Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Theology of Workflow
Matt Perman on how Christians should think about productivity.
Giz Explains: An Illustrated Guide to Every Stupid Cable You Need

We put up with too many cables. There are at least four different kinds of USB plugs, two kinds of FireWire and like a million different ways to connect something to TV or monitor. Modern gadget life can be kind of retarded in this way. Why not one kind of cable, or just a couple? I don't know. But until everyone gets on the same appendage-to-hole scheme, in the meantime, you can use this: an illustrated guide to pretty much every kind of cable you will see in current gadgets and what it's used for (unless, you know, Sony springs a new one on us overnight, which is honestly possible).

Read more at Gizmodo

10 Commandments of Scripture Interpretation

Skye Jethani's simple guidelines for engaging the Bible and avoiding unhelpful controversy.
I. You shall not make for yourself an idol out of Scripture.
This is a particular temptation among evangelicals who hold a very high view of Scripture. We forget that our highest calling is not to have a relationship with the Bible but with Jesus Christ about whom the Bible testifies. (John 5:39)

II. You shall honor the Scriptures as sufficient.
We have a common temptation to get “behind the text” or discover what “really happened.” While archeology and other disciplines are incredibly important, we must not forget that what God has given in the Scriptures is enough for life and faith.

III. You shall remember the metanarrative and keep it wholly.
In my experience more Christians can recap the meta-narrative of the Star Wars saga than can recap the biblical meta-narrative. It’s not enough to know the stories and events in the Bible. We must know how they fit together to tell a single story.

IV. You shall honor the Church as the recipient and the guardian of the Scriptures
The books and letters in the Bible, with a few exceptions, were not written to individuals but to communities of believers. We must be careful not to read everything through the lenses of Western individualism. And we are wise to listen to how Christians in ages past have understood the teachings of Scripture.

V. You shall not neglect the context.
Proof texting (finding verses to make your point), isolating (removing a text from its surrounding material), and synchronizing (taking different gospel accounts of the same event and smashing them together) are all ways of abusing the text and landing on bad interpretations.

Read more at Out of Ur

Monday, December 20, 2010

Want your staff to be happy? Here are the four components of happiness

There’s been a lot of talk about happiness and general well-being of late. Here we explore the four components of happiness and ask if busy executives can ever achieve a happy state.

According to Tony Hsieh, the four components of happiness are:


  • Feeling CONNECTED to a group of close friends and colleagues
  • Having CONTROL over work and life
  • Making PROGRESS towards goals, whether they be career, knowledge or fitness
  • Having a clear sense of PURPOSE in life and work.

Deficits in any of these four areas are likely to bring us down. As the corporate world demands more from its people for purposes far removed from individual goals there’s a real and present danger of making those valuable human assets miserable, demotivated and unproductive. Possibly so much that they’ll leave for smaller employers, able to offer the above.

Read more at FreshTracks

Sunday, December 12, 2010

10 Ways to Minimize Your Regrets at the End of Your Life

    If we had to quantify it, probably 80% of what is considered important right now will mean absolutely nothing at the end of your life. What are the things that dominate your worries and thoughts? The mortgage and car payments? Job performance and promotion?  Hey, it’s important to take those things seriously because that’s the way our world functions.  However, nobody lies on their death bed thanking God that he made all his mortgage payments on time. What about the remaining 20% of what you consider important in your life?  Those are the moments that will become your legacy…the moments that define you.  Here are some thoughts to help you live a life without regret.
  1. Family First
    Possibly the most common regret at the end of a life is, “I didn’t spend enough time with my family.” When we’re young, we are so eager to start our grown-up lives that we neglect our parents. When we’re adults in the midst of building the life we imagined, we neglect our wife and kids. What’s left at the end of that life is a sad and lonely person. Your family comes first—always. Cherish your wife.  Never stop earning her love and devotion. Adore your children and spend every second you can with them.
  2. Faith
    Life has a far greater purpose beyond our human knowledge. “All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson. Faith gives you the inner peace in knowing that all is not in vain. Your life matters greatly. Our time on earth is but a blink of the eye in comparison to eternity.  Faith in something greater than you = zero regret.
  3. Color Outside The Lines
    As soon as our life begins, society creates boxes within which we’re supposed to live. Order is certainly vital to a prosperous people. There are lines a decent human being should never cross. On the other hand, there are times when you HAVE to cross some cultural lines if joy is to ever going to find its way into our hearts. Dare to color your life outside of pre-determined boxes. Step out of comfort zones. As the saying goes, dance as if nobody is looking.
 Read more at All Pro Dad

Thursday, November 25, 2010

10 Ways to Lead Your Family

    “Leadership” is a huge buzzword in 21st Century America. Corporations and institutions spend gazillions of dollars annually on classes and training seminars designed to teach and facilitate leadership skills in employees. Why? The business world knows that organizations function best when people take ownership of the opportunity and the responsibility to lead.

    Likewise, family dynamics become more conducive to harmony, healing, productivity and positive growth when the people charged with the responsibility step forward and actually lead. Too many parents are reluctant (or scared, or lack the confidence, or feel ill-equipped) to take on such a role. However, no matter what your family configuration, making the effort to guide and lead the way is a most critical step toward family health.

    Is it easy? Certainly not! How about straightforward? Not on your life! Leading your family is far and away less demanding, less complicated, and less taxing emotionally than taking the proverbial “pass.”

    All Pro Dad suggests these “10-Ways” to get the ball rolling in terms of “How should I lead my family”?

