Monday, December 19, 2011

Plan Ahead

In 1997, at Oxford University, they needed to replace the huge wooden beams in the ceiling of one of the old dining halls.  The gigantic oak beams had begun to show signs of rotting, so the replacement was a matter of necessity, not just beautification.  University officials, however, were concerned that they wouldn't be able to find lumber large enough and strong enough for the project.  Then the forester of the university explained that there was no problem.  When the dining hall was built five centuries ago, the forward-thinking university administrators of that day had planted a grove of oak trees specifically for the purpose of replacing those beams when the time came. - Now that’s good planning. 

The acrostic PLAN AHEAD provides a formula for good planning. 

Predetermine your destination.
            Good planning requires that you predetermine where you want to be    
in the future. 

Lay out your goals.
            Lay out your goals after determining your destination.  Goals are not the final destination. They are the stepping stones to reaching your destination.

Adjust your priorities.
            The moment you determine your destination and lay out your goals, you’ll need to adjust your priorities.  If your priorities do not help you reach your desired destination, you will never arrive there. 

Notify Key Personnel
            Bring key people around you.  These would be key influencers in your area.  Those who support you and can help you.

Allow time for acceptance
            Allow time for questions.  Allow time for people to ask the needed questions. 

Head into Action.
            Now you can get moving in the direction to reach your desired destination. 

Expect Problems.
            Planning does not eliminate problems.  Motion causes friction.  Planning can help you attack problems effectively but it will not eliminate problems. 

Always point to your successes.
            There are always those who will point out all your failures.  To counter this, point to the success in your life. 

Daily review your plan.

Remember: if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Making The Effort

The Atlanta Falcons traded up 21 spots to take wide receiver Julio Jones from the University of Alabama.   Why would the Falcons organization make such a daring and controversial move? The Falcons had seen that Julio had consistently made the effort to do what it takes to win. They felt that  Jones could make the Falcons’ offense much more explosive. 

The one who is considered the wisest man to have ever lived said, “A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich” (Proverbs 10:4).  In other words, if you make the effort, you will reap the reward. 

I don’t doubt that most of us can recall a time when we failed to receive a desired reward because were not willing to put forth the effort.  You probably can remember a time when you could have succeeded in some area if you had only made the effort.  Maybe it was to get in shape physically or lose weight.  Maybe it was to make an “A” in that class, or become an expert at fishing (I live on the gulf coast).  Maybe it was to build a stronger marriage, or move up to that desired position in the company, or even start your own company.  Whatever the case, making the effort is all it would have taken for you to succeed. 

One commonality among all truly successful people is that they achieved their success by their own hard work.  If you want to get to the top in any area of life, making the effort is essential. 

In his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell talks about The Law of Sacrifice, which says, a leader must give up to go up.  In considering where you want to be or what you want to achieve, ask yourself, “Am I willing to pay the price?”  In other words, are you willing to sacrifice time, energy, money to achieve your dream or reach your goal? 

What is it that you want to achieve? A better marriage?  To be a better parent, friend, or team member?  To become a better leader?  To get in better physical condition?  To become more knowledgeable or skilled in a particular field?  How bad do you want it?  Are you willing to make the effort?   

My hope is that this article will help to generate within you a passion to put forth the effort by working smarter, pushing harder, and lasting longer so that you can reach your goals.  Don't wait until tomorrow to start making the effort.  Start today.  You won't regret it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Leadership Lessons From Jesus - Part 6

Relaxation: Take Time To Recharge.
(This post is revised from a previous post by Rick Warren.  While written for pastors, the principle applies to all leaders.)

Leadership is draining.  It’s hard work.  We all need time to just relax.  Jesus encouraged his very busy disciples to take some time for relaxation.  Mark 6:31 says, “Crowds of people were coming and going so that they did not even have time to eat. He [Jesus] said to them [the disciples], ‘Come away by yourselves, and we’ll go to a lonely place to get some rest.’”

Jesus realized th e disciples had been busy serving, and they were tired.  They needed a break.  So he told them to get away and rest.  Rest is so important that God put it in the Ten Commandments.  The fourth commandment says this: every seventh day you take a day off.  Pastor, this applies to you as well.  You need a day away from the church.

