John's Rant (opinion)

$400,000 Camel Doesn’t Pass the Common Sense Test

As I have said very often, “Common sense is now a super power and a gift that very few possess.”  It’s an interesting experiment and one that can lead your blood pressure to rise but take a look around and you will see those who are supposed to be pretty smart people making decisions that fail to pass the Common Sense Test!  Here’s an example:

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“The State Department plans to spend $400,000 in taxpayer dollars to purchase a camel statue for the new American embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan.  The sculpture by artist John Baldessari depicts a fiberglass camel staring into the eye of an oversized needle in play on a passage from the New Testament about the difficulty the wealthy have in entering heaven, BuzzFeed reported.”

Fox News reports, “The department came under scrutiny in December after commissioning a $1 million sculpture to be installed at new building at the American embassy in London in 2017. The purchase was defended as a “good use” of the agency’s resources.”

Last Year, The Washington Times reported “that department spent about $180,000 on alcohol in September and $400,000 in all of 2012, three times the $118,000 spent in 2008.” Records obtained by the paper showed that alcohol spending went up at American diplomatic posts around the world. The purchases included nearly $16,000 for bourbon and whiskey in Moscow, and more than $22,000 for wine in Tokyo.”

For full disclosure:  I’m not a math wiz, I haven’t taken a Dave Ramsey course, and my wife controls the checkbook in our house and I get an allowance just like the kids.  Yet, with all my lack of financial training and expertise, I am at a loss to find any common sense in this.  Here’s how I look at it:

1.  Our national debt is 17.5 Trillion.  In 2008 (just six short years ago) it was 10 Trillion.  Our debt has almost doubled in 6 years!

2.  Our debt increases 2.73 billion each day.

3.  That means that each person in the US owes $55,130.32 or each household is responsible for $142,787!

I know up against 17.5 trillion $400,000 for a camel sounds like a good deal (I’m joking).  Where is the common sense?  Where is the one person who says, “I don’t think this is a good idea!”  I’ve got this visual image in my mind of a group of people sitting around a table and one person says, “Hey, I’ve got an idea!!  Let’s get a camel and put it outside the embassy!”  Person 2 “Sounds like a great idea, how much will it cost?”  Person 1 “We can get it today and today only, if we are one of the next 5 callers for only $400,000 to the American tax payer!!  Person 2: “Great, hurry up and call!  We’ll send the check!”

Okay, how does this relate to me?  Ordinary couple who has a combined $20,000 in credit card debt and they come to me as their pastor and say, “We’re getting married and have our wedding and honeymoon planned for only $12,000.  My response as their pastor is going to try and talk some sense into them.  Who is the common sense person speaking to the people making decisions in the State Department?  When does someone from the Executive branch say, “Whoa, this doesn’t make any sense.”  Where’s the leadership?  Where’s the responsible one.  Isn’t there anyone who can make the point, “We’re cutting our military and at the same time also buying a $400,00 statue of a camel? This doesn’t make sense!”

And we wonder why we are in the financial shape we are in…sad.

Categories: John Personal, John's Rant (opinion), Leadership | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Should United Methodist Pastor’s Perform Homosexual Marriages?

In light of recent events and discussions regarding marriages of homosexual persons performed by United Methodist Ordained Clergy, I have been asked regarding my position on this subject.  So, in this blog I will make an attempt to state my position with grace and steadfastness to my personal faith.

Is homosexuality a sin? 

It is my belief that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teachings.  Yes, I believe it is sinful.  However, I believe that all humanity is broken and we are all guilty of sin in whatever forms it presents itself.

Should United Methodist Ordained Clergy officiate homosexual weddings? 

No.

Every United Methodist Clergy took a vow at their ordination and said yes to the following question:  “Will you be loyal to The United Methodist Church, accepting its order, liturgy, doctrine and discipline, defending it against all doctrines contrary to God’s Holy Word, and committing yourself to be accountable with those serving with you, and to the bishop and those who are appointed to supervise your ministry?”  To which every ordained clergy answered, “I will, with the help of God.”  So, each clergy has vowed to “accept our doctrine and discipline.”   This doesn’t mean we have to agree with it nor is it a requirement that we have to like everything in the doctrine and discipline…however, we have vowed to accept it and defend it.

The 2012 United Methodist Discipline states: “¶ 341.6
Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches.”

This is the rule of the United Methodist Church and if a clergy or a bishop officiates a wedding, they have broken their vow.  What does the willful and intentional breaking of one’s vow taken before God in a worship service say about said clergy’s honor?  We also don’t have the privilege of a “Line Item Veto” where the clergy can pick and choose what parts of the Discipline they will uphold and live by.  We vow to uphold and live by all the “doctrines and disciplines” of the church.  If a person cannot do that, then they should pursue another avenue to live out their calling. 

Each year as a member of the Board of Ordained Ministry, I ask the question of Candidates for the Ordination of Elder, “Will you itinerate?”  Like it or not being itinerate is part of our church.  If the candidate refuses to be itinerate, he or she should not be a United Methodist Ordained Elder.  I believe the same is true as to someone who is so opposed to the UM stance on conducting homosexual marriages and are willing to violate the Discipline and their Ordination vow.  It’s simple, this is the rule of law within the church, you’re taking a vow to uphold and abide by that rule and if you are going to refuse to minister by that rule…DON’T TAKE THE VOW!