  1. From the front:
    We’re talking about being an example. Model the respect, responsibility, trust and family fidelity you’d like to see across the board.
  2. In partnership with your wife:
    Don’t try to be an island. Don’t make the mistake of always assuming unilateral authority. Leadership is something you must agree on together.
  3. Like a Servant:
    “Servant Leadership” means to take heed of great advice from a Leader who said such things as, “The last shall be first.” “If you want to be great, act like a servant”, and “He didn’t come to be served, but to serve.”
Read more at All Pro Dad

Monday, November 15, 2010

Accountability: Hallmark of a leader
Posted on 08:43 PM, November 10, 2010
By Dennis L. Berino

Several months back, an icon in the local and regional world of business, much sought after not only in business and industry due to his business acumen and leadership skills but also in sports, philanthropy, and education, drew flak because a commencement address he had delivered had been littered with unattributed quotes. 

He could have fingered one of his speechwriters, but true to his sterling leadership qualities, he did a class act by owning up to the mistake, apologizing for the inadvertence, and resigning from the chairmanship of the board of the school where he had delivered the commencement speech.

Read more at Business World

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Following God in Obscurity
John Koessler | posted 11/01/2010
"Mary, I know what I'm going to do tomorrow and the next day and the next year and the year after that. I'm going to leave this little town far behind, and I'm going to see the world. Italy, Greece, the Parthenon, the Coliseum. Then I'm coming back here, and I'll go to college and see what they know, and then I'm going to build things. I'm going to build air fields. I'm going to build skyscrapers a hundred stories high. I'm going to build bridges a mile long." So says George Bailey in the Frank Capra classic It's a Wonderful Life. As it turns out, George is wrong. What he is supposed to do tomorrow is pretty much what he did today. God's plan for him is to do the ordinary thing—which, of course, is the last thing that George wants to do.

I don't think much about God's will because, like George Bailey, I know what I'm going to do tomorrow and the next day and the next year. (At least I think I do.) Get up and go to work. Come home and have dinner with my wife. Take a walk. Try to think of something to write about for my blog. Goals that are, for the most part, pretty low on the horizon.

Here is the irony: I am doing everything I dreamed of doing when I was in college. I am married to someone I love. And I'm teaching, writing, and preaching—but frankly not to the extent that I imagined when I wondered what God's plan for my life would look like. In those days I was aiming for the moon. God's will, revealed through the constraints and necessities of ordinary life, have compelled me to lower my expectations. His agenda for me seems far more commonplace. This has not always been easy to accept.

In Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places, Eugene Peterson recounts the story of the fourth century church father Gregory of Nyssa whose brother Basil had arranged for him to be made bishop of Cappadocia. "Gregory objected," Peterson writes. "He didn't want to be stuck in such an out-of-theway place. His brother told him he didn't want Gregory to obtain distinction from his church but to confer distinction upon it." Is this not what Christ wants for us as well? To seek the good of the small places in which he has placed us and to confer distinction upon them by serving him with humility there? The path of glory is often an obscure one. It is the way of the cross.

—John Koessler, "George Bailey Lassos the Moon," on his blog A Stranger in the House of God (3-18-10)

Find thousands of additional illustrations, sermons, and resources at PreachingToday.com.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

10 Things to Teach your Son about True Manhood

    Our culture (especially “pop-culture”) is, typically, dead wrong about this topic! Check out the role models readily available to kids today: The Internet, movies, television, music, magazines, the sports world and politics. There’s a huge pile of information available and “ideals” presented, but precious little that’s much short of flat-out harmful. So let’s not leave this one to chance, dads. Be all over this list, think about what it means to engage “True Manhood”, and let’s begin to take responsibility for what Junior is exposed to. You are the # 1 role model for your child! Like it or not, it’s a fact, and there’s not much you can do except make sure you’re the best. Living manhood out loud is one of our primary responsibilities as dads. Seriously, there’s a lot that can be done, and kids with proactive dads are going to be head and shoulders ahead. For starters, here’s All Pro Dad’s list of 10 things to teach your son about true manhood.
  1. Being a gentleman is still worth the effort:
    - Hold the door.
    - Stand up when a woman leaves or joins the table.
    - Walk on the “splash” side of the sidewalk.
    - Attempt (gently) to pick up the tab.
    - Go get the car when it’s raining.
    - Offer your hand…
  2. At the same time, be respectful: All the above “gentlemanly” actions must be offered subtly, and  - if necessary - set aside graciously when refused.
  3. Take responsibility: In a word (well, two), “step up.” True manhood takes responsibility for its actions, choices, values and beliefs. And – while taking responsibility, manhood is also willing to admit – with grace - when it is wrong.
  4. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable: Real strength allows other people in. Manhood is honest about feelings and not afraid to be known. True manhood never builds a wall where there should be a window, or a fortress where there should be a sanctuary.
  5. Actually “being” a man is more important than “talking” like one: Real men don’t just stand up and speak up - they “put up” too. Loud talk and tough posturing don’t cut it. True manhood involves finding a need and doing something about it. Real men don’t complain about social problems – they go out and do something about them. Real men don’t point fingers – they work for solutions. Real men get calluses on their hands – not from flapping their lips.
  6. Listen respectfully, disagree politely and never exclude women from conversation: True manhood is inclusive.  It may be strong, but it’s unfailingly polite. Men who equate bluster or machismo with strength are typically covering something up. Men who think women have nothing to contribute to the conversation need to wake up and smell the 21st Century.
  7. Love is stronger than muscles: True manhood understands that brute force is less compelling than self-giving love. The best solutions to difficulties involved applied love.
  8. The first shall be last: True manhood puts others first. Jesus is quoted more than once as saying something like this: If you want to be a leader, then the place to be is on your knees, with a towel in your hand, washing someone’s feet.
  9. Manhood is – sometimes - more about what you could do but didn’t than what you could have avoided but did anyway: There’s a lot of restraint – a great deal of “Quiet Strength” in true manhood. Real men tend to always have something in reserve.
  10. True manhood is more about giving than about getting: Our culture often touts a “men see what they want, then they go out and get it” view of manhood. But true manhood is more along the lines of “see what the world needs, then go out and do it.” Strength leveraged for the benefit of others.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

