Monday, December 31, 2012

Your New Year's Resolution

This year I have a resolution for you!  I'm tired of setting goals and making plans for myself, so I thought I would start doing it for others.

This year your New Year's resolution is to start blogging regularly.

Before you close this post, hear me out!  You have got some great ideas and thoughts in that head of yours.  But right now they are trapped... TRAPPED inside your head.  I think you'll do all of us a great service if you started getting those thoughts out regularly.  If you put them out for us to see, we can interact with them and help you fine tune what you're thinking and believing.  You might challenge someone else (or even yourself) to grow and change for the better.

You can define regularly.  Anything from daily to monthly is good.  It's not that hard, honestly.  You can do it!

Wow, setting goals for someone else is even easier than for myself.  And it comes without guilt!  Maybe I'll do a whole slate of New Year's resolutions for you next year.

PS.  If you take me up on this New Year's resolution, send me your blog address so I can follow it.  Thanks!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Being Hacked

So sometime on Christmas Eve my email account was hacked and I sent a 'get-rich-quick' scheme to all of my contacts.

My apologies if you received it.  I updated my password and added an additional layer of security so hopefully it won't happen again.

The worst part is this happened on Christmas Eve!  And when I checked into it, the IP address was someone in Kentucky.  Kentucky!!  Who knew they could be so fiendish?

Blessings to you all and may your email be safe in 2013 and beyond.  (And for future reference, I don't send out get-rich-quick schemes.)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Some Christmas Traditions

It may be a little late for you to implement any of these this year, but here are some Christmas traditions my family enjoys.  Feel free to plagiarize. It's not like any of them were my original ideas anyway.

Christmas Tree: Each year we get a live Christmas tree and our kids get to decorate it with the ornaments they've collected or received.  This year we cut down our own tree for the first time.  (Careful if you do that, they can be deceptively big out in a field.)  You can't beat the smell of a live tree and decorating it with your kids while Christmas music is playing is borderline magical.

Festival of Lights: Kids love this Christmas attraction in East Peoria.  We make sure the adults in the family love it to by making a Starbucks run beforehand.

Sticky Rolls Christmas Morning:  When we got married a family gave us a recipe for "Christmas Sticky Rolls." We made them our first Christmas together, and ever since then they have been an ongoing tradition: they are so good.

Presents:  This may sound funny, but as a family we enjoy thinking and planning gifts for each other.  It's been fun to watch our older boys think through what gifts they want to get each other.  Overall this helps with the "gimme gimme gimme" attitude you see at Christmas.  And don't be afraid to set limits on gifts, for yourself especially.  You don't need to give or receive any gifts to exist as a human being.  So give a few good ones and enjoy.

Time with Family: Another obvious one, but time together with our family, and then with both extended families is fun and priceless.

Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Budgeting Basics

How are you going to honor God with your finances in the coming year?  Do you have an answer to that question?  I think you should.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you answer it:

Budget Categories:  The money you spend naturally breaks down into different categories (or envelopes if you're familiar with the term).  There are obvious things like Housing, Insurance and Groceries and the maybe-not-as-obvious like Gifts, Property Taxes and Clothing.  If you don't keep track of what you spend in different categories, you should start.  My family uses Common Cents to do this, but you could Google "budgeting applications" and find something that works for you, probably for free.

Pre-Set Amounts:  Once you have budget categories/envelopes and you know what you're spending in each of them, the next step is pre-setting how much you will spend in a specific category.  You can figure this out by looking at the past year of expenses and thinking through your coming year.  For example:
-How much money will you need to spend in "Clothing" in 2013?
-How often do you get paid?
-Do the math and figure out how much you'll need to categorize per paycheck for "Clothing".
-Repeat for all of your Budget Categories.

Give the Rest Away:  What I've said to this point is probably "Budgeting Basics".  Now for the radical:  You know what you need.  You've budgeted that amount per paycheck.  If you're blessed with additional funds, give it away.  Give it to people in need.  Give it to people and organizations who are building God's kingdom by sharing the gospel and making disciples.

According to Barna, the typical individual only gives away 3% of their income.  If that's all they have left over after budgeting for their needs, great!  If they have 25% of their finances left over, pathetic.  What's your plan?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Since one of you asked...

Since one of you recently asked about my book, I figured I might as well provide an update to everyone.

I was originally hoping to have totally finished Partner Like Paul this fall.  While technically that gives me until Friday realistically I don't think that's going to happen.

But I am close.  Very close.  If you'd like to proof read a chapter, leave a comment or reply to this email.

My goal is to have the whole thing wrapped up in January.  This would leave enough time to share it with the dozens... no hundreds (or thousands) of students raising money to go on missions trips this summer.  (Wouldn't it great if all of them we're looking at what the Bible says about fundraising?)

If you haven't clicked through to for awhile, I made a few updates and added a couple page links at the top.  I'll announce Partner Like Paul on the blog to, but you'll also be able to find the same info here when it is finished.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


I know we're halfway to Christmas now.  But I think a little thankfulness would still be good for all of us.

Click here to listen to me talk about Thankfulness for about 25 minutes.  (You could also "Right Click/Save As.." and add the mp3 file to your computer, mp3 player, etc.)

I took a look at Luke 17:11-19.

I think my biggest take-away (now 3 weeks removed) is that we should call out to Jesus for help.  Really it's our only option, but sometimes (often) we think we can plan and scheme our way into a better solution.  Listen for more on that plus some other points this passages is pretty clear on.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Some books to read in 2013

My 2012 Reading list was derailed by the birth of our fourth son.  (...and rightfully so!)

I'm lowering my expectations for this year.  Here are a few books I'd like to read this coming calendar year.  Click any of the links for more information.

The Bible.  Just saying.

An Abraham Lincoln biography.  Not sure which one.  Any suggestions?

Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel

How and When to Tell your Kids about Sex by Stan and Brenna Jones

Real Marriage by Mark Driscoll  OR  What did you expect? by Paul Tripp

Saving for Retirement without Living like a Pauper or Winning the Lottery by Gail MarksJarvis

Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus by Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg

Stop Stealing Dreams by Seth Godin

T4T: A Discipleship ReRevolution by Ying Kai

What Jesus Started by Steve Addison

Even better than reading these myself, I'd love to read them with you.  If you're interested in any of them let's read them together!  Let me know.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

BOOR December 2012: The silence of the lambs

I read a lot of great stuff online last December.  But the best one has been on my computer background ever since I read it:
The silence of the lambs, by Steve Addison
Most of us have been taught that the most effective way to share the gospel is to say nothing. The conventional wisdom is we need to “earn the right to speak.”
The problem is, it just doesn’t work.
It’s the good news about Jesus that saves, not the perfection of your life. Read the gospels and read Acts. Do you really think Jesus trained his disciples to be silent? What did the risen Lord commission Paul to do? What did he do?
How many people will hear the gospel today through your ministry? I don’t mean just through you. I’m thinking of those you’re training, especially new believers, to share their story and to share Jesus’ story.
How are you connecting? How is the gospel spreading, not just through you, but through the people you train?

Monday, December 3, 2012

HIRI: Marks of the Messenger by Mack Stiles

A few thoughts and points from Marks of the Messenger by Mack Stiles

Quotable:  "If anything is needed in Christian witness today, it is boldness.  We don't need bigger music ministries, longer prayer walks or nicer church foyers.  We need boldness - wise boldness, gracious boldness, boldness rooted in the hope that we have in the gospel, boldness mixed with love, but boldness nonetheless." (p83)
"Our entire generation's sad theology about the church: that the church is for our personal benefit; that the main requirement of church is for it to be fresh, colorful and entertaining; that church relationships are secondary, even disposable; and that the church is more about consumerism than relationship." (p102, emphasis mine)

What I Liked: I liked that this was a simple, to the point book re-focusing on the basics of the Gospel and evangelism.  It was both engaging and challenging and gave some good practical tips and suggestions that I'll be sure to return to later.

