Who are your heroes? What must someone do to qualify as a hero in your book?
My heroes are the first responders and those who put their lives in harms way each day that I might enjoy freedom. But I know that freedom isn't free; it's often purchased with blood.
Rarely, however, do you get to meet the individual that paid for your freedom. This brief video tells the story of one individual who had just that opportunity.
Ten years later: remembering the man who led people to safety after terrorists struck the World Trade Center on September 11th - a former Boston College lacrosse player whose trademark was a red bandanna
While we reflect on the events of 10 years ago, let's not forget those heroes that routinely put their lives in harm's way for our safety and freedom.
"Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13
2010 was a whirlwind of a year, with many challenges, opportunities, and blessings. If you received our 2010 Christmas letter, then you have a glimpse at what our year was like.
Looking back at 2010
A great kick-off at Lotusphere; IBM even spotlighted our product in the technical keynote! (Thanks, Ed Brill)
A new product launch and continued business development; looking forward to closing some larger deals in 2011
Thankful for our consulting clients and eProductivity customers around the world. I enjoy reading the emails and letters of thanks we get. Neat to know our product is changing people's lives at work and at home.
For my blog readers, thank you for sharing and for your emails and tweets of encouragement.
Many opportunities for music for the girls, including the a handbell festival, multiple bell choirs, vocal ensembles, choirs, and orchestra. All of this was rounded off by a week of performances at The Master's College "Come Christmas Sing" events followed by a weekend of Candlelight Christmas concerts at Church and topped off by a Hallelujah Chorus sing at the mall. (It was billed as a "Flash Mob" but when thousands showed up to participate it lost its "flash" status. It was just a mob. It was still a lot of fun.
I was able to attend two knowledge management conferences and speak at one. Exciting things happening there as I test and refine some of my materials and concepts for a future book.
I taught my best class ever (Technology for business decision-making) at The Master's College. I really enjoy serving in this capacity. It's a great college with a great mission.
I did not have much time to pursue hobbies this year, but I made progress moving some of these forward to do in 2011
I am in awe of the many ways that the Lord provided for our needs this year, many times even before we knew we had a need. I am thankful for the many friends and family who helped and encouraged us in 2010.
A great year of home schooling our four girls. I so enjoy seeing my children learning and growing. I also like flirting with their teacher (don't worry, my wife doesn't mind). ;-)
After 10 years of study, Amy & Wendy each earned an Awana Citation Award. I'm very proud of them.
Emily & Kelly were baptized this year; I enjoy seeing my children delight in the Lord. Kathy and I are praying for their friends and future spouses.
Amy & Wendy turned 18 this year. I'm very proud of them and thankful for the godly women they've become.
I still can't watch Steve Martin in Father of the Bride with out getting angry (or at least frustrated). Not sure that will ever change.
My love for my wife continues to grow as we celebrate our 50th anniversary for the 21st year. So cool to be married to my best friend.
I realize how blessed I am to have a loving wife and children, great team mentors and advisors, and the most talented bunch of people to serve with at work, and an encouraging group of friends and family.
Looking forward to 2011
One of my many goals this year is to become more active on my blog and social networks. I value the learning I get from these activities and I will plan to spend more time here. Thanks to everyone that takes the time to engage.
Amy & Wendy are wrapping up their senior year of high school and are looking forward to college. I'm still getting used to the idea. A big shift from our one room school house where we've learned and laughed together for the past 18 years.
Looking forward to big enterprise sales in 2011 as more business recover from the financial downturn of the past few years.
I have a few new projects and products I hope to make progress on in the productivity/personal knowledge management space.
I'm thinking about joining either our church orchestra or choir this year. (I'm not sure the orchestra will want a Tenor Kazoo so it will probably be choir.)
I am still working my way through Janet Goldstein's Publishing Reset program for writers (Thanks, Jason for the tip!). I look forward to putting what I'm learning into practice and sharing with others through this blog.
I look forward to dating my wife and daughters more this year. They are each special to me and I am blessed to be surrounded by five lovely ladies.
I'm going to try to make 2011 a year of simplicity. I've shut down all but one server at home and I'm even simplifying the tech and apps I use at my desk. Of course, to achieve the level of simplicity I desire, I will probably have to venture into new levels of technological complexity to accomplish it. Go figure.
On the spiritual side, I'm excited to try a new approach to reading through the scriptures; I'll be using Prof Horner's Bible Reading System, a schedule of 10 parallel reading themes that promises a new perspective of God's Word. I have a new ESV translation of the Bible, a gift from Pastor Sumrall when I spoke in Manilla.
Finally, I'm looking forward to seeing how the Lord will work in my life and those of my family. Last year, we saw so many things (and those were just the ones we took the time to enumerate).
Finally, This year, I hope to be more quiet and observant as I seek to honor the Lord and serve him.
It's time to do a yearly review; clean up the old and organize myself for action 2011. Tomorrow, I will begin to reorganize my office, computer, and files for the new year.
I recently blogged about a Digital Christmas Story, told from a social networking perspective. Today, I'd like to share the story of the nativity as told by the children of St Paul’s Church of New Zealand. It took me a moment to get used to the setting - the seashore- until I realized that for them, Christmas is in the summer!
Based on a true story.
This is something I can envision Michael's kids doing. Not sure the wise men had light sticks, though. Maybe.
As you celebrate Christmas this year, enjoy your traditions and take time to reflect on the real reason for the season.
For some, it's easy to confuse Jesus with Santa. After all, they both have beards and several nicknames, and often, we get caught up hoping that they both bring us everything we want. However, this season let us remember that one of them comes to give us what we think we want; the other came to give us what we need.
This week, pastors from our church and several others in the Santa Clarita Valley took a stand on the planned burning of the Quran by Pastor Terry Jones. I am pleased to be represented in this as I do not support actions of this man who would seek to do harm in the name of our Lord. I understand that the actions of one individual claiming to be a Christian do not represent all of Christianity any more than the cowardly acts of a group of terrorists should be not be assigned to an entire religion.
