Let’s Write a Story Together…Two

Let’s write a story together!

We did this last year and it was a lot of fun. You can read our finished story HERE. Several asked if we could repeat it. I’ve picked up a few readers since then, so this is new for some of you.

Here is how this works: (Please read carefully)

  • I will write an opening set up sentence.
  • You add the next line.
  • Read the other comments first, to see how the story is flowing.
  • You can only add one line until someone else adds a line.
  • Please don’t try to write one long sentence that really is a paragraph. The fun is getting the different inputs and imagination to work together.
  • You can add as many lines as you want, but only one at a time, and only with someone else having a line between yours.
  • Please try to keep the story flowing. Your sentence can be light-hearted, funny, or even tragic, but please DO NOT add a sentence that stops the story or takes it in a bizarre direction in an effort to disrupt the story serious that commenters are writing or take it in an awkward direction. (There’s always one like this and I reserve the right to delete the comment if it appears that’s what is happening with the comment.)
  • I will not be able to use crude or vulgar comments. (I realize that will limit some of you from participating, but…)
  • Please add your sentence here on the post as a comment, not on Facebook and Twitter. This is the only way it will be added to the final story.

The goal here is to be creative and see where our imagination and the story takes us, yet write a credible, interesting story. After comments seem to be slowing, I’ll post the entire story in a separate post. If you leave your full name, I’ll give you credit in the excerpts. If you have a blog link when you add your comment, I’ll link to you also.

Have fun!

Here is the first sentence:

Steve chuckled under his breath as he watched the strawberry blonde-haired little girl playing in his backyard.

Go! Your turn!

To make this even more fun, tweet or Facebook share this post to get more involved.

Words of Wisdom from Chuck Swindoll

If I had to name one senior person in ministry who has most impacted me from a distance as a believer, it would probably be Chuck Swindoll. I grew in my faith listening to his radio program and reading his books. He was contemporary and applicable in his preaching and not afraid to be innovative in reaching people.

I recently read an article in Leadership Journal interviewing Swindoll on his newest book, The Church Awakening. I haven’t read the book, but the article says some things that caught my attention and I intend to read it.

He says things like:

  • “When a church is spending more of its budget on media than shepherding, something is out of whack.”
  • “We must make sure that new things actually help people grow in the truth, that they edify the saints and build them up.”
  • “We try to keep it simple so that the pizzazz doesn’t become the reason to bring a neighbor.”
  • “I let people see the cracks in my life. We can’t be phony. We’ve got to keep it real.”

Read the article HERE, then come back to this post and reflect on what Swindoll is saying to younger pastors and church leaders.

I’ll be honest, I don’t know at first glance that I agree with everything he said, and I’ll read the book for more clarity, but I did read the article and Swindoll makes some bold statements. I believe in listening to the wisdom of elders too. Could there be a word here for the church?

What are your thoughts about where the church is now or is going in worship planning?

Are we putting too much emphasis or spending too much money on technology?

How do we balance the tension of reaching people uninterested in the church, yet making sure we always honor Christ in worship?

Is this a word from the wise or a dear wise pastor who is also struggling with the changing times?

Let me hear your thoughts.

10 Things You Can’t Change and 10 Things You Can

There are some things we can’t change and some things we can. Learning the difference and adjusting accordingly is in large part one of the secret’s of a happy life. Concentrating more on the things you can’t change than on the things you can causes frustration, disappointment, and even depression. Let me list a few and you’ll see what I mean.

Things you CAN’T change:

God’s sovereignty
The circumstances around you
The weather
The day of the week
Your past
Other people’s actions
Time passing
Words said to you
The economy
Your heritage

Things you CAN change:

Your prayer life
Your attitude
Your perspective
Your reaction to other people’s actions
Your words
Your preparation
Your priorities
Your habits
Your commitment level
Your facial expression

What examples would you add to my list of things you can’t change and things you can’t?

Which of the things you can change do you need to change today?

President Obama at National Day of Prayer

Sadly, I didn’t see this in the news, but I did see it on Ed Stetzer‘s blog and thought is was worth sharing here as well. I’ve asked before about the role of believers in politics. My personal opinion is that Christians need to be influencers in our culture…at every level. Therefore, I think this type speech is important for us to hear. I’m not offering commentary on what was said, but I do believe we should know what the president is saying in these matters.

Watch the video, then share your thoughts:

5 Ways to Attract Young People to Church

If a church is more interested in protecting traditions than it is in creating a future, then it will most likely fail to attract young people…

At least that’s been my experience.

If a church is interested in attracting young people, then it must think strategically about doing so…

After all, they are the future…

Here are 5 ways a church can attract young people:

Value their ideas – Young people will want to do some things differently. Give them a voice and access to authority.

Give them a place to serve – Find ways that let young people assist others. It’s a huge value for them.

Be genuine with them – Young people can spot the phonies. Let them see that you are real.

Love them – Young people want to sense they are loved….even when they mess up.

Guide them – Young people want direction and they want to learn from your experience. (Just share it in the context with the other 4 points.)

What would you add to my list?

Guest Post: Tim Sanders

This is a guest post by Tim Sanders, author of Today We Are Rich. Tim is a speaker, author, and change-agent. He’s making a difference for the Kingdom through his connections and his influence. I’m honored to participate in Tim’s ministry with this guest post.

April 20 has a variety of meanings leading to various celebrations – some in the moment and others for future generations.  For me, it’s a big day I’m conducting a media tour to support my new book,  Today We Are Rich.  One of the key points of the book is that you can give your way out of burnout.  In principle four, Give To Be Rich, I echo Dr. Norman Vincent Peale’s obsersvation: Generosity  is a Wonder Drug.

In the spirit of Carpe Diem, I’m claiming 4-20 as a national day of giving, observing and sharing of emotions.  Much like Scrooge, anyone can lift their spirits dramatically by giving, helping, volunteering or directly donating to those in need.  Researches have a name for the medicinal power of giving: Helper’s High.  This is the promise made in Isaiah 58: 7,8.

When you share what you have to help others, in that moment, you are worth something – and it will help you ease any pain.  Looking for a blanket to throw over your blues? Here’s what Dr. Stephen Post of the Institute For Research on Unlimited Love would deal to you:  “To rid yourself of negative emotional states, push them aside with positive emotional states and the simplest way to do that is to just go out and lend a helping hand to somebody.”

Looking for a buzz?  Volunteer.  Women participating in a study by the Institute For The Advancement Of Health reported that after volunteering time to help others, they had a physical experience similar to meditation or a vigorous workout.  In a compilation of fifty studies recently published by Case Western University’s Stephen Post, the exact phenom becomes clear:  When we perceive that we’ve helped someone, we trigger the reward center in our brain, which produces Dopamines, Endorphins and Serotonins.  These powerful chemicals give us feelings of profound joy, calmness and spiritual connection.  We get as high as a kite, or gain the internal/chemical feeling of true Richness.

We lift off, emotionally, and it lasts for days, sometimes weeks.  Researchers found that you could reinject yourself with the WonderDrug Of Helping just by thinking about it (but you need to focus your energies on recollecting all the details to generate empathy).  During my book tour stop in Franklin TN, I had a cup of coffee with Sandy Griffin, fellow author and big giver to the homeless in greater Nashville.  As she recounted how she secured some corrective shoes for one of her new friends, and the difference it would make to his quality of life – she lit up, high on the loving-giving experience.  Proof positive that this research is true!

In his research, Dr. Post also observed that when we are in Helping Mode, our body produces Oxytocin, which is known as the “bonding hormone.”  When faced with a crisis or a problem, people on Helper’s High spring into “Tend and Mend” mode, instead of the more aggressive “Fight Or Flight” mode.  In other words, Helper’s High brings out the emotion of trust and nurture.

And that’s not all, choosy drug shoppers, you also get relief from Helping too!  In a surprising study back in 1956, stay-at-home moms had less emotional stress markers than the breadwinners, because their mothering gave them natural relief.  Post explains it this way: Helper’s High (fueled by the brain’s reward center) dominate Cortisol, the stress hormone.  Help and you’ll conquer stress, and according to research in teens as well as adults: You’ll beat most depression too.

Giving, then, is a WonderDrug, the only one to take when you need a dose of Euphoria or a cure for the blues or a stressful life.  It lasts much longer, probably costs you less than substance or alcohol and more importantly – converts your selfish approach to ‘coping with life’ to a life of service and significance.  Try it out today, you’ll see.  Turn up for ‘helper’s radar’ and find an opportunity to do something helpful for someone.  The research warns that writing a check or texting a donation will NOT produce the high, you need direct contact with someone you generally care about or feel sympathy towards.  Give encouragement, a hot meal, a hand up or some volunteer time.  Keep your eyes open for the difference you make and savor the high that will come.  Make a note to reinject your psyche with the experience on May 1.  It’ll work then too!

Here’s How To Spread The Word: Retweet this post if you a Twitter-head or click the Like button is Facebook is your thing.  After you help someone today, either comment about your emotional experience (document your Helper’s High) or share your deed and feeling on Twitter with #HighOnHelping as a hashtag.  The more you talk about it, the more you are dealing a new solution to your extended network: Take Giving, It’s a WonderDrug.

Thanks to Jon Acuff, Randy Elrod, Ken Coleman, Ron Edmondson and others for joining this campaign via their blogs, podcasts and networks.  If you decide to participate, send me a note and I’ll add you to the #HighOnHelping bandwagon.

Pick up a copy of Today We Are Rich: Harnessing The Power Of Total Confidence and sharpen your ability to give, help and produce real meaning with your life.

 

Friday Discussion: Importance of Being Healthy

I’m using the LoseIt application. I’ve downloaded it on my iPhone, iPad and laptop. It keeps up with my calorie intake and my exercise each day. Some of those closest to me have picked on me for how intense I’ve been. Someone saw me recently looking to put a few M & M’s in the app. I didn’t eat a whole package.

I’m not tremendously overweight, but over the last year or so I’ve picked up an extra 8 to 10 pounds and I can feel it. It’s impacted my running, which is my way to relax. It’s made my clothes tighter.  It’s made me more conscious about what I wear. More than that, I just haven’t felt as good as I did before I gained the few extra pounds. It’s really affected the quality of my life. I’m determined to get back to my ideal weight. As busy as I am, I can’t afford anything that slows me down that I can control.

I know health is a touchy subject. Some people have medical issues that keep them from exercise. Others have dietary concerns. I don’t mean to offend anyone who may be overweight. For me, however, this is an important issue. My physical health seems to impact every other part of my life, so if I can do something about it, I feel almost an obligation to be healthy. I realize I may be in a minority among some pastors, so I am curious enough to make it a Friday discussion topic.

Consider these questions:

  • Is it important that we monitor our health?
  • Is it important for a leader to be physically healthy?
  • Does a leader’s health determine how well you listen to them or take his or her advice?
  • Do you want your doctor to be in shape when he or she tells you that you should be in shape?
  • Let me take it a step further. Would it be a sin to not take care of your body?
  • Are there any special requirements as believers to be healthy?

What do you think? Share your thoughts on the importance of being healthy. Dialogue. Discuss. Debate if you will…

Let me hear from you.

You can read a couple posts I did about this issue HERE and HERE.

Bonus points: Tell me how you maintain your health. What’s your plan?

Don’t Pray Before You Eat

It happened like this…

Cheryl and I were eating at a restaurant…

That’s happened many times before…

There was a large family gathered at a table nearby…

We’ve seen that before too….

The family prayed before their meal came….

That was nice…

We noticed…

Then their food came…

The order wasn’t right…

They were mad…

They made it known that they were made…

Numerous times…

They were just plain rude to the waitress…

We felt bad for her…

Cheryl even apologized for “their” behavior after they left…

It made me wonder….

If you’re going to be a rude customer, should you even bother to pray before you eat?

Aren’t you sending mixed signals?

Just asking…

What do you think?

Friday Discussion: What’s an Ethical Profession?

I ran across this diagram recently about a survey of people’s perceptions on the most ethical professions. I was especially interested, obviously, in my own profession. At least we aren’t at the bottom, but we’ve certainly lost ground in recent years.

Tell me what you think:

What do you think is today’s most “ethical” profession?

Can we use labels such as this for any profession these days?

What makes a whole profession “ethical”?

In a “less ethical profession, do you know people who are “ethical”?

Is my profession, listed here as clergy, getting better or worse in its perception?

How does your profession rank? Is it a fair assessment?

What makes a profession ethical or not? Is it more perception…or more reality?

What say you?

I guess I’m slightly skeptical of labels, but I’ve seen these type studies before, so examine the diagram then give me your thoughts.