Saturday, November 24, 2007

daniel's prayer

This month at First Wesleyan we are in a Sunday series called SUPERNATURAL. This weekend I'm going to touch on the power of prayer in the battle of the spiritual warfare.

I don’t know about you, but for me, there are times when I slip into thinking that prayer is not that big a deal. It seems like I pray and pray, and nothing happens.

But then I’m reminded of the story of Daniel, when he was going through a difficult time.

In (Daniel 10 vs.12) it says an angel came to him, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard… (the angel said, “Daniel, from the very first moment those words came from your lips, God heard your prayer in heaven. And he sent me to come help you").

The angel said, “And I have come in response to (your prayers). But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there.”

All of a sudden Daniel realized God was answering his prayer. But it was taking time. There was a battle going on.

Just because you pray and it seems like nothing is happening, don’t think that it’s the end of the story. Prayer is more powerful than you know. Keep praying. It is making a difference.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Favre's new record

This season Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre broke Dan Marino's record for throwing the most touchdown passes. The magic touchdown number was 421.

Two weeks later, he broke another record. His 278 picked passes made Brett Favre the most intercepted quarterback in NFL history.

Doesn't it remind you of Babe Ruth? One of the greatest baseball batters of all time, Babe once held the record with 714 home runs. But he also struck out 1,330 times.

Why are we so hard on people when they fail? At least they had the courage to take a risk. And that courage is often the defining characteristic that separates the winners from the losers. Winners aren't always more talented or gifted. But they keep pushing forward when others give up and quit.

Monday, November 12, 2007

why do it that way?

I recently read an article by Patricia Fripp and it prompted thoughts about WHY we do things the way we do. Upon evaluation, we often realize that our only reason for a particular practice is because, "Well, that's how we've always done it."

Here's the article, and then at the bottom I've added some questions that are worth pondering.

Joyce Ward is with Shore Intermediate Maintenance Activities, a Navy organization that fixes ships. "As a Business Performance Officer," she told me, "I go out and work with the shops, focusing on teamwork.

"In 1994, I was working with my first team, our lifeboat repair shop. These rafts hang on the decks of ships and need to be inflated in an emergency. However, the failure rate in 1994 was 40%. After we asked some questions, we dropped the failure rate to 1% or less by the year 2000. How did we do this?

"We looked at the processes and made a flow chart. We kept track of who was working on what so we could spot where the errors were occurring. When we did this, we discovered one extraordinary employee whose work was always perfect. There was no failure rate for Joey.

"We decided to observe Joey carefully to figure out what he was doing right. We watched and watched, but couldn't see that he was doing anything different from the other workers. Then we decided to videotape him and asked him to describe what he was doing as he did each step. We encouraged the other members of the team to observe, reminding them that they or their family might be the ones needing a lifeboat in an emergency.

"So the whole team was there watching. At one point, Joey said, 'And now I fold the valve under.'

"'Wait!' the other said. 'But we fold it toward the top? Why are you folding it underneath?'

"'Because," Joey said, 'it lies flatter, and there is less chance that it could be broken when the life raft is compressed into the little package.' Joey was a young man very low on the totem pole, but we've learned that you have to listen to the kids down on the deck. They are the ones who make it happen.

We ask the teams to define problems and describe what they've done to solve it. After we collect their answers, we brief the executive officers who can make it happen. Then they make recommendations to leadership who can bring about a permanent change. Joey's idea became the department standard for the entire Navy. (He also got an award of $2500.)

And thanks to Joey and our asking the right questions, your chances of having a working lifeboat have risen to 99% or more."

Why do we so often get stuck in “wrong practices”?

How can we identify the people in our ministry who are doing it right?

How can we learn from their practices?

How can we implement those learnings?

Monday, November 05, 2007

exhausted birthday

I had a birthday this weekend. It's funny how those seem to come around every single year. This one happens to be my 34th.

In some ways, that doesn't seem very old. But on that particular day, I felt VERY old.

It started with an alarm clock at 2:20 in the AM! We had a great crew from First Wesleyan leaving for a missions trip to Guatemala. So as a family adventure, Tracy and I packed up the kids and drove over to the church to pray with them. It was fun, but the bed sure felt good when I crawled back in sometime after 3:00.

Then my alarm rang again at 7:00. I had promised to go on a group cycling ride. So before I knew it, I was suiting up to hit the road. The guys on this ride are all serious at climbing the hills and pounding the pavement. I felt great for the first 25 miles. But after some long climbs my legs started to cramp up. And unforunately the group had chosen a 50 MILE LOOP! When you are way out in the back woods of Alabama on a bicycle, it doesn't matter how much your legs hurt. There is only one way to get home. Keep pedaling!

When I got home, I was feeling the affects of sleep deprivation and pushing past my physical limits. I grabbed a bite to eat and then went to soak in the tub. I must have stayed in there too long with the heat and bubbles from the jets, because for the rest of the day I developed a little cough from the humidity.

So finally I settled in for a late afternoon stretch of football. A friend from the church came over. My family was excited about 2 of the most important games of the year. Alabama VS. LSU and the Michigan State VS. Michigan game. Both games ended with a disappointing last minute loss for my team.

Then I spent the last few hours of the evening getting ready for Sunday morning with teaching prep and prayer.

What a 34th birthday! And in the midst of it all I couldn't be happier. I was tired because of good things. Positive things. I was exhausted because of...

A missions trip blessing
A morning in nature with some great guys
A comfortable home with jets in the tub!
A football game to watch with a friend
A church with which to grow and worship

Now that's a birthday. I am so blessed and thankful. I have the most amazing wife and the most wonderful children. And God has given me a whole new city to take on as a mission field.

Nevertheless, for my 35th birthday I think I'll sleep in!