A Week Away

We are just about a week away now from the celebration of the birth of Christ. As you probably know, December 25th is more of the commemoration date than the actual date of Christ's' birth. There are varying and debatable historic dates ranging from 5 B.C., 4 B.C. and even 1 A.D.

Matter of fact, the birth of Jesus might not have even happened in December at all! Oh my!! What would "Christmas" be without snow. Is it even possible? Santa can't ride around in the spring or summer time. He will be too hot and needs the snow....or wait; isn't that when the bunny comes around with a basket?

Taken from Wikipedia ~ "Although a Christian holiday, Christmas is widely celebrated by many non-Christians, and some of its popular celebratory customs have pre-Christian or secular themes and origins. Popular modern customs of the holiday include gift-giving, music, an exchange of greeting cards, church celebrations, a special meal, and the display of various decorations; including Christmas trees, lights, and garlands, mistletoe, nativity scenes, and holly. In addition, Father Christmas (known as Santa Claus in some areas, including North America, Australia and Ireland) is a popular mythological figure in many countries, associated with the bringing of gifts for children."

So let's remember that it doesn't take the date of December 25th, snow, a man with a "belly like a bowl full of jelly", reindeer, dinner with family or a gift from a loved one to make our Christmas complete. It just takes a lot of time focusing and meditating on the Birth of our Savior and that it happened; God incarnate. Born into the crap and rotten stench of a stable to save us all.

From Luke 2

4So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christa]">[a] the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.


Passion In All Things Ministry

pas•sion: noun
a: ardent affection : love b: a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept c: sexual desire d: an object of desire or deep interest

Like most people working or volunteering in ministry, with tight budgets come expanded roles. Throughout our days and tasks, Director of Operations often translates to spill cleaner, Director of Communications sometimes translates to receptionist, Children's Pastor often translates to babysitter, Trustee often translates to usher, and Senior Pastor sometimes translates to the dude BBQing at the church picnic.
Reflect for a moment about your specific job responsibilities and the teams you lead.
What areas are you passionate about? What areas are bundled into your package of responsibilities that are easy for you to neglect?

The areas we are passionate about take little effort on our part. After all, our passions connected to our relationship with Christ are what brought us to ministry in the first place. So, I would rather help you pinpoint the duties you neglect because of your natural passion in other areas.

When you are not passionate about something:
• People see it. You are always being watched because most volunteers want to emulate what you do and how you act. When you aren’t passionate about something, people can tell.
• Your volunteers and ministry leaders will feed off of you. For example: If you want all of your teams to be welcoming, but you are not passionate about your usher team, that usher team will be your least welcoming team.
• It becomes your crippled leg. For example: I oversee retail operations at Grace. This includes our cafe, bookstore and rentals. I love the cafe. I come more from that background than the bookstore background. I apply a lot of time, but little energy towards the cafe and love watching it grow. The results have been huge. At the same time, despite feeling and knowing the strong sense of purpose the bookstore brings to the church and wanting it to succeed, I end up applying little time, and a lot of energy towards the bookstore. Let's just say, the results have not been staggering.

When you are passionate about something, you don't need to post reminders in your blackberry or have a bunch of sticky notes on the edges of your monitor screen. You can put more of that effort toward what you are not passionate about.

Some initiatives to help you do this:
• Remind yourself that people are watching you. Sell new initiatives and ministry goals well to your teams. Force yourself to get as excited as you would when you interact with a passion driving team.
• When you can, place ministry leaders around you that live and breathe the passions you don't. If chosen correctly, this person will be knocking down your door with ideas and their example allowing you to feed off of their passion.
• Remind yourself daily and weekly to evaluate the areas you lack passion for. Remember that these areas don't come naturally to you. They are not your comfort zone. You put them off for a reason.

WARNING: Be careful. Initiative and effort toward areas you lack passion for can sometimes lead to a new found passion. That can happen when you pour a little bit of YOU into something.


Ode to Kelly

Ode to Kelly....
Never had the chance to say this last week. To make a long story short....most of you know that we decided to move on a moment's notice (in order to get a preferred tenant) and rent our house early before our new house was ready for us. Well, this simply caused us to pack, patch walls, paint, clean, organize, etc in a week and a half while also working. We could not have done this without the help of many of you who helped us (ps - might need help in December) and we are grateful for all who helped.
But I need to thank the one who deserves most of the praise. My amazing and beautiful wife Kelly. She did most of what needed to be done. She is SUPERHUMAN, I can't even explain it as well as she deserves. The endurance, strength and work ethic I see in her matches very few. I am completely blessed. The day following the night we decided to move, I came home from work and all of the beds were dismantled and headboards, etc down in the living room. Pictures were off the walls and holes were being patched. Boxes were already mounting.

