Friday, December 25, 2009

Jill's puppy Niko singing on Christmas Day

video

Anyone else can play the piano and Niko doesn't give them a glance, but when Jill sits and plays, Niko starts jumping around and "singing!"

He is such a fun little puppy.

Christmas 2009







Had a wonderful Christmas this year.
It rained most of the night.
41 degrees this AM and looking at green grass!

The temp started plummeting and the snow started falling as soon as I took the turkey off the grill!




Kept a fire going in the fireplace.



Enjoyed great food.


Beautifully set table.




And the traditional post-turkey meal walk.



Thursday, December 24, 2009

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!



Do you really like saying "Happy Holidays" or prefer "MERRY CHRISTMAS?"
For me, it is all about Christmas. Yes, Jesus is the reason for the season. After all, if it weren't for our Heavenly Father sending His Gift of salvation, there'd be NO reason to celebrate, right?!

I like how Dave Barry says it,

"In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it 'Christmas' and went to church; the Jews called it 'Hanukka' and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say 'Merry Christmas!' or 'Happy Hanukka!' or (to the atheists) 'Look out for the wall!'"





So, MERRY CHRISTMAS to all my friends!



Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Lessons From An Epochal Leader


Thom Rainer, president and chief executive officer of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention recently had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Billy Graham in his home in Montreat, North Carolina.

Billy Graham has to be one of the most well known men on the earth. He has preached to well over 2.2 billion people and according to his BGEA staff more than 2.5 million people (as of 1993) have "stepped forward at his crusades to accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior."

I have observed the ministry of Dr. Graham over the years and if I were to choose two words to define his ministry, it would be INTEGRITY and CONSISTENCY.

Thom Rainer posted some of his comments and observations about his visit with Dr. Graham. Some of Rainer's key points in the article:
  • A LIFE PLEASING TO THE LORD IS A LIFE OF INTEGRITY. Leadership at any level cannot begin to function well unless the leader has integrity.
  • OUR FIRST MINISTRY IS TO OUR FAMILY.
  • LISTEN TO THE CRITICS, BUT DON'T DWELL ON THEM. When asked about how he dealt with the critics, he smiled and said, "I ignored most of them." Graham seemed to know that dwelling on criticisms would distract and harm his ministry.
  • HUMILITY IS ONE OF THE GREATEST VIRTUES OF LEADERS. He counseled presidents and kings. He personally preached to more people than any human that has ever lived. Some see him as one of the most influential people our era. One word you will hardly ever hear him continue to use is "I".
  • JESUS IS ALL THAT REALLY MATTERS. When all is said and done, all that really matters is Jesus.
None of us will ever be like Billy Graham; at least, I'll speak for myself, but we can sure all apply these great lessons to our lives.

God bless you Billy Graham.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Subliminal? I don't think so.

This past Sunday, while in church, I created a new word. Sublaminal – pronounced SUB-BLAM-INAL

Definition – an intentionally over emphasized subliminal message. As in “BLAM”, in your face.

According to Wikipedia, a subliminal message is a signal or message embedded in another medium, designed to pass below the normal limits of the human mind's perception. These messages are unrecognizable by the conscious mind, but in certain situations can affect the subconscious mind and can negatively or positively influence subsequent later thoughts, behaviors, actions, attitudes, belief systems and value systems.

Within the church world, I think we are often guilty of SUB-BLAM-INAL. We want to get a message across to the folks/fold, we don’t want to be overt, but we are a little too obvious… BLAM, suBLAMinal.

What are some good examples of suBLAMinal? I am trying to recall some I have been part of.

A few years ago, when we had a Sunday evening church service, we’d want to encourage people to make the effort to come out for that service, yet we’d try to not-so-subtly hint that “real Christians” come out for the service. There probably are some more substantial measurements of a “real Christian.” In fact, I read several of them in Galatians, Ephesians and Philippians today.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Thursday, July 30, 2009

God Bless Granny and America.... Oh yes, AND her Comet.

This will bring a smile to your face. This is an awesome lady, with a great story.





And one more great video. Don't mess with this pistol packin' granny!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Perqs, Piano and Fresh Perked




A perk (perquisite) of being married to an accomplished pianist is that I get to listen as my wife creates a new piano arrangement.

It is such a pleasure listening to her design a new arrangement. The beautiful chords and sequence of chords is sumptuous.

