Saturday, June 23, 2007

Sprechen Sie Christianize?

BONN, Germany — It was becoming a common annoyance. Curious German tourists were visiting evangelical churches in the U.S., and had no idea what was being said. A German travel agency finally issued a 55-page Evangelical-English Dictionary which sells thousands of copies a month to Germans vacationing in the U.S.

"I think I speak English pretty well," said Lerner Bosch, 33, from Frankfurt. "But I was clueless sitting there in that pew [in a Nazarene church in Minot, North Dakota]. Then my wife handed me the phrase translator and the whole service started making sense."

Bosch found himself in the foyer shaking hands and receiving first-time visitor brochures from greeters. When a man slapped his back and said, "God bless you, brother," Bosch used his phrase translator and responded, "Amen, brother. God bless you." Another woman told him that with Jesus, "whatever you've done is under the blood." Bosch went pale momentarily before looking up the phrase and finding it means "everything's cool, so forget about the past."

"At first I thought she was talking about Germany's history in the World Wars, and I was embarrassed," he said. "Then I realized she was telling me to take it easy. That was much nicer. Without the translator, it could have been a moment of cultural misunderstanding."

Lerner told the woman, "Leave it at the cross," which the book translates as, "Don't sweat it." He also gave her the "hang loose" sign.

"In German schools, they teach you mainstream English, but not this wonderful dialect," said Bosch's wife, Gira, 34.

They are thinking of starting an evangelical English club back in Frankfurt.

"My friends are involved in groups where they dress up in knickers and speak old-style German, but I find this American sub-culture more fascinating," Lerner said. "Some of us in Frankfurt are going to dress up like evangelical church people and use our phrase books." •

Source Lark News


In a previous post I mentioned a book "Your Own Worst Enemy" by Dr Ken Christian. You may want to look carefully at his website. One of the things he lists in his book are the indicators that you are an adult underachiever, a person with high potential but high potential derailed by behaviors that defeat near successes. If you take this "Test" and score more than half of these with a yes, you need help.

If you know and love someone who is habitually self defeating in these areas you should help them find the way. I speak from personal experience. I won't mention his name but in the last 2 years this man has gone from bad personal relationships in his family, at odds with his son, business failure, debt, tax problems and generally feeling like a fraud to becoming a confident and capable success. He is about to turn 60. It's not too late to change. He has used this book to identify the behaviors that were keeping him from becoming what he wanted to become. Watching him blossom has been a joy.

When Dr. Christian wrote this book and created this program he developed it for teenagers. What he discovered among baby boomers and even younger people are millions of people stuck in underachievement and failure because they have bad habits never broken. I still think young people should be the focus of this effort. But as my friend Jim proves it's never too late.

Many of the older people will go to their grave with unrealized potential, even if they are very able. High potential failures.

Take the test. Have you developed the habit of being an adult underachiever?

  1. Taking shortcuts and doing the minimum possible even with important matters.
  2. Spending more time getting ready to work, getting out of work, or getting others to do it, than working.
  3. Inconsistent, insufficient effort.
  4. A lack of real engagement even in your most important life activities and relationships.
  5. Ambivalence in making decisions.
  6. Planning, scheming, and talking about things but not following through on them.
  7. Difficulties organizing work and organizing your life in general.
  8. Difficulties reaching distant goals due to a lack of appropriate planning and persistence.
  9. Repeated initial excitement for new ventures, followed by disappointment when the new wears off.
  10. False starts and frequent changes in direction and goals due to boredom, and a preference to start something new.
  11. Failure to complete important projects, whether pleasant or unpleasant.
  12. A tendency to quit things just as you begin to achieve success doing them.
  13. Procrastination.
  14. A history of being involved with relationships, jobs, or other situations that demand less than your true capabilities and therefore provide less than full satisfaction.
  15. Gravitating toward non-traditional occupations in order to avoid traditional structured work schedules or the demands of bosses or supervisors.
  16. A history of being stuck in situations that you thought would be temporary.
  17. Self-doubt and low or varying self-esteem.
  18. Fears that you will not be able to live up to your own expectations or those of others.
  19. Recurrent fears of that you are faking it or are a fraud and about to be found out.
  20. A paralyzing fear of striving for what you really want because you do not want to be disappointed or fail.
  21. Unrealistic notions of what is actually required for success.
  22. A history of keeping your options open by postponing serious commitments.
  23. Difficulties in appropriately balancing risks and opportunities with an habitual tendency to take unnecessary risks, or to play it too safe, or to alternate between the two strategies.
  24. Blaming failures on "bad luck" or other people instead of accepting personal responsibility for them.
  25. A feeling that you are socially inadequate and younger than your age and that you have fallen behind your peers in reaching important milestones.
  26. A feeling that time is running out and you haven't gotten started.
  27. Periods of depression.
Dr. Christian says:
The list is a summary of the characteristics of high-potential people with whom I have worked who fell into habitual patterns that blocked the kind of success they wanted. Your answers can alert you to ways you have limited your possibilities and provide information from which to begin to change your course.