What I Didn't Like: I thought he may have understated discipleship in the evangelism process.  I think Stiles would acknowledge it's importance, but in a list of 16 ways to be radical (starting on pg 107) discipleship is only mentioned once, and then not with a lot of emphasis or focus.

2012 Personal Impact Ranking:

Thursday, November 29, 2012

HIRI: The Call by Os Guiness

A few thoughts and points from The Call by Os Guiness.

Quotable: "The more I resist Him and try to live on my own, the more I become dominated by my own hereditary and upbringings and surroundings and natural desires.  In fact, what I so proudly call 'Myself' becomes merely the meeting place for trains of events which I never started and which I cannot stop." - CS Lewis, pg 25

What I Liked: A book about the idea of calling.  I thought the book started very well and strongly stated strongly truth about being called by God.

What I Didn't Like: I have to be honest though, overall The Call was too long and too wordy for my liking.  I finished it mostly out of obligation, but about halfway through I lost interest.  Specifically it felt like each chapter had so many random stories and quips to illustrate his point, that the overall force of the points he was making was lost.  (I'll fully admit that's just my opinion as there are plenty of smarter wiser people who have endorsed The Call.)

2012 Personal Impact Ranking:

Monday, November 26, 2012

A leap of faith?

How do you tell the difference between taking a leap of faith and taking a leap of what-you-want?

What do I mean by those?  A leap of faith is doing something that God calls you to do, not knowing exactly how it is going to work out.  A leap of what-you-want is doing something that you want to do, not knowing exactly how it is going to work out.  I think sometimes we justify what-we-want by calling it faith; thereby placing the fault on God if what-we-want doesn't work out.

But on the front end of a decision, the two are awfully hard to tell apart.  I wish I had an answer here, but currently I don't think I do.  (I realize there's some obvious ones, God doesn't want me to take a leap of faith and rob a gas station.)  But beyond what's plainly wrong, how do you determine between good and best?

What do you think?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Merry Thanksgiving

As long as I'm auto-posting on Thursdays, I will always have a post similar to this on Thanksgiving:

Why are you on the computer?  There's turkey to be eaten, football to watch, and most importantly people to build relationships with!

If you didn't read this until Friday you get 50 bonus points and a high-five the next time I see you.

Monday, November 19, 2012

BOOR November 2011: 2 for the money, 1 for marriage

I have a few things to pass on from last year's November.

The first two are about money:

1) A PLAN for Giving Generously  I think that spontaneous giving is great too, but more often than not, if I don't plan on giving generously out of what God has given me, I don't give at all.  This is great to think about with a new year coming up.  How are you going to honor God with your finances?

2) Drive Free. Retire Rich.  This is a fun one to watch.  It's also a must watch if you have a car payment or think that a car payment is a necessary expense living in America today.  I'll let the video tell the rest.

And just for fun:

Dude, Where's Your Bride? is a thought provoking look on why men and women are getting married later (or not at all) in the church.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

My Imaginary Jesuses

After I read Imaginary Jesus I realized there are two versions of Jesus that I frequently spend time with.  Are they the real one?  What do you think?

Super-Dad Jesus:  You can tell this Jesus because he's hanging out with kids.  He loves kids and spends time with them all the time.  Playing, running, laughing, talking... anything... with his kids.  He may or may not drive a mini-van but he definitely frequents playgrounds and sports fields.

What's wrong with this Jesus?  Jesus loves kids, we know that (Matthew 19:13-15).  But he didn't just focus on kids.  He saw men, women and children all equally and all needing love and forgiveness.  It's a small distinction, but an important one: "Jesus loves everyone, including kids" vs. "Jesus loves kids."

Next up?

Polite Conversation Jesus:  This Jesus is always having a good conversation with people.  He just loves talking with and getting to know others.  He's good at asking questions (so long as they are not too deep) and always ready to rescue an uncomfortable moment with his quick wit and light-hearted humor.

What's wrong with this Jesus?  Do you think the real Jesus shied away from uncomfortable moments (John 4:16-18) and deep questions (Matthew 16:13)?

Any Imaginary Jesuses you're dealing with?

Monday, November 12, 2012

HIRI: Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos

A few thoughts and points from Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos:

Quotable: "Let's be frank, Matt. The real Jesus is inconvenient. He doesn't always show up when you call. He asks for unreasonable things. He frightens people. He can be immensely frustrating. But you can still serve him while working with an imaginary Jesus."

What I Liked: This book was hilarious, crazy and convicting all at the same time. It's a short, smart and worthwhile read. You jump into it thinking, "this is a little bazaar" but by about 1/3 of the way through you're hooked: Who is the real Jesus? Can Matt find him?
I don't want to spoil more of the story than that.  Most of all I like that this book bought me face to face with the fact that my version of Jesus is often not the real one.  (Coming next post I'll describe two Imaginary Jesuses that the author didn't mention but I spend too much time with myself.)

What I Didn't Like: There's not much I don't like here. It does take a few chapters to even figure out what is going on, and some of that might be the author's writing style. But that same style helps the story immensely too.

2012 Personal Impact Ranking:

Thursday, November 8, 2012

What Would Jesus Buy Shopping Guide

It's Christmas time!  (Well not really, but you'd think it was happening tomorrow by walking through most stores.)

And what do Americans do at Christmas?  We shop 'til we drop baby!

This post is mainly for myself.  But if even one person slightly changes their shopping habits this holiday season because of reading this, then I'll call that a win.  Why do I keep coming back to shopping Biblically and responsibly?

Two reasons:
The Bible calls us to it (check out James 5:1-4).
I keep running into stories like this: Which tires are on your car?  and Where do you get your sports equipment?

Here's a specific list of questions I'm going to attempt to live by over the next two months (and longer).  I challenge you to ask yourself at least 1 of these questions each time you shop this holiday season:

Before you shop: 
  1. Do I need this? If Yes, go to question #2. If No, stop here. 
  2. Do I already have it? Think about this one carefully, we often re-buy stuff we already have because we have so much. If Yes, stop here. If No, go to question #3. 
  3. Can I make it myself? If Yes, go for it! If No, go to question #4. 
  4. Can I upgrade or repair something I own rather than buying it? If Yes, go for it! If No, go to question #5. 
  5. Can I buy it used? Used is better than new in that it keeps something out of the junkyard (for a while longer at least.) If Yes, go for it. (Check out,, to get started.) If No, go to “When You Shop”.  
When you shop: If you make it through the above list and still need to go shopping, ask yourself:

  1. Is it made in the USA? If Yes, go for it. If No, go to question #2. 
  2. It it made in a developed country? (Check out this list.)  If Yes, go for it. If No, go to question #3. 
  3. Does it have any fair trade certification? If Yes, go for it. If No, go to question #4. 
  4. Is what you’re buying known to be produced with child or forced labor? Check this report (starting at page 17). If Yes, find a similar product from a better place. If No, go to question #5. 
  5. How does this product or company rate on (Bar-code scanning app available for smartphones.)  If you’re satisfied with the rating, go to question #6. If you have concerns, look around for a similar product, then go to #6. 
  6. How does the product or company rate on (Bar-code scanning app available for smartphones.)  If you’re satisfied with the rating, go to question #7. If you have concerns, look around for a similar product, then to to #7. 
  7. One last time: Do you really need it?