Years ago I learned a key to lasting in leadership: divert daily, withdraw weekly, and abandon annually.

Divert daily means doing something fun every day. Get a hobby. Do something that relaxes you.

Withdraw weekly means you take a day off every week for relaxation and restoration.

Abandon annually means you get away and forget everything for some time each year.

Your leadership is a key ingredient to helping your organization become all that it can be.  In fact, the Bible says in Proverbs 11:14, “Without wise leadership a nation is in trouble.”  That’s true of every single area of life.  Without wise leadership, your organization is in trouble.  If you do not take time to re-energize and refresh, you’ll be making key leadership decisions when you are exhausted.  This is an ingredient for disaster.  Good leaders know that their best decisions are made when they are mentally, physically, and emotionally refreshed and strong.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Leadership Lessons From Jesus - Part 5


Leaders must focus on what’s important.  You have probably heard it said many times,  “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”  This may be an old cliche but it speaks volumes to the leader.  Another way of saying this is; “First thing first.”  Life is filled with things that will distract you from what’s most  important.  Sometimes we can be distracted by good things as well.  In other words,  it’s not so much doing the wrong things that mess up our lives as it is doing too many good things. Sometimes the good things are  not necessarily the best things.

In his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell says that good leaders understand The Law of Priorities which says, “Leaders understand that activity is not necessarily accomplishment.”  Maxwell went on to say that leaders never advance to a point where they no longer need to prioritize.  Nevertheless, many leaders never practice the discipline of prioritizing.  He list three reasons for this:

1. When we are busy we believe we are accomplishing something.
2. Prioritizing requires leaders to continually think ahead.
3. Prioritizing causes us to do things that are uncomfortable and sometimes painful.

Jesus was a master of keeping His focus on the main thing.  He refused to be distracted. Luke 9:51 says, “When the days were coming to a close for Him to be taken up, He determined to journey to Jerusalem.”  He headed toward Jerusalem to die on the cross for us.  He did it with an iron will.  He would not let anything distract him from what was important.

Your life has incredible potential.  But that potential won’t be realized until you decide what’s really important and then prioritize your time, talent, money, and energy so that you keep what’s really important the main thing.

What are your top five priorities?  What do you need to do today to make sure that you keep focused on those priorities?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Leadership Lessons From Jesus - Part 4

Team Building
A mark of a great leader is how many people will join his or her team. You never lead by yourself. You always do it in the context of a team. All great leaders are great team builders. In fact, as Rick Warren says, “If you don’t have a team, you’re not a leader. You’re a loner.” The test of leadership is whether anyone is following you. In other words, if no one is following you, you’re not leading, you’re merely taking a walk.

Jesus modeled this kind of ministry. From a large group of disciples who were following Jesus, Jesus chose twelve who would become His inner circle. This was such a significant decision for Him that he stayed up all night praying. The next morning He called together all those who were following Him and chose from that group the twelve disciples. Jesus never did ministry alone. Mark 3:14 says, “He appointed twelve – designating them apostles – that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach.”

Jesus enlisted other people to serve the cause with him. In Luke 10:1 we read “After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go.”

In his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership John Maxwell says “A leader’s potential is determined by those closest to him” Leaders understand that their best course of action for achieving their vision and reaching their destination is to build a team to take the journey with them. In a Team Everyone Achieves More.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Leadership Lessons From Jesus - Part 3

Motivation: Know who you’re trying to please.  

Leaders, you need to settle the issue of motivation.  You can’t please everybody.  Just about the time you get one person happy, you’ll tick someone else off.   Jesus lived for an audience of One.  His whole purpose was to please his heavenly Father.  Jesus says this in John 5 and 6; “I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 5:30). “I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38).  In other words, Jesus said, “The only one I am trying to please is the One who sent Me.” 

Jesus wasn’t trying to win a popularity contest; he just wanted to please God. 

That’s a lesson we have to learn as leaders. You’ve got to learn not to care about the opinions of others. You’ve got to focus on God’s opinion of what you’re doing.  As a leader you should not pay attention to those who cheer you, for they will make you think you are better than you really are, or those who jeer you, for they will make you think you are not as good as you really are.  Either one will sidetrack you. 

