Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Posted on Seth Godin's blog recently…


Reasons to work

1.      For the money

2.      To be challenged

3.      For the pleasure/calling of doing the work

4.      For the impact it makes on the world

5.      For the reputation you build in the community

6.      To solve interesting problems

7.      To be part of a group and to experience the mission

8.      To be appreciated


My experience is that the happiest people I have met over the years are those who are driven by numbers 2,3,4,6 and 7. Don't get me wrong, people should enjoy 1,5 and 8 as well but these are external fruit over which we have little control. Working solely because of the 1-5-8 is an unrealistic strategy from our culture's standpoint. Look at commercials. They stress the benefits of their good and services will be numbers 1,5 and 8. The other numbers are minimized.


Now, there is nothing wrong with any of these. God made "stuff" and thought about things like sunsets, sex and chocolate. God gave us a world to enjoy responsibly, including meaningful work.


Which drive you? Are there any you overlook? While I like them all, 2 and 6 really get me jazzed.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Darren owns a restaurant in Central Texas. Christine and I talked with him after dinner. We went there because he only uses fresh ingredients, free from additives, preferably locally grown. He talked. You could not stop him. He had a passion. It was food. He had worked in the restaurant industry for years, learning about his passion. 20 years. Then, he made his move to his own place. We had a great time.

Did you ever notice how magnetic people with a passion are? Did you ever notice how patient they are? Now, to be clear, I consider a "passion" an innate, internal drive to dive into the deep end of the pool of life – no matter the cost. It does give us pleasure but the pleasure is the fruit of a passion and not the reason for its pursuit. It has to do with you and me and not something or someone outside of us or a reward.


When I have done Spiritual Gifts classes, I am saddened by how little passion or awareness of passion Christians have. For some reason, we think that if we go through the right moves and think the right things and emphasize the right doctrine, we will have life. I do not think so.


Jesus had a passion and it drove him to the Cross but, also THROUGH the Cross into a life unimagined. God has that in store for you as well. I hope you do not miss out.


I pray today that you pursue your passion (and only trial and error and do-overs will help unearth it.) I pray you find something so life-giving and compelling that you seek it not counting the costs. Then, I want to hang around you, energized by your passion.


The City of Galveston recently handed out trees to citizens. So many trees were killed by Hurricane Ike.


Tree planting takes on a different mindset than grass or flower planting. Trees take forever. Flowers take only a little while to be fully enjoyed. That hammock between the trees may need to wait 20 years. The petunias are good to go today. Yard of the month!


I looked up our house in Rifle, Colorado the other day on Google Earth. GE let's you see a pretty good satellite's view of almost any where in the world. The first thing I noticed was the trees. We planted these spindly little fruit trees our first year. We move on in year three.


We plant trees (usually) for others. Others whom we do not know or never will know. Trees are an investment in the future but not the instantaneous "bottom line."


Jesus enjoyed the moment and so should we. But his investment was in the future. I am in my 7th decade and I see how much it is important to invest in the future. My template is the Kingdom, as Jesus described it. But it does not lead me to simply contemplate spiritual things (whatever that means.) It leads me to want to make investments in people's futures – financially, environmentally, educationally, and emotionally.


What will you do today to plant for the Kingdom? Even if all you will enjoy is something spindly.


But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33 (NIV)


Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, Philippians 2:3 (NIV)

Just Because

Facebook is a great platform to trumpet the triumphs of our kids and ourselves (does any one trumpet our parent's triumphs?)  We like winners. We are proud of the good things our loved ones do. Alas, in a competitive world, most of us are losers. One thing I think this leads us to is a self-rejection, one which we won't admit or are not aware of. But one that eats away at us from the inside. God forbid.


Jesus does expect good things done in his name. But his love goes beyond that and ours should, too. Jesus loves us IN SPITE of what we do because he finds us inherently lovable – as is! Consider today loving another "just because." Set up someone else for a lifetime of self-acceptance that is not based on circumstances. Most of those are out of our control.