I hope that this letter, and more importantly our actions as followers of Christ, will show the Muslim community of Santa Clarita that we desire to live the model that our Lord set before us - to love our neighbors and to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. I also hope this encourages all religious leaders to righteously oppose the actions of those minorities who would commit offensive acts and claim to do them in the name of religion.
We're going through a sermon series entitled, "Weakness Matters" based on the 12th chapter of 2nd Corinthians. We are looking at where our strength comes from. I found this quote from John MacArthur particularly relevant:
It is when believers are out of answers, confidence and strength, with nowhere else to turn but to God, that they are in a position to be most effective. No one in the Kingdom of God is too weak to experience God's power, but many are too confident in their own strength. Physical suffering, mental anguish, disappointment, unfulfillment and failure squeeze the impurities out of believers' lives, making them pure channels through which God's power can flow. - John MacArthur
Because of where we live and the programs our children are involved in, we have two church families, one on the mountain and one off the hill. We have very dear friendships at both.
Last week, our pastor's wife passed away, leaving a heartbroken husband and congregation. Yesterday, our family attended the memorial service for Linda Reece, wife of Pastor Roger Reece. Linda and Roger came to serve at Pine Mountain Christian Community Church just three years ago and in a very short time they endeared the hearts of the congregation and the community. Evidence to this was the fact that the church had standing room only as people came to celebrate Linda's life and to show their encouragement to Roger and his children.
In the program, there was a poem by T.R. Buzzard, that sums up the Linda Reece we knew, loved and will miss until we see her again one day:
Our Pastor's Wife In the shadow of the parsonage stands a figure of obscure. Just behind the faithful pastor is his wife, devout and pure. She is with him every moment helping make his work progress, and you can't discount her portion in the measure of success. Oft behind the scene of action, often never seen or heard, yet she stands forever ready just to give a helping word. It is not in active service that her worth is really shown, but in the bearing heavy burdens that to others are unknown. With encouragement and vision she must urge God's servant on, when the shadows are the darkest and his courage's almost gone. With her home forever open and her work quite never done, she is ever his lieutenant in the battles fought and won. - T.R. Buzzard
The poem is a fitting tribute to Linda as were the many kind words shared by friends and family during the service.
Do your words scream louder than your actions? If so, are your actions consistent with your words? That's something I try hard to keep in mind.
As a husband and father of four girls, I try to reflect Christ in my relationships with my wife, my children and others. I'm far from perfect but that's the model I've chosen to follow. As far as my children, I can preach all day long about what they should or should not do but, as this video shows, it's what they witness that will determine what they learn and who they become.
I was humbled to see my daughter's blog tribute this Father's Day. Clearly, things I did not think were important have impacted them. It's a sobering and welcome reminder that they are watching everything I do.
Each Sunday, our pastor provides two sets of sermon notes which the ushers hand out as we enter the church. The first is what you would might expect - a brief outline of the sermon and related scripture references. The second is for children and has a few multiple-choice questions, a family discussion topic, and room to doodle.
Yesterday, Kelly brought me the her sermon notes and pointed out what my friend Michael Sampson has been telling me for years. (See image)
Tonight, our family attended the Passion Plan presented by our church. It was a powerful portrayal of a life-changing event, presented by a cast and crew of close to 300 volunteers in the choir, orchestra, and drama ministries who worked tirelessly to share it as a gift to the community. These two photos begin to depict the detail of the costumes but do not begin to convey the sense of realism as these talented people brought the biblical record of these events to life.
The cover of the books says "365 Daily Readings" but it actually took me 366 days to complete it. That's not the author's fault; it's mine for falling behind. In any case, I spent the day catching up so I can now cross this project off as completed - at least until I'm ready to read it again.
Despite the title of this post, I won't presume to write book review of the Bible. As the inspired Word of God, it needs no review from me and there's nothing that I can say other than I am deeply moved, convicted, challenged, and inspired each time I read it. What I will write about is the format for this particular Bible. It's the New International (NIV) Translation which I really enjoy for casual reading. (For in-depth study of the Scriptures, I prefer a more traditional study Bible in either NKJ or NASB translation and I found it helpful to keep a study Bible at hand for those times I wanted to dig deeper.)
What I really appreciate is the presentation of the scriptures in chronological order. It reads as a story and the chronological reference makes it easier to consider the events in context. In addition, the editor, Dr. F. LaGard Smith, provides an ongoing narrative in the form of a brief commentary at the start of each day's reading to set context. This is my second time reading through this particular Bible cover-to-cover and I have enjoyed the experience. If you desire to read through the whole of God's Word in one year and leave the experience with a good contextual and topical overview, I can certainly recommend this approach.
Over the years, I have given away several of these Bibles to friends. Apparently the version I own has been updated. You can find the current version on Amazon here.
We recently attended the Awana year-end celebration. Part of the activities include recognition of each child's accomplishments.
Emily (11) earned her Timothy Award through the Awana Bible club program. She has been a part of Awana since she was 3. To earn this award, Emily spent the last four years memorizing 438 Bible verses! Emily also participated in Awana Bible Quizzing this year, and her team earned a second place ribbon.
Kelly (9) earned the Awana Bible club Excellence Award. Like her sister, she has participated in the Awana program since age 3. Kelly spent the last two years memorizing 190 Bible verses. She also represented our church at the Awana Games tournament, earning a third place ribbon, and at the Awana Bible Quizzing event, where she took home a first place medal.
Next year, Amy & Wendy will earn their Citation awards for their accomplishments, including memorization and reference of almost 800 verses.
The Awana program has spent the last 60 years helping churches and parents raise children and youth to know, love, and serve Christ. It does this by teaching them to hide God's Word in their heart (Psalm 119:11) - by memorizing the Scriptures and by study, Q&A, and games. Each week more than 1 million children and youth, and 250,000 volunteers participate in Awana in over 17,000 U.S. churches, and in over 100 countries.