The greater the number of statements to which you said "yes," the more likely it is that you have adopted at least some similar patterns. It is not only by answering the questions above, however, but also in your heart that you know to what degree you may have thus far cheated yourself of a fuller sense of self-realization.

Gene Says:
The underachievers will read this, intend to do something about it and then lose attention, derailed by other things and never follow thru. How many adult underachievers does it take to change a lightbulb? "Wait, I need to run to the store to get a bulb. Maybe I can pick up an oil filter for my car while I'm there. Let's go to a movie while we're out. Look there's a seagull. Hmmm, Why is is dark in here? Oh yea I need to get a lightbulb......."

Shut Down the United Nations

This is not the first time in this blog that I have made that contention.

There is nothing that the UN does that has any value whatsoever. It should be shuttered today, All the corrupt diplomats deported. I'm not the only one who believes this. John Armstrong weighed in on this today.

He's right.

It is a hopeless obsolete bureaucracy.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Farming Lessons

Excerpt from Principled-Centered Leadership by Stephen R. Covey:

The Law of the Farm
Procrastinating and cramming don't work on a farm.
The cows must be milked daily. Other things must be done in season, according to natural cycles. Natural consequences follow violations, in spite of good intentions. We're subject to natural laws and governing principles--the laws of the farm and harvest.
The only thing that endures over time is the law of the farm. According to natural laws and principles, I must prepare the ground, put in the seed, cultivate, weed, and water if I expect to reap a harvest.
So also in a marriage, or in helping a teenager through a difficult identity crisis--there is no quick fix, no instantaneous success formula where you can just move in by getting psyched up at some positive mental attitude rally with a bunch of new success formulas.

The law of the harvest governs. Natural laws and principles operate regardless. So get these agricultural principles at the center of your life and your relationships. As you do, your mind-set will change from a scarcity to an abundance mentality.

In the context of the "potato farmer," the abundance mentality ultimately means "more pounds with less peel." And in plain "John Wayne" English, that's the bottom line.
Power of Proactivity

Now that is something worth thinking about ... there is power in being proactive!
It's even a great word to consider. By definition proactive means controlling a situation by causing something to happen rather than waiting to respond to it after it happens. To be proactive means we are in control of our lives.
We can choose to take action and take the initiative to make things happen. Isn't that where we want to be .. in control of our time and what we do with it? When we allow conditions around us or circumstance to cause us to become reactive we have chosen to give up control and wait to see what will happen next.
Truly effective leaders, parents and partners become aware of the choice they own in every situation and coconsciously put the power of proactivity to work for them. Lets all feel good about taking the initiative to get things done and enjoy the benefits of being a proactive individual.

"It is easier to do a job right than to explain why you didn't."
- Martin Van Buren

"I don't wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work."
- Pearl S. Buck

"Wisdom is wasted, experience is but a memory, and goals are a passing dream without the courage to take action."
- Leaving A Legacy by Jim Paluch

"How does a project get to be a year behind schedule? One day at a time."
- Fred Brooks

"Procrastination is the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday."
- Napoleon Hill

"Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn't the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment."
- Robert Benchley

"Success comes to the person who does today what you were thinking about doing tomorrow."
- Unknown

"A good plan implemented today is better than a perfect plan implemented tomorrow."
- George Patton

"Anything worth doing is worth doing now!"
- Ralph Stayer
All this comes from a group discussion I was in today regarding the idea of self limiting behavior.  This is a Christian Businessman's Small Group and we were talking of those things that hold us from becoming all that the Destiny of God has for us.  Fear is the way the devil short circuits our destiny.
In the end, the discussion was driven by the book we are looking at: 
Your Own Worst Enemy:
Breaking the Habit of Adult Underachievement
If you want to break the bad self defeating habits you have, buy this book and READ it. 
Then apply it.  Do something.
The saddest most "settling for less" words I heard anyone say in the last week was, "I'm OK with that".  It broke my heart.  We should never be OK with anything than the best God has planned for us.
We must have the Spirit of creative discontent.  That's what was there in Genesis 1.  It's alive in you if you know Jesus.  So, do something. 

