Teamwork

Broken KeyboardOne of the keys on my laptop no longer works properly.  The key gets stuck some and mostly doesn’t work at all.  The computer warranty covers the problem, but creates another one – namely the need to use other tools for about two weeks.

Ugh.

You should know, too, that the key does not belong to some random, rarely-used category of keyboardery.  No, as the alphabet goes, that key’s a major player.

The Bluetooth keyboard from my desktop helps for now, but eventually my most trusted work ally must be surrendered to the tech people somewhere far away.  But for now, you may note that the post you read comes from the faulty keyboard – mostly to see whether a whole post can be created apart from the help of that major letter.

Have you detected what letter’s AWOL yet?  No, not the Q, X or Z. That would be too easy. No doubt you’ll trace the absent letter eventually.  As you do, here are some lessons we can apply to our work and our personal selves. [click to continue…]

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Geese Fog

The day was cold.

Cold and foggy.

Cold and foggy and damp and dreary and what in God’s name was I doing out in it?

Walking, that’s what.

Walking and praying.

Praying and walking.

And I didn’t care about how cold or foggy it was because on this day I was desperate and yearning for an audience with – and a word from – God.

Anyway, I had a jacket.

It was one of the last times that I walked the 20-acre boundary of the church I had planted. And on this day the cold heaviness of the West Texas air was only exceeded by the cold heaviness in my spirit.

I got about halfway down the fence row, asking the Lord to speak to my heart. I so desperately wanted to hear His voice.

What I heard instead was the honking of the geese overhead.

Listening for God, I could only hear the dissonant, grating sound of geese. Can you relate?

Looking up, there was no way to see them, the fog was so heavy and low-hanging. But I could sure hear them.

I laughed to myself because of a recent conversation I’d had with my wife. She hates the sound of geese.

Eventually I did see them in the mist – surprisingly lower than I had imagined. And they were dealing with the same fog I was dealing with. Nevertheless, they flew in perfect formation, in a straight line.

And that’s how the Lord spoke. [click to continue…]

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Emilie was jealous. Eyes open, staring at the dark ceiling night after night, jealous.

And the focus? Her husband, Chris.

She was jealous of how he could carry an enormous load of stress from his work, simply say a prayer or two at bedtime, and effortlessly fall asleep.

Chris was actually 19th-century pastor Christoph Blumhardt.

One night Emilie couldn’t take it anymore, so she pleaded with her husband, “Tell me your secret!”

He replied: “Is God so powerless that my worrying would help the well-being of our parish?”

Then he added, “There comes a moment each day when we must simply drop what weighs on us and hand it over to God.”

That’s what Paul meant when he encouraged his friends in Philippi:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

Stop, drop and roll, friends. That’s how to put out the fire when you’re burning. [click to continue…]

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man and woman

World changers… Meh.

We’ve turned that into a badly-worn cliché. It seems as though anybody with a Selfie Stick and a cause can be labeled a world changer.

And if your goal is to be famous – to get your 15 minutes of viral – let me just remind you that these days that cuts both ways. Thanks to the wonders of always-on video, social media and instant rushes to judgment, you can go from completely unknown to globally hated within hours. Just ask Walt Palmer or Justine Sacco.

But what if I were to tell you that it’s possible to have global impact – the long-term kind, way past your local address and far past your own lifetime – without being a celebrity or even well-known? What if it were possible to shake the earth with potential without ever holding a microphone or appearing in the media? What if I told you that even when you felt swatted away like a gnat by the elites, you could still make history?

This is for those who are looking for a hero without a stage, press conference, or package to sell. This is for those who may have resigned themselves to obscurity at best, or chronic rejection at worst. This is for the ordinary guy with average intelligence or the woman who has a cause (or calling), but no one to recognize their genius or talent.

I want to introduce you to the first “power couple” in the New Testament. But let me hasten to say that these two never conducted a massive missionary campaign, started a church, wrote a book of the Bible, or even said anything that was written down for future generations. They appear to be walking wallflowers. And yet the most famous Christian of his day said something about them that he never said of anyone else. [click to continue…]

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Leading the Team Out of a Maze

Nobody talks about the life-changing leader who helped them raise their umbrella at the beach.  Influence happens only rarely in comfort zones or times of ease. Vision is not the starry-eyed product of Monday morning quarterbacks or couch potatoes. Adversity was made for leadership.  And leaders were made for adversity.

Seth Godin puts it this way: [click to continue…]

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Web

It was spring 1973 when I happened to catch a little announcement in my home church bulletin that would change my life.  It was an invitation to “Mission 73” – a youth choir trip to Virginia Beach, Virginia, for anyone who had completed the ninth grade.

To say the trip was life-changing is to cheapen the phrase, and the memory of the trip.  You can read more about that here.

In the wisdom and economy of God, He decided that the best way to grow me up, call me out, expose my weaknesses, and reveal my gifts was to put me on a bus or plane with a group of people for a short-term trip, where the mission was serve Him well or fail terribly.  It started with that one trip, continued on through my high school and college years, including a couple of individual or personal partner trips for extended periods, then later internationally to places like the Ukraine, Prague, Vienna, and Thailand.

Now this year we are pleased and excited to announce the launch of a ministry that provides that opportunity to others. After months of talking, praying, planning, and waiting,  LifeVesting International will officially open its doors sometime near June 1 of this year, for the purpose of supporting the work of Christian pastors or other Christian leaders worldwide by providing assistance in the form of volunteer labor, consultation, and/or training.

We recognize that there are many different organizations, large and small, whose purpose is to fill Christ’s Great Commission.   What does the world need with another one?  Why are we doing this?  Aside from simple obedience God (the ultimate consideration), here are seven reasons. [click to continue…]

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Missing Pieces

I’m going to ty to kp this brrif, bcaus it isn’t my intntion to annoy o torrtu you.  It’s just to mak a point.

A littl parrabl, if you will.

Somtims ou finst lssons can com frrom thos littl annoyancs o rrally big nuisancs, o somwhrr in-btwn.

In my cas, sinc I liv lif ptty much vrry day smi-pmanntly attachd to a kyboarrd, it’s ptty imporrtant that th kys actually wok.

All of thm. [click to continue…]

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Yacht TeamI’m a huge believer that the quality of your life and leadership is the direct result of the quality of the questions you ask. Ask good questions, you get good answers and good direction. Ask lame questions, you get lame directions. Ask no questions at all, and you’ll soon be the blind bleeding the blind.

Here are seven daily questions any leader, parent, or achiever can ask quickly to zero in on the most effective use of your time and life. Answering any three daily can quickly shape your day and your influence.  Aligning the answers to all seven daily can revolutionize it.

This little collection uses the classic “five W’s and an H – who what, when where, why and how – with an added little bonus – an “if” question. [click to continue…]

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“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” – Yogi Berra

Uncertain FutureHad any punked-out plans lately?  Any disappointments or unforeseen disasters?  Have you lost someone dear to you or had your dreams shoved back into your face?

Have you noticed how the news seems to report more on what may happen than what just happened?  Here’s a headline from Wednesday:  With Dow Industrials at Record Highs, When Will Gravity Take Hold?  Sheesh!  Even the good news begs for more bad news.

Or try this one:  Have you ever had something surprise you with such joy, so much delirium that you had no clue what to do next?

It was Benjamin Franklin who first said that in this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.  And yet we try, because nobody likes uncertainty.  So what do you do when you’re standing face-to-face with a completely unpredictable future?  You can offer money to people who promise to reduce your uncertainty – policemen, politicians, preachers, and “prophets.”  You can bury your head in the sand and hope tomorrow never comes.  Or you can find a way to confront your uncertainties with God’s power and courage.

Lessons from Paul’s Travel Plans

Now just to be clear, I’m not just referring to bracing for imminent disaster or catastrophic losses.  I mean even those every-day surprises and disappointments.  One source that has always been an example to me is the Apostle Paul.  At the end of his first letter to the Corinthians, he runs through a list of travel plans.  Travel plans!  In the Bible!  What’s his travel agenda doing in God’s holy book?  Check this out: [click to continue…]

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Somewhere not far from you, in an undisclosed location (they like to keep it that way), a group of ants is planning for winter.  Methodically, laboriously, they’re hauling whatever it is that ants eat into a safe place.  Though I’m sure they’re tempted to nibble on the profits, they resist the temptation to consume today.  Instinctively they know that they must work now for the time when either they can’t work, or there won’t be resources available.

In the Middle East there dwells a little furry critter – something like a cross between a chipmunk and a badger.  (In other words, he sings like an angel, but he’s in a really bad mood!)  Seriously, this little mammal is something like a Rocky Mountain version of a prairie dog.  He has no natural defenses, yet easily protects himself from predators.  His secret?  He makes his home in the little crags between the rocks.  There he remains safe while his enemies get a sore nose.

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