7 Ways to Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Legacy

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How do we honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.?

Pulling from his “I Have a Dream” speech, here are 7 suggestions:

Do the right things – “we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds.”

Let go of bitterness and anger – “Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.”

Remove violence from our cities – “We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.” (For a riveting read on MLK’s influence on the stopping of violence, read THIS.)

Assist someone less fortunate – Help “the rough places…be made plain” in someone’s life.

Look for the bright side of life – “Let us not wallow in the valley of despair”.

Hug a brother of another color – Expand your friend base. King had a dream that “little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”

Let the glory of the Lord shine through you – “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”

Let the dream be lived in us.

How are you going to celebrate the legacy?

7 Ways Christians Should Behave Online

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I have had an online ministry for over 15 years. God has humbled me with the way He has chosen to use this influence He has given me. I try not to take it for granted.

One thing that has changed since I began ministering online…and it’s changed for all of us…is the rise of social media. Whether you believe it’s a good addition or not, we cannot deny it’s impact on culture or even on the church. Personally, I have chosen to use it for good as much as possible.

Still, it disturbs me some of the ways I see Christians respond on social media. I can post one thing…whether serious or not…and I do use humor intentionally as a part of my online presence…and it never amazes me how someone might respond. I have referred to the practice as a slam and run. I just have to thank God at times for the delete option. :) But, it’s an example of a bigger problem. Christians aren’t always behaving well online. What we’d never say offline we have no problem saying online.

Seriously, this isn’t a personal plea. This is a Kingdom plea. Just as the world is watching how Christians respond in public they are watching how we respond online. We must be careful then with what we post. All of us will be misunderstood. But, we shouldn’t be blatantly offensive.

Here are 7 ways Christians should behave online:

No soapbox -We are told to “do everything without arguing or complaining.” (Philippians 2:14) That doesn’t mean we can’t support causes we believe in, but they should be moral and Biblical issues, not personal agendas.

No public bashing – Unless you’ve practiced Matthew 18 principles, and even then it would be rare, don’t address your problems with others online. It’s not helpful and never promotes peace. (Romans 12:18, Hebrews 12:14)

No little jabs – We shouldn’t say things about others that may be misinterpreted as a stab against them. Guard your online tongue. (James 3). I see this especially as a passive aggressive tactic. We feel “safe” evoking insults or cuts to another person online that we would never say to their face.

Encouragement – Social media can be a great way to encourage others. We shouldn’t spam with massive amounts of posts. Few appreciate the person who reshares everything they see, but most everyone likes to read an encouraging word pointed especially to them. (Ephesians 4:29)

Do to others – As we’d have them do to us. We should always think before we post. Pause. Breathe. Think. Post. Ask yourself how you would be impacted by the post before you post it. (Luke 6:31)

Guard against pride – We have to be careful with self-promotion and bragging about ourselves online. Granted, this is coming from one who has built an online platform online and I frequently encourage other pastors to do the same. It’s one of the best ways currently to engage people for Kingdom building. But, this is a reminder for me too. We must check our motives, guard our hearts and never allow our egos to rob glory from what God wants to do through our online presence. (Proverbs 11:2, 13:10)

Not allow it to be a replacement for community – It’s easy to post “Happy birthday” or reply “Praying for you” without really doing so. We shouldn’t trade the functions of the Body for an online presence. (Acts 2:42-47, Hebrews 10:24)

Those are 7 that come to my mind. What would you add?

(Be general please and not specific in your comments, so as not to violate the purpose of the post.)

10 Life Reminders from “It’s a Wonderful Life”

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Cheryl and I saw “It’s a Wonderful Life” again this year. That isn’t unusual. It was probably about the thirtieth time or so. We love the movie. It may be considered my “favorite”…if I ever had to declare one.

This time we got to see it on the big screen. One of our local, historic theaters, shared the film for Christmas. There was something even more wonderful about “It’s a Wonderful Life” in that setting. I took time to reflect on the moment. I was reminded how many life lessons this movie provides.

Here are 10 life lessons from “It’s a Wonderful Life”:

It’s not just about us.

When we hurt, we hurt others.

