Monday, October 29, 2007

Giving Up My Cruise

The Bible says when someone tried to pay for David's sacrifice of worship to God, David's response was -- "No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing." (2 Samuel 24)

What would be considered a sacrifice for me? I'm not talking about small stuff here. What would be an enormous sacrifice? The more I thought about it, the more I realized how much God has blessed me. What are the things I cherish the most in my life - and would I be willing to give them up for God?

It would be like working for 10 years to save up for a cruise to the Carribean. I would have to save for the trip. Arrange my schedule. Save up vacation days. Setup arrangements for the kids (ok, Lisa usually does this - she's the saint). A big sacrifice would be to say a day before the cruise - you know, I'm not going on this cruise. I'm going to give it up, even though I paid for it in many ways, and give it to someone who deserves it more than I do.

Isn't that what a part of worship is? Giving up something I thought had cost me a lot for a God who deserves it more than I do. He's worth it. In fact, He owns it to begin with.

Got to be honest here. I'd have a hard time giving up that cruise. I'm so American.

God, help me to really worship You. Show me ways that I've cheated You by being selfish and self-serving. Call me out for the times I thought I ever deserved anything - because compared to You...well, You deserve it all. I don't deserve anything because I owe my life to You.

DISCLAIMER: No goods or services were provided by Royal Caribbean in exchange for the contribution of this blog.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Healthy Boundries

Someone once shared with me the ABCs of maintaining a pace for a ministry in the long-haul. Here they are...
  • ATTITUDES (positive ones)
  • BOUNDARIES (healthy ones)
  • CONNECTIONS (strong ones)
It seams that I typically do OK with attitude and connections - but boundaries are the some of the most difficult margins for me to keep.

One of the boundaries that my wife and I have set in our life is Thursday lunch together. It's every Thursday. It's always at the same time. It's at the same place - my new favorite Burger King just 1 block down from TBC (although an occasional McD's is really nice). I don't schedule any other lunch appointments.

I've been tempted to schedule a lunch on Thursday because right now things are about 2-3 weeks out for lunch meetings. But the boundaries I set that contribute to the connection with my family is most important. It's a margin that I simply cannot skip. Thursday is a long day. Not just for me - but for Lisa too. Leave home at 8am and return at 8:30pm. I know in the corporate world this would get high marks on sacrificing self and family to contribute to the corporation's bottom line.

At the end of the day, if my family doesn't survive - I'm of no use to any organization or ministry. My family has to be the most important ministry. And we have it easy right now. We only have an almost-3-year-old and almost-1-year-old. We don't have the sports, school, music, dance, and other extra stuff to deal with. My boundaries will need to shift in the future. In order for my margins to stay the same, I'll need to kick-out other 'not-quite-as-important' activities that I might currently be doing (like blogging, reading RSS feeds, music groups, etc.).

Messing with Thursday lunch with be messing with unhealthy margins in my life. With Christmas execution/planning at its highest point right now, I need to maintain a healthy boundary/margin so that my highest priority (family over ministry) stays intact.

God, You want my family to be more important than the church. Help me to put the laptop away, the smartphone down, and my task list in my pocket when my family needs me the most. I want to model the relationship You have with us for my family. I can't do that if they get the leftovers. Help me to examine accurately if leftovers are served. I want to give You and my family the best choice first.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Offending People with Names

I've offended people in many different ways. One of the biggest ways to offend someone is to forget their name after meeting them once or twice. Since I'm terrible at this, I've used a little help for myself. I have to - otherwise I wouldn't be able to know anyone out of the mass of people on the weekends.

I'm going to share the secret with you. I use a help to remember names. Why do I use it? Because names are important to us. They identify who we are.

I use a 3rd party software program on my Treo smartphone by Mapletop called "SuperMemo 2.0." It helps me learn 10-50 time faster people's names. Apparently it uses a proven scientific method in constant development since 1987 using repetition spacing algorithms. It can also be used as an easy way to memorize your own facts, numbers, foreign languages, etc. I simply type in a name and the context I've met the person, and it will begin to test me. For example, I would type in...

NAME: John Doe CONTEXT: met at Burger King in line when he didn't have any money, he's there every Tuesday

In a nutshell, the program 'learns' the names that I don't know best and tests me more often on those names. It keeps score for me so I don't have to recall which names of people I don't know. It magically knows to test me on the names that I've gotten most wrong over time. If you wanted to learn other databases of 'useful' (subjective) information, here is a sampling at the following link.

