Values: Real or Declared?

An Exercise in Developing Values

There is a difference between real and declared values. Real values are those that are true about you in every day life. They are lived out.  If you want to know what is really your vales, ask your wife or your closest friends.  Declared values are the ones people hear about but never see. We all have real values and declared values. A person can declare all they want about having solid values but until those values actually begin to show up on their calendar and in their life, they are only declared, not much to show for with these kinds of values.

Brooklyn Bridge

Determining Values

What is a value? How does a person or a couple determine which values to adopt?

Values provide you with a strong foundation for living your life to it’s fullest. Values will also help you in finding your purpose in life.  Like a rudder on a ship that helps steer a boat through the water, values are guiding principles that steer us toward our purpose.  They are the attitude behind our lives.  They are the uniqueness of who we want to be.  If our lives were a MacDonald’s Big Mac, the values would be the special sauce.

How many values should a family, person, couple have?  Values are like hats, if you are trying to wear too many, it gets cumbersome.  It is best to have a handful.  These values may change and adapt but they should always be real and not just declared.

God is the author of values.  Romans 2:14-16 points to our design.  It seems our hearts and consciences reveal the fingerprints of a moral God.  C.S. Lewis notes that there appears to be uniformity among most cultures on what uniform moral absolutes look like.  Most cultures do not honor treachery, selfishness, cowardice or deceit. (Lewis, The Abolition of Man).

Here are a list of verses to consider when understanding a Biblical perspective on values:

Just a few really.  There are myriads and myriads more.

Homework- Deciding on Your Valuess485964786236544819_p1_i1_w1100

Here is an exercise to help you choose your top values and live by them. If you already have values that you use, confirm that these values are indeed Real and not just Declared.  As we move along in this process, these values will be aligned with our mission and goals.  It will be difficult to be a bank robber and think you can save the world. There’s no alignment there.  No one is going to ask you to rob a bank but they also won’t ask you to be intentional with your values either.

Rank the Following Categories for your family life! You may want to distinguish between what you do now and what you want to be doing…



Making Money

Mental Well-Being

Physical Well-Being

Social Well-Being

Spiritual Well-Being

Now take each of these areas and fill in the blanks:

The ____________ Category we would love to be ____________

(i.e. Spiritually we would love to be Authentic, Committed, Passionate, Growing, etc.)

How do you know what to put in the blanks?  Consider the Following:

  1. You may want to think of a person who has been influential (for the good) in your life.  What about them made the biggest impact?
  2. What do you want to be remembered for?
  3. What things would you be doing in each of these categories if you knew failure was not an issue?
  4. If you were the President of the country, what would you make a requirement for everyone to be doing in these categories?

Here is a List of Value words to draw from (or make up your own):

Accepting, inspire, accomplished, intelligent, kind, aware, knowledgeable, beautiful, leader, brave, loving, calm, motivated, compassionate, observant, organized, connected, original, cooperative, passionate, courageous, patient, creative, peaceful, decisive, perceptive, devoted, persistent, disciplined, playful, discriminating, prepared, receptive, energetic resilient, enthusiastic, respectful, excited, responsible, expert, risk-taker, satisfied, flexible, sensible, sensitive, fulfilled, spiritual, generous spontaneous, graceful, strong, grateful, happy, thoughtful, harmonious thorough, humorous, trusting, independent, willing, insightful, wise, intentional, authentic, pure, shrewd, adventurous, dangerous, hungry, etc.

Narrowing Down the Values that Define YOU!

Take the top 2 values from each category and write them down.  Take some time (days) to sleep on and talk to others about which one is really your value.

This is not a test or a race.  Time is your friend.  Breathe easy, you will be evaluating these values annually.

FINALLY:  Make sure they are your values and not someone else’s values.

Where Does Your Time Go?

Paper Clips and Time: Are they similar?

Paper clips and Time are synonymous sometimes.  Time flies away much like the mysterious nature of paper clips.  Where do paper clips go?  Lloyd’s Bank of London undertook a study to find out what happens to a typical batch of paper clips as they are released throughout the workforce. Out of their original batch of 100,000 paper clips they found that:

  • 3,916 were used to unplug tobacco pipes;
  • 5,308 were used to clean under fingernails;
  • 5,423 were used to pick teeth or scratch ears;
  • 7,200 were used as hooks for belts, suspenders, or bras;
  • 14,163 were snapped, broken, or otherwise twisted during phone conversations;
  • 19,143 became mock card game chips; and approximately
  • 25,000 became lost, swept up off the floor or thrown away.
  • 20,000 of the original batch of paper clips were actually used to clip papers together.