Moving a whole house and prepping it for tenants does not normally happen in 11 days. It does when Kelly is your wife.
She runs an amazing home.


You are Invited!!!!

On any given day in the United States, our youth and young adults are faced with many negative issues that severely affect their lives for generations to come. Some of these events include;

o 6 teens commit suicide.
o 500 adolescents begin using drugs.
o 1,000 unwed teenage girls become mothers.
o 1,000 adolescents begin drinking alcohol.
o 2,200 teens drop out of high school.
o 3610 teens are assaulted.
o 4216 teens contract sexually transmitted diseases.
o 135,000 kids bring guns or other weapons to school.

My heart for the youth of this city has led me to Chair the Greater Erie Youth for Christ Board of Directors.
My passion for these teens has led me to sponsor and host tables at a dinner for you to come and hear how God is using this ministry to halt these negative issues with love and care.

You are invited to:
2009 Youth for Christ Banquet and Silent Auction
“The Time is Now”

Date: November 10th 2009
Location: Courtyard by Marriott - Ambassador Hotel and Conference Center
7792 Peach Street
Time: 6:30-8:30

Please RSVP to me by October 31, 2009


My Extreme Weeks

For one of the news Reports Click Here


My Extreme Week

“It’s amazing how much can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit.” – John Wooden

As you can see in the details of the press release I posted yesterday, I had the opportunity to work with an awesome team serving with the Extreme Home Makeover Side Project. What an opportunity it was to serve over 50 houses (47 in the neighborhood) and a community park and alleyway. I can honestly say it was 10 days to remember. Everyone had their own unique experiences, so it makes sense that I am confident no one completely shared the experience I had and I no one else’s.

A few impacts for me were:

· TEAM – I was blessed to lead with an overly talented team of other leaders. At multiple times throughout the week I thought, “Man, what would we do if _________ didn’t step up to the plate? How could we do it without them?”. God pulled the right leaders, people and businesses together in with a few days notice and He orchestrated it all to work magnificently together. THAT IS A TEAM. And there are about 10 people I owe a huge thank you to – and they all know who they are!

· DEDICATION – On a regularly basis I was overwhelmed with the many, many, many volunteers who put their lives on hold to serve their community. Many hours were put in by so many. And with the power of TV, so many changes or decisions were made with minutes notice. The moment that caused my emotions to overflow: The night we got ourselves into hand mixing 100 bags of cement for the concrete slab of a tribute garden for Clara Ward. Most of the volunteers there came after a long day at their regular job. When most other volunteers finished their jobs, these fine 20 people were still there with cars parked around the garden with headlights on so the job could be finished. No dinner, barely any light – but teamwork, dedication and patience in sued. Literally, they were placing stepping stones with words that described the characteristics of Clara and the last stone they placed was patience. A good laugh shared by all!

· COMMUNITY – We have an amazing community in Erie! Those serving and those we served (some of who were both). I had the great honor of getting to know every family we served. All are great people with many different stories, some with a willingness to help. People were so grateful for being served and voiced it many times. All I could think as people were thanking us was to thank them. It was a true joy to serve them with others. Some of these people are in tough situations and don’t see and end it sight. That sometimes de-motivates people. I was reminded:

o People tend to become what people think of them. When they think the community doesn’t care they lose motivation. When they feel cared for by those they respect, most times – they strive for more.

o People don’t care an ounce what you have to say to them until they realize that you sincerely care.

o In tough situations, people tend to forget that the power to succeed lies deep within. How a community acts towards them can positively or negatively affect that.

Thank you to the many volunteers and businesses that without hesitation made the Extreme Make Over side project a success!


Extreme Side Project Press Release

Who is Grace? Clara Ward’s neighbors know. For them, Grace – as in Grace Church of McKean, is a landscaper, painter, porch repairer and now, a friend. Not only is the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” build taking place in Erie, so too is a 47-home-improvement project headed by Grace Church that extends along East 21st Street from Ash to Wayne streets. When Maleno Development, the firm charged with overseeing the extreme build, got overwhelmed with volunteer groups wanting to help, John Maleno turned to Grace Church, whose community-renewal program, ServErie, offered to organize and manage the hundreds of community members who wanted to lend a hand. “We were getting flooded with individuals and groups who wanted to help with the build, but we also wanted to help the entire neighborhood,” explained John Maleno, founder and president of Maleno Development. “Grace stepped up and stepped in to help us with the neighborhood-improvement efforts.”