5 Things Men Must Know about Women

There are 5 things that men must know about women. Women desire to “feel” these things, not just know them logically. In her book, For Men Only, author Shaunti Feldhahn goes into great depth addressing these five, and a few others men need to know.
Men must know that:
  1. Women want to feel loved. Many women feel insecure about our love for them. There are two things we men can do about it. First, reassure her. In times of conflict with our wives, we should tell them we love them no matter what and that everything will be okay—“I love you. We’ll get through this.” When she’s upset, she doesn’t need space,” she needs a hug and to be held. Second, pursue her. Women need to be pursued throughout the relationship, just as we pursued them before we got married.
  2. Women want to feel understood. Women need us to understand how they think and feel, even though that is virtually impossible. It would help us to understand that most women’s thought lives are like computers, with multiple windows open and processing all at once. Unlike men who can only process one thing at a time, women are constantly juggling multiple thoughts and emotions all at the same time. On more than one occasion, I’ve watch my wife, daughters and their friends having a conversation where three of them were talking at once about three different things. And guess what, they all understood each other! So, hopefully, if we can generally understand how women think, we might be better able to understand how they feel.
  3. Women want to feel emotionally secure. Women want security. Yes, financial security is important, but it comes second to emotional security. Women do think about the house, bills and tuition, but feeling emotionally connected and close to us; and knowing we are there for her, no matter what, is what really matters.
  4. Women want to feel listened to. Men, she doesn’t want us to fix it, she just wants us to listen. She doesn’t want or need our solution to the problem, even if she asked for our opinion. She does want us to understand how she’s feeling about the problem and identify with her in that feeling—“Thanks for sharing that with me.” or “I’m so sorry that happened.” might be good words to consider saying to her.
  5. Women want to feel beautiful. She needs to know, deep within, that we find her beautiful and that we only have eyes for her. She doesn’t just want to know, “Am I beautiful?” but, “Am I beautiful to him?” There may be many mirrors in your home, but the mirror that means most to your wife is you.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Posted: 30 Sep 2010 03:35 AM PDT

What is faith?
I think the whole concept of faith is one of the most misunderstood ideas that we have, misunderstood not only by the world but by the church itself. The very basis for our redemption, the way in which we are justified by God, is through faith. The Bible is constantly talking to us about faith, and if we misunderstand that, we’re in deep trouble.

The great issue of the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century was, How is a person justified? Luther’s controversial position was that we are justified by faith alone. When he said that, many of the godly leaders in the Roman Catholic Church were very upset. They said, “Does that mean that a person can just believe in Jesus and then live any way they want to live?” In other words, the Roman Catholic Church reacted fiercely because they were afraid that Luther’s view would be understood as an easy-believism in which a person only had to believe and never had to be concerned about bringing forth the fruits of righteousness. It was crucial that those who were involved in the Protestant Reformation carefully define what they meant by saving faith. So they went back and did their studies in the New Testament, specifically on the Greek word pistein, which means “to believe,” and they were able to isolate three distinctive aspects of biblical faith.

The first is the Latin term notitia: “believing in the data” or the information. It’s an intellectual awareness. You can’t have faith in nothing; there has to be content to the faith. You have to believe something or trust someone. When we say that a person is saved by faith, some people say, “It doesn’t matter what you believe, just as long as you are sincere.” That’s not what the Bible teaches. It matters profoundly what you believe. What if I believed that the devil was God? That wouldn’t save me. I must believe the right information.

The second aspect of faith is what they call assensus, or intellectual assent. I must be persuaded of the truthfulness of the content. According to James, even if I am aware of the work of Jesus—convinced intellectually that Jesus is the Son of God, that he died on the cross for my sins, and that he rose from the dead—I would at that point qualify to be a demon. The demons recognize Jesus, and the devil himself knows the truth of Christ, but he doesn’t have saving faith.

The crucial, most vital element of saving faith in the biblical sense, is that of personal trust. The final term is fiducia, referring to a fiduciary commitment by which I put my life in the lap of Jesus. I trust him and him alone for my salvation. That is the crucial element, and it includes the intellectual and the mental. But it goes beyond it to the heart and to the will so that the whole person is caught up in this experience we call faith.

Taken from Now, That’s a Good Question!
©1996 by R.C. Sproul. Used by permission of Tyndale.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

10 Ways to Get Your Wife to Trust You

    Two brothers live at home with their parents. Don, 17, has a strict curfew. Dan, 16, is never told when to come home. The difference is trust.

    Mom and dad know Dan will be home around 10:00. If he’s going to be late, he always calls. But Don never lets them know what he’s up to and he’s lied consistently for years.

    For all his openness and detailed communication, Dan feels free as a bird. Don, however, even though he keeps many secrets, always resents what he experiences as a short leash.

    Marriage is a similar dance of trust and credibility
    . Partners who demand “freedom” and push the limits to see how tethered they really are never experience the sense of liberty experienced by those who respect their spouse, keep no secrets, and keep one-another informed about everything.

    Non sequitur? Not really. Trust is a sticky issue, but it’s an irreplaceable element if relationships are to experience the kind of freedom and confidence that can only be grounded in mutual respect.