Kyle MacDonald and His Red Paper Clip

Have you heard of Kyle MacDonald and his Red Paper Clip?

Stuck in a dead-end job and strapped for money, Kyle MacDonald came up with an improbable plan: starting with one red paperclip, he would trade on the Internet until he exchanged it for a house.

First, he traded the red paperclip for a fish-shaped pen. Next, he traded the pen for a doorknob. He traded the doorknob for a Coleman stove. He traded the Coleman stove for an electric generator. He traded the electric generator for a Budweiser sign and a keg of beer, which he then traded for a snowmobile and so on.  His goal was to turn it into a house.  He did just that when he won a movie roll and somehow that turned into a house.  Kyle MacDonald proved that paper clips are important.  Using your time is important as well, little and big amounts are important.  Time is like an ever moving locomotive that continues to move, nothing stops it, but we can get in front of it and enjoy the time we have.

You may be shocked to know how you spend your life. Wouldn’t it be encouraging if we spent all the 78 years (the national average of Americans life span) to being productive? Where does the time go?

  • We spend about 25 years sleeping
  • We work about 10.5 years (40hrs/week from 20-65 yrs old) (2 years are spent sitting in meetings)
  • We spend about 17 years trying to lose weight or thinking about losing weight
  • We watch about 9.1 years of TV (2 years watching commercials)
  • Drive about 4.3 years, Cook about 2.5 years, Clean 1.1 years (in some homes)
  • We will spend about 1.5 years in the bathroom (92 days on the toilet)
  • We will spend 14 days kissing
  • Men spend zero days shopping (they hunt), women spend 8 years shopping

Don’t forget we all have the same amount of time. When I share these facts with folks, a look of distress comes over their face. Guilt and despair are two feelings that can be avoided. Someone once told me that if I don’t plan my time, someone stronger than me will plan my time for me. I’m talking about Designing Purpose that works with your current schedule, your job, your hobbies, etc. We are not adding anything we are simply being wise with what we have. All of us have dreams and hopes; but hopes that are deferred and unmet make our hearts feel awful. It can all be avoided. We can live full lives. We can be busy but not feel busy. That is what Designing Purpose is all about. Time is not your enemy. The problem of busyness is not handled properly. We shouldn’t react to our schedules, we should be proactive and Design Purpose in our lives. We live our lives with a month in a view and week to week. If that is the case, let’s plan our lives before the month begins and evaluate week to week. The first step is deciding upon values that will guide your life through thick and thin.  My next post will be about Designing Values that are real and not just declared.

The Problem We All Face

Importance of Purpose

The most important thing about anything is its purpose. What we live for and what we would die for reveals our purpose. Purpose is simple but powerful. The purpose of basketball shoes is to protect ankles and feet, tap shoes would be terrible basketball shoes (I am sure that Lebron could still take me in tap shoes). Point is purpose reveals use and direction.  The problem we all face is we lack value based purpose.


AW Tozer writes about the potential abuse of purpose (Tozer, Man- The Dwelling Place of God):

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS LATELY CARRIED an interesting if somewhat depressing story out of London about a certain British peer who had died just a few days short of his eighty-ninth birthday.

Having been a man of means and position, it had presumably not been necessary for him to work for a living like the rest of us, so at the time of his death he had had about seventy adult years in which he was free to do whatever he wanted to do, to pursue any calling he wished or to work at anything he felt worthy of his considerable abilities.

And what had he chosen to do? Well, according to the story, he had “devoted his life to trying to breed the perfect spotted mouse.”

Now, I grant every man the right to breed spotted mice if he wants to and can get the cooperation of the mice, and I freely admit that it is his business and not mine. Not being a mouse lover (nor a mouse hater for that matter; I am just neutral about mice), I do not know but that a spotted mouse might be more useful and make a more affectionate pet than a common mouse colored mouse. But still I am troubled.

The mouse breeder in question was a lord, and I was born on a farm in the hill country of Pennsylvania, but since a cat can look at a king I suppose a farm boy can look at a lord, even look at him with disapproval if the circumstances warrant. Anyway, a man’s a man for a’ that, and I feel a certain kinship for every man born of woman; so I cannot but grieve for my brother beyond the seas.

Made in the image of God, equipped with awesome powers of mind and soul, called to dream immortal dreams and to think the long thoughts of eternity, he chooses the breeding of a spotted mouse as his reason for existing. Invited to walk with God on earth and to dwell at last with the saints and angels in the world above; called to serve his generation by the will of God, to press with holy vigor toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, he dedicates his life to the spotted mouse not just evenings or holidays, mind you, but his entire life.

