Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Quotes from Max Lucado - "God Came Near"

"Christianity, in its purest form, is nothing more than seeing Jesus. Christian service, in its purest form, is nothing more than imitating him who we see. To see his Majesty and to imitate him, that is the sum of Christianity."

"'Love your neighbor' was spoken by a man whose neighbors tried to kill him... The challenge to leave family for the gospel was issued by one who kissed his mother goodbye in the doorway... 'Pray for those who persecute you' came from the lips that soon would be begging God to forgive his murderers."

"Something about death makes us accuse God of betrayal...
     You see, if God is God anywhere, he has to be God in the face of death. Pop psychology can deal with depression. Pep talks can deal with pessimism. Prosperity can handle hunger. But only God can deal with our ultimate dilemma - death. And only the God of the Bible has dared to stand on the canyon's edge and offer an answer. He has to be God in the face of death. If not, he is not God anywhere."

"Jesus' death was not the result of a panicking cosmological engineer. The cross wasn't a tragic surprise. Calvary was not a knee-jerk response to a world plummeting towards destruction. It wasn't a patch-job or a stop-gap measure. the death of the Son of God was anything but an unexpected peril.
     No, it was part of a plan. It was a calculated choice. 'It was the Lord's will to crush him.' the cross was drawn into the original blueprint. It was written into the script. The moment the forbidden fruit touched the lips of Eve, the shadow of a cross appeared on the horizon. And between that moment and the moment the man with the mallet placed the spike against the writs of God, a master plan was fulfilled.
     What does that mean? It means Jesus planned his own sacrifice.
     It means Jesus intentionally planted the tree from which his cross would be carved.
     It means he willingly placed the iron ore in the heart of the earth from which the nails would be cast.
     It means he voluntarily placed his Judas in the womb of a woman.
     It means Christ was the one who set in motion the political machinery that would send Pilate to Jerusalem.
     And it also means he didn't have to do it - but he did."

"You have to wonder if God's most merciful act is his refusal to answer some of our prayers."

"Our problem is not so much that God doesn't give us what we hope for as it is that we don't know the right thing for which to hope."

Monday, September 05, 2016

15 More Top Quotes from John Maxwell's "The 360 Degree Leader"

"Short as life is, we make it still shorter 
by the careless waste of time." 
- Victor Hugo

"The key to personal development 
is being more growth oriented than goal oriented." 
- John Maxwell

"I don't think much of a man 
who is not wiser today than he was yesterday." 
- Abraham Lincoln

"The difference between what we do 
and what we are capable of doing 
would suffice to solve most of the world's problems."
 - Mahatma Gandhi

"You can't change where you started, 
but you can change the direction you are going. 
It's not what you are going to do, 
but it's what you are doing now that counts." 
- Napoleon Hill

"The most important single ingredient in the 
formula of success is knowing how 
to get along with people." 
- Theodore Roosevelt

"Your best friend is he who brings out 
the best that is within you." 
- Henry Ford

"When the eagles are silent, 
the parrots begin to jabber." 
- Winston Churchill

"People are like rubber bands. 
They are most valuable when they are stretched, 
not when they are at rest."  
- John Maxwell

"Relationship building is always 
the foundation of effective leadership."  
- John Maxwell

"Leaders aren't necessarily the first to cross the finish line 
- people who run alone are the fastest. 
Leaders are the first to bring all of their people 
across the finish line." 
- John Maxwell

"You never really know something 
until you teach it to someone else." 
- John Maxwell

"Any business or industry that pays equal rewards 
to its goof-offs and its eager beavers 
sooner or later will find itself with more goof-offs 
than eager beavers." 
- Mick Delaney

"I've never known a person focused on yesterday 
to have a better tomorrow." 
- John Maxwell

"The only conquests which are permanent 
and leave no regrets are our conquests over ourselves." 
- Napoleon Bonaparte

Top Ten Leadership Quotes from John Maxwell's "The 360 Degree Leader"

