Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Delivering Happiness

I am a name dropper. I have met a lot of people and feel I am connected to many with similar interests. The problem is through my network of connections, we call them friends on Facebook, there is little in the way of true friendships. I know nothing about my network: are they married, have kids, what is their belief system, what are their needs, etc.

I am reading through Tony Hsieh’s book, “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose” and he says an interesting thing about networking that I feel can change the way that we approach others in life, in work and in ministry.

Tony Hsieh:

I personally really dislike “business networking” events. At almost every one of the events, it seems like the goal is to walk around and find people to trade business cards with, with the hope of meeting someone who can help you out in business and in exchange you can help that person out somehow. I generally try to avoid these types of events, and I rarely carry any business cards around with me.

Instead, I really prefer to focus on just building relationships and getting to know people as just people, regardless of their position in the business world. I believe that there’s something interesting about anyone and everyone—you just have to figure out what that something is. If anything, I’ve found that it’s more interesting to build relationships with people that are not in the business world because they almost always can offer unique perspectives and insights, and also because those relationships tend to be more genuine.

If you are able to figure how to be truly interested in someone you meet, with the goal of building a friendship instead of trying to get something out of that person, the funny thing is that almost always, something happens later down the line that ends up benefiting either your business or yourself personally.

So my advice is to stop trying to “network” in the traditional business sense, and instead just try to build up the number and depth of your friendships, where the friendship itself is its own reward. The more diverse your set of friendships are, the more likely you’ll derive both personal and business benefits from your friendships later down the road. You won’t know exactly what those benefits will be, but if your friendships are genuine, those benefits will magically appear 2-3 years later down the road.

Can this model be used in ministry? Are we building true friendships or just building a roster of names to our church attendance records? Maybe we should stop working in our offices and go meet people.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Random Thought

Today on my way home from work I heard an interesting story on the news, divorce rates have decreased because of the bad economy. I quickly did a Google search and saw many articles stating similar claims. But I was wondering why?

Is it because the economic conditions are so bad that seperating would be too expensive living apart?

Would it be better to suffer together than to suffer alone?

And if the couple endures this economic hardship together, is there a greater hope for a restored marriage?

And if all this is true, what happens when the economy returns to its former state? Will divorce rates increase to its former rates?

Isn't it funny that when people face hardships and struggles they are quick to cry out to God? There is a willingness to restore our relationship with God when we realize that we can't make it by ourselves. Maybe it is the same with our relationships with one another. We need each other and we need God.

Monday, April 12, 2010


Yesterday, the church group I am a part of, In Process decided to bless others less fortunate. Jesus commands us to love and help those hungry, thirsty, sick or naked. Our solution was to pay for people's laundry. You figure that it costs $1.25 for a load of laundry. On top of that it would cost another dollar to dry the clothes. And then there is the cost of soap, bleach and fabric softener sheets. The cost of a weekly laundry run for a family could be close to $20.

For the past couple months we have been collecting our loose change and using that as our weekly offering. One Sunday we took an offering of soap, bleach and fabric softener sheets along with coloring books, crayons, and games.

Yesterday eight of us went to a Laundromat in Fullerton. Now we are not looking for praise for the day of service. All we did was feed quarters into a washer or a dryer. We didn't fold their clothes or replace worn out clothes with nice new clothes. All in all, we were just there.

And isn't that good enough?

There was J. J is homeless. He made some bad decisions with his life. You could tell this guy is smart. He told of the businesses he owned and the money he made but then he told me of the bad decisions he made, including his drug addictions. J was looking to start his life over again, I am praying that he can.

Then there was H. H came driving up in his rusty van that creaked as it rolled in, creaked as he stopped and creaked when he opened and shut the door. I think H lived in his rusty van. He appreciated the offer of washing his laundry for free. To show his appreciation he played numerous classic rock songs on his guitar. He was very good and it was very cool. But mostly, it was great getting to hear his story.

Yesterday was a day to just hang out. A day to color. A day to pay for laundry. A day to talk, but mostly just a day to listen.

And isn't that good enough?

Monday, March 01, 2010

Jesus' Second Word

King of the Jews

One of my favorite games growing up was King of the Hill.

For boys this is a great game! Tons of pushing and shoving. The goal is simple maintain control of your hill, the bed, the couch, a snow bank, wherever there is a hill to conquer. It is not a game for the weak. It gets very physical. Generally the strongest most powerful player becomes the King of Hill.

During Advent we talked about the visitation of the angel Gabriel to a young lady named Mary.