Among the 500 volunteers are parishioners from Grace and other Erie-area churches, including employees from First National Bank, the Erie County Bar Association, GE Transportation, the City of Erie, the Erie Community Foundation, Edinboro University and Penn State Erie, the Behrend College, to name a few. Working four-, eight- and 12-hour shifts through Wednesday, they are helping those residents of the two blocks of East 21st Street by painting and repairing
front porches, removing trash, pulling weeds and removing overgrown landscaping, fixing sidewalks and cleaning out flowerbeds. The next step is planting shrubs, flowering trees and flowers and laying mulch. In short, this small army is giving the neighborhood a facelift.
Aaron Lundberg, Grace Church’s director of campus operations, explained that many people wanted to help Clara Ward, the woman chosen to receive the new home, as well as those who live nearby. And by helping her neighbors, they are helping Clara. “We want her neighbors to know that the community cares about the whole neighborhood,”
Lundberg said. On Thursday, July 25, after the Ward family was revealed, volunteers went door to door, asking residents if they needed help with any household projects. “The best part is that they wanted to help us. Their reaction was so positive. They are so obviously happy for Clara, but they are also so proud for Erie.” He added that along with the volunteers, many Erie-area landscapers and nurseries quickly signed onto the project. “There was no hesitation on any company’s part,” Lundberg said. “We asked and they said, ‘Whatever it takes.’”

John Maleno isn’t surprised. “The Erie community has great character and heart,” he said. “The outpouring of compassion and concern surrounding this project is immense; it reveals the authentic Erie, Pennsylvania – the one we all know.” Also helping the neighborhood is General Exterminating. Not only is the company donating its
time and services to the “Extreme Makeover” project, its employees have gone knocking on doors on their own time, offering the company’s services to neighbors along East 21st Street. “We asked neighbors if they would like seasonal exterior preventive treatments that control spiders, ants and centipedes, for example,” said Donna Reese, owner of General Exterminating. “No one refused our services. It was fantastic.” Her team completed 22 homes on Sunday, leaving notes for those not at home. They will treat the remaining homes once they receive word from the residents.
“Since it was difficult to access the homes behind the spectator barricades, we will return once the dust settles and the barricades are removed,” she said. “We want to make sure everyone in the neighborhood is covered.” So, on Thursday, July 2, when Ty Pennington shouts, “Move that Bus!” it won’t be just Clara Ward’s home on display. One look up and down her street will show the hard work and heart of more than 500 who pitched in for her neighborhood.
“Our mission, along with that of the many volunteers, is to act as the hand and feet of Christ, loving and caring for others,” Aaron Lundberg said. “This ‘Extreme Makeover’ project gave our community the chance to do just that.”

Additional notes:

The volunteers have also taken on McKinley Park, beautifying it with a
flower garden that will surround a stone tribute in Clara Ward’s honor.

The 47 households along East 21st Street will receive handmade mosaic stones with their street
address to place in their front yards, also provided by volunteers.

Erie City Councilman Jim Thompson is sponsoring a resolution to name a portion of East 21st
Street “Clara’s Way.” A vote will be taken at Wednesday’s council meeting and a sign will be
installed later this week.



Don't miss services at Grace this weekend! 5:30 pm Sat. or 9:15 /11 am Sunday morning.
7300 Grubb Road


Captive Trailer from Grace Church on Vimeo.


Equipping Volunteers into Leaders

Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it. -Dwight D. Eisenhower

To be successful in ministry, the art of leading and empowering your key volunteers into ministry leaders is vital to your success. Like business, your ministry and initiatives succeed or fail by your leadership. When done well, this will alleviate your time, energy and provide the proper volunteer with a renewed feeling of ownership and purpose.

Easy traps that ministry staff can fall into:

· Just filling a hole; not equipping a ministry with leaders.

· Not properly matching a leaders’ passion with the position you are seeking to staff.

· Matching the passion properly, but micromanaging the job they are doing or the decisions they make.

· Not being completely honest up front with the duties that the leadership position will entail.

· Not asking for help from others around you that empower well.

A church growing in this economy is probably not adding staff left and right. The staff’s duties will grow as the church grows – and without added staff it will become very difficult if the time is not put in now to have a proactive team of ministry leaders under you.