"The bottom line is this: 
Leadership is a choice you make, 
not a place you sit. 
Anyone can choose to become a leader 
wherever he is. 
You can make a difference 
no matter where you are."
 - John Maxwell

"Good leaders rarely think in 
terms of boundaries; 
instead, they think in 
terms of opportunities." 
- John Maxwell

"True heroism is remarkably sober, 
very undramatic. 
It is not the urge to surpass all 
others at whatever cost, 
but the urge to serve others 
at whatever the cost." 
- Arthur Ashe

"Some of us will do our jobs well, 
and some will not. 
But we will all be judged by 
only one thing - the result." 
- Vince Lombardi 

"I will go anywhere provided it's forward." 
- David Livingstone

"I love the man that can smile in trouble, 
that can gather strength from distress, 
and grow brave by reflection. 
'Tis the business of little minds to shrink, 
but he whose heart is firm, 
and whose conscience approves his conduct, 
will pursue his principles unto death." 
- Thomas Paine

"Until you value yourself, 
you won't value your time. 
Until you value your time, 
you won't do anything with it." 
- M. Scott Peck

"Leaders can give up many things. 
They can delegate many things. 
The one thing that the top leader 
can never let go of 
is final responsibility." 
- John Maxwell

"You learn resiliency and tenacity during 
tough assignments, not easy ones. 
When tough choices have to be made 
and results are difficult to achieve, 
leaders are forged." 
- John Maxwell

"The secret of success in life 
is for a man to be ready 
for his time when it comes." 
- Benjamin Disraeli

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Book Review - "The Entitlement Cure - Finding Success in Doing Hard Things the Right Way"

I was given this book a couple of months ago and asked to write a book review on it. I have taken my time, frankly, because I have been getting so much out of the book that I didn't want to rush the process. 

The Entitlement Cure: Finding Success in Doing Hard Things the Right WayDr. John Townsend, bestselling author of Boundaries, has done a great job of helping us all to understand how to help ourselves and others who battle against the curse of entitlement. We live in an age of entitlement: "the belief that I am exempt from responsibility and I am owed special treatment." We see it everywhere, from employees who don't feel the need to work, to self-centered children, to narcissists to prima donnas in leadership - and in ourselves.

There are some key takeaways this book has provided that have equipped me to tackle some challenges I've been avoiding. Let me lay out a few of them:

1. The Hard Way cures entitlement.

The Hard Way is "the habit of doing what is best, rather than what is comfortable, to achieve a worthwhile outcome." I think we all know this intuitively, but having a definition helps. And the key is in understanding that the Hard Way is also the right way. Short cuts will only keep us from learning lessons we need to master.

2. Entitlement hurts ourselves and others.
We often think that our behaviors and bad habits are our business and ours alone. However, we live in community, our families, our workplaces; even our communities are affected by our choices and the way in which we live our lives. If we choose to engage in self-destructive behavior, it affects everyone who cares about us. If we choose to excuse entitlement in others, we simply pass along the responsibility which someone else must meet. Bad situations don't get better on their own, much as we wish they would.

3. Entitlement is a rejection of reality. 
God created the world with principles within which everything operates. Entitlement is living as if those principles didn't exist. We can wish all that we want to that this world was fair and everyone should have the same opportunity, talent, resources, etc... but wishing does not make it so. We are to do the best we can with what we have - this is success. Townsend outlines 5 life principles which are unavoidable:
  • Humility and Dependence -  We are Completely Dependent on God
  • Connectedness - We are Designed to Live in Connectedness with Each Other
  • Ownership - We have to Take Responsibility for Our Own Choices
  • Accepting the Negative - Your Flaws Can't Be Forgiven and Healed until You Admit Them
  • Finding Our Role - To Live Long and Contentedly, Find Your Purpose in Life and Fulfill It   
4. To change, we must want to change.
If we, as individuals, want to change, we must create the environment where change is possible. Often that means bringing people around us who truly care about us and want to see us grow. In helping others who need to change, often we must first stop doing whatever it is that enables them, and help them to see the consequences of staying the same and the benefits of change. "Relationships which promote growth require the presence of grace and truth in each person."

