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.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Don't give up on growth

I read this devotion from Rick Warren today and it was too good to keep to myself.

“Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.” (Romans 6:13 NLT)
Have you ever wondered why doesn’t God answer your prayers immediately? There are a couple of reasons.
The first reason is that he wants to know if you’re really serious. There’s a difference between a desire and a whim. When you have preschoolers you learn this. They ask, “Daddy, can I have this?” You answer, “No,” and they forget it. If they keep saying it over and over, it’s not a whim; it’s a desire.
God doesn’t answer whims. If you don’t care about praying about it more than once, it’s a whim. So God wants to see if you really mean business.
The second reason is that God is not a vending machine where you put in a prayer and the answer immediately pops out. God doesn’t serve you; you serve him.
If God answered every one of your prayers instantly, you would be the most self-centered person on the planet. Remember the movie “Bruce Almighty”? Jim Carrey’s character was given the ability to get anything he prayed for instantly. Whatever he asked for, he got it. He basically ruled the world! He also turned into a pretty terrible person.
You know the mess you’re in right now? You didn’t get into it instantly. You didn’t just make one bad choice; you made a lot of bad choices. So God has to peel the onion, one layer at a time.
If you’re serious about letting God change your life, you’ve got to hang on and not give up until God blesses you. Most people miss God’s best because they give up too soon. They give up in the struggle.
Don’t do it. Commit to God changing you — in his time. Don’t let go until he chooses to bless you.
Recovery is a process. Healing is a process. Growth is a process. It’s not a one-time event.
The Bible says in Romans 6:13, “Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God” (NLT).

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Maybe we should write a marriage book

I have read that everyone has a book in them. I'm not sure if I think that is true but I think I may have a book or two in me, but the question that keeps me paralyzed is, "What would I write about?"

I could write about planting a church. Actually, I have the outline of a book already written. Nathan was impressed that I have 12 chapters. But who wants to read a church planting book from someone like me? 

Liz and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary this past Sunday. Over and over again we heard three thing: Congrats, 18 years is a long time, and how do you do it?

I know a lot of people who are having a tough time in the marriages. Some of my good friends are separated or divorced. I saw today that an old friend of mine is separated. It breaks my heart. 

We don't have a perfect marriage. There's no such thing. But I love my marriage. I love being married. And I love Liz. 

All this got me thinking that maybe we have something from our experience to share. 

So maybe we should write a marriage book. It's just an idea. In the meantime, if you need advice, ask. I would love to chat with you.