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Archive for February, 2011

Dust Storms and West Texas

I have often wondered what prompted early settlers to put down roots here in this area of west Texas.  Most days I would say it was the beautiful sunrises or sunsets.  Or maybe the magnificence of wide-open space.  But after a day like yesterday, I wonder if the wheels didn’t just come off of their wagons and they had no money to put them back on so they settled here.

We have been back in west Texas for going on 9 years now and yesterday ranked in the top 3 for the worst wind storms in that time frame.  We had winds in excess of 70 mph.  Limbs were falling out of trees, shingles were lifted from roofs and small animals were blowing down the street.  OK, that last one is a bit exaggerated.  But the point is that it was a windy day.

Now in many parts of the country, wind is annoying but it is not life-altering.  But in this area of west Texas, when the wind blows like it did yesterday, so does the dirt!   The street on which we live is about 350 yards long.  On a normal day, when I round the corner to turn onto our street, I can easily see the houses on the far end of the street.  But yesterday, as I returned from church, I turned onto our street and realized, I couldn’t even see half way down our street because of the blowing dirt.

As I pulled into the garage and shut the door, I asked myself, “Why do I live here?”

But as I thought about that question, I remembered the answer – its the people!  I have lived in a number of cities in Texas and in many different regions, but there is something special about west Texans.  They are a down to Earth, honest, hospitable sort.  Still to this day, a hand-shake will sign any deal for many folks.  They are generous and kind and for the most part, easy going.

I still don’t understand why those early settlers picked this place to make their homes, but it is clear to me why people stay!

So that is why we are living in west Texas and loving it (even after breathing dirt for a day).

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Who’s Your Friend?

Who are your friends?  Who are those who you lean on in times of trouble.

I ran across this quote today:  “Let those who are friendly with you be many, but let your advisors be one in a thousand.”

Do you have a handful of friends who you can turn to for wise counsel and advice?

Everyone needs people like that in their lives.  I have a couple of friends who are always there and I would be in a world of hurt without them.  But I have to ask myself, am I that kind of friend to anyone else?

Today, I encourage you to think about who your true friends are and what they mean to you.  Let them know.

Also consider how you might be that kind of friend to others.

Have a great weekend!

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The Effective Leader

Have you ever heard of the 80/20 principle?  I am sure you have.  If you haven’t, you may be in the 80% group.

The 80/20 principle states that 80% of the work gets done by 20% of the folks.  That applies in most any organization – but especially in a volunteer organization.  20% of the folks give 80% of the money, do 80% of the work and take on 80% of the responsibility.  Like I said above, if you have never heard this, then chances are, you are in the 80% group.

But my mind is not focused on an organization today.  Today I am thinking more personally.  This principle also applies to our leadership.  Typically, leaders spend only 20% of their time working in the area of their strengths.  Which means, 80% of the time we are doing things that don’t pay many dividends.  That is not to say we are slacking off or wasting time, it just means that many of the tasks that we must do, or choose to do, are not in the area of our strengths.

So here is my challenge to you today from one leader to another – focus on your strengths today.  What drives you?  What are you passionate about?  Where do your skills lie?  Now, how can you work in that area today?

Today, you need to turn the 80/20 principle on its head.  This may mean you have to choose not to do something in favor of doing something of greater importance.  It may mean you have to delegate some things in order to focus on your area of giftedness.

I realize for most of us that this seems a bit “pie in the sky” – that it is easy to say but harder to do.  Well, it is.  If it were easy, we would have the 20/80 principle.  But the mark of an effective leader is how well one navigates this principle.  We can try and blame our ineffectiveness on circumstances or budget or any number of things, but an effective leader finds a way to work within his or her strengths.

How effective will you be today?

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Listening For God

How does God speak to you?  Yesterday, I mused about the possibility to God communicating with us through text messaging – how cool would that be?

I have been wrestling with this topic for the past week.  I think God speaks to us in many ways.  God uses the Bible to inspire and teach us how we should live.  I have felt God moving in me through the words of pastors and teachers.  I have heard God through the wise words of friends.  I have felt God’s presence through nature.  There are many, many ways God speaks to us.

