Thursday, September 27, 2007
Thanks for Sharing
I stopped by a large discount retail store this morning on the way into the office to pick up a couple items. If you do not know to which store I am referring, you'll figure it out soon enough.
As I was checking out at Aisle #1, the cashier began scanning my items. Evidently, I had interrupted a high-level conversation, but my presence would not preclude this dialogue from continuing. As I prepared to swipe my credit card, my cashier chuckles and yells over to the Aisle #3 cashier, "Man, now every time I burp, it tastes like watermelon! Or, when I hiccup."
It was a touching moment.
And, before you stereotype the individuals engaged in this exchange, know this: they were both women.
Now, I am all for "keeping it real," and for people being genuine. But, somehow I don't think this is what Jesus had in mind when he encouraged us to be authentic and transparent in our communication with others.
Needless to say, I will make a point of using the "self check-out" next time. And, I'll make sure to grab a pack of Watermelon Bubbleyum for the road.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
The 2-sday 10
The Top Ten Craziest Fads of the 1980's Courtesy of Kassidy Emerson on Associated Content's web site
10. Parachute Pants
9. Hacky Sacks
8. Doc Marten Lace-Up Shoes (also known as Army Boots or Granny Boots)
7. Skater Haircuts
6. Sock Sweat Bands
5. Big Hair Held in Place with Cases of Hairspray
3. "Jelly" Shoes
2. Chia Pets (Ch-ch-ch-chia!)
1. Garbage Pail Kids (If only I kept my Adam Bomb card)
For the entire article with hilarious commentary, CLICK HERE.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Why is it that we are always able to immediately recall our deficiencies when we are about to tackle a monumental task, or begin a promising new endeavor? I don't know about you, but just about any time that I finally take initiative and make up my mind that I am going to answer the bell and meet a challenge head-on, I am reminded about my shortcomings. My fallenness. My inadequacies. And, as much as I want to plow right through those speed bumps, I tend to slam the brakes and treat them as enormous barriers.
Satan really does not have any power over us at all - at least those of us who consider themselves children of Christ. But, we find ways to empower him by our forgetfulness. You see, when we fail to remember how God has moved in our lives, we give Satan a foothold. There's nothing the enemy loves more than to pile on discouragement, despair, and shame when we take our eyes off Jesus. It's his favorite past-time.
But, there is a rather simple solution to these feelings that surface and overwhelm us: remembering God's victories in and through us. Answered prayers. Times of laughter. The kindness we received when we didn't deserve it. That job we only could have gotten with His personal assistance. When we were able to make ends meet somehow when we were certain we were at the end of our financial rope. Victories.
The funny thing is that both God and Satan thrive on our weakness. The irony is that when we are self-sufficient we are truly demonstrating the weakness that our enemy loves to exploit. But, our true strength surfaces when our needle is on empty and we can only turn to our Heavenly Father.
Paul said it this way: But he (the Lord) said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.
So, when you feel weak, it's quite likely that's exactly where God wants you. And, in moments (or hours, days, weeks, or months) of weakness, don't look down in discouragement; don't look around in bewilderment; don't look ahead in uncertainty; look UP - to the One who will be ready to fill you with His perfect strength and carry you through to another victory!
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Pulling the Trigger
Many times we know what we are supposed to do. But, we delay. We procrastinate. We wait for circumstances to change so we can weasel our way out of something. God prompts us to do something, but we sit on our hands in hopes of Him changing His mind. I've learned, like many of you, that usually it's just best to go ahead and go for it. After all, God doesn't change His mind very often.
I was listening to a lady this afternoon explaining how she ended up signing up to take a mission trip to Mexico - the first mission trip she has ever signed up for! She said that for four consecutive weeks she circled the trip on the Sunday morning handout at church. She felt God tapping on her shoulder, but yet should wouldn't act.
Week after week she eye-balled the trip, and kept telling herself that she was going to go on the trip. Finally, after toiling over the decision for a month, and after losing countless nights of sleep, she went to the missions web page, completed the registration form and hit the submit button. In her own words, she said, "That night, I got the best night of sleep of my life. I didn't have to think about it anymore."
I'm sure she came to the same conclusion I have on these types of occasions: why delay and wrestle with a decision, when in the end, God knows what's best for you? If you choose NOT to be available for God, He will find someone who is available.