A mentor of mine told me one time, “Don’t try to please every one, for the moment you do, you will please no one.”  Who are you trying to please?  Because I am a man of faith, I believe the first person we should try to please is God.  We were created to bring glory to Him.  I think secondly, we ought to try to please ourselves, not in a hedonistic way, but in a self-respecting way.  At the end of the day, do I respect myself?  Have I stood for and lived out the values that I hold true?  Have I held fast to the vision that I believe God has given me, though some are questioning?   

At the end of the day I am most satisfied when I can honestly say, “Today, I held fast to my faith, to my values, and to my vision.”

Monday, November 7, 2011

Leadership Lessons From Jesus #2

I’m continuing this series on leadership lessons from the greatest leader of all time, Jesus.  Jesus was the perfect leader.

Know Your Purpose. 

    I have found that the reason most people don’t have passion in life is because they don’t have purpose.  Purpose gives passion.  Leaders figure out what their purpose in life is.  They know why they are here.  They understand clearly what God has called them to do with their lives.  Leaders have, as Rick Warren states it, “purpose-driven lives.”  The direction of your life is your choice.  If you don’t like the direction your life is headed right now, change it.  

    Jesus knew exactly what His purpose on this earth was.  He knew why He came.  He was a straightforward leader who established clear-cut goals.  In John 8 Jesus says, “I know where I came from and I know where I’m going.” Jesus had a clear purpose.  Jesus made statements such as:  

“Let’s go on to the neighboring villages so that I may preach there too. This is why I have come.” 
“I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” 
“I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” 
“I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.”
“I have come as a light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me would not remain in    darkness.

    Jesus not only knew who he was, but what he was trying to do with his life.  He so effectively instilled His purpose into His followers that His purpose continues today through His followers.  He truly was a purpose-driven leader.   

    God has a purpose for your life.  Purpose gives meaning to your life.  Purpose gives passion.  If you don’t fulfill it, you have wasted your life.  A leader knows for what purpose he/she is here and pursues it with passion.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Leadership Lessons From Jesus

There are no perfect leaders.  I’m not a perfect leader. Neither are you.  But Jesus is.  There’s no better teacher on leadership than Jesus.  What made him such an effective leader?  Jesus understood leadership.  He taught leadership and He demonstrated leadership.

Jesus lived less than forty years on this earth.  He began a movement with a small inner-circle of twelve.  The leadership lessons Jesus lived and taught to His disciples enabled them to carry on His mission so that within just five generations, the number of His followers reached into the millions.  Today, His followers number more than one billion and the organization He founded – the church – has branches in every country on earth.

The leadership principles Jesus lived and taught are applicable in any area of life today, whether in an office, a school, a small business, a global corporation, or a volunteer organization.  In the next several articles I want to examine those leadership principles that made Jesus so incredibly effective.

Know Yourself
To be a leader you’ve got to know who you are.  Every leader has strengths and weaknesses and they know the areas of leadership in which they are strong and which areas of leadership they are not. Leaders do an honest self-evaluation. Good leaders don’t try to be something they are not. They are self-aware.  They understand their purpose in life.  Jesus had no doubt about his identity. He said:
  • I am the light of the world.
  • I am the Son of God.
  • I am the way.
  • I am the truth.
  • I am the life.
  • I am the bread of life.
Jesus defines himself 18 times by saying, “I am…” He didn’t let other people define him. He defined himself. If you’re going to be a leader, you must know who you are.  Answer the following questions:

Do you “know yourself”? *
1.   What are my character strengths?
2.   What are my character weaknesses?
3.   What are my strongest skills?
4.   What are my weakest skills?
5.   How well do I relate to others (1 to 10)?
6.   How well do I communicate with others (1 to 10)?
7.   How well do I listen to others (1 to 10)?
8.   How likable am I (1 to 10)?

Now ask three people who know you well to answer the same questions about you.  If their answers are different from yours, then you have a self-awareness issue that you need to work on.  Find a mentor, business or life coach, or counselor to help you become more self-aware.

*Adapted from The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell

Monday, October 10, 2011

Leadership Lessons I've Learned - Part 2.

These are more leadership lessons I’ve learned over the years.

