Monday, October 31, 2011

My (free) advice to 18-25 year old males

Wake up on time.

Get out of bed.

Find an alarm clock that works for you.  No excuses.

Work on your homework ahead of time.  Cramming for tests and writing papers until 4AM will not translate into good work habits.

Don't be late to stuff.  Show up on time.

If you're late, own it, apologize and get working.

Use a personal planner to track your schedule.  The one on your smart phone or iPod doesn't count unless you actually use it.  (Note: your family's calendar in the kitchen... the one your mom updates... is also no longer sufficient.)

Read your Bible.  Stop pretending you don't have time or you're too busy.  If you can't read your Bible now, you certainly won't have the time to do it in 10 years.

Work hard.  Work well.  Work smart.

This advice is 100% free and comes with no stipulations.  I'm offering a one-day special and giving this advice free to ANYONE, even if your'e not a 18-25 year old male.  It's yours for the taking.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Inspire Me: Start With Why

This video is about 10 minutes long, so you'll need a little time to sit down and watch it.  I also don't agree with everything in it.  But it gets me thinking.  And thinking (for me at least) is one part of being inspired.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Leading Good Discussions

I feel that one of the best ways to teach others is through dialogue: open-ended discussion that allows each person involved to draw their own (hopefully meaningful) conclusion.

I think many of us see the value in good discussions, but are often frustrated on how to get there.

Equally frustrating is when you expect a learning time to be discussion-oriented, but instead there's just one person waxing eloquent on the subject at hand.  Sometimes this happens because they don't know any better.  Other times they truly want to lead a discussion but don't know how.  Either way, help is here.

Pheaney's Discussion Starting 101
  1. Ask questions.  Brilliant I know.
  2. Ask good questions.
    1. Can you answer the question with a Yes or No?  You need a new question.
    2. Is it a rhetorical question?  You need a new question.  (There's nothing wrong with a good rhetorical question in public speaking, but they just don't work in a discussion time.)
  3. Wait for an answer.  Really wait. 
    1. You might not be giving everyone enough time to formulate a response.
    2. Or you might always answer your own questions, which just conditions people to not answer your questions.  (Why should they?  You're going to answer them anyway!)
  4. Rephrase your question if needed.
  5. Just wait longer.
  6. Allow others to ask questions.  And then engage them in those questions.  You want an atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable asking anything.
I'll add to this if I think of anything else.  Do you have anything to add?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

How I Read It: Churchill

A few thoughts after finishing Churchill by Paul Johnson

Quotable: "Churchill's sheer energy and, not least, his ability to switch it off abruptly when not needed were central keys to his life, and especially his wartime leadership." p 114

Inspirational: It has been a long time since I read a biography on a great historical figure.  I forgot how inspirational someone's life can be.  Specifically, the author detailed 10 reasons why Churchill was "the man of the hour" and probably the only person alive at the time who could have saved Great Britian and turned the tide of World War II.  It almost made me want to run for president in 2012, but then I remembered I won't be old enough.  (Maybe 2020?)  In all seriousness, there is a balance here.  I think we can be inspired by a person of history, but still seek the Lord as to our calling today.

Useful: The author offers five lessons from Churchill's life.  They are simple, yet incredibly profound and great advice for anyone.
  1. Aim high.  Even if you don't achieve what you're seeking, you'll still do something worthwhile.
  2. Work hard.  Really hard.  But balance "flat out work with creative and restorative leisure".  Churchill was a master at this.  (See Quotable above.)
  3. Don't allow mistakes to ruin you.  Learn from them and keep going.
  4. Don't hold grudges.  Churchill refused to hold grudges against former political opponents or national enemies.  
  5. Be joyful.  Even in the midst of crazy hardships.
Isn't it great that while those 5 lessons aren't from the Bible, they are all biblical?

2011 Personal Impact Ranking:
  1. Church Planting Movements by David Garrison
  2. One thing You Can't Do in Heaven by Mark Cahill*
  3. The Divine Commodity by Skye Jethani
  4. Fight Clubs by Jonathan Dodson*
  5. Churchill by Paul Johnson
  6. Humility by CJ Mahaney*
  7. How to Design Cool Stuff by John McWade
  8. Why We Love the Church by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck*
  9. The Problem of Pain by CS Lewis
  10. Samson and the Pirate Monks by Nate Larkin*
  11. Switch by Chip and Dan Heath
  12. Crazy Love by Francis Chan*
  13. It's Better to Build Boys Than Mend Men by S. Truett Cathy*
  14. The Exemplary Husband by Stuart Scott*
*I own these books, let me know if you want to borrow them. I'd love to share.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A short list on disciple-making

What is involved in good disciple-making?

What elements need to be in place to help a group of people be more like Jesus?

