Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I'm a Mac...No Wait...I'm a PC

I never thought I would say this...

I'm considering a Mac for my next computer. Eegads (cue Oklahoma music here).

I swore for years and years that I would never own a Mac. After many years of experience editing video, creating music, and creating graphics, I have come to the conclusion (and after much reading) that a Mac might be a better choice for my current career path.

I know, I know. You diehard PC fans (and I would still number myself among them) will spout fact after fact about how PC's are superior to the Mac, and how you can do anything you want on a PC. I used to agree. I'm not quite sure how I'll process the situation if it comes to fruition.

I did find an article on "switching" - one man's honest take on his journey from PC to Mac. You can read his thoughts here.

I'll close by asking the opinion(s) of my faithful readers - what are your thoughts on the PC vs. Mac? I'm anxious to hear from you!

Impotence (Keep Reading!)

Perry Noble has a phenomenal post on "impotence." Don't be too alarmed, the post will make sense when you read it. After reading the report on the rise of aethism in America, I loved Perry's take on the state of the church. Perry hits it on the head - it's all about passion.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Hit the Shower!

Tim Sanders hits on a topic I've posted on before - why your best thinking is done in the shower. Each and every morning I take a hot shower while my brain begins to percolate and ideas start to flow. I've always said that most of my best ideas have originated in the shower.

Here's what Tim has to say:
When you shower, your body produces chemicals such as DHEA, a powerful enzyme that boosts your ability to leverage your brain's capacity. I've visited a tech R&D lab that had showers as part of the bathrooms just because of this phenom...Take your shower at a time when you have loaded up your head with today's problems to solve. We get dozens of those a day. If you shower first thing, do your daily do list and circle the ones that require problem and solution thinking.
Tim addresses this further in his book, "The Likeability Factor." I haven't had time to read this book yet, but it's on my short list.

When do you do your best thinking? What types of things do you do to generate ideas?

I (Still) Need A Hero

I'd just like to say that Heroes is STINKIN' AWESOME!! This show ranks up there with some of the best ever. If you haven't had the opportunity to check it out - DO SO IMMEDIATELY! You won't be disappointed. The characters, plot development, special effects - all are top notch. Tonight's episode was unbelievable - next week's looks even better. Until then!

The US - A Religious Melting Pot?

A recent survey conducted by the Institute for Humanistic studies claims that "aethism" is increasing in the United States:
A new survey in the U.S. shows that the number of 18-25 year olds who are atheist, agnostic or nonreligious has increased from 11 percent in 1986 to 20 percent today. Meanwhile a survey of the United States and the five largest countries in Western Europe reveals that religious belief continues to plummet in Europe, with Italy being the only country with a majority believing in any form of God or supreme being. And even in these overwhelmingly godless countries, the young are still significantly less religious than their elders.
While I have not seen the statistics from the actual survey itself (or how they conducted it), I would agree that America is showing signs of becoming a religious "melting pot." The article continues:
Overall, the US looks a lot like Western Europe 30 or 40 years ago. At that time most Europeans still believed in a god, but younger generations were more atheist and agnostic than their elders. That trend has continued with religion steadily declining, generation by generation.
I have to say that I too am against "religion." You read that correctly. But I am for a relationship with Jesus. When we try to cram religious principles down the throats of the younger generation, their immediate reaction will be one of contempt. Religion didn't work 2000 years ago either. But when you build into a relationship while discovering what it means to follow Jesus, everything changes.

The Church (Big C) needs a wake up call. Fortunately, I firmly believe that many churches have already answered the phone. They are finding creative ways to impact their communities; discussions have been generated and technology has been leveraged. I don't know what "religion" will look like in a 100 years, but I do know that Jesus will never change...and that gives us all hope. Let the battle begin...

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Beatboxing flute inspector gadget remix

For my buddy Jeremy, who loves the flute! Thanks to Greg at Church Video Ideas for the link.

Blogging In the Forest

Seth Godin poses an interesting question on his blog - "If no one reads your post, does it exist?" This is similar to the old adage, "If a tree falls in the forest..." Why do we write? There are very few blogs that have an active readership, so Seth's question is a valid one.

