Thursday, January 31, 2008

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

It's Finally official -- FPU is ready to start again

I had to wait to get the final details in place but Financial Peace University (FPU) is a go beginning February 10th. We have a group of at least 14 going through this time (a few are returnees). We hope to pick up a few more, actually a TON more would be ideal. I am fired up that we can get this going. If you are in the Central part of Northern Indiana or Southern Michigan go HERE for the finer details. If you live anywhere else check out the FPU site and find a class near you. You will never regret it!

I can't wait to post updates and hopefully some major success stories from this class.

Baseball & Life -- Part 1 -- NO EXCUSES

This is part 1 of a 9 part series on baseball and life. These principles have been around for some time in various forms and formats. This will be my presentation and perspective on them. I love the game of baseball and I think that it can teach us well. It is no mistake that the series starts with this principle. It is not only something that is quite lacking in today's world, it is foundational to building upon and being successful in other areas of life:


Do not blame teammates, umpires, coaches, fans, or the position of the sun in the sky for your performance. Take responsibility for what happens on the field. Be a stand up individual, make no excuses, and refuse to use the excuses that others might offer you. Excuses get in the way of learning because mistakes are denied. Be accountable. Remember that you are not expected to be a perfect performer. No one is. Baseball is not and easy game to play.

One of my favorite things to remind my teams as I coach is that in baseball the very best professional hitters FAIL 6 or 7 times out of every 10 times to bat. Baseball is a hard game; life is hard to win at as well. The best way to become successful is not to avoid going to the plate. It is to be as prepared as possible, go out and give it your best effort, accept and make no excuses about the results, and to review and learn from each trip to the plate (even the ones where you hit it out of the park). Every time there is a play in the field you should review and ask if you were in the right position, moved to the right position, gave full effort, and what could make it better next time. Don't beat yourself up when the ball takes a bad hop but do not fail to learn for the next ball.

Winners take ownership of all of their decisions and actions; good or bad, not matter the result or consequences. Our inability to do that robs us of learning and make us appear like poor sports. This is however, not a new phenomenon. Just three chapters into the Bible, we see it come into play...

6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?"
10 He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."
11 And he said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?"
12 The man said, "The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it."
13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."
-- Genesis 3:6-13

The decision is ours. Will we stand up and be responsible or make excuses about all of the situations of life. It is not hard to look around and find "reasons" why we fail in our finances, love, school, weight, job, salary, you can add to the list. Whatever the situation, remember that where you are now is the result of all the decisions and actions that you have made to this point. Don't like where you are? Take responsibility, make the needed changes, and move forward.

When the baseball season gets started in a few short weeks watch the players closely. See which ones make excuses for the bad call, bad hop, bad timing, or bad coaches decision. Note also how successful these players are in the long run. Next up... PLAY WITH HONOR.

Book #3 -- Developing the Leader Within You by John Maxwell

This is another of the books that spent way too much time on my reading list/ pile. I started it quite some time ago and put it down, picked it upa nd put it down. This past week I committed myself to finishing the last half of the book.

I did not find anything "profound" as I went through the book. It is John Maxwell at his best but if you have read his material nothing will surprise you. That does not mean that the time was less than worthwhile or that one should not endeavor this book. I found myself reminded of things that frakly I should be doing in my life as second nature. The book is full of practical steps, lists, and a few quizzes/ inventories to help the reader get on the right track. Whether a leader of many or of a few, this book would be a handy read and reference.

I have a few other Maxwell books that I have neer read, this one has encouraged me to get those into the upcoming reads pile.

Weather in Northern Indiana...

It is true. If you do not like the weather here, just wait 15 minutes and you'll get something new.

