Thursday, December 30, 2010

A new kind of countdown

If you're like most people there's a good chance you will count down the seconds until 2011 just before midnight tomorrow.

Isn't it ironic that we don't pay attention to the passing of 2010 until there's less than 30 seconds left?  Wouldn't it have been better to have a countdown clock running all year?

I only ask this because recently my wife and I started counting the days until our kids turn 18.  (No, we're not eagerly anticipating them leaving!)  We wanted to be a little more aware of how little time we actually have with our kids.  We chose 18 as the target age for turning our boys into men.  As of today Jackson (my oldest son) only has 4999 days left.

I have been amazed at how this countdown makes me so conscious of parenting.  Nearly every day I think about how little time I have and I am inspired to use that time as best as I possibly can.

So for this New Year's Eve, what countdown do you need to start?  What do you need to pay more attention to?

Days this year?  Days until you graduate?  Days until you die?  (Okay, you can't actually figure out that last one, but I do know that I have 17030 days until I hit the average life expectancy of an American male.)

Anybody can count down seconds until the new year, but why not be more conscious of the passing of time?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Do you believe God wants many people saved now?

"Do you believe God wants many people saved now?"

This is the question that keeps rattling around in my brain.  I first heard it on this 20 minute interview.

If you've got a little time over this Christmas break, I encourage you to listen to this interview.  I'm still not sure what changes are coming to to the way I share Jesus and make disciples, but based on the above question I know that something needs to give.  As the interview reveals:
  • I don't think we can answer 'no.' 
  • But can we honestly answer 'yes' and keep living, witnessing, and disciple-making like we currently are? 

(Thanks to Steve Addison of Movements that Change the World for conducting this interview and giving me something to think about.)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Book Recap Part 3

Here are the three books that I read in 2010 that had the most impact on me.  Before I start, let me make sure that it does NOT go without being said: The Bible impacted me way more than any of these.  I read it (nearly) daily this past year and I continue to find it inspiring and challenging.  I consider the Bible to be the most important book that I own.

Without further ado:

How the Mighty Fall by Jim Collins   I loved Good to Great by Collins, but I read it after the 2008 financial meltdown (in which two of the good to great companies, Circuit City and Fannie Mae fell dramatically.)  As the title suggests, Collins takes a look at those companies (and others) and tries to give a systematic explanation of how the great become not-so-great (or even obsolete).  He does a great job.  There are specific things you can look for within an organization to see if it is headed towards or already in a state of decline.  That is incredibly useful.  (It is also terrifying to me, because a lot of decline stems from poor leadership.  Bottom line: I need to seek to be a great leader.)

Hurt by Chap Clark I read this book because my wife and I volunteer with the student ministries at our church organization.  It was tremendous.  Just reading it gave me a bigger heart for teenagers.  Clark makes the case that as a society we have abandoned our teens to live and learn on their own.  The bulk of the book is a brutal description of the toll that that abandonment has taken on the lives of real kids.  You should read this book.

Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp  Maybe it's no surprise that a book on parenting is the book with the most impact from 2010.  If you are a parent I would go so far as to say you need to read this book.  It is the best description of Biblical parenting principles I have found.  I think a lot of my specific takeaways from this book will come out in a "parenting plan" that my wife and I are putting together.  (One aspect of that plan: reviewing this book each year.)

So here's the challenge:
If you're like me and you read 10+ books a year, hopefully my book recaps give you a little more knowledge and help you focus your reading.  (Maybe they'll save you from reading a lame book and help you decide to read a great one.)

If you're not like me in that you read less than 2 books a year on your own free will... what have you got to lose?  Pick one of these three and go for it.  (Just let me know, so I can cheer for you.)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Using Technology (Version 1.Busy)

I'm not that busy.  I'm really not.  Especially compared to some folks that I know.  But during times of my life that I'm busiER I tend to waste time getting used by technology.  (For me those times are mainly the months of May through August when COCUSA's summer camp is in session.)  So below is a repost of my plan to use technology instead of getting used.  I'm planning to test-drive this plan during the next two weeks while the Camp of Champions Winter Camp program is underway.  My goal is to spend more time with kids and staff and less time in the proverbial (and often literal) office.

Now that being said, I don't feel like we can jump ship on e-mail, facebook, and texting (even during busy times) because so much personal and relational communication happens over these mediums today.  But to make sure I'm not the one getting used, I'm drawing the following lines in the proverbial sands of Silicon Valley.


  • Line 1: Personally respond to as many people as possible, keeping in mind that not all e-mail you receive comes from people.
  • Line 2: Punch out responses to e-mails once a day.  Pick a time and stick with it. (I've just started testing Gmail's Priority Inbox.  And so far I like it.  So I'm actually only going to respond to those messages labeled "Important" once a day.  And save everything else for once a week.)
  • Line 3: Keep it simple.  Review and its accompanying websites.
  • Line 4: If you find yourself giving the same responses to multiple people, consider using an e-mail template (ie Gmail's "Canned Responses").
  • Line 5: Be nice! Say please and thank you. Ask for prayer requests. Ask questions related to your previous knowledge of the person and their circumstances.
  • Line 6: Use an RSS reader program to keep your Inbox clear of newsletters, blog updates, etc. (My personal favorite is Google Reader.  But seeing how this can be a big distraction and lead me to read a million other internet articles, I'm going to only check my reader at home during these next 2 weeks.)
  • Line 1: Make 1 list of Friends to Invest In.  Set a limit of how many friends this will be.  (I've done this and currently I daily check in on 100 Facebook friends through my home page feed.  Although during a busy time I don't need to be daily checking Facebook.  So I'm going to try subscribing to SMS updates for an even smaller number of Friends.  We'll see how it goes.)
  • Line 2: Provide occasional status updates about life and ministry via text message.
  • Line 3: Don't spend any additional time on Facebook, as it has the tendency to suck you in.
  • Line 4: Use Google reader and/or SMS for notifications so you don't feel the need to check back in to Facebook multiple times each day.
  • Line 5: Be very judicious about who you accept as friends, especially when it comes to females.  If your wife would raise her eyebrows at who you accepted, don't do it.

Cell Phone
  • Line 1: Have 'no texting' times.  For me this means put the phone out of site from 5-8pm.
  • Line 2: Prioritize the people in front of you over the random person calling.

Do you have any busier times in your life?  What's your plan to use the technology, without getting used?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

2010 Book Recap Part 2

Another run down of books that I read this past year, listed in order from those that impacted me the most to those that impacted me the least. (Part I is here.)

