>Praying ABCs

>One time, when I was lying on an operating table for a broncoscopy, they were just getting ready to jam a big tube into my nostril when I felt the strong urge to pray.
So I thought, “for every letter in the alphabet, I’ll come up with a word for God.”
I thought this might pass the time; stretch my creativity; take the focus off me;
& give Him some long overdue praise!
Well, it stuck with me and I’ve been doing it ever since.
It’s like 26 ways of letting Jesus know how much I love Him.
When I journal, when I worship, when I pray,
I’ll walk thru the ABCs.
And to take it a step further, I’ll try to come up with different words each time (with the exception of Q, X, and Z, not much you can do with those letters)
Anyway, it goes something like this:
Dear Father, you are Almighty, Beautiful, Creative, Destined, Everlasting,Faithful, Glorious, Holy, Incredible, Joy, King of Kings, Love, Mighty,Noble, Omnipresent, Perfect, Quintessential, Redeeming, Safe, True,Undeniable, Victorious, Wonderful, Xcellent, Yahweh, Zealous….Amen!

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>”Jess”

>When I was a little tyke, my p.’s were like hippy-Christians. I remember many-a-weekend where their hippy-buds would come over for “house-church,” and they’d all show up with their kids & potluck dishes in tow. We lived out in the country, on one long & lonely road where there were 3 houses on it and nothing but rows of corn in between. As our parents would worship and study the bible in our living room, we kids would play outside, the good ole’ games: kick the can, firefly catching, hide-n-seek in the corn fields, freeze tag. 
One of my little buds was a girl named “Jess”.
I remember making fun of “Jess” alot. She was from a blended family, she had a funny last name (as if I didn’t), and, well, gosh, I don’t know, I just made fun of her.
“Jess” had a very difficult upbringing. Too difficult to blog about. I would never describe the details to you. But it was a very, very difficult upbringing.
Years later, long after parting ways and now living in different states, I got some news. “Jess” had found her little brother dead in his bed. He had shot himself. He was only 15 or 16. My brother (who was the same age as her bro and who grew up playing with them) and I drove back to Ohio to attend the funeral. What can I say? It was one of the saddest things my eyes had ever seen.
And after all “Jess” had been through in her life, now this. 
I don’t know where “Jess” is today. But she was on my heart. I wish I could take back all the teasing I did to her. And I wish I could just sit down over coffee and just let her talk. But I can’t. 
I guess I’d like to say that if you have someone you’d like to sit down with, do it today.
Tomorrow you may not be here. Tomorrow, they may not be here.
Don’t let time be your culprit for absences in your heart.

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>My Haman Being

>Esther. It’s not a book in the bible I pay alot of attention to. I guess I figure it’s a story I already know. HA! I know nothing! 
‘Cause today, I read Esther 5:9-13 and it shouted “Wake up, fool!” right to my soul:
Now you’d think I’d be changed by something Esther did. Oh no, not me. 
No, God had to convict me about something this Haman-joker did in Esther 5.
Haman wasn’t a human being, he was a “haman being” — a guy so full of himself.
Alas! Note to self:
don’t say things like:
“I had this great idea…”

“What do you think of my new…”

“You should have seen me…”
“I don’t mean to brag, but…”
“I’m never wrong…”
“I know it won’t fail…”
When I talk like that, it’s not just a bunch of words. 
It’s a bunch of words coming from a cocky heart. 
“Jesus, please give me a heart of humility; a heart willing to not get credit, to not esteem itself, to not be noticed. Jesus, please take away my Haman being.”

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>Footprints no more!

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While on vacation, I had this perfect idea! I’d take a picture of my footprints in the sand and blog about that cheesy “Footprints” poem. However, no sooner did I click the camera, and the darn ocean came and washed away my beautiful set of footprints. (see picture)
Ya know, I can have perfect ideas in my head all day long, but when they are put into action, they WILL be imperfect.
And I just think its cool that God works like that.
As leaders, God gives us a perfect place for our dreams and ideas to roam….it’s called our mind.
And He doesn’t interrupt much there.
He also gives us imperfect places for our dreams and ideas to play out…it’s called our actions. And alot of times, He interrupts there.
As I lead, every time God interrupts my actions, I’m so glad that He did.
Man, would I do some stupid things if God wouldn’t step into my actions.
So as a leader, be glad if you have a perfect idea to take pictures of your feet, AND don’t be ticked if the action of it gets washed away by the ocean -it just means God’s got something better.

