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Archive for August, 2009

Motivation is the Key

I woke up last night and could not go back to sleep.  I tossed and turned for about 2 hours and finally gave up and just got up.  I think part of my problem was all the things running through my head – all the plans and ideas I have to do great things for God’s Kingdom.  But as I lay there thinking and praying, I began to question my motivation.  I tend to be a dreamer in some regards which is not a bad thing but one of the things I am always cautious of is the motivation behind my dreams and aspirations.

Motivation is an important, if not crucial, element to life – any life.  Without motivation we would not get out of bed in the morning.  There would be no sense of purpose.  Now understand, motivation can be external – someone else telling us “You better do this or that.”  Or it can come from within.  It is this inner motivation I am talking about.

It is vitally important to make sure, as a follower of Jesus, that our motivation to do great things comes from a desire to serve Jesus and others and not ourselves.  As long as our motivation is purely and humbly grounded in serving Jesus and pleasing God, then all the other things we are concerned about will either be taken care of or merely fade into irrelevance.

So what motivates you today?  I challenge you to pray for God to search your heart – that place so deep inside that only you and God know it – ask God to search you there and reveal to you areas that may not be operating out of pure motives.  The Kingdom will be furthered and you will be blessed in the process.

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Broken MirrorAbout a week ago I was backing out of the garage, it was early (very early) and I was not fully awake.  Some of the men from our church get together for a prayer breakfast at 6 am.  I have told them that I am not sure God is up at that hour and so I don’t think I should be either but that has not swayed them.  But back to the story, as I backed out of the garage at that early hour, I realized quite abruptly that due to the rain overnight, the opening in the garage had shrunk and my mirror would no longer make it through the opening.  Ok, I admit, the garage had not shrunk, I was just not paying attention and nearly took the mirror completely off the passenger side of the vehicle!  That is a sickening feeling to know that you have just done damage to your vehicle and there is no one to blame but yourself.

At any rate, the mirror housing was fine but the mirror itself was smashed into 40 or 50 pieces and dangling from the housing by a wire.  I was able to pop the plastic back together but I was left with a mirror that not only made objects appear farther than they actually are but now there were 40 or 50 objects to choose from.  The problem is that all the pieces give just a little different perspective – there is no clear picture in the mirror anymore.  Without clear focus, the mirror is completely useless.

Leadership is like that – with no clear focus, can we even really call it leadership?  When light is focused in the right way, it can be used to cut steel (or burn ants if you grew up in my neighborhood).

Good intentions, good ideas, passion, talents and enthusiasm can change the world when focused correctly.

So I have two questions for you: 1) How focused are your gifts and talents and passions toward your goals?  and 2) Anyone know where I can get that mirror fixed?

Have a great weekend and thanks for reading!

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Now That’s Risky

Most if not all of us are leaders on some level.  Some of you may lead major organizations, some may lead a family owned business, some may lead a Sunday School class and some may lead a family, but all are leaders on some level.

In thinking about what it takes to be a great leader, I am convinced that it takes vision – seeing what could be and even what should be.  But anytime we think about what could and should be, it comes with an element of risk.

Tacitus, a Roman historian in the first century is credited for saying this, “The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise.”  In other words, our desire to play it safe and not take a little risk from time to time might just be what holds us back from being the leaders we need to be.

What do you need to risk today?

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Intelligence or Depth?

One of my favorite authors is Richard Foster.  He has written extensively in the area of spiritual formation.   His most recognized work was a book entitled, Celebration of Discipline.  In that book he made this statement:  “The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but deep people.”

Now he wrote this book about 30 years ago but this statement is still as true today as it was then.  Our culture has a tendency to move at the speed of light and the result is people who can get things done and move on to the next thing – successful people.

But at the core of most of what we see there is little depth.  When there is no depth, there is little passion and direction.  We are simply living day to day, from demand to demand.  How much better would our lives be – how much better would our world be – if we all had a spiritual depth that birthed true, God-centered direction and passion.

I would like to live that life – I would like to live in that world!

What do you think?

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Imitating the Original

I have always been a huge Journey fan.  I think I wore out more than one cassette from Steve Perry and the crew back in the day.  And they continue to be among my favorite 80’s bands.  A little over a year ago, Journey released a new album – (sorry, I’m a product of an earlier time) a CD in today’s terms.  On this new release they featured a new lead vocalist named Arnel Pineda.  Arnel is from the Phillipines and has an incredible voice.  But the key to his acceptance as the newest member of the group is that he sounds amazingly like Steve Perry.  In fact, the CD has a full offering of new material but it also contains a sort of greatest hits cuts sung by Arnel as well.

He is an artist in his own right, but it is obvious that Arnel was chosen for the role because he is an accomplished imitator of the original.  It will be interesting to see where this talent takes him and the rest of the group.  I am very impressed with Arnel and his talent, but call me set in my ways –  there is only one Steve Perry.

But I am reminded in all of this that we are all called to be imitators.  (Read about it here).

If we are to fully live out what God wants us to be, then we must strive to be more like Jesus – imitators of his life – imitators of the original.  We find in the imitation that we learn to experience life as it was intended to be experienced – a life of joy and love.

Keep on imitating!

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I was reminded this weekend that the church is more than this building or that building – and yes, even bigger than this congregation or that congregation or even this denomination or that denomination!  You hear church growth strategists use the terminology “doing church.”  I have to confess that I have even used those words in describing how we do things in the church.  But I have since come to think that it is a horrible way to describe church and the work therein.

