10 Remembrances on Memorial Day

American Heroes II

Today we remember.

Your sacrifice.
Your pride of duty.
Your love of freedom.
Your strength.
Your family’s commitment.
Your courage.
Your patriotism.
Your honor.
Your contribution.
Your legacy.

Happy Memorial Day!

Thank you!

(Memorial Day has rightly expanded focus in recent years to honor all troops, past and present. In days of extreme, continual sacrifice of our military we can never say thank you enough. A special thank you to veterans John R. Edmondson, Sr. (Air Force), John R. Edmondson, Jr. (Navy) and Dr. J F Burney (Army) Father, brother and father-in-law to me. All of you soldiers, and your families, have made and are making us proud.)

Anyone you especially remember on a day like today?

How to Follow My Blog After Google Reader

If you haven’t heard, Google Reader is going away. Quickly. It was announced a couple months ago, but it ends July 1, 2013. I was bummed, because I use Google Reader to follow most of the blogs I follow.

Many people follow this blog through Google Reader.

What to do?

Well, short answer…it’s easy. Case solved.

Sign up to have this blog emailed. Do that at the top right of my home page HERE. Just enter your email address and follow the instructions.

Sign up for Feedly. Do that HERE.

Feedly is a quick, couple minute transfer of your Google Reader blogs to follow them on Feedly. And, it’s free. I actually enjoy the layout better than I did Google Reader. My friend Michael Hyatt, whom you can trust much more than me on things like this, shares 7 reasons he’s using Feedly to replace Google Reader HERE.

Don’t miss the content you’ve relied upon. Act today.

Make Sure Your Marketing Matches Your Market

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A friend and I went to a Reds game recently. It was a cold night for baseball. It had been raining for several days and thankfully stopped in time for the game. But, it made for a very chilly night.

It didn’t stop the stadium vendors from doing their job though. The only problem…I’m not sure their marketing matched their market.

Especially one guy.

It was almost funny. It was obvious he had a routine. A common cheer. A pitch.

“Ice cold beer….BRRRR….Ice cold beer….BRRRR…”.

It was his trademark. He would shake his head everytime he said “BRRR“…

He was good at it too. Convicting. He had the routine well rehearsed.

I got colder listening to him. Every time he did his cheer, I pulled my jacket a little tighter around my neck. I’m getting colder now, just thinking about his performance.

Now, here’s the problem. I wasn’t in the beer market anyway, but his marketing approach probably wouldn’t have motivated me if I was. I didn’t need anything to make me colder than I already was that night. I needed something to make me warmer. If it had been 90 humid degrees in the shade, he would have had a winning approach with beer drinkers. This would have been your best salesperson of the night.

But, as it appeared, he wasn’t selling much that night. Almost nothing. He even seemed discouraged. (Although now I may be reading into this because it fits the illustration.) Either way…sales were certainly down.

I wondered if it were more than the weather…if in fact part of the reason was his cheer.

Anything “BRRR…ice cold…” doesn’t grab my attention as much when I’m already cold.

I don’t know what the warm beer cheer is, but that would almost seem to have been a better one this night. :) Maybe even a cheer for hot chocolate.

It reminded me though of how we “market” sometimes…even in the church.

Sometimes our marketing doesn’t match our market

Okay, I’ll get pushback that the church shouldn’t market. (I love hearing from those guys.) Call it what you want, but we have a message we are trying to tell. We hopefully think about how we tell it. If you don’t then you can ignore this post and I will catch you next time. Marketing is the process of packaging a story in a way that others become interested in it. I think we attempt that every week.

Jesus seemed to share His message in a way the audience He was speaking to could more easily understand. That’s why He used parables. It seems to be why He used a lot of farming illustrations. (They were plentiful in His audience.)

I wonder if we, as a church, need to get better at telling our story…marketing our message.

So, with that in mind, here’s my advice:

Make sure your marketing matches your market.

Make sure your story-telling matches your audience.

To do that, ask yourself:

Who are the people you are trying to reach?

Who are the people with whom you want to share your message?

Who are the people needing to know what you know?

Who are the people needing to believe what you believe?

What do they think like? What are they interested in? What motivates them? What inspires them?

What do they need most? What are their greatest fears? With what do they struggle most?

How can you tell the story in a way that they hear and are motivated to respond?

Again…

Does your “marketing” match your market?