Wild at Heart by John Eldredge*  I had read this book previously, but now that I'm responsible to raise three boys I thought it was time for a re-read.  It doesn't give you a ton of specific takeaways.  But it provides an excellent challenge to raise boys to be men, while at the same time not ruining their masculine 'boyishness'.  (If that's even a word.)

Movements that Change the World by Steve Addison* I have to be honest that this book didn't blow me away, but Steve's continued blogging on the subject has provided some extra impact.  The book is a great reminder of how God can do amazing things through people sold out to him.  The blog is challenging me right now because it shares stories of those amazing things happening right now. 

Pastor Dad by Mark Driscoll+  I read this book along with four other Christian fathers.  It was a great discussion starter for us as we dialogued what it looks like to be a dad who leads his kids to Jesus.  It's a really short read, so I would highly encourage it to any guy with any desire to marry and have kids. 

Desiring God by John Piper*  To be honest, I'm surprised that I didn't list this book higher.  At least, for all of the great things I had heard about it I expected it to end up at the top of the list.  It didn't, and I think that's because there were times where it makes following Jesus a little too complicated.  (That may just be me, as I can be a bit of a simpleton.)  My biggest takeaway (ironically from one of the appendices) was when Piper discussed and defended the complete sovereignty of God.  It was an excellent, concise work on the subject.

Sexual Detox by Tim Challies+  I and three college guys (COCUSA staff) read this book over the course of the summer, meeting weekly to discuss each chapter.  I highly recommend it to any guy seeking to live with purity in our over-sexed culture.  It made it easy for us to discuss some normally "off-the-table" topics, as well as personally challenging me in my battle against sexual temptation.

Come back soon to hear the final three books that impacted me more than any others.

*I own these books and would love to lend/give them to you. Just holler at me.
+These books are free online. Just follow the links.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Why Christmas Still Amazes Me

This is a text version of the mini-sermon I delivered yesterday at the Pekin Bible Church service.  It's a little bit longer of a blog post, but I'd love to hear what you think of it.

I don’t know about you, but I just love Christmas.  I really like the whole holiday season in general.  Some of my favorites are: making hot chocolate, coming inside to a nice warm house or building, the little dustings of snow that make everything pretty, It’s a Wonderful Life, eggnog, How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  I could go on and on...

By far though, one of the best parts of this time of year is that my kids get to wear zip up, full body footy pajamas.  Can you picture what I’m talking about?   If you haven’t had kids for a while, the closest thing in the adult world is a Snuggie, those blankets with the arms, but even they pale in comparison.  In these footy pajamas the only things not wrapped in cuddly warmth are their heads and their hands.  It is just adorable.  Kids don’t get much cuter than when they’re in footy pajamas. 

Adrian, my middle son, about to turn 3, has been fun to watch this year because even though he was old enough to do all of the winter and Christmas traditions last year, he was young enough to not remember it.  So this year, everything is brand new to him.  The Christmas lights, the trees, the first snowfall (you know, where you want to go sledding with 1/16th of an inch of snow on the ground).  I just love the wonder in his eyes.  And the best example of this is the first time this winter when he got to put on footy pajamas.  You could just see in his face this wonder and amazement.  As if he was saying: “What are these amazing pajamas?  Wait, my feet go in them?  And they zip all the way up to my neck?”  He watched awe-struck as I zipped them up, paused for a moment in sheer delight, and then trotted off his usual happy-go-lucky self.

He was amazed by something as simple as Pajamas.  How quickly that gets lost on us adults.  And I’m not taking about any of us fitting into zip up footy pajamas.  The older I get the more I tend to brush to the side things which use to amaze me.  What about you?  What about Christmas?  Do remember the Christmas story?  It’s absolutely amazing!  Do we even listen to it anymore?  Or is it just “Jesus is born, shepherds, angels, wisemen... can we speed this up? I have decorations shopping, football and a million other things to get to.”

The basics of the Christmas story are ridiculous and awesome all at the same time.  Jesus Christ was born.  You will not find one serious historian who will challenge the fact that Jesus lived on this earth 2000 years ago.  None.  That’s awesome. Jesus was born to a virgin.  That’s amazing.  Jesus was born where animals were staying.  That’s borderline ridiculous, yet really cool at the same time.  Jesus was...  

Well, I don’t want to spoil the whole thing just yet.  First I wanted to share with you what I find to be the most amazing thing about the Christmas story.  It can be found in Philippians 2:5-11.

Verse 5: Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.  Paul is basically saying ‘Be like Christ’
Verse 6: Who, though he was in the form of God,  To quote from an online study Bible: “The Greek term translated form indicates a correspondence with reality. Thus the meaning of this phrase is that Christ was truly God.”  Still with me?
Who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped.  So here we just jumped into the deep end of the theological swimming pool... God is one, yet exists eternally in 3 persons.  We call them The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit.  In that unexplainable union, those three persons have a perfect relationship.  One aspect of this relationship is that the Son submits to the Father, he “does not count equality with God a thing to be grasped.”

Verse 7: But made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. That’s it.  There’s the Christmas story in one verse.  And the most amazing part of it too!  God submitted himself, humbled himself and became a man.  The scholars call this amazing phenomenon the Hypostatic Union.  I only throw that term out in case you need to make dinner conversation at a Christmas party this month: “So, how do you feel about the Hypostatic union?”  That might not go very far as a conversation starter, but personally I think the concept is awesome.  Here it is: God the Son (100% completely God) humbled himself and became a man (100% humanity just like you and I).   And was born as a baby!  That’s it.  The wonder of it.

But Paul doesn’t stop there, and to tell the truth, neither does the Christmas story.  
Verse 8: And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  The reason Jesus came to earth wasn't so we could have Christmas, he came to die.  And that death (of the perfect God/man) paid the penalty that I owe to God for my sin (and you for yours).

Verse 9-11: Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the father.
We’re all going to bow to Jesus, we just have to choose when and where.  You can choose today (on earth) to humble yourself and follow him (if you do so, you’ll have that blessing of continuing to follow him in heaven after you die).  If you don’t choose on earth, then you’ll be one of those under the earth, but it won’t be as fun.  The Bible teaches clearly that those who refuse Jesus go to hell, completely separate from God and others forever.  But even people in hell will acknowledge that Jesus is Lord.

I could say, which will you choose?  But I’m going to say: Which are you choosING?  Today, are you choosing to humble yourself and follow Christ as your Lord, or are you choosing to follow something or someone else?  If you've never chosen to bow your knee to Christ before and follow him... what better day than today?  Ask me about it.