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>Grape Laffy-Taffy & Chicken Salad

>When I was in college, my roommate, Shelly and I headed downtown Chicago to my Uncle’s pub. On our way back, cruisin’ down Interstate 90, Shelly started to feel the repercussions of a long night of bevaraging. Moments later, losing control of her bodily functions (and losing control in general) she was kind enough to not vomit on me. 
Rather, she projected her vomit all over my dashboard, my passenger window, and my fabric-ed passenger door. 
Surely, it was the most disgusting thing. 
But wait, there’s more. 
Shelly had just pigged out on a chicken salad sandwich & grape laffy-taffy. So….
So we got back to the dorm, & way too tired to clean my car, decided to just leave it. 
And due to the facts that it was snowing and there’s often vandalism, elected to keep all the windows rolled up.
And who got the privilege of not only opening my car door the next day but getting bull-dozed over by the most atrocious odor EVER, 
AND had to clean it several times only to have minimal results in its odor-removal? 
Yours truly.
Whats my point?
Does it stink when people barf all over you?
It can. Literally and figuratively.
Three of my biggest influences, Sharon, Kelli, & Steph, have taught me alot (namely by action) about not puking all over others with their problems.
Prior to their influence in my life, I was lured by this fallacy that strong friendships were built by letting each other barf every crisis, trial, downer, boo-boo, incident, & detailed frustration over one another.
Thru these guys, I’ve learned better:

People can’t rid the odor, or clean our “barf” as well as God can.
So Christ came and Christ said, “Come to ME when you are weary” (
Matt 11:28)
Perhaps the best thing we can do for ourselves is give it all to Him before barfing it all over another.
Good ole’ Shelly. I have her to thank for teaching me to not mix grape laffy-taffy & chicken salad.
But its good buds like Steph, Sharon and Kelli I have to thank for showing me that the best thing you can “barf” all over a friend is just a ton of God’s love.

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>”Back of the bus, Fungus-Face!”

>I have lots of stories from an unpredictable life. And the double bonus to blogging is it’s theraputic for me; hopefully encouraging to you. 
Tonight, I don’t feel like giving you some big, fat, deep philosophical leadership tip. 
I’m just gonna tell you a story and let you figure out how it applies to how you lead.
When I was 11 years old, we moved to a new town. That year, I was the new kid in Mrs. Roberts 6th grade class. To this day, I still don’t know why I was so unfortanate to land in a class that was made up of 24 jerks and snobs, but there I was. From the very first day of school, they started to pick on me. (this story could be historically long with detail, but I’ll just share one part of it tonight.) Anyway, one day, as I walked onto the bus, & reached the top of the 3 steps, I knew something was up….again. Sonia Provo had formed some stupid alliance with all my peers and had speerheaded a malicious effort. All at once, all the kids moved to the edge of their seats. Of course, the bus-driver could not take off until I was seated. So seat by seat, row by row, I passed the giggling and smirking boys and girls. Nobody would move in. Nobody would move over. As I write this, my heart is burning, it truly was an awful moment. Sonia stood up and yelled at me to go to the back of the bus. The nickname the class had so endearingly gave me was “fungus face.” So as I made my way to the back of the bus, I’m sure I heard that name, as well as their laughter, as well as Sonia’s taunting.

I don’t know why God allowed these kinds of things to happen to me.
As an adult, I’ve seen some thread of good–that its given me a killer-instinct to defend & protect people I love and people who are helpless.
But I still wouldn’t wish that moment on any 11 year old.

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>Leader: don’t you dare blink

>Today, my little family & I went to the Miccosukee Festival
I’ve lived here 10 years, & never visited any of the Indian reservations 
indigenous to S. Florida. 
As we walked around, I realized there was a real culture here: 
starving to survive, yet not to be reckoned with. 
I was taken aback by how closed-in I am, and how wide-open the world truly is. 
As we made our way to the main attraction what a blessing it was when the band performing was a family from Peru. (Hey, we totally have an 
FRC campus in Lima, Peru!) 
This family was so talented, so generous, so passionate. 
And as we sat there and thoroughly enjoyed their performance, 
I felt like Frosty-Tinman, who’s skin began to melt; who’s heart began to soften.
Man, I thought, “
Bono gets it; Live Earth gets it; Green Day gets it;Nickelback gets it; Oprah gets it!”
They find pockets of need in cultures that aren’t theirs. 
They’re trying to find needs and trying to fill them.
So who do I think I am?
As I listened to this beautiful Peruvian group, & my eyes skimmed the Indian women at the craft tables, 
I realized I have an addiction within my self: 
AN ADDICTION TO THOSE LIKE MYSELF. 
Leaders, I think I heard God today–through the different music and the people unfamiliar.
And I think He said
“You wanna lead? Then lead with eyes wide open.
If you blink at certain others, then you don’t see the world the way I see it;
& if you don’t see it the way I see it,

how can you change it?”

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>Leader: Crying on Her Knees

>Today, we were chillin’ by the pool, 
fifteen feet away from us, there was a woman.
She was on her knees, with her head and hands holding her up against a concrete wall.
That’s what caught our eyes.She was crying so hard.
That’s what caught our ears.

The sunbathing old man near her, was asking her if she was OK.
A pool attendant walked past and asked her if she was OK.
A lifeguard walked up and asked if she was OK.
I sprung up from my sunbathing spot, ran to her and got down on my knees beside.
“Ma’am, I am a pastor’s wife, may I pray for you?”
She looked up from the concrete wall, still crying & nodded yes.
I can’t retell what i prayed, ’cause I barely remember arriving to the scene.

When I got back to my seat, Raul and I realized something.
Sometimes, a victim needs a fire fighter’s badge.
Sometimes, a victim needs a paramedic badge.
Sometimes, a victim needs a lifeguard badge.
Sometimes, a victim needs a Christian badge.

Christian, you are a leader & you are timelessly deputized with a badge for victims.
And ‘though people may not see a badge pinned to you, 
they NEED the badge of Jesus worn on your heart.

Its been 20 minutes since this happened. I have prayed for this woman 4 times, cried for her twice.
Could you do something?
Would you pray for her too?
(the only thing we heard was her son did something to her)

And never forget your God-sent ability to arrive to the scene of another’s pain.
As leaders for Him, there are alot of scenes we’ll get called to, 
where the only badge required is Him.

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>Leadership: Lego My Ego!

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“My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you orhave your good opinionand I am no longer driven to impressGod. Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20 TM).

Leaders are sometimes left in a puddle, asking: “I thought God put me at the top? Why did everyone else put me at the bottom?”Spiritually speaking, if we are led by others, then we are not led by Him.
Practically speaking, we have to let go of our ego.
When others determine the value of our leadership calling, it is OUR ego that let it happen.
Somewhere along the way, we emptied our crucified-with-Christ ego,
& let others fill it with their opinions.
I am very passionate about this life-struggle.
So there is nothing I want more for you
than to know you don’t want to struggle with it either.

>Let’s re-ask God to be the ego in us.
>We were created to be self-confident and not others-confident.
>We were created to be self-esteemed and not others-esteemed.

>We were created to be made in the image of Him – NOT the image others want us to be.
Like Paul, we need the One who made us to be the One to change us back.
Have you lost your ID? Do you need to lego your ego?
Ask God.

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>50 Most Influential Churches

>Today, I read about the 50 honkin’-most-influential churches in America. We didn’t make it this year, but we are SO gonna be on this list next year! Here it is if you wanna check it out: 50 Most Influential Churches

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