    Here are 10 ways to foster trust with your wife:

  1. Be consistent: that means take the guesswork out. It can take literally years of confidence-inspiring husbanding to make up for one breach of trust. Make sure trust never has to be an issue in the first place.
Read more at AllProDad

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Did the Spirit Really Say...?
God's will is harder and easier to discern than we imagine.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ground Zero, 9/11: Rudy’s finest hour

Aside from the two towering infernos, our collective memory of 9/11 is that of Mayor Rudy Giuliani arriving at the scene with his staff -- his hair, face, and shoulders covered with fine dust from the crumbled concrete of the mightiest symbols of the American century.

In leading his city back on its feet, Rudy Giuliani stood taller than the two towers that were there no more.

Read more at Business World

Friday, August 27, 2010

Financial Lessons From A 20 Year Old

There is a 20 year old entrepreneur I am familiar with who, at his young age, has reaped marketing awards and has closed thousand-dollar deals with medium-scale enterprises in his community. At his age, he not only enjoys the comforts of independence, but he also enjoys a debt-free existence.

In the course of my conversation with the young entrepreneur, I learned a few things from him. I’m sharing this with you, because I believe that you may be able to benefit from his methods, and improve your own personal financial habits.
Here are five habits I observed from him:

  1. He saves HALF of his salary. Granted, his salary is twice the salary of mid-level managers in his community, but the fact remains that he SAVES it. Sure, he treats himself to creature comforts like designer clothes, but he also makes sure that he has his limits. The pace at which he saves money can easily allow him to invest a significant amount with top notch investment brokers. Doing so can help increase his net worth faster.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

10 Things to Teach Your Kids About Failure

  1. Not Everybody Gets A Trophy
    Somewhere along the line we became a society that preached instant gratification. Like a giant carnival, our slogan became “everybody wins all the time.” We know it’s not true. It’s also a terrible example to set. Losing is every bit as important in human growth as winning. Rewarding your child for doing nothing will teach him just that. Nothing.
  2. Everyone Has Different Talents
    Maybe your daughter wants to be the next Carrie Underwood. Then you hear her sing. Your son wants to be Evan Longoria. He can’t hit the ball off a tee. There are just some things we aren’t cut out for. It’s best to learn that at an early age. The good news is that they are a champion at something. Guide them towards where their gifts lie.
  3. Have Class
    What is one of the most flattering descriptions a person can hear? “He sure has a lot of class.” “She sure was a great sport about it.” Are you teaching your children how to fail with dignity? How a person accepts failure is an easy indicator of the character within. It also almost guarantees future success. Respect is gained outwardly and inwardly. Coach Dungy is prime example of “class.”
Read more at AllProDad

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

10 Ways Nerdy Dads Are Kewl

    Face it. Being a Dad doesn’t usually bring a lot of “cool factor” with it. It’s not easy to look cutting edge driving mini-vans, pushing strollers and spending Saturday’s at Lowe’s shopping for tile.  More times than not, dads just look plain nerdy. Wear that badge with honor! Let’s celebrate the faithful husband and dedicated father as the true heroes they are.
  1. It Takes A Real Man
    Any fool can roll with a Mercedes. Cruise a ‘69 Camaro. It takes a real man to rock a 2006 Dodge Caravan. Sleek power sliding doors. Built-in DVD pumping Sponge Bob as he tears up the road. Fold-down seats and just enough room to haul the nine foot Christmas tree. McDonald’s fries in every crevice and the remains of an old 7-11 slurpee in the back. All traces of manhood wiped clean.  Dad could drive a sports car that drives the ladies wild and makes the other men want to be like him. But how Dad rolls is seeing that his family is happy, comfortable and secure.
  2. The Cover of GQ
    Once upon a time, Dad used to get his hair styled. Not cut. It was full and thick, and always up with the latest trend. His hair was proud like the lion that he was. Now Supercuts has replaced the young and pretty hair stylist. He treats himself by getting the shampoo along with the $10 dollar trim. His hair has thinned, but he combs it over to cover the sparseness. GQ will not be calling him for its next cover. But to his wife and family, he’s the most handsome man on the planet.
  3. Making It Rain
    Who’s your Daddy? That’s right. Who makes the green come raining down? Dad - that’s who. When his twelve year old daughter has grown out of every shoe she has in three months, Dad is there to the rescue. Payless baby. “Hook her up,” he tells the sales person. When his boy has lost his retainer, his cleats and needs tutoring in science, Dad pulls out his overstuffed (with receipts) wallet. Don’t forget Mama. Anniversary time? The diamond heart necklace at Zale’s will be dangling from her beautiful neck. Dad works hard to make it rain on his family every time they need him.

    Read more at AllProDad

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

10 Ways To Teach Your Children To Overcome Obstacles

Life can be well described as an obstacle course, with impediments that get re-arranged every time we start a new day. This fact is one of the elements that makes for rich experience, not only in our careers, but also in our personal lives.

Unfortunately, many children learn too early that obstacles are either there for someone else to deal with, or simply not worth the trouble. Consequently, too many young people leave school and enter the workplace without a good grasp on the possible.

The obstacles are not going away, and our children need to understand the art of the possible. We have this great opportunity to be involved in preparing young people to live complete and fulfilling lives. A huge part of this happens to be the question, “How can I teach my child to overcome obstacles?”

All Pro Dad has a few ideas to help get the ball rolling;

  1. Be a role model: Kids learn most of what they know about problem solving by watching their parents deal with difficulty. So demonstrate the deep satisfaction that comes with negotiating a challenge.

 Read more at AllProDad

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

To Serve Is to Suffer
by Ajith Fernando
If the apostle Paul knew fatigue, anger, and anxiety in his ministry, what makes us think we can avoid them in ours?

Paul's theology emphasized the need to endure frustration patiently as we live in a fallen world awaiting the redemption of creation. Paul said that we groan because of this frustration (Rom. 8:18-27). I believe we fail to include this frustration in our understanding of vocational fulfillment. A church that has a wrong understanding of fulfillment for its workers will certainly become sick. This may be one reason why the church contains so much shallowness. We have measured success by the standards of the world and fail to challenge the world with the radically different biblical way to fulfillment.

