Another Nugget from Seth Godin

I give you this one in it’s entirety.  It speaks for itself.  In the first 4 days this post was up it was “Liked” by nearly 2000 facebookers and retweeted nearly 1700 times.  That’s a lot of buzz around weakness being strength.  Sound familiar?  Try 2 Corinthians 12:9.

Demonstrating strength

Apologize

Defer to others

Avoid shortcuts

Tell the truth

Offer kindness

Seek alliances

Volunteer to take the short straw

Choose the long-term, sacrificing the short

Demonstrate respect to all, not just the obviously strong

Share credit and be public in your gratitude

Risking the appearance of weakness takes strength. And the market knows it.

Some Solid Financial Advice in An Unexpected Place

Whenever I get a chance to visit Barnes & Noble I love to frequent the Management & Leadership/Marketing & Sales sections.  I just enjoy reading these books.  One of my favorite authors in this section is Seth Godin.  Godin writes about, “the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership and most of all, changing everything.”  If you’ve never read Godin, he often writes in very short, pithy paragraphs that give his books a proverbs like feeling to them.  You can pick up any of his books, open it randomly, and likely get something useful from the page.  Try it.  You’ll understand.

As effective as Godin’s writing style is in printed form it is even more so in digital form.  It has been suggested that his blog is the most popular in the world written by a single person.  I was perusing some of Godin’s older posts recently and stumbled upon a nugget of financial advice that I love.  It is succinct, to the point, and challenging; it’s counter cultural.  Godin’s sentiments are very Dave Ramseyish.  Freedom!!! Here is my favorite part of his post.

My suggestion: Go to defcon 1, and do it immediately. Shift gears to live well below your means. That means:
No restaurants
No clothes shopping
No cable TV bill
No Starbucks

It means:
Take in a tenant in your spare bedroom
Carpool to work
Skip vacation this year

Eat brown rice and beans every night for dinner. Act like you have virtually no income.
Entire Post

It’s Just one Study…but Disturbing Nonetheless

Came across this article today from October 1.  It highlights the findings of a recent study.

This week, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released the results of a nationwide poll that measured how knowledgeable Americans are when it comes to religion. The poll found that compared to other faith groups, atheists and agnostics knew most about the Bible, church history, world religions and religion in public life. Protestants trailed in religious knowledge behind not only atheists but also Jews and Mormons. – Full Article

The article relates the words of a Texas pastor who sees this study as a wake-up call to the Western church.  It speaks of the need to go beyond the attractional sermons and messages that have Biblical “sound bites” and to work on Biblical growth and spiritual growth that leads to Life Transformation.

How is your Biblical knowledge?  Does it matter?  Share your thoughts?

Found by Freedom

John 8:1-11 is a powerful story in which Jesus goes toe-to-toe with the teachers of the law and the Pharisees on the matter of sin and condemnation.  The teachers of the law and the Pharisees were trying to drum up accusations against Jesus by confronting him with a challenging situation – a woman caught in adultery that deserves condemnation and punishment.  Jesus in turn confronts those present with their own sins and says, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”  The outcome of this is that everyone leaves except for Jesus and the woman.  Jesus then declares to her that no one, including himself, has condemned her and that she is to go and leave her life of sin.

What an incredible moment that must have been for the woman.  One moment she is broken, terrified, ashamed, overwhelmed in an intense situation, and on the verge of being killed.  The next she is alone with the Prince of Peace, all condemnation gone, and given a second chance on life.  This is intense.  This is life transformation.  I try to imagine what it would be like in that moment, what would be going through my mind and I can’t help but hear these lyrics…

Where are the people that accused me?
The ones who beat me down and bruised me
They hide just out of sight, can’t face me in the light
They’ll return but I’ll be stronger

God I want to dream again, take me where I’ve never been
I wanna go there, this time I’m not scared
Now I am unbreakable, it’s unmistakable
No one can touch me, nothing can stop me

Full Lyrics

These lyrics are from the band Fireflight.  The song is a couple years old but I was just reacquainted with it this past week and the message is powerful.  From the words of the lead singer herself…

“The people in charge were ready to kill her, and Jesus speaks up for her, changes their minds and makes them feel ashamed for accusing her,” explains Dawn Richardson, the group’s fiery lead singer. “How would you feel if you were the woman? She knows she’s guilty, and yet she’s suddenly free and given a second chance.” – Source

Here’s the video for the song.  Take three and a half minutes to reflect on the power of Jesus to set captives free and the beauty of life transformation.

Thinking Outside the Box

A few years ago there was a story about a guy who traded a red paper clip for a house.  The true story is that it was a little more involved than that but it did happen.  From the man who pulled it off, Kyle MacDonald:

On July 12, 2005 I posted a picture of a red paperclip on my blog and asked if anyone wanted to trade something bigger or better for it.  A few days later I traded the paperclip, and after making 14 trades over the course of a year, I wound up with a house located at 503 Main Street in Kipling Saskatchewan.
~Excerpt from the One Red Paper Clip website.