It doesn’t hurt to have a cup of freshly brewed Caribou French Roast coffee in hand either.

I don’t think that the creation process for one of my sermons is quite as elegant. Why is that?



Saturday, July 25, 2009

ABBONDANZA

(close up of my rain gauge)




Did you know that God is a God of generosity and blessing?

Last night I experienced God’s abbondanza. I had just finished mowing the lawn and coming inside our home I mentioned to Joy, “the lawn is really dry, I’m going to ask God for a half an inch of rain.”

We sat down to a tasty meal of pork rib tips, sautéed zucchini from our garden. While Joy was finishing up dinner, I caught the weather report and the forecaster said, “the rain is going to split and go north and south of Chicago. It is unlikely we’ll get any rain here.”

That evening we noticed the weather system that had hammered Iowa (hail, rain and tornado warnings) seemed to be slipping south of us. I said, “God please turn that system and give us some rain.” The longer we watched the radar, the more we rejoiced as we saw the storm literally hook around toward us.

Not too much later, I heard some distant thunder. I looked at Joy and smiled. Before too long, I heard rain hitting the deck and by the time the “non-storm” finished up, we had 8/10 an inch of rain!

Thank you God. My lawn looks lovely now and is watered for the week.

Now, if I can transfer that faith onto the sale of this home in this current drought of a real estate market we are in…. “Thank you God for showing the forecasters wrong and our house selling in a dead market.”

People of Jesus live in FAITH and HOPE.

This is why the Psalms say, "I don't care how bad it is today, I am going to sing in the morning."

Psalm 59
15 They wander about for food
and howl if not satisfied.
16 But I will sing of your strength,
in the morning I will sing
of your love;
for you are my fortress,
my refuge in times of
trouble.
17 O my Strength, I sing praise to you;
you, O God, are my fortress, my
loving God.

Decisiveness


It is amazing how a guy who is one of the most decisive on the football field is being so indecisive about signing a contract.

Brett Favre has been a great football player. He was the icon in Green Bay for over 15 years (1992-2007).

Favre is statistically one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Favre is the first player to win the AP Most Valuable Player three consecutive times (1995–97).

He led the Packers to seven division championships (1995, 1996 1997, 2002 2003, 2004 and 2007), four NFC Championship Games (1995, 1996, 1997 and 2007), winning two (1996 and 1997), two Super Bowl appearances, winning one (Super Bowl XXXI).

He holds a number of NFL records including: most career touchdown passes (464), most career passing yards (65,

127), most career pass completions (5,720), most career pass attempts (9,280), most career interceptions thrown (310), most consecutive starts among NFL quarterbacks (269; 291 total starts including playoffs), and most career victories as a starting quarterback (169). (Wikipedia stats)


When you watched Favre play football, you would have to describe him as a gunslinger. He was amazing. Snap decisions , quick judgments. He would throw the football so quick, accurate and hard that many defenders couldn’t handle it. It would blow right through their hands.



So why is the “gunslinger” having a tough time making the decision on signing on with the Minnesota Vikings. I doubt if it is any loyalty to the Packers. If you didn’t know the Vikings and Packers are rivals, only overshadowed by the rivalry between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers.

It has come down to the day before training camp and the big news is… “Favre can’t make up his mind.”

The ball has been hiked to him and he is standing there with it in his hands just looking at it.

It would be easy to try to figure out why he can’t pull the trigger, grab the pen, sign the contract. I’m sure there are all kinds of thoughts going through his mind… like the wear and tear of another football season on his 40 year old body and I would imagine he has enough money set aside. With his personality, he could easily get a contract with ESPN and do color commentary. Someone needs to replace John Madden.

On his own website it states, “Brett Favre: I'll stay retired, even if I get the urge” (February 2009) and now one of his agents is reporting, “he’ll probably make a decision next week.” I’m not holding my breath!

Enough about Favre, his story is only a tool to talk about decisiveness or indecisiveness.

"The percentage of mistakes in quick decisions is no greater than in long-drawn-out vacillation, and the effect of decisiveness itself 'makes things go' and creates confidence." -- Anne O'Hare McCormick (1882-1954), First woman to win a Pulitzer prize for journalism

Consider This:

Contrary to popular belief, your decisions don't drive your long term success - your decisiveness does. Said another way, when you reach a crossroads on any issue, the act of choosing creates power, not the choice itself. The issue is momentum. No matter what you choose, when you commit boldly with conviction, you create momentum. When you hesitate you don't. And success is built on momentum.

The more I think about this, I am reminded of Joshua’s challenge to indecisive people, “choose this day, whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15).

I must confess, indecisiveness drives me crazy. But, I have no skin in Favre’s decision, so I’ll just take the lesson to heart to let my “yea be yea and my no be no.”

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

DA COACH


In Chicago, all you have to do is say “da coach” and everyone knows you‘re referring to Mike Ditka.

He took on the job of coaching the Bears and turned the team around and helped them once again, become a winning team. The Bears won six NFC Central titles and three trips to the NFC Championship game during his time. The highlight of “da coach’s” career was an outstanding 46-10 victory over the New England Patriots in Superbowl XX.

One of the pleasures and passions of my life is encouraging people. It is such a pleasure to be able to sit down with someone, listen to them, let the Holy Spirit guide me in what I ask them… questions that help them to open up and to see aspects that possibly had not been considered.

A friend on Facebook wrote the following comparison of Coaching vs Mentoring:

  • There is a difference between Coaching and Mentoring. Coaching is about listening, drawing out, and assisting in discovery. Mentoring is about telling, teaching, and imparting expertise.
  • There is a difference between Coaching and Counseling. Counseling is about the past, helping people process, deal with, and be healed of past issues. Counseling prepares people to begin to look forward again.
  • Coaching is about the future. It is forward looking. It helps people discover what's next and then helps them build a solid strategy as to how to get there.

I guess my love is to Coach. I love to help people explore, examine and strengthen their dreams and then give them permission to “go for it.”

What a pleasure it has been to work with pastors, their staffs and churches as they have allowed me to be “da Coach”.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Living Life

When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling.

Live your life so that when you die, you're the one who is smiling and everyone around you is crying.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

TREASURE IN THE TRASH - MONEY IN THE MATTRESS


What was she thinking!?!


JERUSALEM – An Israeli woman mistakenly threw out a mattress she said had almost $1 million inside, setting off a frantic search through tons of garbage at a number of landfill sites on Wednesday. The woman told The Associated Press that she bought her elderly mother a new mattress as a surprise present on Monday — and threw out the old one.

The next day, she said, she remembered that she had hidden her life savings inside the old mattress. "I woke up in the morning screaming, when it hit me what happened," said the Tel Aviv woman, who asked not to be identified.

She went to look for the mattress, but it had already been hauled away by garbage collectors, she said. Searches at three different landfill sites turned up nothing.

She said the money was in U.S. dollars and Israeli shekels. She refused to say how she acquired such a large sum. "It was all my money in the world," she said. There was no way to verify her claims, and she refused to disclose key details.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said he was not familiar with the case and no report had been filed.

The Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot published a picture of the woman searching through garbage at a dump in southern Israel. The picture shows the woman, dressed in a white top and black pants with her back to the camera, picking through a huge pile of trash that fills the frame about 10 feet (3 meters) in all directions.

Yitzhak Borba, the dump manager, told Army Radio that his staff was helping the woman, saying she appeared "totally desperate." He said the mattress was hard to find among the 2,500 tons of garbage that arrives at the site every day.

He said he increased security at the site to keep would-be treasure hunters away.

The woman said the money had been stashed in a mattress because she had had "traumatic experiences with banks" in the past. She would not elaborate.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Interesting Video

This guy is very creative, loves playing with rocks and has a lot of time on his hands!


Saturday, April 18, 2009

ARE YOU HAPPY? Try Psalm 146:5


"Happy is he... whose hope is in the Lord."  (Psalm 146:5 NKJV)

I really enjoy the devotional that an old friend of mine produces.  The devotional is The Word For You Today published by Bob Gass.

Recently I read...


F.B. Meyer says, "The education of our faith is incomplete [till] we learn that God's providence works through loss...that there's a ministry to us through the failure and fading of things.  The dwindling brook where Elijah sat is a picture of our lives!"  Some time later the brook dried up' (1 Kings 17:7 NIV) is the history of our yesterdays and a prophecy of our tomorrows...learn the difference between trusting in the gift and trusting in the Giver.  The gift may last for a season but the Giver is eternal.  If the Lord had led Elijah directly to the widow of Zarephath, he'd have missed something that helped make him a better man -- living by faith.  Whenever our earthly resources dry up it's so we may learn that our hope and help are in God."