It all comes down to a choice for the clergy and clergy candidates

-       Can I take a vow to “accept and defend” something I may not like or am opposed?

-       Will the rule of the United Methodist Church keep me from ministering in a way I feel called?

-       Will I break or maintain a vow that I have taken before God?

If you disagree with church doctrine, there are other options rather than violating a vow and just breaking the rules.  One can move to change the doctrine using the appropriate channels and means that have been laid out.  You can change to a denomination that better fits your theology and beliefs or one can always turn in credentials.

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30 Things I Want to Teach My Daughters

120611091018-father-daughter-share-dance-story-topAs the Father of two daughters, I have been giving a great deal of thought to what advice I’d like to give them about life, career, dating, and their education.  Here are  15 words of wisdom from your Dad.  I’m sure there will be more to follow…

  1. You are beautiful inside and out.
  2. Realize your self-worth before committing yourself to someone.
  3. Don’t reveal too much of yourself.  Closely guard your secrets, dreams, ideas, affections and your body.  There will be a day you want to share all of that with the person you marry.  Don’t share it with the world.  Remember, you’re special!
  4. You are a child of God and God loves you.
  5. Don’t date or marry someone who does not hold your values, morals and beliefs.
  6. If your date does not open the car door…stand there and don’t get in the car!
  7. Respect yourself and expect those you date to have respect for you also.  If they don’t have that respect, they don’t deserve to be out with you.
  8. You will not be able to change him.  Don’t date someone with the idea that you will be able to change the things in him you don’t like.  It does not happen that way.
  9. Don’t get serious with a guy who would rather play a video game or hang out with a bunch of guys than spend time with you.
  10. Get your education and as much education as possible.  Education provides choices in life and you want to have as many choices as you can.  Education provides these choices.
  11. Be able to financially, emotionally and professionally support yourself fully before getting married.  Having someone support you financially is not a reason to get married.
  12. Have goals and dreams.  Write them down and look at them often.  Create a roadmap to achieve these goals and dreams.
  13. Have Values and Morals.  Write them down and make them nonnegotiable.  What is that you believe and stand for?  This will make your decision-making easier and prevent a great deal of heartache.
  14. You can’t feel good about yourself while living in sin.
  15. Keep a journal of your life, prayers, answered prayers, struggles, and successes.
  16. Don’t hesitate to walk away from someone/something that goes against who you are and the values and morals you hold.
  17. Be able to change your own tire.
  18. Know how to jump off a battery.
  19. Get involved in a church.  Not just going on Sunday morning but giving of your time, efforts and finances.
  20. The sweetest sound to a person is the sound of their own name.  Learn and remember names.
  21. Learn how to budget and live within your means.
  22. Credit Cards are of Satan (stay away from them!!)
  23. Don’t put all your personal stuff on Facebook.  Remember, what goes online stays online FOREVER!
  24. The person you will be in 5 years will be greatly determined by the books you read, the TV/Movies you watch and most importantly the friends you hang out with.
  25. 10% of life is made up of what happens to you and the other 90% is how you respond to what happens to you.
  26. Change happens and is necessary for growth.
  27. Failure is not when you get knocked down but when you refuse to get back up.
  28. Attitude isn’t everything, but it is the one thing that can make a difference in your life.
  29. Give today your attention–not yesterday or tomorrow.
  30. You will always be Daddies Little Girl.  Forgive me when I constantly remind you of things you already know, ask you to call when you get where you are going and when you’re on your way home, and the belief that I hold that there is no male who is good enough for you.
Categories: Family, John Personal, John's Rant (opinion), Lessons I've Learned as a Dad, Letter to Sophie | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Guaranteed Appointments Eliminated

Guaranteed appointments for Elders in the UM Church has just ended.  Click HERE to read more.  And I have noticed an increase in Facebook chatter responding in a negative way, which I don’t understand.  Let me explain…

I worked in the corporate world (or as some church people call it, “The Real World”) from 1993-2002.  I worked for several companies including

State Farm Insurance

State Farm Insurance (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Automatic Data Processing and State Farm.  These were both very “good” and high paying jobs. They also had one thing in common…I was expected to produce and be effective.  If I was not effective and did not produce, it was not long until I knew I would be out of a job.

I was a Fire Claim Representative for State Farm.  I was trained for months before going into the field.  I was sent to Bloomington for 3 weeks one January to learn the policy.  [Believe it or not, if someone failed the policy exam, they were escorted back to the hotel, watched while they packed, put on a plane and sent home (without a job).] When someone’s house burned or was damaged and they filed a claim with insurance, I went out and assessed the damage, took measurements, wrote an estimate and then issued a draft.  I usually worked about 30 claims per month.  Each of those approximate 30 claims had the possibility of being re-inspected by someone. (The Farm actually has a “re-inspector” position and all they do is go out and make sure you did the claim according to standards.)  The re-inspector retook all the measurements and gave us a 1/2″ allowance to be off.

Each quarter, every Claims Adjuster had a performance review in which our re-inspections were reviewed with management.  These quarterly performance reviews determined if and how much of a raise we received.  If the adjuster had consistently bad reviews, it would result in termination.  In other words, my job security was performance based and not guaranteed!

