Jan 31, 2011

Don't Make Chuck Norris Angry!

     You may be surprised to know that there are "pot shops" in Los Angeles. As strange as this may sound, it only gets weirder. There is a new brand of Marijuana available (for prescription only) called Chuck Norris' Black and Blue Dream. The weed gets this name for having a kick to it.
     Chuck Norris is widely known for being a conservative Christian. He recently helped Mike Huckabee campaign for president. Chuck's Kick Start program has helped to keep over 60,000 kids off drugs and out of gangs.
     He has yet to come out publicly against using of his name without permission. This is the most scary part of the news story. No one has reportedly heard Norris say anything on the matter. Now, we know he can't be happy since he is a role model for students, but his silence should tell us something. It should also tell the pot shops something. 
     They should be afraid. When someone is high their reaction time slows down and they will need all of the quickness they can muster when Chuck finally comes to town.

A few of my favorite Chuck Norris facts:
1. When Bruce Banner gets mad, he turns into the Hulk. When the Hulk gets mad, he turns into Chuck Norris.

Jan 29, 2011

Randumblog's Interview With Jerry Jenkins

     There are very few people (with a pulse) who have not heard of the Left Behind series from Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye. They have sold over 70,000,000 copies and still continue to climb. Jerry Jenkins has a new book out called The Brotherhood (my complete review here).

     He agreed to do an e-interview for Randumblog about the book's release. I am excited about the chance to interview a writer who has authored over 175 books. Please feel free to share this article with others so we can get the word out about this amazing book.

Nate: Good morning Jerry. Thank you for agreeing to do this e-interview. I know you are a busy man so I will keep it brief. In fact this may be your first interview in a while that does not mention the sweeping success of the Left Behind series. Oops, I guess I just blew that one.                                                                                The Brotherhood is coming out on February 1st and I must say I am excited. What inspired you to do a cop drama?
Jerry: As the son of a police chief and the brother of two cops, I was raised in the milieu and always fascinated by it. I love police thrillers and cop shows on TV. And in a previous life (in the sixties) I actually worked three cases as an undercover drug buyer--a narc. Believe me, writing is an easier way to make a living. Plus, I set this story in Chicago, where I lived for 35 years, so this was sort of a labor of love. 
Nate: This is the first book that has actually moved me to tears and I am not just talking about the sniffles. I had to stop reading it for the rest of the day. Were you going for tears when you decided to take the story in a painful direction? 
Jerry: I teach that if there are no tears in the writer, there will be no tears in the reader. It's only fair that you cried while reading, as I cried while writing. I wasn't necessarily "going" for tears; I was just telling a story that happened to move me.  
Nate: The story's main character Boone Drake is very easy to relate to. Is he based off of anyone you know? 
Jerry: My characters are always composites of people I know. I might use one person's name, another's gender, another's hair, another's voice, etc. And I have lots of cops in my extended family, so their personalities, histories, and even elements of their cases find their way into the story. 
Nate: The plot involves police drama, loss, and even the mafia. I have always been a fan of mafia movies. How much research did you have to do on Chicago's seedy underworld? 
Jerry: Yes, I always do lots and lots of research. And I'm still doing it, as The Brotherhood is the first of a trilogy. 
Nate: The Brotherhood really handles the, 'Where's God when I'm hurting' question in a way I could understand. What would you like to see people take away from Boone Drake's experiences? 
Jerry: Hopefully each reader takes a personal message from the story--whatever he or she needs at the time. As you say, where-is-God-now is a big element here, so whether the reader is going through something as deep as Boone or just the normal struggles of life, there should be something here for him or her. 
Nate: Last question Jerry. I have been reading some interesting things on your Twitter account (@JerryBJenkins) about your recent trip to China. What was the single best moment of your trip? 
Jerry: On the way home Dianna and I stopped in Bangkok and met our sixth grandchild, an almost-four-year-old boy named Max. Our son and daughter-in-law haven't even met him yet, though they have been in the process of adopting him for three years. It was bittersweet. He's so cute and precious, and he's happy and in a good place, but it killed us to leave him. He needs a home and family, and we pray that will happen soon. 
Nate: Thank you again for your time. The Brotherhood is available in stores now or for order online at Amazon and other retailers. I am already looking forward to the next book in this series. 
Jerry: Thanks, Nate. Happy to say The Brotherhood is available for Kindle too.