One author writes:  "Sometimes there's not enough money to make ends meet; people tell us to budget and we chuckle.  We look at the situation and say 'No way.'  That's the time to trust God.  Your possibilities are not limited by past or present circumstances.  If there's not enough to pay legitimate expenses, do your best then let go.  Trust God to supply your need, then look beyond your wallet.  Look to your source.  Claim a divine...unlimited supply...Do your part.  Strive for financial responsibility in thought and action.  Ask for wisdom and listen to God's leadings.  Then let go of your fears and your need to control.  "Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding'  (Proverbs 3:5 NLT)  We all know money is a necessary part of living - and so does God.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

88 Years Old and Going Strong

Just saw this report about the mayor of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.
What a dynamic person.


Joy and I stayed in Mississauga a number of years ago while on vacation. I would have loved to have met this dynamo.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Resurrected Ricky Ricardo





"HEY!  It is Ricky Ricardo!"  

I was driving south on Hiway 59 from Naperville (just bought some tires for the bike we bought on Craig's list)  and I saw this guy playing maracas while he was driving!


YES!  Both hands, two maracas.  I think his wife was clutching her rosary.


He was (hopefully) driving with his knees.   

This old dude was grooving for MILES down Hiway 59.  And he wasn't driving slow.... going over 50 mph!


Cars were pulling up beside him, rolling down their windows.  


Funny and scary.

Oh yeh, the pillow in the back window said, "Jesus loves you."

Notice the definition I loaded from Wikipedia... one of the the words for these musical instruments is "idiophone."  You connect the dots!!




Maracas (Br-Maraca.ogg pronunciation , sometimes called rumba shakers) is a native instrument of Puerto Rico. They are simple percussion instruments(idiophones), usually played in pairs, consisting of a dried calabash or gourd shell (cuia - 'kOO-ya') or coconut shell filled with seeds or dried beans. They may also be made of leather, wood, or plastic.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Starbucks Plug and Pour - Great Idea on April 1

Great idea from Starbucks.
Joining the computer with coffee!
Love it.
StarbucksIntroducing Star
bucks PlugPour, Coffee through your USB port. See it here: http://twitpic.com/2oq2f Join the test group here: @SBUXPlugPour

Saturday, March 14, 2009

FOR EVERY MOUNTAIN!

WOW.  Man, I love choirs like this!



Friday, March 13, 2009

Funny Coffee Commercials

I enjoy a good cup of coffee.

And I enjoy good advertizing.

These ads seem to tie them both together.







Wednesday, March 11, 2009

God Calls The Man, Has The Plan and Knows The Span

A friend of mine from years ago, Bob Gass, publishes an exceptional devotional called The Word For You Today.

His devotional for Tuesday, March 10 was excellent...

"I HAVE FOUND DAVID...A MAN AFTER MY OWN HEART."  (Acts 13:22 NKJV)

David was anointed to be king in his teens, but he only ascended the throne at thirty.

There's a pattern here:

1.  God calls the man.  In spite of being unappreciated by his family and overlooked by the prophet Samuel, God picked David.  He also picked Deborah to lead the nation in a male-dominated society.  Stop trying to figure God out, and stop comparing yourself to others!
"Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?" (Romans 9:21 NIV).
We'd have rejected many of the people God used - which lets us know how much we don't know.

2.  God decides the plan.  "Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it"  (Philippians 1:6 NKJV).  Who decides it?  Who performs it?  Who should your confidence  be in?  God!
God's plan for David involved years of ducking Saul's spears, living in caves and working with 600 misfits who redefine the word "dysfunctional".  God trains you in a small sphere so you can handle a bigger one.

3.  God knows the span of time required.  "Who through faith and patience [endurance] inherit the promises" (Colossians 1:11-12)
Endurance means standing firm under pressure.  The prize belongs to the man or woman who's committed for the long haul.  Joseph refused to let go of his dream;  it's what enabled him to say no to the advances of Potiphar's wife and endure unjust imprisonment.  But the day came when Potiphar and his wife knelt before Joseph.
So keep your eyes on the prize and don't give up!

Great devotional, isn't it?
Thanks Bob Gass for your great writing and insight.