According to Psalm 90:10, “The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.” According to USA Today in 2012 life expectancy in America was at an all time high at 78.74 years. It is 81.50 in the United Kingdom, lucky them right? The Psalmist seems to think that the average life is filled with toil and trouble. While that might be true for outside circumstances, it doesn’t have to be that way internally. The problem we all face is an exaggerated culture of over-productivity and over-stuffed calendars of busy people who feel guilty when they relax.  Do you feel guilty when you relax?

The most important question is not whether we have purpose but do we have the right purpose.  Having the right purpose is a question of values.  Time and value go hand in hand for the most part.  A man can have a dead end job but because he values his family he will invest the time in order to continue to get paid.  My next post will be focused on considering where and how we spend our time, you will be amazed really.

Sunday Reflections 8.23.3015

Bread of Life, Baptisms, and Football Season.

Last night was a blessing.  For those who feel inadequate and small and insignificant, John 6 has wind for your wings, water for your soul, and motivation for your ministry.  Great story that finds its place in all four Gospels.  Only this story and the crucifixion and resurrection are in all four Gospels.  So this is huge.  It is huge because Jesus  is always on mission, always on the offense.  His mission is to spread His fame everywhere.  There will be thousands who see an incredible sign in this story.  Here are the principles from last night:

  1. Jesus is not just the bread that satisfies our stomachs, he is Bread that satisfies our souls.
  1. Jesus does not want to be USEFUL JESUS but wants to be LOVED BY US JESUS.
  1. Jesus can use what little we have to offer to abundantly meet the needs of others.


Here are my takeaways:

  • Joel did a great job at hosting.  What a blessing to have so many that want to stand up and contribute.
  • Cody’s desire to stand and share how God has impressed upon him the need to bring Him glory was fantastic.
  • Always love our times of communion and worship, thanks to all serve and support The Gathering.
  • The message truly burned deep in my heart and mind.  You remember the 3 Lessons that were given?
    • People are needy.
    • We are inadequate to meet those needs on our own.
    • Jesus can meet needs with or without us.

As always Messages from the Gathering can be listened to at either our website here or you can subscribe to our iTunes Podcast account.


I’m pumped by our baptism time.

Love that we had four folks come forward and say, “I want to be on God’s team and be identified as that.”  I told my son it is sorta like wearing your team’s jersey onto the field and representing your team.  Baptism is just like that.  We represent Jesus.

One little boy asked his Pastor when he could be “advertised” obviously meaning baptized but in reality, baptism is nothing more than an advertisement showcasing an inward change.

There is nothing special about the water.  Baptism does not cleanse us of sin, only Jesus does that.  Baptism is a step of obedience.

If you want to be baptized moving forward at 290 Community Church, please contact your Life Group leader.


Who is not excited about High School Football?  College Football? and Pro Football?

I love this time of year.  The only thing missing is FALL Weather.  I’ve lived in Houston for many years and am still not used to having over 100 degree temps late into Fall and in September.

Secret to Satisfaction

Insights on Time from the Bible

Each morning we wake up and a thousand and one thoughts come rushing through our minds.  You maybe one of the lucky ones that actually made it through the night without being awakened by a few of those thoughts.  These thoughts are like wild animals.  C.S. Lewis says, “The moment you wake up each morning, all your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals.  And the first job each morning consists in shoving it all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter life coming flowing in” (Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 168).  Designing Purpose is not automatic.  If we want to pursue our biggest dream, no matter what they are, we are going to have to get in front of the busyness beast and slow it down or feed it less.

Many of us in the modern world are doing more than we should and are leading busy, hectic lives. This kind of pace is the kind of pace where men and women survive by living off of adrenaline and stress.  Our companies and our churches are just fine with us producing.  However, the first thing to be left by the wayside is soul work.  What many call time to sharpen the saw.  We live with a preoccupation with what is seen and give little thought to what is unseen.  Lewis encourages us to push all that back and listen to the “other voice” and allow God’s quiet strength to come flowing in.

Lewis’s insight points the way for us to break out of this cycle and begin to grow in our lives.  If we want to Design Purpose, then we must start with the foundation; our understanding of satisfaction.  The reason most people live at such break neck speed is because they want to be satisfied.  This process takes time to produce change in us, but over time it has a profound effect. As Lewis goes on to say, “We can only do it for moments at first. But from those moments a new sort of life will be spreading through our system because we are now letting him work at the right part of us. It is the difference between paint, which is merely laid on the surface and a dye or stain which soaks right through” (Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 169).