Luke 1: 30 Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."

It seems to me that Jesus should be considered the hero. Jesus is going to be the King of Israel. We know that Jesus is the Son of God, and Jesus was given ultimate power. So powerful was Jesus that he could miraculously heal people from all kinds of diseases, ailments and sicknesses. Jesus was so powerful that he could raise people from the dead. This was the hero who can kick anyone's ass.

That is the Jesus we expect to hear about. But instead of watching Jesus rid the world of evil we have Jesus, the powerful king, the son of God, hanging from a cross.

Read Luke 23:32-43

Save Yourself!

Three times we hear "Save yourself." These were not words of encouragement. These are words that mocked Jesus. The mocking was coming from individuals that did not believe that Jesus was a powerful king or the Son of God. They did look at Jesus as their hero.

It started with the religious leaders, these were the guys who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else (Luke 18:9). They should have known who Jesus was, they had the knowledge, they had the Book, they knew the prophecies. But they rejected knowledge, they rejected the signs, they rejected Jesus. And these religious leaders even plotted the death of Jesus.

    He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.

Next the soldiers started approach the cross, they continue the mocking. These are professional executioners. They knew how to whip and torture someone just enough to hang them upon a cross where the criminal would ultimately meet their death. The vinegar they offered Jesus was thought to be a numbing agent, able to keep the criminal alive a bit longer.

    If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself.

Finally one of the two criminals hanging on the cross next to Jesus screams insults at Jesus. This man continues the mocking. There is no faith. There is no love. Just a man facing death and the emptiness of what lays ahead.

    Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and save us!

So if this was our first time reading through the passage we would expect that the all powerful Son of God would say, "Ok, cut the crap! I am here to enforce God's will. You measly little people really have no authority over me; you have no ability really to put me to death. I can and I will show you who is the boss..."

What kind of king is this anyhow? What kind of hero is this who does not use his power, who does not use his divine connections, to get himself off the cross?

Forgive Them!

But instead of saving himself, he offers forgiveness. Father forgive them. But who is Jesus forgiving?

Is it for the two thieves, one on his right and one on his left? Is he asking forgiveness for the Jewish leaders who have asked for his crucifixion? How about for the Roman soldiers who have carried out the death sentence? What about for the crowd who surround him but do not know what to say about the events that have transpired?

Or is it for us…

As the end draws near, the other criminal turns to Jesus, and somehow recognizes who Jesus is and makes the deepest human plea: Remember me!

Remember me!

Remember me!

In the first century a common inscription on gravestones was "remember me." It was a kind of little prayer to the gods that they might remember the person in the grave. If the gods choose to remember the dead then they may well survive the grave.

Remember me!

From the criminal offering up that plea we do not hear mocking. There are no insults. Just an honest, sincere cry for help. And through the cry you sense faith. The Jewish leaders did not recognize the Messiah. The soldiers didn't know of the true King. The other criminal only saw a fellow criminal. But this common criminal recognized Jesus as an innocent man. He recognizes Jesus as the Son of God, the Messiah.

And you can hear his cry because it is our cry, remember me!

Forgiveness has been offered and only one accepts the offer. One confesses the things he has done. One repents. His cry is his prayer of salvation

And Jesus responds with his second words from the cross, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."


When we hear the word paradise we have visions of mountain streams or the beach at sunset or a garden. Others hear the word paradise and think heaven. Heaven is where you go somewhere in the sky as spirits without body.

The word paradise is Persian in origin and refers to a walled garden or park. By the time of Jesus, paradise was a special place in Sheol for the "righteous dead." Hades was the place of torment for the unrighteous in Sheol. In Sheol the righteous were separated from the unrighteous.

And Jesus spoke of this separation in one of his parables:

The parable of Lazarus and The Rich Man

Luke 16:19-31

The story of Lazarus and the Rich Man speak of our responsibility to bring heaven to earth. We are not poor, we are not weak, we are not persecuted. But are we stepping over and walking around the Lazarus' in our lives?

The story speaks of a present age, not just a distant future. It also speaks that signs and wonders will not save people. Even those that witnessed the miracles of Jesus were quick to look for ways to silence him. Even those that knew the message, rejected Him.

Paradise, or Heaven is the kingdom of God lived out here on earth. When that happens there will be a great reversal, the so called "righteous" are set aside, and the "poor" are blessed.

To me paradise suggests a very physical state of existence [A PLACE!]