Want more on The Brotherhood?
Check out author C.J. Darlington's interview with Jerry Jenkins
Get Randumblog for your Kindle

Jan 27, 2011

10 Ways to Be More Effective as a Leader

      Here are a few things I have learned about leadership from being in ministry for the past ten years. These are not all new concepts and any truth that has been gleaned from life and/or experience was true before me. I pray this list helps you think through who you are as a leader. We can all grow as a leader whether we own; a company, lead a Boy Scout troop, teach a Sunday school class, or parent a child.

  1. Always model loyalty: Have the back of those in authority over you and your followers will have
  2. Do not criticize an individual in front of others (even constructively). Do it in private and you will
      gain appreciation rather than resentment.
  3. When a staff member or volunteer is having a crisis write it down, commit it to prayer, and ask
      about it periodically. This communicates that you care.
  4. Do not micromanage: If you believe that your organization would be better if you could only clone
      yourself then perhaps leadership is not for you. Leadership is about empowering people. If you
      can't trust your people to run with an idea then they either need training or replacing.
  5. Notice exceptional achievement:  If a job is well done do not miss an opportunity to let the
      individual know. This simple accolade will hopefully lead to a trend in a higher quality of work.
  6. Admit your own mistakes. Others already see them anyway and it will help them appreciate and
      relate to you.
  7. Pray for your staff or volunteers daily.
  8. Explain your vision: If your vision is unclear to your followers then it will only be rooted in your
      mind but never gain legs in the real world.
  9.  Public appreciation for staff or volunteers: Never underestimate the benefit of this small gesture.
10. Pull up the anchor: Occasionally you will have to let someone go because they are holding your
      organization back. Do this with kindness but do it nonetheless. Do not put it off. Your
      effectiveness be limited until you do. Leaders must make the tough decisions.

     What principles are missing? What would you add to this list. Leave a comment and pass this article on to those it may benefit. I look forward to gleaning from what you have learned as I continue to grow as a leader.

Jan 24, 2011

The State of the Church

Tomorrow night President Obama will deliver his State of the Union Address.  The nation will gather (or at least those without cable or satellite) to hear his perspective on how we are doing.  But my question is how are we doing as a church?  So here is my address for the church:

When it comes to unity we are divided and not just denominationally.  One thing that continues to divide believers is political party affiliation.  I have seen arguments break out in the church lobby, small groups, and even after services in the sanctuary.  When did all of this bickering begin?  Usually very early.  Think about what party your parents belonged to.  Are you still in the same party?

Perhaps our differences in ideology spring from a misunderstanding of who we are as Christians.
Jesus said,  "let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven" (Matt.5:16).  He also said we are to take care of those hurting most in our society (Matthew 25:35-39).

The problem is that we want to legislate good works or social programs depending on which party we fall into.  Remember, we cannot subcontract out our responsibilities to a political party.  Upholding our morals to better represent Christ and providing for the poor are our responsibilities.  Jesus summed it up with the Great Commandment, and if we love God and others then both will take care of themselves.  Our country needs a change of heart not law.  Let's show them who He is by how we live and love.

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Jan 22, 2011

Will the Earth Really Have Two Suns as Early as 2012?

There is a lot of buzz on the internet right now about the star named Betelgeuse coming to an end.  I love astronomy so naturally I am excited about the possibility of us mere earthlings having a front row seat to an exploding star.  Some reports and semi-reputable outlets such as The Huffington Post are saying that it could happen as early as 2012.  They claim that it will be like having the twin suns from Star Wars in the sky.  More reputable sources show that it will actually rival a full moon in size and brilliance for a couple of weeks (which is still awesome).

There is one problem though.  It is called distance.  Scientists who are getting a much closer view than us have noticed a sudden drop in the mass of this red supergiant.  Our view is different.  We see Betelgeuse as part of Orion with the naked eye.  It is actually around 640 light years away.  This means that if it blew up today we would not see the effects for 640 years because that is how long it would take for the light of the explosion to reach us.  Unless cryogenics improves greatly in the next few years we will be long gone before the light show hits.

