Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Priorities

God, Family, Football

Hopefully you've got your priorities right today.  Which means maybe you shouldn't be reading this...

Be thankful to God for what he's given you.
Spend focused time with your Family, immediate and extended.
(Enjoy a little Football if the opportunity allows.)

Bonus material for later: I talked about being thankful last year at this time, give it a listen here.

Monday, November 25, 2013



That's the most up to date US Census Bureau number on the population of central Illinois' tri-county area.  (If you don't live in that area but do live in the United States, you can find your county or city's population here.)

362,174.  Obviously there are plenty of places that have a bigger population.  But still, this is where God has placed me.  Do I have that number in my head as I go about each day?  Or do I settle for far more reachable goals?

CS Lewis said "Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak."

Lord give me the desire to reach everyone around me with your Good News.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

I care?

When Joplin Missouri got smashed with a tornado did I care much?
What about the Philippines and their most recent typhoon?

It's funny, sad or maybe just the reality of human nature that we don't care about tragedies until they hit close to home.  I mean, I might "care":  I felt bad for a few minutes, made a donation, or even acknowledge the suffering of others in prayer.

But did I care like I'm currently hurting for central Illinois?

I'm not sure how to incite more care in myself.  Hopefully this current tragedy will do it.  In the future I want to feel for them and give to them and pray for them like they were next door.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Please comfort the hurting

Every morning one of the things I pray is:

Please comfort the hurting and thank you for being the comforter.

Some days it has more meaning than others.  Pray for Central Illinois and the extensive tornado recovery.  Pray also for the family and friends of Jacob Garber.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Mortgages and Margin

I recently sought a home loan pre-approval.  I already had in mind the amount of mortgage my family could take on, mainly determined by the amount of money we could commit to a monthly mortgage payment.

For the sake of this simplifying this illustration, the amount that I felt my family could handle was $100 each month.  The banker that I got my pre-approval from suggested I could afford to pay as much as $144 each month.  Remember, $44 is just for the illustration, that's a 44% increase.  (Add 44% to your current mortgage payment and tell me what you think.)

Yes, my family could have pinched and scraped and made the banker's number work, but I would hate to think what would happen if we did and any emergencies or unforeseen circumstances come up.

And yes, God can provide whatever we need, whenever we need it.

But I can't help but thinking that a little financial margin would do all of us some good.  And if you're making a financial decision, the established institutions aren't going to find your personal margin, that's on you to know and live by.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Star Method

I ran across the a group Bible study method listening to a podcast: The Star Method.  I've used it a few times now, and it's been a great and simple way to get a group of people into God's word.  I hope you can use it too.
  • Read the passage out loud together. (Make sure everyone gets to read at least one verse.)
  • Have each person read the passage silently. While reading, they should...
    • Write a Star ( * ) by anything that stands out. 
    • Write a Question Mark ( ? ) by anything that they don’t understand. 
    • Write an Arrow ( → ) by anything that feels like a direction from God. 
  • Try to write at least one, but no more than three, things in each category above. 
  • Have each person share their Stars with the group 
  • Have each person share their Question Marks with the group. (Only attempt to answer another person’s question if you know the answer.  If not, look it up and get back to them later.) 
  • Have each person share their Arrows with the group.
  • Pray for each other to follow the Arrows you came up with.
It's simple, but I've been amazed at how effective it is at getting people to discuss and apply God's word.

Thanks to Gary Stump and Onward Church for sharing.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Book Review: Saving for Retirement

I just finished Saving for Retirement (without living like a pauper or winning the lottery) by Gail MarksJarvis.  It was a good book and I would recommend it, but it wasn't one that would necessarily fit my normal book review categories.  (I'm not sure what quotable line about IRAs I would have picked from it.)

Even more than I expected, it took the idea of saving for retirement and laid it out in a way that anyone could do it.  Not only that, anyone could do it by themselves without outside help if they wished.

Maybe you currently feel 'set' when it comes to retirement.  You know your plan, you know you've got what you need.  Good for you.  If you fall outside that category, even slightly, this would be a good read for you.

2013 Personal Impact Ranking: 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Studying Thought Flow

So recently I was trying to think of a name for a new thing that Camp of Champions is starting.
  • I hadn't had any luck so I started checking out other Christian camp's websites for ideas. 
  • I came across an idea that struck me as funny, so emailed the other COCUSA full-time staff about it.
  • One of their responses referenced a book we had read several years before.
  • I visited that book's website and looked through several of the chapter titles and content.
  • One chapter title was a term I hadn't yet considered, so I looked it up on
  • And the first entry in the thesaurus was the perfect term for what I was looking to name.
Maybe it's just my mind that runs like this, but it's entertaining anyway.

Maybe the lesson is that, when brainstorming, we shouldn't be afraid to involve outside ideas and other people, as I certainly would have gotten nowhere without it.