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Last Gasp

When a thing is about to die it makes a last gasp.  That's true in the plant and animal kingdom.  Sometimes it's called a death rattle.
I could give you lots of examples.  There are legions of stories of people who the day before they passed away became animated, seemed better, even lucid and then drifted away.
Plants that are about to die will often seem to fruit prolifically and people think they will be ok, then they are gone.  An evergreen tree the year before it dies will put out the most pinecones.
That's also true of people in jobs that are about to end.  There somehow driven organically is generated an employee last gasp.  They are not actually trying to keep the job.  They are generating activity to justify that when it ends they could have done it.  Making a mark.  You see it even in a lame duck president.  The last year of the administration often includes some bold apolitical action. 
Even when a person submitted their own resignation the tendency is to make a legacy mark before they are gone.
When I was CEO of the last organization I left (That I didn't own) I tried hard toward the end even when I knew the end was imminent to see to it I had made a mark for good.  I was normal.
So, when I see someone doing a death rattle in the waning days of the job they are doing it doesn't surprise or irritate me.
It's a natural reaction.  

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Open Invite

Attention all friends and relatives who have wanted to visit Chicagoland but never knew why.
Now you will.
Son Kevin is coming for 5 weeks to see his lonely folks.  Boston holds fewer charms than it has in the past.  Time to get out of town for a few weeks.  He is coming for a Police Concert at Wrigley Field on July 5 (I think) and staying into the second week of August.  I'm looking forward to his visit to the city of wind.
Megan and others who have been thinking about coming to the city on the lake to see Millennium park, go to Navy Pier, walk up and down Michigan Avenue, go to the Field Museum, Go to the Shedd Aquarium, to the Planetarium, to the Art Museum and to Ravenna to hear some classy classical music, now's your chance.  Mr. Gene isn't nearly as much fun to squire you around as Mr. Kevin will be. 
So, if you thought of doing this but never had a reason why, I'm offering his services.  Take the Amtrak into town.  We'll pick you up at Union Station.  Tickets are cheap.  And you can stay at Mr Gene's House.  Miss Peggy can do hospitality.
I'm giving Kevin the car for the duration.  So, come enjoy yourself.
Chicago is beautiful this time of year and if you've never seen it in all it's glory you are missing a chance to experience the most beautiful city on the lake.  Ya'll come.

We're too darn hot cold hot cold hot cold.........

It was 85 today in sunny St. Chuck.  It'll be 85 again tomorrow.  Hot enough for ya?  Well enjoy it.  It's short lived. 
A real live college professor who has been doing groundbreaking research has published a paper which says the major problem in climate change is this is the final blowoff, the hockey stick, then things are going to cool down, A LOT. 
You are gonna need a parka.  By 2020 he says we will be freezing our pitutes off.  Of course if the dummies on the left have their way we will have spent our way into oblivion and imposed all kinds of artificial controls on ourselves none of which will have a jot or tittle to do with the climate.  It's like sacrificing virgins (if you can find any) in Pele's caldron.    Same effect.
Of course when the climate cools down a lot the liberal eco-nuts will take all the credit.  It will be like that "Little Boy" on Mad TV.  "LOOK WHAT I CAN DO".
On the other hand, in 2020 I'll be 75 years old and laughing up my sleeve.  I don't think I'll have as many people to laugh at. 
Don't buy the whole manmade global warming conspiracy.  They are just out to get you and your money. 
And don't give away your parka to Goodwill just yet.  You are gonna need it.
But by 2020 you won't have ol George W. Bush to kick around any more.  Right now if a mosquito bights a liberal they blame George Bush. 
By the way, George W Bush the Magnificent vetoed some embryonic stem cell money bills today.  Thank George and Thank God.  Kill a baby so my eyesight can get better.  That's what this is all about.  And, if you can justify killing babies to save eyesight, you can justify abortion.
Stem cell research is about justifying legalized abortion and that's why it's so supported by the Godless left.
I am so thankful that we have a man of courage and conviction with a backbone in the White House.  I fear for this country if some spineless wimp (liberal) gets in there next time. 
We already had Jimmy Carter and we are still paying for HIS sins.

More on Church Leadership

In response to the post below that I did on vulnerability for pastors which was driven by a reference to Mark Batterson's blog this comment came in.
It came in from "Kev".  Don't know if those are initials or who he is.
He references a study conducted by a Todd Hunter.  Is this Kent Hunter's kin?  Kent Hunter owns a consulting firm called "Church Doctor".  Barry Kolb to the left in the links is one of his ad hoc consultants.  In any case I think the information derived from this poll is useful.  Let's take a look.  How does your Pastor measure up.  How do YOU measure up as a Pastor?  I have to agree, most of this is pretty right on.  I will publish this as I got it but there will be a few editorial comments from me which you will see in RED.  It's my darn blog, I can say what I want, can't I?
Characteristics Most Associated with Unsuccessful Pastors

OK... small sample size, but VERY interesting results. What are the characteristics most associated with both successful and unsuccessful pastors? Todd Hunter shares his findings from talking to both pastors of successful, growing churches, and pastors of churches that failed...

