Summary of my life the last three months

This video summarizes my life over the past three months.  We have some really exciting things going on at GATR.  They are cool, but they demand a lot of time.  It’s just one deadline after another.  I show up at work with my to-do list and that is quickly thrown out the window managing employees, customers, and product development.  My agenda is made for me.  Enjoy the video!

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Why Are We Doing Home Groups?

CFC Lesson for 5/3/2009 – Come join us!

Information from “A Gathering Force”, by Francis Chan in Catalyst Groupzine #4 – Intentional about Community

Connection

  1. Do you believe that God started his church as a spirit-filled, loving body with the intention that it would evolve into entertaining hour-long services?
  2. What would you expect to experience as you entered the building? Now compare that to what you actually experience when you attend church.
  3. (Agree/Disagree).

Demonstration

Read “A Gathering Force” by Francis Chan aloud as a big group.

Did the words from the saved-ex-gang-member sting? Why? 

What groups are you apart of that are tightly connected, and feel like family? 

Should church feel like that? 

What is preventing it?

Integration and Testing

Re-read Acts 2:42-47.

Do you agree with the statement that the world is looking for a group like what is described in the verses? 

Do our schedules have any effect on this?

Does our technology adoption have any effect on this?

Do you think there are too many cultural obstacles for the Holy Spirit to overcome?

The Ask – The Sale

So why are we doing home groups?

I believe we are called to study the Word together, dine and party together, and pray together.  If we live like this we will excited and filled by the simple things.  I believe that we our time together in Christ creates a common bond amongst us.  We should do whatever it takes to make sure everyone’s needs, not wants, are met.  We need to meet at church together, but we also need to meet in public places and in each other’s homes.  If we live an authentic Christian life, God will add to our numbers and we will grow the family.

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Texas Sized Vacation

Amanda and I just got back from an incredible vacation to Austin, TX.  The motivation for the trip was the Q2009 conference.  I wanted Amanda to experience what I experience in Manhattan last year at Q2008.  The conference was Monday through Wednesday (4/27-4/29), but we decided to travel to Austin on Friday (4/24).  We arrived in Austin, rented a car, and drove to Victoria, TX to hang out with Dee Dee (Amanda’s sister) and her family.  We had a great time eating and listening to some original music (You all will be familiar with “Fast Road To Austin” in the next year or so).  Saturday we drove back to Austin.  We spent Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday getting to know downtown Austin.  We loved having each others full attention for five straight days – really appreciated that.  Sunday afternoon we were able to meet up with Duncan and Kathy and their crew from MBC.  Great folks!  We are looking forward to crashing their pad in Edinburgh, Scotland in the next year or so.

General thoughts on Austin:

  • I would describe downtown Austin as “uncomplicated”.  The roads are easy to walk and the restaurants are generally clustered together and easy to recognize.
  • There are no chain restaurants in the downtown area.  All restaurants were unique and added to the Austin flare.  Some of the eateries Amanda and I enjoyed include Taverna, Taste, and Miguel’s, and Lanai.  We found the corner of 4th and Colorado extremely entertaining Saturday night.  We ate Torchy’s Tacos from the Hidden Coffee Shop for breakfast many of the mornings.
  • Art is dripping off all of the walls of all of the shops and restaurants and there is live music everywhere.
  • We were lucky enough to catch the Austin Arts Festival on Sunday.  It was a big two-day event that featured about 300 artist from all over the country including many from Austin.  Live music, lot’s of native cuisine, and lots of art.  This is where we met Jeffrey Lorien, Co-founder of Zhi Tea – a small business in Austin that mixes and ships loose leaf teas.  We bought the Monk’s Blend and the Ginger Peach Oolong.  Both are very good, and I’m looking forward to ordering their Earl Grey.
  • We did not get to see the bats.  We went under the Congress Bridge on Sunday and heard them, but we never got to see them fly out (The South Congress bridge houses the largest bat colony in the US and at dusk each night they all fly out at the same time to eat dinner).
  • Highly recommend staying at the Stephen F. Austin Hotel on 7th and Congress.  Old hotel that has been restored.  The rooms have a great feel to them – you don’t feel like you are in a cookie cutter hotel room.
  • “Keep Austin Weird” is the city’s tag line.  Austin has the energy of a college town, and the maturity of a bigger city all wrapped into one.

 If you are looking for a fun place to get away – give Austin a try. 

 Special thanks to my parents and Amanda’s mom for keeping the kids for our get-away!

