.

I know you have a lot of techy options available to you.  But start writing stuff down and see where it takes you.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The truth about multi-tasking

"I'm good at multi-tasking."

That may be a true statement.

But if one of the tasks you're attempting is communication with another human being, it's false.

I've never seen effective communication that's not a single-task focus.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

HIRI: How and When to Tell Your Kids about Sex by Stan and Brenna Jones

A few thoughts and points from How and When to Tell Your Kids about Sex by Stan and Brenna Jones:

Quotable: "Sexual sins are not great sins but they are bigger temptations in our current society and seem to have greater short and long term consequences." (pg 8)

What I Liked: This book covered a lot.  I will be keeping it around and probably re-reading and re-using it until all of my kids are out of the house.  There might be a topic they didn't hit on when it comes to talking to your kids about sex, but I sure can't think of any.

What I Didn't Like:  At times the book was dry and long.  It took me the better part of a year to read it, as I would often "jump" to another book that was more engaging.  That said, I'm glad I did read it.

Takeaway: Be engaged with your kids. Be friends with your kids. Ask good questions.  (Nothing revolutionary here, but this book was a good reminder of how important it is to do the basics right.)

2013 Personal Impact Ranking: 
  1. T4T by Steve Smith
  2. What Jesus Started by Steve Addison*
  3. Stop Stealing Dreams by Seth Godin*
  4. How and When to Tell Your Kids about Sex by Stan and Brenna Jones*
*I own this one and you'd be welcome to borrow it.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Declaration of Independence

I'm not sure where my letter to the president ended up, but regardless, you should give the Declaration of Independence a read today:


IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Coffee 101

I try not to be a coffee snob, I really do, but every year I come across enough coffee no-nos that I feel like this post is necessary.

Raise your right hand and pledge to the following:

  • I will use between a 1/2 cup of grounds and 1 cup of grounds for a standard 12 cup coffee maker. 
  • I will research french presses, pour overs, and other specialty brewing methods before using them.
  • I will never, under any circumstances, brew coffee that is over 6 months old.
  • I will never refer to a Starbucks Frappucino as "coffee".

A few others: 
If your coffee tastes bad, it probably is.
Combination coffee shops and Mexican restaurants are bad idea.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Stop Stealing Resources

I recently reviewed a book Seth Godin wrote a called "Stop Stealing Dreams: What is school for?"

I'd like to see something... even a blog post... titled: "Stop Stealing Resources: What is Vacation Bible School for?"

Now, by asking that I'm not saying we should do away with VBS (and neither was Seth Godin proposing removing school).  I'm simply asking the question any church with a VBS should be asking and answering: What is Vacation Bible School for?

For the amount of volunteer hours and money involved, let's make sure we have a purpose.

... and that we're actually accomplishing that purpose.

(Okay, I've meddled enough, back to your scheduled summer silence.)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Lessons from a scary night

So a scary thing happened recently.  My son Adrian was bit by a neighbor's dog.  Twice.  Once near his ear.

By God's grace he's totally fine.  A bruise, a scare and a couple cuts, but totally fine.  (Parents are still recovering.)

Here's my thoughts:

How you react in adverse situations speaks about your relationship with Jesus.  Anyone can react kindly to their neighbors when they keep their lawn neat and tidy and never have any issues.  But how do you react when your kid gets bit by the neighbor's dog? 

Tough circumstances show who you really are, who you truly follow and what's on the inside.

Nothing new here, but the lessons hit home when it's you.

Monday, May 27, 2013

A Letter to the President

I'm submitting the following letter to the President (via the White House Correspondence page).  If you read and agree, please do the same.

Dear Mr. President, 
Nearly 237 years ago the founding fathers of America signed the Declaration of Independence.  It was a bold and daring document, committing them to the cause of American freedom.
Today, generations later, most Americans know that there is a Declaration of Independence but  few have knowledge of it's actual content.  Outside of hearing it once or twice in school (or maybe just hearing about it) our interaction with this important document is non-existent.
In one of her books, Laura Ingalls Wilder writes of the tradition of a public reading of the Declaration each Fourth of July in the town square.  The yearly reminder of the cause American freedom served to unite the people and put petty matters into perspective. 
I would like to ask you to renew that tradition on a national level.
This Fourth of July, could you publicly read the Declaration of Independence?  It's time for all Americans to be reminded of this important document and to remember that their was a time when we didn't have the freedoms we have today.
I look forward to your response, but even more, I look forward to hearing you on the Fourth of July.
Respectfully, 
Peter Lindell