We can’t hide our pain from people we love.

We need community. (Even better, a community of prayer.)

There is power in cooperation.

We seldom know the impact we have on others.

Character speaks louder than cash.

“All you can take with you is that which you have given away”. (Peter Bailey)

No man is a failure who has friends”. (Clarence)

Our life matters. Your life matters. (“Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?” – Clarence.)

What did I miss?

What can the church learn from a coffee shop? (Update)

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Can/Should, the church learn from a coffee shop?

You may recall a post I did earlier this year about a new coffee shop in town. They are doing things that, honestly, I think the church could learn from them. Read that post HERE.

Well, they are at it again. Recently, thieves broke into the coffee shop. How they responded is getting citywide and even national attention.

Check out THIS local article and THIS national article. And there as many more.

Again, what can the church learn from a coffee shop?

Good job A Cup of Commonwealth!

Some of my takeaways questions:

  • How would the church respond to a break in at the church?
  • How would the community come to support us?
  • What are we doing that’s causing a community to take notice?
  • Are we making our community better?
  • Would our community say it’s a better place to live because of us?

Please add yours…

7 Aspects of the Man: Nelson Mandela (And Quotes)

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Nelson Mandela. He is referred to as the “Father of a Nation”. He lived a life of inspiration. He is mourned around the world. His life was long, and varied. He had plenty of highs and lows. Married and divorced three times. Prison. Labeled a terrorist. I don’t know all his story. Probably neither do most of you, but, from what. I know, I’m impressed how he ended. He finished well.

Here are 7 examples of the man Mandela was:

A man of peace – Pictures of Mandela can be found with leaders from all political spectrums. He brought peace to a nation and inspired peace in others. He fought for peace. (I think one key here too is that he was a person of humor. Countless reports mentioned that he made people laugh frequently. I love that.) Mandella once said, “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy,” 

A man of suffering – Mandela spent 27 years in prison because of his stand for equality. Eighteen of those years were spent sleeping in an 8 foot long cell. He was willing to suffer for a greater cause. He understood suffering as a part of achievement. One or his more famous quotes, “Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”

A man of courage - Mandela was willing to stand against bigotry, tyranny and injustice, even at personal risk. Mandela said, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

A man of conviction – And he inspired others with that conviction. He once said, “If I had my time over I would do the same again. So would any man who dares call himself a man.”

A man of triumph – Much of what the world admires about Mandela is the man he became after his years in prison. Bishop Desmond Tutu said that prison shaped him into the man he was in his final years. He once said, “Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.

A man of humility – I love this quote of Mandela, “Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front.”  It’s amazing that he gave up the presidency after one term. He most likely could have held the power position even longer. It’s reported he lived modestly, even giving away a third of his income as president.

A man of faith – My favorite trivia about Mandela isn’t trivial. Apparently, he was a believer. I loved THIS ARTICLE from Christian Today. Read some of Mandela’s quotes. It’s hard to deny his faith. As an example, consider this statement of Mandella. “Each Easter marks the rebirth of our faith. It marks the victory of our risen Saviour over the torture of the cross and the grave.”

Nelson Mandela wasn’t perfect. None of us are. Politically speaking we may have even disagreed on some issues. But, what a great life! What an inspiration! What a great legacy! Rest in the peace you fought to realize.

5 Ways This Introvert Responds at a Social Gathering

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Social gatherings. I love them. I really do. As an introvert, however, they can be very difficult. Introverts are typically far more likely to be placed in awkward, uncomfortable situations when the crowds are large.

People have a hard time believing I am introverted. Certainly I’m not on Sunday.  I intentionally try to meet as many people as possible. And, I have plenty experience in extroverted environments. I’ve even served in public office. I can work a room if I need to do so.

Introversion is a personality based on preferences. It’s how someone is wired by life. We don’t simply choose to be introverted. We are programmed that way in our core personality.

So, knowing this time of year can be uncomfortable at times, I thought recently about how I respond in social settings where I’m not the host or where I don’t know most everyone in the room.

