Jan 30, 2012

The Next Big Thing

A few years ago:  Twinkie creator Jimmy Dewar said: “Twinkies was the best darn-tootin’ idea I ever had.” 
Now:  Hostess is filing for bankruptcy. 

A few years ago:  Small video stores were closing because they could not compete with the large chains during the VHS to DVD conversion. 
Now:  Blockbuster videos have "For Lease" instead of "New Release" in their window.

A few years ago:  Mom and pop book stores were folding up when book mega stores like Barnes and Noble and Borders came to town. 
Now:  A tablet reading device like Kindle or Nook can hold thousands of books and the large stores are disappearing. 

A few years ago:  Families looked through the Sears or J.C. Penny catalogues so they could shop from home. 
Now:  We can use Ebay, Craigslist, or Half.com to find items from anyone, anywhere, at anytime.

A few years ago:  The answering machine made it possible to find out who called when someone was not AT their house.
Now:  The number of cell phones in the United States exceeds the number of people.

What has changed:  Methods
What is the same:  We are still; eating snacks, watching movies, reading, buying, and communicating

A few years from now:  We will be doing the same things using new and improved methods. How will we get there? Well, that depends on some innovative people out there or maybe it depends on you.

What other changes can you think of in the past few years? 

Jan 25, 2012

Are You Mentoring Unaware?

I was thinking about my mentors this morning. I have several people who speak into my life on a regular basis (whether I want them to are not). There are those who call, check on me, and ask me engaging questions. Then there are those that I have asked to hold me accountable. I value there input greatly.

As I look back over my life I realize that I have had mentors who did not even realize they were mentoring me. I was learning, gleaning from, and endeavoring to be like them. Today, I have mentors who do not even know I exist. People like Michael Hyatt (blogger) & Craig Groeschel (LifeChurch.TV) who mentor me through their; books, blogs, videos and tweets. I learn from their passion, have similar vision, but most of all respect who they are as men.

Who are you purposefully mentoring? Who is watching you? Is your life worth following? Can you say follow me as I follow Christ?

Jan 17, 2012

How Serving Has Impacted My Life

I asked Laura Milner, the blog author of Strengthening the Chain to guest post on serving. You see, I have been on staff in the church world for 11 years and I needed fresh eyes on the subject. Laura is also a volunteer youth worker in California and an avid Twitter user. Thanks for reading and feel free to join the conversation.

I started volunteering in my high school youth group when I was 16 years old. I felt God's call on my life to serve and jumped in, I started leading games and being a part of the planning of our weekly meetings. It was one of the most life changing choices I ever made in my life and would set the tone for who I would become as an adult. And now 12 years, a marriage, 2 kids and 3 ministries later I can say that being a volunteer is one of the best decisions I have made in my life. 

Now I could write a whole blog post on how volunteering can be hard and how I've been broken by God, how I've spent many sleepless nights thinking and praying for the teens I minister to, I could go on and on about how many times I've almost walked away from serving. But if you've been serving for any period of time you already know the struggles, I want to tell you is that serving made me who I am today and I wouldn't change that for anything. 

Making the choice to serve as a life style has filled my life with adventure, friends, mentors and opportunities that I would have never had, had I not been a volunteer. Choosing at a young age to be a part of a ministry helped me survive my teens. If I wasn't plugged in and discipled by some amazing leaders I would have walked down the wrong path and could have completely walked away from my faith. Serving is also how I have made life long friends and most importantly where I met and fell in love with my husband. My children have been raised in service, helping wrap gifts for underprivileged kids, to helping me fold youth event fliers to sitting in awe as they watch dear friends preach their hearts out on stage. I wouldn't be me if I wasn't a volunteer. 

If I didn't volunteer in church my life would look completely different. I know I wouldn't have married my husband, and I know I would have made choices that I may not have been able to recover from. Volunteering is a life style for me, not a weekly commitment. I take the call on my life seriously. I have a deeper intimacy with my Savior because I serve, I am constantly growing in my walk with Christ, I am encouraged and challenged by the people I serve with and most of all I get to watch Gods church grow. 

I know too many Christians who are simply content with attending church on Sunday morning and living their life without giving back. And to be honest it makes me really sad. Not only are they robbing others of their God given talent, not only are they robbing themselves of friends and growth, they are robbing God. Yes, I said that! Choosing not to serve when God has called you to, is robbing God. You are robbing Him of using you, robbing Him of stretching you and making you grow. And most of all you are robbing God of the opportunity to work miracles in the lives of others through you. We are ALL called by God to seek and save the lost, we are ALL called to give unconditional love as Christ did! It is shameful how many Christians forget or don't care to give as God gave.

You might think, the church really doesn't need another person. But that's a lie. God only created one YOU, and He wants to use YOU. Being a volunteer will change your life, it will stretch you further then you have ever been stretched. Being a volunteer allows God to move in you and through you. Don't rob the world of Gods gift, YOU!

Jan 11, 2012

Camouflage Christianity

A teen in my youth group has a camouflage Bible cover and I like to tease him about not seeing a Bible.

Camouflage looks good on hats, jackets, and even Bibles. But the one place it does not look good is on a Believer's life.

What about you? Do you stand out or are you camouflaged?

Jan 10, 2012

Good vs Great Customer Service

I get my haircut at a popular hair cutting chain. At first I tried them just because of a coupon. Why did I go back? Because they offered something that my old place did not.

It wasn't the scalp massages and steamed towels that did the trick. After all those cost extra so they can only detract from the experience if the towel gets cold to soon or the hair wash is rushed so they can get to more customers.