Last thing: Drop a comment or reply to my email if you'd be interested in some sort of "pocket guide" version of this that you could easily take with you while shopping.

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Personal Reality Check

All of my family's attempts to sell our house have to this point proved fruitless.  But IF we get a buyer for our house sometime in the next couple months, we'll have been in our current house for about 7 years.

7 years.

I recently asked myself the sobering question: How much different does my neighborhood look since I've arrived?  How much different does the town of Pekin look since I've lived here?

Sadly I think I must answer: "Not much."

And even with the things that are different/better, I'm not sure that I deserve any credit.

But when the apostle Paul moved from a synagogue to a lecture hall in the city of Ephesus, the Bible says: "This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks." (Acts 19:10)

Think Ephesus looked different after Paul was there for just two years?  Read Acts 19:23-26 if you're not sure.

May my next two years (wherever I am) have a Paul-type impact!

Monday, October 29, 2012

A lesson from fundraising data

One of the big fundraisers that Camp of Champions holds each summer is a Bowl-a-thon.  We ask all of our summer staff to tell their friends and family about the ministry of camp, our scholarship program and how they've seen God work in the summer.  Each year we're amazed at how God provides... this year was especially awesome as our staff combined to raise over $40,000 to go towards camper scholarships.

Being a numbers guy, I recently looked at the data from the last two years of Bowl-a-thon.  I was mainly just curious, but I also wanted to see if any trends emerged, in order to encourage and equip the staff we have next summer to raise funds for scholarships (so more kids and families can hear the gospel).

Here's one lesson I learned:  Of the staff that raised $0 in 2011, only 18% returned to work at camp.  Remove the people that raised $0 and the return rate for the rest of the staff jumps to 54%.

Or in other words:
Someone's desire to raise money, even just $100, speaks very loudly about how much they believe in a cause.  OR
The final number they raise isn't as important as the fact that they tried at all.  OR
The jump from raising $0 to raising $1 is more important than from $1 to $100 or $100 to $1000.

Take away what you need to, leave what you don't!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

RePost: My Free Advice to 18-25 Year Old Males

Sometimes I feel like posting this every month... but for now once a year will be sufficient:

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.  Don't be an idiot.

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.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Inspire Me: Maui Jim Lessons

Recently I attended a Pekin Chamber luncheon where the guest speaker was Tim Krueger, Maui Jim CFO.

Maui Jim is a sunglasses company based out of Peoria.  Nothing that Tim said was earth-shattering.  In fact most of it was obvious and simple, so maybe that's why it stood out to me as inspirational.  What follows was mt attempted notes on Maui Jim's general guiding principles.  They are specific to business, but it's not that hard to see how they can relate to life and ministry.

Treat your employees like gold.  
Example 1: Maui Jim employees four full-time physical trainers who's only job is to help the other employees get in shape, stay in shape and eat well.

Wow your customers.  Make them smile.  Follow the 5/95 rule.
Example 1: If a customer's glasses need fixed because their dog ate them, the company sends back a dog bone with the fixed glasses and a note that says: "Give the dog this bone instead of your glasses next time."
Example 2: After 9/11, Maui Jim bought back the inventory of it's Hawaiian distributors who were having trouble moving sunglasses (because no tourists were traveling).  The distributors are now intensely loyal to Maui Jim.
The 5/95 rule is this:  5% of your clients/customers are NOT going to follow any of the rules you make.  So don't make rules for the 5% that penalize the 95%.  Only make rules that benefit everyone, especially the 95%.  And don't be surprised about the 5%, you knew they weren't going to follow your rules to begin anyway.

Make your product the best.  Don't focus on other things, focus on your product.
For Maui Jim, this means continually improving their sunglasses.  Their price and brand are important, but not if they aren't making the best possible sunglasses.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Take Out Your Wife: A Mini Rant

Note: This is specifically directed towards Christian men who have wives.

My wife and I just celebrated out 8th anniversary.  Leading up to it, I was struggling with a gift idea.  So I asked who would know, or at least where I thought I could get an opinion: my Facebook friends.

While I didn't get a ton of answers.  The answers I did get (all from women) seemed a little obvious to me: a dinner out, hire a sitter, or a good conversation over a cup of coffee.  I'm not trying to put myself on a pedestal, but I regularly do these things for my wife.  

Are we at the point that a simple date night is a super-special gift that an average guy can't think of on his own?

That's too bad. Date nights should be obvious and regular.  If you have a wife, take her out!

Monday, October 15, 2012

HIRI: Free Will by Sam Harris

I recently listened to the audio version of Free Will by Sam Harris.  Here's How I Heard It: (HIHI?)

What I Liked:  The mental stimulation this book provided.  Don't listen to this when you're half asleep.  There is a definite need to be quick thinking and on your toes as the content comes at you.

What I Didn't Like: A few times Harris used some word play to make his point stronger than it actually was.  Two such statements, as an example: "We know we can perform an experiment such as this, at least in principle"  "Imagine a neuro-scanning device..."  Both times he is making the case that we can prove people aren't in control of their own choices.  But he only quickly uses the word "imagine" or phrase "at least in principle" and then the rest that follows is given as a fact.
Another minor dislike was that because I listened to the audio version I was unable to check his sources (or know if he had sources) for any claim he made.  Considering the type of book that it was, I'll probably look into some of his claims and sources down the road.

Where I Land: The premise of the book is that there is no such thing as free will.  I have to admit that Harris makes his point very strongly.  However, coming at this book with a Biblical worldview, I already believed these two truths: 1) God is in complete control of everything (therefore there isn't free will)  and 2) People have the freedom to make their individual choices (therefore there is free will).
I believe both of these seemingly incompatible truths because the Bible teaches both of them.  How they resolve each other is something I may not know this side of heaven, or maybe it is only known to the all-knowing God.  While Free Will gave me a lot to think about, in the end, it merely supported (in some sense) truth #1.  Truth #2 is still equally strong in my mind, continually supported by the Bible and by my everyday experiences.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

BOOR October 2011: 7 Billion Reasons

Last October I read this interesting post about world population growth and religious growth.  Seeing how that we're a year removed from the author's original posting, I'm assuming most of the numbers are inaccurate.

But the stats are still just as fascinating.  What is the expected population in 2050?  Where is the growth of Christians outpacing that of Muslims?

But the most important question the author poses is this: What will it take to reach a lost world with a rapidly increasing population?

Fin the full post here: 7 Billion Reasons

Monday, October 8, 2012

Personal Task Management

It's been over a year since I switched from managing my tasks on a computer to doing it on paper.  I still feel that doing so was a great decision.  I save a lot of time not being distracted by all the things you can find on a computer.  I also think keeping your task list on paper gives you some built in simplicity and clarity: You can't do it all in one day because you can only fit so much on one piece of paper.

However, there is one sliver of task management that I've transferred back to digital.  If a task or job has multiple parts or recurring items in them, I keep those things in digital format.

For example: I write "Budget" in my task notebook as a reminder to deal with bill-paying, check-writing and keeping up on my family budget.  But for the specific list of bills to pay and checks to write, I have a digital list that I reference.  (You could easily use a spreadsheet, I went with Trello for a little more pizzazz.)

Or when I plan Camp of Champions' staff training.  I need more than a sheet of paper to track all of the details and schedules.  So I keep those in various spreadsheets and documents.  But "Staff Training" is all that gets written down in my task notebook.

