check your brakes

You probably think I’m going to give you some safety lecture on making sure you have the ability to stop when necessary. Not so.

Yesterday, my nephew Rich and I took a 30 mile bike ride as we are training for the “120 for Orphans”, a fundraiser bike ride for International Orphan Support in October. It was an especially hard ride. I felt like the wind was in my face the whole time. Rich was very patient and, several times, he waited for the old guy to catch up.

Here’s the thing: I got home and realized that my rear brakes had been dragging the whole time. Distance cyclists will tell you that this is a psychological game that can be played on you while on a long ride. But this was no game. I was shot after thirty miles of peddling with my breaks on.

As usual, I try to find some meaningful application from the everyday lessons of life.

Make sure your breaks aren’t dragging:

Don’t make life harder than it needs to be. Drop the stuff that slows you down. Stop long enough to evaluate if something seems wrong – and make adjustments! Don’t travel through life alone – make sure that there is someone who cares enough to wait for you when you are slow. And thank God for the difficult sessions – you are in training for some great things.

why we do it

These pictures were taken at the Rio Bravo Feeding Center in Guatemala on a recent trip, partially sponsored by International Orphan Support. The volunteers are from the US. The shoes are donated by Genesis Church in Tallahassee, FL. and Pastor Brian Hunter.  The kids were doing without food and shoes until some generous people stepped up.

This is what motivates us to do what we do. If you want to to join in, you are more than welcomed to do so!

5 subtle misconceptions of leaders

Here is an incomplete list of “little foxes that can spoil the (leadership) vine”.

I can do my own thing. A leader’s “thing” is not her own. Her thing is her followers’ thing. Followers are why leaders exist. Apart from them, a leader has nothing. Any leader that forgets this is history, and a forgotten part of it. Leader – you can’t do your own thing and remain a leader. It’s about sacrifice for those who are looking to you.

People pay attention more to what I say than what I do. It has been said that talk is cheap, but actually, talk can cost you a fortune. People actually expect you to do what you say you’ll do. But it’s not the talking. It’s the follow-through with actions. A leader who talks but does not walk will make the journey alone. Leader: They are not just listening, they are watching – closely.

Image is more important than substance. While this is true for rock stars, it’s not true for leaders. A pretty face won’t get you very far when it comes to really influencing people. Character trumps charisma.

There are little areas where, as a leader, I can fudge. A day off of integrity or a vacation from morality never hurt anyone, right? Wrong! Leaders open themselves up to deserved criticism if they cross the line of acceptable behavior. Even if followers have no ethics, they like their leaders to have some.

My reputation is secure. If you think your good name is enough to give you the benefit of the doubt, you’d better think again. All it takes is one suspicion that you’ve done something wrong and it can all come crashing down on you. Fight hard to preserve your reputation. You only have one and once it’s gone, so are you.

I realize that this may have created some pressure on you, if you are a leader. Maybe you disagree, possibly you think I’m overboard on these issues. But in a moment of real honesty, I wish that some leaders who are not serious about their followers would either get serious or relinquish their leadership posts. We have too many followers emulating leaders and they are all going astray.

Any feedback?

struggling with the O.T.

Confession time.
As I am blazing my way through the Bible as part of our E90 (Exponential Summer at Cross Community Church), I am gritting my teeth at some of the stories in the Old Testament. There is so much bloodshed and abuse and annihilation. And much of it is orchestrated by God. Great men of God had multiple wives or were dishonest. They lied and cheated. And innocent people suffered a lot. Even to the point of children and grandchildren paying for the sins of their father’s while their fathers got off with no penalty. And what about how people with handicaps cannot approach God? And entire populations, women and children included were wiped out by God’s armies. Pretty heavy stuff.

I hope not to dissuade you from reading the Old Testament. But I am not afraid to tell you that, sometimes, it is a little much.

Before you start typing out your rebuttal comment – understand – I comprehend what is going on. I know why these details are important. And I think I get why this stuff happened.

Here is the message I am reading into all of this: The Old Testament simply points out how badly we need Jesus. Every detail and story in the Old Testament is screaming out for Messiah. Without The Savior, humankind is depraved. We are quite evil. And God allowed us to live out that misery so that we could see the reality of that need. We are desperate without Him.

If you think about it, those who are living without Jesus today are living in the same kind of Christ-less funk.

I will keep reading the Old Testament. It is gory and disturbing and sometimes frightening. But it shows how badly we need Jesus. I will be sure to balance out with some hope-filled New Testament.

Read on!

productive obsessions

I think it is very important for us all to recognize our weaknesses. If we can realize the area(s) where we are less than competent and work on utilizing those weaknesses for the good, we will all benefit.

For most of my adult life, I have been aware of my tendency to obsess. There has never been a clinical diagnosis but I come from a long line of obsessors – I know well the indicators. I would not consider it much of an emotional imbalance but there are times when it is easy for me to get focused on one thing to the exclusion of other important things. More of a danger than overlooking other important things is my tendency to go overboard with whatever it is I have in my crosshairs.