The Secret of Satisfaction and the Message from Haggai 1

The Book of Haggai, second shortest in the Old Testament, has a powerful message. It tells us to put first things first in our lives.  It was written to people who would have told you that God must be first.  They may have forgotten that message being held captive for 70 years in a foreign land and needed a reminder.  But they believed that and we believe that.  This is the foundation for which Lewis says takes time to soak into our lives.  They had drifted into a way of life where their intellectual belief in the supremacy of God was not reflected in the way they were living.  We drift when we do nothing with the LORD.   They gave lip service to the priority of God, but in fact they lived with other priorities. God sent Haggai to help His people get their priorities in line with what they knew they should be.

The historical setting is the early chapters of Ezra (see Ezra 5:1). In 536 B.C., a remnant of about 50,000 Jews had returned from Babylon to Judah under the decree of Cyrus, King of Persia. They quickly rebuilt the altar and began offering sacrifices. Two years after returning, they had laid the foundation to rebuild the temple. Their Samaritan neighbors had offered to join in the work, but the Jews refused their offer. The Samaritans, in turn, threatened the workers and sent men to Persia to lobby against the Jews, bringing the work to a halt.

At least 14 years had passed. The people got caught up in the routine of life—farming, building houses, raising families, and that sort of thing. They got used to life without a temple. Even their leaders, Zerubbabel the governor and Joshua the high priest, had gotten used to things as they were. Into that scene, God raised up Haggai and (two months later) Zechariah to proclaim His message to this returned remnant.

We pick up the story in Haggai 1:1:

 In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest: “Thus says the Lord of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord.” Then the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.

“Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the Lord. You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. 10 Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. 11 And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and on all their labors.”

This message is simple.  The people said, “We can’t afford to rebuild the temple.”  God said, “You can’t afford not to!”  What was the issue?  They had plenty of excuses but out of sync priorities.  Excuses have been around since Adam and Eve.  Adam said, “It was the woman’s fault.”  Eve said, “It was the serpent’s fault.”  We say, “I know I am a little overweight but I worked hard and deserved those donuts on the smorgasbord line, it isn’t my fault I am heavy.”

It is always easy to make an excuse when we don’t want to obey God.

  • God wants us to take care of our families, doesn’t he?
  • The job is way to big, we will never finish it.
  • Someone else will do it if we don’t.
  • We need to spend more time praying about doing the work before we start.
  • What do we need a temple for anyway?
  • The time just isn’t right.

Today this is the same as someone saying, “I will get to work on my marriage soon but first I need to make sure we make ends meet at work.”  Or another who says, “I will figure out how to get back in shape once we get past the holidays.”  Another says, “I know I lack depth with God, I’ll get to that once I figure out things with my girlfriend.”

This was the Lord’s house.  To leave the Lord’s house in disrepair was the same as showing disrespect for the occupant of the dwelling.  Consider this:  They were saying, “We don’t have the time.”  But this is false, remember, we all have the same amount of time.  We all have 168 hours/work.  The issue is not time, the issue is priority.  They were pursuing their comforts and God says, “Is it a time for you to live in luxury while my house remains in ruins?”  Please don’t answer that.  That may be the biggest rhetorical question ever.

Paul reminds us in Phil 2:21, “That everyone seeks their own interests rather than the interests of Jesus.”  This is foundational stuff in the making.  If Lewis is right and wild animals come at us in the morning, then we will need a plan to keep them back.  I want you to consider what that might look like each day.  Every morning when you awake there is a figurative committee meeting.  You are not even dressed to impressed.  You are still in bed and are starting the process of distributing your time for the day.  What do we give our time to?

  • Appearance
  • Family
  • Work
  • Hobby
  • Sport
  • Media
  • Technology
  • Entertainment

The problem we face is simply one of priority and satisfaction.  We tend to divvy out time to what we think is most satisfying.  Then God comes on the scene.  His love is everlasting and full.

He reasons with the people of God two times in this passage, “Consider your ways.”  Take careful thought to your ways.  Literally set your heart upon your ways.  How is your life going?  How is it working out for you?  This reads more like an imperative, consider your ways.  Is it possible to be oblivious to the source of satisfaction in our lives?

  • They planted much…but not much harvesting.
  • They ate much…but are still hungry.
  • They drank much…but are still thirsty.
  • They wear clothing that doesn’t keep them warm.
  • They make money for it only to burn a hole in their wallet.

Here we come to the sobering reminder that what happens in our hearts effects every other part of our life as well.  Because the people had pushed God out of the center of their lives, they are now suffering in every other area.  They had fields but no produce, action without satisfaction, labor without profit, fruitless toil, fleeting riches, unsatisfied hunger and futile defenses.