At 6 PM Tuesday evening it was 50 degrees with a light breeze. Great weather for January. As of 5 AM Wednesday morning the temperature is ZERO with a -25 wind chill. Yep thats a 50 degree change in 11 hours, YIKES.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Blizzard of '78 -- 30 years later

It was hard for me to imagine that it had actually been 30 years when I heard it yesterday. In January and February 1978, a series of three storms hit the United States Midwest or the Northeast. These storms were some of the most severe winter events to occur in recent history, and collectively are known as the Blizzard of 1978.
I live in Indiana but I found this report from Ohio that sheds further light if you are interested. It is another or those things that I will always remember where I was when it happened or I heard about it (that will make a great post in the near future!). I remember that we had to shovel our way to the garage so we could got to the freezer. This left mountainous drifts that I could jump off of the roof of the house and the TV tower into. I remember that people who had snowmobiles were heroes. They went door to door to check on people and then made lists and got necessities from the stores. They did not ask for and usually would not even take money. They felt that it was what being a part of the neighborhood and community included. Where has that gone? Anyway,here are a few photos I found on the web that kind of show what happened...
Yes, those are State Highways and Interstates

Your car is ready sir...

I'm pretty sure most families have a few photos around like these as well.

Book #2 -- Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

The first time I encountered Robert Kiyosaki was on a PBS special. I recall watching most of the program and thinking "that;s was interesting". When I saw it again I thought that it would be a good thing to check one of his books. That was some time ago. I am a big believer that things often come to us right on time. This book was that.
While I do not agree with the principles of purchasing via debt I found what he has to say at the very least thought provoking and often inspiring. His persona; story is proof that the American Dream is still out there to be had.
There are many topics and points of emphasis in this book but I found two themes that returned to me as I read the text:
  1. Your education (whether it be in finances, management, skill development, or whatever) should never end. Continuing to add knowledge and skill as tools adds to your value.
  2. The goal is to stop just looking for ways to make money and to in turn look for ways to make the money you make work for you.

As I said, there are other themes but just carrying these away will give me much to ponder and work on. Another favorite author in the area of finance pointed out that people have a slaves mentality. There is no hope of ever having it different. Developing and putting to use knowledge and tools such as these can help me lead my family away from the slavery of living only paycheck to paycheck. This is one of those books that I think you have to be ready to read before it has value. When you think you may be, you should check it out.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Link Dump - Watch the Super Bowl for the game or commercials? Edition

Who are these people? - a reminder to recognize your audience
Making Sense Of The Millenial Views
Stimulus Package - What Does It Mean For You?
“The Race for the American Mind”
Build a Home Theater PC for Less than $200 [DIY]
DIY Roll-Up Keyboard [DIY]
Build Your Own CD Stack Lamp [DIY]
At Which of These Levels Are You an Evangelist?
Twenty Myths That Keep Christians From Discussing Abortion
Grilling Wings for the Super Bowl -- mmmmmmmmmmmmm wings
Arizona State Wrestler Anthony Robles Pins Opponents on One Leg
Original American Gladiator Lace Busted for Possession of Narcotic Paraphernalia
21 Potential Ministry Partners for Your Church
Cheetah cubs who developed a soft spot for their supper
Three Little Pigs banned for offending Muslims and builders -- you can't make this stuff up

3 Weeks and counting...

I am a sports fan in general. I enjoy participating and observing the competition in almost all sports. I would have to say that when it comes down to it, baseball is the game that I love the most. I approx. 3 weeks the pitchers and catchers will be reporting to their respective training camps in either Arizona or Florida. Thus signaling the beginning of the season.
In a sort of celebration of anticipation over the next couple of weeks I will be doing a series of posts on how baseball is like life and what we can learn from it. I look forward to sharing these things and hope that there are a good number of you out there who anticipate the new season as well.

The Dana Jacobson thing... my rant

As I have sat and watched the "church" respond to the comments that were supposedly spoken by a TV reporter who by all accounts had been drinking and then stepped in front of the microphone. I have read and watched many in the body of Christ have grabbed the torches and pitchforks and are calling for all to follow in a storming of the castle. Were the words used offensive? YES, but when did it become my job to mount an offensive? Maybe I missed it but I have not seen any public concern or compassion for the fact that this woman and countless others around the world are obviously far from a relationship with the Father who loves them so much. I think I could go on for some time but I think it would be best if I just throw out some questions that need to be addressed in light of this...
  • Why do we insist on demanding that those who are not Christ followers be held to the standards that we hold?
  • When did it become my job to fight for Jesus? He told us that these things would happen and not to worry about it because it was all about Him.
  • Do I personally care that there are people that I pass every day that are heading to a literal hell unless they respond to Christ's call?
  • It's time to realize that when we act this way it only confirms the suspicions and stereotypes that most people have about Christians and the church. Look at the comments and responses to the blogs and new stories and you should get the drift.
  • Would these situations be better opportunities for the Kingdom if we spent the time and energy we place on boycotts and pickets on prayer and personal discipleship?