So, save yourself some heartache and sleep deprivation. Put your "YES" on the table for God and allow Him to use you in incredible ways! You'll be so glad that you did!
Pull the trigger.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
The Dreaded "S" Word
No, not that "S" word. Or, THAT "S" word. Not Spurrier either. I'm talking about an "S" word that I fear people do not truly comprehend: Sacrifice.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines the word sacrifice as follows: To forfeit (one thing) for another thing considered to be of greater value. And, as much as we like to toss around this word, the painful truth is this: we consider ourselves to be of greater value than others.
If we didn't, we would embrace sacrifice. We would look for opportunities to give up more for the benefit of others. We'd spend less, we'd serve more, we'd give more, we'd love more. We'd let Johnnie over in front of us in bumper to pumper traffic.
Some equate the word sacrifice with inconvenience. According to Dictionary.com, inconvenience is "something that causes discomfort, trouble, etc." And, while a sacrifice may result in our discomfort at times, it shouldn't be regarded as a negative term. But, we make it seem negative, don't we? When we are faced with actually having to make sacrifices, we lament. We gripe. We mope. And, after lamenting, griping, and moping, we convince ourselves that sacrificing isn't worth all the self-imposed grief. So we take a step back up the ladder, often times while stepping on others' fingers.
Jesus had something much better in mind when he came to earth. He viewed sacrifice as an opportunity to glorify His Father. He knew that by decreasing himself, others would increase - and ultimately God Himself would be reflected in his actions.
But, by sending His son to earth, God also knew there was a cost. He was giving up (forfeiting) His only son temporarily for "another thing considered to be of greater value" - you and me.
We don't have to die a physical, tormented death in order to sacrifice for others, but we do have "die to self" in many respects. You and I have opportunities each and every day to make choices that affect the lives of countless others - whether we realize it or not.
It's not easy, but it's rewarding. And sacrificing is a great way to remind ourselves that it's not about us. It's about God, and it's about others. Others who don't know Him, or may have walked away from Him. And, we have the ability to bridge that gap by putting ourselves aside and giving people a better view of the One who loves them most.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
The 2-sday 10
Top 10 Non-threatening College Mascots
Source: Roy Yarborough's Mascots! The History of Four and Two Year College & University Mascots and Nicknames
10. Mule Riders: Southern Arkansas
9. Classics: Cedor Crest College (Pa.)
8. Quakers: University of Pennsylvania, Guilford College (N.C.), Wilmington College (Ohio), Earlham College (Ind.)
7. Pilgrims: New England College (N.H.)
6. Squirrels: Mary Baldwin College (Va.)
5. Terrapins: Maryland — College Park
4. Violets: New York University
3. Vixen: Sweet Briar College (Va.)
2. Ichabods: Washburn University (Kan.)
1. Poets: Whittier College (Calif.)
Monday, September 17, 2007
Back in the Saddle
Alrighty. I'm back, after a great vacation (albeit a short one) down to the Florida panhandle. And, just to let you know, I did honor my vow of not doing work while on vacation.
I did check email once or twice each day, but the only work I did was to update one insy-winsy piece of information on our web site yesterday afternoon.
One of my favorite pasttimes while on vacation is reading. I devoured Patrick Lencioni's Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars in about three hours, and it vaulted up to the top of "C.A.'s must-reads." I'm now reading When the Game is Over, it All Goes Back in the Box by John Ortberg, without question my favorite author.
I'll be back in the blogging saddle tomorrow, as I unveil the latest "2sday 10."
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
What in the World is R & R?
I really enjoy the concept of "R & R." The thought of getting much-needed and much-deserved Rest & Relaxation really appeals to me. But, I have to admit...these days I really don't know what R & R is.
With a hectic life that includes my wife and I both working full-time jobs, two kids in school, one son playing fall baseball, going to Athens on Saturdays for UGA home football games, cleaning the house, running errands, helping kids with homework (the list could continue), the execution of the much-beloved "R & R" has become foreign to me.
But, I cannot blame "life" completely for this. You see, even when "life" allows R & R, I have a tough time accepting it. I guess it's how I'm wired. I feel the most alive when I am DOING something. I find satisfaction in being productive. But, sometimes being TOO productive can be COUNTER-productive. It's a tough lesson I am continually learning.