Lastly, I want to ask you to reclaim the wonder in the Christmas story.  Don’t be amazed by the concept of Christmas, because it carries a lot of baggage here in America. But specifically be in wonder at the Biblical Christmas story.  

And you know the best way to do that?  Read it!  (I'll get you a Bible if you want one!)  Listed below are 10 readings, so with only 13 days till Christmas, you can even take a day or two off.

If you’ve lost the wonder in Christmas... isn't it time to get it back?

Christmas Reading:
1. Luke 1:26-38
2. Luke 1:39-56
3. Matthew 1:18-25
4. Philippians 2:5-11
5. Galatians 4:3-7
6. Luke 2:1-21
7. Luke 2:22-40
8. Matthew 2:1-12
9. Matthew 2:13-23
10. John 1:1-18

Thursday, December 9, 2010

2010 Book Recap, Part I

I've already posted about the audio books I listened to this past year.

Here's the rundown of the good ol' paper books I've read.  (No e-reader yet.)  There are in order from the books that impacted me the least to those that impacted me the most.  Keep in mind that I'm not you, so naturally we might feel differently about different books and different topics.

REVEAL Study by Greg L. Hawkins and Cally Parkinson*  This was the study put out by Willow Creek regarding church organizations and personal spiritual growth.  I think it is valuable that they did this study, but most of the results seemed obvious to me.  One example of the obvious: "Spiritual growth is not related to church involvement, but a personal relationship with Jesus." (p54).  It's almost laughable that this fact had to be revealed in a study... but I am glad that it was 'discovered'.

Simple Church by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger The sub title of this book ("Returning to God's process for making disiciples") was why I wanted to read it.  Unfortunately, a more accurate sub title would have been "Finding easy processes for making disciples."  One the plus side, there were some cool stories and practical ideas for church organizations.  But there was no study and explanation of Biblical disciple-making, so that was a bummer.

First Comes Love, Then Comes Money by Scott and Bethany Palmer  Personally I didn't gain a lot from this book.  Brittany and I apparently have a very boring financial relationship compared to some.  And I'll be striving to keep it that way based on the stories in this book.  I would recommend it to any newlyweds (or newly engaged couples) as well as married couples who are having regular disagreements about money.

On Becoming Baby Wise by Gary Ezzo* I attempted to read this just before our third son was born.  I'm a little bit of a sleep-a-holic, so getting our new baby to sleep well (and quickly) was essential.  I would highly recommend it to any expecting parents.  (That being said, luckily my wife also read the book and was way more on top of the nursing routine than I was... and understandably so.)

Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky  Again the sub title of a book caught my eye: "The Power of Organizing without Organizations."  This is basically a look at social media and how it can be crazy powerful (both for good and bad.)  It was a pretty fun read.  My biggest take away was the story of a book from 1492: De Laude Scriptorum.  But you'll have to come to my TRAINing Disciples seminar to hear it.

Part II will be coming soon with more books.  Stay tuned!
    *I own these books and would love to lend/give them to you.  Just holler at me.

    Monday, December 6, 2010

    Future Steps

    I realize I may never read these numbers... and I'm fine with that.  But I did want a plan in place should this thing 'take off'.

    • @ 100 followers post a survey to see what my readers are looking for.
    • @ 200 followers start a Facebook Page  (If Facebook is still popular by the time I would reach 200 followers, because it may take awhile.)
    • @ 500 followers get a professional proof reader, update design and URL
    • @ 1000 followers I think I can do some serious monetization while keeping my main content free, although I'm not sure what.

    Thursday, December 2, 2010

    A Bizarro Inspirational Quote

    This is sort of a backwards inspirational quote.  But I think you'll like it.  It's from a professor of biology at Harvard University. His name is Dr. George Wald. He won the Nobel Prize in 1967 in physiology or medicine.  (So he knew a thing or two).

    “When it comes to the origin of life we have only two possibilities as to how life arose. One is spontaneous generation arising to evolution. The other is a supernatural creative act of God. There is no third possibility. . . . Spontaneous generation was scientifically disproved 100 years ago by Louis Pasteur, Spellanzani, Reddy, and others. That leads us scientifically to only one possible conclusion—that life arose as a supernatural creative act of God. I will not accept that philosophically because I do not want to believe in God. Therefore I choose to believe in that which I know is scientifically impossible, spontaneous generation arising to evolution.”
    You can verify that I didn't make this up here:

    Monday, November 29, 2010

    A statement of monetization

    I wanted to go on the record and explain any and all ways that I'm 'monetizing' this site.  For those of you who (like me) think monetization is a silly word, you're not alone.  Basically, this will let you know that I'm not attempting to do anything cheesy to make money off of this blog.

    So currently (as of this posting) I'm only doing one thing to earn money off of this site:

    Amazon Affiliates:  Since I want to share about the books I read it only makes sense to use an Amazon link to 'show' the book.

    That's it.  I promise to update if I add more.

    Thursday, November 25, 2010

    2010 Audio Book Recap

    Over the course of this year I listened to a handful of audio books.  Overall it was great and allowed me to "read" more books than I would have had time to actually sit down and hold.  Here's my rundown from worst to best (or least favorite to most favorite.)

    How Starbucks Saved My Life by Michael Gates Gill.  You caught me.  I only grabbed this book from the library shelves because it had "Starbucks" in the title.  I can't recommend it super highly, although the opening chapters solidified the truth that it is never worth putting your job over your family.

    The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien.  I had forgotten how awesome this story is.  It's making me think that when the movie releases (at a still undetermined date) I will want to break my current movie theater fast to go see it.  Very entertaining.

    Twelve Ordinary Men by John MacArthur.  I had had this book on my 'want to read' list for some time, so it was great to 'check it off' the list while driving to and from work.  Overall, it had some excellent points concerning the twelve disciples.  (Bad Pun Alert:) It drove home the point that Jesus can make extraordinary followers out of anyone.

    Free by Chris Anderson.  This was the only book that I didn't find at my local library, mainly because the audio version is available free online.  This was a fun 'read' because I don't normally do a lot of thinking concerning business models or economics in general.  It was definitely out of the box thinking and interesting.  I would recommend it to anyone with aspirations to start or improve their own business.