That’s a cool story.  A paper clip being traded up to a house in one year’s time.  If that’s not enough check out the latest up-trade story that is currently under way, Down Under.

Starting with only an egg, we aim to ‘up-trade’ until we reach $1 Million, 100% of which will go to charity organizations.
~1egg1world.org

A one egg up-traded to $1 Million for charity by three college students in Australia.  They started in 2009 and are well on their way.  Their last trade was a 14 day African Safari with round-trip air fair to Craig Ruddy, one of Australia’s leading contemporary artists, for an original work by him (which by the way start at $35K and have sold for as high as $312K).  The next up-trade is sure to be a hefty one.  Though most have not heard of these three guys or their 1egg1world mission yet, they will.  The million dollar up-trade will happen and their story will be made know.

Source of inspiration for these three with a dream?  None other than Kyle MacDonald and his One Red Paper Clip.  It’s amazing how one outside the box idea can lead to so much.  MacDonald traded away his original red paper clip five years ago.  Still, the impact of that one trade carries on half way around the world in the lives of three Australian college students who are raising some serious cash to help others.  That’s not a cool story.  That’s an incredible story.

I love stories where people think outside of the box and are met with incredible results.  I desire this.  I want to think outside of the box.  But not for myself.  Not for a good cause.  For the Kingdom and the King’s renown.  For the one who traded everything away for me.  The down-trade of all down-trades (God becoming human and dying on the cross) has already given me the up-trade of all up-trades (true life and my humanity back for eternity).

The questions this leaves me wrestling with and that could be helpful for others to engage in:

  • What is outside the box that I can do to impact lives for the Kingdom?
  • Is my vision of possibilities small or limited?  If so, how do I enlarge it for seeing beyond the status quo?
  • Can I leverage my energy towards something significantly larger than myself that will require others to accomplish?

What thoughts or questions are you left wrestling with?

Potential Faith

I know another academic year has arrived when the neighborhood I live in has early morning migrations of kids walking to the local elementary school.  While avoiding the streams of children on my way work I am taken back to my own elementary years.  Riding bikes to school, recess, gym, lunch…and of course class.  Even in elementary school I was high on the social and physical side of school.  However, I do recall some of what I learned in class. The following is a synopsis of one science lesson almost every elementary kid learns in school.

Have you ever shot a rubber band from your fingertip? When the rubber band is held in the stretched position, it has potential energy. The rubber band stores potential energy due to its elasticity. Elasticity is the tendency of some objects to stretch, then snap back to their original shape.

When the rubber band is released, the potential energy changes to kinetic: it suddenly launches into motion from its formerly static position.

-Excerpt taken straight from Pitsco, a company that develops educational products and solutions for teachers and students.

As I thought about this lesson learned so many years ago I was struck by the simplicity of it as a spiritual analogy of our faith.  Specifically that last line in the lesson that explains it so concisely.  Imagine if it read…

When the human is released, the potential faith changes to kinetic faith: he/she suddenly launches into motion from their formerly static position.

Now analogies do break down so I will not pursue this in great depth.  I was simply struck by the simplicity of using an elementary science lesson as a lens for viewing the moment of Life Transformation; that moment when the human condition apart from Christ transitions into being united with Christ.  That one moment where potential faith changes into kinetic faith and they suddenly launch into motion with Christ.  Following Jesus.  Walking with Jesus.  Talking with Jesus.  Obeying Jesus.  Becoming Like Jesus.

Life Transformation:  when Potential Faith become Kinetic Faith.

Sanctus Real “Lead Me” ~ Another Reflection

This quote from Matt Hammitt, lead singer of Sanctus Real, is where I am wrestling today.  (Watch the first video from my last post “The Story Behind Lead Me” to hear it from Matt himself.)

…the challenge for me in the song, and hopefully for other men as well is…every time I hear it, every time I sing it I have to ask myself, What kind of man am I? Not yesterday, not tomorrow, what kind of man am I today? Have I invested in my family emotionally, spiritually the way that God has called me to reach out to them.

What kind of man am I today?  It is a challenging question to respond to on it’s own.  Yet, the aspect of Matt’s quote that I am most struck by is, “…the way God has called me to reach out to them.”  This  centers the preceding question on Christ and what He has called me to as a husband, a daddy, and a man.  I need this perspective daily.  The perspective that what it means to be a man, a husband, and a father is found in Christ.