"Over the years, I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection. Success, popularity, and power can indeed present a great temptation, but their seductive quality often comes from the way they are part of the much larger temptation to self-rejection. When we have come to believe in the voices that call us worthless and unlovable, then success, popularity, and power are easily perceived as attractive solutions. The real trap, however, is self-rejection. As soon as someone accuses me or criticizes me, as soon as I am rejected, left alone, or abandoned, I find myself thinking, "Well, that proves once again that I am a nobody." … [My dark side says,] I am no good… I deserve to be pushed aside, forgotten, rejected, and abandoned. Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the "Beloved." Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence."  Henri Nouwen

Saturday, November 20, 2010


I met Randy today. He makes stone crosses from limestone and granite. I bought aa beautiful multicolor cross from stone from Llano. We got to talking.


Randy told me that he calls what he does a ministry. People come with all sorts of stories. About loved ones, lost ones and miracles. He used to talk but now he sees his real ministry is to listen. Not to judge but to be a safe place of peace.


Listening is a lost art. The Prince of Peace, Jesus, while always resident in our interactions, is visibly present when we listen.


Make Christ real for someone today. When the conversation goes beyond gossip; when someone begins to reveal herself (or himself,) don't talk (no matter how interesting you are and I'll bet you are.) Just listen. If the conversation is all weather talk, ask a question. "Who had the biggest influence on your life (and why?") "Where were you when you felt closest to God (and why?") "What have you done that you are the proudest of (and why?") "Who is your greatest cheerleader (and what is it that he or she sees in you?")


May you know Christ today.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Graham Brenna wrote in the blog Church Crunch a quotation from Jim Elliston.


We're convinced that the world needs us to be good at a lot of things. But the truth is, the world really needs us to be great at one thing.


Brenna's thought was this.  A red Ferrari turns heads when it drives by. What about your church or ministry turns heads? Churches spend a lot of time trying to be all things to all people in order to be "inclusive" but may miss the mark by being "nothing to anyone" instead. John, in the Book of Revelation, has God spitting out "lukewarm," preferring hot or cold instead.


But get closer to home. God made you deliciously unique. We are not a consumption driven drone of the American Dream nor a disciple cookie cutter robot nor are we created by God to be Miss/Mr. Popularity, a people-pleaser. Here is the question, "What about you did God "build in" you that should turn heads? An answer of, "I don't know," is a cop-out. Find out. Do not rest until you find out. Loads of help and inventories are out their. Test it out. Then be/do that. You will glorify God and be less stressed. You are great!

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Author Dennis Lehane was interviewed recently on National Public Radio. He said something tangential to his new book that I found made me pause to think about.

Lehane stated that we spend life pursuing happiness and that, in his mind, was an illusive if not impossible task. One never gets there. Instead, LeHane says, we should work to make the blessing outweigh the regrets. In other words, the totality of life can be blessed even if happiness is not always present. As a hospital chaplain, I heard a lot of end of life regrets. Most of them had to do with busyness at the expense of family and the things that are truly important.


Jesus tells us a whole lot of ways to be blessed and to bless. All have to do with giving of ourselves or staying true to him. The blessing of giving is two-fold in that we give AND get blessings when we bless others. A blessing is an unselfish gift that costs the giver.


Tip the scales of life in your favor today. Bless each one you meet today. Especially bless those not related to you and who can offer you nothing in return. Not only will you build up your "blessing account," you will not have any time to formulate new regrets.

Life Lessons #2

With the release of his new book Decision Points, President Bush appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show recently.  The following are quotations from President Bush. I find something both faithful and useful about each one. Maybe you will as well.

  1. "Don't sell your soul for the sake of politics.  Have a set of principles.  Defend those principles no matter what it might cost you in the polls."
  2. "One of my proudest accomplishments is that I didn't sell my principles for the sake of popularity."
  3. "If you chase popularity you're chasing something for a fleeting moment.  Principles last forever."

Jesus tells us in Luke 14 that the cost of discipleship is high but worth it. Life literally hangs in the balance. Another theologian told us the there is no cheap grace. Grace is God gift of the ability to rebound when we neither earn nor deserve it. Grace is unleashed in a follower and lies dormant in a people pleaser.

Today, ask yourself, "What do I stand for that no amount of pressure will change?" Another way to state this might be, "What am I basing this life and the next on?" Jesus Christ will freely give you everything if you will follow him. Following him, however, does not come cheaply. Go against the grain today. Make every moment based on principle and none on popularity.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Life Lessons #1

With the release of his new book Decision Points, President Bush appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show. The following are quotations from President Bush. I find something both faithful and useful about each one. Maybe you will as well.


  1. "I view politics as a chapter of my life.  Not my life."
  2. "If I would have allowed the critics to affect me during the presidency, I would not have done my job as a leader."


What defines your life? Kids and their accomplishments? Your job? Your material possessions? Your past? Obstacles? Busyness? Christ?


To what audience do you play in life? Family? Boss? Critics? Sycophants? Friends?


Jesus chose to let God define his life and God be his audience. It did not mean that he had no social life or friends. It did not mean he forsook his family. It did not mean he had no fun. It did mean that he was at Peace no matter what the world threw at him.


Most of us want Peace (contentment) if we want anything. It remains elusive. Maybe we need to change who or what defines us. God cherishes you and only has your well-being in mind. He does not wish to control you or work his agenda. Now that's love.


Jesus saw his Father in Heaven as his audience. Playing to more than one person or to persons who, as nice as they are, have other agendas for us, is draining. Much of our busyness comes from trying to please too many people. If we just please God, all the others will sort themselves out. Again, Peace moves to our center.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I like words. I get a daily email of new words to learn. Many I know. A few I do not. Some are pretty out there and I would never have an occasion to utter them. Today's word was "ullage - the amount by which the contents fall short of filling a container, as a cask or bottle." I got to thinking.


Why do I seem to always worry about ullage? (Like that, I used it in a sentence. Mrs. Garling would be proud?!) Why, as a Jesus follower, do I insist on focusing on what's missing? Here is what I find when I check in with him.


Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Luke 6:38 (NIV)


Jesus is giving Godly advice in this passage and the ones around it. Basically, ullage wasn't even in his plans. Maybe spill clean up needs a scripture but ullage does not. Ullage becomes an issue when I stop giving. I stop giving when I worry about scarcity. But God is a God of abundance. Okay, I'll hoard. I'll insure I have no ullage!

 Jesus told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.'  "Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain.  And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry."'  "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?' "This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God."  Luke 12:16-21 (NIV)


The LORD said to Moses, "I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, 'At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.'"

 That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, "What is it?" For they did not know what it was.

   Moses said to them, "It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat. This is what the LORD has commanded: 'Everyone is to gather as much as they need. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.'"

 The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed.

 Then Moses said to them, "No one is to keep any of it until morning."

 However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them. Exodus 16:12-20 (NIV)

Yuck! Okay, I get it! Give! Hoarding and ullage are signs of a lack of faith and just plain do not work.

May you appreciate the Gifts of God today and may you give them freely. Know no ullage.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Is it just me or does failure haunt you forever while success fades instantly? Okay, maybe a little overstated but do you find at least a ring of truth to this? Why do we dwell on our failures? I think God frowns on this phenomenon.


For one, God tells us right off the bat in Genesis (before he forbids anything) that he creates. He creates out of nothing and he speaks things into existence. And, tah dah, you and I are made in God's image. While my speech can be deadly at times (I'm sorry, honest,) it is imperative I speak to assist God in the completion of Creation.  Much of the time, I can and do speak constructively and with God's touch (I check in with God regularly.) Nothing good happens if all possibility of failure is erased.


This brings me to #2. We have a God for those who fail. I like that (I don't encourage that, just like it.) Jesus' death and resurrection tell me that God forgives (and so should I.) Period.  And the Resurrection, if nothing else, tells me that God can do a lot with my garbage (not that God prefers it.)


So, today, thumb your nose (at least figuratively) at conventional thinking. Be bold enough to fail once you have checked in with God. I forgot what you did wrong. So did God. You are meant for great things today.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


The Pareto (named after Vilfredo Pareto, an economist) principle states that often, 80% of the outcomes come from 20% of the causes. Roughly, 80% of crimes are committed by 20% of criminals - 20% of all patients use 80% of the health care resources.

Clergy often quote the 80/20 rule as, "20% of the people do 80% of the work" or "80% of the church income comes from 20% of the parishioners." While theories, both seem to apply in the realities of the churches I have served.

Question is, is this a good thing? Is this a Christian thing?

Does Christ call his followers (at least, those who claim church as home) to let 20% do the Mission and Ministry of the church while roughly 80% sit back and enjoy (critique) it? I am not talking about those who cannot contribute. All churches must reach and love those who cannot participate in a substantial way. I experienced a homebound paraplegic who made all the church phone calls for reminders and pastoral care and had a vibrant ministry.

