“Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell book review

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I don’t know if you ever read the book, “Think like freak” or “Freakonomics” by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, but they were fascinating books.  The books looked at issues from new angles that dug deep into issues and that their may be deeper reasons for why things happen than people normally accept.

Such is the same kind of feeling I got after reading, “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell.  Just an excellent book that I just had a very hard time putting down.

Maybe there are some deeper reasons for why some plane crashes have occurred than previously thought.

Why is it that an unusual amount of star hockey players are born in the  beginning of the year/

Maybe there is a reason why so many Asians have such impressive work habits .

Maybe there is more to Bill Gates’ success than he was just a really smart guy

and there are many more fascinating stories talked about.

Read this book and enjoy it.

I think you’ll begin to question things a bit more—that’s a good thing.

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Its time to “turn on” your relationships

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Recently, my son pointed out to me that a light in his room wasn’t working.  I went to his room and noticed that if I flipped the “on/off” switch, the switch didn’t stay in the “off” position, it just clicked back to the “on” position.  I figured it was just an old switch that needed to be replaced.  I then, found the circuit breaker to turn off that room’s electricity and removed the switch and brought it to my local Ace Hardware store.

While there, a friendly and knowledgeable manager showed me  where all the circuits were located and found one that matched mine.  I mentioned to him that I couldn’t tell which wires in my wall were black and which was white because they were  both covered up in the same colored fabric.  He said not to worry.  I could hook either of the wires up to the circuit and it would make the flow of electricity  happen.  Makes sense.

You know, I think relationships are like this as well.  How we handle conflict is like the “on/off” switch on our wall.   If I hurt someone close to me, I have just flipped the “off” switch in our relationship.  Like a light switch in the “off” position that has just broken the flow of electric current, so too, if I have said or done something hurtful to a friend, I break the “relationship” connection between us.  electric current

I think of Jesus’ mentioning  the 2 greatest commandments: Matthew 22:37-40 (esv):   37″ And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.””

So, as I think first about the greatest commandment to love God,  I have realized that at some time in each of our lives, there is a need to recognize that due to our rebellious and selfish ways, we have been living apart from God. We each need to be reconciled to Him. Unfortunately, no matter how many good things we may try to do, nothing will remove the stain of the sins we have committed. “Houston, we have a problem”.

Fortunately, God dealt with our problem, by solving it Himself. The Father sent His Son, Jesus Christ in to the world to live a perfect life and  thus make it possible for Him to die as a substitute for each of us.  He took our sins upon Himself.  As we understand this, we humbly come to Him looking for His forgiveness.  What has happened in all this?–our relationship with God has been restored.  There is a connection now of His life flowing from Him to us.  The circuit is working.

However, as we move on from that point and do life, there will come a time when we will do something sinful.  The full power of our relationship with Him has been weakened.  We are still His children, but the full joy and power of our relationship has become inconsistent–the flow of His life working in and through us has become interrupted.

So, how do we handle this situation?  We come to Him again humbly and ask His forgiveness and the power is restored.

Friends, our horizontal, earthly relationships are similar. Inevitably, we will not say something nice to someone, or it won’t be with a good attitude, or we will say something hurtful, or we will be selfish in our actions and when we do any of these things, we switch the vibrant relationship circuit to “off”.  We have caused a disruption in service.   We all are guilty of doing that.

So, how do we turn the relationship back on?  We need to come humbly to the person we have hurt and  humbly ask for forgiveness.  It’s that simple, but so hard to do.

Our challenge is to take responsibility on where we did not act appropriately and focus on clearing up what we have done wrong. It is probably not best to try to pressure the other person to admit what they might have done wrong to us, or pressure them to ask us for forgiveness.   It’s a heart issue and we can only really take responsibility for what we have done and what needs to be done.

So, let’s all seek to charge up our life and turn on all our relationships by asking forgiveness to any one to whom we have said or done anything that was not done in love.