The contemporary emphasis on efficiency and measurable results makes frustration even harder to endure. In the past four centuries, industrial and technological development in the West made efficiency and productivity top values. With rapid economic development, things once considered luxuries became not only necessities but also rights in the minds even of Christians. In this environment, the Christian idea of commitment has taken a battering.

We call our churches and Christian organizations "families," but families are very inefficient organizations. In a healthy family, everything stops when a member has big needs. We are often not willing to extend this commitment to Christian body life.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Management Tip: Tendencies of bad bosses

BOSTON -- Being the boss is hard, especially when you need to counter the natural tendencies that separate you from the people you manage. 

Knowing what these propensities are can help you avoid them. Here are the top three to watch out for:

1. Self-deluding. This isn’t just a problem with bosses; the majority of people estimate their skills to be higher than they are in reality. Be aware that you might be self-aggrandizing and find ways to get input and evaluations that show you what your true skills are.

2. Heedless of subordinates. Those in positions of power are watched carefully by those under them. But that level of attention is not reciprocated. When you become the head honcho, don’t forget to remain curious about and engaged with your direct reports.

3. Insulated from reality. No one wants to deliver bad news to the boss, so the boss often doesn’t know the full story. Create a culture in which the messenger isn’t shot, but lauded for bringing important information forward.

Today’s Management Tip was adapted from “Some Bosses Live in a Fool’s Paradise” by Robert I. Sutton. The Management Tip offers quick, practical management tips and ideas from Harvard Business Review and HBR.org. Any opinions expressed are not endorsed by Reuters.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Leading a Church in Prayer ...
... deserves thoughtful preparation.
Kevin DeYoung | posted 7/19/2010
Some traditions use set prayers. Others rely on extemporaneous prayers. Both have their place. But I believe what our congregations need most are studied prayers, well prepared, well expressed. These prayers may or may not be read, but will be thought through ahead of time. Publicly leading a church in prayer deserves thoughtful preparation.

2. Pray Scripture. Don't just ask God for what we want. Let him teach us what we should want.
4. Leave the preaching for the sermon. Don't exhort. Don't explain texts. Don't unpack complex theology. Spurgeon again: "Long prayers either consist of repetitions, or else of unnecessary explanations which God does not require; or else they degenerate into downright preachings, so that there is no difference between the praying and the preaching, except that in the one the minister has his eyes shut, and in the other he keeps them open. It is not necessary in prayer to rehearse the Westminster Assembly's Catechism."

6. Pray so that others can follow you easily. The goal is edification (1 Cor. 14:17). So don't let your sentences get too long, too flowery, too ornate. If you write out your prayers, write for the ear not for the eye. On the other hand, don't use distracting colloquialisms like, "Lord, you're so sweet."
 Read more at LeadershipJournet.net

Friday, July 30, 2010

A Lifelong Journey with Islam
by Chawkat Moucarry

From childhood, I've been learning about—and witnessing to—Muslims.

How should Christians who have a passion for evangelization relate to Islam? For North Americans, the question took on new urgency in the wake of September 11. But Christians in Muslim-majority societies have dealt with the question far longer. Growing up Christian in Syria gave Chawkat Moucarry many opportunities to interact with Muslims and learn about Islam. In this installment of the Global Conversation, World Vision International's director of interfaith relations describes his commitment to both dialogue and mission.

I have never understood why some people look at dialogue and mission in either-or terms. In my experience, these words belong so much to each other that they should never be divorced. Evangelical Christians (whose theology I share) have shown an unwarranted suspicion of dialogue, simply because some have used it as a substitute for mission. Not only are the two words compatible, but they must shape each other.

I have always believed in God and Jesus Christ. Growing up in a Muslim-majority society, I knew as a child that I was different, and I gradually realized that this difference implied that I had something precious to share with my Muslim friends.

Read more at ChristianityToday

10 Ways to be Your Child’s Hero

  1. You are their Superman
    Every child needs to feel secure. As their Dad, they look to you to provide that feeling at all times. When those little eyes look up at you, they see Superman. Live up to the hype.

  2. Open your heart
    In society, men are expected to be strong. This is a good thing. However with your children, open all of yourself to them. Show them compassion, sympathy and forgiveness. They will, in turn, do the same with their kids when they grow up.

  3. Love and respect your wife
    Your children will learn how men should behave from you. Treat your wife with gentle care and the utmost respect. You can’t love your wife perfectly, but your kids should never doubt your love for her. If your children are raised in a loving marriage, they have a great model for future relationships.

Read more at AllProDad

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Review: Linux Mint 9 Isadora

Linux Mint 9 (codenamed Isadora) was released just two days ago, on May 18th. You can read the official ANNOUCEMENT from their site, which explains what the main changes/improvements are, as well as highlighting the most notable new features.

To begin with, I want to stress that Linux Mint 9 is derived from Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx. As a result, it gets the best from the latest Ubuntu improvements, but also suffers from its shortcomings. This is something to keep in mind before installing Linux Mint 9 and something I have also taken into account when putting together this review. In other words, I won't go into those issues explicitly, but I recommend reading the full LIST OF KNOWN ISSUES, which is part of the Ubuntu 10.04 Release Notes.

The good news is that Isadora makes up for many of Ubuntu's mishaps while keeping the best of its strengths very much alive. Before you start reading the review, though, make sure you are ready for a healthy overdose of GREEN!