We are to BE the church.  Saturday I had a chance to be with a couple of thousand people BEING the church.  They were all ages, all nationalities and all faith groups.  I guess there is something about standing in 98 degree temperatures in the middle of the desert and listening to Christian music that pulls people together (or maybe it is just the rock and roll).

We were at Rock the Desert and it was an awesome display of the church.  There were all kinds of people there.  In all reality, it was not the desert or the heat or even the rock and roll, but the One True Messiah that brought all those people together!  Everyone, for two days, set there structures aside to worship together.  That is the church – that is God’s people BEING the church!

And yes, there was ministry happening as well.  People were praying, serving and testifying about God’s good news of hope and love.  People were rescued from a life of devastation and misery.  Lives were changed and mine was one of them.  I firmly believe the Bible teaches that when we come into the realization of God’s presence, we walk away changed.

It happens – I’ve seen it – and I’ve got to share it with all who will listen!

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You’re a Liar

This week at Vacation Bible School I have had a part in the drama each night.  I have been a phony athlete, a mean soldier, an arrogant statesman and last night I was a thief.  Last night during the gathering time before we began, I was mingling with the kids on the front lawn and one little girl came up to me and yelled, “You’re a liar!”  Now normally I would have taken offense to that kind of abuse, but I knew she was referring to the character I played on Monday night (at least I hope she was!).  I knelt down to her as she was still pointing and laughing and explained that the person I played on Monday night was just make believe.  She understood and gave me a big hug.  But it reminded me that people watch me and it only takes one mistake to damage a reputation.

The more important issue is that when we make mistakes, the potential is always there to damage our Christian witness.  Paul said we should strive to live a life worthy of being called a Jesus follower (you can read it here).

If we are to truly make a difference in this world, or at least our little piece of it, then we must continuously strive to live as Jesus lived.  It isn’t easy but Jesus never said that following him would be.

Have a great weekend!

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People and Slinkies

Years ago, there was a Saturday Night Live bit called “Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy.”  There was always a serene landscape shot and the words of Jack’s thoughts would scroll across the screen and one of the actors would read them in monologue fashion – normally there was enough truth to make you pause but they were always comical.

I have a similar style quote on my bulletin board above my desk.  It is a picture of an ocean view at sunset with these words across the picture:

Some people are like slinkies, they don’t really have a purpose, but they still bring a smile to your face when you push them down the stairs.

I have never really wanted to push anyone down the stairs but the reality is that some people are easier to get along with than others.  Here is the hard lesson for today though, Jesus loves everyone the same.  And he calls us to do the same.

It may not be easy, but God expects us to show the love we have been given to all those around us – likeable or not.  So today, I challenge you to go out of your way to do something nice – out of the ordinary – for someone who sometimes makes you a little crazy.

Oh – and always refrain from pushing anyone down any stairs – even if the opportunity presents itself to you.

Thanks for reading!

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I have tried to really jump into the whole digital map and social media world over the last few months.  I am still learning.  It can be quite frustrating at times because, I have decided that, we are entering a new world.  For many people, not all mind you, what was once a novelty (Myspace, FaceBook, Twitter, etc.) has become a way of life.

I was talking to a friend the other day and I heard these words come out of my mouth, “I got a text message the other day and wasn’t sure what it was since it didn’t come through Twitter.”  Things are moving so quickly, but the crux of it all is that our world, like it or not, is moving to new and different forms of communication.  And I have to admit, in some ways I like it.

But I have drawn some interesting similarities between the social media realm and the church.  It would appear that there are two primary categories of media folk out there, 1) Consumers and 2) Contributors.  Consumers are those who will spend lots of time browsing and gleaning information from all the “stuff” out there in cyberworld but rarely offer any contribution back.  Contributors are those who offer content (ie. information, thoughts, etc.)  In a conversation with @mattgierhart (that is Twitter speak) he alluded to a statistic that sounded vaguely familiar.  He said that about 80% of the media folk are consumers and the other 20% are contributors.

Wow!  Sounds like the church.  Here is my challenge for you today.  Be a contributor.  That doesn’t mean you can’t consume, it just means you give something back – give something of yourself today.  The church, and in fact our world, is desperate for people to step up to the plate and take an active role in making a difference in the lives of others.  Do it today.

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The Strength of a Family

Yesterday I mentioned my boys and today I am still thinking about the importance of family.  I realize that not all families are strong and healthy, but I was reminded last week of the importance of close family relationships.

I had the privilege of being in the right place at the right time.  I struggle to call it that because it seems wrong to think of it in that way, but reflecting back on it, I can’t think of a better way to describe it.

Billy had been suffering for a while.  When I got to his room last Thursday, I knew he would not be with us much longer.  So I stayed with the family.  About 4:30 or so he took his  last breath.  I don’t know if you have ever been in that situation but it does not matter if you think you are prepared or not, it is never easy.

But my point is this.  I had the privilege of being there in that moment and watching that family rally around that patriarch and lean on one another.  It truly was a beautiful picture of a family in action.  There was sincere sadness but there was also a strength present in their midst.

Thank you Patsy, Steva, Vicki and Randy for reminding me how important it is to be part of a family.  God created the idea of family and you truly lived out an element of what God intended last week.  I know God was and is pleased.

For the rest of us: pray for your family today and then pick up the phone and call them and tell them you love them.

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