    And the best audio book I listened to in 2010 was...
    The World is Flat 2.0 by Thomas Friedman.  I'm not sure how many pages the paper version of this book is.  But the audio version was 20 (count them, twenty!) full length CDs.  Despite (or maybe because of) the length, this book was tremendous.  To describe it simply, The World is Flat lays out where we're at as a society and culture, how we got there, and what it means for life and business.  This is not a Christian book, but it has tremendous value in that it helps you better understand the world we're living in.  And if you understand the world we're living in, you can better relate to it.

    Monday, November 22, 2010

    Posting Schedule

    This post is not very exciting, but I wanted to go on record and say that I'm planning on posting on this blog two times each week.  I want to make this official because I know that having a posting schedule will force me to create and craft content; no schedule would very soon equal no posts whatsoever.

    I'm aiming for new posts to go up on Mondays and Thursdays.  And I'm further aiming to have those pre-scheduled for 4:30AM.

    So if you're not someone who likes to use an RSS feed to follow a blog, you can manually check back here on those days.  (I hope to be adding an e-mail following option in the next few weeks.)

    There is a decent chance that I will edit this posting schedule for May through August, but I'll still hope to keep it consistent.

    Thursday, November 18, 2010

    TRAINing Disciples Bonus Discussions

    In October I had led my TRAINing Disciples workshop for the Central Illinois Youth Network (hosted by the Peoria Area Youth for Christ).  It was a blast.  They asked me to continue a discussion about disciple-making at their next lunch.  While I was hoping to share the floor with someone else, I am also very excited to do a little more thinking, writing, and facilitating on the topic of "making disciples of Jesus."  So here is a blog format of what I am planning to talk about (today):

    Discussion 1:

    Discussion 2:    Whom does Jesus call to make disciples? 
    The Church?
    Your Church Organization?
    Your Favorite Para-church Organization?  (I don't have to tell you that COCUSA should be your favorite!)

    My Answers
    (Keep in mind the real value lies in dialoging these with someone, not just eating answers like a spoon fed baby.)

    Discussion 1:   Here is how I would draw a Jesus-like disciple-making strategy.   Here is why:  Hebrews 10:24, I Thessalonians 2:8, I Corinthians 11:1, John 16:13, Ephesians 4:11-12
    Our goal is not to make disciples of ourselves.  Our goal is to make disciples of Jesus.  There may be a time when we have to lead a group of people toward Jesus (as Paul says), but I am continually amazed at how quickly mutual disciple-making happens if we let others speak into our lives.  Thank you Holy Spirit!

    Discussion 2:
    If you're a follower of Jesus, he calls you to make disciples.  (See Matthew 28:19-20)

    THE church is all the followers of Jesus, and he calls those followers to make disciples.  (See Acts 11:26)

    Hopefully your church organization (____ Bible Church, First Church of ____, First ____ Church, etc.) is filled with followers of Jesus.  Those followers are called to make disciples and the church organization they associate with should help that happen. 

    Hopefully your favorite para-church organization is in the business of making disciples as well.

    But Jesus didn't call church organizations or para-church organizations to make disciples.  He called you!  Why is that an important distinction?  Two quick reasons.
    • If you work for a ministry and got fired today, what would you do?  Would you still seek to make disciples?  If not, were you more interested in serving Jesus or serving your ministry?
    • If you're not working for a ministry, are you 'off-the-hook' when it comes to making disciples?  I don't think so.  Making disciples is not tied to a certain vocation.
    These 'bonus discussions' were a little longer than anticipated.  Hope you hate 'em!

    Monday, November 15, 2010

    What we really need...

    "More than bigger governments, bigger schools, more free school lunches, more child therapists, more child medications, more daycares, more prisons, and more birth control, we need godly men who raise their sons to be godly men who raise their sons to be godly men who raise their sons to be godly men."
    -Mark Driscoll, last paragraph in Pastor Dad.  I highly recommend this short 50 page FREE e-book to any male (even if you're not a father or even married)!  It gives you some good things to think about if you want to follow Jesus as a father and husband.

    Thursday, November 11, 2010

    A Volunteer's Youth Ministry Manifesto (a work in progress)

    In September 2009 my family and I became volunteer youth workers for the Pekin Bible Church organization. We have been having a blast but also feel very overwhelmed at times. My goal is to put together this manifesto so we have can have a guide for this ministry we are leading. And I hope that someday I can turn this article into a format that helps others make their own personal youth ministry manifestos.
    (Two quick notes: 1) I have not read yet Youth Ministry 3.0: A Manifesto..., so any parallels, including title, are coincidental. 2) A manifesto is simply a "public declaration of intent," so please don't get hung up on the name.)

    The (work in progress) addition to the title of this post is an important point to keep in mind as you read this. Throughout (and mostly at the end) you'll find comments in Italics. They're me " thinking out loud" as I reviewed this Manifesto, which was originally written in the spring of 2009.

    Article 1 - Time
    We need to figure out how much time we have to give. Not knowing will lead to overextending our family and under-serving the students in our ministry.

    After a good amount of thinking, my wife and I decided that 5 hours a week is all that my family can currently give as volunteer youth workers. While that might seem small at first, we feel it is a reasonable amount of time to expect from a family with 3 kids less than 5-years old, a full time job, and intentions to home school. This isn't elevating our family as more important than other people. We just want to honor Jesus by putting a priority on our family: the best and most important place to do disciple-making. (Please also understand that we're not using a stopwatch and walking out in the middle of conversations when the timer beeps. This is a general guideline, not a strict rule.)

    Article II - Foundational Principles
    If we only have 5 hours a week, prioritizing that time becomes paramount because we don't have any to waste! Here are some foundational principles to guide us:

    Section 1 - Key Concepts
    • Relationships. "We were happy to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us." (I Thessalonians 2:8) You care for people you know. You die for people you love.  (Hopefully that's the last time I mention 'death' in an article about youth ministry.)
    • Process over event. "Events are easier to manage, pay for and get excited about. Processes build results for the long haul." (Seth Godin) Not only that, but events can zap your time and energy while pulling your focus away from relationships.
    • Integration. The more students rub shoulder with other believers, the better. This includes older believers in our congregation as well as believers from other congregations.
    • Play to our strengths. We're not good at everything, so we'll be focusing on what we're good at.
    • Student-led. We want as much student involvement as possible. "You own what you create."
    • Consistency. While no program is sacred, it is important to give everything a proper chance. This will allow the adjusting to and testing of any new ideas.