Regardless of how God speaks to you, I know two things for certain.  The first – scripture must be the test of what we feel God is saying to us.  God will not tell you something that is contrary to what is in the Bible.

The second thing I know for sure is this: you will never hear a thing if you aren’t listening.   How well do you listen?  Do you make time to slow down long enough to hear?

Listen to this passage in 1 Kings 19:11-13, about Elijah hearing from God:

The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.  When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

I love the phrase, “for the Lord is about to pass by!”  What a breath-taking image.  God is about to come near – are you ready?  As Elijah was waiting to hear from God, there were a number of amazing things that happened and Elijah looked for God in those things but God was not there.  Elijah finally heard God in a gentle whisper.

Sometimes God has to shout to get our attention.  But more often than not, God speaks to us in gentle whispers – nudges – simple impressions, just to let us know we aren’t alone.

God is about to pass by – are you listening?

 

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How lazy I have become.  Yesterday, our youngest son had gone to spend some time with a friend.  When it came time to pick him up, I drove to the house, pulled into the driveway and picked up my phone.  I sent him a text to tell him I was there.  As I keyed in the message, “I am here” I thought about how lazy I am that I can’t get out of the car and go to the door.  But that is how we live our lives these days.

As I have thought about the message I sent my son yesterday, I began to wonder about a world in which God communicated with us through text messaging (I know, my mind is a scary place sometimes – you should live in it!).  What would God say?

As I pondered this thought, I came up with what I think would be God’s most common text message to the world – “I am here.” Unlike me, who was too lazy to go to the door and needed to announce that I had arrived, God would send the message to remind us that He has never left – God is always with us!

No matter what you are going through today – never forget that God is with you.  Call out to God – the response will be “I am here.”

Be blessed today!

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Time With My Wife

It’s Friday – my day off!  And as if that weren’t enough to be happy about, my wife took a day of vacation.  Yesterday, as we were getting ready for work, I asked her what she was going to do on her day off.  She looked at me in the mirror and said, “Hang out with you!”

Wow!  Am I lucky.  The boys are in school and its just my wonderful wife and me.  I believe a trip to Lubbock is in the works as well as some time to talk and hang out.  I am excited!  It is so important to make time for one another.  How can we expect a relationship to grow and remain healthy if we never spend time together?

This just leaves me with one question – “Why in the world am I sitting at my computer writing this?”  Gotta go!

 

 

How would you spend the day with your spouse or significant other?  Take the time to let them know today.

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The Art of Becoming

Who are you?  Have you answered that question before?  Typically when we meet someone for the first time we introduce ourselves.  We offer our name and then what normally comes next?  I would estimate that 80% of the time, the next question is “What do you do?”

We often define ourselves by what we do – “I am a teacher” or “I am a business owner” or “I am a student.”  But is that who we really are?

A couple of years ago, I read a book that I still refer back to occasionally.  Joshua Choonmin Kang is the author, and the book: Deep-Rooted in Christ – The Way of Transformation. In his book, Kang says this:

God is more concerned with who we are than who we think we are.  He doesn’t care how many tasks we do or how big they are.  What matters is that we become what God wants us to be.  Until that time, God won’t take delight in our activities.

Who we are becoming is more important than who we are – or think we are.  As followers in the Way, we are to become who God wants us to be – and the picture of that desire is Jesus.  We are to strive to be like him.  It takes work.  It takes discipline.  It takes time – a lifetime in fact.

It begins with a commitment.  A decision that only you can make to follow Jesus – his teachings and lifestyle.  This requires spending time with him in conversation – daily.  It also requires spending time studying his teachings.  It requires actually living out the lifestyle you have adopted.  We can’t say we follow Jesus if our actions don’t reflect his actions.

Hebrews 12:1-3 says this:

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

When you think you can’t follow through with your commitment of becoming, stop and think of Jesus.  Becoming like Jesus is more than a Sunday morning activity.  It is a lifestyle.  Just remember – who you are becoming is more important than what you do.  God is more concerned about who you become and that should be all that matters!

Who are you becoming today?

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