When down well, you can empower passionate leaders over your ministry teams to:

· Be an initiator not a reactor

· Recognize problem areas before you do

· Feel fulfilled by serving with purpose

· Ownership brings success

· Take stress and responsibility off of your plate

SOMETHING TO REMEMBER – THE LOWER YOUR LEADERSHIP ABILILITES AND CAPABILITIES, THE LOWER YOUR TEAMS WILL BE. You control the bar, as you raise your abilities, there’s should follow.


Happy Birthday Evelyn!

This post is in honor to Evelyn, who we lost this week to Heaven.  She was such an example to me.  I wrote this on her birthday in 2009.  

I have a confession to make. 15 years ago, I was a teenager who did teenager things. My buddy Benny and I could really give adults some stress. Our actions actually helped originate the phrase, "shock and awe".
As teenagers in the youth group we came to be constant pests to Grace's faithful custodian. She learned to always worry(and rightfully so) when we were around. I am sure she grew to dislike summer when kids were off school because of us.

Some headaches we graced her with:

  • racing wheelchairs down the hallway
  • shooting water balloons off of the roof of the church
  • water fights in the hallway
  • food fights in the hallway
I know what you are thinking. What was wrong with me? Good question.

Don't worry, I think I turned out okay. As God would have it, after a long stretch in the business world - He planted me here at Grace as Director of Staff and Ministry Development AND her supervisor. (Not quite sure how she felt about that at first)
I would like to publicly say what an honor it is to learn from her and watch her service and dedication in action.

Some lessons she has graced me with:

  • What a servant of God looks like
  • What is means to be a dedicated hard worker
  • The work you do when no one is watching speaks volumes about your integrity
Happy 74th Birthday Evelyn! You are the heart and soul of Grace. Please thank Evelyn for all she does when you see her in the hallways. Over 30 years of faithful service!
“Dedication is not what others expect of you, it is what you can give to others.”


Don’t Leave Your Volunteers Hangin’

(continued - For my next few posts I will be borrowing some wisdom from my idol in the retail/restaurant world, Jim Sullivan.)

In this world of fast pace, it is becoming increasingly difficult to have weekly meetings at odd times during the week with your volunteer teams as often as you may like to. With the new world of social networking, many have turned to team communications over facebook, twitter, email, etc.

It is probably wise to complement these communication strategies with “pre-serve meetings”. In the retail world, these are referred to as pre-shift meetings, alley rallies, jump starts, and pep ups. Quick 2-5 minute gatherings/conversations you or your ministry leaders have with volunteers minutes before they serve. The goals - communicate, encourage and empower them. Some tips:

· Make a plan, don’t fake a plan – Know which teams or individual you want to talk to and why you want to talk to them.

o Do your ushers need clarity on a new initiative, does your café have a new beverage volunteers need trained on, does your nursery team need encouraged?

o Have specific thoughts. One Meeting = One Issue. Don’t try to cover too many issues. Pick the pressing need and run with it. Save something for the following week.

· Keep it positive – Pre-serve meetings are to jazz up, pump up and motivate those you do ministry with to give it their all. Sell the new initiatives you are communicating to them and empower them to do what they do well.

· Teach your volunteers something new every Sunday – remember that you want your teams to leave after serving feeling more confident in their abilities and blessed to be serving with you.

· K.I.S.S. – Keep it short and sweet – Instead of meetings, maybe they should be called moments.

The higher the frequency of these “pre-serve moments” the better the communication will be on your team and the more valued your volunteers will feel. As Jim says, “Exchanging knowledge and sharing common goals with your team members daily makes them better. The better they are, the better the experience they create for their customers.”

Translated to Ministry

Exchanging knowledge, encouraging and sharing common goals with your ministry leaders and volunteer core on the day they serve makes them better. The better they are and the more valued they feel, the better you have helped to eliminate any distractions connecting guests with Christ.


Defending the 1st Impression

This past weekend, I had the joy of a weekend retreat with my wife to Niagara Falls.
We stayed at the Sterling Inn and Spa and had the most amazing time. It was a relaxing rare treat to have my every need anticipated from the moment we pulled into the parking lot. You have probably experienced this type of service while vacationing at a resort or on a cruise.

This was the type of service that anticipated my needs before I did. They thought of every detail so that my 3 day retreat from reality was not flawed by any distractions. The facility was clean, it felt safe, I felt cared for and my favorable first impression lingered with me throughout the entire stay without changing.