Simple and obvious?  Maybe.  But it works.

One caveat: The specifics of how you manage your tasks aren't as important as the fact that you manage them.  How are you doing with that?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A cell phone guideline

I'll need to do a full update to my Using Technology post soon, but here's an idea I recently had:

When you sit down for a meeting with someone, set your phone out on the table and declare who you will accept calls from.  If the phone rings or buzzes, check if it is one of your pre-declared persons.  If so, go ahead and answer it, you told us you would already.  If not, then let it sit.

If I'm meeting with you today, I'd declare I would answer the phone for: 1) my wife, 2) my realtor, 3)
The President (I'm not necessarily expecting a call from him, but it doesn't hurt to be prepared.)

Here's a bonus guideline: If you're sitting down to a meal with your family.  Put your phone out of sight and on silent.  Is there really anyone more important that could call you?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Writing on a whim

Sometimes it's good to write without an end in mind.

Don't have an entire article or blog post thought through before you start writing.  Go with your initial thought and see where it takes you.

It might not be ready to "publish" or send on after your first pass through writing it, but it might help give you clarity on what you were thinking.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

RePost: Catch Up Questions

One neat part of my job is meeting up with friends who worked previous summers at COCUSA.  It is encouraging to catch up with them and see how God is still working in their life.  I also have the chance to challenge and encourage them in their pursuit of Christ.

Here's a random list of questions that I've found useful to kick-start conversations:
  • What's new?
  • How is life?
  • How are you and (insert significant other) doing?
  • Is anything new with the relationship?  Where is it going?
  • What are you reading in your Bible?
  • What books are you reading?
  • What are you doing to make disciples?
  • What is God doing in your life?
  • How can I pray for you?
In addition, I've found it helpful to send a message to the person you're meeting with a day or two in advance, asking them if they have any specific topics or questions they want to cover.

Lastly, I would encourage you to be someone who asks genuine questions in an attempt to care for others. Twice last fall I received messages from friends telling me I had been a huge spiritual help and encouragement to them.  I think a big part of why they thought that was that I am consistently asking genuine and specific questions of people.

Blessings as you catch-up and encourage friends, both old and new.

(Note: This is a re-post/update from last September.)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Right Place/Right Time

Another observation from this past summer at Camp of Champions:

I remember past summers that I would seemingly be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I would leave one of our camp locations, and then 10 minutes later someone would break their arm.  Or we would have a major discipline issue at camps on the days I wasn't there.

But this summer, I felt like I always was in the right place at the right time.  I'd arrive right as a discipline issue was starting.  Or walk into a building or room at a time when I was most needed (like I literally could not have been needed any more than when I showed up.)  This happened weekly for sure, sometimes more often.

What's up with that?  Is it just fate?  Or God's sovereignty?  Was I just unlucky or outside of His will previous summers?

I'm not sure I have an answer, but it's worth asking the question at least.

How can I be in the right place at the right time all the time?

As Calvin (from Calvin & Hobbes) says: "If the right place is in front of the comic book store, we can just hang out there and wait for the right time to come." 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

BOOR August/September: A Friendly Campaign Reminder

I'll be honest.  I'm not a huge fan of politics.

I do vote.  And I try to do so responsibly (by actually looking into each candidate for every race on my ballot.)  But by and large, the political process as it stands today turns me off.

I appreciated this election reminder from Kevin DeYoung: A Friendly Reminder as Campaign Season Gets into Full Swing.  Here's my favorite quote from his blog post: 

The President is not omnicausal either. When the President is on your team, be honest to admit that not every single good thing in the whole country is because of him. And when the President is on the opposite team, don't make it sound like every failure in society can be traced to his administration. There are 300 million people in this country. America is big. It's complex. None but God can trace the thread of cause of effect for every person. 

If you needed that reminder, you can read the whole article at the link above.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A high and lonely destiny?

We've been reading through the Chronicles of Narnia at our house over the last couple months.  If you haven't ever done so, they are great easy reads.  They weave Biblical truths into a captivating story.  My kids love them.

This quote (said by 'the witch' from The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe) stood out to me recently:

"You must learn, child, that what would be wrong for you or for any of the common people is not wrong in a great Queen such as I.  The weight of the whole world is on our shoulders. We must be freed from all rules. Ours is a high and lonely destiny." (The Magician's Nephew, p 62).

Do we ever have that attitude?  "I'm leading this thing so the rules don't apply to me."  Or at the very least: "I can bend the rules as necessary."  

On the surface, most of us don't struggle with this, but watching our motives and desires can be pretty telling.  May we all seek to live with full integrity.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The benefits of a prayer journal

One thing I was reminded about this was summer was the benefits of a prayer journal.

The mornings getting ready for a day of COCUSA are fairly crazy.  While I nearly always made time for a "quiet time" each morning this past summer, looking back I feel that my prayer time specifically could have been better.  (Duly noting that this side of heaven everyone's prayer times could be better.)

What I found myself falling into was a wandering mind that didn't focus on praying for anybody or anything in particular.  When I did pray for someone I often did not do that with a lot of specifics, but instead just a general "bless this person".   

The first thing I refreshed coming off of the summer was my "prayer journal."  (It's really more of a prayer paper.)  I keep a running list of prayer requests and people on one side, and some specific daily prayers on the other.  I didn't use it as much this summer as I normally do.

Since I've gotten back into it though, I've seen the lift it has been to my prayer life.  I think the benefit comes from having a more specific focus: knowing who I'm going to pray for next and what I'm going to pray about.

I realize that you could still have a wandering mind and not pray specifically for someone with a prayer list, but it has been a big help to me.  In fact, usually my heart and mind are in a much better state to do some "wandering prayers" once I've prayed through my list.  My focus is on God and my heart is more easily turned to others (instead of worrying about my day and problems.)

Take all this for what it's worth, but if you're struggling with your personal prayer time, maybe a journal is worth thinking about?

Monday, September 10, 2012

HIRI: A Resilient Life

A few thoughts and points from A Resilient Life by Gordon MacDonald:

Quotable: "The satisfactions of life go to the man or woman who pursues self-control and who is willing to push the body and mind beyond natural points of resistance." (xvii)
"We are most free when we live under discipline." (151)

What I Liked:  The practicality of the book.  There were numerous chapters that after two paragraphs I had a general feel of the chapter content and thought: "I probably don't need to read this."  Then, after a reading a few more paragraphs of the same chapter, I was hooked.  The content of the chapter was exactly what I needed to hear.  This happened again and again as I read.  Maybe it's writing style, maybe it's just a very practical book, but MacDonald was able to speak into many key areas of life with clarity.

What I Liked II: Resilience. The idea that you should stick with it (life, jobs, sports, etc) even in the hard times.  It's the sticking with it that develops more resilience so you can continue to excel.

What I Liked III: Lingering.  This (Chapter 25) was one of those "I don't need to read this" chapters.  Until I read it, then I realized it was exactly what I needed.  I need to linger more.  At the end of a day or a meeting, I just need to be around and linger with people.  

What I Didn't Like: There were a couple chapters that felt forced.  The content wasn't bad in any way, but maybe slightly out of place for the overall theme of the book.