Here are my reasons for writing "Bucketology":
  • It's an outlet for me to describe how God is affecting my daily life - as I mention in the description, they are snippets from my life experiences.
  • I have never enjoyed "hand writing" in a journal, log, or other paper method. I enjoy leveraging technology in an effective way.
  • I enjoy sharing what other's have written. What a great way to give props to the creative thoughts and ideas of others! Blogs are an incredibly effective way to learn a lot of information in a short period of time (unfortunately, because of Seth's insight, a lot of great information is buried in "cyberspace.")
  • It's a way for me to leave a legacy for my family and future generations. Granted, it might not be much of a legacy, but it's mine, and for some reason, my family enjoys getting to know me.
Even if no one reads my blog, or reads it once and doesn't enjoy it, it's still a great way for me to "empty my head" and process what's going on in my life. A blog doesn't replace personal relationships or communication, but sometimes it's difficult to strike up a conversation at two in the morning!

So, is anybody out there reading this blog?

Volunteers - The Backbone of An Organization

Volunteers are a very important part of any organization. That's why we take great care to honor our volunteers and to let them know they're doing a great job. Of course we also hold them accountable when needed because we feel that God wants us to lead our volunteers and to help them discover their giftedness and unique contributions. Sometimes that means difficult conversations. Ultimately, we want to help our volunteers find their giftedness, in the area of their heart's desire, using their abilities, accommodating their personality, while building experiences.

While we find ways to recognize our volunteers throughout the year, we also have a special celebration once a year to give public recognition to all of our volunteers. This has been a great event in the past, but we are trying to brainstorm some creative ideas on how to celebrate with our volunteers. Mark Batterson describes how they honor their volunteers in this post. Very cool.

How do you recognize your volunteers? What are some creative ideas that you would recommend?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

C3 - Turning What If Into What Is

Tony Morgan has posted his thoughts about the opening day of the C3 Conference. Several of us will be attending the regional C3 site in St. Louis in a few months. Ed Jr. is the main speaker, with an afternoon of breakouts. It should be a great mini-conference!

Monday, February 19, 2007

JT and the Virtual Memory Machine

Props go out to my buddy JT on his new blog, or what he fondly refers to as his "virtual memory." Jason has some incredible insights and his writing is phenomenal. Definitely check out his post on the recent miracle he experienced - it will blow you away!

Monday Funny

Mark Batterson points out some interesting differences between men and women:

A man will pay $20 for a $10 item he wants. A woman will pay $10 for a $20 item that she doesn't want.

The average man has four items in his bathroom--a toothbrush, an electric razor, a bar of soap, and a towel from the Holiday Inn. The average number of items in the typical woman's bathroom is 437. The average man is able to identify four of those items!

A woman has the last word in any argument. Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.

A woman knows all about her children. She knows about dentist appointments, best friends, favorite foods, secret fears and hopes and dreams. A man is vaguely aware of some short people living in the house.

If Emma, Suzanne, Debra and Michelle go out for lunch, they will call each other Emma, Suzanne, Debra and Michelle. But if Mike, Phil, Rob, and Jack go out for lunch, they will affectionately refer to each other as Fat Boy, Godzilla, Peanut Head and Useless.

Women love cats. Men say they love cats, but when women aren't looking, men kick cats.

Sean Michel

American Idol is about to heat up! The top 24 have been announced and I can't wait for it to get started. The field seems to be very even this year with lots of great talent once again. I did notice their isn't an "oddball" this year - the one person who stands out (good or bad) and sets themselves apart from everyone else.

You might have seen Sean Michel on the show recently. He made it to the Hollywood round, but unfortunately was cut. I loved his initial audition and his unusual look. Check out this interview with Relevant Magazine. You can also visit his MySpace page and listen to his band.

By the way, Chris Sligh (I posted about him recently) made it through to the top 24!

Catching Up with the Catfish

It's been a busy past few days. We had some friends from Illinois in for a four day visit. Catfish (a long time nickname), Angie and their three kids hung out, ate lots of food and played the Wii - we had a blast. Catfish and Angie have been friends of ours for 20 years. Angie watched my oldest daughter Kayla my freshman year in college and we've been friends ever since.