I am thankful for the Awana program which helps parents teach their children to hid God's Word in their hearts. The Bible teaches us that God's Word does not return void. No doubt, this knowledge will serve them well throughout their lifetime.
Emmanuel. It means, literally, "God with us." It's the ultimate gift; the real Christ story.
It's a message that is easily and often lost in the midst of commercialism, internet, blogging, life, presents... and even Christmas. But, it's a message we all need to know and remember - not just once a year.
There are many ways to celebrate Christmas -- many beautiful traditions. In the midst of your celebration, I encourage you to take a moment to recalibrate, if necessary, on the real reason for the season. Don't miss the message. Don't miss the Christ in Christmas.
Did that title get your attention? It got mine. In fact, for the years that book has been sitting on my shelf, it's been calling out to me, irritating me frankly, as I rushed about with the business of life in the fast lane. Well, this weekend, I was home sick, something for which I'm actually quite thankful as it gave me an excuse and an opportunity to slow down.
This afternoon I reread a book, one that I purchased almost two decades ago. It's called Too Busy Not to Pray: Slowing Down to Be with God, by Bill Hybels. In just thirteen short chapters, Hybels considers a number of topics, beginning with the adventure of prayer, reasons we don't stop to pray, the power of prayer and a biblical pattern of prayer, finally concluding with a brief chapter on "Living in God's Presence."
I had read this book before, but it impacted me much more on the second reading, probably because when I read it for the first time I thought I had all the answers. I don't have all of the answers, just a lot of gray hair and I found the book inspiring and thought-provoking. I really appreciated Hybels' practical examples and illustrations. I probably ended up highlighting a third of the book to come back to and review in greater detail.
My next action, (after praying of course), will be to create a mind map of the key points. I find mind mapping a useful tool when I am studying or thinking about complex topics. Inspired by fellow Lotus Notes blogger, Thomas Duff, who somehow manages to write 3+ book reviews a week, I think I'll try and review this book over the next six months to a year. The book is not very thick but the concepts are quite rich and I want to treat these with the attention they deserve. For this reason, I will create a category on the blog to classify what I learn from the book. Whether your prayer life is rich and relational, sporadic or even nonexistent, I strongly recommend the book.
I always appreciate how my friend, Michael Hyatt, places things into perspective.
Recently, Michael posted a beautiful piece on the impact of the market's downward slide. He proposes that we can have two responses: we can focus on what we have lost or on what we have. Michael's started a list of some of the things most important to him:
...I also realized that I have a choice: I can focus on what I have lost or I can focus on what I have. I started making a mental list:
I have my health.
I have a loving wife, who is also my best friend.
I have five wonderful daughters, two sons-in-law and (so far) two beautiful grandchildren.
I have several profound friendships that encourage and challenge me.
I have meaningful work that I would do even if I wasn’t getting paid.
I have incredibly competent co-workers whom I truly love and respect.
I have a church that grows dearer to me with each passing year.
I have a relationship with God that is endlessly fascinating and fulfilling.
Michael is blessed. As I read through his list, it reminded me of just how blessed I am, too. With the exception of bullet point #3 * , I could have written the same list. It fits me perfectly.
This morning, the mountains of Pine Mountain Club were alive with the voices of Majesty, as they ministered to us and challenged us from Scripture. Majesty, a ten member singing ensemble composed of full-time students from The Master's College, lead us in worship. These young people serve as ambassadors for Christ and for the college as they minister in churches throughout Southern California each week.
After church, the ensemble remained to visit and to answer questions. My daughters enjoyed visiting with the ensemble, too. We learned that the ensemble is a small group from the Master Chorale and that they travel throughout the West Coast during the school year. During the summer, they tour throughout the United States and the world. After a church potluck in the log cabin, we helped load up the van before sending the group off for their next event.
As a graduate of The Master's College, I was blessed to hear various iterations of this group at our CPS Chapel. Now, as an adjust professor, I have the opportunity to return and serve others as well.
It was not the first time our family has been blessed by their voices, and I certainly hope it will not be the last. If you live in Southern California, I encourage you to visit their Web Site to see if Majesty will be serving at a church near you.
My heart goes out to the people of the Philippines. Before I left for church today, I read about the disaster in the Philippines this weekend as a deadly Typhoon Fengshen unleashed strong winds and heavy rains that caused great destruction, leaving tens of thousands stranded on rooftops. The death toll is high and the the fate of the passengers on the ferry that capsized remains unknown.I received a text message yesterday from my friend and client, Pastor David Sumrall or the Cathedral of Praise telling me that they had been without power for the past 14 hours. Water in the streets is many feet deep.
I have grown attached to the people of Manila as I had the opportunity to serve them last year as I delivered an eProductivity conference. The people I met are resiliant and have a strong sense of community and service, even in the midst of trials and storms. (Seems like we are all in storms these days... How's your faith?). In all, I know that God is in charge and our faith remains unshaken even though the storms rage around us. Life is precious and we do not know how long our time on earth will last.
My prayers go out to the people of the Philippines and the COP community and those affected by this Typhoon. I'm sure that as things stabilize, Pastor Sumrall and his staff will organize opportunities to minister to those in need and I pray, too, that this will be a time of great testimony as people experience God's love through the service of the COP community.
Pastor Roger gave a fitting sermon for mother's day in church today. After the usual formalities, including reading Proverbs 31, extolling the virtues of The Excellent Wife, Roger asked this question: How can a husband can honor the mother of his children'?
Research has been done that says that the most number of things we can remember is seven plus or minus one. Well, guys, let's start with two;. I want to take a look at two things we can do as husbands to love the mother of our children:
How can a husband honor the mother of his children'?
1. By recognizing his own God-ordained role in the family Men, we have a responsibility to lead our family, to care for our family, and to protect it. Too many of us fail to do this. It's more than a missed opportunity -- it's our responsibility.