So then I began to evaluate our facility.

  • What do guests experience from the moment they drive up? Is our parking lot inviting? Is our facility clean? Do guests feel safe here? What is your plan for the future to fix these if you lack the funds now? How are you counteracting distractions you can't immediately fix?
  • How are you anticipating guests needs in the lobby? in the cafe? in the children's area? in the youth area? in our verbiage from the platform?
  • Are you removing every and any distractions for the guest, as they construct their 1st Impression? As Jon McDerment once stated, "The building needs to be the last distraction to anyone searching for God-change."
The point is, guests are walking into your church every weekend with a million distractions and suitcase full of hurts and needs. If your ministries and facilities don't mirror your mission and vision for guests, they are going to be a distraction to the Gospel guests will hear once they are in your worship service. The style and quality of your 1st impression dictates the guests that stay or go elsewhere.


Never Practice on a Guest and other thoughts.

For my next few posts I will be borrowing some wisdom from my idol in the retail/restaurant world, Jim Sullivan. Jim is a genius when it comes to training/empowering your employees and increasing your ticket sales/customer traffic. I am going to merge some of his thoughts with how they correspond in the ministry world. Here are a few of his gems:

  • Never Practice on a Customer (Or in our Case, the Guest) - Know your volunteer teams’ strengths and weaknesses. Make sure you have fully communicated any changes in advance so there are no misunderstandings on Sunday morning that may reflect to the guests. Make sure you have strategic trainings, practices, and team gatherings (ministry meetings, fellowship, or discipleship related) weekly, monthly or quarterly. Our team leaders and ministry volunteers need to have significant knowledge of our processes, vision, mission and goals so the guests will catch a glimpse of what our church is about in one encounter.
  • Bring Enthusiasm, Energy and Excitement to Every Shift – Be positive, focused and jazzed about your ministry and why you are doing it. Passion Persuades. Be selective with which of your team leaders you voice any frustrations or burdens with, if any. After all, if you are not in love with your ministry, why should your volunteers be and why are you still doing it?
  • The More You Know, The Faster You Go – Teach every volunteer or guest you come in contact with something new every Sunday. Empower an up and coming volunteer to take ownership of the Sunday school class that day, coach a ministry leader through what you would do in a circumstance they are confronted with, be the example of greeting guests and being Christ to all people. Be someone your volunteers look forward to seeing everyday. Every volunteer should have a mentor as well as a staff ministry leader.


How we are changing our late culture at Grace

Below is our solution to.....
The Changing of a Culture (part 1 of 2) 12.18.08

The issue: The late culture at Grace
  • The disruptions latecomers bring to the beginning of a worship service when not managed appropriately.
  • How do we change a culture that is so prevalent in the country to not be the culture in our small little corner of the world.
  • Who is negatively affected by our mismanagement of the distractions late guests/members/attenders bring. Apart from guests, as we start a service; are we valuing those that are timely in their seats and ready to begin worship more or are we paying more attention to those who are late thus enabling them to be a distraction?
  • In general, our staff's strengths and weaknesses tend to rub off on most of our ministry leaders and members. If we all dressed sloppy, we would have more attenders that dress sloppy. And so it is with being timely. If we start everything late, won't people stop coming on time? How has our staff enabled this culture? How do we empower the staff to lead by example when they are serving on Sunday mornings? During the week, do we start meetings on time and finish them when we say we are going to finish them?

The collective solutions:

  • We began a 10 minute countdown on all our TV media screens to help grab the attention of those in the lobby and sipping java in our cafe.
  • At 4 minutes until service begins, we have live music specials begin playing in the Worship Center and close 3/4 of our doors to drive outside traffic in. The doors closing are a good sign to people not wanting to miss something. If you were in the parking lot at Disney and the gates began to close - you would probably sprint to make sure you get in. We want the same effect here. The music helps set the tone and make the 1st worship song more meaningful. Before we changed this, it seemed as though the first song was practice due to all the distractions from those who were late.
  • As the countdown ends, all the main doors close and attenders are the escorted to the side entrance to prevent less distraction to those worshipping.

Has it worked? So far - yes. As long as your greeters and ushers deal with those that are late in a sensitive and welcoming fashion. This is one of those initiatives that needs sold well from the top down. If your ushers don't buy into a standard like this, those walking in 5 minutes late will not buy into it. The last thing you want is for one of your volunteers to be agreeing with someone that may question the new initiative or seem frustrated with it. You want everyone to understand you have many people that have put a lot of energy into making a 75 minute worship service valuable for all 75 minutes, not just the last 60 minutes.