    Section 2 - What is a disciple?
    We need to know the target. Specifically, what does a disciple of Jesus look like as a junior or senior high student? Knowing the target will help us decide how to get there. One of the best resources I've seen on this subject is Cadre Ministries "Description of a Discipled Person" training.
    We're proposing the following as key markers of a disciple of Jesus:
    • A growing and unshakable love for the Lord
    • An unconditional love for people
    • A commitment to knowing and applying Biblical truth
    • An understanding of Biblical stewardship
    • A life that exhibits Christ-like character
    • A disciple-maker that can reproduce their spiritual life
    In short, we want followers of Jesus.  It's really that simple.

    Article 3 - The Specifics
    Keeping in mind everything listed above, what is the most effective and efficient way to use our time to make more and better disciples of the students involved with our ministry? We propose the following:

    Section 1 - Meetings
    • Weekly- Sunday 9:30-10:30am in the Pekin Bible Church building youth room. The primary activities will be Bible teaching time and prayer.
    • Monthly- Once each month during the weekly meetings we plan to do a service or outreach activity with the students. This could be anything that gets us out of the church building and into the community. (Volunteer or service projects, getting involved with local events that are happening, etc.)  (These have not happened yet this fall.  We still want them to, but planning them has been more difficult than we originally thought.)
    • Monthly- Fun event: A no frills/no pressure hang out at various places.
    • Quarterly- Leadership Lunch: Hold a lunch for adult and student leaders to get on the same page. Enable and equip volunteers to help with any and all areas of the ministry.  (These have not been going as planned.  Probably due to my failure at leading the time, they have become a "List all events you want us to pull off" Lunch.)

    Section 2 - Additional Elements
    • Facilitate 1 disciple-making group per adult leader each week.  (We're a little behind on this goal.  But I think we'll see some huge fruit if it happens.)
    • Write 1 note to students per adult leader each week.
    • Write a monthly update letter for the congregation at Pekin Bible Church and others.  (These last two writing goals have also not happened. It could be a lack of time, it more likely is a lack of priority on my part.)
    • Prayerfully pursue additional adult volunteers.  (Another family recently joined us, but as of yet we haven't figured out an overall team strategy.  We need to do this soon!)
    • Pray for the students.  (I personally need to do this more.)
    • Create and use a document template to help keep ourselves accountable to The Specifics.  (We have a BETA version of this template.  But it definitely needs to be tweaked to be more useful.)
    So I realize there are a lot of "we need to do this" and "we haven't done this" in 'The Specifics' section.  Suffice it to say this is definitely a work in progress and we'll be checking back in on this strategy periodically to make any necessary changes.

    Monday, November 8, 2010

    Goals for this blog in 2011

    I only have one goal for this blog in 2011.  And that is to build a "following" of at least 10 people by the end of the year.

    I'm looking for 10 people I wouldn't otherwise be able to encourage and challenge to follow Jesus.  If this goal is reached, I will most likely continue to blog in 2012.  (And at the same time I want to write like 500 people are reading... Each post should be well thought out and have quality content.)

    The toughest part about this statement is finding a way to measure followers.  I'm not sure asking everyone to raise their hand will do.  Comments aren't a great way because not everyone leaves a comment.  Pageviews are hard to quantify as well. (For example, at the writing of this post, I had seven pageviews from Pakistan.  And while I want to give a shout out to my Pakistani friends, I'm not sure I would consider you followers... yet.)

    I'll probably try to quantify a number of followers by smashing the following equation together:
    Followers = (Comments + Google Reader usage + E-mail Subscribers + Pageviews) / Healthy dose of reality

    And since I'm only counting to 10 I think that the above equation will work.

    Thursday, November 4, 2010

    My Quotes on "Misquoting Jesus"

    The title "Misquoting Jesus" should automatically speak to the fact that I don't think very highly of Bart Ehrman's book.

    I will admit I am neither a seminary grad nor a textual critic, and as such I offer these thoughts as a guy who reads his Bible and loves Jesus:
    This book confirmed my faith more than it tore it down. I kept waiting for a clear “You-can’t-trust-the-Bible” argument, and it never happened.  Most of his examples of textual criticism actually reinforced to me that we do have a very accurate rendition of Biblical text today, even though we do not have the original manuscripts.  His explanation of mistakes in our current translations still appeal to the fact that there is a correct original reading that can be discovered (because with every mistake he highlights he still gives his opinion of what the correct reading should be.)  I believe God's Word is 100% divine, yet has been written, transcribed, translated, and interpreted by 100% humans.  Hold both truths as equal and you should do fine.

    Monday, November 1, 2010

    Why a blog?

    I originally launched a website bearing my name for reasons detailed here.  To summarize, I knew it would be a good way to challenge myself to write more, which in turn would force me to be more clear about all I say and do.  Hopefully it doesn't come across as prideful, but I feel that I have accomplished that.

    So I recently decided to go one step farther... I want to regularly publish on this blog (stay tuned for my posting schedule).

    But why?  Here goes:

    Here is my explanation of why I have this blog (and yes, it is one sentence long on purpose):
    I want to use this blog to inspire, encourage, challenge, and equip others to follow Jesus and be more like him in every area of their life. *

    Here is my description of my intended audience (also one sentence long on purpose):
    This blog is for you if you want to be more like Jesus tomorrow than you were today. 

    If you don't fit this description, you're still welcome to keep reading.  But I thought you should know who I'm writing ahead of time.

    *Hopefully I am doing this without a blog too!  Specifically I hope to lead people that I could not otherwise connect with due to time constraints.

    Thursday, October 28, 2010

    Reviewing notes on Visioneering

    I really enjoy taking notes on books.  And I equally enjoy reviewing those notes...

    Some random thoughts as I reviewed Visioneering by Andy Stanley:
    • This is a great book if you have lots of ideas for your organization or ministry but don't know where to take them.  You could probably use it as an "Idiot's Guide to Fulfilling Your Vision."  It's that practical.
    • Stanley uses the book of Nehemiah as a guide and template.
    • I would describe this as a Personal Growth Plan for your organization.  As such there is great advice and ideas for anyone who leads and organizes.
    • If you're going to read one chapter, read chapter nine.  It breaks from the main focus of the book to talk about personally vision casting into every person you meet.  It is powerful stuff.
    • Here's my quick recap:
      • Chapters 1-7 Wait for your vision
      • Chapter 8: Launch it
      • Chapters 9-17: Tinker and fix.
    • The one quote from this book I want you to hear: “Businesses and ministries are a dime a dozen. Even successful businesses and ministries are not on anybody’s endangered species list. But strong marriages are rare indeed. Healthy families are the exception, not the rule.”