This the law of the unproductive harvest.  It happens to us over and over until we learn that God will not be mocked.  Why would God do this?  He allows us to suffer the results of our wrong choices and wrong priorities in order to get our attention, to convict of sin, and to lead us to repentance.  God knows how to ring your phone.  He knows where you live and knows how to reach the private line of your heart.  Here is an awesome thought:

God could have his hand on the valve of satisfaction in your life.  We could work our fingers to the bone and be working against God.  He has his hand on the spigot of satisfaction.

Consider your life currently.  Are you satisfied?  Are you frustrated?  Do you have peace?  Do you want the things that God gives, peace, joy, power, without investing in the things of God?

What is the Solution?

We often define our lives around what we want our future to be like.  We want a car so we go get a job.  We want to get into a good college, so we work hard to get good grades.  This is great but don’t forget God’s business and your investments into His work.  God gives us the solution.  God says, “Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified” (1:8).  This is not a suggestion.  This is a command. 

In all of life there is a time to talk and a time to act.  There is a time to consider and a time to stop talking and start doing.  This was the time to act.  Today is the day to do the right thing in life.  Because they had not honored God, every area of their life was suffering.  The only remedy was to stop making excuses and start doing what God had told them to do 16 years earlier.


All great actions start with beginnings not excuses.  Designing Purpose must have a beginning.  Become the leader of your life.  You may need to step up and lead your family or relationship.  Zerubbabel and Joshua committed themselves to stepping up and honoring God and everyone else followed.  Everything in Designing Purpose rises and falls on leading oneself or leading others.  God will honor those who do His work.  Check out the stories ending:

12 Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him. And the people feared the Lord. 13 Then Haggai, the messenger of the Lord, spoke to the people with the Lord‘s message, “I am with you, declares the Lord.” 14 And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people. And they came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God, 15 on the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.

Do everything you can to make God look good.  Put first things first.  You and I can always get started again.  These Israelites needed a second chance and God gave it.  Don’t every line yourself up with small things.

I read a story online about Robert Jaffray, check it out:self-discovery

Robert Jaffray was an intelligent and well educated in Toronto at the turn of the 20th Century.  He was heir to the Globe and Mail, a successful Toronto newspaper and was fleuent in Chinese as well as English. Despite having family fortune and ample political connections he knew a worthy task when he saw one. He was offered a huge salary by the Standard Oil Company of New York and was asked if he would help them set up an office in Hong Kong.  He said, “No thank-you.”  They later returned and doubled the salary offer.   “No thank-you” Finally they sent him a telegram with one sentence: “Jaffray, at any cost.” He replied with one line, “Your salary is big.  Your job is too small.” Robert A. Jaffray was instead a missionary in China for more than 35 years.  He worked in translating the New Testament into Cantonese and He wrote for and edited Bible Messenger, published by South China Alliance Press He used this publication to send training materials to Cantonese Missionaries and then later to others, reprinted in their “colloquial language versions.” He was arrested in 1942 by the Japanese, he was kept in internment camps, until he died in 1945 from illness and malnutrition.  Jaffray said, “The supreme and crying need of this lost world is the gospel. Shall we not rise at Christ’s command to carry the blessed saving news to every perishing one?” Don’t ever let yourself get distracted into doing a job that is too small.

The Issue of Time

Intro to an E-Book on Designing Purpose

Imagine getting $10,080 each week. The issue though is you can’t keep it after it is gone. Use it or lose it. What would you do with 10,080 dollars? What if you got that amount each week? Many people make that kind of money but everyone has that many minutes.  Some may be more financially set than others but all of us have the same amount of time, 10,080 minutes in a week. Once a minute is experienced, there is no getting it back. Money can be invested and multiplied but time can only be invested. There is no such thing as multiplying time. Time can only be spent. Someone can eat healthy, workout, avoid excessive alcohol and stay clear from drugs but experience a life changing accident or worse lose their life. Time can be extended but can’t be multiplied.