Thursday, March 5, 2009

POSTAL POULTRY



I was mailing a package at the post office today. As I was waiting in line I heard a rooster crowing. About every 20-30 seconds. My first thought was, "wow that's a unique ringtone."

As a postal worker waved me up to the counter, I heard the rooster crow again and realized the sound was coming from somewhere behind her. After another cock-a-doodle-do, I asked, "is that a real rooster?" She rolled her eyes and said "yes." I asked, "is it in a crate?" "Yes. Someone mailed the rooster and we've been listening to it crow ALL morning! We're waiting for someone to come pick it up!" And about that time, the rooster crowed again.

How funny is that? Mailing a chicken USPS. United States Postal Service didn't chicken out.

The rooster was going "POSTAL." The postal workers were about to go postal on the rooster.
Every time I mail a package, I am asked, "is there anything perishable, breakable or hazardous in the package?" I wonder what the answer was for the rooster.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Dunkin' Donuts - Great Customer Service



Last week, on the way home from church, I decided to drop by Dunkin' Donuts and buy a couple bags of whole beans. I like to grind my own coffee and then brew a great fresh pot of coffee.

When I got home, I opened the bag and poured some beans into the grinder, set the coffee pot up and looked forward to a great cup of coffee. I had noticed the the whole beans didn't have the great aroma I expected. After brewing the pot, I realized that it was an old bag of beans.

I sent a note to Dunkin' corporate office to let them know and also asking help, because I hadn't taken the receipt when I purchased the beans. After several days, not receiving an email reply, I figured, "well, I guess it wasn't important." Joy came in with the mail and said, "I think you got your reply from Dunkin' Donuts." She had a large bag, that when I opened it, had two bags of beans! WOW!

Thank you Dunkin' Donuts.

BTW... I had gone back to the store where I purchased the beans and the manager gladly exchanged the two bags for two bags of ground coffee.

So, I have really been enjoying the coffee in the AM!

Anyone want to come over for coffee?! I'm brewing.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Billy Sunday in Kindergarten

I went to Bible College with a Billy Sunday, not this one, nor the original.

In fact, I did a report on the famous preacher.


But this little guy did this presentation for his kindergarten class at Gren Valley Baptist Church. His name is Connor Simpson.


Monday, February 2, 2009

The Future - What will it look like?

About a month ago, I spoke at VISION 2020 LEADERSHIP - A TIME TO SEE THE FUTURE. Rev. Tommy Reid, pastor of The TAB in Orchard Park, NY asked me to spend time with their pastors, elders and leaders.

We focused on,
What Will The Church Look Like in 2020?

I wish I would have had this video.
Our world is changing!




The landscape in America (indeed our world) has changed. Christendom (in America) no longer exists.
Some of the key points were...
I.. People in leadership positions face several challenges. 1) FOCUSING ON THE WRONG ISSUES (trying to fight society – fight reality) 2) NOT RECOGNIZING THE CHANGES AROUND THEM (sometimes denying them) and 3) trying to apply the wrong “fix”.

Every church needs transformation.

Those that aren’t changed DIE.

But without a clear understanding of the nature of change, the chances of growing a healthy church are diminished.


II. Last to see the shift
People insulated within any paradigm (group / institution) typically are the last to see the shift and least able to recognize strategies that are not going to work.


III. DO - DELIVER - DECLARE

How we DO church, how we DELIVER church, and how we DECLARE the message.

Some people have observed a five hundred year cycle in western history—a period of upheaval followed by a period of settling down, then codification, and then upheaval again because we do not like to be codified. So, about every five hundred years the church feels compelled to have a giant rummage sale, and we’re in one of those periods now.


HERE’S THE KEY….The emerging generation has a different STYLE, worldview and priorities. They have different ways of communicating.


Knowledge based Organizations will morph into highly distributed anytime networks.


It calls into question the future role of large facilities, high technological overhead and an emphasis on an insulated professional corps for business, government and ministry.

We are watching the leveling of the “playing field.”



ACTION:

1. Develop a strategic plan.

2. We need Men of Isachaar who “discern” the times.

“Exegete the environment, exegete the times. Discover what it taking place now. Look at future trends, major forces shaping society/our environment.

3. We need some people who understand the “Gretzky Factor.”

4. Prepare for contingencies.