2012 Personal Impact Ranking:
1. A Resilient Life by Gordon MacDonald
2. Great by Choice by Jim Collins and Morten Hansen
3. Margin by Richard Swenson*
4. Where's God on Monday? by Alistair Mackenzie and Wayne Kirkland*
5. Revolution in World Missions by KP Yohannan*

*I own this book and you're welcome to borrow it.  Just ask.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Ways we should be more like Jackson

Today is my son Jackson's 6th (and golden) birthday.  In honor of his big day, here are a few areas we could all benefit from if we were more like him:

If you have an idea, start working on it.  Jackson always has some crazy idea that he is putting together.  And he is totally confident it is possible.  The other day I came home to him attempting to build a catapult.  I don't know where he got the idea, but he was working at it as hard as he could, and drawing me into his plans at the same time.

Read through the Bible.  This just-turned six year old is on a quest to read through the Bible.  He's got through Genesis and wants to keep going.  How much of the Bible have you read?

Have zeal. defines zeal as "fervor for a person, cause, or object; eager desire or endeavor; enthusiastic diligence; ardor."  When Jackson is into something, he is SO into it.  He could not possibly more into it.  Are you passionate about what you are doing?  Are you passionate about anything?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Blogging Back with a Contest

It's true I'm not participating in fantasy football this year.  But by popular request*, I am going to bring back my annual Eliminator Challenge contest.

How this works:
1) Each week you have to pick one NFL team that will win.  (Just one!  Here are more details.)
2) Whoever has the highest score at the end of the season wins coffee out with me.**

It's good to be back. 

* By "popular request" I mean that one person asked me. 
**  If the winner is female, she gets coffee out with my wife.  If the winner lives out of state, I'll send them a $5 Starbucks card. If the winner doesn't like coffee... we can be flexible.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Taking a Break

Hi there.  I'm taking a blog vacation for the rest of the month.

See you in September.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Relationship Pyramid Prezi

I posted the text version of this last summer.

Now.. new and improved... the Prezi Version!  (Click if you can't see it below.)

Monday, August 6, 2012

What Would Jesus Buy Question Review

Last September I asked the question: What Would Jesus Buy?

I'm still asking... and I wanted to update the questions from that post to encourage me and you to shop like Jesus.

Before you shop, ask yourself: 

  1. Do I need it?  Can I do without it?  Do I already have it? If you answer these questions honestly, you won't have to answer the rest of this list as often as you think. 
  2. Can I make it myself?  Can I buy it used?  Can I upgrade or repair something I own rather than buying it? 
If you make it through the above list and still need to go shopping, ask yourself: 

  1. Is it made in the USA or another developed country?  Or is it Fair Trade? 
  2. Is it produced by a company that is at least claiming ethical labor and/or buying practices?  Many companies make some sort of statement on their website. 
  3. Is it produced by a company that has known cases of unethical labor and/or buying practices?  A few Google searches normally turns up any poor standards or practices. 
  4. Is it quality? Will it last a long time or will you be buying another piece of junk in less than two years?

Last but not least, I'm looking for a web site that lets you search for an answer to the second set of questions above.  I'm picturing the ability to type in a product or company and receive results concerning their labor practices, raw material purchases, etc.  Do you know of any?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A warning from the life of Asa

Here's the story:

Asa became King of Judah and had a rocking relationship with God.  He was very effective and changed Judah for the better, turning the country back towards the Lord and away from idols.  At one point, ten years into his reign, King Asa and his army are up against one million soldiers.  He prays to the Lord, acknowledging that without God, he has no chance of winning the battle.  God comes through, and Judah wins the battle.

Twenty-six years later, King Asa is faced with a similar situation.  It's not one million soldiers, but a foreign king is threatening the kingdom.  Instead of praying to God, he takes treasures (some of them from the temple) and buys his way out of his tough position.  While his buy-out is successful, God sends a prophet and clearly tells King Asa that he was in the wrong, since he didn't rely on God as he once did.

(Full version of the story here)

I'm sure there is more than one take-away for this story, but here's mine and it comes in the form of a warning:

The longer you are doing something, the harder it is to continue relying on God while you do it.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Be Great

My family and I have a favorite restaurant.  We find just about every excuse possible to visit there: birthdays, Mother's Day, random celebrations, our anniversary, and more...

Why do we like it?  Probably for the same reason most people like any restaurant: Good food, good service and good atmosphere.  What's most impressive to me, however, is that after over a dozen visits to this restaurant, we've never not had a great experience.  (Translation: It's always been awesome.)

I'm sure that some visitors have been less than impressed with this place: No restaurant has ever pleased everyone all the time.  But any visit I make there reminds me that I should desire to do all I can with excellence.

We like greatness when we experience it.  But so often we settle for less in our own lives...


Thursday, July 26, 2012

What is the most important thing you can do today?

Or to put it another way:

Finish this sentence: The most important thing I can do today is...

Once you finish the sentence, write down your answer.  Keep it with you throughout the day.  Review it or think about it often.

You're probably going to do a lot today, but will it be the most important thing you can do?

Monday, July 23, 2012

The New Book Reading Plan

If you haven't noticed, it's been awhile since I've posted a How I Read It book review.

Put simply, I haven't blogged about a book I've finished because I haven't finished a book since Kelton was born.

I am still slowly working my way through a couple books, and I'll post reviews as I finish them.

However, I will be abandoning my 2012 Book Reading List.  Instead, when I get to the point that I'm ready to read a book, my plan is to look over books on my "To Read" list, choose one that fits where I'm at and what I"m going through, and read it and apply it.

I may yet get to all the books on my 2012 list.  And I may re-launch a year long book reading plan in 2013, but we'll let life settle down a bit before I set any further goals.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Celebrating Kids

You've heard of Father's Day and Mother's Day... but what about Kid's Day?

It's true that this holiday is somewhat recognized here and there.  But by and large, as a society and culture we forget to celebrate the children in our lives.

While my family hasn't landed on a set day to celebrate, we did make a point to call yesterday 'Kid's Day'.  More than a specific date I think the important thing is your attitude:

Kids are worth celebrating.  You should do it.

And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”
(Mark 9:36-37 ESV)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Inspire Me: These Frail Hands

In this broken place where I was born It seems there is no peace, 
And the very soil that we walk upon Is filled with tears that never cease, 
And you can trace the scars of hopelessness Like sweat upon the backs 
Of all the outcast downtrodden, Water slipped through cracks 

Hold on, Hold tight 

And I am overwhelmed with grief, to see such suffering, 
For those who lack the voice to speak For those of us left stuttering 

May this not prevail, Dear Lord, your love will never fail 

And these frail hands, They tremble as they pen perhaps their last 
And these weak words, Can never say what cannot be surpassed 

When the concrete of the world Becomes too cumbersome to lift, 
And the cataracts of fear and doubt Cloak truth beyond what we can sift 
And darkness, darkness bleeds its way, When crippling anguish clouds our sight, 
The ghosts of dusk have bared their teeth, Set their claws to bring the night 

Hold on, Hold tight 

Darkness can’t perceive the light, though lightlessness has chilled us numb, 
And though its wings may cloud the skies, The dark shall never overcome 

Light of the world, Your love, has never failed 

And these frail hands, They tremble as they pen perhaps their last 
And these weak words, Can never say what cannot be surpassed 

I need your love, And most of all I want to feel your peace, 
I need your love, Let everything that you are not decrease,

By Brave Saint Saturn

Monday, July 9, 2012


Anyone can teach.

No really.  Anyone can wax eloquent on a topic given enough time to prepare.

But what we really need is people to lead dialogues.  Too often I think we're guilty of feeding people our thoughts instead of actually helping them think for themselves.