One crack in a dam can lead to a flood. Make sure you communicate everything well and lead by example. Empower your volunteers to excel at making this work.

How has your church solved or not solved the late culture?


NO Perfect People Allowed

I am looking for emerging church leaders at Grace to join me in a Book Study. It will be about 15-17 weeks. Once I see who commits then we pick what will be the best day that works for all involved. Please review the following then let me know if you are interested.

"No Perfect People Allowed" (Living out the message of Jesus in today's ever changing culture.)
John Burke, gives us the following insights into cultural issues that impact the way many people outside the church view the church and Christianity.

1) Trust – there has been a breakdown in trust in many families due to abuse, neglect, broken relationships. Many people’s trust is waning in institutions and authority figures, including churches, clergy and anyone who claims authoritative truth. When people arrive at church, we can assume they have issues with fully trusting what they hear and experience.
2) Tolerance – A “litmus test” many people will use on the church is, “Are you tolerant?” The question may be “What do you think of other religions?” or “What do you think of gays?” but the real question is, “Are you guys the self righteous hypocrites I’ve been hearing about?”
3) Truth – Generally emerging generations do not ask, ‘What is true?’ They are primarily asking, ‘Do I want to be like you?’ In other words, they see truth as relational. ‘If I want to be like you, then I want to consider what you believe. If I don’t see anything real or attractive in you or your friends as Christ-followers, I don’t care how true you think it is. I’m not interested.’
4) Brokenness – If you are reaching the average person under age forty, more than likely, one out of every three women you interact with will have had an abortion. One or even two out of six women you talk to will have been sexually molested. More than six out of ten people you speak with will think living together before marriage is the wisest thing to prevent divorce, and five out of those ten will have already lived with someone. Most will have been sexually active, and the thought of waiting until marriage will sound totally foreign and will need explaining. Most men will have struggled with pornography or serious problems with lust. One in vie to ten people will struggle with substance abuse. If the church is to be the hope of the world, we must realize what a broken world we live in.
5) Aloneness – Family breakdowns and geographic distance, increased life-transitions including job changes and moving, isolation in front of TVs and computers, have all contributed to a sense of aloneness many people experience.
Adapted from John Burke, No Perfect People Allowed p. 33-47
check out more about the book HERE


Lenten Blog #2

Are we really sure what we mean each time we use the word LOVE?

Sometimes it seems like LOVE is one of the most widely misused words in the English language. We LOVE our children, we LOVE our spouse, we LOVE a TV show or we LOVE chocolate. The same word we use to describe our feelings towards the most basic of items we use towards the most treasured relationships. Do we have the same misuse when it comes to God’s LOVE when the bible says God is LOVE? God’s LOVE is not just a happy and sweet LOVE. His holiness demands that all sin be punished, but His LOVE provides the cross and the cleansing of our forgiveness. No matter how terrible our sins are, God LOVES us. He is also the perfect example of LOVE for us.

As you read the following passage from 1 John 4:7-21, meditate on the following:
1. Have you fully embraced the LOVE God has for you?
2. Is there a relationship in your life that you are having difficulty showing LOVE to another? What are some initiatives you can take to mirror God’s example of LOVE?

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. "


Lenten Blog

Below is is my post to the whoisgrace.com blog for Lent. I encourage you to check the other posts out at http://whoisgrace.com/index.php?/staff_blogs/category/lent_2009/

Over the last few weeks, I have been noticing more of the advancements my oldest son (Eli) has been making in his life. Not only is his body growing, but his mind is growing and he is accomplishing things that he has been unable to complete before. What has recently stuck out to me is his new ability to write almost any letter you ask him to, especially his name. He has gradually moved from scribbles on the paper to legible and mostly in line letters. If you are a parent, you know the excitement this can give you. You begin to think, "wow, another milestone...another check mark...he is getting so big...I am so proud of his ability to do this with minimal help from me."

Then my mind began to ponder the excitement our Heavenly Father must feel as we move into adulthood in our spiritual maturity. How proud He must feel when we overcome that nagging sin or take on a Christ-like attribute in an area we just have not mastered yet. As we continue on in the season of Lent, let us take stock of the areas in our own lives that we have been able to grow from scribbles to legible letters. Reflect on the joy God must have felt in those moment? Reflect on how you felt making your Father proud. At the same time, we should also review the areas where we keep missing the target. Have you become frustrated in your attempts to overcome a certain obstacle? Have you given up?