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Practice

This video is one of the most amazing, creative exposes I have seen in a while. 

I like it because of the physics involved.

I like it because this dude is bold.

I like it because my brother used to put newspaper in his spokes, light it on fire, and race around the neighborhood yelling “FIRE WHEELS”.

Here’s to some serious skill!

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Who Are You Cheating?

These are the notes I am teaching from tomorrow in Sunday School Class.  Come join us in the Couples For Christ Class at Trinity UMC in Huntsville, AL.

Reference:

Andy Stanley. Choosing to Cheat. Multnomah Books 2003.

Gather:

·         Come up with a working definition of “cheating”.

·         Do you work to support your family or your ego? Perhaps some of both?

o   Has your focus shifted with time? If so, how?

o   Are you prone to leverage the pressures and responsibilities of work as an excuse to spend more time there?

o   If you knew you were going to fail either at home or at work, where would you choose to fail? Would your spouse agree with the way you answered that question?

Warm up:

Everybody Cheats

 

The tension we feel between work and family is complicated by the fact that most of us love what we do at work and we love being with our families at home.  On top of that, both are ordained by God!  Who gets top billing?

 

Work:

·         We typically have more to do than we can ever hope of getting done.

·         There are always loose ends

o   Phone calls and emails that didn’t get returned

o   Meetings that were cut short or skipped

o   People that deserved and didn’t get my undivided attention

·         If you stayed at work until everything was finished…if you took advantage of every opportunity that came your way…if you sought out every angle to maximize your abilities,  improve your skills, and advance your career…Would you ever leave work?

 

Family:

·         Have your kids ever looked at you and said, “Hey Dad, We’ve played enough.  Why don’t you go back in the house and see if you can get some work done.”?

·         Has your spouse ever complained about you coming home early?

·         If you stayed at home until every ounce of affection was poured out in all the appropriate places…if you kept giving until every emotional need was met (every love tank filled)…if you did every chore, finished the honey-do list, and did everything necessary to ensure that everyone felt loved…Would you ever leave home?

 

Creating a healthy family environment is difficult because of the inherent selfishness of each family member.  Creating a successful career is difficult because of the competition in the market place.  Either one of these environments or the struggles related to both could consume our undivided attention.  We don’t have the luxury of allocating all of time to one or the other. So, we are forced to wrestle with the conflict.

Our knee-jerk reaction to this dilemma is to answer the call of the squeakiest wheel.  We run from fire to fire, troubleshooting our way through life, rescuing the needy and rewarding those who can’t seem to stay out of trouble.  Over time, our families learn that the only way to get our attention is to create a crisis.

Heavy Lifting:

 

Role of Work vs. Role of Family    

 

Role of Work: (Discussed in Lesson #1 of this series.) 

·         Refer to Genesis 2:15.  God created us to work!  Before there was a family to support, God put Adam to work.

·         Today, men and women get up at the crack of dawn to plow their vocational fields in order to produce a crop.

·         Work is task-focused. 

·         We tend to find our worth through accomplishment.

·         Rewards are tangible, progress is measurable, accolades are notable

 

Role of Family:

·         The family is relationship focused.

·         We find our value simply by who our relatives are.

·         Family is about “be-ing”

·         Rewards are intangible, progress is subtle, seldom given accolades

 

At work, I am expected to show up and produce.  My family is just happy if I just show up.

 

Taking your task oriented focus into the home causes things to fall apart.  Can you “fix” your family? Can you “fix” your marriage? Can you “fix” your kids?

 

You do your job.  You love your family.  If when we reverse the order that the tension escalates and the tug-of-war begins.

 

How many of us have taken the “good intention alibi” into the spiritual realm?  Do you strike a deal with God and pray the following prayer when you get extra busy or are having to travel a lot?

 

Lord, you know my heart.  You know how badly I want to spend more time with my family.  So while I’m away, please watch over and protect them.  Please fill the void that I have left while I am away.  Lord, You understand my love for them; help them to understand as well.

 

If you are expecting God to do you job for you while you do a job for somebody else, you have made an arrangement with God.  What is wrong with that?

 

1.      We are assuming that God could not just as easily fill the void at work as He could the void at home.

2.      We are asking God to fill a gap that only we can fill while we scurry off to do a job that a thousand other people could do.

 

We might as well pray

 

Dear God, You do what only I can do while I go do what many others could do just as well or better.