If you're on board with the President starting the tradition of reading the Declaration of Independence every Fourth of July, please 1) copy the content above and submit it to him on the White House Correspondence page and 2) forward or share this with anyone else you think would be interested. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

HIRI: Stop Stealing Dreams by Seth Godin

A few thoughts and points from Stop Stealing Dreams by Seth Godin:

Quotable: "Every year we church out millions of workers who are trained to do 1925-style labor." (#3)
"The universal truth is beyond question - the only people who excel are those who have decided to do so. Great doctors or speakers or skiers or writers or musicians are great because somewhere along the way, they made the choice." (#27)

What I Liked: Seth didn't pull any punches.  He laid out why our current schooling system is broken.  He offered some solutions to fix it.  The book was both informative and challenging.  If you have a kid in school, you should read it.  (And I mean any kind of school: public, private, Christian, homeschool, etc).  And why not?  It's free.

What I Didn't Like:  I can't imagine a book on this subject that I would agree with 100%.  Maybe not even if I wrote it.  There is so much to consider and so much change needed in the system, that it was almost inevitable I wouldn't like some of Seth's suggestions.  That being said, the dialogue (both internally and with others who have read it) is worth having.

2013 Personal Impact Ranking: 
  1. T4T by Steve Smith
  2. What Jesus Started by Steve Addison*
  3. Stop Stealing Dreams by Seth Godin*
*I own this one and you'd be welcome to borrow it.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Feedback on Partner Like Paul

Here is a blurb written on Partner Like Paul by CCCA (the Christian Camp & Conference Association):
Peter “Pheaney” Lindell, program director at Camp of Champions USA, has written a how-to guide for fundraising. Starting with a review of Bible passages as a foundation, the book continues with how to develop a list of contacts and how to approach prospective donors. The book is breezy, simple, straight-forward and eminently usable by young people who need to raise support for a summer of ministry. 

I wish I was smart enough to write a description like that!  You can still find the book at partnerlikepaul.pheaney.com

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Summer Posting Schedule

Since I started this blog my goal has been to have a post ready to go every Monday and Thursday morning.  Overall I've held to that goal, which has been a really good experience overall.

Last summer however, I realized that I was prioritizing blogging over more important things.

So starting now and going through September 2nd, my blogging is going to be a little more erratic.  I have a few posts already planned (I'm especially excited about a Fourth of July special).  But it's also possible you won't hear from me again until September.

Until then, follow Jesus and make disciples of Him.

Monday, April 29, 2013

How do we judge spiritual maturity?

I've talked about this with a few you, but it keeps running through my head so I thought it was worth posting.

How do we judge spiritual maturity?  Here are two ways that aren't so good, followed by a better way.

Knowledge-based maturity.  This is the idea that the more you know about Jesus, God and the Bible, the more spiritually mature you are.  What's the problem with it?  James 2:19 tells us that even Demons believe in God.  First Corinthians 8:1 reminds us that knowledge makes us feel important, but love is what actual strengthens the church.  Knowledge-based maturity is everywhere in American Christianity.  The point of most teachings and sermons is to get you to know something you didn't, with the hope that you'll understand it, therefore making you more mature.  There's a thread of truth here, because we are called to know and understand our great God, but if it only stops with mental knowledge then we've missed the point.

Service-based maturity.  This one is sneaky.  It says the more you serve both in and and outside of the church, the more spiritually mature you are.  The problem is that you can serve with poor motives.  You can serve well in one are of your life and ignore some major sin issues in other areas.  (Does it matter how faithfully you usher every Sunday morning if you don't love your wife as God calls you to?)  Again, the truth is that God often calls us to sacrificial service of others, but the point is not the service as much as it is obeying God's call.  (oops, tipped my hand.)

Obedience-based maturity.  Answer this: What has God called you to do and are you doing it?  God might be calling you to learn more and He might be calling you to serve more, but the point is obeying God's call.  Who are Jesus' friends?  Those who do what he commands (John 15:14).

What's the point?  I alluded to it earlier.  Most everything in American Christianity misses obedience-based maturity.  When's the last time you were asked (after any sort of workshop or sermon or teaching): What are you going to do with what you learned?  Even better, when was their follow-up to see if you actually kept your word?

