What Do You Do to Relax?

I’m away for a few days relaxing with Cheryl and another couple.  We are at a beach, eating well, and doing basically nothing.  I will spend some time reading, running, and writing…because that’s relaxing to me.

I thought I’d use this as an opportunity to ask the question:

What do you do to relax?

What’s a normal relaxation experience like…the kind you do often (hopefully)?

What is a dream relaxation experience (the kind you plan and budget for)?

Go!  Share!

A Theory: Speed of Growth Determines Speed of Decline

Theory: The rate of increase, often determines the rate of decline.

In my early twenties, I was working in retail and this theory developed in my mind as I watched dozens of items gather immediate interest, grow rapidly in popularity, quickly rack up sales, but then as a fad changed, the item sales just as quickly decline.  I called it my “fad theory”.  Other items grew slower, but styles changed gradually and so they slowly began to decline in sales.

Let me give you two classic examples I observed firsthand:

Item One: Michael Jackson “Thriller” jackets - Do you remember the red, multi-zippered jackets made popular from the music videos? When that video came out, the song and the jacket became an overnight success. We couldn’t get the jacket fast enough. Every order we received sold out within hours.  They couldn’t make enough of them. Then one day…right after we received a huge shipment of jackets…another overnight success happened in the music industry. I don’t remember the song, but I do remember no one wanted a Michael Jackson “Thriller” jacket.  We had racks of them remaining, but sold some for $1.88 in a Moonlight Madness sale and gave many of them away to charity.  We lost all our profits from the rapid sales in the rapid decline.

Item Two: Penny Loafers – Do you remember the leather loafer that had a slot for a “penny” in the front?  Although loafers had been around for years, and continue to be worn today, in the 1980’s Michael Jackson gave them attention again, as he was continually seen wearing them.  The growth, however, was gradual.  It took a couple seasons for their popularity to spread through the culture, but soon our retail shelves were full of them.  They remained popular for several years, but gradually, as new styles were introduced, their sales began to slowly fade.

I wondered at the time (and still do), that if we could somehow measure the rate of growth, if we could better predict the rate of decline.

I have continued to observe this theory outside of the retail environment, so many times that I’d almost call it a principle.  I’ve seen it in business, in churches, and even in relationships.  The speed of the growth will greatly play a part in the speed of decline.

Please understand, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with fast growth…I kind of like it…but we should know that the rate of decline, should decline occur, may be swift.  Additionally, this is not a theory that reinforces the saying “what goes up must come down”.  I’m not completely sure I agree with that one.  This is a theory about velocity…that if something does begin to decline, it will decline at a similar speed in which it grew.

As a closing application example, in my current church, I have continually reminded our staff that because we have experienced rapid growth, what we have is more tender…our people don’t have as deep of roots and we don’t have the solid financial base of an established church, etc. I’m not hoping for, predicting, or expecting a decline anytime soon, but what it does remind me is that if we ever had something dramatic occur in the life of our church, such as a moral failure of a key pastor, that our rate of decline could be as fast as our rate of growth has been.

There’s my theory…apply as needed.

Does this theory make sense to you? Have you seen an example you could share with us here?

Scripture Memorization, Week 7

How are you doing with the Scripture memorization?  Are you still participating?

I love hearing from those who are sticking with it, trying hard, and even the ones who just can’t keep up with the weekly pace.  I understand.  Some years are better than others at spiritual disciplines.  I hope, however, that you’ll keep trying.  It’s still not too late to catch up if you need to, as I’ve tried to keep the verses…at this point in the year…fairly simple to memorize.

Again, writing them down somewhere you will see throughout the week is a key. Some write them on mirrors, a few have made them their laptop or smart phone backdrop for the week, and others have them on their refrigerator.  Whatever it takes!

Here’s this week’s memory verse. I was reading recently (again) the story of Noah.  What made Noah a successful man of faith?  I think this verse explains it.

If you were to do more than memorize this verse…and actually live it…what would need to change in your life?

Friday Discussion: Is Social Media a Blessing or a Curse?

There’s a consistent debate about the role of social media in our lives today.

There’s no doubt that I’ve embraced the cultural shift of socail media, but because of it, I have received criticism as if that means I’m not doing other things I should be doing.  I’ve been online doing ministry for over 16 years and have developed good systems that allow me to do much online efficiently, but  I knew it was “catching on” when my mother got on Facebook.  Still, it does take time and, with limited time for all of us, that time has to take away from something else.

