Thursday, December 29, 2011

Inspire Me: What are you hoping for next year?

These are lyrics from Relient K's song "This Week the Trend ".  They are a little strange out of context, but they echo in my head every once in a while.

And I just want to get mugged at knife point 
to get cut enough to wake me up
cause I know that I don't want to die
just sitting around watching my life go by

and what we take from this is what we'll get
and we haven't quite figured it out just yet
because all of us are all too stuck
strapped to a chair watching our lives blow up
stuck watching our lives blow up

Especially this line: "I know that I don't want to die, sitting around watching my life go by."

Whether you're into New Year's Resolutions or not.  This is a great time (what time isn't?!) to hit pause and consider where your life is going (or not going).

But that's your choice... you could easily keep strapped to your chair watching TV or surfing the Internet.

Your call...

Monday, December 26, 2011

Ways we should be more like Adrian

Today is my son Adrian's fourth birthday.  In honor of his big day I wanted to offer four areas we could all probably stand to grow if we take the time to learn from him.

1) Be more creative.  Don't be afraid to use your imagination.

2) Enjoy your food.  Don't just eat it.  (This applies to all of life.  Enjoy it.  Don't merely live.)

3) Give good hugs.

4) Read a good book every now and then.  (If possible, get someone to read it to you.)

Happy Birthday Adrian!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Using Technology (without getting used) 2011

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

I want to make sure that e-mail, social media and all of the other technology we're blessed with helps me with that goal.  Unfortunately, it's all too easy to let our technological wonders distract us from what is truly important.

Now I don't feel like we can jump ship on e-mail, facebook, texting, 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: Set a limit for how often you check and respond to e-mail.  Personally, I'm checking my e-mail three times each day.  Other than those times, I close my e-mail program so it's not distracting me.
  • Line 3: Keep it simple, short and to the point.
  • 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 still Google Reader, despite Google's attempt to ruin it.

  • Line 1: Make 1 list of "Friends to Invest In" or something similar.  Set a limit of how many friends this will be.  "Listen and respond" to this list for about 10 minutes each day.  Like e-mail, pick a time and stick with it.
  • Line 2: If there's anyone you want to follow more frequently than once a day, use Facebook's mobile texting feature to do so.  This helps you avoid extra time on Facebook (see Line #3).
  • Line 3: Don't spend any additional time on Facebook, as it will suck you in.
  • Line 4: Use an RSS reader or your e-mail program 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.
(Side Note: Facebook is honestly annoying to me.  If it wasn't for the fact that nearly all of our COCUSA Staff use it I would probably push the whole thing into the deep end.  The above lines are how I've chosen to use it without being used, adapt as you feel necessary.)

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.

Note: This is an updated re-post from over a year ago.  It's probably worth reviewing more often than that.

Monday, December 19, 2011

My 2012 Book Reading List

Before we dive into the list, I wanted to share the benefit I've seen in planning my reading in this format.  Thinking critically about the books I want to read throughout a year helps me keep a more balanced reading portfolio.  If I did not plan my reading ahead of time, but merely read books as they crossed my path, I probably would read the same category of book again and again.  Planning ahead with my reading helps me read in a variety of areas, with the hopeful goal that I can grow in all areas of my life.

Without further ado, my 2012 reading list in alphabetical order:

Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure by Tim Harford
Life Category: Occupation
Admit it.  The title alone makes you want to read it.  How can success always start with failure?  I'm excited to find out.

The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing: Everything You Need to Know to Write, Publish, Promote and Sell Your Own Book by Marilyn Ross and Sue Collier
Life Category: Writing
I'm not sure if I would even want to be a professional writer, but exploring the topic will hopefully shed some light on that potential desire.

The E-myth Revisited: Why Most Small Business Don't Work and What to do About It by Michael E Gerber
Life Category: Future
Like the above book, I'm not sure if I would ever want to be an entrepreneur or small business owner, but exploring the topic will hopefully shed some light on that potential desire.

Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck- Why Some Thrive Despite Them All by Jim Collins and Morten Hansen
Life Category: Occupation
I have yet to read a book by Jim Collins that didn't impress me.  Hopefully this continues the trend.

Holy Bible: English Standard Version, Black Original, Journaling Bible by God
Life Category: Everything
I'll be reading this one consistently and constantly throughout the whole year.  Just sayin'.

How and When to Tell Your Kids About Sex: A Lifelong Approach to Shaping Your Child's Sexual Character by Stan and Brenna Jones
Life Category: Raising Boys
I don't think I can overstate the importance of getting this topic right with my kids.

Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives by Richard Swenson
Life Category: Family
I realize 'Family' is a weird category for this book, but Brittany read this book and really enjoyed it, so I'm reading it to continue meaningful discussions with my lovely wife.

Revolution in World Missions by KP Yohannan
Life Category: Evangelism
I've had this book on my shelf for a few years and it recently caught my eye.  Anything that can push me toward greater personal boldness in sharing my faith is exactly what I need.

Saving for Retirement Without Living Like a Pauper Or Winning the Lottery‎ by Gail MarksJarvis
Life Category: Retirement
My head spins when people start talking about investing for retirement.  I'm hoping this helps me get my mind around IRAs, mutual funds, etc.  (At the same time I want to keep a Biblical perspective on retiring.)

Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewishness of Jesus Can Transform Your Faith by Ann Spangler
Life Category: Disciple-making
This is a Bill Allison recommendation.  It's been on my list for a few years.  Should be good.

T4T: A Discipleship Re-Revolution by Steve Smith and Ying Kai
Life Category: Church Planting Movements
This should be a great follow up to Church Planting Movements and continue to push me towards making disciples like Jesus and planting churches like the apostles.

Where's God on Monday?: Integrating Faith and Work Every Day of the Week by Alistair Mackenzie and Wayne Kirkland
Life Category: ReRead
I read this book several years ago and remember really enjoying it.  Here's to another time.

Still Looking for: A one-volume biography of Abraham Lincoln.
Life Category: History
It was so inspiring to read about Winston Churchill this year that I want to do the same thing with another historical figure.  I just need to find a book first.

If you actually read my through this whole list, thanks!  Care to join me reading any of these?  I'd love to get together and discuss them if you do!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Why Work Ethic is a Big Deal

Work Ethic is a Big Deal because the Bible says so...
I've just finished reading through Proverbs.  The importance of a good work ethic really stood out to me.  Here's a sampling of verses:
  • A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.  He who gathers in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame. (Proverbs 10:4-5 ESV)
  • Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense. (Proverbs 12:11 ESV)
  • In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty. (Proverbs 14:23 ESV)
  • Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys. (Proverbs 18:9 ESV)
  • Also: 19:15, 20:4, 24:33-34, 28:19
Work Ethic is a Big Deal as seen at COCUSA...
We've just started the process of hiring staff for Camp of Champions, and that brings the value of a good work ethic into real life.  A staff member's personal and growing relationship with Jesus Christ is the most important thing we look for when hiring.  After that, I'm tempted to put a good work ethic as the second most important trait.  (And even if it isn't #2, it's in the top 5 at least).  If someone is a hard worker, they'll seek to learn what they don't know and strive to improve on the work they are doing.

Work Ethic is a Big Deal, so how do you grow it? 
Work ethic is important.  The Bible says it, real life shows it and we probably already knew it.

But how do you cultivate a good work ethic in your kids?  How do you encourage it in people who clearly don't have it?

I'm all ears.

Monday, December 12, 2011

BOOR December 2010: The World's Worst Boss

Are you curious to read about who the world's worst boss is?

Seth Godin knows.  And I think he might be spot-on.

All you have to do is go hear and find out.

Note:  I labeled this "Inspire Me" because some days this is exactly what I need to hear to be inspired.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


We all have our own unique language by which we describe the world and our place in it.

Lately I've heard several people describe the same thing with different wording and language.
I don't think the language is the most important thing here.  If we were to bicker over it we might find that we're talking about the same thing anyway.

The deepening of our relationship with Christ and sharing him with others is the most important thing.  (And even that statement has my language and terminology in it.)

Let's all continue to pursue the language Jesus used:
  • And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Inspire Me: With a Vikings Quarterback?!

I am a tortured Minnesota Vikings fan.  Thankfully this post is not about the current NFL season.

The video here is truly inspiring.  It's about the quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings in 1998: Randall Cunningham.  If you're not into football, you can jump to the 4:30 minute mark.  Cunningham's reaction to losing a Championship football game is inspiring.  Even more so is his reaction to his young son's accidental death.  It's worth your 6 minutes or so.

If you can't see the video, click here.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

How I Read It: The Devil's Delusion

A few thoughts after finishing The Devil's Delusion by David Berlinski

Quotable: "It is entirely possible that there may be as many elementary particles as there is funding available to investigate them." p53
"A God looking agreeably like me makes precisely as much sense as an 'indeterminate sea of potentiality' with the additional advantage that He is said to be responsive to prayer." p97
"The 'book of God's word' and the 'book of God's works,' Francis Bacon argued, are not in conflict.  How could they be? They are the same book." p213

The Argument of Atrocities: The book looks at many "regular" arguments that atheists offer against Christianity and religion in general.  The one I most appreciated was in Chapter 2.  Berlinski makes the point that while religion has been responsible for many atrocities throughout history, the last 100 years have plenty enough 'secular' atrocities to go around and nullify the atheist argument.  Men like Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, and Pol Pot all were living with a worldview that there was no God.  The claim that less religion is going to lead to less war, death, and tragedy is simply false.

Enjoy the Tone: I enjoyed the tone of this book.  Berlinski writes very much "on the attack."  Which is fun to read considering most material from atheists is very brash as well.  Personally I would not use the tone in a conversation with an athiest (or anyone for that matter).  But it is refreshing to hear.  It should also be noted that Berlinski himself is not a Christian, but a "secular Jew".

That all but wraps up my 2011 reading.  I have one more book that I'm reading with the COCUSA staff, so I won't be posting a review until 2012 most likely.  Here's the "final" rankings.

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. The Devil's Delusion by David Berlinski
  12. Switch by Chip and Dan Heath
  13. Crazy Love by Francis Chan*
  14. It's Better to Build Boys Than Mend Men by S. Truett Cathy*
  15. The Exemplary Husband by Stuart Scott*
*I own these books, let me know if you want to borrow them. I'd love to share.