1. Multiplication Table through 10x10 - If you still do not remember 5x7, 8x6 or 4x9.
2. Multiplication Table through 20x20 - Learn not only 7x8 but also 8x15, 7x14 and 15x17 by heart and throw away your calculator
3. MS Excel Shortcuts - Use your keyboard instead of mouse to speed up your work with this spreadsheet.
4. MS Word Shortcuts - Speed up your work with this text editor using shortcuts like Ctrl+L, Alt+Ctrl+N, etc.
5. Braille Alphabet - Learn the alphabet used by blind people for tactile reading, invented by a young French boy.
6. Chemical Elements - Are you sure you still know what is Sb, Mo or Ag? And what symbol is used for antimony, gold or potassium?
7. Morse Code - International - Learn the international radiotelegraph alphabet used worldwide.
8. Morse Code - American - The original code as created by Samuel Morse and used in American landline telegraph.
9. English Proverbs - All that glitters is not gold. Every cloud has a silver lining. Honesty is the best policy. Did you know that?
10. English Idioms - More than 1,000 phrases that make no sense when translated word for word and must be learned by heart.
11. English Vocabulary - Over 5,000 English words with their meanings and example sentences.
12. English Irregular Verbs - Present form, past tense and past participle of the most often used English verbs.
13. Basic Spanish - The most common Spanish words, with verbs and other words that tie together sentences.
14. Intermediate Spanish - Some 1,200 Spanish-English word pairs.
15. Advanced Spanish - More than 2,600 Spanish words in 30 categories.
16. Human Body in Spanish - Names of parts of a human body in English and Spanish.
17. Basic French - A starting point for new learners of French. Almost 700 word pairs including basic French irregular verbs.
18. Intermediate French - Some 1,500 cards with French vocabulary and sample sentences.
19. Basic German - Over 200 words in German. Learn the directions, days of week, numbers, or basic verbs.
20. Intermediate German - 700 German cards for intermediate English speaking students of German.
21. German Irregular Verbs - Present form, past tense and past participle of the most often used German verbs.
22. German Business - English-German cards about accounting, finance, management, employment, etc.
23. German Christian - Words useful for reading the Luther translation of the Bible.
24. German Computers - English-German vocabulary about hardware (e.g. cables and printers) and software (e.g. cut, paste, save).
25. German Finance - Financial terms with their explanations in German language.
26. German Materials Science - Technical terms used in fields like ceramics, metallurgy or plastics.
27. German Travel - Vocabulary related to all forms of transportation or about hotels.
28. Scientific German - Basic vocabulary for all fields of scientific work.
29. German-Latin Medical Terms - Latin terms for German speaking medical students and doctors.
30. Basic Japanese - Basic vocabulary, phrases and counting in Japanese language.
31. Japanese Verbs - Cards with Japanese verbs in romanji with their different grammatical forms.
32. Japanese Adjectives - A set of Japanese adjectives (in romanji) and their translation in English..
33. Japanese Time - Time and dates in Japanese romanji and in English.
34. Spanish-Japanese - Spanish to Japanese database of vocabulary and phrases.
35. Russian - Over 1,000 English-Russian cards in four categories for intermediate or advanced English/Russian students.
36. Basic Turkish - Nearly 500 basic words in Turkish language.
37. Basic Swedish - Phrases and words in Swedish organized by topics.
38. Advanced Korean - For English speaking learners of Korean or for Korean learners of English (great for TOEFL, TOEIC or other tests).
39. Esperanto - Learn this easy international language and join the millions of Esperanto users worldwide.
40. Lotus Notes Quiz - Multiple choice quiz for Lotus Notes exams.
41. Phobias - Names of pathological fears of spiders (arachnophobia), heights (acrophobia), closed spaces (claustrophobia), or the like.
42. Internet Acronyms - Not sure what RTFM, BTW, YMMV, TIA or ROTFL means? This list of more than 1,100 internet acronyms will help you.
43. World Capitals - Capital cities of the world countries and major island plus their population, currency names and ISO codes.
44. US States - Abbreviations, capitals and nicknames of the fifty states of the USA.
45. Musical Scales - The Major scale and its notes as well as the Modes.
46. Black Jack - The basic strategy for playing single deck blackjack.
47. Mega Memory - Support database for Kevin Trudeau's system for memorizing long numbers.
48. Micronutrients - Common micronutrients, their sources, side efects and deficiency states.
49. English Football League - More than 1,000 cards for fans including team nicknames, home grounds, wins and more.
50. Aviation Flashcards - A set of 3 databases for the FAA Airmen Knowledge Test.
51. ICAO Alphabet - International Civil Aviation Organization codes for the English alphabet.
52. Technician Class Amateur Radio - Technician Class (the first one) Amateur Radio License flash cards.
53. General Class Amateur Radio - General Class (the second one) Amateur Radio License flash cards.
54. Extra Class Amateur Radio - Extra Class (the third one) Amateur Radio License flash cards.
55. Inventions and Discoveries - Inventions, discoveries and events with their dates, inventors and their nationalities.
56. Science Facts - Various interesting scientific facts in several categories (e.g. Beaufort windspeed scale, metric prefixes, etc.).
57. Tree Names - Latin names of some fairly common trees.
58. UK Roads - Road numbers for some regions in the UK.
59. Guitar Chords - Learn the basic guitar chords with SuperMemo.
60. Musical Terms - Over sixty musical terms like Andante, Adagio or Allegro and their meanings.
61. English Musical Vocabulary - Musical terms for learners of English interested in music.
62. Academy Awards - Movie fans can find Oscar lists of the Best Picture, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress here.
63. Aikido - Japanese-English Aikido glossary for 7th through 5th Kiu examinations.
64. Karate White Belt - All the moves, terms and katas for the White Belt in Karate, Goyju-ryu Style, Meibu-Kai School.
65. Basic HTML - Over 150 basic HTML commands for web authors.
66. Financial Phrases - Almost 6,000 cards with financial phrases, terms and abbreviations.
67. Templates - A few sample SuperMemo category templates for your inspiration.
68. True-False - Sample database that shows how to prepare true-false quizzes in SuperMemo.
69. Multiple Choice - Sample database that shows how to prepare multiple choice quizzes in SuperMemo.

Now if it would only allow me to magically take a snapshot picture of their face! That would be great.

Isn't it great that God knows us (Jeremiah 1:5) - including our name. Names are important to God too. Why else would he change people's names in the Bible to reflect their new spiritual condition? It's because names are important to God too. It's why we know the 12 disciples by name. It's why we have names for God.
He Knows My Name Words and Music by Tommy Walker © 1996 Doulos Publishing I have a Maker He formed my heart Before even time began My life was in his hands Chorus He knows my name He knows my every thought He sees each tear that falls and He hears me when I call I have a Father He calls me His own He'll never leave me No matter where I go

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Stage Shouldn't Change a Thing

You've probably heard it all before. Worship isn't about music. Worship isn't about raising hands. Worship is a lifestyle. It's giving God the worth He's due with our entire life - at every moment in our life.

If this is the case, then there's an important question to ask myself. Do I worship God off-stage just like I do on-stage? Do I sing the same songs? Do I say the same prayer? Do I make the same physical motions?

If not, why not?

If I'm real on-stage, it should be a mirror of my life off-stage. The stage shouldn't change a thing. What you see on-stage should be what you get off-stage.

God, help me to be who I really am on-stage. The stage shouldn't matter. Show me when the stage is changing how I worship You. Show me how to ignore the difference of location.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Is He Really Worth It?

What an incredible past weekend of worship at TBC! It was so good to back away from the mic and let the massive vocal group take the lead to pound out the vocals. Great modern vocals cut thru on the chorus of every song. It was a breath of fresh air to have the orchestra on after the summer too.

What amazed me most about this past weekend? No one. Not one complained about the sacrifice it required. Hmm.

It's a sacrifice to come at 7am, 7:15am, 7:30am (or at 6am for Nat). It's a sacrifice to get the kids up early. It's a sacrifice to go hungry while you are singing. It's a sacrifice to worship when you are groggy. It's a sacrifice to sing when your voice isn't warmed up. It's a sacrifice when you had to lug your instrument out of the house, into the car, into the church, setup, warmup, store your case, store your instrument between services, pack it up, lug it out to the car, and lug it back home again.

Yes, God loves our worship when it costs us something. Read 2 Samuel 24:24. David didn't accept a free ticket to worship his God. We shouldn't either. If it doesn't cost us anything, why would God be honored with it? Kind of like if a stranger gave me flowers and said, here these are for your wife. If I gave them to my wife, she'd be happy - until she found out I never went out of my way to honor her. She'd be honored if I thought of it on my own, went out of my way, paid money for them, and then presented them to her.

To the millions of worshipers every week, God love your sacrifice of worship. Not only is is a sacrifice, but it's a privilege and honor to bring it to Him. He deserve the extra mile.

He's worth it all...and more.