I’ve heard people say it would have been better for the family had the television never been invented.   I wonder what the same people would say of social media. Some feel we shouldn’t be doing it all at all.

More importantly, I’m wondering today what you will say.

Let’s discuss the role of social media. Consider these questions, then add your thoughts in a comment.

  • Should the church be involved in social media?
  • Does social media help or hurt a relationship?
  • Are Facebook or Twitter beneficial to a relationship or is a distraction in building true friendships?
  • In a perfect world, would we have social media?
  • Does it add to or take away from the quality of our lives?
  • Is it an unavoidable evil or a blessing for us all?

Be honest!

A Weather Reminder…About Life

This has been a wild winter…

“They” say it’s not our worst…not even close…but it certainly has seemed to be more intense than usual this year…

Every morning I look at my Google Home Page and see the current and future weather forecast.  Seeing the -2 degrees this morning caused my initial reaction to be “Wow!”  I was bummed.  I’m ready to get outside.  It could have affected my mood for the day (probably will to some extent), but then I looked a little further into the weather future forecast.  Do you see that number?  54!  Fifty-Four degrees!  My thought was “Yippee!”  If I can hang on a few days, it’s about to get wonderful outside!  It changed my disposition.

I wonder how many times we need to do that in life. That weather picture could also serve as a picture of our life at times.  Some days it’s cold and dreary…other days it’s bright and sunny.  We struggle during the rough weather seasons, forgetting that this day will change.  When we only look at our current situation, we can be disheartened, but a new day is coming!  As believers, we have the promise of a greater future.  If not today, or tomorrow, soon and very soon, God is going to make everything beautiful!

I’m reminded of a few favorite verses of truth:

However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him 1 Corinthians 2:9

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18

There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. Proverbs 23:18

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Do you need that reminder today? Perhaps you need to take your eyes off today and look a little further down the road.  Good days are coming.  If you’re in difficult days, I’m praying God brings better days soon, but He has promised that the best days are yet to come!

Let me hear from you…

Are you currently living in a -2 degree time of life…or is it 54 and sunny in your world during this season of your life?

3 Song Lyrics that have Proven True


 

The older I get, the more I reflect on the past. Is that part of the aging process?

Recently I heard a song that was popular when I was young. I don’t know all the words to the song, so I’m not talking about the meaning of the song necessarily, but there was a line in the song that resonated with me. The song lyric has become more than a catchy tune…it’s proven to have some insight into my life. I’m sure this is true of many secular songs.

Here are three that quickly come to mind:

You can’t always get what you want – Should have listened to the Rolling Stones when I had a chance I guess, but I’m learning that life doesn’t always turn out as expected. This makes lining my heart’s desires up with God’s desires more important, because His desires win!

Your cheating heart will tell on you - How many times have I asked a guy, “Are you telling your wife the whole truth?”, because I know that eventually, the truth will come out. It always does and it is always received worse when it isn’t voluntarily confessed.”

Every rose has its thorns - If it looks to good to be true, it probably is…the only exception I’ve learned is grace…

Can you think of any other secular songs whose lyrics have proven true in your life?

How Happy Are You In Life? (A Survey)

How happy are you in life?

I’ve shared things I read in Southwest Air’s Spirit Magazine before and recently I saw “The I Exam”. First listed in Pyschology Today, it’s a questionnaire designed to help determine how happy we are in life. While I am not sure we can measure true happiness in an 8 question survey, I thought this was interesting and worth sharing to fuel thoughts and discussion.

Here is the I Exam:

Consider your life over the last four (4) weeks, rating each statement below on the following point scale of which statement most indicates how you felt.

1 – Very much unlike me
2 – Not like me
3 – Somewhat like me
4 – Like me
5 – Very much like me

Pleasure
I had more good days than bad days. __________
I enjoyed some part of life every day. ___________

Involvment and Engagement
I was so involved with what I did at work or school that time seemed to stand still.  ___________
I took time to pursue hobbies and leisure activities. _________

Good Relationships
I felt loved. ____________
I mattered to other people. ____________

Meaning
I felt connected to something larger than myself. __________
What I did made a difference in the world. _________

Scoring:
If you scored at least 25, you are usually a happy person.
If you scored at least 30, you are usually a very happy person.
If you scored above 35, wow!
If you scored below 25, maybe the next four weeks will prove to be better for you.