Mature disciples obey Jesus.  Looks like we all have a long way to go.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

PLP: Follow Up

Last in a fundraising series based on my book: Partner Like Paul.

Step 1: Start with the Bible
Step 2: Who?
Step 3: 1st Contact
Step 4: The Ask

Step 5: Follow Up
Messages have been sent.  Asks have been made. Your fundraising work is done right?
Not quite.  Not-at-all actually.  Here are some oh-so-important steps to keep in mind.

Prayer: First of all, thank God for those who are supporting you through prayer and finances.  But second, find out how you can pray for those people.  This is where fundraising can be shown to be more than just a one way cash grab.  If you really care for the relationships you asked for help, you'll show it.

Thanks: This is so simple, yet so important.  Thank those that are supporting you, specifically and directly.

Update: Provide updates to God's work.  If this was a short-term trip or a one-time fundraiser, those who supported you deserve to know how it went.  If you're fundraising for the long-haul, keeping them updated about God at work in your ministry is one of the best ways to keep them giving to your ministry.  The frequency of your updates really depends on you, but as a general rule the more often you update partners, the better.

Ask Again?  IF you need more financial support, clearly explain what and why in one of your ongoing updates.  If God has provided for your needs, let your partners know that!  You'll gain their trust by letting them know when you're needs have been met.

That's it! Find the whole book at: partnerlikepaul.pheaney.com

Monday, April 22, 2013

Ways we should be more like Kelton...

It's been crazy to me how many of my family members have had birthdays fall on a Monday or a Thursday recently.  In keeping with the tradition, our youngest Lindell, Kelton, turns one today.

Can we learn something from a one-year old?  I'm thinking we can.  Here are a couple things that jump to mind:

Don't limit yourself.  Kelton is an expert at using anything and everything as a toy.  He certainly doesn't limit himself to the box of 'one-year old items' that we put in front of him to entertain him.  Once he's experienced those he moves on to whatever he can get his hands on.

Enjoy a hug with the ones you love.  We have a family tradition of praying before our day starts, and then ending in a big group hug.  He enjoys the hug so much that he literally jumps out of our arms to get it started. We should all enjoy our family that much.

Whatever age you may be, live and love well today.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

PLP: The Ask

Fourth in a fundraising series based on my book: Partner Like Paul.

Step 1: Start with the Bible
Step 2: Who?
Step 3: 1st Contact

Step 4: The Ask
Alright... if you've gotten this far there's no turning back now.  Here are some areas to consider when asking for financial support:

Prayer:  Is this getting redundant?  Too bad, you (and I) really should pray more.  I am continually amazed at how God provides for very real needs when we take the time to pray.  In this situation, the need is a certain amount of funds that need to be raised.  Pray that God will use his people to provide that.

Method:  How did people respond when you made your 1st Contact?  Do you feel that the method you chose then was effective to get your message out?  Consider those questions as you choose what method you would use to communicate now.  Most people choose a paper letter here, and there's nothing wrong with that.  This is just a call to think critically and see if there are other methods that may be more effective.

Message: Here's what you need to include in that message.
- A story of God working in what you're doing.
- A picture (or two or three). They can be of you or your ministry in action or the people you are serving. But please, put in a picture!
- An ask for prayer. Nearly every 'support letter' has one of these, but sometimes they don't feel genuine.  They feel like "Here's my token ask for prayer so I can ask for the real thing..  MONEY" sort of asks.  How do you avoid that?  I think the best way is to get them signed up for a prayer team that you can update regularly.  That is at least one way to prove you are serious about wanting them to pray.
 - An ask for financial support.  This was the whole reason you started on this fundraising journey in the first place.  So go ahead and ask.  Give them a clear and easy way to respond.  But Ask.

The next step is Follow Up, but if you can't wait until then, find my book at: partnerlikepaul.pheaney.com

Monday, April 15, 2013

A dedication worth remembering

I don't normally pay much attention to the dedications found in front of books.  But in a recent book we were reading to our kids, I came across this one:

To Peter,
who makes the thoughts clearer,
the words truer,
the moments richer

Obviously the name caught my eye.  Beyond that, what a challenge for how you live!  I'd love to be known as a person who does those things for anyone I'm around.

I'll let you steal this challenge as well, even if your name isn't Peter.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

PLP: 1st Contact

Third in a fundraising series based on my book: Partner Like Paul.