Read more at The Linux Experience

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Gospel Intimacy in a Godly Marriage: an interview with Alan Dunn

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on Thursday, January 14, 2010 at 11:59 am

Alan Dunn is a good friend, and one of the pastors of the Grace Covenant Baptist Church, Flemington, New Jersey, and has been since the church’s inception in 1985.  He is married to Patricia, and they have three sons and one daughter.  He has recently authored the book Gospel Intimacy in a Godly Marriage: A Pursuit of Godly Romance (Pillar & Ground Publications).  He has previously written a book on masculinity and femininity called Headship in Marriage: In Light of Creation and the Fall.

Gospel intimacy . . . hmmm.  To borrow a phrase: “Is this a kissing book?”

 No, and yes.  It is a “wuv, twue wuv” book.  I use the term “intimacy” to speak of the all-inclusive nature of the one-flesh relationship.  Marital intimacy entails a profound knitting of soul.  As we pursue soul intimacy with our spouse, we will inevitably foster physical intimacy as both kinds of intimacy feed into each other.  The book focuses on relational intimacy.  However, sexual intimacy, which is integral to marriage, will emerge from a wholesome relational intimacy.  If you’re asking, “Is this a book about sex?” I would say, “Yes, but it will improve that area of a relationship only as a result of cultivating a deeper intimacy of soul.”

Thank you for the explanation.  That being so, please can you give us a prĂ©cis of the book?  What can we expect to find?

I’ve attempted to look at marriage in the light of who we are as men and women created in the image of God and as those redeemed by Christ and indwelt by His Spirit.  I consider marriage against the backdrop of the Bible’s large emphases on God, Creation, the Fall, and Redemption.  After I define the couple in terms of creation and redemption, I then consider the greatest challenge to marital intimacy: our sin.  Only the gospel can address the threat that sin poses to our marital intimacy, so we need to learn how to give each other “gospel love.”  We face other challenges to intimacy as well, such as who will take the lead, how to overcome our innate selfishness, how to cultivate wholesome communication patterns, and how to grow more intimate as we age and face the prospect of death.

Read more at Reformed Baptist Fellowship

Monday, May 17, 2010

Reinventing Date Night
By: Tara Parker-Pope in the New York Times

Long-married couples often schedule a weekly "date night" — a regular evening out with friends or at a favorite restaurant to strengthen their marital bond.

But brain and behavior researchers say many couples are going about date night all wrong. Simply spending quality time together is probably not enough to prevent a relationship from getting stale.

Using laboratory studies, real-world experiments and even brain-scan data, scientists can now offer long-married couples a simple prescription for rekindling the romantic love that brought them together in the first place. The solution? Reinventing date night.

Rather than visiting the same familiar haunts and dining with the same old friends, couples need to tailor their date nights around new and different activities that they both enjoy, says Arthur Aron, a professor of social psychology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. The goal is to find ways to keep injecting novelty into the relationship. The activity can be as simple as trying a new restaurant or something a little more unusual or thrilling — like taking an art class or going to an amusement park.

The theory is based on brain science. New experiences activate the brain's reward system, flooding it with dopamine and norepinephrine. These are the same brain circuits that are ignited in early romantic love, a time of exhilaration and obsessive thoughts about a new partner. (They are also the brain chemicals involved in drug addiction and obsessive-compulsive disorder.)

Read more at AllProDad.com

Saturday, May 15, 2010

3 Tips To Enhance Your Interview Audio With Audacity

by Ryan Dube on May. 6th, 2010

I use the Audacity audio recording software to record and edit all of my interviews. My recording setup is about as simple as it gets – an Olympic earpiece that doubles as both a microphone and an earphone, so that I can hear the person on the phone while the microphone feeds the conversation into the laptop and Audacity. This works well, and produces high quality conversations, but like anything, there are flaws in the setup that produce less than optimum conditions.

The beauty of Audacity is that you have the capability to “fix” those flaws. The three most common problems that I’m going to touch on in this post are removing background noise, amplifying voices, and integrating quality introduction with music.

Read more at MakeUseOf.com

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Summary of the Gospel  
from Jeremiah Burroughs

The gospel of Christ is the good tidings that God has revealed concerning Christ. As all mankind was lost in Adam and became the children of wrath, put under the sentence of death, God, though He left His fallen angels and has reserved them in the chains of eternal darkness, yet He has thought upon the children of men and has provided a way of atonement to reconcile them to Himself again.

The second Person in the Trinity takes man’s nature upon Himself, and becomes the Head of a second covenant, standing charged with sin. He answers for it by suffering what the law and divine justice required, and by making satisfaction for keeping the law perfectly. This satisfaction and righteousness He tenders up to the Father as a sweet savor of rest for the souls that are given to Him.

And now this mediation of Christ is, by the appointment of the Father, preached to the children of men, of whatever nation or rank, freely offering this atonement unto sinners for atonement, requiring them to believe in Him and, upon believing, promising not only a discharge of all their former sins, but that they shall not enter into condemnation, that none of their sins or unworthiness shall ever hinder the peace of God with them, but that they shall through Him be received into the number of those who shall have the image of God again to be renewed unto them, and that they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

That these souls and bodies shall be raised to that height of glory that such creatures are capable of, that they shall live forever enjoying the presence of God and Christ, in the fullness of all good, is the gospel of Christ. This is the sum of the gospel that is preached unto sinners.

From Gospel Conversation (1657) and reprinted by Soli Deo Gloria. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Tension Over Doing It All
Why are women more unhappy than ever?
Halee Scott

I began with the best intentions. A few weekends ago, while my husband was working out-of-town, I planned to work at least 10 hours on my dissertation, crank out a 1,500-word article plus two blog posts, prep for some upcoming interviews, dissect a single chapter of John Paul's Theology of the Body with a friend, and finally read (and write a book review of) three other books in preparation for an upcoming speaking engagement. While this schedule may seem crazy and chaotic to some, for me this break-necked speed felt normal until just a little less than a year ago. Anything less and I felt unaccomplished and downright bored.