When you're next called to teach, maybe instead of you teaching, you should let God's word teach itself.  Ask questions, lead a dialogue, and keep Scripture and each person's response to it as first and foremost.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

An Email Continuum

Here's what I'm picturing:

Answering                             Never
Every                                Answer 
Email                                 Email
Immediately                            Ever

Which side of the continuum do you fall on?  

If you're too far to the right, you might be missing out on some key dialogue and relationships, because e-mail is now a standardized form of communication.

Too far to the left, and you're going to think you're working hard but at the same time never really accomplish as much as you could or should. 

Like most continuums, the key is being somewhere in the middle.  Answer what you need to when you need to, but don't confuse an empty inbox for success.

Monday, July 2, 2012

What do you better than anyone else?

One of the questions I asked myself on my Summer Game Plan was: What do I do better than anyone else?

It seems like a prideful question at first glance.  But please understand my goal here isn't to brag or flaunt what I do the best.  My desire is to better understand myself and make sure that I'm in my "sweet spot" when it comes to life and ministry.

It's funny (and maybe a little sad) that I don't have a hard and fast answer to that question after eight full-time summers at camp.  But let me tell you what I have discovered:

In general, I spend way too much time doing things that anyone could do with the same level of proficiency.  Yardwork, facility care, cleaning, pool upkeep are a few things that come to mind.  This isn't to say that I'm above these tasks, I'm only asking: Why do I spend a majority of time and energy on things that anyone could do?  Why don't I focus more time and energy on what I do the best?

What do you do better than anyone else?  How can you do it more?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Learning by going

For two summer's running I've take one day away from COCUSA to go visit another day camp.  My goal for these visits is to glean ideas and insights from another Christian day camp program in order to improve Camp of Champions.

The specifics of where I went and what I learned aren't as important as this:

We all have a lot to learn from others.  Regardless of your industry or occupation, I would strongly encourage you to go visit someone who does something similar.

Go with questions.  Observe and take notes.  Think critically about what you do.  Be open to changing.

Just a thought...

Monday, June 25, 2012

Stick It Out

That's my advice to you.

I realize that there are real and good reasons why you shouldn't stick it out.

And maybe in some extreme cases you should be encouraged to give up.

But I think what you (and I) need to hear is this:  Stick it out.  Keep going.  Don't stop.

The rewards and benefits only compound if you do.

Stop now and you'll have to start again, but back at '0'.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Just Say No

This quote recently slapped me in the face:
No one who simply eats or drinks when he feels like eating or drinking... or gratifies his curiousity and sensuality whenever they are stimulated, can consider himself a free person.  He has renounced his spiritual freedom and become the servant of bodily impulse.  Therefore his mind and his will are not fully his own. They are under the power of his appetites.  (Thomas Merton, quoted in A Resilient Life)
During the summer camp season I could literally eat all day.  There is food around camp constantly.  And all too often I could be described as the person "who simply eats or drinks when he feels like eating or drinking."  

So inspired by this, I'm going to attempt to tell myself "No" at least once daily.  Maybe to an extra cup of coffee or a cookie or something else.  

Think of it as practice.  Say No to the little things now so it is easier to refuse bigger temptations later.

Monday, June 18, 2012

BOOR June 2011: You Choose

Last June I found multiple things that we're pretty awesome.  Here's a title and short description of each.  You choose which one suits your fancy.

There I said it: On our love affair with books- What's the most important book you can read as a Christian?  Besides the Bible?  (The point of this post is that you shouldn't have the second question!)

Email checklist (maybe this time it will work)- The basics of how and when to send an e-mail.  If you don't know what "blind copied"or "opt in" mean, then you must read this one.

Dangerous (in a good way)- How to be dangerous (in a good way)

Kings of Judah: Growing Old Ungracefully- Do you want to be grumpy when you grow old?  Probably not...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Inspire Me: Almanzo Wilder

Here's the quote:

"What do you take me for?  Do you think I'm the kind of a fellow that'd leave you there at Brewster's when you're so homesick, just because there's nothing in it for me?"

Here's some background:

Laura Ingalls was away from home for the first time, teaching school for 8 weeks.  The "Brewster's" was the home she was boarding in and it a was horrible place to stay (in the previous chapter the wife pulls a butcher knife on her husband.)  Each weekend for the past 5 weekends Almanzo had made the 24 mile round trip with his horses and sleigh to pick Laura up and bring her home.  But on the return trip the 5th weekend Laura made it clear that while she appreciated his kindness, she was not interested in him at all.

Then, the next weekend, despite her lack of interest, he makes the trip again while it's 40 below zero!  And this is what he says:

"What do you take me for?  Do you think I'm the kind of a fellow that'd leave you there at Brewster's when you're so homesick, just because there's nothing in it for me?"

That's inspiring.  That's the kind of man I want to be and the kind of man I want my boys to be.

Do what's right and good even when there is nothing in it for you.

(Quote from "These Happy Golden Years" by Laura Ingalls Wilder, p77.)

Monday, June 11, 2012

The End of Fantasy Football?

I know, I know... I can't believe I'm considering it either.  But this might be the year I bow out of fantasy football.

I could wax eloquent on this, but the short version of why I'm considering this move is:

I only have so much time to spend.  And my family, job, relationship with God, (and a whole host of other things) are way more important than a game based off of a game.

How can I complain about not having enough time to pray, yet still spend literally over an hour each week planning and strategizing my fantasy football team?

How can I turn down opportunities to serve others, share the gospel and make disciples... and instead merely entertain myself?

If you're still into fantasy football, then good for you.  No hard feelings from me.

But this year, I think I'll be taking a break.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Keeping Life Simple

In the midst of a busy camp season, sleep deprivation training due to a 6 week old and attempting to sell our house... life isn't feeling very simple right now.

I wrote the post below last May.  It was a good reminder for me to re-read it.  Maybe for you too?
There are so many possible things you can do each day.  It's not truly infinite, but practically speaking for a single human being, the options available to you are limitless.  How do you decide what to do with your day?  How do you decide what to do with your life?
You can narrow it down slightly by choosing to glorify God and make disciples of Jesus.  (1 Corinthians 10:31 and Matthew 28:18-20) But even then there are probably still thousands of options available to you.  How do you decide what to do with your day?  How do you decide what to do with your life?
I ask these questions because recently my wife and I had a great conversation about where we should spend our time and invest our energy and resources.  We asked ourselves this question: Who are the three groups of people God has called us to strategically  invest in?
What about you?  Could you narrow it down to three?  This doesn't mean you ignore everyone else.  It means that you put the majority of your efforts and resources towards these three groups.
This wasn't some ground-breaking idea.  Nor did it cause us to completely re-arrange our schedule.  What it did do was give us focus and clarity, as well as permission to breathe.
Who were those groups?  I pictured three circles, and my wife saw them as three trunks of the same tree, but regardless our groups were the same:  We believe God has called us to strategically invest in the people of 1) our family, 2) Camp of Champions USA and 3) Pekin Bible Church.
What about you?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Update on Partner Like Paul

It's been awhile since I posted this about my plans to write a book.  Here's a short update:

It's in process.

Overall it's been a great experience, although a little more difficult and time consuming than I originally thought.  Pending my survival of the next 3 months, I'm hoping to wrap up the finished product sometime this fall.  (Maybe just in time for Christmas?)

I put together an "Early Edition" for a fundraising session at COCUSA staff training.  And since I hadn't it out there, I figured you should have a chance to see it to: Partner Like Paul: (COCUSA Early Edition)

I'd love to hear your feedback on it!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Everyday Making Disciples Everyday

I just piloted this training workshop at our COCUSA Staff Training.  For the first run, it went really well.