Characteristics Most Associated with Unsuccessful Pastors

The inability to identify, recruit, train, and deploy workers and leaders.  (95%) I think this is a big one, if you can't pull it together you can't pull it off.

Use of ineffective methods of evangelism, and unwillingness to be ruthless at evaluating the results of those methods. (77%)
Won't stop doing it the way we always did.  Buggy Whip mentality.

No clear plan and goals, which results in working hard at wrong things or lack of focus. (77%) 
Building a deck rather than painting the house.

No proven record under supervision or authority. (73%)
This is the syndrome of a church built out of rebellion will fail.

A nurturer/ enabler/ facilitator rather than an assertive leader and equipper. (68%)
Spinelessness and lack of serious gonads is the biggest flaw in Church Leadership in my opinion.  My mentor pastor, Dan Rothwell scared the HELL out of me.  Bobby Knight like.

Failed to adequately research and understand the community in which trying to build a church. (64%)
I think this can be a big problem with new church planters.  Where you plant is more important than WHAT you plant.

No local or extra-local support and encouragement from other leaders. (64%)
Not being tied into the community and other churches will sink a church or a ministry.  Many church ministry leaders won't even integrate into the church body they are part of and therefore can't get input and leader support.  Lone wolves end up starving.

Unsure about the Holy Spirit's leading for the church. (59%)
I'll raise a hackle or two.  I don't think in this day of outpouring you can lead a church successfully without the fullness of the Holy Ghost.  How can you hear from God if he isn't flowing in and thru you?  In my examination I see no evidence that ANY new testament Leaders were NOT filled with the Holy Ghost and spoke in tongues.  Why do we think we are any different?  I see change on the horizon.  I think this is about to change.

Not willing to take responsibility for church growth. (55%)
Passing the buck is a sure sign of a weak leader.  Harry Truman was right.  If your church is not growing the buck stops with YOU.  A church will rise no higher than the spiritual altitude of it's leadership. 

Success or failure of church tied to self-image; ego strength problems. (55%) If it's God's program to build the church then it's not up to your or your success or failure in building the church.  Your job is to be faithful and steady.  His job is to bring the souls.  But you will have to work like all get out to get it done. 

Unsure of call. (50%)
This one is scary.  If you don't know that you know that you know that you are called to this work you will crumble.  Your call is your anchor.  No matter what happens I was called to do this.  It has much to do with getting over the self image and ego strength problems in the item above.

* Results based on telephone interviews of pastors whose churches had failed. The interviewer, Todd Hunter, had supervised or known the pastors, and could in most instances agree with their evaluation. The numbers in parentheses are the percent who had this problem.

Characteristics Most Associated with Successful Pastors

A hard worker. (100%)
Amen.  The work ethic at any church particularly for the pastor is directly correlated to the success or failure of the Church.  Many Pastors I know work less than they were really called to and think it's more than they should.  They have bought in to the play more golf and build your church mentality. 

Proven record under supervision or authority. (95%) They know order and respect it.  I learned that a long time ago.  Pastor's need to hear from God but then they must be certain that what they are hearing is in order.  God told me to preach naked wouldn't be a real word from God.  Someone in supervision or authority should have told him to put some pants on.  If a pastor has no one who can blow the whistle on him he is a loose cannon and will do terrible damage before God takes him out.  Even Billy Graham had a man who could come to him and say, "Dr. Graham, I regret to tell you that you are full of poop again".
If Billy Graham needs such a person, so do you.

Sure of call. (95%) I know that if a person is called you will have to kill him to stop him from doing what God has called him to do.  That's what Jesus was talking about when he said, "You shall receive Power after the Holy Ghost has come upon you that you may be my witnesses".  Witnesses more accurately translated means so called you are ready to be martyred for me. 

Exhibits optimism and faith. (95%) People are attracted by vision and passion.  Tradition and regulation runs people off.

Good social skills, friendly, easily liked. (95%) This is more than a hug or a handshake.  This is a well met person who just likes people.  One of the areas I struggle with.

Takes responsibility for church growth. (95%) Understands that while God builds the house, he can tear it back down.  He must be ready to say when things go badly, "I did this".  Repent and move ahead.  Do something different.  No forward motion happens without taking a step.

Both husband and wife felt called to the church. (90%) I have a pastor friend who's wife at one point said, "I didn't sign up to be a pastor's wife."  That can be a real drag.  Later she DID sign up.  On the other hand the idea that the pastor's wife must be the worship leader, hospitality expert and women's ministry leader is a misapplication many times of gifts that wife doesn't have.  A wife may be called but she doesn't necessarily have the giftings to take on the traditional roles in the church. 