Enter my daughter, Little Miss Marathon, who, on her very best days, slept three to four hours straight and ate only the minimum required for her age. For the past six months (i.e. her whole life), we'd been trying to figure out ways to get her to sleep and eat—but it seemed that all she wanted to do was go, go, go. Her energy levels made even me feel like a century-old centipede. And all this came to a roaring head that particular weekend.

After 24 hours of my baby screaming, not sleeping, and fighting food at every turn, I finally decided to step back, relax, and let her decide how much she was going to eat and when. By Sunday, she was a new baby—both her eating and sleeping had regulated themselves into a more normal pattern. On one hand, I felt successful in my role as a mother because my baby was now comfortable and content; in another sense, I felt like a failure for not doing every single thing on my to-do list.

Read more at Kyria

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

10 Things to do to Help Your Marriage Feel Less Stressed

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” - The Serenity Prayer, attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr

Stress is fingered for a lot of health issues in America, among them heart disease, depression, hair loss, obesity, sexual dysfunction, ulcers and hypertension. Possibly its biggest negative impact, though, is felt in marriages where stress can cause interpersonal tension and dysfunctional relationships.

But there is good news! A lot of the stress we experience in marriage is avoidable - if only we understand what’s going on. Here are 10 things we can do to reduce the amount of stress in marriage:

  1. Always put your spouse first: This is a HUGE principle and key to reducing relationship stress. Ideally, husband and wife both put the other first. But the only aspect you can control is you.

Read more at All Pro Dad

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Good to Great to Godly
Corporate wisdom means "getting the right people on the bus," but spiritual leadership requires something more.
Mike Bonem | posted 4/05/2010
"We need more structure in our decision making. Without that discipline, we'll never accomplish anything."

"We're a church, not a business. We need to rely on God. We can't operate like the corporate world."

Ever been on one side or the other of this argument? Or perhaps in the middle? The tensions are present in most churches in America today. As corporate "best practices" are applied to church life, church leaders struggle to make sense of it all.

When I worked in business, Built to Last by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras was one of a handful of keep-at-my-fingertips references. It identified factors that enabled organizations to achieve superior performance over the long haul. So it was with great anticipation that I went to a Leadership Network event where Collins was to speak. In his presentation, he described the research findings that led to his second book, Good to Great. He emphasized the importance of getting "the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus." Collins discovered that strategic direction was less important than having the right leadership team. If you have the right people, they will help define the future direction of the organization. If they're in the wrong positions but have great potential and fit well, you can move them to a "different seat on the bus." But when someone is wrong for the organization, whether due to personality clashes or lack of ability, hanging onto that person can drag the entire enterprise down. Collins concluded that we should focus on senior staff as a top priority.

I nodded my head in agreement. Even though my job was in the marketplace at the time, I was also consulting with churches on pastoral leadership issues. I knew the tendency of many churches to make excuses rather than confront underperforming staff members. I remember thinking, Wouldn't the church be much more effective for the Kingdom if we got the wrong people off the bus?

Little did I know that within a year I would join a church staff and gain first-hand opportunities to test this and other business principles as a church leader. I did not foresee the challenges I would encounter.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Wet Oatmeal Kisses
By: Erma Bombeck
taken from All Pro Dad

One of these days you’ll explode and shout to all the kids,
“Why don’t you just grow up and act your age!”
And they will…

Or, “You guys get outside and find something to do –
without hurting each other. And don’t slam the door!”
And they don’t.

You’ll straighten their bedrooms
until it’s all neat and tidy,
toys displayed on the shelf,
hangers in the closet, animals caged.
You’ll yell, “Now I want it to stay this way!”
And it will…

You will prepare a perfect dinner
with a salad that hasn’t had all the olives picked out
and a cake with no finger traces in the icing
and you’ll say, “Now this is a meal for company.”
And you will eat it alone…

You’ll yell, “I want complete privacy on the phone.
No screaming, Do you hear me?”
And no one will answer.

No more plastic tablecloths stained
No more dandelion bouquets.
No more iron-on patches.
No more wet, knotted shoelaces,
muddy boots or rubber bands for ponytails.

Imagine…. a lipstick with a point,
no babysitters for New Years Eve,
washing clothes only once a week,
no PTA meetings or silly school plays where your child is a tree,
no car pools, blaring stereos or forgotten lunch money.

No more Christmas presents made of library paste and toothpicks,
no wet oatmeal kisses,
no more tooth fairy,
no more giggles in the dark,
scraped knees to kiss or sticky fingers to clean
Only a voice asking, “Why don’t you grow up?”
And the silence echoes: “I did.”


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Spotting a New Leader
Understanding the traits that can identify an effective leader.

The most gifted athletes rarely make good coaches. The best violinist will not necessarily make the best conductor. Nor will the best teacher necessarily make the best head of the department.

So it's critical to distinguish between the skill of performance and the skill of leading the performance, two entirely different skills.

It's also important to determine whether a person is capable of learning leadership. The natural leader will stand out. The trick is identifying those who are capable of learning leadership over time.

Here are several traits to help identify whether someone is capable of learning to lead.

1. Leadership in the past. The best predictor of the future is the past. When I was in business, I took note of any worker who told me he was superintendent of a Sunday school or a deacon in his church or a Boy Scout leader. If he showed leadership outside of the job, I wanted to find out if he had some leadership potential on the job.

2. The capacity to create or catch vision. When I talk to people about the future, I want their eyes to light up. I want them to ask the right questions about what I'm talking about. The founder of Jefferson Standard built a successful insurance company from scratch. He assembled some of the greatest insurance people by simply asking, "Why don't you come and help me build something great?"