I was hoping they would come to church with us this weekend, but they just wanted to hang out at the house. Catfish did go to our Life Group with us, and I think he had a blast. Once again, our Life Group had some phenomenal discussions about God and life. We had a chance to digest some questions related to Miracles, our current series at Meadow Heights Church. I'm always amazed to hear how God is at work in the lives of people I love and care about. He is truly a good God.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Mission Accomplished

I just finished an email to an old friend. I miss our conversations. He has been through the thick and thin of my life, but always with a helping hand and a positive outlook. I love that about him.

It started me thinking about accomplishments. For so much of my life I was building a resume of experiences and accomplishments. The theory was that these accomplishments would help to further my career. I have always said that I had accomplished everything I wanted to do when I left the field of education. But then it hit me...why do we strive so much for our own accomplishments?

I posted a few days ago about how we accomplish something only to forget about it a short time later (it doesn't take others nearly as long to forget our accomplishments!). If we so easily forget what we done, it begs this question - What types of accomplishments last a lifetime? Is it really important to accomplish anything?

Too much of my life has been focused on me. What things can I do; what things can I experience; what things can I accomplish...When the focus is directed towards God and not towards self, everything changes. I am slowly starting to figure that out.

I think Jesus summed it up best in John:

"I came down from heaven not to follow my own whim but to accomplish the will of the One who sent me." John 6:38 (MsgB)

Mission accomplished.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Versus Game

I've posted quite a bit lately on how Meadow Heights Church is working through many systems and processes. I've also noticed that several key leaders of other churches have posted about similar things as well. A key thought we've ingested at the staff level is that we have to continue to replicate ourselves. In other words, work our way out of our job so that we can truly focus on leading others. Systems and processes will help us achieve that goal.

Craig Groeschel has a great post on "Don't Do It All." He's titled this as part one of a five part series. I'm anxious to see how the rest of his posts develop. This is an issue that many leaders (and I'll put myself smack dab in the middle of this one) struggle with. Many leaders I know are very driven people. That's one of the characteristics that make them a great leader. But it can also be the downfall of a great leader if their focus is in the wrong area.

Most of the time it becomes a versus. God vs. Family vs. Work. Who will win? It depends on the day, or the time, or the situation. I'm going to say something very bold - most leaders fail to put their priorities in the right place. I am one of those leaders. God has impressed upon me a great deal lately that I have to be the one to initiate change in this area of my life. Only I can't figure out how to do that very well. I'm continuing to play the versus game even when I don't want to.

I talked with someone the other day that said something I really relate with. He said this, "Even when I try to disengage from work, I find myself thinking about work. When I'm at home with my family, my mind is really back at the office." While I have overcome much of this mental battle, I can truly relate to this "versus" in my life.

I would welcome any comments from those of you who struggle or have struggled with the "versus game." Does the game ever end?

A Life Worth Living

My youngest, Emilee, turned four on Saturday. We had a great time hanging out, had some cake, presents, etc. Then we went for lunch and finally ended up at the bowling alley. It was Emilee's first time to bowl and she had a blast! Many times I take for granted all of the wonderful experiences I have had, and I simply forget that my kids have not experienced some of the basics of life. Bowling is only one example. Last spring I flew a kite with my son. He had never flown a kite before.

I wonder if many of us who would claim to follow Jesus take our experiences with Him for granted. Have we forgotten what that feels like? Is that why we forget that others haven't had the same incredible life changing relationship that we have experienced? Has anyone else got caught up in the "I'm only looking out for me" so let me do everything I can to get my "own" experience moment? We do everything we can to "accomplish" something, only to forget about it within a few moments of our achievement.

Has God become that forgotten achievement in your own life? Has it been relegated to an event that happened rather than a relationship that happens? And what does that matter if we don't help others find that same joy? You've heard the expression that "he who dies with the most toys wins." What if we lived life by a different mantra..."he who dies after sharing the most toys wins?" A trite saying? Perhaps. A life worth living? That's for you to decide.