I was dumbfounded when I entered into the ministry and discovered that not only did pastor’s NOT have performance reviews to see what kind of job they were doing but also had GUARANTEED APPOINTMENTS.  We have one of the most important duties and we are not held accountable???  I really could not believe it.  However, in the pulpits, most ministers will preach on accountability yet we don’t seem to want anyone to hold us accountable.

I have and have always had (gonna make some of my teacher friends mad) a problem with tenure.  The biggest problem with tenure is mediocrity.  You have a job regardless if you do it well or not.  (I know some are going to say that it prevents teachers/preachers from being fired over what they say or teach, but let’s be real!  We have way more problem with ineffective teachers and preachers!!)  Can the system of Performance Based Employment be tainted? YES.

To be effective and fair, the United Methodist Church is going to have to institute the following or something close:

  • Clearly defined performance goals so the Bishop, DS, BOOM and Clergy are on the same page.  These goals need to be individualized for each clergy because every church is different.
  • Regular performance reviews.  These means the Bishop/DS/BOOM or other is going to have to be in the business of every local church and pastor on a higher level and more routine level
  • Develop policies for helping pastors who are not performing to expectations and a process leading to termination if expectations are not met.
  • A check and balance system so that one person cannot just arbitrarily fire a pastor.

I know this can be strange and somewhat scary. I like knowing that I’m going to have an appointment no matter what! But tenure/guaranteed appointments are not the answer.  This leads to ineffectiveness, mediocrity, laziness and the stats of the UM church don’t show we as pastors are doing our jobs in reaching great masses of people for the Kingdom.  Right now as it has been, a pastor can go play golf 5 times a week, preach on Sunday and be guaranteed a pulpit.  That’s the larger injustice.

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10 Specific Compliments to Give Your Children

10 Specific Compliments to Give Your Children | All Pro Dad.

Fact is, children look to their parents for encouragement, and finding affirmation at home is foundational to positive emotional development. Parents need to be in the business of building our children up.  But we also need to be honest, and it’s important to use compliments that really mean something. Kids can sense disingenuousness and empty praise. Making stuff up is harmful; false praise is dishonest and the practice breaks trust.

Here are 10 compliments all kids need to hear:

  1. Recognize and compliment character:
    We live in a world where integrity is neither consistently taught nor widely expected. When our children demonstrate honesty, kindness, trustworthiness and reliability, that’s a great time to take them aside and offer a sincere compliment.
  2. Compliment obedience and respect:
    It’s too easy to fall into patterns of disapproval, where the only time we notice is when kids do wrong. Rather than waiting for disobedience or disrespect (then coming down like a ton of bricks) try noticing obedience and respect: “I don’t always remember to tell you, but you are an awesome young man, and I appreciate the way you treat your mother”.
  3. Appreciate them for simply being part of the family:
    “Every time I see you, I’m thankful that I’m a dad.” Kids need to understand that they are valued simply because they are.
  4. Compliment contributions to the family:
    “Clearing the table (sweeping the porch… putting out the trash) makes a real difference. I appreciate your contribution.” Kids need to understand that what they do makes a difference, that the adults notice, and that pitching in is a good part of family life.
  5. Compliment the quality of a child’s work:
    “This is one clean porch, mister!” “You mowed the lawn right up to the edge.  Way to go!  I’m so glad you take this job so seriously, it shows.” Doing a job at a high standard is always worth noting.
  6. We can compliment the effort, even when the result is not the best:
    “Your willingness to help makes me happy! Now we need to take a look at how you can get the trash to the curb without leaving a trail!” Compliments can be an important part of our role as teachers.
  7. It’s important that we compliment children when they achieve something new:
    “Wow! That’s a huge leap forward for you there in math, pal.” “Awesome! I’m not at all surprised after you worked so hard.” A well-placed compliment can keep a positive ball rolling.
  8. We can compliment sense of style even if we don’t exactly share their taste:
    We don’t want to hedge kids into being clones of dad, or mom. “When it comes to putting together an outfit, you certainly have some flair!” “I can tell that you put a lot of thought into the way you look.” “I’ve never seen a table set quite like that before – you have an amazing imagination!” It’s not useful to limit compliments to the narrow range of our own taste.
  9. Compliment steps toward a long-term goal:
    “Son, the improvement you’re showing is commendable. Thanks for trying.” Waiting for perfection before we’re willing to dish out a compliment is inefficient, may dampen enthusiasm, and does little to help the process of growth.
  10. Try complimenting their friends:
    But only do this when you can do it honestly! “Your friends are the greatest!” “That Jimmy is such a positive young man.” “You know, it gives me a lot of confidence to know you use common sense in choosing your friends.”
Categories: Family, John Personal, John's Rant (opinion), Lessons I've Learned as a Dad | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Being a Good Father

I am now a Father and I’m learning everyday.  It’s amazing how much I really don’t know.  Here are some of the things I’ve learned about being a father:

  • You don’t mind cleaning up your child’s “throw-up”.  (I’ve always gotten sick from someone throwing up)
  • When they are sick, you want them close to you. ( I used to run from sick people from a fear of catching it.)
  • You’re their parent, not their friend, buddy, companion or partner.  (They have many friends/buddies but only 2 parents.  They need you to be in that role.)
  • Discipline is a part of being a parent.  (The old saying,”This is going to hurt me more than you.” is so true.)
  • Telling them each day how much you love them.
  • Hold them in your lap (At least until they are too big)
  • Know who their friends are and who their friends parents are. (Aside from you, their friends will have the most influence on their lives.)
  • Set boundaries for your children/teenagers.  They won’t set them on their own, but you’re teaching them how to do this preparing them for tomorrow.
  • Play the X-Box/football/baseball/sports with them and let them win (sometimes but losing on purpose all the time is a bad lesson in itself.) Go hiking, camping, fishing with the boys and shopping, dress up, and nails with your girls.
  • Teach them to fail forward, persistence, courage, honor and committment.
  • Introduce them and teach them to respect new cultures, people who are different, and other religions.
  • Teach them Grace by your actions.
  • Teach them the importance of money (checking account, saving, budgets, and investing) AND that money is NOT the most important thing and is NOT what makes them valuable.
  • Show them how to be a husband (or what to look for in a husband) by the way you treat and love their Mom.
  • Don’t spend all your time at work.  Your employer of 20 years will forget you 1 week after you’re gone but your children will miss you for a lifetime.
  • Teach them to tithe.
Categories: Family, Friends, John Personal, John's Rant (opinion), Lessons I've Learned as a Dad | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

6 HUGE Mistakes a Pastor Can Make

I’m now coming up on my 10th year in ministry and I’ve discovered some mistakes (some I’ve made and some I’ve seen) which can greatly limit a pastors ministry.  Here is what I have found:

  • Mistake 1.  Micro-managing your staff/volunteers.  If there is a need to micro-manage because the job may not get done correctly, then why are they in that position to begin with.  However, most micro-managing is the result of a Pastor’s own lack of self-confidence.  Pastor’s must get over themselves and get out-of-the-way of others.
  • Mistake 2.  Not Empowering staff nor congregation to do ministry.  Many pastors are not handing over the reigns of ministry to the laity.  When you don’t empower others for ministry, the ministry is limited/held back according to what YOU can accomplish.  When others are empowered, the ministry will grow exponentially.  A large role of the pastor is to train others and empower them to do ministry.  I tell me congregation that when someone is sick and in the hospital, I hope I’m the last one to arrive because everyone else has beaten me to the hospital.
  • Mistake 3.  It’s All About Me!  I call this the “Glory Hog” and they want all the glory to themselves.  “Did you see what Pastor_______ is doing at XYZ Church!”  is what they strive to hear.  Ministry is not for our glory but for the glory of God.
  • Mistake 4.  It’s Gotta Be My Way:  A true recipe for failure.  You’re only a leader if people are following you.  This is not a dictatorship and yes there are times when a pastor needs to hold his/her ground especially when there is a doctrine, theological, or moral issue.  BUT some compromise is more often the case.
  • Mistake 5.  Not Maintaining Confidentiality :  Un-ethical/damaging/heartless and DUMB.  The only time confidentiality should be broken is in the case of abuse or fear for someones life.
  • Mistake 6.  Not Setting Goals and Informing Congregation: If a church does not know where it is going and the direction it will be taking to arrive at its destination, how will it know when it arrives?  These goals cannot be the personal secret of the pastor.  Sharing these goals can/should motivate the congregation to achieve the goals IF they are in line with the vision of the church.
Categories: Church, Faith Journey, John's Rant (opinion), Leadership | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

6 Ways to be a “Good” Husband

My Beautiful Bride

I have never met anyone like my wife, Jill.  Next to my relationship with Jesus, she is the best thing that has ever happened to me in my life.  I love her with all my heart and I want nothing but the best for her.  Wanting nothing but the best for her has made me look at myself and ask “How can I be a better husband?”  Here are some things I do…

  1. Tell her you love her and how much she means to you.  It’s amazing to me how many wives say their husband never tells them he loves them. Our wives need to hear us say that we love them and not only during those intimate moments.  When is the last time you called your wife in the middle of the day with nothing to say except, I love you.  Leave her love notes, send her flowers, tell her she is beautiful.
  2. Pray for you wife and with her.  Praying specifically for your wife and thanking God for her puts your wife in a special place in your heart.  It’s really hard to stay angry with someone you’re constantly praying for.  Also, pray with your wife.  The man is the spiritual leader in the home.  It’s the man’s responsibility to lead the spiritual formation of the family and it starts with prayer.
  3. Discover your wife’s love language.  Read the book, “The Five Love Languages“!  A love language is how one feels the most love.  I’m someone who feels love when someone does something for me.  When we first married I would mow the lawn and manicure it, then go in the house with my chest poked out and tell her to look at it.  I was trying to impress her.  She would look at it and say, “Good Job”  Or I would wash, wax, and clean out her car only to get a simple thank you.  After a marriage retreat, I found out that it was not the way to show Jill I love her.  Her love language is touch.  Spending time on the couch, holding her hand while watching TV is what she sees as love.   You won’t know how to show her your love if you don’t know what she needs.
  4. Learn More About Her.  People are constantly changing and no matter how long you’ve been married there are always new things to learn about her.  Do you know what kind of gum she prefers?  What’s her favorite color?  What are her dreams?
  5. Constantly look for ways you can be a better husband.  This may sound simple, but it is so important.  Always be growing as a husband.  It’s like being a Christian, seeking perfection in a broken world and trying to be more like Christ every day.
  6. Date your wife.  It’s so easy to fall into a “life” routine of going to work, coming home, changing babies, doing the dishes and going to bed.  A husband has to be intentional about asking his wife out on a date.  No kids, open the car door for her, bring her flowers, go someplace romantic over night. Get in the habit of this and ideally do it once a week.  If this is not possible, at least do it routinely.  It will strengthen your marriage.
Categories: Common Everyday Stuff, Family, Jill, John's Rant (opinion) | Leave a comment