5. Anything worth doing requires discipline.
Positive change requires an understanding that discipline is a good thing. We need to develop internal structure (the combination of our capacities to focus, persevere, and delay gratification toward a goal) as well as external structure (a framework of reminders and short-term goals that breaks time down into bite-sized elements). As someone said, we first form our habits - then our habits form us.

6. Positive change often starts with saying "I was wrong."
It's certainly not a psychological breakthrough to say that the first step in change is admitting that we need to change, but it's true nonetheless. many things will keep us from this admission, but it is truly necessary to move forward, and is in fact a discipline which needs to be embraced. "Nothing substantive happens in our lives until we humble ourselves enough to say the words 'I was wrong.'"

I highly recommend this book. As I wrote earlier, I will be embracing some needed changes over the next little while, thanks to Dr. Townsend. I trust that you will find it as helpful as I have. This book deserves to be read widely.   

Related Articles:
Book Review: I Am A Follower
Book Review: "The Me I Want To Be"
Book Review: "It Came From Within!"


Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Do You Want to Become a Morning Person?

I haven't posted on here in a long time. Part of the reason for that is busyness, and part of it is laziness. But today I came across a blog post from Michael Hyatt that I though was just too good not to share. In it he talks about how to become a morning person. I share this because I've met a great number of people who have told me that they wish they were morning people. So, if you're one of those, click on the link below and read this excellent article. I hope you get something out of it; life is a horrible thing to waste.
How to Become a Morning Person

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I'm a Grandfather!

Yesterday my first grandchild was born – Luke Wesley denBok. He came into the world amid a flurry of activity and mixed emotions, as life’s complications threatened to deprive us of the sheer joy of the moment. But into this world he came, ready or not.

His birth, to me, was like a microcosm of life. There were risks involved, the mid-wife was concerned for his well-being and a Caesarean Section was considered. Family members were all dealing with their own lives and problems, while trying to play their part and support the new Mom and Dad and baby. This new little one is absolutely an intrusion, but such a welcome one.

He entered the world and was immediately surrounded by people who love him – first his Mom; then Dad; then Mom’s family; then Dad’s family. And on it goes in expanding concentric circles. It is as it should be. Sharing the joy of a new life is good for the soul.

Upon reflection, what strikes me is the importance of each individual. I mean, we are all part of the “human race,” but that is such an impersonal thing. The Psalmist writes of God: “You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” This is true of every individual. Each human being is precious to God; created on purpose and by design.

As such we are all worthy of dignity, each endowed by our Creator with an innate worth. We know that intuitively (or should) when a child is born, but I think we forget that sometimes when people get a little older. We see the extreme value that each of us has in the willingness of Christ to sacrifice His own life for our sake. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)

So, everyone is someone for whom Christ died. The child born in a mud hut in Africa has every bit as much value as my grandson born in a modern hospital. The prostitute working a street corner in Los Angeles is loved by God just as much as the deacon in the three piece suit at First Church on Sunday.

I’m reminded of Jesus’ response when asked: what was the greatest command? He replied, in short, that we are to love God and love people. He also said that if we have done it (visited, clothed, fed, etc...) unto the least of these we’ve done it to Him. In other words, our love for God will be reflected in our love for people.

I read a good example of this in Bill Hybels’ book, “Who You Are When No One’s Looking.” He said that he “read of a doctor who spends his Wednesday afternoons hanging out with a dozen homeless people. He talks with them and laughs with them and gives them medical treatment when they need it. One week, one of the homeless men missed the Wednesday meeting because he could barely walk. So the wealthy, well-trained suburban doctor went to find the guy; he sat him down and gently pried off the homeless man’s shoes and socks. What he found underneath were feet badly bruised, blistered and infected. There, in a public place, the doctor sat down on the floor, bathed the man’s sore feet, dressed the wounds and prayed for the man’s comfort.”