Mother: The Word of the Day

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Mother

Is there a sweeter word in the English language?

Mom

Momma

A word that comes with deep meaning and emotion.

Unconditional love.

Sacrificial giving.

Forgiving easily.

Striving to provide perfect environments for the ones she loves.

Incredible patience with little hands.

Strength beyond measure.

Always believing the best from her children.

A model and teacher of compassion.

Skilled for laughing at kid jokes that aren’t even funny.

Accepting of others.

Stability during chaos.

A tender touch but a hug that never lets go.

Mother

What do you think of when you hear the word mother?

Tribute to the Mother Who Has No Children

Happy childhood

I want to give a tribute to the mother who has no children.

I’ve always been sensitive this time of year to the mothers without children.

You know the ones.

They never had children.

For whatever reason.

  • Some never married.
  • Some never tried.
  • Some never could.

They never had children, but they:

  • Care for others sacrificially, simply for the joy of giving.
  • Are willing to fight lions, tigers and bears (Oh my!) for the ones they love.
  • Have more strength than the average man when caring for someone.
  • Are taken advantage of because of their generosity.
  • Love deeply and unconditionally.
  • Strive to make the world a better place for those around them.
  • Always thinking of others and willing to put others ahead of themselves.

Sounds like a mother to me.

Many of them wanted to be a mother…but they never were given that blessing.

But, they have a mother’s heart.

Oh, they may not have children…not in the natural sense…but in heart…they are every bit a mother.

And, if God were to celebrate Mother’s Day, I think He would include them in the celebration.

Because in God’s way of doing things, it’s always about the heart.

“Man does not see what the LORD sees, for man sees what is visible, but the LORD sees the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

As you celebrate Mother’s Day this year, don’t forget the mother who has no children.

10 Reasons You Should Visit Lexington, Kentucky

visit lex

I moved to Lexington, Kentucky in the summer of 2012. You can read about the ministry assignment HERE. What I want you to know in this post is that you should come visit where I’ve moved.

Seriously. Lexington is an unknown (to many) jewel of a city. Lexington has small city charm with a big city atmosphere. Cheryl and I had traveled here before and I’ve been here for business interests in the past, but it wasn’t until we moved here that we realized how great a city this is.

Here are 10 reasons you need to visit Lexington:

Horses – We aren’t called horse country for nothing. And, horse country is breath-taking. Take a drive through the back roads. A short few minutes after leaving the city limits you are in the middle of incredible views. Keeneland and the Kentucky Horse Park are public use facilities. If you haven’t seen the beauty of horse country, start here.

horse race

Downtown – Lexington’s downtown is thriving. If you come for the weekend, arrive on Thursday for Thursday Night Live, where from April through October we have entertainment downtown. The Saturday Farmer’s Market is one of the best we’ve seen. In the winter we have ice skating. In the summer we have water parks. There is something for everyone each day and night of the week. Shopping. Eating. Playing. (If you choose to stay downtown, message me and I’ll give you my top choices.)

Restaurants – There are over 100 chef quality, locally owned restaurants in Lexington. Not to mention all the dives that are unique. I’ve been told there are more restaurants here per capita than any city in the United States. I can’t verify that, but I can say Cheryl and I are on a mission to work through the list, we’ve been here nearing a year, and we’ve got a long way to go. (That said, we’ve found some good ones. If you’re coming, message me and I’ll give some personal recommendations.)

Museums – We have art museums, children’s museums, history museums and horse museums. (Of course). There’s something for everyone.

Arts – We are on the Broadway tour. Can you believe it? Cheryl and I had season tickets this year. We’ve been to New York City. We aren’t missing anything here. We have one of the top orchestra programs in the country at the University of Kentucky. We have children’s theater. Our arts culture is organized, vibrant, and active.

Colleges – This is a college town and a college region. Cheryl and I have loved visiting the University of Kentucky and Transylvania are the better known schools, but we have a huge technical school and numerous lesser known, but equally impressive schools. Within driving distances there are great universities and colleges, such as Georgetown, Berea, Centre, and Asbury. And, colleges often brings sports, and we have plenty of it in Lexington. If you like college athletics, this is a great option.

Short drives – Within driving distance of Lexington there are more day trips than we can count. We haven’t completed them all yet. We can travel to Louisville or Cincinnati in an hour if we want big cities, or dozens of quaint cities like Midway and Danville for smaller venues. Drive a little further and you can find yourself in the mountains of West Virginia or Tennessee.