A few times in my life, I have gotten into such an intense workout regime that I have injured myself. Repetitive motion and intense use has resulted in tennis elbow, stress fractures in both ankles and low back damage. I guess that may qualify for obsessive, huh?

But I have had the opportunity to accomplish some very important things by utilizing my obsessiveness. In 1999 I helped raise $10,000 by running a marathon. We used the money to build a church in Cuba (yes- I carried the cash to Cuba and hand-delivered it to church leaders there).

I am headed for another one of my obsessive but beneficial projects. Some of my friends and I plan to ride 120 miles over two days on bicycles. We will be raising awareness and money for International Orphan Support. I know myself well enough to know that between now and our October 20/21 ride date, I will log a lot of miles on the bike. I just have to be careful to not injure myself in the preparation process.

I think my obsessiveness serves me well. The key for me is keeping it channeled and not going crazy.

So, is there a weakness, or even an obsession that you can make productive?

calling all creative thinkers

We need some creative help for an awesome project we are zeroing in on. I am in the planning stages of a very long bicycle ride to raise awareness and funds for International Orphan Support, a non-profit that I help lead. Click here for our website:

The idea is to ride around Lake Okeechobee, a trail of 120 miles. This would be a two day ride with a night’s stay somewhere in one of the lakeside towns. I would open this ride to my biking friends, and we would find sponsors for a per-mile or a flat amount donation. The ride will probably take place in October (date to be determined within the week). The money collected will go to feed hungry children.

So, creative thinkers, here is what we need:

A theme or title. Keep in mind, it is Lake Okeechobee or “Lake O”. Orphans will be the beneficiaries. The ride is 120 miles. Suggestions?

A logo and design: We will be making t shirts and we’ll need a graphic for promotions. Any designers out there willing to throw around some ideas?

Best way to get the word out: I am no marketer, so any help with this would be greatly appreciated.

Administrative support: We will need assistance with communications and organization, as well as social networking help.

Corporate sponsors: Do you know of a corporation or local business that would consider  a supportive donation? Now, would you be our representative and ask them?

So, you think you’re creative? Imagine it – your creativity can save the life of a child! Let’s hear your ideas. And pass this along to you buddies, as well.

Remember, this is a pro-bono gig. We do not want to spend any money we raise paying for services on this end. But it is definitely a rewarding and feel-good project that will save lives!

All donations are tax deductible.

We can use lots of help. I’d love to hear from you with any ideas! Leave any and all of your ideas as a comment or you can email me at



tired of nickel and diming

At our church, we have recently made a conscious effort to stop hounding people for money every week. We had gotten into a pretty bad cycle of hitting the people up every week for some kind of fund raiser. We were having bake sales, spaghetti dinners, asking for special contributions and taking special offerings. This was all in an effort to fund the ministry. Missions and outreach and youth ministry and building funds needed to happen. No one complained but I’m sure people were getting tired of this process.

We decided to take a more positive and Biblical approach. The solution is the Biblical concept of tithing.

Here’s the real problem. Most people were not tithing (giving 10% of their income to the church) and we were trying to make up for it. Interestingly, many of the tithers were the ones who gave over and above to our special pleas. In essence, they were giving more so others could give nothing.

I realized the problem and started backing off of asking for people to give to these special projects. The truth is, if half of the people of the average church paid true tithes, there would be no need for any kind of special offerings.

I came across some great research by sociologists Christian Smith, Michael Emerson, and Patricia Snell. Check this out:
More than one out of four American Protestants give away no money at all—”not even a token $5 per year.”
Of Evangelicals Thirty-six percent report that they give away less than two percent of their income. Only about 27 percent tithe.
Pretty pitiful, yes?

Now, think about what could happen if these Christians would tithe. To cite more from Smith, Emerson and Snell:

Those who attend church at least twice a month—earn more than $2.5 trillion dollars every year. On their own, these Christians could be admitted to the G7, the group of the world’s seven largest economies. Smith and his coauthors estimate that if these Christians gave away 10 percent of their after-tax earnings, they would add another $46 billion to ministry around the world.

If these stats are accurate, churches could feed the hungry people of the world, could provide an amazing amount of support to issue like AIDS, homelessness, widows and orphans. These issues are not the responsibility of the government. The scripture gives this calling to the church. We are required by God to take care of the needy. We are supposed to have enough resources to show God’s love and compassion to hurting people in the world. As it is, paying the light bill is a real issue for many churches.

I am going to try to do my best to make an agreement with the great people of our church. If you guys will tithe, we won’t nickel and dime you to death, trying to fund the work of the ministry. Thankfully, the number of tithers at our church is up! We are grateful! If the tithe does not continue to come to the church, well, the ministry must go on. So we would need to get ready for more raffles and auctions and begging for money. What do you say we avoid that?

You can read more of the report I cite at: