Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Quotes from the Jungle

Saturday, my wife (Laura) was part of a group of women from Grace that went and heard Gracia Burnham speak. You will remember that she and her husband were missioanries (I believe in the Philippines) who were kidnapped and held captive in the jungle for many months. Her husband was killed during that time. I enjoyed listening as Laura told me some of Gracia's quotes that day that she had written down. Here are a few of them:

"Always remember what is true!"

"God changed my heart so as not to hate my enemies!"

"Change is hard! Transformation sometimes stinks!"

"The heart of a hero is a clean heart!"

"God does what He wants because He is God!"

"A trial is a trial, is a trial, is a trial! There are no categories!"

"My problem grows when I turn my back towards God and turn my face to the problem making my problem insurmountable!"

"Keep going today because tomorrow you might get to go home!"

"Grace says nothing is beyond repair!"

"It's not in my flesh to forgive. It is a complete work of the Holy Spirit!"

"Do the one thing that God calls you to do!"

Those are some amazing quotes from an amazing lady. I hope one of them encourages you today!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Caffeinated Christianity

There is no doubt that we live in a coffee crazed society. In fact, the United States is the #1 consumer of coffee in the entire world. In our country it all started back in the days of the revolutionary war when patriots switched from tea to coffee as part of the whole “Boston Tea Party” revolt against the taxation of England. And now today there is a coffee shop of some kind on seemingly every corner. Over the last two weeks I found myself in 5 different airports – Harrisburg, Chicago, Denver, Colorado Springs, and Dallas. If I had a $20 bill for every Starbucks or other coffee shop I passed walking from flight to flight in those 5 airports alone I would have no problem paying for both of my kid’s college tuition.

Coffee has become a sub-culture in our society. In fact, I have to admit that I get kind of nervous every time I walk into one of these beverage houses. Why? Because I don’t understand the coffee lingo. I’m still trying to figure out why a small coffee at Starbucks is called a “tall”. And when I listen to people in line in front of me I have absolutely no idea what they are saying. How many words does it take to describe a cup of coffee? It is like they are speaking in a foreign language. And then I feel really stupid when it’s my turn and all I want is a simple cup of decaf coffee. I always feel like everyone in the shop is looking at me thinking, “What a loser.”

But that’s me – I am simply a decaf coffee drinker. Nothing fancy – just decaf. Now some of you think that decaffeinated coffee is nothing more than hot brown water. But now that I am creeping up in years, I have to admit that caffeine can make it hard for me to get to sleep at night. I think I caught that from my wife. All you have to do is say the word caffeine around her and she’s up all night long. By the way, 75% of all caffeine consumed in America is consumed through coffee. Oh, that reminds me. What do you call a cow that gives birth? De-calf-inated.

For many, caffeine is relied upon for energy and alertness. That got me thinking about we as followers of Jesus. Maybe the truth is that many of us have settled for living “decaf” Christian lives. Maybe what we really need is to become more alert – more energized – to live out more of a caffeinated style of Christianity. I believe that is what Jesus is describing in Mark 8:34. It is a very pointed verse of Scripture. In it Jesus really raises the bar when it comes to following Him. And well He should. Before giving these words, He has just told His disciples that He was going to die. Now, immediately after that in this verse He calls them, and us, to step up from living a decaf type of Christianity to living out more of a caffeinated Christianity. Here is what Scripture says,

“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.”

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Tuesday Itinerary

Colorado Springs, Colorado to Dallas/Ft Worth, Texas

Dallas/Ft Worth, Texas to Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Monday, September 06, 2010

Two Focuses

Going through a tough time?

Make your focus two-fold:

BE HUMBLE - It's not about YOU!

REMAIN FAITHFUL - It's all about GOD!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Preaching in Pueblo

The Leadership Development Program I have been attending ends today. It has been a very good and beneficial week. I have much to process and much to change! I look forward to doing both!

I will drive down from Colorado Springs to Pueblo, Colorado later today where my in-laws live. Laura has been spending this week with them while I have been at this training at the Creative Leadership Center in the Springs. We will spend the holiday weekend with her family and then fly back to PA on Tuesday.

On Saturday we will be spending the day up in the Rocky Mountains. On Sunday I will have the honor of preaching at Temple Baptist Church in Pueblo where my in-laws attend. This is also the church that Laura was dedicated to the Lord in as a baby and the same church where we got married back in 1987!

Looking forward to the weekend!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Leadership Development "Ah-ha" Moments

Today things really began to come together for me as I attend this Leadership Development Program here in Colorado Springs, producing some real "Ah-ha" moments. After two days of going through an abundance of data about myself from a lot of pre-assessment work, we spent the morning doing a several hour role play workshop that was designed to allow us to see how our weaknesses as a leader affect others in our organization. We then spent all afternoon in small groups debriefing the exercise with a coach. It was during this time that multiple lights came on that showed me the areas in which who I am as a person and as a leader can and has negatively affected others. Below are just some of those lessons:

Success is not simply results - While results are a major part of success, it is possible to produce results without having success - especially if achieving those results leaves behind a trail of wounded people !

I am a person of extremes - there are very few areas of balance in my personality and leadership style. This must change!

Feedback needs to become my friend not my enemy - it is better to know, even if it is painful, than not to know!

Withdrawing when I don't get my way or when I feel threatened will always be a barrier to building a partnership and producing collaboration!

Approachableness is not having an open door but rather having an open mind - when I refuse to see the value in other people's thoughts and ideas I devalue them!

Effective feedback must focus on the behavior of others and the impact that behavior produces rather then making assumptions about people's motives!

Whenever someone makes false assumptions about my motives due to having only a small amount of data I need to walk them back down the "ladder of inference" so that they can receive more data!

I could go on and on but let me end by sharing my greatest take away so far which is this -

Taking the time to build intrapersonal relationships, even though it is not me and does not come naturally for me, really is vitally important!

More to come...

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Leadership Development Program

I am out in Colorado Springs this week at a Leadership Development Program. The main aspect of this program is to show you through many different tools what kind of leader you are. Believe me, it isn't easy because you clearly see all your weaknesses and that is difficult - especially for me. But I am learning much that I know God is going to use in my life and in my ministry. In the weeks to come I will blog much of what I have learned as a way to help me process it and be transparent to others.

As excited as I am about the leadership information I am even more excited about the many spiritual conversations I am being able to have as this is a corporate training - not a Christian based training. As a result, having a pastor in the class is a bit unusual and God has used that to open many wonderful doors for me to talk with them about Christ.

I appreciate your prayers the rest of this week that I will learn everything God wants me to learn while at the same time being able to make a spiritual impact on these wonderful men and women that I am spening 12 hours a day with this week.