Again, this is just for fun, it’s not scientific, and not a real indicator of whether or not you are happy in life. I do believe, however, that this addresses some of the issues which make a person sense they are happy.

I have learned over the years that happiness for me is attained when I surround myself with people I love, find meaningful things to do with my time, and choose an attitude of thankfulness for all God has given me, instead of considering all the things I don’t have or wish I had.

I’m curious, how did you score? How do you measure happiness? Do you think happiness is something we create for ourselves or something that depends on the way life is working or not working for us at the time?

As followers of God, we are commanded to be joyful always…do you think that’s the same as being happy?

Share your thoughts.

The Inner Resolve to Overcome: Lesson from this week in Chicago

I’ve been amazed this past week at the resolve of the people of Chicago. Reportedly this week saw the worst snow storm since 1967.  I’ve not been through a blizzard before, so this was an experience.  You can read why I’m here in THIS POST.

What amazes me is how the people responded so quickly.  Even before the storm hit, people were taking precautions, but during and after the storm, people spread salt, shoveled snow, pitched in to help one another, and quickly got back to normal.  Many places were closed early Wednesday, hours after the snow ended, but many were open by the afternoon.  By Thursday everyone was seemingly back to normal. There’s still a lot of snow on the ground, you have to be careful where you walk, but people have gone about their business…in spite of the largest snow the average Chicagoan has ever seen.




Watching the quick response of the Chicagoans this week prompts me to ask:

Why?

Because there is an inner resolve in people to survive…to recover…to succeed!

  • We saw it in our city after the devastating flood last year.
  • We saw it in our city after the 1999 tornado destroyed most of downtown.
  • We see it in the aftermath of earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, and famine.
  • I’ve seen that resolve firsthand in Brazil, and Lithuania and Sierra Leone.
  • I’ve seen it in families who lost everything in a house fire.
  • I’ve seen it in individuals whose lives were wrecked by adultery, cancer and financial devastation.
  • I’ve seen it in individuals, who in spite of paralyzing injuries, continue to live with great joy.

There’s an inner drive in people to overcome.

I love seeing it…

I think it’s God-given…

I’m thankful for the times I’ve been able, by God’s grace, to pick myself up and move forward.

If you are experiencing the bad side of life these days, may I be a voice encouraging you to draw from that God-given inner resolve to push forward! The best is yet to come if you will pursue it!

Who has a story of recovery from tragedy that inspires you?

Do you have a story?  What’s the worst thing that ever happened to you…you lived to tell about it?tell me NOW!

I’ve written before about failure in these posts: (Click on the title to read)

7 Ways to Recover from a Major Failure or Mistake

How to Recover from Failure

5 Principles I’ve Learned from Failure

Failure Can Lead to Success

Friday Discussion: Where Do You Belong?

Today for Friday discussion, I want to talk about belonging….

To belong means: to have the proper qualifications, especially social qualifications, to be a member of a group; be suitable or acceptable…

This could be a difficult subject for some…not because the questions I’m going to ask are necessarily difficult questions…but because the answers could hurt…cause pain…

I believe, however, that there is an inner need in each of us feel that we belong someowhere.  Until we find a place where we feel welcomed by others…a place where we feel loved, accepted, and secure in our relationship, we will continue to search.

Chip Ingram said recently that the reasons for a joining a country club or a gang are the same…we are all searching for a place to belong.

So, today, would you dialogue with me and other readers.

Here are the questions to consider:

Is there a place where you feel you belong…unconditionally?

Where are the places you most feel welcome…included…like you belong?

Are there any groups, organizations, situations…where you feel you do not belong?

What makes you feel like you belong somewhere?

What makes you feel excluded?

When is a time you felt excluded from a situation, group, or organization?

When you feel excluded, do you think it’s more because of the group or organization, or because of your own insecurities?

Here’s a hard question for a pastor to ask…but I must…

Have you ever been made to feel you didn’t belong in the church?

Do you think the church today (speaking in a general sense about the church…) makes people feel as if they belong?

Let’s talk belonging today…

Be honest….