Held values, priorities, and philosophy of denomination. (90%)  We must go home with the one who brought us to the dance.  This has to do with rebellion.  On the other hand, if the values, priorities and philosophy are not the values, priorities and philosophies that the denomination started with then holding to those values is wrong.  Example would be the Episcopal church and it's homosexual bishop.  That may be a value today, but I'll guarantee it didn't start that way.  The ELCA has the same problem.  I don't think Martin Luther would be a Lutheran in most of today's Lutheran Churches.  The values, priorities and philosophies have been distorted and destroyed by denominational misleaders who no longer even recognize what it means to embrace the teachings of Luther.  I am more Lutheran than most Lutherans.  Look at the Methodist Church.  Do you think John Wesley would be part of that?  I don't.

Indigenous of extra-local support from other leaders. (80%) This is a mixed bag.  Some pastors have supposed accountability from "Out THERE".  But, no one knows who there is.  That was part of the Ted Haggard mess.  Who blows the whistle on a pastor who is out of line? Jim Bakker will tell you the same thing.  Who calls foul when things are drifting?  That's why God is raising up the boldness of the Prophet.  The Prophet can and will boldly and bluntly tell you "Thou art the man" even to a king.  They have no fear.  Most church leadership fear the voice of the prophet.  A good pastor Does need the extra local support from secular and from peer leaders who can talk plainly to him.  This is almost NEVER the church board.  Most church boards are yes men who have no authority or power.  Just position.  Fame over faithfulness. 

A strong marriage. (80%) This is so self evident and such a painful thing to talk about I won't take it any further.  According to the denomination of which I am a part, most new church plants we have tried fail because of a weak marriage.  If a pastor goes thru a marriage dissolution his pastorate almost always ends even if the church doesn't want it to.  It's too hard to do alone.

* Results based on telephone interviews of pastors of successful, growing churches. In many instances they had raised up several churches. The numbers in parentheses are the percent who had this strength.

SOURCE: Global South

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Things I have recieved in the last few days

I want to share some of the notes I got over that last week of ministry. Feel free to steal whatever you want. Just a little prophetic outpouring.

The test for holy activity is whatever makes your heart beat faster for Jesus. If you do anything; anything and it makes your passion greater for Jesus then it's holy action. Anyone who tells you otherwise is being religious and legalistic.

Christianity is going thru the same changes the buggy whip went through a century ago. There are still some people trying to use the old whip to make things work, but it doesn't work any more. We are abandoning the old whip. Thank God. This is a type of the new wineskin concept.

Many people in ministry are more interested in being famous than faithful. Jesus isn't going to say, "Well done thou good and famous servant" is he?

People no longer follow people because of position or placement. People are attracted to passion. People follow passion. Jesus had passion and people followed him. Nothing has changed. Churches that no longer work have lost passion from the platform in ministry, worship, preaching. Leadership in those kind of churches have become dispassionate and dissolving. Jesus will spew them out. He's begun.

You don't need to have the Baptism of the Holy Ghost and speak in tongues to go to heaven. You can live a nice little normal life without much impact on the world without the Holy Ghost flowing out of you and still end up in heaven. It's like pizza. You can have cheese pizza every day. Someone might say, "wouldn't you like sausage or pepperoni on that"? Many Christians metaphorically say, I don't need that. I am quite happy without sausage or pepperoni. It's OK, there's no condemnation, but why in the world would anyone just eat cheese pizza every day for the rest of their life. There's so much more. Pineapple, sauerkraut, olives, hamburger, green peppers, onions, hot peppers, Canadian Bacon and a dozen other things. God has so much more for the body of Christ. Try it you'll like it.

One sign of a religious spirit in others is when they say, "That's nice for you, but I don't need it". What they are really saying is, "I'm not hungry for any more of God than I have right now". That is resisting the Holy Ghost and quenching the spirit. They have a religious spirit.

We are not to be controlled by a signature when a signature could nullify a bad decision. Roe v Wade, Public Education, Gay Marriage. All we need to do is change the hearts of the signature makers. Protesting won't do it, heart changing will.

Those who exhibit strong self sufficiency are demonstrating weakness in faith. God want us to be confident in HIS sufficiency, not ours.

Fear is man's interference in God's divine plan for our lives. Whatever God wants to do in and thru us is stopped when we have fear.

Choosing friends by their color makes as much sense as choosing my socks by their character.

Jesus was pretty hard on fruitless trees. Figs were cursed and died. Why do we think he will be any easier on the Church that bears his name as he remodels her?

What are the famous last words of an atheist? Oh NO..............