A couple Scriptures I was reminded of:

The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil. -- John 7:7

Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.'[b] If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. 22If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. 23He who hates me hates my Father as well. 24If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: 'They hated me without reason -- John 15:20-25

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." -- John 16:33

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Something to think on...

“i wanted a bike, and asked god to give me one. but then i realized god doesn’t work that i decided to steal a bike and ask god for forgiveness. it worked.”
-- Emo Phillips
Thanks to YSmarko for originally posting it.

Game of the Week- Flight of the Hamsters

This week's game was found originally through Corey Mann's blog.
Give it a try and expect to waste a little time in the process.

If any of you need wisdom... (Bible Journey)

I am coming to realize just how much wisdom and discernment I need to successfully live EVERY day. That is one of the reasons I am so excited about the next series we are endeavoring in my Sunday School class. We will be going through the book of James. This is one of the most practical books of the Bible for day to day life application. I am pumped about diving into how to apply these directives and even more about what our church/ community/ world would be like if we then apply them in daily living.
As part of my preparation I have been reading the entire book (all 5 chapters) every day; each day in a different translation. I will be challenging the members of the class to do the same next week as well as weekly reading "assignments". My hope is that by instilling a higher level of commitment it will lead to better discussion and interaction, which will then lead us to more complete application. I'll try to update on how that works out.
These are the translations that I have read or will be reading in the next few days.

  • New King James
  • NIV
  • CEV
  • NASB
  • the Message

Any other good translations I shouldn't miss?

John Piper - Test Yourself: Football or Christ?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Link Dump -- Do you have your W2s yet? Edition

Pete the Porno Puppet?
Christianity vs. Jesusanity -- The Postmodern Temptation
Top Ten Reasons Why Iraq Should Be Our 51st State
20 Reasons to Read Redesigned -- I have always found this site a great resource.
10 Reasons the U.S.A. Could Beat Up Canada
Flat-Screens In The Men’s Room
TAKE RESPONSIBILITY - kind of sad that this is considered a special quality in our society.
Parents and Youth Workers VCR/DVR Alert!
Best Utilize Your Tax Refund - Part 4 - check out the whole series of posts
BREAKING NEWS: Brady Contemplating Retirement - Indy fans wait in hope
Remotely Shut Down Your Computer [How To]
Keep Your Cell Phone Charged Longer [How To]
Top 10 Telephone Tricks [Lifehacker Top 10]
Seven Joy Killers In Ministry
Inward, Upward, or Outward?
Vampire Electronics
A Guide to Cutting Back When You Feel Overwhelmed

Game of the Week -- Pogo Bowl

Been a while since I posted a game. Here is one that I seem to go back to kind of often. Pogo games add the element of chat while playing. Give Pogo Bowl a try HERE.

Something to think on...

"The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people."
-- G.K. Chesterton

Monday, January 14, 2008

Leadership Lessons from Brett Favre

I heard this story this morning and could not help making the connection to real world leadership and discipleship. Early in the first quarter of Saturday's playoff game, Green Bay running back Ryan Grant (a ND alum) fumbled the ball not once, but twice in the first 3 times he touched the ball; leading to a 14-0 Seattle lead. Quarterback Brett Favre approached Grant on the bench and told him; "if anybody knows about making mistakes in a big game it is me. Forget about it". How did Grant respond? By rushing for an amazing 201 yards and 3 touchdowns!!
What comes to mind is just how often we become angry or discouraged with people (our kids, co-workers, friends, etc.) who make mistakes around us. We then have a tendency to disregard and effectively "bench" them.
What of we took the position of Favre and head coach McCarthy and let people continue to play? Do we too easily forget they we also had to learn and probably made some mistakes along the way that were AT LEAST as bad as the ones we condemn. How would they perform if we encouraged and coached them along in their next attempt(s)? We may just be surprised by a performance of a lifetime.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Ephesians 4:29

The Showdown is derailed -- Colts lose.