2. By loving the mother of his children with sacrificial love Men, we are called to love our wives as Christ loved the church. (Ephesians 5:25) Our children are watching what we do and how we treat their mother; they will learn more from what we DO than what we say. This will impact them and future generations (our grandchildren). Are you loving the mother of your children sacrificially?
Of course, there is much more that we can do, but I think these two points get to the core of our role and responsibility. Still, there are so many areas in which I can improve. How are you doing with this?
I'm blessed to have a wife that is a living and godly example of an excellent wife to her children. She is my Proverbs 31 wife. (yes, including Prov 31:21). I hope and pray that my daughters will grow up to be like their mother.
Her children do call her blessed and she deserves my praise.
I hate receiving cards or letters or e-mails signed "Merry X-Mas." Stores aren't helping this year with their politically correct advertisements and greetings. When I see their signs or advertisements wishing me a "Merry X-Mas" it makes me sick.
Thankfully, we have the Christmas Linebacker to remind people, in his unique way, that Christmas is not just about presents under a tree...
OK, so this funny video is a little over the top and the Christmas Linebacker's methods are unorthodox to say the least; but I doubt he's alone in being fed up with politically correct Christmas greetings.
And, for my friends that do not celebrate Christmas (or believe in the Christmas Linebacker) I wish you the very best this season has to offer and I hope that you don't have to meet the Christmas Linebacker to learn that Christmas about more than presents under a tree - it's about God's presence with us.
If you have ever had the experience of associating a positive experience at an event with a particular song or type of music, you'll know what I'm referring to in this post.
Last month, when I went to Manila to deliver the Beyond-Planning: eProductivity conference, I also attended church services at the Cathedral of Praise. Since my conference was during the week, I had the opportunity to attend several services at each weekend.
While some of the worship experience was new for me, we worship the same God and read from the same Bible. One of the worship songs that I heard at each service was called "How can I keep from singing your praise" by songwriter Chris Tomlin. What a beautiful song of expression of love and worship for our creator.
It's become a powerful worship song for me, as well as a sweet reminder of my time of fellowship with the dear people at COP.
I was unfamiliar with this song or songwriter, but it turns out that we sing many of Chris Tomlin's songs in our worship service, too. Chris has an amazing gift for capturing the essence in true worship in his songs. For me, Chris' songs create a sense of awe and wonder and they add to my personal worship experience.
When I returned to the states, I went to iTunes store and purchased this song and four additional worship songs by Chris.
Indescribable How Great is Our God Made to Worship How Can I Keep from Singing Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)
These are now on my iPod for my morning quiet (well, not so quiet) time.
Watch and listen, as this adorable child recites the 23rd Psalm...
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Amen. What a blessing for this child and her parents, that they would teach her to hide God's Word in her heart. Kathy and I endeavor to do the same in our family and through our service in the Awana ministry.
My dear friend, Michael Sampson, wrote a beautiful post today to share his testimony of how God is taking care of his needs. It's a must read.
I don't want to add or detract from his beautiful post so I'll simply say "Thank you, Michael, for sharing your testimony and for encouraging us to remember the source from which all good things come."
God is good.
Michael, you've encouraged me to be more bold in recording and sharing my own testimony.
You can't share God's love with others if you never leave your church building, so this weekend, our family participated in a different kind of church ministry called "Beyond the Gates." The purpose of this ministry is to go out into the community to serve others, as Christ did, by meeting them where they are.
Approximately 700 people showed up and we met in the conference center where we were assigned to one of 13 outreach teams, each with a specific purpose. Some teams went to local schools to help clean up, others went and did service work for various organizations in our community. Our team was one of several assigned to do community outreach in the neighborhood by simply meeting people and offering to help them in any way that we could. We drove down the street and parked our cars and got out some tools, trash bags, and car washing supplies - we weren't sure what we would need. Then, we simply walked down the street and greeted people from house to house.
One of my daily affirmations is "I enjoy discovering what the Bible has to teach me as I read through it each year." I must admit that I do not accomplish this goal each year, but I have done it and it is something that I aspire to accomplish again in 2007. Reading ths Bible is like playing with magnets. Despite my ability to consume large quantities of books in the course of the year, there's something about reading the Bible that I find both repulsive and attractive.
A bicycle wheel that is out of balance won't run true. Neither will a life.
Just as a bicycle wheel must be adjusted periodically to run true, in life it's important to focus on the areas that require daily attention to stay in balance. Otherwise, the bumps in the road will get you.
Christmas at our home is a major event, not only spiritually but in the decorations we put up to celebrate the birth of Christ. Our main Christmas tree (yes, there's more than one) is in the living room and because we live in fire country and we like to leave our tree up for much of December and into January, we choose to use artificial tree. This short time-lapse video clip of the Mack ladies decorating the tree will give you an idea of how it all comes together.
Merry Christmas from the Mack Family!
Note: when this video was recorded the girls were getting ready for their final competition. The big table in the foreground is our competition robotics practice field.
God is truly the source of all skill and the goal of all labor.
These opening words, spoken by music director, D.J. Jackson, at the 2006 Baccalaureate Chapel, gave me pause to think about what I've accomplished and how thankful I am for the opportunities I have experienced.
The Baccalaureate Chapel was a powerful opportunity to assemble with the other graduates to give thanks and celebrate what God has allowed us to achieve. We sang traditional hymns, reflected on our achievements, heard some words of encouragement, and prayed for our future.
Dr. John MacArthur admonished the graduates:
You will be a product of your influences. Choose very well, those whom you allow to shape your life. "... everyone when he is fully trained, will be like his master." Luke 6:40
He went on to discuss how we should carefully consider our goals, and how we approach life, allowing God to work through us.
As a computer geek, allow me to describe this in geek notation:
After a long week, working with a client,
I treated myself to the late screening of End of The Spear. I'm glad
that I did. It helped put things back into perspective for me. The "important"
technology work that I did all week no longer seems so important. In fact,
at the level of the people portrayed in the film, my technical work is
largely irrelevant, other than it allows me serve others.
I deliberately won't blog about the details of this true story - I don't
want to spoil anything or take away from the message.