The altar of the Church of Jesus that no longer hears the prophetic call is a barren altar. Nothing is being offered up. The fire has gone out on the altar.

That's all I got this weekend.

You're welcome.

How would it have been different?

I was at the House of Prayer the other night and saw a dad with his cute little 2 year old boy.  The music and worship atmosphere was rich.  During that time without ceremony or pretense that daddy took his little boy and held him.  He prayed in tongues over that child.  The little boy was peaceful and quiet.  He just soaked in that rich environment.
The rest of the night the music played, the word was brought, the ministry took place in prayer for needs but that little boy took it all in. He was being saturated in the Holy Ghost. 
I thought these Five Things:
  1. That little guy was experiencing the full counsel of God.  He'll never be the same.
  2. Children's Church could never compare to being in that Holy Ghost environment.
  3. That father was loving that little boy body, soul and spirit. 
  4. When that little guy is older he will have remembrances of that night.
  5. Seeds of faith were being planted.  The harvest will be years from now.
I wish my daddy had been in a church like that when I was a little guy.  I wish he had prayed in tongues over me.  I wish I had prayed in tongues over my kids like that.  I mean freely.  I do now, but it's not the same.  I missed so many opportunities. 
That was a blessed little boy and a father that is a blessing.

I hired him to paint the house but he built me a deck (a parable)

Many years ago I asked a man to paint my house.  Painting my house would have been difficult, (2 story) up on ladders and he would have had to get help.  He didn't balk but he piddled about.  Painted the easy parts.  Told me I didn't need some things painted and pretty much didn't paint my house except in the little things he wanted to do.  But I was paying him to do so.  He just wasn't getting the results I expected.

So, in an effort to justify his paycheck he tackled my deck.  I had a marginal deck and it needed extra work.  Without my asking he finished out my deck, put up railings, stabilizing piers and sealed it.  Did a great job.  Certainly was worth the money I was paying him. 

He thought I should be happy.  I was, sort of.  But, my house still wasn't painted no matter how nice the deck was.  It didn't get the job I hired him to do DONE.  Making the deck wasn't easier, it's just what HE wanted to do at the expense of painting my house.
In the end we parted company.  I had to let him go. I had a nice deck but the house was unpainted.  I had to hire someone else to paint the house.  They did and it was fine.  It's what I wanted.  It's all I wanted in the first place.  Just get the house painted.
Now, the question is, was I correct in firing him?  After all he worked hard.  He was on the job many hours.  He did make significant improvements to my home of great value.  He just didn't do what I needed done. 
The answer has to be clear. If a person is hired to do a job and they don't get it done, even if they seemingly work hard do you keep them on the payroll because they are doing other work which appears to be helpful to the overall effort or do you make the change needed to get what you need done.   
That is the question.  I already know the answer.  Do you?

The Shoes of an Ambassador

Nine years ago I received a prophecy that I didn't understand.  Many times I get words from  people in the prophetic and sit on them for a long time.  Since I had lived in Germany and thought this might have something to do with working in ministry in Germany I always thought this was the future.  I see now it didn't. God had other plans.
One such was given me by Todd Beery who is head of Ark Ministries and the International House of Prayer in Bolingbrook.  He does a good work there and this coming Friday will graduate a group of a dozen or so interns who have been directly discipled by him.  They have learned a grown a great deal.  They will never be the same.  This internship is targeted to teens and young adults.  People don't seem to waver from this.  I respect and honor Todd for this good work.  He is doing the Great Commission, "Making Disciples".  Lots of people have "Church". Todd makes disciples and the proof in the pudding is years later the bulk of the many people who went thru the program are still sold out and devoted to Jesus.
Back to the prophecy.  He was praying for me and the Lord gave him a word.  He looked at my feet for a second, bent down and laid hands on them.  He said, "These are the shoes of an ambassador.  You will go to various places and you will carry the word of the Lord to them.  These are traveling shoes, the shoes of an ambassador."
I didn't think about that until I got a note from Bob Kessler, a man at Lord of Life I respect a lot.  He indirectly asked me what I'm up to.  I rehearsed to him what is going on with me right now in ministry.  I am traveling a great deal and I am bringing the word of the Lord to the places I go.  I have a sense this is about to increase.  I'm not preaching as much as I am prophesying.  This is intensifying and speeding up. 
Suddenly the whole prophetic word from 9 years ago makes sense.  I am called as an ambassador.  No less than any of the Prophets that have gone before.  I have been called out and sent.  I go where God opens  doors for me to bring his word and I shake the dust off my feet from those places where the word of the Lord isn't welcome. 
An Ambassador isn't welcome in every single embassy in the natural.  Neither am I.  I am only welcome where I am welcomed.  There seems to be a lot of open doors right now.  I'll walk thru them.
I'm thankful for that.  I'll just go put my shoes on now.  Boy, they need some polish.
I'm off again.

