Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Three questions that will help you make wiser decisions

I have an article coming out in this Friday's Herald-Journal. I had trouble deciding what to write about so I ended up writing two articles. This is the one that's not going to be in the paper. But even though it's not going to be in print, it will now live online forever. Enjoy.

What’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever done? Actually, you may want to keep that to yourself. I’d hate for you to get arrested. But all of us have done some dumb stuff. We’ve made some dumb decisions.
 We may have never met face to face, but one thing I want for you is I want you to be better at making wise decisions. I don’t want you to get to the end of your life and for you to have a boat-load of regret. And I’m convinced that the key to avoiding regret and dumb decisions is figuring out how to make wise decisions or wise choices, and while I’m no expert, I have a few questions that help me make wiser decisions. I’ve learned that honestly answering these questions helps me in my decision-making. Feel free to steal these and start using them today.
 First, am I running from something or running to something? I think it’s smart to run if you’re being chased by a bear or a zombie. Too many of us, however, run from things that we need to work through. For example: We run from a bad marriage instead of working for a better marriage.
 What if we made sure we’re running to something instead of running away from something? What if we made sure we were running towards our calling or towards the vision for who we want to be in 20 years or towards healthy bodies and relationships? Running from never fixes what’s broken. It just pretends it not longer exists. That never works. Second, what do people I love and trust say they would do if they were me?
 When you make a decision it always affects someone else. Since this is always the case why not get someone else on the decision making process before you make the decision? Other people can see things in your blind spots. Other people know things that you don’t know.
 Third, from Andy Stanley, In light of my past experience, current circumstances and future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing to do? Andy calls that “the best question ever.” I agree. We can ask it about any decision from buying a TV to changing a job to who you should date and marry.
 What gives power to this question is asking it at the three levels of past experience, current circumstances and future hopes and dreams. Now be honest, the reason you don’t want to ask questions like these is because you already know the answer and you don’t want to let a little wisdom get in the way of what you’ve already decided to do. But how’s that working for you so far?
 It’s time to start making wise decisions. These questions are the be-all-end-all, but they are a great place to start.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Stop the name-calling

You think we'd know that calling people names isn't the way to win friends and influence people. You would think we'd know that. But in practice, we don't act like we know it.

How often do we call our opponents, the very people we'd love to win over to our side, some kind of name that immediately turns them off?

I'm reading a book right now called, Think Like a Freak, and currently I'm in a chapter titled, How to persuade people who don't want to be persuaded. It's my favorite chapter of the book so far because the title's sort of at the core of who we are as Hub City Church. It should really be a guiding pursuit of anyone who calls themselves a follower of Jesus.

One of their profound pieces of advice is to keep the insults to yourself. The authors say, Have we mentioned that name-calling is a really bad idea if you wish to persuade someone who doesn't want to be persuaded?

Reading that I'm sure you're saying to yourself, "Well, duh."

But even though this seems like common sense we're constantly putting down, insulting, or name-calling those who think/believe/act/behave differently than us. We say things that further the divide of us vs. them.

So how's that working for you?

Maybe there's a better way to persuade others who don't want to be persuaded. Instead of name-calling we need a strategy that has as it's foundation respect and dignity. We need a strategy that prioritizes relationship. 

If you call yourself a Christian, that's the exact strategy your heavenly father used to persuade you. Maybe we should all follow his example.

Friday, September 26, 2014


A good soundtrack can make or break a movie. Epic movies have an equally epic soundtrack.

What's interesting about a soundtrack, however, is that most of the time we don't even know it's there, but it's there, and it's impacting how we feel and perceive what's going on around us.

But soundtracks aren't just for movies. We all have a soundtrack playing in the background of our lives. Too many of us have the wrong soundtrack.

Join us at Hub City Church this Sunday as we kick off a new series called Soundtrack. 10 AM - Spartan 16 Movie Theater.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

One thing that will exponentially improve your quality of life

What if I were to tell you that you could do one thing that has the potential to exponentially improve your quality of life and that it won't cost you a dime?

You might say I was crazy. And while there may be merit to that statement it wouldn't take away from the truth that I believe one habit, practiced regularly, can exponentially improve your quality of life.

What is that habit? 

It's the habit of gratitude.

Being thankful, saying "thank you," isn't just for kids. It really is a habit that could exponentially improve your quality of life.

Don't believe me?

Try it out for a week. And to help you get started I've included a short little article by Casey Graham. It was written to church leaders, but it has benefits for all of us. 

Read it and then practice gratitude.