I would like to be like that. I’m afraid I have a long way to go. My grandson is one day old, and already I’d do anything for him. I feel the same about all of my family. But everybody is somebody for whom Christ died. Everyone is worthy of love and dignity. I’m trying to develop a heart for others; to learn to love ordinary people the way that God loves me. After all, as someone said, the entire world, with one trifling exception, consists of others. People matter, all of them, large and small. 

Perhaps I'll get there. I hope so. The world would be a better place if more people loved like that. In the meantime, I'm thankful for a special gift from God. Welcome to the world, Luke Wesley denBok, God has big plans for you.  

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Situation Critical

American Pastor Saeed AbediniNovember, in some Canadian churches, has been designated as a month of prayer for the persecuted church. It's appropriate, then, to highlight the plight of just one of many thousands of cases of persecution around the world. I have written before of the case of Pastor Saeed Abedini (right), a U.S. citizen in prison in Iran for his faith.

His situation has become even more critical in recent days. According to reports from The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), Abedini has been moved from Evin Prison in Tehran to Rajai Shahr Prison in Kara. This prison has been described as "the place prisoners go to disappear."

A Dutch diplomat, Loes Bijnen, described the prison like this: "Rajai Shahr is the place where political prisoners who are seen as a nuisance, are stowed away. Going to Karaj is a severe punishment. Once in there one stops to be a human being. One is put out of sight, even of human rights activists and the press. In Raja├» Shahr, political prisoners have to share cells with dangerous criminals like murderers, rapists and drug addicts who don't hesitate to attack their cell mates. They have nothing to lose: many of them are condemned to death anyway. Murders or unexplained deaths are a regular occurrence." 

Coming, as it does, in the midst of an anti-West backlash in Iran, Pastor Saeed's life is in real danger. There is a petition that has been launched in the U.S. to ask President Obama to intervene to bring about a resolution to this situation. If you are a U.S. citizen, please consider signing it. Jay Sekelow describes this as a "life or death situation" and thinks that there may be 24-48 hours to save Saeed.

If you are a believer, it's time to pray. Persecution is nothing new. The Apostle Paul wrote numerous letters during his time in prison, finally giving his life at the hands of a Roman executioner. He said, in his letter to the Colossians, "Remember my chains." It's very easy for us, living in the free world, to blithely go about our daily affairs, never giving a moment's thought to Christians around the world suffering for doing what we so often take for granted.

Whether it's a Pakistani Christian falsely accused of blasphemy, a Christian in China or Vietnam in jail for being a part of an unregistered church, or a Christian in India, beaten for their faith, they ought not to be forgotten. So take a few moments today to pray for those living under the threat of violence and death. How should we pray? Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, wrote "Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should."  

Pray for strength and courage for those undergoing persecution. Pray that they would remain faithful. Pray that they would be delivered and that the Gospel message would continue to go forward. Pray for God's presence in the middle of their trial. Pray for their families as they suffer in other ways. Pray for those working through various means to bring about relief and/or release for the prisoners. Pray for government officials who would be in a place to make a difference. Finally, pray that God would keep your heart soft to the needs of others and that they would never have to stand alone.

Related Articles:
No Justice for Abedini
Why is Youcef Nadarkhani Free?
Saudi Arabia Calls For Destruction of Churches
Islam & Christianity
A Picnic - Or A Pilgrimage?


Monday, August 26, 2013

Billy Graham: On Technology and Faith

I came across this TED Talk presented by Billy Graham today. It was given back in 1998, but it is still just as applicable today. What does the world's greatest evangelist have to say about technology? I think you'll find it interesting. Technology may be able to solve a lot of problems, but only God can deal with the human heart. It's worth a listen to someone who has spoken to over 2.2 billion people in his lifetime. We won't have him around much longer.

Related Articles:
Book Review: The Leadership Secrets of Billy Graham
Billy Graham and Woody Allen
Taking A Stand
Apologize! Should He Or Shouldn't He?
A Picnic - Or A Pilgrimage?