Dissension in the Church

 “Do everything without grumbling or arguing,  so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” Philippians 2:14-16 NIV

I’ve been around a great many churches in my life and career.  I have found that so many people have been hurt in the church.  In most of these it seems that someone said something, did something, didn’t say something or didn’t do something and this hurt someone else.  The person who is hurt will usually do one of the following:

  • Leave the church
  • Allow their hurt to seep out to others in the congregation

What this does is creates dissension within the walls of the church.  This is very dangerous and is the playground for Satan.  The prince of darkness loves it when Christians begin to quarrel with one another because it takes their focus and the focus of the church and places it on something besides the Great Commission. Thus the warning from Paul to the Philippians, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing.”

Is this really possible?  A church without some sort of dissension seems like the exception to the rule.  However, IT IS POSSIBLE.  How do we get to that point?  Well, Jesus gave us a plan to deal with problems in the church.

“If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.” Matthew 18:15-17 The Message

A three-point plan to prevent dissension/arguments/hurt feelings within the church.

  1. Go and tell the person who hurt you or your upset with.
  2. IF he doesn’t listen, take one or two others along and try again.
  3. IF he still won’t listen, tell the church.

In our churches today, there is way too much skipping of the first step.  As pastor, when someone comes to me with a complaint against another congregation member or a staff member, the first thing I ask is, “Have you talked to that person?”  Most often the question is no.

The main reason people get hurt and leave the church is a lack of communication.  Skipping step number 1.  Jesus made this one number 1 and I believe he was a pretty smart man.  If we’re Christian, why do we just jump over the first step when most disagreements can be solved at this point? Let me assure you that anonymous letters, talking with other congregation members or just holding it in and staying hurt or mad will NOT help the situation.

Please, allow me to encourage you to open up that line of communication with everyone in the church.  If you have an issue with something a fellow member, staff or if the pastor has said, not said, done, or not done something, please go to that person with your concerns.  If he/she does not listen, then go Step 2, then if it is not resolved go to Step 3

It seems that someone is always upset with the pastor. It’s okay because the way to avoid that is to try to make everyone happy.  When pastors try to make everyone happy, they lose focus of their true calling from God.  I had one of my pastor mentors tell me, “Don’t spend time worrying about the complaints that have come from someone on behalf of the person who is complaining.  If they won’t talk to you one on one, you’re not going to be able to make changes to their satisfaction and it takes your focus off the important stuff.”

Open up your communication and there WILL BE less dissension in our churches and can you then imagine what God can accomplish for the Kingdom!

Categories: Church, Church At Chelsea Park, Faith Journey, John's Rant (opinion) | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Focusing our Efforts

Derek Jeter

Image by Keith Allison via Flickr

Over the last several months, the leadership at Union has been asking the following question:  “What do we do well?”  This is a very important question as we are making the next steps in our growth.  But what exactly does this mean?  It means”

  • We are going to determine what we do well.  What is it we are good at?
  • We do we not do well? What are we not good at?
  • We’re going to stop doing the things we don’t do well and
  • We’re going to focus our energy, time, money, efforts, resources on what we already do well and try to take these to the next level of good.

John Maxwell says “Don’t focus on the things your not good at!  Why, because you aren’t any good at them.”

Derrick Jeter is one of the best hitters all time in baseball.  Guess what?  Jeter doesn’t spend any time in the bullpen working on his pitching.  Why?  It’s not what he is good at.  He could spend hours and hours trying to be a good pitcher but never achieve even “good” major league pitching status.  If he were to spend all that time trying to become a pitcher, it would take it’s toll on what he is really good at…hitting.

So many churches today are trying to become good at what they are not good at and they are doing it while sacrificing the ministries they do well.  Instead, churches should be focusing on the ministries they are already good at and taking them to the next level.

Maxwell suggest that we have been taught the following:  Someone who gets an A in math and a C in English should study English more.  Maxwell instead teaches that the student should concentrate and become better in math.  That person has a “Math Mind.”

I’ve also been told if on a scale of 1-10, a person will never be able to increase their skill more than three points.  So, if you are a 6 skill level, you can reach a 9.  However, if you are a 3 skill level in an area, you will never increase more than a 6.

What does all this mean for churches?

  • It could mean cutting out ministries that have been going on for years, but are not productive and are being sustained because we have been doing them for years.
  • It means finding out what your strengths are and weaknesses are.  (these by the way, can be very difficult answers to face.)
  • Taking a look at the churches talents and using them to their fullest potential.
  • It will mean growth.  Both spiritually and physically.
  • It will mean less division because the churches will know what their vision.  (Where there is no VISION, there will be DIVISION)
Categories: Church At Chelsea Park, John's Rant (opinion) | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where’s The Leadership?

The news is reporting that years ago, a Penn State Grad student witness a former coach abusing a child.  Reported it to Coach Paterno.  Nothing has been said and now the grad student is a coach at the school.This seems to be an incredible lack of leadership (not saying anything about the lack of morals) exhibited in this situation.

If the accusations are true, Coach Paterno should be held criminally responsible.  As a pastor, I have a great deal of contact with children and we are trained that one of the very few times we break confidentiality is when there is the possibility of abuse.  We cannot keep that to ourselves.  Why would Paterno keep this information to himself (if he truly did)?  We can ask the same question as to why most people have the first reaction that the accusations are true.  The power of the football god.

Football has taken on a god-like status and Football is a LOUSY god!!  Being from Alabama, I live in the college football capitol of the world.  There is no other rivalry that comes close to that of Alabama/Auburn.  It’s so bad that just this past year, an Alabama fan poisoned trees that are a tradition at Auburn. This man did not even go to the University!  How can one be that loyal (and I use that word lightly) or CRAZY regarding a school where you have never paid one semesters tuition?  Football has become a god.

In Alabama, people plan church, weddings, vacations, and family gatherings around the schedule of college kids chasing a pigskin.  Strange but true.

How did Coach Paterno have such a lack of leadership?  Simple, football is more important than the children who were hurt..

Why did a man who witnessed child abuse remain silent and take a staff position on a team that covers it up? Simple, football is more important than the children who were hurt.

Quite a sad commentary.

Categories: John's Rant (opinion), Leadership | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Time to MAN UP!

Today on CNN.com there is an article entitled “It’s Time for Men to Man Up”  One of the parts of the article that really caught my attention was the following:

“Man’s response has been pathetic. Today, 18-to-34-year-old men spend more time playing video games a day than 12-to-17-year-old boys. While women are graduating college and finding good jobs, too many men are not going to work, not getting married and not raising families. Women are beginning to take the place of men in many ways…If you don’t believe the numbers, just ask young women about men today. You will find them talking about prolonged adolescence and men who refuse to grow up. I’ve heard too many young women asking, “Where are the decent single men?” There is a maturity deficit among men out there, and men are falling behind.”

How has this happened?  My parents divorced when I was very young and thus I did not have a male influence living in my household.  My mother accepted the responsiblity and made sure that I had the male influences that I needed.  My Uncle Delbert taught me about camping and how to build a fire.  Uncle Jim took me to get my drivers license.  My Uncle George was the disciplinarian and anytime I was too big for my britches called for a visit to his house.  My Uncle Ray taught me how to hunt, safety with guns, and how to drive.  These men shaped me into the man I am today.

Not long ago, we had an incident with my son and he did something that can only be classified as STUPID.  That night I sat him down and had a long talk with him.  I started this discussion off with an apology to him.  I apologized for not teaching him all the things he needed.  I take full responsibility for his actions now.  But I told him I never would do that again and I would make sure that I did everything in my power to help him be a man.  It’s now his decision to take this opportunity and grow from it or not.  But I am going to do my part.

Too many boys are growing up without the influences in their life to be the men that their wives, children, families, employers, community and nation need.  A whole generation are becoming “grown-ups” but without any knowledge of how to MAN UP.

Fathers, Step-Fathers, Uncles, Grandfathers, Men of the Church, Coaches, Scout Leaders, and any other men need to recognize the need to be male influences.

The article also states:

Today, 18-to-34-year-old men spend more time playing video games a day than 12-to-17-year-old boys. While women are graduating college and finding good jobs, too many men are not going to work, not getting married and not raising families. Women are beginning to take the place of men in many ways. This has led some to ask: do we even need men?

So what’s wrong? Increasingly, the messages to boys about what it means to be a man are confusing. The machismo of the street gang calls out with a swagger. Video games, television and music offer dubious lessons to boys who have been abandoned by their fathers. Some coaches and drill sergeants bark, “What kind of man are you?” but don’t explain.

Our speaker at Alpha was Justin Lookadoo.  His quote of the weekend was: “Show me a guy who plays video games more than 1 hour/day and I’ll show you a girlfriend I can steal.  Men, we have got to teach our children how to be respectful, have character, how to treat ladies, and how to be leaders.  It’s our responsiblity.  Will we accept it?

Categories: John's Rant (opinion) | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Teenagers

This poster says it all…

Categories: Erica, Family, John's Rant (opinion) | Leave a comment

End of the World? Really…

There has been an extreme amount of talk this week regarding the prediction of the Rapture by “Pastor” Harold. Camping  Camping claims to have figured out through scripture and mathematical calculations when God is going to return.  His prophecy has caused quite the uproar with news reports of people cashing in their life savings to place advertisements in New York warning people that May 21 would be the end.

Here’s my two cents:

  • Forget that his ministry is worth about $80 Million Dollars
  • Put aside the fact that he predicted the rapture would be in September 1994 (but got his calculations wrong.)
  • Look over that he encourages his people to “steadfastly continue to stand with us to proclaim the Gospel through Family Radio.”  (Radio after the Rapture?)

Let’s save “Pastor” Camping a great deal of being wrong and ask him during his study of Scriptures (to devise the calculations for the end of the world) to take a look at Matthew 24:35-37 and Mark 13:31-33.  Jesus says, “…not Angels, nor the Son, but only the Father” will know the date and hour.  That’s good enough for me.