A person who doesn't feel the thrill of challenge is not a potential leader.

3. A constructive spirit of discontent. Some people would call this criticism, but there's a big difference in being constructively discontent and being critical. If somebody says, "There's got to be a better way to do this," I see if there's leadership potential by asking, "Have you ever thought about what that better way might be?"

If he says no, he is being critical, not constructive.

But if he says yes, he's challenged by a constructive spirit of discontent. That's the unscratchable itch. It is always in the leader.

People locked in the status quo are not leaders. I ask of a potential leader, Does this person believe there is always a better way to do something?

Read more at Building Church Leaders

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Show a Little Dignity
A clear and gentle answer turns aside testiness.
Gordon MacDonald | posted 11/23/2009

Years ago I met a man who spoke of becoming enmeshed in a "multi-personed conflict" that spun out of control. An aggressive spirit of hate and vengeance saturated the attitudes and conduct of everyone involved.

When I asked how he resolved the mess, he mentioned a friend who confronted him and said, "Someone has to show a little dignity in this thing. It really should start with you." Apparently, it was the perfect rebuke, and it caused this man rethink his behavior and bring some sanity to the situation.

I've never forgotten that unusual phrase—to show a little dignity—and whenever I've faced testy situations where the next word or the next deed would either fan the flame of conflict or spread the oil of peace, the reminder that my dignity is in play has been helpful.

Testy situations? Here's a real-world example.

Read more at Leadership Journal

Friday, January 22, 2010

How To Make The Best Use Of God Mode In Windows Vista & 7
By Tim Lenahan on Jan. 21st, 2010

God Mode is an interesting name for it and perhaps it should be dropped. I say this for several reasons. First of all, it’s not true to its name because it really doesn’t do anything above and beyond what Windows Vista and Windows 7 allow us to do already. Secondly, the term “God Mode”, contrary to popular thought, does not really need to be part of the process.

That being said, God Mode is a title that it has acquired and therefore it is pretty widely known as such. The God Mode hack for Windows Vista and Windows 7 is a quick and easy way to make a panel that offers quick and easy access to quite the exhaustive list of Windows settings.

Read more at makeuseof.com

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Myth of the Perfect Parent
Why the best parenting techniques don't produce Christian children.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

The Primitive Scriptures

God’s Word is fundamentally clear, and fundamentally obscene

In the sixteenth century, the Reformers declared their total confidence in what they called the perspicuity of Scripture. What they meant by that technical term was the clarity of Scripture. They maintained that the Bible is basically clear and lucid. It is simple enough for any literate person to understand its basic message. This is not to say that all parts of the Bible are equally clear or that there are no difficult passages or sections to be found in it. Laymen unskilled in the ancient languages and the fine points of exegesis may have difficulty with parts of Scripture, but the essential content is clear enough to be understood easily. Luther, for example, was convinced that what was obscure and difficult in one part of Scripture was stated more clearly and simply in other parts of Scripture.

Read more at Next

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

10 Reasons to Love Windows 7

You'll probably have to move to Windows 7 at some point, but there's good news: Microsoft's new OS has lots of great features. Here's what we love -- and don't love.

By Gary Olsen 09/01/2009

Unless you've been stuck on a desert island for the last six months, you know that the big buzz is the impending release of Windows 7 and its partner, Windows Server 2008 R2.

Now, I'm a guy who hates change in the desktop. I always turn on the classic view and still run Windows XP on my laptop. I don't like having to re-learn where things are and how to do common tasks.

But with Windows 7, it was love at first byte. I've been running Windows 7 since March, and I can't wait for the official release next month. Of course, there are a few drawbacks to the new operating system, and I even have my doubts about some its most touted features. So, here are my top 10 reasons why you should move to Windows 7 -- and a few notes of caution.

Read more at Redmondmag.com

Monday, January 04, 2010

I'm testing audio streaming of our Sunday sermons. The first link uses mydatanest.com as the mp3 storage. The second link uses Google Sites.

SGBC Sermon Archive: Introduction to the book of Ecclesiastes

from mydatanest.com with max free storage of 2GB

from Google Sites with max free storage of 100MB:

Saturday, January 02, 2010

How a Mighty Church Falls
What it takes to prevent congregational decline.
Gordon MacDonald | posted 11/29/2009

Churches and marriages have something in common: they are both organizations. One had better know how to run them. I didn't.

It was in those "awakening" days that I was introduced to my first organizational leadership book: The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker. It became one of the most important books I ever read. It opened me up to understand how people are empowered to attain objectives that are otherwise unreachable. That book probably delivered me from a first-round knockout in my life as a pastor.

Since that time more than 40 years ago, countless other writers have tried to improve upon Drucker's insights. In my opinion no one has succeeded quite like Jim Collins, who has given us books like Good to Great and Built to Last. I'm not sure that Collins had people like me in his crosshairs when he wrote those books, but many of us in faith-based and pastoral leadership have learned much from him.

Recently Collins and his team of researchers produced a smaller work titled, How the Mighty Fall, which he says began as an article and ended as a book. Being a preacher (and a writer), I understand that.

Collins says How the Mighty Fall was inspired by a conversation during a seminar at West Point where a few dozen leaders from the military, business, and social sectors gathered to explore themes of common interest. He had posed this question to the group: "Is America renewing its greatness, or is America dangerously on the cusp of falling from great to good?"

The conversation came during a break when one of the CEOs approached Collins to say: "I found our discussion fascinating, but I've been thinking all morning about your question in the context of my company. We've had tremendous success in recent years, and I worry about that."

Read more at Leadership Journal