There you have it. The season is finished in Indianapolis. What was by most all accounts merely a preliminary necessity prior to the newest "game of the century" became the unexpected end of a very good season. Someone tell me how a 13-3 team loses at home to a team with their best receiver hobbled, running back and QB on the bench, and about the loudest bunch of fans anywhere. Anyone?

It appeared to be a poor defensive scheme and a lack of consistency on offense combined with a determined effort by the opposing San Diego SuperChargers. Better luck next year fellas; that is if the coach and core members of his staff remain in tact.

I found the movie poster below both fitting and kinda funny. Add to this that Eli is actually going farther in the playoffs than his brother. There is no joy in Indy, the mighty Peyton has struck out.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Questions to ponder

I found the following thoughts at THIS POST from and found it provoking. WHat answers/ thoughts come to your mind as you go think on them?

1) The future leaders of the Christ following movement are still lost. What are we doing to find them?
2) The generations 22 and younger are profoundly shaped by the technological revolution of recent decades: the Internet, Cell phones, iPods, Social Networking sites. Many are capable of building personal web pages much more edgier than any ministry website. Children play on WebKinz, TyGirlz—toys that exists simultaneously in both the cyber world and physical world. How is the Gospel best inculturated in such contexts?
3) 97% of churches in North America are stagnant or declining (75%) or growing only via transfer growth (22%). How should the Christ following movement respond? Is it worth the pain and effort to transition these communities into missional centers that reach lost people or is it better to focus on on creating new faith communities that are seeped in a missional ethos from the beginning?
I would opt for the latter in most cases. Staff the 97% with “chaplain” pastors and deploy the most gifted and entrepreneurial leaders to focus on launching new communities (perhaps recruiting core mission groups) from existing bodies.
4) Given the decay of many church properties and the expense of buying new ones (particularly in urban areas), what role will the church building play in the future?
5) How will theological education be delivered in the 21st century?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


With just over a month until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training I thought I would share this website I bumped into. Find out which players have worn what numbers, since they started wearing numbers in '32. It is updated through last season. A fun time waster.

Monday, January 7, 2008

'08 Book #1 - Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell

The major portion of this book deals with the qualification and training that the author and his team mates endured just to become SEALs. It serves the purpose of providing some history and background on the SEALs and what they do. But the greatest contribution of this section of the book is the understanding that is gained of just how highly trained and prepared these dedicated warriors are to carryout the missions they are given.
The main portion of the book details the events of Operation Redwing in 2005. The battles that took place on that mountain led to the most disastrous losses in the history of the US Navy SEALs. This is the story of Marcus and his unbending will to survive and also of the courage and dedication of his team and the men who embarked on the rescue mission.
From a philosophical standpoint I engaged in the decision that the team had to make about taking innocent lives in order to protect their mission. The choice to not do so likely led to the attack that took the lives of most of Marcus' team. War is messy and decisions made are never easy, this book makes that clear.
If you enjoy military history or biography in any way I would suggest you give this easy to read selection a try.

2007 Reading/ 2008 Goals

I set out with the goal of reading (ie. fully completing) 30 books in 2007.

I fell just a bit short, completing 26; several more were started when the calendar flipped (which should give me a jump on '08.)

The Breakdown of "genre" was as follows:

  • 13 - Christian Living/ Ministry
  • 6 - Fiction
  • 3 - Biographies
  • 2 - Business/ Leadership
  • 2 - Other

It was a pretty good effort. The balance was about what I expected/ planned for. I just did not accomplish my goal. I recognized two times during the year that reading time became minimal at best and will try to plan accordingly in the coming year. I was tempted to keep my goal the same but in an effort to acknowledge the fact that I have some books in progress and in an effort to stretch myself I am going to set the bar at 35 BOOKS in 2008. I strive to do this not just to read for reading sake but to accomplish a few goals as well. Those are:

  1. Meet the challenge of being a better Christ Follower by applying the knowledge that I gain.
  2. Improve my writing skills through the creation of reviews for each book read.
  3. Become better read and rounded by adding more of the "classics" from fiction and the church into the rotation.
  4. Enjoy the reading process.
  5. Build a base of known material that can be correctly and intelligently recommend to others.

In January of 2009 we will revisit these goals and see how they went. On with the reading...