I simply want you to watch the film and then ask yourself these three questions:
1. What was so
important that would cause these men to do what they did?
2. Knowing all that he knew, what was so important that the son did what
3. What would you do? How would you respond? Why?
The real message of this story lives
in the answers to these three questions.
I hope you will go see the film and consider these questions.
I will tell you one thing about the move itself. Stay to the very end.
There's are some worthwhile clips half way through the credits.
It's now recorded in the blogosphere; I've
been politically incorrect, at least according to some. It won't
be the first time.
It's on the record. It's my blog and, as stated in the banner for this
site, I've promised to write about my adventures in life, work, and spirit.
I know, from my own personal experience, that many people who will celebrate
Christmas this year will do so without a clear (or perhaps any) understanding
of what it is we truly celebrate at Christmas and why Christmas is a holiday
- a holy day.
In the past one hundred years or so, this holy day, has morphed into a
commercial free-for-all, and now, often, a source of confrontation. But
that's not Christmas; that's commerce.
Many years ago, my wife put together this display for our home. Five loaves
of bread and two fishes in a simple basket. Her purpose was to create a
powerful visual reminder of how God provides for our needs in the same
way that He did when he multiplied the loaves and fishes to feed the crowds.
It's so easy for us to fall into a cycle of thinking about what we do not
have, yet we are richly blessed. We have a father that loves us, cares
for us, and will never abandon us. Our heavenly Father loves us so much
that he has provided for all of our needs, even to the point of extreme
sacrifice just so that we would not miss out on the most important aspect
of life. It's easy, however, to get distracted from what we really need
and think about what we do not have or what we want. Specifically there
are times when we may think that we do not have enough ___ [fill in the
blank; money, house, things, faith; hope; love, etc.] yet God provides
abundantly, according to our need.
Tonight, John MacArthur came and spoke
in chapel on the importance of an accurate interpretation of the Scriptures.
Majesty led the worship time. It was an inspiring evening and I'm glad
I went. I really appreciate that John takes the time to come and address
us each year; it was neat to be able to stick around and talk with him
after. It was better than watching him on CNN; Larry King was not there
to interrupt at the good points for a commercial break. I mentioned
to John that I really appreciated the fact that Grace to You now offers
their daily broadcasts in mp3s via RSS. John told me that he was really
excited to branch out into this new medium for publishing. I wonder if
he will blog next?
I told a colleague that I would post the key points that I noted during
He who finds a wife finds what is good
and receives favor from the Lord. - Proverbs 18:22
Kathy, as we celebrate our 50th
wedding anniversary for the
15th time, I took some time to reflect on my blessings from a biblical
A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good not harm
all the days of her life.
- Proverbs 31:10-12
A friend of mine, talks about how sometimes
the most strategic thing you can do when your mind is numb is to water
your plants or refill your stapler. This week is such a week for me.
My mother-in-law suffered several small strokes last week. She came down
to Ojai to visit with us and watch the children in the evenings so that
Kathy and I could attend the DavidCo staff dinners. Now, we are now dealing
with sudden and dramatic change in all of our lives in the face of long-term
care. The amazing thing is the long list of extraordinary events that have
unfolded (or "shown up" as some may call it) to support us this
week. Events that by themselves would be amazing enough, but when considered
as a whole, point to providence.
I'm thankful for my family and for my faith - faith that God is omnipotent
and omnipresent. We have been surrounded in prayers from around the world.
For these, I am truly grateful.
It is absolutely amazing to me how physically draining this week has been.
At the same time, I see God at work in my own life, in the lives of the
people who've reached out to us in kindness, and in the opportunities I've
had to reach out to others. Case in point, over the past few days, Kathy
and I've made a friend in the ICU unit. Her name is Janet and she's caring
for her sister who's in the ICU room across the hall. We've had the opportunity
to share stories, to be an encouragement to one another, and to pray together.
I know it was not a coincidence that our paths crossed when they did.
In addition to sharing my faith, I want to share how valuable my GTD training
has been this week. At a time when I'm low on energy and limited in my
attention, my GTD skills keep me focused on simple next actions, moving
forward, one step at a time - even if that step is only to water my plants,
refill my stapler, hug my wife, or make this blog post. (I've actually
drafted a few blog entries from the ICU this week, many about my observations
of tech and productivity in the ICU. I'll get to them, I may just need
a small break.)
So, while I may be numb from the information I've received this week, I'm
not without hope or without anything to do. I'm very much alive - alive
with the awareness that although I do not have all the answers, I can know
and trust the One who does.
I know that God has a plan. I know that I don't know what that plan is
beyond that which can be found in His Word, but I can read, pray, understand,
learn, and grow. I can also move forward in faith, one step (or next action)
at a time, trusting and resting in Him along the way.
I'm doing that; so in a spiritual. sense, I you might say that I'm ready
This afternoon, my family and I attended
a memorial service for Dr. John R. Dunkin. Dr. Dunkin was a pastor, teacher,
and president of the Los Angeles Baptist College and Theological Seminary
(now, The Master's College and Seminary).
I did not know Dr. Dunkin personally, but it turns out that I know many
of his family, friends, and the thousands of people whose lives he touched.
Today, he touched my own.
For almost two and a half hours, I listened, in awe, as family and people
who know him shared testimony of the faith and deeds of this man, a man
who loved the Lord and God's Word, the Bible, and who devoted his life
to others in Christian ministry. It was an awesome celebration of a life.
Since I did not know Dr. Dunkin personally, I was able to be, in some ways,
a disconnected observer of his life through his memorial service. I could
not help but think about the beginning of Dr. Stephen Covey's book "The
7 habits of highly effective people," in which he admonished us to
"begin with the end in mind." Dr. Covey challenges us to consider
what it would be like to be a guest - an observer - at our own memorial
service. What would we want those present to say about our life? What would
they say about it? Thinking about this today reminded me of the power of
that visualization. The 600-800 people present today, are a testimony to
Dr. Dunkin's legacy.