This may not be true for all introverts, but it is for me. I had this discussion with a fellow introvert. He said he just avoids all parties this time of year. I don’t want to do that, but knowing my reaction will hopefully keep me from hiding out in my personality and missing fun I really do often want to have.

Here is my typical response:

Find the corner – I look for a place away from the crowds to adjust to that space. I do this before even looking around to see who is in the room. I’ve been told, “I waved at you when you entered the room”, but I didn’t see you. I promise. I wasn’t even looking yet.

Survey the room – After a pause, this is when I finally begin to process who is in the room. Who do I know? Where’s the “safe” place to begin conversation? It’s usually with people I somewhat know and can easily begin conversation.

Spot the extroverts - It’s not that I don’t want to talk to them. Possibly they are some of the ones I most want to talk to, but I need time to “warm up” first. Many times these people launch into heavy conversation as soon as an introvert hits the door. The thought that this might happen is many times one of our biggest fears…and a main reason we avoid the social gathering altogether.

Look for an opportunity - When can I best break into a conversation? Many times if I can get started I’m good. Getting started is the hardest part. I won’t interrupt. Introverts typically don’t do that. We are gentleman (and gentlewomen) communicators.

Decide whether or not to move forward – At this point, I will either make the best of it…and many times have a great time if I do…or flame out early…or never ignite at all. It’s sad, but true. I’ve gone through this routine countless times only to spend a few minutes at a gathering before exiting as quickly as possible.

So, introverts, let’s not miss the parties we want to attend. If you want to stay home…great. But, I am committing not to allow my introversion to stop me. I’ll do this by disciplining myself to attend, adjust, and engage.

Help me out introverts, because whenever I post about this extroverts accuse me of all kinds of things.  (That’s why I wrote THIS POST). If you’re an extrovert and want to know how to better engage with introverts, read THIS POST.

Introverts, any other ways you respond in these type settings?

Are any of these true for you?

10 of my favorite John F. Kennedy Quotes

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Obviously, John F. Kennedy spoke many memorable quotes. As with any leader of significance, I knew there were probably some statements that are lesser known, but are meaningful. In fact, in light of what we know now, some may even be more relative today. (I discovered these with simple Google searches and several sites attributed these to JFK.) If Twitter had been around, some of these would have been retweeted and favorited.

Here are 10 of my favorite John F. Kennedy quotes:

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.

We must use time as a tool, not as a couch.

We would like to live as we once lived, but history will not permit it.

Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly.

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.

Once you say you’re going to settle for second, that’s what happens to you in life.

The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender, or submission.

Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.

Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.

A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.

Do you have a favorite JFK quote?

The Transition of a Founder: Handing off the Reigns

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Starbucks Howard Schultz had to return to the helm at Starbucks. Apparently, according to numerous reports, he tried to leave, but came back to attempt to reverse the suffering the company experienced. Dell’s Michael returned to help steer Dell back to health. Steve Jobs once returned to Apple. Other companies, who have founder with lesser known names, have seen their founding fathers return to the helm of leadership. Companies like Sun Microsystems, Novell, and Vonage saw founders return. They all returned to help the company succeed again. In some of these cases things were never the same after the return, but my point is they were forced to return to the companies they founded.

I have a theory.

Companies today will face this dilemma more than companies founded in years past.

Could it be that because companies today begin with such an imprint of their founder in their DNA that it is becoming more difficult to pass the reigns of the top spot to another person? Study Starbucks and you have to study Howard Schultz. (He even wrote a book about it.) Look at Dell computers and you see Michael Dell all over the company philosophy. Even today, as he is trying to rebrand the company that holds his name with a newer identity, his personality appears to drive the process. Companies today are very much an impression of their founders. Google’s corporate “fun” environment apparently IS Larry Page. Every time I’ve heard Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, interviewed he describes the social network with a passion that only a founder could exhibit.

Companies are launching into their niche faster than ever before. The information age and technology allows for growth at a pace unknown in previous generations. Much of that growth is a direct reflection on the personality and passions of the founder who is seen in the public as the chief representative of the company. Social media fuels that even faster. I’m not sure building around a personality has been the case as extreme as it seems to be today.

As I view this phenomenon within corporate America, I can’t help but wonder if there are implications for churches as well.