    Monday, October 25, 2010

    Live and Online: TRAINing Disciples recording

    I've been in online videos before, but this certainly takes the cake both for length and content.  You can view the full thing here.

    Some warnings:
    It's nearly an hour long video, but there are a few sections you can skip while discussions are going on.  (Or you could have those discussions with someone next to you.)
    The audio quality is better than the video quality, but even so you may be adjusting your speakers frequently based on who in the room is talking.

    Thanks to Brian Schwammlein for recording this!  I'm inspired to try ustream myself sometime.

    Friday, October 22, 2010

    Jim Collins on Darwin Smith

      Smith brought that same ferocious resolve to rebuilding Kimberly-Clark, especially when he made the most dramatic decision in the company's history: Sell the mills.  Shortly after he became CEO, Smith and his team concluded that the traditional core business - coated paper - was doomed to mediocrity.  Its economics were bad and the competition weak.  But, they reasoned, if Kimberly-Clark thrust itself into the fire of the the consumer paper-products industry, world-class competition like Procter & Gamble would force it to achieve greatness or perish.
      So, like the general who burned the boats upon landing, leaving only one option (succeed or die), Smith announced the decision to sell the mills, in what one board member called the gutsiest move he'd ever seen a CEO make.  Sell even the mill in Kimberly, Wisconsin, and throw all the proceeds into the consumer business, investing in brands like Huggies and Kleenex.
      The business media called the move stupid and Wall Street analysts downgraded the stock.  Smith never wavered.  Twenty-five years later, Kimberly-Clark owned Scott Paper outright and beat Procter & Gamble in six of eight product categories.  In retirement, Smith reflected on his exceptional performance, saying simply, "I never stopped trying to become qualified for the job."

    From Good to Great by Jim Collins, pages 18-20.  (You should read the whole thing.)

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    TRAINing Disciples: Resources

    There are some great books and resources out there when it comes to Jesus-like disciple-making.

    Here are a few that I really like:

    The Bible.  Start with the Gospels.

    The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert Coleman

    Transforming Discipleship by Greg Ogden

    Cultivating a Life for God by Neil Cole

    Disciple-making is Relationships is a four part workshop from Cadre Ministries.

    Monday, October 18, 2010

    Wilderness by The Supertones

    At the Lindell house this song is referred to as "The Football Song" for soon to be obvious reasons. I've pasted the lyrics below as they are what really challenge me.

    The rain falls on the righteous and the wicked
    Mine is not to reason why this is
    In this I rest in this I find my refuge
    That my thoughts and ways are not His
    I spend my life on looking up the answers
    It’s rare that I can’t find a reason why
    But reasons fail at children without mothers
    His plan is more than I can know

    Have you ever held in doubt
    What this life is all about
    Have you questioned all these things that seem important to us
    Do you really wanna know
    Or are you a little scared
    You’re afraid that God is not really exactly what you’d have Him be
    What should I hold to and what should I do
    How do I know if anything’s true
    I’m somewhere in-between Canaan and Egypt
    A place called the wilderness

    I’m not one who always trusts their feelings
    I don’t believe in what you’d call blind faith
    But faith that you can do all that you promised
    And you said it all works for good
    It’s safe to say I don’t see the big picture
    I can’t see the forest for the trees
    And if five hundred lives
    Were mine to get to know
    You all could be spent on just this

    God do you really understand what it’s like to be a man
    Have You ever felt the weight of loving all the things you Hate
    Have You struggled have you worried
    How can You sympathize

    I have spoken too soon put my hand over my mouth
    I can’t contend with You
    Your ways are so much higher
    And we pass through the fire that Christ endured before us
    When You were in the wilderness

    Friday, October 15, 2010

    Finances and Fiances

    An engaged friend of mine once asked me: "I was wondering what kind of tips and advice you might have for me with going into the ministry and probably not going to make a whole lot of money."

    I'm not an expert at all, but I have been able to take care of my family on a 'ministry-salary'. So here's the answer I gave him. I did these things when my wife and I first got married, and I continue to do them six years later (and counting).
    • Get the book: The Complete Financial Guide for Young Couples.  Read it and dialogue about it with your spouse (or fiance). It is one of the best and most used books my wife and I received in pre-marital counseling.
    • Don't spend money you don't have. This means avoiding purchasing on credit like its the plague.
    • Budget like a maniac. When you don't have to consistently ask "Which budget category should I put this in?" you're close to having enough budget categories.
    • Talk about every purchase with your wife. You have to be on the same page.
    • Go grocery shopping every two weeks. When switched to this from shopping every week we saved SO much money, even though we didn't change what we bought. (There's probably another lesson here, something like: "Put yourself in front of consumable items as little as possible.")
    • A second book I would recommend is First Comes Love, Then Comes Money. It is all about financial communication (which in marriage can be more important than the finances themselves.)
    That's all for now! I hope to expand these as my thoughts permit.

    Wednesday, October 13, 2010

    TRAINing Disciples- The Article

    This is my current personal guide to make disciples of Jesus Christ.  I have this crazy idea that when Jesus called us to make disciples we should probably listen.

    And I also don't think we can separate the message of Jesus ("make disciples") from the methods he used.  The best place to discover Jesus methods is the Gospel stories of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  While I do have some "favorite passages" on this subject (Luke 8-10, 24; Matthew 16, Mark 6 & John 6) it does a body good to read all of the Gospels while asking "How did Jesus make disciples?" This can be one of the best ways to see Jesus' methods.

    If you didn't read the above paragraphs, please do so now. (There's just two of them and they won't bite.)  The strategy below means nothing without a desire to make disciples in the way Jesus did.  Please remember that I developed this strategy for my specific context.  You'll need to mold and shape it to yours.  (And may we all mold and shape all we do to be more like Jesus.)

    Meet with people - John 3:22

    We need to follow Jesus together. I'm not talking about the buzzword "small groups" that nearly every church organization either has or is trying to start today. I mean more in the range of two to four people. If it gets much bigger, the other basics listed below could become difficult. Personally, I will shoot for a group of three when possible. For reasons why I think three is a great number, please see my original Strategy for Making Disciples. These need to be people you know and trust. They should also be your gender. The rest of the steps and meeting ideas are pretty hard to implement if you don't share a previous relationship and a common chromosome make-up.

    Meet with people regularly - Acts 2:46

    One other reason to meet with a small group of people: It makes it immensely easier to coordinate schedules and meet on a regular basis.

    One definition of regular is: "recurring, attending, or functioning at fixed, uniform, or normal intervals." The specific details of that regularity are up to you. Meeting every other week is good. But meeting every week is better. Decide on regular time, day, and place. (Of course it can change, but having a 'normal' is very beneficial.)