                                    

As a counselor, Andy Stanley states that he has never talked to an adult who reported that while growing up his father worked all the time, but God filled the gaps and there was no residual relational or emotional damage.  He has never talked to a mom who reported that her husband neglected his family for the sake of his career, but fortunately God filled in the void, and everything was fine?

 

If we can’t expect God to cover for us in a way that protects our families from the residual effects of our misprioritization, then what are we to do?

 

The answer is simple.  But it is simple in the way that telling a smoker the solution to their addiction is to stop smoking.

 

Cool down: 

 

Holding the Rock

 

Everybody is willing to be “understanding” when a loved one needs to cheat a little.  Why do they accept it? Easy, because they love us.

 

(Parable)

 

Your mental willingness was overcome by your physical and emotional exhaustion.

 

·         When we ask our husbands and wives to carry our load as well as theirs, it is like handing them the rock.

·         When we are absent at critical junctures in family life, they are left holding the rock.

·         When we find ourselves pointing to the future to somehow make up for the past and present, they are holding the rock.

·         When we assure our families that things are going to change and they don’t, they are holding the rock.

 

When the rock drops, it usually shatters into a million pieces.  The grip on the rock usually fails on something that seems to trivial.

 

What does your family want from you more than anything else?  Love, you say.  Yes, but it goes deeper than that.  They want to feel like they are your priority.

 

The problem is, you love your family in your heart, but you don’t love them in your schedule.  And they can’t see your heart.

 

Our family’s willingness to hold the rock for us is born out of their desire to please us. Part of their reason for wanting to please us is that in pleasing us they hope to gain what they value most, our acceptance.

Whenever you compromise – or cheat – the interests of a family member in order to fill gaps somewhere else, you shuffle your priorities.  Loyalty that was intended for a loved one gets displaced and given to someone else.  However small, it increases the emotional load they must carry.  It may not seem like a big deal.  But it sends the message: You’re important…but right now something else is more important.  When we take advantage of their willingness to support our dysfunctional schedules and misprioritization, we send a message of rejection.

 

And our actions speak louder than our intentions.

 

Assignment

 

This week try both of the following:

·         Spend intentional time with your spouse.  Really inquire about them and what they think. Taking time to figure a woman out makes her feel valued.  (Guys, this is why girls love the book/movie Twilight).  Ask your spouse if you (collective) are ok?  Ask if they feel like they are hold a rock in certain areas.  Be honest and explore this.

·         While tucking your kids into bed, as the following series of questions:

o   Is everything okay in your heart?

o   Did anyone hurt your feelings today?

o   Are you mad at anyone?

o   Did anyone break a promise to you?

o   Is there anything I can do for you?

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New Crossfit Huntsville Website

Check out the new Crossfit Huntsville website.  Clint, Daniel, and Russell did a great job with the redesign.  I personally like the Recent Posts along the bottom.  Each post is the workout of the day (WOD).  This new website allows everyone to post their scores for the day and talk a little trash (and encourage) everyone else.  Also, check out the videos.  Russell is pretty creative.  I’m the one that quits on the rope climb in the middle of the video (That was rep #5). 

On a personal note, I had a personal record on Fight Gone Bad today (Read the Recent Post with Russell lifting a barbell and my brother floating in the air like he’s sitting in a chair).  I did 294 reps, which is about 45 more than  the last time I did it.  CrossFit and the Zone diet has made a tremendous impact on my fitness.

I really enjoy my Crossfit community.  It is a great example of a Tribe (I highly recommend Seth Godin’s book at the link) – as you can tell from the banter on the site.  Find a Crossfit Box near you and give it a shot.

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God is good for church, but that stuff won’t work where I work

These are the notes I will use for our Sunday School Class tomorrow.  Come join us.

Reference:

Andy Stanley podcast “Taking Care of Business, Part 2: Current Market Indicators”. 8/11/2008

Andy Stanley, Choosing to Cheat. Multnomah Books. 2003

Gather:

·         In your workplace, which of these are valued more

o   Economics of the deal versus the ethics of the deal

o   Income versus integrity

o   Cash flow versus character

·         How do you justify Christian values in a capitalistic economy where return on investment, cash flow, bottom line, and shareholder , … are the ultimate “ends”?

 

·         What happens if in your place of employment, you are called upon or expected to do things that are clearly in opposition to what God has called you to be as a Christian? (Does this ever happen?)

 

Warm up:

I believe that there is a tendency to develop two sets of books to operate out of – one for personal life and one for business life.  We need to be careful in our work life otherwise we become idolaters – we say we are Christians, but we bow down to one of these

 

1.      Security – I have to pay my bills, my mortgage, get my bonus to make ends meet, …  The quest for security becomes the Lord of your life.