Baseball – Do you like baseball? My family knows ballparks and our Lexington Legends Class A ball club is one of the most fun parks we’ve ever visited.

Friendliness – Honestly, this is one of the friendliest towns we have ever visited.

Immanuel Baptist Church – Okay, this one seems self-serving, but it is my blog and I do serve at a great church. This church has been serving this community for over 100 years, with a great history, great people, and an incredible future. We are seeing God move in exciting ways. Come experience the energy at Immanuel.

Cheryl and I are well-traveled. We have often noted that there are a few cities where you will never meet anyone who doesn’t enjoy living there. Lexington is one of those cities. We’ve yet to meet one person who doesn’t’ enjoy this city. It’s easy to get to whether by road or plane. We have a great local airport with flights daily through most major carriers.

Come see us!

For more information, go to VisitLex.com.

Have you been to Lexington, KY? What did you enjoy most?

7 False Assumptions Made About Introverts

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I am an introvert. Some people can question whether they are or not. I don’t. I’m certified in Myers Briggs, so I know the language well. I’ve studied the concept. It didn’t require much study though for me. I’m in the camp.

It means Sundays I’m more tired when I go home. It means I avoid certain crowds unless I have a clear purpose for being there. It means I run alone…and I’m okay with that. It means I’m probably harder to get to know that some people. I get all that. I own it. It’s me.

I’ve written before about the struggles of introversion in ministry (read that HERE) and ways I work to overcome those limitations (read that HERE). What surprises me is how misunderstood introverts are sometimes. There are a lot of false assumptions made when someone is introverted.

Here are 7 false assumptions made of me as an introvert:

I’m shy – That may be your word, but it’s not mine. I prefer purposeful for me. Others may call it something else. I talk when there’s a purpose. I’m not even afraid to do so. Three year olds are shy when they hide behind their daddy. That’s not me.

I need more courage – Why I oughta… (You’ll get that if you are a Moe Howard…Three Stooges fan.) Seriously, I “ain’t chicken” when I choose not to speak. I’m just being comfortable.

I’ve got nothing to say – Actually I have lots to say. Did you notice I blog almost every day? Do you see how often I update Twitter and Facebook? I have bunches to say. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t express it, but many times how I choose to communicate will be different than how others choose to communicate.

I’m dumb – Yea, in a lot of ways I am. But, in some ways I’m smarter than the guy who never quits talking. You know the one. I am less likely to say the thing I wish I hadn’t said, because I didn’t think before I talked. It happens, but not as often as it might for some.

I am arrogant or don’t like you – Honestly, I love everyone. Or at least that’s my Biblical command and personal goal. Whether or not I talk to you will not be a good determination of whether or not I like you. It might even mean I respect you enough to listen more than speak. Maybe.

I need you to talk for me – Ummm….actually I’d rather you not. Now that said, I sometimes let my wife talk for me. She’s good at it too. But, if I have an opinion I think needs sharing, I’ll speak for myself. Or regret later than I didn’t. But, either way, please don’t try to be my voice.

I need to change, mature, grow as a person or leader – There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m just quieter than some. Actually, there are lots of things wrong with me. Introversion isn’t one of them.

Those are some of the false assumptions that have been made of this introvert.

Introverts, what misunderstandings have been made about you?

10 Positive Paradigms in Church Leadership

Like. Thumb up sign.

I recently posted 10 dangerous paradigms in the church. Obviously, there are positive mindsets in the church also. I decided to share some from the perception of a pastor.

Here are 10 positive paradigms in the church:

We can do it Pastor – The “can do” attitude. Who can’t work with that?

Jesus will make a way – So, if that’s your paradigm, then all we have to do is follow Him…right?

It’s not about me – Wow! To hear someone say that…makes a pastor’s day.

Let’s walk by faith – Yes, let’s do. Because, without faith, it’s impossible to please God. At least, according to the Bible.

What can I do to help? – Imagine if everyone showed up at church ready to do whatever it took to make the day work. Just imagine. We can dream, can’t we?

We need some change around here – I think we do. I think you’re right. I think I’ll clone you. Sustained momentum always requires change. Always.

I know we need to talk about money – You do? Really? You recognize that it takes money to operate a church? Wow! Are you contagious?

It’s none of my business – Okay, this is a tough one, but seriously, is it? Do you really need to know everything, or do you just like information? I wonder if we moved forward with less information if we would be closer to walking by faith…which in essence means we go without seeing… Just wondering.

I’m excited about trying something new – By excited, do you also mean you’ll support it? And speak positively about it? Even behind the pastor’s back? Because, if you do, I’m gonna hug you. Seriously.

This church is awesome! – It’s simple, but it builds momentum. Believing in the church, it’s leadership, and it’s potential is a key to welcoming people who will later feel likewise.

As a pastor, those are 10 positive paradigms I would share. I realize they aren’t for everyone. But, which one would you most like to see as a pastor?

What positive church paradigm would you add to my list?

Picking Political Battles … Winning the War

Shouting

I continually have well-meaning believers who want me to get more involved in the political debates of religion and culture. And, sometimes I do. There are certainly battles to fight. Big battles. Human slavery. For one example. Ridiculous. Let’s end it now.

For the fights I choose I vote. I speak to representatives in government when I can. I’ve written letters…even letters to the editor in years past. I’m actually friends with a few people in government. Numerous people. And, I’m not afraid to use my influence where I feel it is most effective.

Plus, I realize some people have a specific calling to fight the battle on “capital hill”. I admire and support them in their calling. I actually know of few of those “called” elected servants personally. In fact, I once served in an elected office. I firmly believe followers of Christ need to take active roles in civil affairs…in the world.

Most of the time, however, I feel like I have a higher calling these days. Higher for me. And, I’ve got to live out my calling, as you do yours.

Sometimes as believers though, I think we need to learn the battles to fight and the ones to let go. It seems to me that many believers (people) are always looking for a fight. Some, it seems to me…if I’m completely honest…are especially looking for the fight about the issue they care about most.

I wonder, however, if we should choose our battles more carefully, knowing that ultimately the outcome of the war has already been decided. Our mission now is the Great Commission. We are to make disciples. That begins with telling our story. It seems to me it is harder to get people to listen if we are always fighting with them. Sometimes it seems our argument is louder than our message…our ultimate message.

Getting people to hear about Jesus seems more important than making sure everyone complies with our view of morality. Yes, our Biblical view of morality. If they knew Jesus…He does a pretty good (really good) job of making people more holy. (I realize that’s the simplistic view. But, I’m a pretty simple guy.)

It’s a consistent battle for me…an internal battle…whether to get involved publicly or sit this one out and pray.

Recently the words of Paul from 2 Timothy encouraged me in this realm.

Keep your attention on Jesus Christ as risen from the dead…according to my gospel. 2 Timothy 2:8

But reject foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they breed quarrels. 2 Timothy 2:23

“instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth.” 2 Timothy 2:25

I realize I won’t please everyone when I don’t fight the battle of their preference. I even realize some who read this will assume I’m refusing to speak on “their” issue. That’s okay. Being misunderstood sometimes isn’t that bad.

Because, I’m picking battles carefully…

And, celebrating the winning of the war!

What do you think?

People Make Mistakes

Disappointment

People, even the “best” people, make mistakes.

I’ve stopped being surprised when I find out the person I thought had it all together doesn’t.

When “the good girl” gets pregnant…it doesn’t catch me off guard as much anymore.

When I hear about the person in ministry, who falls into repetitive sin, I’m saddened, heartbroken, but not as perplexed as I used to be.

When the “mom” is the guilty one…it stings…I may even be angry for a while…but not overly surprised.

Sin is all around us.

It’s a messed up world we live in these days…and these days have always been. Since the fall of man.

The truth is that good people make bad decisions.

We shouldn’t be too surprised when people behave like…well…people.

That’s not an excuse. I’m not letting people “off the hook”.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t try to make better decisions.

We should. We really, really should.

We should be holy, because God is holy. (1 Peter 1:16)

We should have the mind of Christ. (Philippians 2:5)

I’m not saying there aren’t consequences for our actions.

There are. (Galatians 6:7)

But, I am saying…really remembering…that the only “good” in me (and others) is Christ.

All we like sheep have gone (and go) astray…apart from God’s grace.

The heart is deceitful above all things. (Jeremiah 17:9)

Sanctification is a process. (Philippians 2:13)

We need Jesus. We need Him desperately.

People make mistakes.

Even the “best” of people. Even believers.

Even you.

Even me. Especially me.

Are you surprised?