Hurry Up and Wait

I've not posted in awhile. And on purpose.

Do you ever feel like you're in a funk? I'm not sure what God's up to, but I'm praying He hurries up with me. Can I pray that? That might explain the funk.

We have a two-story house with heating units in both the upstairs and downstairs. Our bottom unit went out Saturday. The repair guy tells me I need a new part - a $200 part. YIKES. Can you say "wreck the budget?" But you can't go without heat, right? Especially when it's 20 degrees outside.

But, as a wise friend once told me, "winners find solutions, losers make excuses" so I'm fighting my way out of the pity party. But God, if you're listening...can you please hurry me up? Thanks.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A Good Example of BAD Customer Service

Our satellite internet has been slowly degrading in quality over the past few months (we live in a rural setting and don't have any other means available). After many phone calls, the satellite company agreed to send someone out to take a look.

PROBLEM #1 - Subcontractors don't always have the same values as the company that hired them.

The technician was supposed to arrive last Thursday. He didn't - and he didn't call. Friday, someone called that didn't know much about our issue and claimed he would come next week. He came on Monday - our main tech guy is off on Mondays.

PROBLEM #2 - Don't say you're going to be somewhere at a specific time and on a specific date and then not show up. It's not professional. Refer to problem #1.

The guy looked at our satellite and determined that we need a new "radio" part. He doesn't let us know that he won't be able to re-establish any type of service when he makes his diagnosis. HENCE, our entire satellite goes down.

PROBLEM #3 - If you're going to make something worse than it already was without a backup plan, let someone know before you do it. Refer to problem #1.

After "demolishing" our satellite, the tech put our part on order. Little did he know that the part is on backorder - no apparent arrival date in sight.

PROBLEM #4 - Don't order something and tell the customer you'll get it fixed right away if you haven't checked whether or not the part is actually available. Refer to problem #1.

The subcontractor was actually contracted by another subcontractor who won't return our phone calls.

PROBLEM #5 - If you have a business, answer the stinkin' phones!! If not, customers will stop calling - that means you won't have any more customers. Refer to problem #1.

After an hour on the phone with the satellite company, they don't have any solution. They do not have any "radio" parts anywhere. If I want to know when they might be in, I'll have to call the distributor myself. Oh yeah...I had to work for an hour to get to someone who could make a decision to help me TODAY. It's hard to make a rational point to someone who is simply reading a script and won't vary from it.

PROBLEM #6 - Don't ask your customers to do your work. If you promise a particular service, then provide it. Don't shirk your responsibilities.

I end up calling the distributor. They can't tell me any information because I'm not a wholesaler, even though that's what the satellite company told me to do. After much prodding, they finally tell me that some parts are in, but are already being filtered out and they are expecting more - sometime in the future.

PROBLEM #7 - If many people are experiencing the same problem with the same part, it just might be defective. Fix the part or order more of it just in case. Economics 101.

The distributor told me to call the subcontractor again. I did. The subcontractor doesn't have any idea when they'll get the part. They were told by the distributor that they don't really know that information anyway.

PROBLEM #8 - Passing the buck is a dangerous tactic. If you can't answer the customer's question, find someone who can. Don't pass it off on someone else.

The distributor then assigned a tech to come to our church on Friday - just in case. They probably won't have the part, but they scheduled one anyway.

PROBLEM #9 - If you can't do anything productive, doing something stupid does not make up for it. THINK PEOPLE, THINK!

After several hours, we are still no closer to any type of solution. The satellite company did tell us that we could have a dial up account until the problem is resolved. Oh yeah. That one line on dial up will work well for 10 people. And at those blazing speeds!! YIKES!

PROBLEM #10 - If you have any other option besides satellite internet, GO FOR IT! (And hopefully they will speak English)

On A Wing and a Prayer

A great new resource for churches that use video clips in church. It's called WingClips, and allows the user to download medium or high resolution videos. You can search by theme, and all clips are available for download in quicktime or windows media format.

Rob Bell In England

One of my favorite authors and speakers, Rob Bell, recently completed a tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland. You can read more about his trip here.