2.      Recognition – I have spent years developing this client base, company profile, reputation, etc.  People view me in a certain way, and if I all of the sudden interject my Christian values into the workplace, I would lose my reputation.  Recognition of your accomplishments becomes the Lord of your life.

3.      Progress – You want to move forward and going backward makes you cringe.  I love God, Jesus and all that church stuff, but when it comes down to it, I’m not going to make a decision professionally that makes me take a step back.  You have a hard time with decisions where the “right” decision may make you back up versus the “wrong” decision that may make you back up.  Progress becomes the Lord of your life.

 

The market encourages and reinforces you to pursue these three idols.

 

A major problem arises when you live one way in your church/family/friendship life and a different way in your business life.  Your ethics are like water – they seep.  It doesn’t matter how high a wall you build between the two, eventually there is a relationship that will be compromised from living out of two sets of books.

 

·         Parents that compromise themselves in the workplace compromise their moral authority at home

·         Eventually you will lose self-esteem and self respect – You are caught in an awful tension and you realize that you are a coward and a hypocrite.

·         “I’m afraid of what will happen if I do the “right” thing”

 

If you are willing to sacrifice your ethics for a “deal”, you are afraid of something – What is it?

 

Heavy Lifting:

 

·         When you say “no” to the right decision, you compromise and you lose the opportunity to see what God could have done if you stood your ground.

 

·         When you refuse to exercise faith and do the right thing, you miss an opportunity for God to show up, and you will always wonder what would have happened if I had done the right thing. (shame/guilt).

 

·         The Old Testament is full of stories of men and women that have to make difficult decisions – often times with their life on the line – where God intervenes after they make the “right” decision. 

o   David and Goliath

o   Moses and Pharaoh

o   Saul and David

o   Abraham and Isaac

o   Ester and King ?

 

These stories capture out imagination.  These are the stories we tell our kids.  Why?

 

Look in the book of Daniel

 

Background: 605 BC, Babylon (King Nebuchadnezzar) destroyed Israel and took best and brightest captive.  Integrated them into Babylonian culture – very metropolitan.  Became most powerful nation in the world.  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego identified as extraordinary administrators.  Build up quite a professional reputation.  All the perks that go along with being at the top of their game professionally – invited to all the parties, access to people of power and influence, had their own servants, …

 

Daniel 3:1-8

The city is full of people worshipping different gods.  King N. comes up with a crafty plan and says you can worship whatever you want, but ultimately you worship me.  I’m the one that holds your fate in my hands.

 

Daniel 3:8-12

Jealous people that were overlooked for these high positions plotted to present SMA in a negative light to the king. Jealous  backstabbers.

 

Daniel 3:13-15

King gets mad.  Confronts the boys.  Gives them a second chance (he really likes them and wants them to succeed).  Finally asks “what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”  He wants the boys to know that their life lies in his hands.  He controls them and could squash them if he wanted to.

 

Daniel 3:16-18

The boys stand their ground.  “We don’t need to defend ourselves to you, O King” (i.e. tell that band to pipe down).  Our God is able to save us.  If he does, then it shows you don’t control us.  If not, we die – still don’t worship your image – either way our God wins, and you lose.

 

Daniel 3:19-30

King N. throws them in the furnace.  They don’t burn and they come out of the fire not even smelling like smoke.  King freaks out and declares their God the God of all Babylon and them gives the boys a raise.

 

You don’t belong to your manager, boss, ceo, board, etc.  You belong to the Invisible King and he is in control of your life.  Do the “right” thing regardless of the cost and give God a chance to show up.

 

Cool down: 

 

Do you think you are where you are professionally due to God’s goodness, grace, and opportunities he has given you, or do you think you are where you are professionally because you are a hard worker and “got after it” and God didn’t have anything to do with it?

 

This is a binary question.  You are on one side or the other.  No middle ground.

 

Once you get to a certain level in your career, do you have to compromise the principles of God to maintain the blessings of God?  (A question I would love to ask Politicians).

 

Assignment:

 

Wish every Christian in the midst of your success would come smack up against a situation that calls you to abandon your faith and Christian morals for the sake of income.  In that moment you will discover something about you, God, and the strength of your faith.  (As a parent you will also have  a story to tell your kids about a time you made the right call when you had a lot to lose).

 

Do the right thing and give God a chance to show up!

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