Categories: Faith Journey, John's Rant (opinion) | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Distracted

I was watching TV the other night and saw a commercial that I really appreciated.  It’s the Fidelity Green Line commercial.  Click below to see it

How easy is it for us to get distracted from our goals, our mission, our vision.  This often happens in our personal lives, our business, even our churches.  One would think that a church wouldn’t have this problem but it happens every day.  Jesus told His Church one thing to be concerned with. MAKING DISCIPLES, yet we often get so distracted by “good” things.  This is even evident in the First Century Church when a group of widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.  The disciples said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables.” (Acts 6:2).  Some might think this is a harsh statement but I would argue that keeping focused on the task at hand is difficult.  It’s easy to become distracted by things that are good and bad.  What happens is energy, effort, focus is taken away from the main task and diverted to something else.

In our churches, we too easily get distracted.  Plain and simple.  We spend WAY TOO MUCH TIME and energy focusing on other things.  Let’s put all of our focus on making disciples, helping people grow in their relationship with God and quit worrying about which service we like better (contemporary or traditional).  Let’s stop focusing on worship times/color of the carpet/how many come to the admin council meeting/wearing a stole or not wearing a stole/sing out of Cokesbury Hymnals or the new UM Hymnals/and all the other thousands of things we allow to distract us from our Jesus mandated mission.  This is not to say that all those things are not good, many are, but they are not our MAIN focus.  When we focus on making disciples, the important things that we worry about and distract us will be taken care of.

Categories: Church, Faith Journey, John Personal, John's Rant (opinion) | Leave a comment

5 Places I Love the Most

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, USA

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve always loved to travel and see new things.  There are places that I have been and can’t wait for the opportunity to go back.  I’m also the type of person that when I find a place that I like, I want to keep going back and back and back.  Here are some of my favorites:

  1. Moab, Utah/Valley of the Gods/Monument Valley:  I don’t think there is any other place in the world which is more majestic and beautiful.  I fell in love with the Southwest about 12 years ago and I would leave this afternoon to go on another trip.  If you manage to go, be sure to camp in the Valley of the Gods or stay at a place called the Desert Rose Inn.
  2. Washington DC:  This is where I fell in love with history.  You could spend months in Washington and never see all there is to see and besides that 99% of it is free!!  I love just hanging out there.  It’s beautiful and there is something special about walking the same streets as Abe Lincoln, Ronald Reagan and John Kennedy.
  3. Memphis Tennessee:  One would think after going to seminary at Memphis Theological Seminary that I would have spent plenty of time there but NO!  I love this town.  It’s got everything, great music on Beale St.; Ribs at Blues Street Cafe; Memphis in May; and Graceland!  What else does one need?
  4. Bryson City NC:  I took my first trip to Bryson this year and it was spectacular.  It sits right on the Appalachian trail and it has places to hike, kyack, camp and just be in the great outdoors.  Highly recommend for the adventure!  It’s also really close to the Cherokee Indian Reservation.
  5. Hawaii:  Maybe it’s because Jill and I spent our honeymoon there but this is a place that is special to my heart.  From the history of Pearl Harbor and WWII to the beauty of the landscape.  From Elvis movies to Magnum PI.  And then how can you escape Dog the Bounty Hunter?  Great place.
Categories: John's Rant (opinion) | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Privacy???

I just saw a tweet from a young person that I know and it said, “I feel so suffocated when staying my parents’ house…. its like they just don’t understand the concept of privacy.”

Maybe it’s that I’m getting older or the fact that I now have children but I find this comment extremely hilarious.  And I just felt the need to write a blog about it.  Here is the way that I see it:

  1. If you desire privacy GET YOUR OWN PLACE; PAY YOUR OWN RENT/UTILITIES/GROCERIES/CLOTHES/INSURANCE/and CAR PAYMENT.
  2. Privacy is not a right in my house, it’s a privilege.  Neither is Freedom of Speech, Assembly, or the Right to Bear Arms.
  3. We have a rule in my house regarding doors:  If one gets slammed in anger, it comes off the hinges and is placed in the basement. (Talk about a lack of privacy).
  4. Believe it or not, (I’m 42 years old, married with 5 kids) if I go to my mothers house, I still have to tell her where I’m going and when I will be home.  It’s not privacy, it’s respect.
  5. So my friend who feels suffocated by a “lack of privacy in your parents home,” here’s my advice:  It’s time to grow up!
Categories: John's Rant (opinion) | 1 Comment

Who Haven’t You Reached?

Leadership Rule 10:  BECOME PRE-OCCUPIED WITH WHO YOU HAVEN’T REACHED AS OPPOSED TO THOSE YOU WANT TO KEEP!!

I’ve learned that you can find out what is considered most important in an organization by looking at the budget and determining where the money goes.  This is true for businesses, families, and churches.  There are a great many “church-goers” who will say they are all about reaching those who are not Christian but a quick look at their budgets will show you that they don’t put their money where their mouth is.  How do we change that?  We have to go from having a “Me” mentality to a “Them” pre-occupation.  This is what makes a church different from a country club.  The church is the only organization that when you join it ceases being about YOU.  In a church, membership doesn’t have its privileges, membership means servanthood.

So, what does this look like?  We need to be looking at everything we are doing as a church and asking, “How does this reach “Them?”;  “How does this make a difference in “Their” life?”;  “What would make “Them” feel more at home here?”  So many of the events that churches have are what I call “Me” events.  They are designed, put on, and paid for with one group of people in mind, “Us”.  What kind of music do “we” like?  What time is best for “Me”?  What version of the Bible do “I” prefer?  When we do this, we are effectively closing and locking the door of the Church.  We are saying, “This is the way that I like it and if you want to be a part, you must conform to “our” way of doing things.”  I suggest churches plan “Them” events.  Events that are put on strictly for the purpose of reaching into the community and that being the entire focus.