Monday, June 18, 2007

North Dakota is smaller than Siri Lanka

In a way to understand the tremendous vitality of the US Economy and it’s relative strength to the rest of the world there is some good news in a recent study for Americans but bad news for North Dakotans.

Here is a report on this study, it’s a little hard to understand but if you dig deeply you will see some of these truths:

  • The US Economy is 13.2 trillion dollars in GNP. The next closest rival is Japan at 4.4 trillion. Then Germany at 2.9 trillion. (That means in 60 years Iraq’s GNP should be in today’s dollars, 5 trillion since war conquests always prosper).
  • California’s GNP of 1.7 trillion is the same size as Italy.
  • Texas at 1 trillion is the same size as Brazil.
  • New York at 1 trillion is about the same size as Russia.
  • That puts things into perspective. The US economy is so overwhelmingly large it dwarfs all others
  • That would be good news if you were from California, Texas or New York.
  • What is so pitiful is North Dakota’s rank in GNP. Only Vermont is lower at 24 billion
  • North Dakota’s GNP at about 26.4 billion is about the same size as Siri Lanka
  • As a native Dakotan, and as a transplanted Illinoisan let me put the two by comparison into perspective. Illinois GNP is 663 Trillion. About the size of the Netherlands. Not big. Not small. That means with less land area Illinois is 25 times the size of ND in GNP. Do the math. It’s all about population. I have maintained for a very long time that economic development is about attracting people pure and simple. People who will come and live and work. The base economic development unit is the individual.

In Illinois we have a lot of inner city people who are not direct contributors to our GNP. That might mean that on a per capita basis the GNP of Illinois folks would be less than ND. NOPE. The GNP per capita in North Dakota is $4187.50. Illinois it’s $5304.80. That means even factoring in the non contributors Illinois is still 23% more GNP productive than ND. I was surprised. I always thought of North Dakotans as hard workers. Maybe the farming welfare queens is more the case. There is no GNP from welfare.

One other factor to consider. If from time to time as a state North Dakota feels just a little “Left Out” or ignored, there’s a reason. It’s economic impact is significant
only in it’s absence. If North Dakota disappeared off the face of the earth tomorrow along with it’s 640,000 people the US economy would HARDLY suffer even a blip. It’s like when Katrina hit New Orleans there was concern what the impact this would have on the US economy. At the time I said it would have ZERO effect. I was lambasted but in the end it has had nearly none.

The USA is such a huge economy that we can take pretty big hits. Even the Iraq war in its war spending is almost negligible in the overall scheme of things. That’s why President Bush is able to cut taxes and still prosecute the war with aggressive intent. We can afford it financially.

I think the big message is for the State of North Dakota is cut taxes, scale back services, make the government leaner. That alone would do much for the growth of the state. When the state had a surplus to spend it spent is in less than wise ways. If I had been KING (a scenario you might not enjoy) I would have:

  1. Fund infrastructure in Small Towns selected for growth. Hospitals. Ambulance.
  2. Make Higher education in Small ND colleges like Mayville virtually free. Offer ND scholarships good only at small schools who need students. Educate and keep young people in the state. NDSU, my ALMA MATER is big enough. They continue to grow and the others languish. Educate nearly free in VO-Tech. Create a home grown well educated cadre and give them something to do.
  3. STOP ALL ASSISTANCE TO AGRICULTURE. I mean all. Ethanol and the rest. The quicker the agricultural community gets off the welfare roles and on to being productive the better. ND should not spend one red cent helping farmers. NOT ONE. Or if that's the idea they should begin helping video rental stores, shoe stores and restaurants. They don’t and they shouldn’t. Nor should they help farmers. IF ND agriculture fell off the map it wouldn’t be missed at all. Sorry folks it’s the truth.
  4. Implement Vouchers for education. Write checks. Don’t administer schools. Education is the biggest mess, it’s the post office and TSA all wrapped up in education. Stop any more public education at once.
  5. Make the pathways THRU North Dakota inviting. Beautiful rest stops along the interstates and major highway arteries open 365-24. Today ND is most uninviting at many of it’s rest stops. Allow private enterprise to participate. Use the rest stops and waysides to feature, promote, invite, inform, allure and advertise all that is good about North Dakota. Of the millions that drive THRU the state every year and see it as just a big flat nothing, let’s take a shot at telling them what it’s really all about. We never again have a chance to make a first impression as when they are traveling thru. Other states do this so well. Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois. ND looks pretty wimpy compared to this. We need to do better.