From what I can tell, Dr. Dunkin indeed began with the end in mind. He
was certain of his eternal future, he knew what his purpose was, and he
knew on whom his plans depended.
Dr. Dunkin's home with the Lord now. He will spend an eternity in the presence
of his Lord and Savior.
He lived a rich life and he leaves a legacy of family, of leadership and
His race on earth may be over, but his real adventure has only begun.
TesTeq thinks my post about Bible quizzing
is ridiculous, and he's taken the time to share his point of view in a
on my blog today.
Such competitions concerning religion are ridiculous
in my opinion. What about "fastest said prayer" competition.
Or who loves God most
Thanks for reading my blog, TesTeq, and for sharing your point of view.
You did not leave an email address, and I do not know who you are, so I
can only respond to you here.
TesTeq, you bring up a legitimate point: we live in a world of extremes
and, as with anything, it it possible to take any competition to an extreme
- even a Bible quiz.
Please permit me to share with you another perspective - my perspective:
To me, the point of the Bible Quiz is not about who's the best for the
sake of being the best. The purpose of Bible Quiz is to train and encourage
children (and even adults) to develop a better understanding of the instruction
in God's Word, the Bible, so that they can apply it in their lives.
The Awana Bible Quiz competition format is simply a tool - one that makes
the learning process fun for children and one that recognizes them for
Sports fans recognize and reward athletes for their ability to move a ball
around a field; The result? athletes are encouraged to work at further
developing their skills.
We have spelling
bees, national competitions that recognize and reward children for their
ability to master spelling and geography. The result? Children are encouraged
to study hard, apply what they have learned, and strive for excellence.
The Awana program and Bible Quiz recognizes children for their efforts
in studying, memorizing, and applying God's Word. It works.
I hope that you noted that I did not post how the teams did in the Bible
Quiz - only the athletics. Every team that competed in the Awana Bible
Quiz did exceptionally well. By the way, our team did not win the Bible
Quiz; we have much to learn. But we did learn a lot by preparing for and
participating in the Awana Bible Quiz. It was a wonderful experience.
It is my hope that as a result of their participation in the Awana Bible
Quiz, these children will hide important truths in their hearts - truths
that will make all the difference in the world.
I'm glad that you read my blog, TesTeq, and I thank you for your comment
this morning. I enjoy discussion.
Note to other readers of my blog. I believe Testeq has a legitimate question
about taking things to an extreme. Happy to continue this discussion as
This weekend, I was asked to be on a panel
of judges at the Awana Bible Quiz and Games. It's not as it sounds; I'm
not a Bible scholar. Though, after this weekend, I'm inspired to work harder
Over the weekend, my daughters, Amy and Wendy, competed in the Awana Bible
Quiz and Games in Riverside, California. We arrived at seven o'clock in
the morning; the Bible Quiz was held in the morning and the Awana Games
took place after lunch.
While the games were exciting - our church team won first place - it was
the Bible Quiz that impressed me the most.
For close to four hours, twenty-six teams, called "quizzers"
competed in various activities to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding
of the Bible. The two primary activities were the "Bible Quiz,"
and the "Speed Tests."
For the "Bible Quiz," the judge asked 30 questions, such as "In
what Old Testament verse does God make a statement about Himself?"
followed by three possible answers. After 30 seconds, the judge would say
"paddles up," at which time a designated person on each team
would select and hold up a wooden paddle to indicate the team's response
- A, B, or C. The teams earned points for each correct score.
For the "Speed Tests," each team was given a button to
press. Each button was connected to a master computer that determined which
teams pressed the button first and second. The team members stacked their
hands -- one on top of another -- so that any child who knew the answer
could trigger the button to alert the judge. The most difficult part of
this event for the teams was triggering the button fast enough to be the
first or second team to press the button and signal the judge -- only one
team and one alternate would be called upon. A correct answer earned points;
an incorrect answer earned a penalty. With twenty-six teams, the pressure
was intense; it was important not only to know the correct answer but to
be able to respond quickly.
I served on a panel of judges for the speed tests. My role was to verify
that the students, who quoted scripture as part of their answer, quoted
word perfect from one of three translations. I verified the King James
version (KJV) verses while two other judges verified the New International
version (NIV) and the New King James Version (NKJV). I found this challenging,
as we had to listen to the child recite the verse and provide the reference.
While the child was quoting the verse, we had to determine the translation
and whether or not they had quoted the passage word perfect. Fortunately,
we were given printouts with the verses in advance, so we did not have
to look anything up. There was no time. After the verse was recited, we
conferred with the head judge to agree upon the translation and the accuracy
of the recitation.
I am amazed at how well these young students did and I am proud of them
for working so hard to memorize and apply scripture.
As one pastor put it, "a group of pastors would find it challenging
to compete with the lowest-scoring team at the Awana Bible Quiz."
This weekend, hundreds of millions of people
around the world will celebrate Easter: the crucifixion, death, burial,
and resurrection of Jesus. Why on earth would anyone "celebrate"
these four events - isn't that morbid, even a little politically incorrect?
Why not just celebrate the fact that someone, who was once dead, is now
alive? Isn't that good enough? I believe that to do so would be to miss
the whole point of Passion Week.
Beyond the simple historical facts surrounding the life of Jesus is a story
of even greater significance. It is the story of a relationship between
God and us - you and me. In our busy world, it is too easy to become
distracted with current events, activities, news, and yes, even blogs,
and miss out on this most important relationship.
For the past three nights this week, our church presented a special Passion
Week service, entitled, "Given For You." The details found on
the pages of Scripture were presented with drama, music and vocals by our
church drama team, orchestra and choir. This was the first time I have
attended this type of presentation without singing in the choir. I sat
in the balcony with my family. It was a powerful and moving experience.
The the story of Easter is love story about a relationship, a most valuable
one, a personal one. It is also a story of extreme sacrifice. If you are
unfamiliar with the details, now would be an excellent time to learn more.