Maybe 10-20% cannot contribute in any way. There are still quite a few who see church not as a lifestyle of discipleship but as simply (maybe) entertainment, relief, battery charger – some form of consumerism.

We have the one religion where God instructions us to consume him (Lord's Supper.) Is this what he meant?

Are you an 80%? A 20%? Something else? What do you think?

Dare to follow Christ today regardless of the cost.

Friday, November 5, 2010


Seth Godin posted in his 11/5 blog…

Childlike makes a great scientist.

Childish produces tantrums.

Childlike brings fresh eyes to marketing opportunities.

Childish rarely shows up as promised.

Childlike is fearless and powerful and willing to fail.

Childish is annoying.

Childlike inquires with a pure heart.

Childish is merely ignored.

Substitute "disciple" for "scientist" and "ministry" for "marketing" and you have the Kingdom of Heaven.

Jesus said, An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, "Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest." Luke 9:46-48 (NIV)

Also -  But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Luke 18:16 (NIV)

Ask yourself today, "Am I a childish member of the Church" or a "Childlike disciple of Christ?"  The difference is literally a matter of life and death.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


"I don't dream at night, I dream all day; I dream for a living."  Steven Spielberg


Do you dream all day? As a youth, this got me into trouble. As an adult, it is a lifeline. Dreamers expect more. Jesus expected a Kingdom to explode into our lives. Christian dreamers are not asleep; they are acutely awake to what God is up to.


"And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Joel 2:28 (The Day of the Lord)


Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. Proverbs 29:18 KJV


Dreams give hope. The Revelation of John – don't get bogged down in the middle – is such an example. Listen…


Then I saw "a new heaven and a new earth," for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Look! God's dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 'He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death' or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Revelation 21:1-4


Do you see it? Value your dreams. Encourage your dreams. Give voice to your dreams. Expect more. Expect God.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010




Below is the entirety of a blog by Seth Godin called Organizing for joy. Read it and ask this. "Is my life organized for joy?" "Is my church organized for joy?"  Heck, is "joy" even in my vocabulary? Is should be. It is the lifestyle of a follower of Jesus.


I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. John 15:11

(Jesus' word for joy was Kara, which could also mean gladness.)


Traditional corporations, particularly large-scale service and manufacturing businesses, are organized for efficiency. Or consistency. But not joy.


McDonalds, Hertz, Dell and others crank it out. They show up. They lower costs. They use a stopwatch to measure output.


The problem with this mindset is that as you approach the asymptote of maximum efficiency, there's not a lot of room left for improvement. Making a Chicken McNugget for .00001 cents less isn't going to boost your profit a whole lot.

Worse, the nature of the work is inherently un-remarkable. If you fear special requests, if you staff with cogs, if you have to put it all in a manual, then the chances of amazing someone are really quite low.


These organizations have people who will try to patch problems over after the fact, instead of motivated people eager to delight on the spot.


The alternative, it seems, is to organize for joy. These are the companies that give their people the freedom (and yes, the expectation) that they will create, connect and surprise. These are the organizations that embrace someone who makes a difference, as opposed to searching for a clause in the employee handbook that was violated.

Monday, November 1, 2010


Business guru, Seth Godin, posted this on his blog.


Just because he's angry

... doesn't mean he's right.

... or even well-informed.

Something to think about when dealing with a customer, a leader or even a neighbor.

It's easy to assume that vivid emotions spring from the truth. I'm not so sure. They often come from fear and confusion and well-told stories.


God gets angry. It's in the Bible. The wrath thing. That's scary. God is angry with sin.


We are consumed by your anger and terrified by your indignation. Psalm 90:7


God manages his anger (I doubt he took a class for this.)


The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. Psalm 103:8


Letting our own anger run our life is dumb.


Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools. Ecclesiastes 7:9


God expects us to do something about our quick temper, leveled at another person (as opposed to sin, which we can hate.)


"In your anger do not sin" : Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, Ephesians 4:26


Our anger is often not righteous


because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. James 1:20


What makes you angry? Do you take your anger out on others? What are you angry about? Deep down? Talk it out in prayer and conversation with a trusted friend.