My mind and the culture I live in create a disconnect between my role as a man and my relationship with Jesus Christ, my role as a husband and my role as the bride of Christ, my role as daddy and my role as a son of the Most High.  But it’s only in the latter roles that the former find their identity, their purpose, and their strength to be lived.  I want to be a man, a husband, and a daddy that lives in the strength of Christ.

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
~Ephesians 6:10 NLT

Sanctus Real “Lead Me”

This past week my wife shot me an email with a link to the Sanctus Real website.  The home page of the website has the following two videos: the first is the story behind the song Lead Me; the second is the video for the song Lead Me.  As I listened to the story behind the song I was broken.  The message is strong and clear.  It’s a cry to the Lord to be led by Jesus in being a husband and a father.

…it’s the cry of a wife to be loved by her husband.  The cry of kids to be loved by their dad.  And the prayer of a daddy and a husband to be loved by God…and the most important and most difficult task of building my home on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ.
~Matt Hammitt, Sanctus Real lead vocalist, guitar

Take the time to watch the story behind the song. Then watch the song and let the Holy Spirit speak to you. It is a powerful message; a powerful cry to the Lord. It is the anthem of my prayer life right now.

The Story Behind “Lead Me” – Sanctus Real from BrightBulb Entertainment on Vimeo.

I want you Jesus, to lead me as a husband and a daddy!
~Jay

Prayer: A Two Way Conversation

Prayer is about connecting with God.  Connecting with our creator.  It is where we pour out our soul to the one who created it.  The one who knows how to handle it.  The only real one who can handle it.  And more importantly, it’s where we hear Him Speak.  There are far too many followers of Christ in this world who have no idea how to hear from the Lord.  It blows my mind.  What are we doing if we are not listening to the Holy Spirit?  Listening to God?  This is what prayer is!

Yes, it is pouring out our souls, our hearts to our Creator.  But it is so much more.  It is where we are filled up as well.  It is where our Creator pours back into our soul.  To pray to the Lord all of our concerns without taking the time to listen for His response is to engage in a one way conversation.  Prayer is meant to be a two way conversation.  The problem is, many of us are not listening.  Many don’t know how to listen.  Still more don’t even know they are supposed to be listening.

Prayer is both telling and being told, unloading and being reloaded, emptying out and filling up.  When we are only engaging in a one-way conversation we miss out on a lot.  We are missing out on hearing the voice of God; hearing the Lord is vital to our relationship with Him.  I wish everyone would spend more time listening for the voice of God in their lives – starting with me.  Beginning this week, I am setting aside more time in my schedule for prayer, especially listening prayer.

Still…I Pray.

I have prayed continually.
I have forgotten to pray.
I have risen in the late hours of the night and in the early hours of day to turn my heart towards heaven and to pray.
I have slumbered when the Spirit is trying to awaken me and failed to pray.
I have blocked out hour long slots every day of the week for months on end to pray.
I have gone months without a single hour long block of prayer.
I have sought the Lord in prayer and fasting for days on end with steadfast determination to hear the voice of God.
I have been unable to go an entire day without forgetting that I am fasting, altogether failing to even listen for the voice of God.
I have felt the rich, tangible presence of the Holy Spirit upon me in intercession.
I have felt completely alone with my words and thoughts, constantly wondering if I am even being heard.
I have heard the Lord’s voice almost instantaneously from the time I quite my heart.
I have found myself struggling to recall His still small voice because it has been so long since I heard it.
I have been as bold as a lion in prayer, asking in faith for the unthinkable.
I have waffled in my prayers as a beggar hoping to get some scraps.
I have seen answers to my prayers in incredible ways.
I have seen my prayers go unanswered for years.
I have longed for more time away with the Lord in prayer.
I have avoided time away with the Lord in prayer.
I have blown through an hour of prayer and felt like I barely scratched the surface of all that was on my heart.
I have blown through five minutes of prayer and been at a loss for words.
I have prayed for hours upon hours and felt energized.
I have slipped away to pray for ten minutes and fallen asleep for hours.
I have prayed with eager expectation.
I have prayed with serious doubt.
Still…I pray.

This is not a contrast between the highs and lows in my journey with Christ.  It’s just a glimpse of my journey.  It’s real.  It’s tangible.  It’s honest.  I am compelled to a life of prayer.  Jesus was a man of prayer.  The disciples and apostles were men of prayer.  I am a man of prayer.  And this is a snapshot of my prayer life over the past decade.  This is authentic.  I am on a journey and I am going to be continuing to grow in my prayer life for the rest of my life.  Some times are more exciting than others.  Some are downright challenging to get through.  Some are electrifying.  All are meaningful.  All are purposeful.  All are worth it.  That is the perspective I have in my prayer life and that is why I am still as passionate about prayer as ever – even when the picture above looks so scattered.

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What is jAy2 News

Jay: a nickname for Jason
A2: a nickname for Ann Arbor
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