Grand Central TIME

We all have the same amount of time. Each week we have 168 hours. Every minute is an investment. Every second counts. Each hour passes by; sometimes we are sleeping, studying, eating, working, playing, looking at Buzzfeed, SnapChat, Instagram or Facebook, or whatever. Time keeps ticking. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

I have visited Grand Central Terminal in the heart of Manhattan nearly every summer for the past 10 years.  Each time I step foot into the hub bub of moving humanity I am struck by one thought, “Time is ticking away!”  At least it seems like that for those who use the terminal.  It is actually quite amazing.  People moving at a rapid pace.  It is a like a dance.  Right when it looks like two people will run into one another like a pin ball hitting a bumper, they avert at the last second.  No injuries.  One doesn’t come to NYC to rest.  I live in Houston, Texas whose suburban sprawl 650 square miles greatly diminishes the puny Manhattan 26 square mile island.  Houston’s busyness is different than NYC.  NYC seems busier but a New Yorker still has 168 hours to invest each week.  I was traveling on route 30 in Lancaster, PA and my driving companion said the traffic was pretty thick that morning.  I think I counted 20 cars.  People in Lancaster, PA live there and love it but for some reason they say their life is busy as well.  I’m sure if they lived in Houston for a time they would conclude Houston seems busier.  However, no matter where you go, Lancaster, PA or Houston, TX or NYC everyone has 168 hours to invest in each week.

Cup E-Book

Americans are notorious for being busy. Our lives are full. Like a cup that can’t be carried without it spilling or a sponge that can’t take another drop, our lives are full of activities. We are seeking the best for our children. We want to make our boss happy and our spouse happy and our friends, family, and our pets. We live compartmentalized lives and unfortunately our faith takes a back seat.   John Ortberg pinpoints this in his article, Taking Care of Busyness. He says, “For most of us, the great danger is not that we will renounce our faith. It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it. We will just skim our lives instead of actually living them.”

talking E-book

Time is a gift.  It is not a burden. How do we live it the full? How do we make sure once the month is over we can look back and conclude, “I lived life to the full? or I invested my time wisely?”  Is it possible to answer the question, “How are you doing?” without saying, “Busy!”  I am in the process of writing an E-book that will come alongside someone who has come to the end of themselves and are fed up with the craziness of life’s busyness.  My wife, Allison and I have performed many weddings and our favorite part is working with a couple before they say, “I do!”  This E-book is for them.  They are peering shoulder to shoulder at the future with grand dreams.  If not pursued properly the busyness of life will overtake even the greatest of intentions of young spring time love.  I have many friends who have been married for a decade or two and live in a metropolitan city with long commutes.  They too have great dreams for their marriage and family.  This E-book is for them.  It is never too late to begin to design purpose in your time investments.  The couple who wants to finish their lives well; they have lived and loved for many decades.  They are “finished” working and are trying to figure out retirement.  This E-book will encourage them to run to the tape thinking of their lives before the month begins.  The college student who is leaving home for the first time and venturing out “as it should be” needs a compass to guide them.  They need this E-book to truly thrive throughout their college days.

That is what this E-book is all about. This E-book (still doesn’t have a name) works more like a manual than reads like a novel. It is a step-by-step process that can assist an individual, couple, or family to live a very purposeful life. The process is simple:

  1. Design life-directing values.
  2. Develop a mission based on one’s roles in life.
  3. Agree on what roles to play.
  4. Determine strategic goals accompanying your roles.
  5. Getting it all on your calendar.
  6. Biblical understanding of purpose, time, values, and roles.
  7. Example worksheets.
  8. Testimonies and stories from the trenches.

Sunday Reflections 8.16.2015

Jesus' View on the Scripture

A person’s view of Scripture tends to determine their faith.  There are some who think the Bible is a nice book but it was written by men and can be a wonderful crutch if you are weak and need one.   What was Jesus’ view of the Bible?  Jesus’ view of Scripture is so central to our salvation. If someone says, “The Bible is a bunch of made up stories written by men, they are not just disagreeing with us, they are disagreeing with Jesus.” Either the word of God is written by God or written by man. If we say something different than Jesus’ view, we are simply making ourselves out to be the one in charge; the bible is not authoritative over our life we are in charge of the Bible.


How Does Jesus View the Bible?

Here is a quick test:  Who said this, “and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?” If you said, “Jesus” you would be right.  Jesus was quoting Genesis 2:24 where Moses wrote this phrase down.  It is not like it was a quote from God.  Moses wrote it.  Do you see what that means?  Jesus thinks if Moses said it, God said it, they are one in the same.  What Moses writes is God’s word.  Another example is found in Acts.  Luke writes, And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, “Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain?  The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed. What David says is directed by the Holy Spirit so what David says God says.  How does that happen?

Peter gives the way God brought the Scripture to be:

Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.   For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Do you see what this means?  God used the personality, the experiences, the skills of the human authors as they wrote down the words that became the Bible.  This is what we mean that the Bible is inspired by God.  God did not dictate the exact words, nor did the writers go into a trance and mystically receive the words.  No the authors wrote what they wanted to write and when they wanted to write and God was in control the entire time.