Character is Critical.
Bob Burg says, "All things being equal, people will do business with people they know, like, and trust."  Trust is the key word in that statement.  Your character determines who you are.  Anyone can say that he has integrity, but action is the real indicator of character.  That is why you can never separate a leader’s character from his actions.  I have found that it takes a long time to earn the respect of people, but it only takes a moment to lose their respect.  G. Alan Bernard, president of Mid Park, Inc., stated, “The respect that leadership must have requires that one’s ethics be without question.  A leader not only stays above the line between right and wrong, he stays well clear of the gray areas.” 

Failure is Inevitable
No one's life is an unbroken chain of successes and victories.  We all experience setbacks, defeats, and failures.  In baseball, not even the Hall of Fame players bat 1,000%.  The same is true in leadership - we all make mistakes.  Since failure is something every one of us will, at some time, experience, one of the most important skills you can acquire is the ability to take the negative and turn it into a positive.  Thomas Edison, commenting on one of his MANY failed experiments, said, "Don't call it a failure.  Call it an education!"  Successful leaders learn how to get up after they fall; they learn how to fail forward.  Remember, things turn out best for the people who make the best out of the way things turn out.  The first thing to do when you're faced with any failure is to analyze why it happened. There may be a variety of reasons of failure, many out of your control.

Common Causes of Failure:

- When you don't plan ahead
As the saying goes, "If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail."   Moving your organization towards greater growth and health requires a lot of planning.  Noah began building the Ark long before it started to rain!

- When you’re afraid to take risks
The fear of failure can cause failure.  We worry about what others will think of us if we fail, so we don't even try.  Fran Tarkenton says, "Fear sets you up to be a loser."  Courage is the discovery that you may not win, and trying when you know you can lose.  You can’t win the game if you don’t first take the field.

- When you give up too soon
Look at the life of Abraham Lincoln.  At 23 he lost his job and his first election.  At 24 he failed at his first business endeavor.  At 25 he was elected to state legislature.  At 27 he had a nervous breakdown.  At 29 he lost another election.  At 34 he was defeated for nomination for Congress.  At 37 he was elected to Congress.  At 39 he lost his re-nomination.  At 40 he was rejected for land officer.  At 45 he was defeated for US Senate.  At 47 he was defeated for nomination for Vice President.  At 49 he was defeated again for US Senate.  At 51 he was elected as President of the United States.  Lincoln never gave up.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Leadership Lessons I’ve Learned - Part 1

     I’ve been doing some reflecting lately on leadership lessons I’ve learned over the years. I’ve been privileged to serve in leadership positions for most of my adult life. I have learned much from mentors and through experience. I will acknowledge that most of what I have learned came from reading and listening to John Maxwell. Over the next few weeks I’ll share these lessons with the hope that they will be of great value to you.

1. Everything rises and falls on leadership
     Most successes can be traced back to competent and effective leadership and most problems can be traced to a lack of competent leadership. I believe that one of the greatest problems we have in our nation today, (especially in the political arena) is a significant shortage of men and women who are skilled in leadership.
2. Leadership is influence.
      I learned this lesson while reading “Spiritual Leadership” by J. Oswald Sanders. For better or worse, good or bad; leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less. Put a group five or six children together in a room and within five minutes you will be able to determine which one will be the leader -- for good or for bad. The same is true in a youth group. It doesn’t take long to determine who to whom everyone else looks and listens. In board meetings, there is one person who is in leadership by position, but it doesn’t take long to determine who the real leader is in the room. It’s the person with the most influence.
3. The test of leadership: “Is anyone following?”
      If you want to know whether or not you're a leader, simply look over your shoulder. John Maxwell says, "He who thinketh he leadeth and hath no one following him is only taking a walk." If you have to remind people that you're the leader, then you're not. Leadership is influence and if you're not influencing anybody, it doesn't matter that you think you're the leader -- you're not.
4. People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.
     I think it is more true to say, “No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care about him or her as an individual.” People will follow a leader anywhere if they know that he/she cares for them and that he/she truly respects and desires to add value to them. The moment that people sense that the leader does not care, influence and thus leadership have been lost.
5. Leadership can be learned
     The question is often asked, “Are leaders born?” Of course they are. All leaders are born, but they do not come out of their mother’s womb a leader. Leadership skills are learned. Leadership experts Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus wrote, “It is the capacity to develop and improve their skills that distinguishes leaders from their followers.” The good news is, anybody can learn to be a leader.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Setting Goals

Someone said, “If you shoot at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.”  Isn’t that true?  If you don't have any goals, you're not going to achieve anything worthwhile.

The first time this lesson really hit home to me was when I was pastor of a church in North Carolina.  Our average Sunday morning attendance was 180.  I announced to the church that we’re going to have a Friend Day and set a goal to have 400 in attendance on that day.  There were several in the church who did not believe we could reach that goal.  Every time a person said to me “We can’t do it” I responded with, “That may be true but will you help us try?”  I always received an affirmative answer.  On Friend Day we had nearly 500 in attendance and the excitement level in the church was astounding.

I believe in goal setting.  The practice of setting and working towards goals helps us to achieve more.  I have not always seen my goals fulfilled, however.  For example, at the church I pastor now, we set a goal of 800 in church on an Easter Sunday some years back.  Our average attendance at that time was 450.  "Only" 713 showed up, which still made it one of the biggest Sunday’s in our church’s history.  Had we not set the goal, however, we would not have come close to seeing that many people in church.  As a result, we added families to the membership of our church.

Several years ago, my wife and I set a goal to be debt free within two years (with the exception of our mortgage).  I told a number of people what we were trying to achieve.  I found that once I had made it known, I held myself more accountable.  I did not want to fail.  18 months later we reached our goal.  Had we not set the goal, we would probably still be in debt today.  Now that I am debt free, I have more options with the money that I have.

I am convinced that our goals, whether we reach them or not, help us achieve more.  So I will continue to set goals even at the risk of failing.

Tips for setting SMART goals.

SPECIFIC: The goal must clearly state what is to be achieved and when it is to be achieved.

MEASURABLE: This applies to both the end result and markers along the way to attaining a goal. It answers the questions of how much, how often, how many?  When my wife and I set the goal to be debt free, our first marker was to put $1,000.00 in an emergency fund.  Each paid off loan (car, credit cards, school, etc) served as a marker that we were on the right track to attaining our goal.

ATTAINABLE: Make sure that the goals you set are achievable. If you set goals that even you believe are unattainable it is very unlikely you will achieve them.

RELEVANT: Your goals must be relevant to what you want to achieve in your life.  They must fulfill a purpose and passion in your life or you will not stick with them.  My wife and I wanted to become debt free because we knew that it would give us opportunities to give more to what was important to us.

TIME-BASED: Setting a time by which you want to have achieved your goal is highly motivational.  As we got closer and closer to being debt free, we would get more excited and became more intense in our desire to achieve that goal.

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

John Maxwell Certified Coach, Teacher and Speaker

Leadership is the difference maker and the deal breaker. It’s how we grow organizations.  It’s how we impact lives. But, as you also know, leadership cannot be an idea we simply talk about; leadership is the action we must live out.

As a John Maxwell Certified Coach, Teacher and Speaker, I can offer you workshops, seminars, keynote speaking, and coaching, aiding your personal and professional growth through study and practical application of John’s proven leadership methods. Working together, I will move you and/or your team or organization in the desired direction to reach your goals.

I have been teaching these leadership methods to my own staff and leadership teams for 20 years. My passion is to help people reach their maximum God given potential. I believe this is done by teaching people how to make right decisions knowing that “decisions determine your destiny.”

My association with John Maxwell began over 20 years ago.  Now, as a founding member of the John Maxwell Team, my goal is to teach and mentor others using John’s proven leadership principles to add value to them and their organizations.

Contact me. I am looking forward to assisting you on your journey to becoming a successful leader.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Together Everyone Achieves More

WHAT IS THE GOAL OF PLAYING FOOTBALL?  Well, of course, we would say "Winning."  But there is a clearer point than winning, it is scoring points.  We might score six points in a touchdown, three points in a field goal, two points in a safety, or one point in an extra point kick after the touch down.

But what if there were a player on the team who never scored a point?  Wouldn't he be considered of no value?  What if he played 15 years in the NFL, four years in college, and four years in high school - 23 years of football - yet never scored a touch down or made a point?  This man would have to be a failure, wouldn't he?  After all, this man played in 245 games without ever scoring a point for his team.

Why start a man that can’t score?  Well, let me list a few reasons.

  • He made 1,032 tackles,
  • He blocked 86 passes,
  • He recovered 19 fumbles,
  • He made 3 interceptions.
The man's name is Ed "Too Tall" Jones.  Ed Jones is in the NFL Football Hall of Fame.  The reason he never made a touch down was his position - Ed was an All Pro Defensive End for the Dallas Cowboys.  Ed was a TEAM PLAYER.  He never played to make touchdowns, he played to help his team win.  And win they did. Jones helped lead his team to 16 playoff games and 3 Super Bowls.



Being part of a team is about working together for a common goal.  Teamwork is about commitment, sacrifice, discipline, and unity in vision.  This doesn't happen by accident.  A team achieves these qualities as it prepares and works together for a common goal.  That is what led the Dallas Cowboys to have such a successful run during Ed "Too Tall" Jones' career.

I just believe that all of us can learn a lesson or two from Ed "To Tall" Jones about being a team player.

Just a Thought!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011

Integrity: What I Do

1 Timothy 4:15-16
"Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers."

It is quite obvious that a hypocrite is unqualified to guide others toward attaining higher character and integrity.  You cannot give what you do not have.  No one respects someone who talks a good game but fails to play by the rules.  What a leader does will have a greater impact on those he or she leads than what the leader says.  A person may forget 90% of what a leader says, but never forgotten is how the leader lives.

The Johnson and Johnson company once had in their mission statement that employees would “operate with honesty and integrity” Several weeks before a major incident involving Tylenol, the president of Johnson and Johnson sent a memo to all the presidents of divisions in the company asking if they believed in and were abiding by the mission statement.  All the responses came back affirmative.  Shortly thereafter a problem developed with some Tylenol and within an hour of the Tylenol crisis, the president of the company, knowing it was a $100 million decision, ordered all capsules off the shelves. When reporters asked the president how could so easily and rapidly make such a major decision, his reply was, “I was practicing what we agreed on in our mission statement.”

There is simply no substitute for a man or woman of consistent character. This doesn't mean that he or she will be perfect.  In fact, the Bible doesn't call for perfection in leadership.  It calls for leaders to be seen as consistent in Christlike character.  Paul instructed Timothy to be diligent in following biblical teachings. "
Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress" (1 Tim. 4:15).

Sunday, May 29, 2011

John Piper Interviews Rick Warren

Fascinating interview! Author and pastor John Piper interviews Rick Warren on the doctrine surrounding his book, “Purpose Driven Life.” Watch as Piper and Warren discuss topics such as the sovereignty of God, the glory of God, sin, the second coming, etc. You will see more of the doctrine and the heart of each man in this interview.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Lifebuilder's Creed

Today is the most important day of my life.
Yesterday with its successes and victories, struggles and failures
is gone forever.
The past is past. Done. Finished.
I cannot relive it.  I cannot go back and change it.

But I will learn from it and improve my Today.

Today.  This moment.  NOW.
It is God's gift to me and it is all that I have.

Tomorrow with all its joys and sorrows, triumphs and troubles
isn't here yet.
Indeed tomorrow may never come.
Therefore, I will not worry about tomorrow.

Today is what God has entrusted to me.
It is all that I have.  I will do my best in it.
I will demonstrate the best of me in it -
my character, giftedness, and abilities -
to my family and friends, clients and associates,
I will identify those things that are most important
to do Today,
and those things I will do until they are done.

And when this day is done
I will look back with satisfaction at that
which I have accomplished.

Then and only then, will I plan my tomorrow,
Looking to improve upon Today, with God's help.

Then I shall go to sleep in peace . . . content.

by Dale Witherington.
From "Today Matters" by John Maxwell

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Japan Disaster Relief Response

The following is from Dr. Rick Lance, Executive Director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions concerning how Alabama Baptists can initially respond to the devastating disaster in Japan.  This is from his blog.

All of us are shocked by the enormous impact of the earthquake in Japan. The aftershocks, now in the multiple hundreds, are seismically strong enough to be considered earthquakes in most places. The Japanese people have been hard hit by this history-making disaster.

As if an earthquake of historic proportions is not enough to shake the country, the tsunami adds to the disastrous affects near the coastline of the island nation. Waves, in some places 30 feet high, have made cities and villages into mud piles. The shortage of power and water create an array of other problems that complicate relief efforts.

The aura of a nuclear meltdown is so foreboding. I have trouble digesting the arcane information offered by scientists and other specialists who are seeking to inform the general public. My mind is easily boggled by such discussions and the implications are far reaching in terms of other nations utilizing nuclear power.

People in this country, especially Southern Baptists and Alabama Baptists, want to be of help. As we view the images on the Internet and on television, we feel helpless. That is a natural response to such a huge disaster we experience vicariously through the media. We simply wonder, "What can we do to help?"

My initial reply may sound a bit hollow or trite, but it is heartfelt. We need to pray like never before. The Japanese people need our prayers now more than ever, and we must focus our intentional praying upon them. Prayer, desperate praying, has incalculable power to help people, even in the worst of circumstances. Additionally, praying for the people places us alongside them spiritually.

Pray for the families who have lost loved ones and who now find themselves stunned by unbelievable and unimaginable grief. The thought of parents having children lost in the enormous waves of the tsunami leads us to tears. It also ought to cause us to pray fervently for those so affected by this loss. When we pray, we share their grief and weep for them.

Pray for the Japanese leaders as they seek to make the right decisions for their people in the aftermath of this disaster. We can pray for them to have wisdom in seeking to assist their nation in the long-term recovery period before them. Although Japan is a well developed country, with a sophisticated economy, no nation has faced this kind of situation since World War II. Imagine how we would handle such a disaster.

Pray for the relief workers who are there presently and who will be coming in the future. Among those doing rescue and recovery are our American military personnel. The USS Ronald Reagan and other vessels are there helping with food distribution and medical assistance.

Non-military people are in Japan, and many others will follow, once approval by officials is given. Alabama Baptists, along with numerous other well-trained disaster relief people, stand ready to assist when called upon by those on the ground in Japan. A disaster of this magnitude will mean that the strategy will be different than most situations we have encountered in the past, and it will be difficult, but certainly doable.

The second way we can be of help is to give to disaster relief ministries of Alabama Baptists and Southern Baptists. On our web site at you can find information which will be helpful in making the right decisions about where to give. Like Hurricane Katrina (August 2005), the tsunami in Indonesia (December 2004) and the earthquake in Haiti (January 2010), we will devote the funds given to support disaster relief needs identified by our partners in this ministry.

Third, we can look forward to potential opportunities to do other kinds of missions work in Japan. The Japanese people need the Gospel like all others in our world. As a history buff, I can remember reading about General Douglas MacArthur's appeal to send missionaries to Japan, following World War II. Interestingly, a high-ranking general was the one who reportedly saw the need then, and it will be a colossal challenge for us in the future. Right now, our Lord may be giving us a second opportunity to be a people of hope. We can offer the good news of Christ to those shaken by an earthquake, washed over by a tsunami and frightened by a nuclear meltdown.

Pray, give and go are the three verbs which describe our missions strategy in so-called normal times. It is certainly the call we have in times of catastrophic circumstances. Pray for the people in Japan. They need it desperately. Give to help them in this time of disaster. If the opportunity permits, go -- or help someone else go -- to be the compassion of Christ in person for the people shaken, frightened and disoriented by this unprecedented disaster.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Sunday, Sports, and the Super Bowl: A Christian's Dilemma

Something every parent should read.  Written by Robert Wayne at

This Sunday brings the annual advent of the Super Bowl, when friends and family gather to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers try to prove they deserve to be NFL champions.  Sunday also is the day thousands of children involved in youth sports will lace up their basketball shoes, soccer cleats and hockey skates for a day of athletic activity.

Something else happens on Sunday, too. What's it called again? Oh yes, church.

The proliferation of youth and adult sports leagues that play on Sundays creates a conflict of choice between heading to the game and heading to church. Increasingly, sports win that decision.

"It's a big issue, but the problem often is like the frog in the kettle," said John Tolson, a Christian author, speaker and teacher who also serves as the Dallas Cowboys' team chaplain. "You have a cool pot of water on the stove and at first it's fine, but you slowly turn up the heat and the frog gets fried. It's like that with (youth sports). After a while we begin to acquiesce and give in to the culture."

The conflict often leads to cries among secular society that church leaders are simply too legalistic in their approach. Tolson, however, thinks the root of the matter goes deeper than legalism.

Read whole article here.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

When a Nation Grieves.

Came across this blog by Jonathan Falwell speaking to how we as Christians should respond to a crisis such as the shooting in Arizona.  He is right on in his thoughts. 

Certainly no one in our nation has been left untouched by last week’s dreadful shootings in Tucson that left six dead and 14, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, wounded.

During times such as these, our hearts cry out for those whose lives were cut short, for those whose lives have been forever altered, and for the families affected by the senseless tragedy.

As Christians, we mourn because it is a natural thing to do.

R.C. Sproul, writing in “The Dark Night of the Soul,” stated, “We are told that it is perfectly legitimate for believers to suffer grief. Our Lord Himself was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Though grief may reach to the roots of our souls, it must not result in bitterness. Grief is a legitimate emotion, at times even a virtue, but there must be no place in the soul for bitterness.”

We have seen some bitter words in the media and on the Internet following the Arizona shooting. People tend to want to blame those with whom they disagree politically or socially for being a root cause of the violence. But as R. C. Sproul notes, Christians have no business operating in resentment.

So then, what is to replace any bitter thoughts that may creep into our hearts?

Quite simply: prayer.

But what can we pray for at a time like this?

There are several things on which we can focus our prayers. Let’s take a look at some of them.

1. Pray for godly comfort to those who have needlessly suffered in Tucson. If anyone knows about suffering, it is Jesus. We need to pray that the comfort of heaven will touch those who continue to hurt.

2. Pray that many people in our nation will see their need for Almighty God in their lives because of this tragedy. During wars, natural disasters and even pointless shootings, people tend to think about their own mortality and what lies beyond this life. Christians should pray that God provides them genuine opportunities to speak for Him to those who have been troubled by the Tucson killing spree.

3. Pray that our nation will collectively see its need for God. During the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and in other historic times of calamity, people in our nation understood the need for America to be on its knees before God. Sadly, our culture has become much more secularized in the past half-century. That’s why it behooves God’s people to be constant adherents of II Chronicles 7:14: “If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (NKJV).

4. Finally, pray for wisdom. With attacks flying left and right, Christians need to reflect the wisdom of their Savior at all times. As I noted, people often seek answers at times like these. We, as followers of Jesus Christ, cannot afford to be immersed in hypocrisy, anger or blame-throwing which leaves a sour taste in people’s mouths. I urge all of my readers to constantly seek God in your life so that you are a walking testament to what God can do in the life of one who follows Him.

Please join me in prayer regarding these four important items. God is perpetually calling out to His people to offer His hope to a hurting world. As we continue to live out the maxim, “Not I, but Christ,” we must be ever vigilant, ever prepared to obediently speak out for Jesus Christ to those who are searching for answers.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

10 Spiritual Goals for 2011

At the beginning of a new year many people make resolutions in hopes to change or improve something about their lives.  Most people will make resolutions concerning finances (I want to get out of debt) or health (I want to lose 20 pounds).  But what about spiritual goals?  How many people take time to think through how they want to grow spiritually in the year?  Here are some good spiritual goals to consider for 2011.

1. Desire Christ Above All Else.
1 Corinthians 2:2 “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”
Psalm 119:2 “Blessed are those who... seek him with their whole heart.”

2. Commitment to Christ Above All Else.
Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

3. Be a People Person
Matthew 20:28 “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”

4. Be a Bible Person.
Psalm 1:1-2 Blessed is the man [whose] ... delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”

5. Be a Prayer Person
1 Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.”

6. Attend Worship Regularly
Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another.”

Ps 29:2 “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.”

Ps 132:7 “Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool!”

7. Be a Blessing to your Pastor and Church Staff
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 “We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work.”

8. Find a Place of Ministry
1 Peter 4:10 “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”

9. Seek Opportunities to Witness to Others
Acts 1:8 “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

10. Faithfully Tithe Trusting God to Provide for You.
Malachi 3:10 “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.”

Philippians 4:19 “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Revised from “New Year, New goals: 12 Spiritual Goals to Make 2011 Best Year Yet” by Judy Woodward, The Alabama Baptist, Dec 23, 2010.