One other thing, and this is the hardest of all. North Dakota’s part of the US economy is 26.4 billion out of 13 trillion. North Dakota in perspective is 1/500th of the US economy. Drop in the bucket. Put into understandable terms, North Dakota’s influence on the US economy is roughly the same as the town of Stanley North Dakota’s influence on the whole state of North Dakota’s economy.

All in all, pretty paltry.

I don’t say all this to anger or discourage. I say all this to encourage ND lawmakers to start to push hard for economic development in North Dakota. I don’t know if they will. Stop spending on things that do no good. Start spending time on things that matter. The state is in continued decline. 10% of the population will dissapear in the next 10 years as my fellow baby boomers get older and the already aging population drifts off the face of the earth.

I don’t know if they will.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Daddy is Special

After my parents died in a truck accident when I was 13 in 1959 there was a time in limbo while we didn't know what would happen to my brother, sister and me.  We ended up by the grace of God and the good hearts of my Aunt and Uncle Ruth and Earl Redlin to live the rest of our childhood in peace and safety.
For that I am more thankful than you can imagine.  Since this is fathers day I will identify with something I heard in a sermon today.
  • Provide for their Families
  • Protect their Families
  • Love their Families
  • Model a Relationship with God before their Families
Earl did all those things.  I love him.  I love him as a father.
I just was never able to call him "Daddy" or "Dad".  Not that he didn't deserve it.  He did.  The honor due him was apt. 
I felt somewhat guilty about the whole idea.  My brother and sister were able to call him Dad or Daddy without any hang-ups.  I suspect it had much to do with the fact that I was 13, my brother 7 and sister was 2.  So we didn't adapt the same.
Then today I was talking with Esther Helland, Aaron's wife about the whole thing regarding fathers day and daddy.   She grew up on the mission field in the Amazon of Brazil.  Her dad was a missionary.  She lived on a boat and they traveled up and down the river to different villages bringing the message of Jesus.  That was her childhood.  When she was about 13 her daddy was killed in an airplane crash.  A few years later he mom married her dad's brother.  Her uncle became her father.
But she could never call him daddy.  She said, daddy is a pretty special name and it's reserved for only one.  I know exactly what she meant and that helped me. 
So, to my dear Uncle Earl, I love you, I appreciate you, I will never forget what you did in sacrifice.  You were always a father to me.  Happy fathers day. 
Daddy is gone from here but Daddy in heaven still is. 

I'd rather see you on Drugs

Today a lady from church came to me.  Her ex-husband was taking her to court for not raising her child as a Catholic (he wasn't the biological father although he did adopt the little child).  His claim (nothing in writing) is that when he became the adoptive father that was the deal.  He takes the little guy to Lutheran pre-school and to Lutheran Sunday school. When asked about this his reply was, Lutheran-Catholic, there's no difference. 
So not only is he a nut but his theology is flawed.  His main complaint against her?  She was taking the little boy she carried for 9 months to a "PENTECOSTAL" church.  OOOOOOOOOOOO.  Scary.
How dumb can you be and still breath.  So, we will intercede for her.  We will write a letter.  The judge will toss this guy out on his ear.
This is the evil of a spirit of religion.  Denomination over devotion.
This isn't the first time I ran up against this.  In Fargo at First Assembly many years ago we had a couple I became friends with later.  He was a theater type and she was a talented singer.  But they had a difficult even rough past.  Past is Past.  They came to First Assembly and came to Jesus.
Their family was appalled.  They had been raised Lutheran. How could they leave the mother church.  How could they abandon the faith.  Never mind that of the whole family was making all the fuss seldom darkened the door of the church and none of their siblings or parents were serving God at any level.
Only when these two became serious about the things of God did the family go tilt.  The comment that sealed the whole deal for me was made by the mother, "I would rather see you on drugs than see you leave the Lutheran church". 
Folks, this isn't sharia law in Pakistan.  We have the right to select our spiritual fulfillment.  Just because someone becomes a Pentecostal, Catholic or even a Mormon they are still your kin.
That erstwhile badly theologized "dad" better figure it out.  And that mother that would rather see her kids on drugs than got to "That Church" is encouraging.
I will tell the truth, I was happy to have a religious demon raise his ugly head.  The worst thing a religious demon can do is leave your church along, ignore you, and think you are that nice little church down the street.
I have court papers to prove we're not that nice little church down the street.  Besides, today globally Pentecostalism is the dominant religious expression.  Catholic is now second.  All other a distant 3rd. 
My fear is as we Pentecostals assume this position of "Triumph" that we will become as arrogant as the old dying mainline churches and then holler at our kids who want to join some other religious expression.  But, that's not the trend today.  A little persecution is good for us. 
Blessed are you when men speak all forms of evil about your for my names sake.
I'm blessed.