    This is a good place to mention how long a meeting should last. My experience would say that a minimum of 30 minutes is necessary for good conversations to develop (especially with guys). But there is also no real need to meet longer than 90 minutes. In fact, if more than that is needed on a consistent basis, there is a good chance that the group is not staying on topic.  Most of my meetings are around 45 minutes.

    Meet with people regularly with intentionality - Hebrews 10:24-25

    This is where we often miss out.  We NEED to be intentional with our times with other believers.  The specifics of what you do are up to you.  But please, do something!  I have a whole list of ideas at the end of this article, but it is by no means all-inclusive.

    What is crucial is to intentionally decide as a group what you will do with each meeting.  Depending on the age and maturity of those in your group it might take you leading the meeting towards intentionality.  But eventually give everyone a chance to decide on what you do while together.

    Meet with people regularly with intentionality. Multiply. - 2 Timothy 2:2

    Jesus called us to make disciples of all nations, and that is going to require a lot more than simple addition. It's going to take multiplication.

    Perhaps you have a burden for more people than you can possibly reach on your own.  Do you think Jesus had this burden?  He wanted the world to follow him, yet he started with a few disciples and asked them to multiply.

    Look back over the previous steps with multiplication in mind. When you start meeting with people, look for those who have the potential to multiply, (while also remembering that Jesus didn't select the most popular or spiritually gifted people to be his disciples.)  Speaking of Jesus, he also prayed before selecting disciples and regularly prayed for his disicples, so you probably shouldn't leave that out.

    While your group is taking the time to be intentional about what your meetings look like, also ask them what should happen when you're done meeting regularly. Some people may struggle with thinking about 'the end' when you're still at the beginning, but I encourage you to have a discussion and decide as a group how long you'll plan on meeting. Base it on the people involved, their spiritual health, the season of life you are all in, and most importantly God's timing. (It can be subject to review of course.)

    More importantly than how long you'll be meeting, you need to discuss what happens after you're done meeting. It can be a tough thing to figure out, but the way I'm going to phrase it is this: "We just spent the last __ months investing in each other and helping each other follow Christ.  Who might God be calling you to go and do the same thing with?" They don't need to have an answer right away, but they do need to have an answer before the group meetings end.

    (And no one is required to start another one of these disciple-making groups. The bigger goal is to have everyone intentionally making disciples, whatever it might be.)

    Those are the basics of my strategy. What follows is a list of ideas that you could do at a meeting. You could do one of them, all of them, or any combination in between.

    Meeting Idea 1: Talk about the Bible

    Wow. That's simple.

    I have been amazed at how often Bible reading is taken for granted. So start off with questions like:
    • What have you read in your Bible lately?
    • What did you learn from it?
    • What are you planning on reading next?

    Starting with questions like these help put the proper focus on the rest of the meeting. (And by the way, everyone must answer, even the one who asked the question!)

    If you're finding your group regularly struggling with reading the Bible, I would recommend Neil Cole's idea from Cultivating a Life for God: Have everyone read the same Scripture between meetings. Shoot for at least one chapter a day, but continue to push each other to read more.  Discuss what you learned at your next meeting.

    Meeting Idea 2: Write your own accountability questions

    Many accountability groups center around some sort of pre-thought, pre-written accountability question list to facilitate discussion about your spiritual journey. There is nothing wrong with that.

    I have just seen it work better if the members of the group take time to write their own accountability questions. I will admit that it is a little scary, but it takes trust that the Holy Spirit will work in someone's life way quicker than a pre-written list ever could. Here are a few guidelines:
    • Keep it easy by asking everyone to start with only three to five questions. A small number of questions can be less intimidating and can also cut down on 'repetitive' questions that don't ask anything new.
    • Use these two categories to help people brainstorm: 1) Questions that will help me stay away from sin. (i.e. Have you struggled with lustful thoughts?) and 2) Questions that help me grow closer to Jesus. (i.e. How is your prayer life?)
    • It is preferable for each group member to think of their questions on their own and then at the next meeting share them with the group. This can prevent unintentional copying of others' questions.

    I have seen some amazing moments by using your own accountability questions. One cool by-product is that group members will often want to update their questions based on their current life struggles or opportunities. After a time, you could expand the number of questions if the group is comfortable with this and feels it would help them follow Jesus better.

    Meeting Idea 3: Talk about people who need Jesus

    Many times accountability questions about witnessing, evangelism, or lost friends and family naturally come out of Meeting Idea 2. But if they don't, these are great questions to end a meeting with:
    • Who is someone that God has placed around you that needs to hear about Jesus?
    • What can you do to build a relationship with that person?
    • Are there any other intentional steps you need to take with that person this week?

    I have found this to be a great way to wrap-up a meeting. The focus shifts to others as each member of the group shares about one person in their sphere of influence who does not have a relationship with Jesus. And if you know that this will be a regular 'last question' of the meeting time, there is a great amount of accountability to be intentional in our relationships with people who need Jesus. It provides motivation to flee the Christian sub-culture.

    Side note: I've often see people squirm their way out of a specific answer to these questions by either: A) Mentioning someone who actually DOES know Jesus but needs to walk closer with him. Or B) Bringing up a whole group of people (as in "my whole high school" or "people at work"). There is nothing wrong with either of those answers, save that they don't actually answer the questions. Push people towards thinking of a specific person who does not know Jesus.

    Meeting Idea 4: Pray

    This is another often over-looked aspect to following Jesus. We should all communicate with Him more. So why don't we work on it together?
    • Open and close each meeting in prayer. Make sure you rotate this responsibility. Encourage those who don't feel comfortable to 'give it a shot'. It's the only way you learn.
    • Take time to share one praise and one prayer request with each other. You could share more, but a goal of one helps keep it simple. And then take a moment to pray for each other.

    It is very possible that any of the other ideas will also lead times of prayer. If the meeting is going that way, go for it!

    Meeting Idea 5: Swap Personal Growth Plans

    A personal growth plan is a specific set of goals that you write down to guide you through a season of life. I was first introduced to a Personal Growth Plan by Bill Allison of Cadre Ministries, so I'll let him tell you more about them. Once you have developed a personal growth plan, it works wonders to have the members of your group actually hold you accountable to the goals you set. (It can actually be scary; you might even accomplish something with your life!)