It still needs some more work, but I think it could really be a great 1-hour training piece to inspire people to share Jesus everyday.

You won't get the full presentation, but the Prezi below captures the main thought flow.

Here's the link if it's not showing up:

Monday, May 28, 2012

Game Plan: Summer 2012

When heading into a busy season of life, I've found it's best to have a plan.

This week COCUSA starts staff training, and then next week we launch into 11 straight weeks of summer day camp.  It's very full and intense... but also rewarding and amazing.

I find that my summer of ministry goes better if I have a plan... This year I specifically put together this Game Plan.  (A little silly maybe, but helpful to me for sure.)

I hope to explain some areas of this plan in future posts.

But for now, when's your next busy season? What plans do you need to make for it now?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

BOOR Special: How to buy a house

Over the past year or so I've really enjoyed this blog post from Seth Godin: How to buy a house

This is mainly because ever since we found out we were having a fourth child my family has been casually looking for a house with a little more space.  (I'm not sure how to describe a "casual" house search, other than that's just what we did.  :)

We think we found it.  The only catch is we need to sell our house.

I figured it can't hurt to post it here.  Please pass it on if you know someone who is interested.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Good to Great Discussion Questions (for Printing)

One of my most-viewed posts on this blog is Good to Great Discussion Questions.

I wanted to repost it again, along with this link to a PDF version for printing.  Happy reading and discussing!

Original questions below:

Every Chapter: What is the best quote, line, or point from this chapter? And why?
Chapter 1: What would Good to Great mean for your organization? If your organization is currently at mediocre, good, or even very good, what would it look like for it to be great?

Chapter 2:  Describe a Level 5 Leader in your own words.
If it's true that Level 5 leaders are essential to greatness: What's one thing you can do to become more like a Level 5 leader?

Chapter 3:  What steps do we need to take to get the right people at our organization?
What challenges are there in getting the wrong people off the bus? Or getting the right people into different seats?
Where are the biggest opportunities? How can we focus on them?
What does this mean for your board of directors?
Chapter 4:  Are their any brutal facts our organization needs to confront? (OR What is the 'elephant in the room' that no one wants to ask about?)
How can we create a climate where truth is heard?

Chapter 5:  Explain your organization in as simple of terms as possible.
What's your organizations collective passion? What makes you tick?
What can your organization do better than anyone else?
If you could pick one thing that would keep your organization's resource engine running the best, what would it be?
Chapter 6:  Where is our organization on a "fun to unwieldy ball of disorganized stuff" continuum? (Scale of 1 to 10)
Create a stop doing list for your organization: Write down 1 to 3 things you would like to stop because you truly feel fall outside of your organization's scope.
Do we have any "We vs. Them" battles in our organization? Where? How can we get rid of it?
Chapter 7:  When it comes to technology, where do you feel your organization is 'lagging behind'? Or positively: What technology does your organization need to fully embrace in order to accelerate your momentum?
Are there any technologies that are directly tied to the big picture things we do?

Chapter 8:  What would stop our flywheel from spinning? How can we avoid that?

Chapter 9:  What would Good to Great mean for your organization? If your organization is currently at mediocre, good, or even very good, what would it look like for it to be great?
Read the last paragraph, what do you agree with? What do you disagree with? Why?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Raising Boys into Godly Men

I think this post had a different title last year, but I will unashamedly repost it. 

Raising my boys to be men who follow Jesus is probably my life-calling.  Here is a Prezi overview on how my wife and I are hoping to do that.

Monday, May 14, 2012

How I Read It: Where's God on Monday?

A few thoughts and points from Where's God on Monday? by Alistair Mackenzie and Wayne Kirkland

Quotable:  "Any work done faithfully and well is difficult. It is no harder for me to do my job than for any ohter person, and no less.  There are no easy tasks in the Christian way; there are only tasks which can be done faithfully or erratically, with joy or resentment." - Eugene Peterson, p 82

What I Liked:  I liked... no loved... the fact that there is a book on this subject.  The subtitle is "Integrating faith and work every day of the week."  In one sense, this book is a must-read for any follower of Jesus.  I didn't agree 100% with the implications, but we all need to think critically about what it looks like to follow Jesus with all of our lives, every day of our lives.

What I Didn't Like: I've seen this in other places too, but the authors, in the attempt to remove the sacred/secular split, seem to downplay the need to share Jesus with others.  The thinking goes: "Do your job with excellence, serving each moment for the Lord" (I agree with this part)... "and sharing Jesus with those around you there isn't as big of a deal."  (I disagree.)  We need to share Jesus all the time.

2012 Personal Impact Ranking
1. Great by Choice by Jim Collins and Morten Hansen
2. Margin by Richard Swenson*
3. Where's God on Monday? by Alistair Mackenzie and Wayne Kirkland*
4. Revolution in World Missions by KP Yohannan*

*I own this book and you're welcome to borrow it.  Just ask.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

You Know You Are Ready to Date When...

First off, this isn't for me.  Secondly, this isn't from me.

But a couple friends of mine put me in touch with this document last year.  It seems like a great worksheet for guys in the dating stage of life.

I didn't make it and I'm not even sure about it's exact origin, but I do plan on using it with guys in the future.

The text is below, but you can find a PDF of the document here.

You Know You Are Ready to Date When...
1. You have studied the following passages and written out clear observations about how they apply to a dating relationship (bearing in mind that dating is not specifically addressed in Scripture). Romans 12: 1- 2 Romans 14: 22-23 1 Thes. 4:1-8 1 Cor. 6: 12-20 2 Cor 6: 14-15 1 Tim 5: 1-2 2 Pet. 1: 3-4 Psa. 37: 4-5 Psa. 16: 7-11 Php 2: 2-4 Prov. 11:14 1 Cor. 13: 4-7
2. You are able to explain why dating relationship with this particular person is more beneficial than a continued, ongoing friendship with her at this time.
3. You have written out your relationship standards, bearing in mind the impact a dating relationship will have on you, the girl you’re interested in, and other people in your (pl.) sphere of influence. Five areas to cover in your written standards:
a. Physical: How and when will you touch one another? (e.g. WIll you hold hands? Kiss? Where can your hands be on her body? What about lying down with one another on a couch?)
b. Emotional: How will you guard your own heart and refrain from manipulating hers?
c. Mental: What ideas or images will you permit your mind to dwell on? What sources of input (e.g. movies) will you permit to shape your thinking about romance and sexuality?
d. Social: How will you continue to foster Christian friendships with other men? How will you continue to minister to the lost? How will you bless people through your relationship together? How much time will you spend together in a week?
e. Spiritual: Do you share a common passion for Jesus? A common vision for life and ministry to others? What spiritual qualities do you need to see in this person before entering a relationship?
4. You have determined that the timing is right, because you have both...
• sought counsel from respected Christians who listen to you and ask probing questions
• sensed an inward freedom from the Lord to move forward after much prayer
• concluded that dating will contribute to each other’s life and ministry to others
• grown in friendship with one another through extended time together with a group of Christian friends
• had sufficient time to get over any recent emotional hurdles (e.g. just ended another relationship, parents just got divorced)
5. You have established a lifestyle of accountability with someone who knows and counsels you from the Scripture. This person can attest that you are free of any sexual addiction to pornography, and he will ask regularly after the progress of your relationship and your own sexual purity.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Forward Thinking

On a prominent place on my laptop I see this number: 16547

That's the number of days until I hit the average life expectancy for an American male (as of April 26th).