For those of you who already understand the significance of Easter, we
have much to celebrate.
It's good to be home after spending a good
part of this month in Ojai, working with clients. Since so much of the
work that I do for my clients is done remotely, it is always a delight
for me to connect on a personal level with the folks I serve professionally.
While I had a great week -- and ate well -- it was hard to be away from
my wife and children just before the holiday. I missed them a lot.
Tonight, our family lit the remaining candles in our Advent wreath as we
read the story of the birth of Christ, as recorded in the Bible. It
is a beautiful story - a story of love, God's love, for all of humanity.
The message of Christmas is really quite simple, it's all about a gift
-- the birth of Christ.
Unfortunately, the beauty of the Christmas story and the music, song, festivities,
accompanied by commercialism, politics, Santa, and even political correctness,
can easily distract us from the simplicity of it all: the birth of the
Savior, not in a palace but in a manger. (I'm not saying that any of these
things are necessarily bad, but any of them can easily become a distraction
from the true significance of this day - a day that is celebrated by so
For me, as I quietly reflect on the meaning of Christmas tonight, I am
grateful for the opportunity to personally celebrate.
There were many years in my life when beyond the commercial representation
of Christmas, (trees, Santa, and gifts), I had no idea of what it was really
about -- why did people set up trees? Why did they give gifts on this particular
day? Why did St. Nicholas bring gifts? You see, at the time, I did
not know whose birthday it really was. It was a party to which I had been
invited, but I did not personally know the guest of honor.
Fortunately, that changed and I came to understand the meaning of the party
and who was being honored.
Tonight in church, the lights were turned off and the congregation lit
candles and sang Silent Night, Holy Night. As we did this, I thought
about the birthday we will celebrate tomorrow. It's not an ordinary birthday.
(after all, it's the only one we still celebrate more than two thousand
years later.) It is truly an event like no other. The pages of history
tell us that it was an extraordinary event - one that both nations and
kings have recognized as a special birth ever since. For more than two
thousand years, this birth has been remembered, not only in the pages of
history, but through the beautiful music, song, traditions, and celebrations
that have become the mainstay of what we call Christmas.
It is my hope that tomorrow, with the celebration of Christmas upon us,
that you will not be distracted from the reason for the celebration.
I know whose birthday it is and I plan to celebrate.
For the past several years, my wife and
I have led the local AWANA Cubbies
program in Pine Mountain Club.
This year, I have been unable to be involved much, so Kathy is currently
leading the program with the help of a wonderful team of volunteers.
Kathy still calls upon me from time
to time - whenever she needs unusual assistance.
Tonight was one of those nights when
I was called upon to do something unusual...
Cubbie Bear and some of his friends
pose for a picture.
After the meeting, Cubbie Bear stopped
by my office...
What? Even bears have to check their
Last year, our family participated in the
Thru the Old Testament Seminar.
The seminar is an innovative way to learn about the people, places, events,
and history recorded in the Bible. What I think is particularly fun about
the Walk-Thru seminars is that the audience is actively engaged during
the entire seminar. You can't sit still. The presenter, while teaching
history, uses catch-phrases, body language, and hand-signs to help the
audience literally, "Walk thru" the Old or New Testament in just
There were two concurrent seminars, this year: an adult Walk-thru, and
a children's Walk-Thru. I volunteered, along with several other adults,
to help "Miss. Donna," as she presented the seminar to a group
of almost a hundred children. Miss. Donna did an outstanding job and had
everyone moving, laughing, and learning from start to finish.
At the end of the seminar, all of the kids (and even the adults) were able
to demonstrate a better understanding of the people, places, and events
of the New Testament from memory; they did this by reciting (in order)
the more than seventy catch-phrases and hand-motions which they had learned.
It was a great deal of fun, and really helped to make the stories of the
Bible come alive.
If you hear of a Walk-Thru the Bible seminar near you, look into it. I
highly recommend it.
PMCCC was hopping tonight, as our 9th VBS
drew to a close, culminating in the traditional pot-providence, (I don't
believe in luck) followed by a children's presentation of what they learned
during the week.
This year's theme, inspired by the 2004 summer Olympics in Greece, was
called Son Games, and as usual, the folks at Gospel
Light put together a wonderful
program. Over a hundred children participated in the program, and they
were joined by missionaries from Greece!
Although Kathy and I did not volunteer this year, we know all too well
how much work is involved, having organized and run the Vacation Bible
School ministry in the past.
We are thankful for the many volunteers, who gave generously of their time
to share their love with our children and the children of this community.
At the conclusion of Mel Gibson's film,
Passion of the Christ, just
before the credits, we see the empty tomb. While the film ends at
this point, the story does not. Easter is my favorite day of the
year because we celebrate the events that follow. For me, while that celebration
continues year-round, Easter is an extra special time. I always look forward
to belting out A Mighty Fortress is our God and other hymns with
the organ at full volume accompanied by the choir and orchestra and with
such amplitude that the foundations shake. To me, to call this a glorious
day would be an understatement.
From our family to yours, Grace and Peace to you!
I also enjoy the traditions of the day, including excited children, gift
baskets, good food, and of course, fellowship with family and friends.
Today is Palm Sunday. Do you know
why they call it that? Kelly, age 4, does. Today in Sunday school, the
children read about Palm Sunday and how the people in Jerusalem waived
their palms before Jesus as He entered the city. Kelly's teacher asked
if anyone knew what a palm was. Kelly raised her hand and announced that
she knew all about palms because her daddy used one for work. I'm not sure
the teacher was ready for that answer. Out of the mouth of babes...
This evening, we attended a mini-conference on The Passion of The Christ.
Gibson's film, and its success at the box-office, has certainly stimulated
discussion on the topic of Christ's Passion. For those of you who may have
seen the film by Mel Gibson, you got to see the painful and graphically
shocking "how" of Christ's Passion. Fortunately, the story does
not stop there. Tonight, we considered the Biblical account of this life-changing
event in an effort to better understand the "why" of Christ's
C.S. Lewis, Oxford and Cambridge Professor, and cohort of J. R. R. Tolkien,
had this to say:
man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not
be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic--on the level with
a man who says he is a poached egg--or else he would be the devil of hell.