Tomorrow, Amy, the kids, and I head to Florida to sneak in a few last days at the beach as summer comes to a close. It's truly my prayer that I will be able to "let go" of work and "productivity" for a couple days and chill out. It's easier said than done, I assure you. I am going to allow myself to check emails once or twice a day, but I am not going to do any job-related work (some may argue that I rarely do that anyway).
I find it interesting that in the Bible any time something "big" was about to happen, or any time God was going to use someone in a big way, He asked them to "get away" for a while. To reset their minds and priorities. And, while I have no intentions of heading into a wilderness to fast for 40 days, I do hope to become refreshed and re-invigorated.
I really love my family. And, I really love my job. And, this weekend, I hope to strengthen both by loosening the grip "life" has on me, as well as trying to overcome the bent I have on staying busy.
Hold on...I have an email to reply to...
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
The 2-sday 10
Top Ten Countries with the Highest Population
1. China - 1,317,431,495
2. India - 1,129,667,528
3. United States - 301,967,681
4. Indonesia - 224,481,720
5. Brazil - 186,771,161
6. Pakistan - 167,806,831
7. Nigeria - 162,082,868
8. Russia - 143,406,042
9. Bangladesh - 137,493,990
10. Japan - 128,646,345
Total World Population: 6,574,666,417
Monday, September 10, 2007
Laugh it Up!
I've been bitter since my senior year in High School, when I was the runner-up in the vote for "Wittiest" student among my peers. What did they know? I have always felt like I was robbed. There's no question I was the wittiest! Ironically, I was a distant 438th in the vote for "Mr. Humility."
But, seriously, I have always believed that my sense of humor - even at inopportune times - is an asset that has been genuinely beneficial over the course of my 33-plus years. And, I just confirmed that notion, as I took a "humor self-test" on the Spirituality & Health web site. On Dr. Thornton's Humor Scale (I have no idea who Dr. Thornton is), I scored a 61 out of 64.
The test scores people in four areas: (1) creativity and performance, (2) using humor as a coping mechanism, (3) facilitating humor, and (4) appreciating humor. If you score in the upper 50's or 60's, then humor is really serving you well and is improving your quality of life. Those scoring between 40 & 50 use humor effectively at times, but could "learn to let go" more often. Finally, those scoring in the 30's or (gasp!) in the 20's are told to "loosen up" and are considered "gloomy."
Why does all this matter? Well, scientific studies have proven that laughing people are more creative and more productive, and hence are better teammates in a work environment. Further, it has been shown that laughter can add up to eight years to someone's life!
So, how do you think you'd do? Take 2-3 minutes to take this self-assessment and see where you stand. If you're soaring near 60, then congrats! If you are hovering in the 30's, then you may need to kick it to Chuck E. Cheese's and play a little Skee Ball.
Now, pull my finger.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
You're Not Buying What You Think
And, while you may THINK you are paying for a cup of coffee, a cell phone, an automobile, a cut of beef, and a show, that isn't REALLY what you are paying for. Mostly you are paying for "how it makes you feel," and you just happen to get the product or service along with it.
Think about it. You can make a strong cup of coffee at home. But, when you walk in Starbucks (or drive through) you are doing so because it makes you feel good. You enjoy the experience. Same with the iPhone. People were lined up for days in advance to be among the first to claim one of those bad-boys. Were they buying a cell phone? Well, yes...but, long before they actually made the purchase they had convinced themselves that the iPhone was something the just HAD to have. They bought into the story that Apple sold them in their marketing, and ultimately they forked over 5 C-notes so they, in turn, could be a part of the story.
In his fantastic book All Marketers are Liars, Seth Godin explains that great companies build their product or service around worldview that already exists, and then they tell a "story" to the consumer. If this is executed effectively, it is then up to the consumer to buy in. And, where there is consumer buy-in, there are lies being told by people - to themselves.
When you go to that one-in-a-million secret hideaway restaurant and shell out a hundred bucks for dinner, you are paying for the experience (the story) and how it makes you feel. Face it, we ALL love to feel like insiders, don't we? We all want to be in on the "big secret." Think of the things - restaurants, gadget stores, etc. - that you really enjoy patronizing. Then, think about how you feel when you go there. You feel alive. Strong. Energized. THAT's what you are paying for. Because you could go to a half-dozen or more places to get the same THING - but not the same feeling.