There is also a fascinating video interview with Premier.tv that you can watch here.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Gone But Not Forgotten

A good friend of mine, Steve Marchbank, had this thought on his blog today:
Isn’t it amazing how we go through life, and make connections and form relationships, and then time goes on, things change and people and paths diverge, and those thoughts/feelings/memories are sort of ‘stored’ – not forgotten – until at some point in the future, it may (or may not) be referenced or called upon?
Steve and I went to college together and had some great times playing jazz there as well. Then we both ended up in Columbia, MO where we continued to gig on a regular basis (remember good ole' CC's Broiler?). Steve is not only a phenomenal jazz guitarist, but a gifted pediatric physician as well.

Needless to say, Steve and I lost touch for the past few years until a few weeks ago when we reconnected. During that time, both of our lives changed in very significant ways. His insights above really struck my heart tonight. What paths will we cross today that God may bring back tomorrow?

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Leadership Challenge

A phenomenal post today by Gary Lamb. He describes the transition he and his church (Ridge Stone Church) have been going through as they continue to grow. He specifically mentions the leadership transition that happened as their church grew from 500-700 people which is EXACTLY where Meadow Heights Church finds itself today.

We are also in the middle of much transition, mostly in terms of systems and processes, but along with that comes structure and organization as well. Our lead pastor, Bryan, is also working through the "leadership challenge" or as we have fondly come to know it as the "3 month leadership experiment." I am pumped about nailing some of these things down (although I don't enjoy the process to get there!) and know that we are doing exactly what God is asking us to do.

There are some exciting changes upcoming - stay tuned for future updates!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

A LONG Weekend

It was a great weekend - but a LONG one. We launched our fifth gathering @ Meadow Heights Church this weekend (you can now worship at 5:30 and 7:15pm on Saturday or 8:00, 9:30 or 11:15am on Sunday) which was new territory for us. We had a great response, with nearly 200 people joining us in our auditorium on Saturday alone. PLUS over 60 of our students and their leaders were away at the Clarity Conference in Nashville! Sunday also filled up, and I fully expect we will break the 700 mark very soon and never look back.

It was also my first time to teach on a five gathering weekend. It really wasn't that much different than teaching four times, but your mind does start to wander a bit by the last time through the message. Overall though, I was digging every second - I HAD A BLAST!!

And finally, it's official. My daughter is now in Orlando, Florida! She will arrive at Disney World tomorrow for her official "check in" and assignments (apartment, job, etc.). I know she is excited, but I could also tell today that she was a bit nervous on the inside. She is so much like me that it scares me sometimes. She keeps her emotions so close to her - always afraid to let people know how she's feeling. The same goes for me, although God is really challenging me in that area. I'm just not sure how to really open up yet.

It was a very tough goodbye for some reason this time. We had already gone through the "mourning" stage when she left for college, but having her home for an extra month or so this time only added to the sadness when we said our goodbyes. My wife Melissa held it together very well, but by the time we got back to the car, the entire family was in tears. I know this is an incredible opportunity for our daughter, but it is always hard to say goodbye.

I will close (with a very tired brain!) tonight by giving God thanks for helping us overcome this storm in our life. It has been a very tense and draining week for many reasons, but God is always faithful, He is always with us, and He will always help us through our storms. I thank Him from the bottom of my heart - my family would never have made it without our faith in Him. Here's to the next storm!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Blogger Survey Results

Saddleback Church recently conducted a "Christian Blogger Survey" solicited from bloggers all across America. Mark Kelly, the news and editorial director for Saddleback and Purpose Driven ministries has compiled the results. Along with a few "notable names" you'll also find this blog. Yep, that's right! Scroll down about a third of the way through and you'll find me (along with hundreds of other blogs)! Thanks to Mark and the Saddleback staff for putting together this list.

You can find the results at Mark's blog referenced above, or this Rick Warren blog site.

American Idol Worshiper!

If you've been following this season of American Idol, you may have seen a Jack Osbourne look-a-like on the show. This cat is none other than Chris Sligh, the worship pastor from Seacoast Church. This guy totally rocked and was VERY funny as well. Good luck to Chris in Hollywood!