Check out these short articles on this topic:

  1. Verbal Inspiration of the Bible
  2. Inspiration
  3. Inerrancy and Inspiration of Bible

How do you use your Bible?

  1. Are you reading or studying your Bible? The Pharisees were not rebuked for not studying or reading but for doing it wrongly (John 5:39-40).
  2. When you read are you worshiping God or the Bible? Academic knowledge vs. Oh Taste and See (Psalm 34:8).
  4. Does your Bible intake lead to humility or pride? Love builds up but knowledge puffs up (1 Cor 8:1).
  5. Does your Bible reading lead you to obedience and meeting your fears head on?
  6. Do you love God and people more after reading the Bible?

Other Questions-

  1. I have heard some argue that studying theology leads to spiritual deadness. Is there any validity to this? Why/why not?
  2. Why is it important to read and reread the whole Bible and not just your favorite parts (Psalm 119:160)?
  3. What errors have you encountered from Christians who avoid reading the entire Bible?

The Heart of the Leader pt. 2

6 Questions to Consider pt. 2

Yesterday’s post, the Heart of the Leader, asked these questions when considering the Heart of a leader.

How has your culture shaped your view of God’s agenda in the world?

What is your life mission?

What family of origin issues contribute positively or negatively to your leadership?

Leadership is not easy but it is necessary for the life and health of any team or organization.  Leader’s tend to focus more on the output, the doing, and producing, rather than the inner stuff, the being, and becoming.  These questions help a leader build a path towards heart health and avoid heart drift.  A leader’s heart drifts when they focus too much on doing over being.



More Questions that help form the Heart…

How do you evaluate your time with God?

Time alone with God has been practiced by many for thousands of years.  This time is critical for what one writer calls, “sharpening the saw.”  Silence, solitude, listening, writing, walking, and simply being at the outset of most days has a way of strengthening the heart of a leader.  The prophet Haggai has a powerful image of God telling us to consider our ways, “Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways.  You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes” (Haggai 1:5-6).  It would be a dreadful thing to realize that you can be working as hard as you can and God could have his hand on the valve of satisfaction and the spigot is running dry.  My time with God has been experiencing some transitions. I am wondering a lot about the benefit of ministering out of one’s sweet spot and on one’s time with God. I simply feel busy all the time and thus don’t feel like I am spending quality time. It is much harder to commune with God when doing is the first thought of your day and then I tend to get down on myself.  Do you have a built in rhythm of solitude and quietness?  What are your favorite ways to reorient your heart towards God?

How do you respond to conflict?

Conflict is a regular occurrence for a leader.  It is like breakfast, it typically comes daily.  Some days you miss breakfast and some days a leader is fortunate enough to skip conflict.  Leaders whose hearts are in drift may tend to avoid conflict and blame it on the goal of making harmony happen.  That is a mirage.  If our hearts are out of sync, conflict will tear us up and the team with it.  Leaders whose hearts are centered on God deal with conflicts from the other person’s perspective.  They have the same mind as that of Jesus (Phil 2:4-5).  My dad taught me that one of the best lessons to learn is to deal wisely with people. I have worked at people development and conflict resolution throughout my entire ministry career. I am not the best and may not know all the book stuff steps like in Peacemaker but I think I innately carry most of them out. I am learning not to take conflict personally but learn and grow from it.  Do you think having a strong and centered heart will help a leader work through conflict?  How do you work through conflict with others?

How do you experience God in the commonplace?

It has already been said that intentional time with God is important.  However, it is also important to experience God in the everyday life situations and drama.  Otherwise our lives might become compartments where we give time to God and then mistakenly give time for our pursuits and separate the two.  They are one in the same.  Few authors capture this ability better than Ken Gire. He has written extensively on this topic:  Windows of the Soul, Seeing what is Sacred, The Reflective Life, and Reflections on the Movies are a few of the ones that have encouraged me.  My personality experiences God in preaching and singing not always in the common place.  However, I am finding that as I raise kids that I am seeing movies, TV, radio, marketing, etc. from God’s perspective and communicating God’s values to my kids. I want them to do as I am trying to do and seek to see God in all of life. To a God-centered person, worship is all of life.  Do you often take the time to see God in the everyday?  What have you done to try to decompartmentalize your life and make it one whole life under God?