    You did it! You survived reading an article by me. Thanks for reading! I challenge you to one or more of the following reactions:

    • Give it a try. Find a few people, get together, explain what you want to do, and get going!
    • Comment and tell me what you're doing to make disciples. I would LOVE for your strategy to inform mine.
    • Pass this on to someone else! E-mail it to a friend. Post it on Facebook. Whatever

    I plan on more updates as my strategy changes. So follow this blog if you want updates!

    Friday, October 1, 2010

    Making Disciples in Family Groups

    The Desire:
    • Build disciples of Jesus who are willing to follow Him as: spouses, parents, children, friends, siblings, etc.
    • Build genuine and deepening relationships with other families that are seeking to follow Christ.
    • Build a supporting community with others who will go, are going, and have gone through our same life experiences.
    • Build intentionality into our lives, both at gatherings and between gatherings.
    • Build relationships between generations, giving our children the opportunity to relate to adults outside of the 'normal' relationships: child/teacher, child/youth worker, etc.
    • Build living models to follow for each other as: spouses, parents, children, friends, siblings, etc.

    The Reasons:
    • Hebrews 10:24-25 "And let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works, not abandoning our own meetings, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and even more so because you see the day drawing near."
    • Matthew 28:19-20 "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always,to the end of the age."
    • I Thessalonians 2:8 "we were happy to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us."

    The Plan:
    • Find four-ish families. Avoid affinity to build community. Include people from different walks of life, different church organizations, single parents, different ethnicities, etc.
    • Meet monthly. We could meet more, but most families are already over-scheduled. Everyone needs to bring calendars to each gathering. The next gathering can then be scheduled for a day and time that each family has free. Meetings should be planned for 2+ hours.
    • Meet in homes. Whoever is starting the group could/should host the first meetings. Being in a house quickly lowers the level of pretension and helps families be more authentic.
    • Eat a meal. This is optional depending on the day and time. But if we do, make sure all families, not just the host family, prepares and brings food. This is not one family entertaining guests, but rather a group of families using a meal to fellowship.
    • Share prayer requests as a big group. Write down each other's prayer needs as a reminder between gatherings and to review the next gathering. If possible, pray for them.
    • Split guys and girls for accountability. This could mean writing accountability questions (per A Strategy for Making Disciples.) Or it could be as simple as sharing one or two specific things that each person needs to be asked about at the next gathering or discussing what we've read in our Bibles recently.
    • Divide by two. After one year of meeting divide into two groups of families. Each group should prayerfully seek two-ish families to invite to join their new group, with the eventual goal of having two family groups with fourish families each.

    Using Technology (instead of getting used)

    My real goal in life is to make disciples of Jesus.

    I want to make sure that e-mail, social media and any other technology helps me do this, instead of distracting me.  I don't feel like we can jump ship on e-mail, facebook, etc because so much personal and relational communication happens over these mediums.  But to make sure I'm not the one getting used, I'm drawing the following lines in the proverbial sands of Silicon Valley.

    • Line 1: Personally respond to as many people as possible, keeping in mind that not all e-mail you receive comes from people.
    • Line 2: Punch out responses to e-mails twice a day at most. (And only once daily during busy seasons.)  Pick a time and stick with it.  This fall I'm going to try after lunch.
    • Line 3: Keep it simple.  Review and its accompanying websites.
    • Line 4: If you find yourself giving the same responses to multiple people, consider using an e-mail template (ie Gmail's "Canned Responses").
    • Line 5: Be nice! Say please and thank you. Ask for prayer requests. Ask questions related to your previous knowledge of the person and their circumstances.
    • Line 6: Use an RSS reader program to keep your Inbox clear of newsletters, blog updates, etc. My personal favorite is Google Reader.
    • Line 1: Make 1 list of Friends to Invest In.  Set a limit of how many friends this will be. (Not sure on the number here: 50? 150?)
    • Line 2: "Listen and respond" to this list for about 10 minutes each day.  Like e-mail, pick a time and stick with it.
    • Line 3: Don't spend any additional time on Facebook, as it has the tendency to suck you in.
    • Line 4: Use Google reader for notifications so you don't feel the need to check back in to Facebook multiple times each day.
    • Line 5: Be very judicious about who you accept as friends, especially when it comes to females.  If your wife would raise her eyebrows at who you accepted, don't do it.

    Cell Phone
    • Line 1: Have 'no texting' times.  For me this means put the phone out of site from 5-8pm.
    • Line 2: Prioritize the people in front of you over the random person calling.

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010

    Don't Follow The Crowd

    Inspire Me

    Inspire Me is a post label for quotes, pictures, videos etc that inspire me.  Keep in mind that what inspires me may not inspire you.  But if you do find yourself inspired by the same things, then you may want to stick around and read a little more, because I think we'll get along fine.

    My goal is to have 31 Inspire Me posts (not including this one).  This should be able to get you through a tough month and keep me from spending all my time looking for inspirational things.  If you want to view all of the Inspire Me posts up to this point, click the 'Inspire Me' label below.

    Tuesday, August 24, 2010

    Why this website? (circa 2009)

    "Reading makes a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man." - Sir Francis Bacon, an English statesmen and philosopher in the 16th and 17th century. (How cool would it be to have the name Bacon?! Yum.)

    To be honest, I found this quote after I decided to start working on a website that bears my nickname. Better late than never.

    As Bacon said, I feel "full". (Does anyone else see the irony in putting the words "full" and "bacon" in the same sentence?)

    I feel full partly from reading, but also from life and ministry experiences. (And I admit that last sentence seems a little pretentious, so it is possible I'm just filled with pride.)

    The real purpose of this website is to write, and I hope that in doing so I can become more "exact," both in what I believe and what tactics and strategies I use. I hope that eventually the content I put together here will be such that anyone (especially myself) can take it off the virtual shelf and put it to use very easily.

    Then, I hope to be able to use what I've written to speak ("conference" as Bacon would say). I would love to be more ready in my conversations with people and speaking opportunities. Too often I leave with the thought: "Why didn't I think of saying that?"

    The challenge I'll leave YOU with is this: Do you need to be more ready or exact? What can you do about that?

    As you can tell, I have a thing for (parentheses) and "quotes." This should be fun. Thanks for reading.

    Here goes...

    Written September, 2009

    Edited October, 2009

    Wednesday, August 4, 2010

    Happy Birthday Pheaney

    So my birthday is this month.

    Here's how you can help me celebrate:

    1. Find a book
    2. Read it
    3. Let me know how you're thinking or acting differently because of what you read.

    (If you're stumped at #1, take a look at my lists of books to get you started.)