If you're at all like me, it's easier to be ungrateful than it is to be thankful—it's just our natural bent to be that way.
Practicing gratitude is a bit of a challenge. Why? Because it requires effort. It's NOT what comes naturally.
In a recent team meeting, we talked about the proactive practice of gratitude. We were reflecting on this comment by Chris Tomlin:
"When we practice gratitude and begin dwelling on the goodness of God, and how He's blessed us, that gratitude purges all the negativity in us."
On that note, here are 9 thoughts on gratitude I hope you find encouraging:
1. The more you grow, the more you should thank. Why?
Because the "higher up" we go in life, the more self-centered we tend to become.
2. When you (or your church) have more money, you should be thanking more people.
3. You are not the sole source of your achievements.
4. Whatever (and whomever) we appreciate, appreciates.
Unfortunately, the people closest to us are often the ones  we appreciate the least (family, friends, church volunteers and staff, donors..etc).
5. People are attracted to people who practice gratitude.
6. If you want great things in your life and in your ministry (I'm not talking about loads of money here by-the-way), you've got to practice gratitude.
7. Focus on what you have, not what you don't have.
8. Taking yourself too seriously causes you to not be able to break away from your "world" and recognize the value in other people. This basically becomes a barrier to gratitude.
9. Cicero said "Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others." And, Paul said in Philippians 4:6-8 to "be anxious about nothing but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving to let our requests be made known to God. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Prepare yourself

I've been thinking lately about why sometimes I feel like God is speaking to me and other times, even though I'm doing the same thing, I hear nothing.

I think it boils down to having a heart that's prepared to hear from God. 

It's funny. I was thinking about this and then I came across the following devotion from Rick Warren. I think he captures what I want to say better than I can say it:

Let’s say you’re a gardener. You’ve learned that you can take the exact same seed and plant it in three different locations and get three different results. In one spot, you’ll get giant tomatoes. In another, you’ll get small tomatoes. And in a third, you’ll get nothing. What’s the difference? It’s not the seed; it’s the soil. The soil must be prepared for the seed.
The same is true when you hear God’s Word. Your heart has to be prepared for the Word. If you get up late, have trouble finding a parking spot, and are irritated as you rush into church, you’re probably not going to hear God’s voice! You’re not in a receptive mood.
That’s why you can take two people to church, set them side-by-side, and one will walk out thinking God really spoke to him and the other won’t get anything out of the service. The heart of one person was prepared; the other’s heart wasn’t.
The Bible says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you” (James 1:19b-21 NIV).
For good reception, this passage teaches that you have to have four attitudes:
  • You must be quiet. You can’t hear God if you’re talking.
  • You have to be calm. You can’t rush God. If you’re frantic, you’re not going to hear him. The Bible says, “Be still and know that I am God.” My translation of that is: “Sit down, and shut up.”
  • You have to be clean. Before you can meet with God, you need to take out your emotional and spiritual garbage. You need to get rid of the stuff that stinks in your life. You get rid of the garbage by confessing your sin to God and agreeing with him that what you did was wrong.
  • You need to be humble. Be ready to do whatever God tells you from his Word. A prideful attitude won’t work.

I especially resonate what he says about being calm. I am too often rushed.

In light of what Rick says, I have a challenge to issue, especially if you call Hub City Church your church home. Before you come to our worship gathering on Sunday, prepare yourself. Before you show up at your Hub Group, prepare yourself.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Aim for the fly

In his new book, The Grave Robber, Mark Batterson shares the following story:
In theri brilliant book Nudge, authors Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Suntein cite some fascinating examples of the way small and seemingly insignificant details can have a major impact on behavior. The men's restrooms at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam are a good example. When the restroom designer etched the image of a black houselfly into each urinal, it reduced spillage by 80 percent. According to Aad Kieboom, the man who came up with the idea, "If a man sees a fly, he aims at it."
I love that. It makes me wonder: What small and seemingly insignificant actions or behaviors or attitudes could transform our lives in significant ways?

We often think that big things make the biggest difference. What if that's wrong? What if we could do a few small and seemingly insignificant things? 

Here are some ideas: Read the Bible each day. Talk with God throughout your day. Limit your time on social media. Add some silence to your day. Say no. Say yes.

What's a small thing that could make a big difference for you?

While we're figuring that out I think it might be time for those of us with boys at home to etch some flies into our toilets.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

A glimpse into the world of boys

Anybody that has boys, or works with boys, has wondered at one time or all the time, “What is going on in their head and in their world?”

Rosalind Wiseman gives us a glimpse in her book Masterminds and Wingmen.

As a father of three boys who wants to be a better father of my boys, this book is both fascinating and helpful. It’s fascinating in the sense that it gives those of us outside of boy world a glimpse into boy world. It’s helpful in that if gives practical advice about how to handle the plethora of boy world issues that our boys face on a daily basis.

She covers topics like gaming, girls, sports, the pressures that come from the Act-Like-A-Man-Box and the hierarchy that exists in boy world. Some of the topics were very relevant to my family situation. Others were interesting but not all that helpful. I didn't agree with everything she said or recommended, but that doesn't take away the value of this book which is why I highly recommend it for all parents of boys and anyone who works with boys on a regular basis.

An added bonus is her free book called The Guide for teen boys. I downloaded it for my boys and one of them has already devoured all 300+ pages. 

I need to make a disclaimer: I am a follower of Jesus, a Christian. For my fellow Christian friends: Neither of these books are written from a Christian perspective. I don't think that's a problem, but it is something you need to know, especially if you encourage your son to read The Guide. I'm not afraid of my boys reading stuff from a non-Christian perspective. I don't think you should be either. But I do think it's important to talk about different world views.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for review.