The Heart of a Leader

6 Questions to Consider

Leadership is not easy.  It is often lonely work but necessary.  Leaders are critical to the over all life of the team and/or organization.  Perhaps one of the most often overlooked aspect of the leader is their heart.  Leaders are great at using their mind in strategy and their muscles in getting things done but the heart is left behind.  Heart attention is overlooked because it is never urgent.  It never screams at you in the morning, fix me, get this done, must see, do this or else.  It sits silently, yet powerfully inside the leader and many times it is slowly dying.  Death can be avoided.  My brother just had 2 stints put in his heart, how did he know to do that, he felt pain.  Pain and pressure are blessings in this case.  Don’t wait for the pain and pressure to ask 6 questions that will help the leader understand their heart and bring it along in a healthy way.  This post will deal with the first 3, another post will deal with the next 3.


Questions that help form the heart…

How has your culture shaped your view of God’s agenda in the world?

I see three ways to view culture: To avoid it and greenhouse myself and family, to dive in and fully accept or to deal wisely seeking culture’s redemption. I choose the third. Jesus had compassion when He saw the culture of His day because they were harassed and helpless spiritually. I want to respond in the same way. I believe the church’s role should be to act as apostles to the community that surrounds them. As the Father sent Jesus so He sends the Church into their culture to proclaim the excellencies of Christ.  Does the culture affect your heart?  If so, how will you respond?

What is your life mission?

To glorify God by Deepening my love for Jesus daily, by Living with Allison in understanding and sharpening ways, by Shepherding my children with intentional hilarity and authenticity and by Encouraging present and emerging leaders to be shrewd, culturally redeeming, and world focused.  There is nothing more heart shaping than having a mission and not letting it sit on the shelf.  Instead, it should be reviewed and pursued on a monthly basis.  I call it, “planning your life before the month begins.”  The mission will protect a leader from having heart drift.  Heart drift is that feeling that comes when there is little attention given to the development of your heart and all focus is given to doing and producing.  Do you have a mission that drives your life?  Do you plan before the month begins?

What family of origin issues contribute positively or negatively to the heart of your leadership?

Family of origin relationships set the foundation of a leader’s heart.  God designed the family to provide the necessary building blocks for every one of its members.  If a young man or woman does not know that their parents love them or that their parents actually love each other, it is a wound to their heart.  Some kids grow up in homes where parents are actively committed but emotionally distant.  They show up for every activity but don’t have the ability to verbalize love.  That is half way there when it comes to healthy development.  Buck Hatch called this, “Cancer of the soul.”  Did your Dad say,”I love you and hold you and bounce you on his knee?”  Did your Mom says, “I love you sweetie and spend time listening to you and tickling you?” Did you see your parents saying, ” I love you to each other?  Did you see them hugging and kissing?”  

Sunday Reflections 8.2.2015

Jesus picking fights and Making himself out to be God.

Loved the Gathering last night.  Here are some highlights from John 5:1-16:

  1. Jesus is always on the offense.  He never is sitting on a rocking chair nervously wondering how to carry out His mission.
  2. If we see Jesus the way John sees Jesus, it will change everything.
  3. Sometimes we want the phenomenal hope so rather than true hope fulfillment from Jesus.
  4. 38 years is a long time to wait for anything…
  5. St. Augustine said, “Give me chastity and continency only not yet!”
  6. Obedience is not burdensome…Obedience is freedom.
  7. Jesus was picking a fight.  He is not your Hallmark Precious Moments Jesus…he is the Rambo, William Wallace Jesus.
  8. Jesus picked the man and the day that would cut right to the jugular of Judaism.
  9. The reason the winds of persecution started to rise is Jesus was making himself out to be God.  Persecution in our day can be avoided by simply leaving Jesus alone.
  10. GO GET THE BOOK, “THE INSANITY OF GOD!”  A solid book that will truly inspire you.  Click on this link in order to read the post I wrote about it.


The problem with the Precious Moments Jesus collection is not that it is really cute and cuddly but that it doesn’t always render the best picture of who Jesus is. Exodus 15:3 describes the Lord as a man of war or a warrior and that is his name, in other words, that is his character.  In John we see Jesus taking on the religious establishment.  He is always on the offense never on the defense, always on mission, never passive.  Nothing takes him by surprise.  This should give us great comfort.  We have a King that goes ahead of us.  He wants to leave no room for doubt or confusion about knowing Him and making Him known.

Obedience is not a burden.  Here is a picture of Seth on my back.  We think that obedience and following Jesus is alot like this picture.  Your mom says something to you to do and you say, “Come on get off my back!”  Temptation arises and like St. Augustine we say, “I want to be pure but NOT YET!”  There is nothing more clear than what John says in 1 John 5:3, “this is love for God that we keep His commandments and his commandments are not burdensome.”  Wow!  I look pretty intense in this shot, thanks to Joan Jones for getting this on the fly.


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