Step 1: Start with the Bible
Step 2: Who?

Step 3: 1st Contact
Your fundraising strategy now comes around to getting in touch with the list of relationships you've brainstormed.

Prayer:  Really.  Pray for this initial interaction.  Pray that the people you're reaching out to will be 'all ears'.  Pray that God could open their hearts to hear from you about the work he is doing.

Methods: There are so many communication methods out there today.  Which is the most effective method (or methods) for you to use?  Most people assume that sending a paper letter through the postal service is the most effective way to get your message read.  It might be (and I'm not saying that it isn't.)  But this step requires some critical thinking about the type of people you're contacting, how much time you have to contact them, how you want them to respond, etc.

Message:  Whatever correspondence you choose, there are a few things you want to make sure you include in this message:  a) Your description of God at work in what you're doing (from step 2).  b) A short explanation of the financial need. c) A way for the receiver of the message to respond.  Give them the opportunity to opt-in, opt-out, or something.

The next step is The Ask (and could be combined with this step), but if you can't wait until then, find my book at: partnerlikepaul.pheaney.com

Monday, April 8, 2013

A lesson from the Kings of Judah

King Asa: He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord (1 Kings 15:11).  He did not remove the high places that the people used for worship (1 Kings 15:14).  At the end of his reign he was "diseased in his feet" (1 Kings 15:23).

King Jehoshaphat: He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord (1 Kings 22:43)  He did not remove the high places that the people used for worship (1 Kings 22:43).  At the end of his reign he had a whole fleet of ships destroyed (2 Chronicles 20:35-37).

King Joash (or Jehoash): He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord (2 Kings 12:2)  He did not remove the high places that the people used for worship (2 Kings 12:3).  At the end of his reign he was murdered (2 Kings 12:19-20).

Side Note: High Places were where the people of Israel worshiped false Gods.  God had commanded they all be destroyed (Deuteronomy 12)

King Amaziah: He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord (2 Kings 14:3)  He did not remove the high places that the people used for worship (2 Kings 14:4).  At the end of his reign he was taken captive in battle (2 Kings 14:11-14).


King Uzziah (or Azariah): He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord (2 Kings 15:3)  He did not remove the high places that the people used for worship (2 Kings 15:4).  At the end of his reign he was struck with leprosy (2 Kings 14:11-14).

King Jotham: He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord (2 Kings 15:34)  He did not remove the high places that the people used for worship (2 Kings 15:35).  At the end of his reign he was in a war with two enemy kings allied against him (2 Kings 15:37).

Feel free to check my work on this, but the pattern here is nearly undeniable.  My takeaway:

Doing what is right on your own but not having any regard for the people around you and how they are following God leaves a lot to be desired.

King Hezekiah: He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord (2 Kings 18:3)  He did remove the high places that the people used for worship (2 Kings 18:4).  At the end of his reign he was given 15 extra years to live and reign (2 Kings 20:6).

Thursday, April 4, 2013

BOOR April 2012: A Dangerous Book

Here is my Best Of Online Reading from April of lat year.  Steve Addison posted it on his blog, but since he took it from somewhere else, I figured I would repost the whole thing as well.  Careful reading, it might be convicting!

Kierkegaard on the risk we take when we allow ordinary people to gather around the Scriptures and ask, “How can we obey what we are learning?”
The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly.
Take any word in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. ‘My God,’ you will say, ‘if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world?’ Here in lies the real place of Christian scholarship.
Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.
Søren Kierkegaard, Provocations, 201.

Monday, April 1, 2013

PLP: Who?

Step 1: Start with the Bible

Step 2: Who?
When it comes to a Biblical fundraising strategy, who do we start with?

Pray: We start with God!  Quick story: A few years back I was praying that God would show me who I should ask about donating to my support.  I had been regularly seeking God with this request for a few weeks.  Then, one Sunday a couple at my church approached me and asked me for permission to give to my support.  It was hilarious, ironic and so like God!  (This same story has happened multiple times to me.)  So... Pray!

Brainstorm:  This might be the tedious part of the job, but whenever you fundraise you need to sit down and come up with a list of contacts relationships.  There's two things you need to keep in mind with these relationships:
1) You need to actually have a relationship with them.
2) You could see them potentially having an interest in God's work.