I'll be honest, some days I see that number and think: "I only have that many days to change the world, better get to it."

Other days I think: "I've got to make it that much longer??"

Goes well with this quote: "The basic difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is that a warrior takes everything as a challenge while an ordinary man takes everything either as a blessing or a curse." (Don Juan, Tales of Power)

Not sure where I'm going here, but your end and my end are a lot closer than we both realize.  How are you thinking about it?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Power of Camp

Here's a couple explanations of why CAMP is great!
(Click through to my blog if you can't see anything.)

(Click on image to enlarge.)

Monday, April 30, 2012

A tale of interns

One year-round program of Camp of Champions is "Parents' Night Out."  We hold this event at various locations at least once a month.  We give parents the night out, while we entertain, care for and love on the kids that attend.

Parents' Night Out is where I learned the lesson that it's eventually easier (and ultimately more satisfying) to equip others to do the work.

Five years ago, I would plan the night's schedule, search for staff to help, and lead everything the entire night.  My voice would usually be shot by the end.

Now?  I find four "Night Out Interns" at the beginning of the school year and let them do the planning.  Searching for staff to help is immensely easier (because my interns are already planning on coming.)  And I only need to lead one or two things during the night, thereby protecting my voice.  :)

The lesson here really doesn't involve me, Camp of Champions, or Parents' Night Out.  The lesson is:  While you can make a run at doing everything yourself, it's better (and eventually easier) to equip others to do the work alongside you.

Where do you need to do this?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

BOOR 2011: Money and Possessions in Proverbs

Last year at this time I read this post by Kevin DeYoung about Money and Possessions.

These lines caught my eye:
"You could make a biblical argument that God loves rich guys. Just look at Abraham, Job, and Zacchaeus. Look at the way he blesses obedient kings. Look at the vision of cosmic delight in the garden and in the age to come." 

"You can just as easily make a biblical argument that God hates rich guys. Just look at the rich man and Lazarus. Look at the book of James. Look at Luke’s version of the Sermon on the Mount."

The best part of the post is his look at Proverbs and 10 general principles about money.

It's worth a look at:

Monday, April 23, 2012

Baby and Blogging Update

I'm excited to announce the arrival of: Kelton Judah Lindell

He was born 11:55am yesterday and checked into his earthly life at: 7lb 4oz

I'm posting this both as an announcement and as a way of saying that I'm hoping to keep up with my twice-a-week blog schedule.

I realize that I could take a break guilt-free.  (Having a baby is about the only excuse you can use to get out of anything.)

But I don't want to do to that.  Because if I miss one post, its going to be easier to miss a second.  And if I miss a week, it's going to be easy to miss two.  And two weeks turns into a month just like that.

So I can't make any promises on quality, but I am going to make a run at continuing my posting schedule.

Here goes nothing.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sabbath: A Wrap Up

It's time to temporarily wrap-up my recent posts on the Sabbath.

Here is a quick recap: The Sabbath - What is it?, What makes a Sabbath?, The Sabbath in the New Testament

Sometime in the future I'd like to roll all of those (plus more) into one longer article.  In the meantime, here are a handful of resources on the Sabbath, work, and rest if you want to study more on the subject.
Blessings to you as you pursue a Biblical Sabbath rest.

Monday, April 16, 2012

_______ is coming tonight!

Another pregnancy related thought:

Adrian (our 4-year old) has been pretty excited about his new baby brother arriving.  Three nights ago, as he was going to bed he announced, "The baby is coming tonight."

When the morning came (and no new baby with it) I was prepared for disappointment, but instead, he was just as happy as before and announced "The baby is coming today."

And two nights ago, after the day gone by with no baby...   Again, no disappointment, just a confident announcement: "The baby is coming tonight."  (As I'm writing this it's the next morning and still no baby.)

Shouldn't our attitude be similar when we think of the return of Jesus?  He's coming and we're confident of that, but we're also resting in his timing and not disappointed if he doesn't.

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
(Revelation 22:20 ESV, emphasis mine)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

When is _____ coming?

Today marks the day that our soon-to-be-born son reaches full-term in the womb.  Translation: He could literally be born any day now.  So sorry in advance if I don't respond to your phone calls or emails.  :)

I wrote this in my journal when we were at this stage in pregnancy with Espen (son number 3):

Is pregnancy a picture of anticipating Christ's return?  

I have to hold two truths equal:
1) Brittany could go into labor literally anytime.
2) Life needs to continue- food, sleep, work, kids.

This is similar to:
1) Jesus could come back literally anytime.
2) Life needs to continue.

I'd say that's pretty accurate.  The only addition I would make is that part of life is pursuing Jesus, making disciples, and sharing the gospel.  Thoughts?  It's what I'm thinking anyway.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Which church do you go to?

Here's an interesting observation from Camp of Champions' applications:

More and more, high school and college students associate themselves with multiple churches, and not just one.  

I make this observation in light of the fact that in my high school and college days, I had my church.  It was where I attended youth group and Sunday mornings, as well as small groups, quizzing and any other "extras" that were offered.  I did little to nothing with any other churches.  I could easily answer the question: "Which church do you go to?"  And the answer was singular.

But a quick review of some male COCUSA applicants reveals a lot more diversity today:
  • One guy counselor attends a church plant start up meeting one weeknight and leads worship for a different and unrelated youth ministry another night.
  • I recently interviewed a guy who had strong connections to three churches in two towns.
  • Another guy applicant lists one church in town as his home church, but none of his references are from that church, and his Pastoral reference is from another church entirely.
  • Yet another guy lists one church as his home church, yet when asked recently he told me that he doesn't attend there anymore.  The church he now attends regularly is not mentioned anywhere in his application.
What would any of these examples say if asked: "Which church do you go to?"

I've been noticing this trend for a few years at least, and while it's not quite the rule, it's not the exception either.

I'm not sure if I think it's good, bad or neither.  Right now I only wanted to make the observation and be the reporter.  Maybe I'll be brave enough to draw conclusions or take a position later.

What are your initial thoughts on it?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

How I Read It: Great by Choice

A few thoughts and points from Great by Choice from Jim Collins and Morten Hansen.

Quotable:  "And yet if you'd invested $10,000 in Southwest Airlines on December 31, 1972 (when it was just a tiny little outfit with three airplanes, barely reaching break-even and besieged by larger airlines out to kill the fledgling) your $10,000 would have grown to nearly $12 million by the end of 2002, a return 63 times better than the general stock market." p3 (emphasis mine)
"Freely chosen, discipline is absolute freedom." - Ron Serino p39
"Pioneering innovation is good for society but lethal for the pioneer." p74

What I Liked:  First, Collins is just a great writer.  This book was a really enjoyable read.  Throughout it he weaves the story of two polar explorers racing to reach the South Pole; comparing and contrasting their traits with the leaders and companies that survive during tumultuous times.  Second, like his other books, Great by Choice breaks down some previously "undiscovered" concepts into memorable and usable ideas.  (I say "undiscovered" because, like previous books, these concepts are mostly common sense... even Biblical at times.  It's almost hilarious that it takes years of research to bear them out.)

What I Didn't Like:  Nothing comes to mind.  Overall this was a fun, easy read, but it also left me with a lot of practical concepts (that I'll at least try to implement in my life and work).

2012 Personal Impact Ranking
1. Great by Choice by Jim Collins and Morten Hansen
1. Margin by Richard Swenson*
2. Revolution in World Missions by KP Yohannan*

*I own this book and you're welcome to borrow it.  Just ask.