will ride for hope

You just have to check out what my good friend Travis Johnson is doing RIGHT NOW! He is riding across Cambodia on his bicycle to raise money for People for Care and Learning. I have ridden a a couple of times with Trav and he is a beast on the bike, but this is over the top! Take a look at his blog. watch the video and consider a contribution to the cause.

10 > 20, or why I’ll get better with age

Last week, I told a much younger friend that my life is going too fast, I wish I were younger so I could have more time to accomplish more things. I’ve been thinking about that statement.

The way I figure it, I am about 2/3rds of the way done with my current career path. I’ve been in ministry for 30 years, full time church work for 23 years and serving in the lead role for 20 years. Understanding how our culture embraces youth and relevance, I know I have about 12-15 years left, with anything after 60 years old being in a completely different role.

But I’m VERY optimistic about the foreseeable future.

Here are 10 reasons why the next 10 years are going to be more productive for me than the last 20 years were.

I am wiser. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in the past but I have learned a lot. I don’t plan to repeat my mistakes. I plan to work smarter, be more efficient and accomplish more.

I have more resources. I don’t have much money but I have more than I did when I was 30. Resources are more than money.  Tools, information, technology … it’s only going to get better over the next few years.

I have more connections. I know twice as many people in my field now than I did just a few years ago. Thanks again to technology, I am in contact with lots of people. That will also continue to increase.

I have more credibility. While gray hair doesn’t work well for rock stars, I want to see some silver on my doctor, my airline pilot and my mentor. Just being in the business for this long affords me some street cred. I plan to use it.

My colleagues are getting comparatively younger. I‘m careful, very intentional about connecting with younger and younger leaders. It is very common now for me to engage with colleagues who are younger than my daughter. Thankfully, they do not refer to me as “gramps”. I think these relationships will help me stay relevant and result in increased effectiveness.

I am committed to continue growing. I am reading more and I am dedicated to being a life-long learner. I’ll be smarter in 5 years than I am today. That’s gotta help, right?

I am not as defensive. That’s right, criticism doesn’t bother me as much as it used to. I guess practice makes perfect. I plan to learn more from my critics and make myself a better leader as a result.

My priorities are right. I no longer wrestle with the “putting job before family” dilemma. God is first. Family is second. Ministry, friends, health, fun…these things are aligned for me.

Needs will increase. The world isn’t getting any better. In 2022, if we’re still around, we’ll be in a mess. Strong leaders will be in demand. The way I see it, global crisis is job security for me.

So for me, 10 is greater than 20. I’m going full speed ahead into the future! You with me?

facetime vs. face time

A couple of weeks ago, we picked up our daughter, her husband and our 8 month old granddaughter at the airport. They live in Guatemala and serve as missionaries at an orphanage there.  When both my wife and I held our granddaughter, she very deliberately grabbed our faces with both of her hands while she looked at us. This was a very distinct action on her part and, of course, we loved it. Once she held our faces for a few seconds, she seemed satisfied and started her usual gawking around at what was happening around her.

Our daughter is very faithful to be sure that we get plenty of Skype or video call time with Sophia. About 5 times a week, we get to see her and talk to her. She always has a smile or two for us while we try to connect with her via the Internet.

I think that Sophia was touching our faces just to be sure that we were there, in the flesh, rather than on the computer.  Once she was assured that she could touch us, she was good to go.

This is not a treatise on the evils of virtual connections. In fact, had we not spent all of that time on Internet chat, she would not have even known us.

I am convinced that both electronic and physical connections are necessary.

Now, let’s apply that principle in all of our relationships. If all of our relationships are on a flat screen, there is no human touch. One can’t feel your breath, can’t shake your hand, can’t make love to you. (Virtual or cyber sex is merely self-pleasure with someone watching.) We need human contact. Flesh touching flesh. Too many days without face-to-face human interaction is unhealthy.

Real life does not allow us to be in the same location, all the time, with the people in our lives. Staying connected through technology is a must. If we rely solely on the times when we can touch our friends and family, our relationships will suffer.

We need both! In proper balance, we need to build our relationships using our computers and our skin. One without the other is only half-way living.

a TIM TEBOW signed football auction!

I met Tim Tebow a few months ago and he was kind enough to sign a football for me. I am now leveraging his generosity to raise funds for my favorite charity: International Orphan Support  

I have a $200 initial bid on my authentic TIM TEBOW signed football. I am hoping for a minimum bid of $500! I am not being greedy! The proceeds will go to the children of International Orphan Support. If an auction ensues, it will end at kickoff time on Saturday: 8:00 PM EST. Come on, you want the football and you want to help kids. If you prefer, email me: rick@crosscommunity.cc

Here is the auction: Tebow football auction


5 ways to channel your stubbornness

Stubborn people are a pain. I know: I am one, and I’ve caused myself and many others lots of pain as a result.  In fact, I am more stubborn than you are. Yes I am. Yes I am!

While we’ve all seen the negative impact of donkey-like stubbornness, this troublesome characteristic can be molded into a positive trait.

Here are a few ideas as to how:

Check your motives. Many times, our stubbornness stems from feelings of vulnerability or lack of control. If we feel threatened by moving, we will refuse to move. Our insecurities can result in obstinance. Next time you assume a strong position on an issue, ask yourself why you are assuming that position. If it is because you may lose face, consider working on your self-esteem. Your value is not determined by how immoveable you are.

Play the “worse case scenario” game. Explore what bad could potentially happen if you refuse to give up your stance on a particular issue. In most cases, the world will keep spinning even if you agree to change your stance.

Choose which mountain is worth dying on. Not every issue is life or death. You may succeed in refusing to budge but you may lose relationships over it. Which is more important to you? Even if you are right, life is too short to live alone. Don’t allow your bullheadedness to end friendships.

Show a little “give” on something. Find something you have taken a position on, make it something that is not a core value or conviction for you. Now give up your position. Let it go. Go ahead, it won’t kill you.

Hang onto your stubbornness in some areas. Never compromise your integrity or character – for anyone. When someone ties to break you down, dig in and stay committed. But learn when to be stubborn and learn when to compromise.

Come on, let’s control our stubbornness. We will like ourselves better, and so will others.

“nothing” is wrong

I was reading my Next Steps scriptures the other day and came across a new (for me) revelation. Jesus teaches that to do nothing in certain situations is evil and destructive.

Luke 6:9 Then Jesus said to his critics, “I have a question for you. Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?”  (NLT)

Jesus was dealing with the incessant insistence by the Pharisees that nothing be done on the Sabbath. They were more interested in religion and rules and regulations that in doing God’s work. In this instance, they would rather Jesus not help a hurting individual than break their man-made rules about the Holy Day.

It appears to me that Jesus is saying that we must choose: “good deeds or evil”; “save a life or destroy it”. There is no middle ground. Theoretically speaking, God wants us to cast aside our adherence to religion if the end result of our religion is damaging to people. We must follow the spirit of the law rather than the letter of the law. Practically speaking, there are no more excuses for apathy and inaction. If you see someone who is hurting and you can help them, you must do so. Doing nothing is wrong.

There are other ways of saying the same thing:

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”   Bishop Desmond Tutu

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” James 4:17 (NIV)

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” Theodore Roosevelt

Work and struggle and never accept an evil that you can change.”  Andre Gide

To my fellow Jesus-followers: if you see something wrong that you can correct, yet you choose to remain uninvolved, your choice to do nothing is sinful.  If you can help someone, if you can make a difference or in any way make the world a better place in which to live, please do so.  Jesus will be very happy with you.