What did it was the fact that they keep track of what haircut I get. They know the length of the guard and the way they thin it out so it will stand up better. And everyone there has access to the same information so it doesn't matter who I get.

Or does it? You can't replace great customer service. Good customer service is personalized, but the great is personal.

After getting the same girl three times in a row and having the same conversations (what I do etc), I wasn't known. In fact on the fourth visit she asked if I had ever been there before. Despite the fact that I am 6'7 and always have my son with me.

The person who cuts my hair now asks about my family, remembers my kids names and that I opt out of the massage chair during the hair wash because it makes itchy.

There is no substitute for great customer service. Is your church, business, or website personalized to the type of audience or customer you have or is it personal. The good will attract but the great will connect.

Jan 9, 2012

Back to the Future

My wife and I have been watching the Back to the Future trilogy this week. I had almost forgotten how good they were (especially for their time).

Marty and the Doc constantly hurl themselves through time in an attempt to right wrongs, avoid mistakes, and even cheat death.

Unfortunately, we do not get this luxury. Even if you had a flux capacitor and installed in your Delorian, you would still be stuck with the natural consequences (good or bad) for every decision you make.

Every choice is a fork in the road, a turning point with an alternate destination. Choose each step carefully, because there is no going back.

Jan 6, 2012

Angry Birds for Life

I could resist this picture

On Christmas day the mega-popular app based game, Angry Birds did what it has been doing for over 2 years now--it took one more step towards taking over the world. The hit game was downloaded 6.5 million times on a day when even Walmart was closed. Many people were making Angry Birds one of their first apps on their new smartphone or tablet device.

I have it on my IPhone and have to avoid it for its ability to suck the minutes and hours from my day. My whole family enjoys it down to my 4 year old. But is it the game alone or are we struck by the story of the birds who have been wronged so badly by evil pigs that they will stop at nothing to see that they pay, even if it means dying in the process.

What noble cause makes you want to see justice so badly that you would give your life in the process? What about human trafficking, slave labor, starvation, genocide, or abortion? Would you give your life to share Christ in a hostile country where His name is not allowed?

This is the way the world is and at times it should anger us and even propel us into the fray on behalf of the hopeless and helpless. Are you going to be an Angry Bird or a Timid Bird in 2012?

Jan 4, 2012

Spring Cleaning or Spring Clinging

For the last couple of days I have been struck with the fact that it is really easy to accumulate a whole lot of junk.

I have been cleaning in my office, my closet at home, and in the church shed. As a youth pastor with a low budget (and a pretty frugal person), I am always hopeful that I will be able to use something again.

I have located used spray paint cans from 7 years ago, props that have only been used once, and promotional items for old events. They are never used again, but are somehow hard to part with. We remember their usefulness and yearn for the time when they helped us.

In a way we are always comfortable in the past. There is rest in memories, because the outcome is already decided. It is the future that is uncertain. In this new year as we move toward spring cleaning lets remember to shed the things that hold us captive to the past and boldly move towards a future has yet to be written.

Change will be the catalyst to new victories, only imagined by those who are willing to let go of the relics of past accomplishments.

Jan 2, 2012

Mission Impossible for Dads

The new Mission Impossible was easily the best of the franchise. It has one of the highest marks from critics of the movies that are currently out. The action and gadgetry involved is enough to keep any guy interested.

Sometimes I feel like fatherhood is Mission Impossible. Getting the whole family on-time to any one event is like herding cats. Just when you think everyone is ready you find that your daughter has become engrossed in playtime (complete with every toy she owns) rather than finding her shoes. There are also uncontrollable cowlicks that ravage little boys hair, and always a 20% chance of your wife going back to the drawing board with her outfits because, "there is never anything to wear".

Yes sir, you have to have some special skills, the newest arsenal, and state of the art training to manage being a father and husband nowadays. Or do you? Are our kids going to remember their childhood for how tight a ship we ran or for the amount of time we spent with them.

Man of the house: Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to love your family and to show them this love tangibly by the time you spend with them. This is Mission Possible and you can do it!

This message will not self-destruct, but your family will if you choose to ignore it.

Jan 1, 2012

New Year's Resolution Ideas!

        Well, it is a new year and you know what that means? New Year's resolutions (empty promises that we half pretend to keep this time, just like last year). They are empty because we have no strategy. We try to lose weight, but with no plan. We want to go to church more often, but with no accountability. We want to watch TV less, but it never seems to take. Here are some ideas with the means to accomplish them.

1. Lose weight-- Actually go to a gym and get a membership tomorrow. Pack a lunch for work each day so you will not eat out and crock pot on Sunday's to avoid the temptation to eat out. Restaurant portions are HUGE!

2. Go to church more-- Pick a friend or a family to keep each other accountable and get together once a month for lunch on Sunday. The one who has missed the most church that month picks up the tab (perfect attendance for both = dutch).

3. Watch TV less--Put your TV on a timer switch and program it to only come on for a certain amount of time a day and do something else when it cuts off. You can also invest in some card games like Uno, Blink, or Monopoly Deal.

4. Use Facebook less-- It will initially take some time to use Facebook less. Organize all of your friends into lists and only check the news feed of your close friends and family lists. Aimlessly scrolling through the news feed is a serious time waster.

5. Read your Bible more-- If you have a smartphone you can get the YouVersion app fom LifeChurch.TV and use there reading plans or listen to the Bible on the go. If you do not have a smartphone you can bookmark Crosswalk.com on your computer and use one of their plans or simply leave your Bible in the bathroom or in a prominent place.

6. Spend more time with your family-- If you want to be a better husband, wife, father, mother, son  or daughter then please see the suggestions for numbers two through five (one through five if you want to be around for your family when you are older).

What will you do differently this year?