You must make your choice. Either he was and is the Son of God: or else
a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit
at him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call Him
Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his
being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not
week, I'll pick up on the "Is
the chicken cooked" discussion
and explain the lessons I have learned about productivity from training
chickens. (Yes, I actually did train a chicken)
This weekend, our family enjoyed a special
treat: we were able to participate in the popular "Walk through the
Old Testament" seminar, hosted by our church.
Over the course of an afternoon, we were taken on an unforgettable adventure
back to the beginning of time. We learned to memorize stories (complete
with hand motions) of prominent characters and events and places from the
It was an enjoyable afternoon. There were at least 300-400 adults in the
conference center and another 200-300 children in the youth building memorizing
the words and motions that tell the stories. No note taking needed.
Then, at the conclusion, we all came together in the conference center
to challenge each other (adults vs children) to repeat from memory all
of the events and people we had learned about.
We are looking forward to next year, when our church will host a "Walk
through the New Testament" Seminar.
If you want to learn about the people, places, and events of the Bible,
this is a wonderful seminar and a terrific motivator to help you along
the way. http://www.walkthru.org
Yesterday, Amy and Wendy made public
their decisions to live their lives for the Lord. They were baptized
at our church in Santa Clarita. We were honored to have two special
men assist in their baptism - Pastor Mel Loucks, who married Kathy and
I and who dedicated Amy and Wendy 10 years earlier, and Pastor Peter Beers,
our current worship pastor, former choir leader, and long-time friend.
In fact, Peter and his wife, Robin, were Amy and Wendy's first visitors
in the hospital when they were born!
Daddy, Amy & Wendy at their baptism with Pastors Peter Beers, and Mel
A couple of months ago, our family was
introduced to the "Bibleman" video series (think "Batman"
who quotes Bible verses rather than throws punches). The programs are the
brainchild of Willie Aames from "Eight is Enough" and "Charles
in Charge." Aames has committed his life to the Lord and is
using his program to reach young children with the Gospel of Christ in
a powerful way.
We found out that the "Bibleman" also does a live stage show.
We drove up to Sonora to see the show. We had fun, and the
children loved meeting "Bibleman" after the show. Highly
Here I am, about to bring Cubbie bear (a puppet) out of his house, as part
of our nightly skit. We have about fifteen 3-4 year olds in our class
each week. It is a delight to be teaching with my sweetheart.
Tonight I made my dramatic stage debut
at church. I played "Uncle Gill" in our church's children's
production of "Fish Tales," a musical in which I told the children
stories from the Bible and how they could become "fishers of men."
Though I have no plans to continue in this line of work, it was wonderful
to rehearse with Amy & Wendy and the rest of the Children.
There were about 100 children in total. We
were under the inspiring direction of Ms. Lelia Mrotzek, who taught us
that this was more than just a musical.
At one point in the program, I had to do a did a little rap-style dance.
Unfortunately I don't have any pictures, so you will just have to imagine
We dedicated Kelly at church this Mother's
Day. Many family and friends turned out for the celebration. By
dedicating Kelly, we make a commitment to raise her in a Christ-centered
home. It is our prayer that when she is older, she will make a commitment
to live her life for the Lord and be baptized.
My logo includes a star, which represents the spiritual component to my life. I am thankful for that component, and offer my testimony as an encouragement to others.
I did not grow up in a Christian home. Although I was baptized as an infant, my religious upbringing was, at best, inconsistent. Through sporadic attendance at Protestant churches, a Jewish temple when I was younger, and a few years at a Catholic church in my teens, I learned that God loved me and had a plan for me. However, I did not know what it meant to know Him personally or that it was even possible to do so.
I did not become a Christian until my early twenties. Prior to this time, I thought that I was a Christian - - began to attend church on my own, helped others, and gave to the needy. I even taught Sunday school! While these are all behaviors, which are often exhibited by Christians, they did not make me a Christian. Amazingly, despite my years of service to others, even in ministry, I had never been confronted with the question of "Who is Jesus?" Fortunately, there were two people who would confront me with this life-changing question.
In the early eighties, I met and hired an individual to work for my company as a consultant. As we worked together, he demonstrated to me what it meant to be a Christian and to live with a personal faith in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Not only did he set an example to me by his work, he routinely challenged me in my own faith as we drove to and from the clients we served. Concurrent with this, I became involved in a youth ministry as a youth activity leader at a local Methodist church. The youth pastor was on fire for the Lord and challenged each of us to examine the person of Christ as we prepared to minister to the youth of the church. Despite what I may have thought about myself and all the good things I was doing for others, I was living in sin and not fully honoring the Lord with my life. It was at this time that I realized that though I claimed to love God, I did not understand what it meant to personally invite Him to be Lord of my life. I was thirsty to know Him in a personal way. I began to visit the local E.V. Free church up the street where I was encouraged to study the Bible, God's Word, to understand how I could know God personally.
Through regular church attendance and Bible study, I came to understand that I was a sinner and that I was personally in need of God's forgiveness. (... all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23) I wanted to experience His unconditional love for me, His forgiveness, and to serve Him. It was there that I repented of my sins and accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior. Many years later, on Palm Sunday, 1990, I had the opportunity to demonstrate publicly, my inward conversion, through baptism by immersion. I know that I am "Born again" and that my sins are forgiven and my salvation is assured. "But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead with transgressions - it is by Grace you have been saved." Ephesians 2:4-5.
Since coming to the Lord, I have grown in my walk with Him. I hope that this is evident in my personal and family life as well as in our business. I have had the opportunity to serve in ministry in a variety of ways. Most important, my wife Kathy and I are raising our 4 daughters to know and love the Lord Jesus.
If you have any questions or comments about what I have shared, I hope that you will use the contact link get in touch with me.