An exploding star of this size can also go one of two ways.  It is possible for it to collapse upon itself as a black hole or explode into a Supernova.  Philippians 2:15 says, "so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which "you shine like stars in the universe".  

When your time on Earth is done what will your legacy be?  Are you making a difference for God or have you been wasting opportunities?  We are like stars in the way we are supposed to bring Christ's light to a dark world, but we can also leave like stars.  Some will leave nothing behind.  No spiritual legacy for others to follow or any lasting impact at all.  A black hole of sorts.  Still other's light will be seen an experienced long after their death as actions set in motion by their faith and life continue to bear fruit.  Let's call these supernova Christians.  

When it comes to light years, what will your spiritual heritage yield?  Will it be a family that follows God for generations, a convert that leads other to the same Jesus that you showed him, or an example that others look back to for faithful living? 
Don't look inwardly, finally collapsing into a selfish void of forgotten time.  Endeavor now to live for him and go out with a supernova legacy.

If you liked this post you may also enjoy:
Distractions: Discussions on Christianity
Are You Playing it Safe?
2012-The End of the World?
My Prayer for America

Jan 20, 2011

The Power of the Word 'NO'

I remember when my family first bought a microwave.  It was a beast.  The thing weighed more than our oven and an entire turkey could fit in there.  Ours was a Magic Chef sporting two giant dials and a loud bell sound when the timer finished buzzing.  I am pretty sure it was a warning sound due to the radioactive fallout left behind in its wake.  Once we came out of our bunker and threw back the heavy door we were thankful for the twenty minutes saved by the quick nuke.

It is now a dinosaur laying in a landfill somewhere completely intact (I am pretty sure it cannot be destroyed).  What still gets me after all this time is all of the accessories that vendors were selling.  They had food containers to microwave anything in.  There were containers shaped like eggs, potatoes, bacon and many more.  Everyone thought they needed a separate container for each job.  We know now that the microwave can do its job just fine without all of these extra items.  The Wii accessories remind me of these relics of yesteryear.

Do you have a lot of small commitments clamoring for your time.  Yes, you have gifts.  No, you do not have to do everything that comes along just because you are gifted in a certain area.  Your time is precious.  Free yourself up to do what you are truly passionate about.  A powerful word to have in your vocabulary is 'NO'.  You will save time and be more effective at what you do.  Isn't that why the microwave caught on in the first place?

If you like this post you may also enjoy:
Distractions: Discussions on Christianity

Jan 19, 2011

Are You Playing it Safe?

Many of us play it safe.  We frequent familiar restaurants, sit in our "normal" seats at church, get up at the same time each day, and socialize with a certain group of people.  It is our routine and it feels safe.

It is safe because of the predictability it brings.  What a curious bunch we are.  People will bash a movie or stop watching a television drama if it becomes too predictable (sitcoms are another story).  We like the element of surprise, but not in our personal lives.

I have seen people visibly upset when someone is in "their" seat.  If there is one person at a six seat table at the coffee shop, we will wait for a table to open up rather than break the ice with a stranger.  On the flip side we feel a sense of comfort when a server remembers our usual or how we like our coffee.

Predictable people can still have joy in their lives.  They are not miserable for staying in the familiar, but they rarely make a lasting impact on society.  Try to think of a predictable person who made a difference.  If you can think of anyone, such as the lady who wrestled the ammo out of the Arizona shooter's hand, then it was only for her moment of unpredictability.

Do something different.  Crawl out of the box and then burn it.  Sit in a different seat, meet someone new, and see life from a new perspective.  Have a dream?  What are you waiting for?  Is it on your bucket list?  Don't assume you have time.  Live your dreams now.  Eternity is next on the agenda and you only have one shot to give this world something it will never see again.  You!

If you liked this post you may also enjoy:
Simple Ways to Change the World

Jan 14, 2011

The Brotherhood-My Spoiler Free Book Review

I had the privilege of reading an advance copy of The Brotherhood by Jerry Jenkins a couple of months ago. I could not put it down. I read it faster than any book I have read in years.

The book focuses Boone Drake a young cop with the Chicago Police Department. It is a well spun tale of loss and redemption as well as faith and doubts. I love Christian fiction that carries with it a deeper meaning such as The Oath or The Shack, but this one stands alone among others.

First off it is realistic and you do not have to suspend disbelief for a second to be pulled into the world Jenkins has created. Second it is not built around controversial theology. Whereas there are many who are put off by fiction that dabbles in theology like The Shack and the Left Behind series, The Brotherhood deals with the question of suffering in a way that we really see echoed in life.

I know this book can be given to someone struggling with pain and they will relate. They will not say, "Sure it worked for Mack but when will God meet me in a shack". The Brotherhood never leaves reality.

There are often movies that move me to tears, but this was the first and only book. In fact after chapter three I could not read anymore for a complete day. This is the mark of a great book. It had me laughing, crying, and most of all viewing the world through the eyes of Boone Drake. I am excited that this is the first in a trilogy of books by Jenkins.

You can order your own copy now and it will be shipped on February 1 which is the release date. You are going to want at least two because after reading it, you'll know exactly who God wants you to pass it on to.

Jan 10, 2011

The Arizona Shooting is Palin's Fault (at least from the media's perspective)

In the days since the shooting in Arizona there has been a whole lot of blame cast around.  Most of it has been at Sarah Palin.  This is probably the most ludicrous connection I have ever seen.  In fact to suggest it borders on evil.  

How dare the media twist and contort a tragedy to create imaginary villains in a case that deals with real families experiencing pain!  Yes, Sarah Palin made an ad that had cross-hairs on the districts that they were targeting for change.  So what!  It is figurative.  She is known as a hunter and it goes well with her persona. If there was a shooting at a Target store would the media blame the store for inviting the massacre since there is a target on the front of the store.   When the media relates elections to long hard fights and even use the rhetoric of round 2 and so forth are they inciting politicians to get into a literal fight.  The argument over whether the ad was in poor taste was fought back in the election.  It has nothing to do with this situation.

I have watched many in the media (ahem, CNN) ask questions of conservatives and liberals with the intent to demonize Sarah Palin on this issue and it is infuriating.  Though I am not a fan of Sarah Palin and have never been, she does have the right to free speech and to be free from defamation of character.  

I want to review the REAL facts of this case: 
1. The shooter Jared Loughner cannot stand the government
2. He believes that our government uses mind control
3. His community college would not let him return until he had had mental evaluation
4. He is an atheist
5. Two of his favorite books are Mein Kampf and The communist Manifesto. 

The bottom line is that atheistic, communistic, fascist leaning individuals are not even remotely followers of Sarah Palin.  In fact they are the least likely people on the planet to take her up on shooting anyone even if she out right asked for it.

Should we blame atheists, or communists?  No, this guy is crazy.  Just a quick search of his videos on YouTube will show you that he is unstable.   If we want to blame someone let's blame the shooter.  If we need to debate whether a person should have a mental stability test before owning a gun then let's have that conversation.  But I would not be surprised if that test quickly became political with questions relating to views on abortion and homosexuality to determine whether one is mentally sound.  

Maybe the criminally insane should not get a pass after the fact.  If the legally insane get the death penalty then it will automatically cut down the murder rate since everyone nowadays is insane for at least the time of the murder.  However, this is a conversation for another day.  The media want Palin to beg forgiveness, admit guilt, and urge her followers to tone down the rhetoric.  Jared Loughner wasn't her follower, but even if he had been he was clearly nuts and would be so with or with out an ad from Palin.


Jan 6, 2011

Simple Ways to Change the World

If you had slept through this entire week, would the world be worse because of your absence?  If the answer is no then you have something to work on.  Ask yourself what you can do this weekend or next week to improve the lives of those around you.  Here are some suggestions to get you started.

Smile more
Be positive in a negative situation
Don't walk past someone who looks stressed without a saying a kind word
Park further away so someone else can have a closer space
Treat waiters with care as if they will be the ones tipping you
Invest in someone who is not as far along as you

There are many other ways to make a difference.  Don't let another week go by without making your mark.   If you are a follower of Jesus it should be known by your love.  The world needs to see his love in action.  Don't sleep through it.

If you liked this post you may also enjoy:
Are You Playing It Safe?