Monday, December 29, 2008

Training vs. Trying

  • Take down the Christmas tree . . . check.

  • Put away the ornaments and decorations . . . check.

  • Exchange the sweater that didn’t fit . . . check.

  • Start an exercise program and lose the 50 lbs. of fat that I'm toting around . . . sure.

    It’s a new year and, as usual, I entertain the notion that this is the year that I’m going to lose weight and get fit, again. I’ve done it before . . . I can get back in shape if I really try. Another notion I regularly entertain is the one that says I’m going to be more spiritually fit as a disciple of Christ this year. Just like physical fitness, spiritual fitness results more from training than from trying. What are the ways that you plan to get more spiritually fit this year? If you can recognize spiritual growth in your life from last year, keep doing what you’re doing. If you don’t see that your have grown more, then maybe it’s time to quit simply trying and begin training. How do I do that? Primarily, that's the work of the Holy Spirit but there are resources available to help you in this journey to be made in the image of Christ. We have many of them here at Crossroads. Your spiritual fitness plan should include regular Bible study (Psalm 119:11), prayer, solitude, worship, and service. Just as in physical training, many aspects of spiritual training are more productive when done in the company of others. Be sure that you’re involved not just in corporate worship but also in a study through a class or small group. There are many opportunities available to you here at CUMC and you’re staff at Crossroads is ready and eager to assist you in any way that we can, too.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Everybody wants to be a hero

Everybody wants to be a hero and our country's current economic challenges are providing numerous opportunities for those heroes to emerge. The person who redesigns his/her organization in a way that allows it to continue to function effectively in this new environment will most certainly to be a hero to some. As the manager of a Christian bookstore, I want to be a hero to our employees and to the church that owns our bookstore. I want to be the one that leads us to the "promised land" of success and prosperity despite the challenges that we face. Over the last two years, I've been privileged to lead a staff of very capable people (most of whom were part of the staff before I arrived) to significant improvements in our ministry. I'm proud of what they've accomplished and I hope that they're satisfied with the role that I've played in that, too. We've had some disappointments but our customers tell us (via our Customer Satisfaction Survey) that we've improved significantly (8%-16%) in every area that we measured.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The best advice ever . . .

If you want the best advice I can offer you, it's this: Marry up. I did it in 1974 and have never looked back. I found a young woman who was smarter than me, better educated than me, more talented than me, more spiritual than me, better looking than me, and nicer than me and then I tricked her into marrying me. I'm not sure that she's ever figured out how I did that but I'm not about to reveal that now. The secret is to set the bar high, not just in your choice of a spouse, but in all of your significant relationships. I'm a better person because of who I married. Julia has challenged me to be and do my best and has inspired and encouraged me in the journey of life. For those of who who may have read Andy Stanley's book, The Best Question Ever, marrying Julia was the wise thing to do. Of course, this raises the question, "If Ken married up, doesn't this mean that Julia married down and what does that say?" I guess you'll have to ask her about that.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Challenged by The Shack

Have you read the runaway best-seller, The Shack by William Paul Young, yet? Well, your neighbors and friends have read it or are reading it and it's bound to come up in a conversation. This intriguing allegory is well-written but is not without controversy. Turned down by major publishing houses because of the potential controversy, this self-published book has sold over 4 million copies since it's release this spring with virtually no advertising budget. I'll guarantee that it will challenge you. Read it and weigh-in here on the issues that it raises.

My friend, Mike

You may not know my friend, Mike Curry of Joplin, MO but you need someone in your life like him. Mike may be the most relational person I know. If you call him and get his voice mail, part of what you'll hear is: "I hate that I missed your call because people are important to me."

Celebrating Christmas

Right about now you’re probably full-swing into your preparation for Christmas but I hope that full-swing for you this year is more about Presence than it is about presents. I want to have fun at Christmas as much as the next guy. I enjoy giving gifts and even receiving them but when the wrapping paper is all thrown away, I don’t want to be left with just stuff. I want to be left with the Presence of the One whose birth we celebrate this month. I want to know Him better and I want to look more like Him that I did at this time last year. I want others to see a noticeable difference in me because of the One I serve. Wouldn’t that be the best present of all . . . to look more like Christ and to have done something this season that helps someone else experience more of Him?