What's this all mean? Well, ultimately, it means you and I have more power than we realize when it comes to consumerism and merchandising. It's up to us to decide how to steward our resources, and to determine if we are going to "buy the lie" or look beyond a brand and make the wise choice. That's not to say that the cheaper choice is the wise choice. It's just to say that we should pay attention to each and every purchase we make - to truly think it through, and not let the marketing geniuses of the world make our decisions for us.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Keeping it Steady with the Ups and Downs of Life (September Article)
And, to be honest, as misguided as these anxieties can be at times, they can also be healthy. I’ll tell you why. It’s because when the world is our oyster that we tend to become self-sufficient. We become selfish. We think too much of ourselves and our abilities. We have such a short-sighted view that when something comes at us out of left field we are often knocked flat on our faces. We aren’t prepared at all for what’s coming.
And, why aren’t we prepared? Because most of the time our attitudes, thoughts, and actions are completely dependent on our circumstances. Sad, but true.
A friend of mine said something interesting the other day. I asked how things were going, and my friend’s response was, “Things are going really well – almost too well – in my life right now. But, I haven’t been in church in a while. I don’t want to become on of those ‘crisis Christians,’ who only go to church when life is bad.”
But, the painful truth is that we only seek God when we can’t find the answers or outcomes we want, or need to find, on our own. And, let me go ahead and fill you in on a little secret – you never will. You see, God’s plan from the very beginning was for us to rely on Him to come through for us. And, to borrow a line from Charles Swindoll, “he’ll remove our crutches” to get us to trust completely in Him – and Him alone.
When we choose to only believe when it’s convenient for us, it doesn’t work out too well for us. James, Jesus’ own brother, said that when we are selective with our faith, we are “as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.” (NLT)
So, whether life is a bowl of cherries, or whether it’s the pits, we’ve got to keep hold of the One who truly holds our lives in the palm of His hand. Because, when the storm comes, we’ll need that Lifeboat of faith to help us avoid the waves of uncertainty that will begin to roll in!
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
The 2-sday 10
Best Hamburger in Atlanta (2007)
courtesy of CitySearch.com - voted on by the public
1. Hardee's (that's right, THAT Hardee's. I can't believe it either) - S. Main St., Alpharetta
2. The Vortex - Peachtree Street, Atlanta
3. Front Page News Restaurant & Patio Bar - Moreland Ave., Atlanta
4. George's Restaurant & Bar - N. Highland Ave., Atlanta
5. Dantanna's - Around Lenox Dr., Atlanta
6. The Varsity - North Ave., Atlanta
7. Ted's Montana Grill
8. The Vortex - Moreland Ave., Atlanta
9. Ann's Snack Bar, Memorial Dr., Atlanta
10. Houston's - Peachtree Rd., Atlanta
Monday, September 3, 2007
Give it Away Give it Away Give it Away Give it Away Now
The title of today's blog entry is provided courtesy of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I'm sure Anthony Kiedis and the boys did not have my blog entry in mind when they penned the words to this popular tune back in 1991, but it applies nonetheless.
If you're like me, you have a tough time giving your job (trade, skills, expertise) away to others. Some call this delegating. Others call this empowering others. And, as much as like to complain about how busy I am, I tend to be my own worst enemy when it comes to breaking free of the tasks and minutia that make up any given work day.
Part of it has to do with wanting to make sure it's done the right way. Another part of it has to do with trust - "Can I trust another person to complete this task?" A third part is just plain laziness - that I am reluctant to spend the time and energy to invest in educating and training someone else to do something I am quite capable of doing myself. And, when all of these rationalizations come together, it creates the "perfect storm" for me to continue robbing myself of becoming more focused in my work, and robbing others of the opportunity of volunteering their time and gifts.
What makes this even more difficult is acknowledging the fact that God never intended for us to be self-sufficient beings. Firstly, we are to rely on Him. Secondly, he equips us to do His work. And, thirdly, He surrounds us with (or provides us) others who can help us complete myriad tasks more efficiently.
This is precisely why God referred to the church as a body. A body has many parts that work together to keep everything functioning optimally. A broken hand, bruised shin, jammed toe, or diseased organ causes the entire body to suffer. And, when one part of the body is hurting and lagging behind, the rest of the body works even harder to supplement the effort!
That's why all of us need to "give it away" - so we do not lag behind or become "diseased" and overburdened in our efforts. The extra time and the clearer focus will benefit others, it'll benefit your family, and it'll benefit your workplace. But, most of all, it'll benefit YOU!