Friday, January 4, 2008

Link Dump -- Are your resolutions still intact? Edition

top 10 blogging tips from the original blogger
7 Blogging Lessons Learned From a Best-Selling Author
10 Reasons Why Pastors Avoid the Culture War
Top 10 Fitness Trends for 2008
Rob Bell: An Ex-MHBC’er Speaks
the television schedule for every college basketball game this season
How Not To Invite People To Group
Plunger Throwing
Death in Jerusalem - a funny

Book #26 - Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

I have always been a fan of Grisham's books. I was in fact surprised when I realized that there were several that I have yet to read. One of my mini goals of '08 is to throw these into my mix of fiction reading.
While looking for something completely different than this book I came across it at the library. After noting that it was a book I had not read, a Grisham book, and short by novel standards I decided to give it a read. I am glad that I did.
The holiday movie, "Christmas with the Kranks" (which I have not personally seen) is based on this book.
The gist of the book is what many of us have thought of during our lifetimes; the idea of chucking it and blowing off Christmas. The Kranks then discover that even though there are many hassles involved with the holidays and dealing with people, relationships are far more important that personal desires.
The book is as easy as any Grisham text to read and I found it quite enjoyable; definitely recommended.

Book #25 - Going All the Way by Craig Groeschel

In the Fall, Pastor Craig Groeschel offered a free copy of his book to anyone who would blog about it. I was fortunate enough to be one of the ones to receive a a copy. This is both my official post (albeit delayed) about the book and my personal blog on it.

This book proved to me again that it is best to not make prejudgment about a text before reading it. I began with several assumptions about what the focuses of the book would be, only to find that there is much more to it. One specific example is that I began with an assumption that the book would be for singles and maybe those recently engaged. What I found were a wealth of topics dealing with sex and relationships that are universal. Anyone from early/ pre-teen to those who have been married for years can draw from these bits of wisdom.
In the past few weeks since I have read this book I have recommended it to people as well as made use/ reference to the material within. This to me is the sign of a good book. It has helped me personally be able to put a framework around some of things that I have believed about relationships and dating, especially as I begin to walk my children through their teen years.
I can clearly see this book being used as a teaching tool for individual/ couples study as well as small groups of teens, premarital counseling or married couples. Someone with maturity and experience in the area of relationship would need to lead due to the inevitable scabs that can/ would be picked at. This is not a bad thing. One of the things that the church is often afraid of is dealing with hard things. However, I think that God is honored when we are willing to address that tough things in our lives and work through the Holy Spirit for change. This book leads the reader to these gates. It is our responsibility to respond to what God is calling us to do.
I am a strong believer that if more couple is the church would build their relationships based on having already finding "the one", Jesus, and then seeking out a mate of His choosing divorce would become largely a non-factor. I am glad that Pastor Craig has made this resource available, and think that many will relate to his personal accounts. I hope that it is used a a resource to build health relationships for years to come.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

New Year, Same Insanity...

I can't believe it's already the 3rd. I have had several posts in draft for a while and fully intended on a New Year's Eve/ Day rush of posts to clear the slate. However, life has been hard at work. Beginning around 7PM Monday evening the snow arrived. As of this morning by best guesstimate is approx. 22 inches in my yard. There has been a lot of shoveling going on. The snow blower is out of commission currently. The shoveling is going a LOT slower due to the fact that I pulled a muscle(s) in my back moving the fist 6-7" of wet snow at about 2 AM Tuesday. I am glad that my wife and boys (sometimes) are glad to pitch in.
I then spent a few hours in the ER Tues night with my mom. She fell and thankfully nothing is broken but she is sore and moving VERY slow. Add to the fact that with n laptop we have one computer that 5 people want to use on a dial up connection (If anyone at Verizon happens to see this, please get the phone lines upgraded in my area so I can get hi-speed!!!!!!!) and I spent basically no time online during my two days off. Plus sitting in one place for very long is uncomfortable with my back at this point. If all goes well I have the following posts that should launch in the next 36 hours...
  1. the final couple book reviews from '07
  2. a review of my reads from '07 along with my '08 goals
  3. a new link dump
  4. possibility of a few movie reviews
  5. NFL playoff predictions