Like most parent's, God and His incredible love are standing by to rejoice when you grow and to encourage you through failing and getting back up. Isn't that encouraging?

Galatians 4:2-7
While they are children, they must obey those who are chosen to care for them. But when the children reach the age set by their fathers, they are free.3 It is the same for us. We were once like children, slaves to the useless rules of this world.4 But when the right time came, God sent his Son who was born of a woman and lived under the law.5 God did this so he could buy freedom for those who were under the law and so we could become his children.
6 Since you are God's children, God sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, and the Spirit cries out, "Father."7 So now you are not a slave; you are God's child, and God will give you the blessing he promised, because you are his child.


Voting with your feet (repost from my other blog)

For those of us in Office Country or Cubicle Land that have an influence on customers, guests, visitors, etc. I have one question for you:
What is your organizations, business or non-profits "dirty dining room"?

In the world of Restaurants, most people vote with their feet when they visit an establishment that lacks care for cleanliness. Sure, some patrons make a comment to an employee or the manager, but most just don't return. Dining room and bathroom cleanliness is most likely on the restaurants core values list, but lower than the value of something like quality food.

In search of quality food, most diners will complain over a bad meal because they perceive they are paying for quality food and not necessarily cleanliness.

Some thoughts:

  • So your customers/guests pay for a main service or product. Your customers may be thrilled with that or at least willing to tell you when they are not. What is your company's "dirty dining room" that they may not be informing you about?
  • Are your employees holding this "dirty dining room" to their standards, yours, OR the customers?
  • Does your organization have a good avenue for customers/guests to voice their opinions about the "quality food" and "dining room cleanliness" or other values your company considers when marketing their product/service and building repeat business?


Our Little Premature Boy (Revisited)


www.marchforbabies.org/lundbergfamily (please go to this link and donate, even if it is only $20)

This weekend as I was perusing my desk, I found this old floppy disk with the title, "Boy Lundberg" on it. It was a disk from Hamot NICU where we were blessed with such great care when we were surprised on December 1st, 2003 with an early visitor. Eli was born 2 1/2 months premature and has spent the rest of his years catching up and exceeding far beyond our imagination. I admit, we had no idea what we were in store for. Apart from an eye muscle detaching and reattaching surgery, we moved to normalcy quickly. I am almost grateful for the situation. I believe strongly that it has made Eli the boy he is today. He is now 5 years old, 46 inches, 42 pounds of the most nurturing and loving person I know. His loving spirit is such an example to me as his father.

Words can not describe the joys of parenting. Kelly and I both know our lives are richer because of our little "Heroes".


"Your life is an Occasion, rise to it"

Yesterday was a great day off. Movie Day - watched 5 movies - didn't leave the house at all. It was amazing.
One of the movies was Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium. It was a great kids movie, enjoyable for me too (just one 2 min cheesy part near the end)

It was a great movie about life and soaking in every minute of it. My favorite line was when Mr Magorium says, "your life is an occasion, rise to it..." So often we tend to look at the busyness in our schedule or some may focus on what is not going well in their life. When you rise to the occasion, you move beyond the low points - you focus on all the little things that bring you joy and you stress out an immeasurable amount less.

You dance with your kids (and your wife) anytime - anywhere, you play in the dirt, you shovel cookie batter in your mouth, you don't leave your pajamas for an entire day, etc. I love my life and those around me; I just hope I soak it in enough.


Looking through the crap

When you look through the crap of politics, sometimes you get this enjoyable stuff.

Sometimes we perscute the crap out of a public figure who has a different opinion then we do, yet what is so great about America is that we are a nation of great humans with different views, opinions, and values. Don't let the Keith Olberman and Sean Hannity's of the world cause you to think otherwise.


National Prayer Service

Watched the National Prayer Service yesterday. After watching quite a few of these over the last few inaugurations, and at first I was wondering.....

Why don't we just make these specific to the religion of the President?
If the incoming president is Jewish, shouldn't it be a Jewish centered service?
If the incoming president is Hindu, shouldn't it be a Hindu oriented service?
If the incoming president is Agnostic, shouldn't there not be a service?
If the incoming president is Christian, shouldn't it be a Christian service?
It seemed as though 35 religions had a part in it.

Then I realized this.......