Here's my short list:
  • The Bible.  Somehow, someway, we must get people into God's word.  Regularly.  We need Scripture to understand God and His story as well as to see what Jesus was like.
  • Real-ness.  If people aren't willing to talk about what is really going on in their lives, both the joys and the struggles, it will be difficult to get them growing to be more like Jesus in every area of their lives.  (I think most accountability questions are trying to get here, but the questions aren't the goal.  Brutal honesty about where we need to improve to be more like Jesus is the goal.)
  • Outward focus.  A disciple who never thinks of others to invest in or witness to is not a very Jesus-like disciple.
  • Prayer.  Prayer for others and with others.  
Too simple?  Too complicated?  What do you think?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

BOOR October 2010: Deliberately uninformed, relentlessly so [a rant]

Parts of this post from Seth Godin have stuck in my mind throughout the entire past year, so it was fun to revisit these ideas.

Here's where you can find the best thing I read online last October: Deliberately uninformed, relentlessly so [a rant]

And here are a couple good quotes to inspire you to go read the whole thing:
Many people in the United States purchase one or fewer books every year. Many of those people have seen every single episode of American Idol. There is clearly a correlation here. 
Not all books are correct or useful. Not all accepted science is correct. The conventional wisdom might just be wrong. But ignoring all of it because the truth is now fashionably situational and in the eye of the beholder is a lame alternative.
And a thought from me:  It is easier than ever to find out anything about any subject... so why are we still ignorant about so much?

Monday, October 10, 2011

How I Read It: How to Design Cool Stuff

A few thoughts after finishing How to Design Cool Stuff by John McWade.

I don't have my usual headings for this review because this wasn't a book you really read.  This was a book about graphic design so a quote about "shorten the margins a quarter-inch to the left" would not have done much to inspire anyone.

It was however, a good book.  I don't think of myself as having an eye for design but it was basic enough that I could follow along.  It had multiple "Projects" which gave complete template instructions for newsletters, announcements, etc.

Overall, this book was worth my time to read as it got my mind thinking more like a designer, and provided several usable projects and examples.  I'm hanging on to my library copy as a long as I am allowed, referencing it as needed.  If you're in any place where you regularly create any sort of documents, it's worth a quick "read" through.  Enjoy the pictures too!

2011 Personal Impact Ranking:
  1. Church Planting Movements by David Garrison
  2. One thing You Can't Do in Heaven by Mark Cahill*
  3. The Divine Commodity by Skye Jethani
  4. Fight Clubs by Jonathan Dodson*
  5. Humility by CJ Mahaney*
  6. How to Design Cool Stuff by John McWade
  7. Why We Love the Church by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck*
  8. The Problem of Pain by CS Lewis
  9. Samson and the Pirate Monks by Nate Larkin*
  10. Switch by Chip and Dan Heath
  11. Crazy Love by Francis Chan*
  12. It's Better to Build Boys Than Mend Men by S. Truett Cathy*
  13. The Exemplary Husband by Stuart Scott*
*I own these books, let me know if you want to borrow them. I'd love to share.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Content or Complaining?

Last week I went on vacation with my family.  On our way there it rained for nearly the entire drive, all seven hours of it.  And it wasn't just a light sprinkling rain either.  It was one of those "downpour so thick your windshield wipers have to be on high just to see the car in front of you" type rains.

So naturally, being the driver, I voiced my displeasure at the rain, the blurry roadways and the driving conditions in general.

On the return trip from our vacation it was sunny for the entire drive back.  And it wasn't a nice light sunny with an occasional cloud mixed in.   It was one of those "so consistently bright and sunny your eyes start to hurt" type of sunny days.

So naturally, being the driver, I voiced my displeasure at the sun, the brightness and my hurting eyes.

I wish this was made up.  But it's true.  I can (and do) complain about nearly anything.

What is up with that?

For me it comes down to my attitude.  My gratefulness (or lack thereof) regarding life.  I would love to be able to say: "... I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content." (Philippians 4:11 ESV)  But at this point in my life I can't, or at least I choose not to.

How about you?  How content are you?  

I think the amount you complain serves as a gauge for how content you are.  What's your complain-o-meter saying?

Note: These are some starting thoughts for a sermon I'll be delivering on this subject the Sunday after Thanksgiving (November 27th), 11am at Pekin Bible Church.  I'd love for you to join me there!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Inspire Me: Some numbers to shoot for

"By the year 2003, John was regularly training 3-400 church planters each month. 'You never know who God is going to use,' he smiles, 'so we keep training everybody!'  John's passionate commitment to train everyone is one reason the movement has exploded past his original vision of 200 churches.  Today, the movement is spreading across several districts and shows little sign of slowing. 
In fact, by all indications, the Nandong movement is still building momentum. In the year 2001, 908 churches were started with 12,000 baptized believers.  The following year, the Chens saw 3535 new churches planted with more than 53,430 baptisms. Then in the first 6 months of 2003, the movement had produced 9,320 new churches and 104,542 baptisms. Today John leads 15 deputy trainers in 30 training centers meeting in homes and church buildings as the movement continues to grow."
From Church Planting Movements