The last section in this step is writing an answer to this question: How is God working in what he has called me to do and called me to raise money for?  If you can explain that in a short paragraph, you're already well on your way to communicating with the list of relationships you just brainstormed.

The next step is 1st Contact, but if you can't wait until then, find my book at: partnerlikepaul.pheaney.com

Thursday, March 28, 2013

No Experts Please

We don't necessarily need more experts.  

We need people who know enough to start, with a strong desire to do excellent work and to continuing learning more.

In the last couple of months, my boss* has commented on two people who have been a big help to him as he looks to them for advice in his role at Camp of Champions.  What stood out to me is that he specifically mentioned these two individuals were not experts in their specific field, they merely knew enough to get started.  What they had over the experts however, is a strong desire to do excellent work equally matched with a desire to continually learn more.

Why is that type of person better than an expert?  Lots of reasons, but mostly because they are more teachable, approachable and humble.

What does that mean for you?

It means that we don't need you to be an expert.  We need you to know enough to start, and have a strong desire to do excellent work and to continue learning more.


*Thanks Brad!

Monday, March 25, 2013

What Did Jesus Do?

You've probably heard about WWJD? (What Would Jesus Do?)

And I've blogged a bit about WWJB? (What Would Jesus Buy?)

In my recent read of What Jesus Started, I was reminded of an even more important question:

WDJD?* (What Did Jesus Do?)

What Did Jesus Do to share the gospel and make disciples?

Becaause that's what we should do.  I met a college-age friend recently and we came up with these three things off the top of our heads:
  1. Spent time with his disciples
  2. He lived out the way of life he wanted them to live
  3. He challenged them to do the same
I know Jesus did more than that, but I think that's a pretty accurate starting list.

If this is what Jesus did to make disciples, what are we doing?  What should we change?

*But please, no bracelets.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

HIRI: What Jesus Started by Steve Addison

A few thoughts and points from What Jesus Started by Steve Addison:

Quotable: "Someone brought the gospel message to you, to whom are you taking the gospel?" p12
"After thirteen years the church had around one hundred people attending, but it was no longer growing. People were not sharing their faith. They just attended Sunday church services." p169 (Note: This was not a 'good' quote, just a convicting one.)

What I Liked: The simple straight forward organization.  Steve uses a simple diagram to show that Jesus, the 12 Apostles, and Paul were essentially doing the same thing to propel the Gospel missionary movement.  He then shows how people are still doing those things today, and with great results.

What I Liked II: The call to connect.  This was a fresh look at all of the outward focused connecting that Jesus and the apostles did.  More than a reminder, it was a challenge to be disciple who is always connecting with people everywhere I go.

What I Didn't Like: Nothing to write about here.

Bonus:  Steve is a great example of why any author (and probably most any person) should blog.  To be honest, I was not overly impressed with Steve's first book (Movements that Change the World).  However, after I finished that book a few years ago I started following his blog.  On that blog I read about his journey from a writer about movements of God, to a worker in them.  His example was both inspiring and challenging.  After following his journey over the last few years I couldn't not read his book.  I had to.  Great job Steve.

2013 Personal Impact Ranking: 
  1. T4T by Steve Smith
  2. What Jesus Started by Steve Addison*
*I own this one and you'd be welcome to borrow it.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Marty, Where you going?

March has been keeping me behind the proverbial 8-ball.  So in lieu of new content, I thought I'd post some lyrics.  It's a long song, but I'll bold the parts that stick out to me.  If you are Marty or know someone like him, please see this free advice to 18-25 year old males.


Marty where you going? Whatcha going to?
Whats the point in not conforming if it changes you?
When this world runs out of answers would you even know?
Does the truth have any bearing on which way you go?

He took the bus to Santa Cruz, he hitchkhiked to LA
A preacherman picked him up and drove him half the way
He said theres two kinds of people that I've met:
Those who ask the questions and those who dont ask questions yet
Then he turned asking Marty which one that he thought he was
Marty shrugged and shook his head forgetting what the question was

You'd do almost almost anything someone told you not to do
Just because someone else told you it was cool
Remember long ago when someone said to get a life
Did you ever think they might be right?

Marty was a rebel never had a cause
It may be stupid and cliche but thats because he was
He spent his whole life straying from the norm
He was neither hot or cold just boring and lukewarm
It didnt seem to bother him he didnt seem to mind
His cathartic life just buried somewhere in the timeline

from Marty by Five Iron Frenzy