Later in the story of Jesus' crucifixion God raises Jesus, our hero, from the dead, and the first thing the risen Jesus does is to join a couple of his friends on the road. Beginning with Moses and the prophets, he interprets to his friends things about himself and about a God who wants an end to idolatry and a reunion with humankind enough to give up—and raise up—his Son to make it happen. Jesus opens the scriptures to the guys walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus, and then he blesses and breaks bread with them (Luke 24:13-35). It is something between a sumptuous feast and a plate of leftovers for the beggar.

Here is a stranger, recognized to be Jesus of Nazareth, risen from the dead and creating around himself a community that together reads, walks, blesses, eats, and proclaims the news, "We have seen the Lord."

It is our hope that we are not the ones mocking or shouting insults at Jesus as he hangs from the cross…Save Yourself!

But instead we hear his offer of forgiveness, "Father Forgive Them" and we cry out, "Remember me!"

Paradise is not a place we hope to one day arrive at, but rather Jesus invites us to bring paradise to our world.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sermon Prep: part three

ok, I decided to change up my questioning today.

As Jesus hung from the cross, 3 times he was told, mockingly, to "Save Yourself"

Luke 23: 35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One."

36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, "If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself."

38 There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!"

"Why do you think Jesus didn't save Himself?" And why is the phrase "Save Yourself" so important?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sermon Prep: part two

Hey everyone! Happy Lent!

This Sunday I am preaching on the last words of Jesus. Last week Brian spoke on the first words from Jesus on the cross, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." If you missed it, Brian posted his message on the In Process facebook page.

This Sunday I will be focusing on the second words from Jesus, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise" If you saw my earlier post (below) it was suggested that maybe the comma was in the wrong place and it should read "I tell you the truth today, you will be with me in paradise."

My questions today are: What are your thoughts on paradise, heaven, the resurrection? What does the "afterlife" look like to you? What do you think happens to us the moment we die? Where do we go?

I hope you will come out Sunday evening at 7PM at Brea Olinda Friends Church.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sermon Prep

Today I am starting to dig deeper into the passage of scripture that I will preaching from this Sunday. In Process (our church plant) is currently going through the last seven words of Jesus as He hung from the cross leading up to His death. Last night Brian spoke on Luke 23:34, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

My passage is Luke 23:42, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." So I was reading and praying through the passage and I found this interesting take on Jesus' 2nd word from the cross.

Is it possible that the passage could the comma have been placed in the wrong place?

Our reading again:

I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.

Another possibility:

I tell you the truth today, you will be with me in paradise.

What do you think?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lent 2010

I have been praying and thinking through Lent on ways to reconnect myself more fully with Jesus and other around me.

In the past I have given up one thing or another. One year I gave up coffee. That was a good idea and it was a bad idea. Yes, coffee is a huge distraction in my life that I need to have each and every morning. But eliminating coffee totally out of my diet caused incredible headaches and made me very cranky.

One year I gave up TV. I spent the entire Lenten season not watching TV. I love TV! Seriously! And TV demands too much of my time. When I cut TV time my reading time increased. It also increased my prayer time. But all I did was record all of my favorite shows so that I could catch up, for hours and hours, on Easter Sunday.

This year I decided to change the approach a bit and take Lent out of the box. I decided that I waste too much at Starbucks, so I will not shop at Starbucks for my favorite vente mocha and breakfast sandwich for the entire 40+ days. Each day during the week I will also eliminate another item, of the many, that are distractions and time wasters. My hope is that by doing these things I will better manage my time personally and my time with God.

Mondays are going to be Coffee Free Days. No coffee all day. I figure one day won’t kill me.

Tuesdays are going to be Internet Free Days. I will not be hanging out on the internet the entire day. No Facebook, no Twitter, No Google, No Amazon. The only thing I will do is periodically check my email.

Wednesdays are going to be Project Days. I will be devoting quality time to finish and start some project around the house. I have a ton of projects that I need to get moving on.

Thursdays are going to be TV Free Days. I am at work most of the day but instead of sitting in front of the TV, I will find some time to read and pray and just hang out with Monica.

Fridays are going to be Fast Food Free Days. I am seriously considering cutting fast food totally out of my diet like I doing with Starbucks for 40+ days. I spend too much and I am eating junk.

Saturdays are going to be Text Free Days. Simple enough, but I might include another social media fast day to go with it.

Sundays are days that are devoted to others and to God currently. I really don’t want to take away from the day and the enjoyment I am presently experiencing on Sundays.

What are you planning on doing for Lent this year?