Doesn’t Northpoint have the personality of Andy Stanley? Lifepoint certainly embodies the imprint of Craig Groeschel.

What will happen when these leaders attempt to retire? The answer to that question remains to be seen. I have no doubt these two mentioned are thinking about those issues, but are their lesser known counterparts? We certainly are planting lots of churches. And, that’s a good thing.

But, certainly also, we are planting many churches today that share their DNA with the founding pastor. The world of social media elevates the role of the founder in churches too. People follow leaders…personalities. We can agree Jesus is to be that personality…it is Him we are to follow…but even still, society tends to look for individual leadership to follow these days. Hopefully, those churches are preparing to be churches that will last for years to come.

This thought process encourages a few things churches (and organizations) may want to consider in their beginning years:

  • We must be thinking transition of the founder from the founding.
  • We must be careful not to elevate people or personalities over a vision.
  • Whenever possible, we may want to consider easing a leader out gradually, rather than allowing a fast exit of the founder.
  • We must make sure our visions are easily transferable, if we want the church (or organization) to exist long-term.

As with most posts, I don’t have all the answers. I’m, hopefully, just triggering thoughts.

What are yours?

If I Were Going to Start a Blog Today

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If I were starting a blog today…I’d do things differently than when I started this one.

I’d be offline for at least 30 days.

Maybe longer.

If I had enough patience…maybe several months.

And, I’d write…just write.

As much or as often as I felt like it.

I’d sharpen my craft.

I’d build a great blog platform (I have to have help with that part.)

I’d read other blogs and gain ideas.

I’d develop some outlines or themes for future posts.

I’d discover my unique voice…what I’m most passionate about writing.

I’d build up a pool of great posts.

But, I wouldn’t release them until I knew I was ready. At least 30 days. Maybe longer.

Then I’d release them at whatever interval I plan to post. (Daily, several times a week, weekly, etc.)

Why?

It would give me an arsenal of posts. I’d have some ready to go and then be able to concentrate of future posts. I’d be thankful to have the margin.

It would give me practice. I would know that I’d need to be able to write frequently if I were going to make blogging work long term. Audiences take time to develop. This would also discipline me to build my blogging muscles.

Here’s what I know now. Most people start a blog, but never continue. This would test my commitment and ability to sustain myself as a blogger. If I were going to start a blog today, I’d first want to make sure I was in it long enough to build my voice.

That’s what I’d do.

How Rumors Spread…

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I’m telling you stuff I wouldn’t tell anyone else. I would appreciate you not sharing it. I’m not one to spread rumors.

That was from the guy behind Cheryl and me at a ball game recently. Loud talker guy.

I thought to myself, “That’s exactly how rumors start.” 

In fact, I probably should have said…

“No. You would never spread a rumor. But, you will talk loud enough for everyone around you to hear what you are sharing. About someone. That you probably had no business sharing…even if you were a soft talker. ”

They discussed business, politics and the church. No bases were left untouched. And people were trashed with no opportunity to defend themselves.

But don’t worry loud talker. I’m safe. I won’t share anymore about Bob and all his problems with Tim or what a low life Wayne is because of the way he’s treated Sam.

You’re “non rumors” are safe with me.

(Names have been changed to protect the accused guilty.).

Moral of the story here. And, it applies to all of us…even pastors and bloggers.

Rumors spread because people share them.

And, I’m not angry, even if I sound like I am. Especially not at loud talker. Sadly, he was being no different than many of our conversations. He was just loud enough to get caught. (But, he should lower his voice. :) )

This guy didn’t necessarily anger me. Individually, he would have almost been funny…if it weren’t such a serious issue.

You see, I’ve seen the damage rumors cause. I’ve witnessed individual’s reputations destroyed by rumors. I’ve known rumors to divide a church. Satan uses rumors to spread lies.

So, rumors anger me. It’s sin. Shouldn’t it anger us all? And, at some level we can all be guilty.

Let’s do our part to stop the spread. And, the way to do that is not to share them.

You may now want to read 7 Ways to Stop Gossip or listen to my sermon message on addressing gossip HERE.