Also, if a church’s Outreach/Evangelism budget line item is not one of the largest amounts in the budget, then the question of WHY must be asked and answered.

I’m a firm believer that if “we” become preoccupied/obsessed with those who have not been reached for the Kingdom, God will bless it in ways that will boggle the mind.  Will it be easy? NO (putting self aside never is easy and is contrary to everything our society tells us)  but then again, being a Christian is not easy.  I would even go so far as to say it’s impossible without the help of the Holy Spirit.

Categories: John Personal, John's Rant (opinion), Leadership | Leave a comment

Fake or Real?

After school the other day, a commercial advertising the WWE event at the Civic Center and Jackson made a comment that he would love to go to that.  So, I got tickets for the two of us.  I have to admit I was pretty excited.  When I was in high school, a group of my friends and I would go to every match that came to Jackson.  We saw Andre, Hacksaw Duggen, Mr. Wrestling II, Kamala, Cowboy Bill Watts and the Junkyard Dog.  It was so much fun and so there was more than a little excitement about this adventure with Jackson.

Sometime during the night, he asked me the question that is asked at all wrestling matches, “Do you think this is real?”  I told him, “These were really good stuntmen and even though some of it was staged, some of it actually hurt, but it was for the entertainment of the crowd.  I had forgotten how entertained the crowd gets at these events.  It is amazing to witness the effort and the devotion some of the fans have to their favorite wrestler. They carry signs professing their love, they buy their favorite wrestlers tee shirts, and the scream at the opponents as they are entering the ring.  Truly a sight to behold.  (please don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this is a bad thing I’m just making an observation)

It was then that it hit me.  What if we were as passionate and devoted to Jesus as these wrestling fans were to their “hero?”  And there is no “entertainment factor” in Jesus!  He’s all true.  I often wonder what effect Christians could have on their homes, communities, states, nations, and even the world if we raised our passion level to that of a wrestling fan, a Crimson Tide Fan, or an Auburn Fan.  Would there still be homeless sleeping under the bridges in downtown Huntsville?  Would there be starving people in the world if we followed the command of Jesus to love our neighbor as ourself?  Would there be tailgating in the parking lot of the church before the Sunday service?

I believe it is one thing to claim to be a Christian but it is another thing entirely to being a disciple of Christ. A true disciple of Christ does not have to tell people they are a Christian, it is obvious without them saying a word. It’s obvious by the way they live their life, the way they behave when no one is looking, the way they love their spouse and children, the way they reach out to someone who no one else is reaching out to.   An old saying and I don’t remember who said it, “Preach, preach, preach all day long and use words only if necessary.”

When we truly begin to LIVE our faith, our spirituality will be taken to the next level.

Categories: Church, Faith Journey, John Personal, John's Rant (opinion) | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Leadership Rule 7

IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW LONG OR HOW HARD YOU’VE WORKED, IF IT DOESN’T ACCOMPLISH WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE.

Since Jill and I have been married, our children have had chores and a chore list to be accomplished daily.  I am a strong believer in work and think it is our responsibility to teach our children the blessing of an honest day’s work.  As they have gotten older, they have gotten better at “working at it”.  It is amazing how they can “work, work, work” and their rooms be the same disaster zone it was before they started.

This can be the same situation in the church.  You can spend all your energy, time, and money “working” and at the end of the day have nothing really accomplished.  This is bad in the business/home/school worlds, but tragic in the church world.  In the church world, nothing accomplished means no spiritual growth or someone not hearing the Gospel. If there is no spiritual growth, no sharing of the Gospel, what’s the point?  Some people might say, “We do a lot of good in our community.” and that’s great but one can accomplish the same things by being a Boy Scout, belonging to the Rotary Club, or volunteering for the Make a Wish Foundation. (All GREAT organizations but not the church).  What set’s the church apart is our commission, “Go into the world and make disciples.”  Churches often get all busy doing all kinds of GOOD things but are not making disciples.  IF IT DOESN’T ACCOMPLISH WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE, IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW HARD YOU WORK.

How do we avoid this scenario?

1.  Accept the fact that as Christians we are called by Jesus himself...To Make Disciples. This is what we are working for and toward. Having fellowship dinners, fish fries, youth events, and etc. are great tools to be used but they are not why we are here.  If a church works, spends money and time putting on an event and no spiritual growth takes place and no one hears about Jesus except in the meals blessing, nothing has been accomplished that needed to be done.  Everything a church does needs to be for the reason of sharing Christ and Spiritual Growth.  Otherwise, we become a social club.

2. Once the direction is known, work in the direction to get there.  For example, if you’re going to California, you don’t need to go through Washington DC to get there.  It is so easy to get derailed and re-directed as we work to share the Gospel and re-directed by some really good things.  However, these good things often will take our eyes off the goal and we end up miles from where we need to be.  The shortest distance between the spot your at right now and the place you want to get to is a straight line.  Keep the goal in sight and stay on track.

Categories: John Personal, John's Rant (opinion), Leadership | Leave a comment

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