 

Parents, let me encourage you to…

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My hope in writing today’s post is to encourage you as a parent, or guardian to never lose sight of the awesome opportunity and responsibility you have to help your children.  What do I mean by that?
I totally get that life is busy and, at times stressful. Work can be very demanding.  Activities at church or in the community may seem never-ending. Cars breakdown and need to be fixed…. on and on it goes.
However, right under your nose, there is a child who needs your loving guidance. In all our busyness, are we even aware of their needs?  For some parents, there is a mindset of, “let them figure it out”,  but isn’t it a much wiser and loving thing to do to come along side your kids, in each phase of life and help them maximize their experiences?
So, for example:
* when your kids are pre-K, spend time with them (convey to them that they matter and that spending time with them is a joy), begin teaching them about right and wrong, about talking with God, of playing nice with their siblings and other children
*when your kids are in elementary school, spend time with them (convey to them that they matter and that spending time with them is a joy), continue teaching them about right and wrong, help them establish personal disciplines (like taking care of their possessions, brushing their teeth,  talking with God, reading the Bible,  respecting their siblings, other children, and adults, encourage them to try different activities (not only to enjoy them, but to learn how to get along with others, and develop new skills)
* when your kids are in junior high, spend time with them (convey to them that they matter and that spending time with them is a joy), encourage them to talk about what they are thinking about, because you know that  kids at this age can face many temptations and influences, walk through with them that people and families experience consequences for their actions, continue to encourage them to ask questions of others, encourage them to look for answers and to be resourceful, continue to encourage them to try new things and to consider that this is a big world
* when your kids are in high school, spend time with them (convey to them that they matter and that spending time with them is a joy), continue to seek  to dialogue with them asking them what’s on their minds and helping them work through progressions of cause and effect and long-term thinking, be an example for them in your patience with them as hormonal changes take place,  continue to encourage their learning and asking questions, continue to encourage their personal, spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible reading, church attendance, and ministry involvement, teach them about handling money wisely,
* when your kids are at college- keep in touch with them (though not too much), continue to ask them to think through consequences of their thinking, , lovingly encourage their continued disciplines in matters of faith, personal health, and handling their finances, wisely let them know that you have their back
*when your kids are in their 20’s out on their own–be there for them when they start experiencing “the real world” and they start facing “huge” bills,  encourage them to continue to think long-term and to not expect the to have the same standard of living they experienced when they were living at home, continue to encourage them to live life, to get involved in their communities, to pursue a faith of their own, and to be disciplined, and to make wise financial decisions, as they experience more of life, encourage them to be a learner
I’ll stop there because I think you get the point, though there are still more stages of life where not only will we go through, but God willing, our kids will as well.  As they do, we will then continue to have opportunities to come along side them.
*when your kids are married,
*when your kids have kids
*when you are retiring
*when you are nearing death
Mind you, I’m not talking about telling them what to do in each of these areas. What I’m talking about is helping where you can and when you can.  Some times, you will want to tell them what to expect. At other times, you will want to present options that they can expect.  At other times, you might want to ask them what they are thinking and offer questions back to them. At other times you might to just watch what they do and keep quiet, just lovingly observing.
I just believe it is most profitable for them and more enjoyable to “mentor” them through life instead of kicking them out of the nest and say, “survive”!

Nobody gets up early on the road to average

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These are notes from Jon Acuff’s excellent book, “START”.  They make for great stuff to think about as you consider how awesome you want your life to be:

– Want a spouse to support you, get up 30 minutes before the rest of the house wakes up and work on your dream.

– (to pursue your awesome dream)- Turn off the tv and read 20 pages of a book by an expert in the field you are pursuing. ….make action payments if you want to get your spouse to believe you’re serious about the pursuit of awesome. You don’t gain any support if you sacrifice your spouse’s time for your dream. It has to be your time.

– the mornings I get up and write from 5:00-5:30, you’d be surprised at how infrequently my wife tells me I’ve been ignoring her. You’d be shocked at how rarely my oldest daughter wants me to watch her jump rope  before the sun breaks the horizon.  You may even be mystified  at how seldom  my youngest daughter  asks me to go bike riding at 5:15 a.m.

you can be selfish at 5:00 a.m. or 11;00 pm. If your spouse goes to bed early and staying up an extra 30 minutes doesn’t wreck your next day.  You can rescue 30 minutes during lunch.  Whatever words you want to use, rescue 30 minutes to walk down your path to awesome. If you can’t, if the idea of setting your alarm 30 minutes  sounds horrible to you, then you may not be ready for awesome.

If your dream isn’t worthy of 30 minutes, you’ve either got the wrong dream or you’re just pretending   you have one.  If the minimum you’re willing to pay in order to be awesome is less than 30 minutes, you’d better go back to average. Nobody gets up early on the road to average.

 

What awesome dreams do you have?

What are you doing to make those dreams happen?

In good or bad times, are you …

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I remember vividly a time when my life was pretty rough. I felt very lonely. I had little hope or direction in life. It was not a happy time at all for me.

It was during this very difficult time for me that I met a complete stranger who told me about a living God who cared about me, to the extent that He gave of His Son, Jesus Christ to die for me.  Wow! that floored me.  With extreme gratefulness, I responded in faith to His  awesome kindness. That “phase” I was going through has lasted now over 34 years.

Over that time, I have heard many stories similar to mine.  For some reason, some people, like me,  have to had to get to their lowest point to realize how lost they are, and how much help they need.

But an interesting thing has happened to me just recently. I have heard some stories like this, but not as many.  I have seemed to enjoy a lot of success lately.  Even today, I have seen a lot of unexpected sales come in, at the very last minute, before a deadline that I just can’t explain. I’m not that good.

You see, many times in my life during times of “success”, I have been one of the first to pat myself on my back and take the credit I thought I deserve.  Today, was different than these other times.  I realized that  in these times of  success like I have been enjoying, I still need to be dependent on my God and I still need to be voicing loudly my gratefulness for His kindness.

You see my friend, whether we are enjoying good times, or struggling through the challenging times, He is always near to those who call on Him.

Well, here’s the application question for you, “regardless of your circumstances, good or bad, are you calling out to Him in faith?

“The Cross Centered Life” –by C.J. Mahaney book review

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Christians can be such an interesting group of people. Although our life can be remarkably changed by God, so that we can begin to live a life of hope, and peace, and purpose, at the same time, too easily we can lose focus and spend most of our mental energy finding fault with each other.   We can emotionally invest ourself in taking sides in the mega-church/small church debate, or the evangelical/charismatic disagreements, or being social needs focused, or ….. .  On and on, it could go.

Not for a moment, do I think that is the kind of life to which Jesus has called us .

In a fine, little book called, “The Cross Centered Life”, C.J. Mahaney encourages Christians to focus on the core of our faith—the Gospel.  Like the importance that a lighthouse had to ships years ago, so too, the Gospel should act as a daily lighthouse helping us to focus on truly what is most important in life.

The Gospel message  should penetrate each of us with its laser-like conviction that each of us stands guilty before the Living God, but like a hologram, it should also reveal to us the awesomeness of a Loving God.

This book will be an encouragement to you to think like the Apostle Paul who said in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (nlt): ” I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said.  He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. ”

Enjoy.

Leaders, are you willing to get this low to learn ?

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Leaders (and that includes pretty much everyone to some degree), how willing are you to listen to those below you (in reality, only on the org chart)?
Would you be willing to learn even from a lowly ant?
Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, penned these words:

Go to the ant, O sluggard;
    consider her ways, and be wise.
Without having any chief,
    officer, or ruler,
she prepares her bread in summer
    and gathers her food in harvest.

 
Proverbs 6:6-8 (esv)
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Ants are industrious.
Ants are self-starters. They don’t need to be told what to do, they just do it.
Ants think ahead and put in their preparation.

Ants are role models for those humble enough to learn from them!