“President-elect Obama’s faith is a central part of his life and he will begin the first full day of his Administration with a service of interfaith prayer and reflection,“ said Presidential Inaugural Committee Communications Director Josh Earnest. “The National Prayer Service, which will embody the themes of tolerance, unity and understanding, is a worship service for all Americans. “

so that makes sense, I guess.

Your thoughts?


Happy Birthday Kelly

and thanks to amy, I found you a gift I didn't have to buy on Itunes. And I know you will recognize every song....maybe want to join!


Random Thoughts

  • Kelly's Birthday this week. Gosh, she makes me happy! She has added so much joy to my life.
  • Boy's are in the "test everything" stage. And by everything, I mean patience. And by " " - I did those for Danielle.
  • With it being so cold lately, have all of the Global Warming Kool Aid drinkers gone into hiding. Don't really hear them shouting it from the roof tops anymore...
  • Expectations are high for Obama. I wonder how quick impatient Americans will turn on him if he doesn't meet all the hype. Better yet, I wonder what this country will look like if he meets and exceeds those expectations.
  • Obama is not Lincoln people - let him be his own person...oh wait - most of that comes from his own team. be yourself Obama.....
  • I respect all Presidents and wish people on all sides would not say such hateful statements. I am glad there is not a whole country to pick apart everyone of my decisions.
  • Why the Steelers, why again. Somebody end this pain!


Okay, this post had me rolling.....literally.


The Shetland Pony, Biggest Loser and Three Posts in a Cage Match
Wow, great feedback last week on whether “Massages during church” should be included in the book. Some folks loved it, some said it was average. Thanks for being honest.Today, I thought I’d do a short stack of essays, with three micro ideas instead of one long rambling essay. If you could only choose two of these three, which two would you put in the book? Pretend it's a no holds barred cage match, which two are walking out?(My hope is that I can fit all three, but I’ve put this book on a crash diet and have it running on a treadmill with a piano and a small Shetland pony strapped to its back and Jillian from the show Biggest Loser yelling at it. “You think, you’re good enough to be printed? You think you’re paper worthy? Is that what you think? You gotta be funnier than that! You gotta want it!” I am weird.)

Essay #1 - Using “let me pray about it” as a synonym for “no.”I love when someone asks us to help out at church and instead of saying, "no" we say, "Let me pray about it." Really? I asked you to help me clean up tomorrow night after the youth group and you feel like that's something you need to run passed the Savior of the world? He's going to give you the thumbs up or thumbs down on whether or not you can help me stack chairs for seven minutes?Sure, there are lots of situations that call for a "pause while I pray" response. But I think that 37% of the time when we say "let me pray about it" we are just saying that so we can delay the rejection and can later email the person a big no instead of doing it in person.

Essay #2 - Love OfferingsA love offering is kind of a "volunteer offering" the church takes up during special occasions like when a puppet group from Guam (named “Strings of Mercy”) is performing at your church. It's really not that voluntary though because if you don't contribute anything you're essentially telling everyone that your heart is not full of love. By not putting a couple of bucks in the offering plate you're actually putting in a big fistful of hate. I wish when the ushers collected a love offering they would say out loud when someone didn't give, "Oh, you don't have any love for the magical world of puppetry? I guess love your neighbor doesn't include puppeteers? Fine."

Essay #3 - Church names that sound like designer clothing stores.My cousin attends a church called "Warehouse 242." There's another church in his area called, "Elevation." In Durham, North Carolina there’s a church simply called "The Summit." I'm not sure when it happened, but at some point we started naming our churches after stores that sell designer jeans. And I'm cool with that. I don't think you have to name something the "Back to the Bible Holiness Church" which is outside of Atlanta in case you want to attend.I think it might be a great thing to have a funky name because it opens up some good conversations with people. Imagine you're at work on Monday and someone says, "What'd you do this weekend?" You can reply "I hung out at Elevation." Your friend will then say, "Is that the new salsa/techno/hip hop/Southern Cambodian traditional dance club? I've heard the girls in that place are ridiculous." At which point you can then say, "No, it's a church" and then proceed to share the entire gospel with him and possibly baptize him in the break room sink.OK, it might not go down exactly that way, but at the bare minimum, saying you went to "Elevation" is going to at least keep the conversation rolling and possibly even raise some questions. If you said, "I went to 'God is Awesome, Praise Sweet Baby Jesus Cathedral of Hope and Light' over the weekend," your friend might throw an imaginary smoke bomb and climb out of a window to get out of the conversation. Which is never a good thing.