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: