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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Leaving a Lasting Legacy

Leave the Right Legacy
What's In Your Legacy

Recently a well known politician has been brought into accountability for something he wrote many years ago. In one of his novels he wrote about a graphic and violent act. Whether or not he intended it to be gratuitous or simply part of the developing storyline, he will now be known for writing something that has called into question his ability to lead.

I had a similar experience many years ago as I worked on my first novel. I had not dedicated myself to writing values based fiction at the time. However, once I had typed (yes on a typewriter) the first 80 pages, I decided to destroy the manuscript. It wasn't a hard choice, the manuscript was pure garbage. I did not want my legacy to be tainted by something that may have done well in the mainstream, but may have caused others to question my character. It definitely was not uplifting fiction and I had decided then and there to get rid of it.

I try to write uplifting fiction that is thrilling to the reader. It can be done and many fine authors have done so. Heroes can be brave without compromising integrity or using gratuitous swearing, gore or sex. I have come to realize that and analyze not only the book cover, but between the pages.

What kind of treasures are you storing? This above passage doesn't simply refer to money, but the kind of life we are leading and how we will be judged once we are gone. Make your decision now to live a life of character that can't be questioned. Don't compromise for the quick and easy gain, but hang in there for the long haul.

Monday, September 25, 2006

10 Second Hero

Writing is very rewarding. It is also surprising. Many people asked about how I came up with the characters in Under the Lontar Palm. You have asked questions like ..."where did they come from?" and "Are they reflection of real life people?" My answer is that very few characters in Under the Lontar Palm are based on real people. Most have evolved from the story.
The following is an example of a character that evolved and lived for about 10 seconds. He was a thought or a mental role I played as I tried to transition and introduce the miners to the village. However trivial I thought the character to be, others have commented on his importance. His 10 seconds left an impression. I'll introduce the passage again and hope you enjoy recalling the story.

Mist covered the early morning ground as a lone figure took his usual position under the overhang. The sentinel stared into the jungle watching until sunrise, waiting for the return of his wife and children. He didn’t know if they were alive or dead, but held to the hope that one day he would be reunited. Dew fell, dropping on large wet leaves, a
torturous reminder of the seconds ticking by. Pretty soon the sun would be up, and he would have to go on with his business. But until then, he would watch and wait.
Suddenly in the darkness, he saw a small movement. He couldn’t see shapes; they were still obscured by the cloak of darkness. But he was sure he had seen something. Yes, there it was again. This time there was more movement and sounds of shuffling feet.
Could it be? Is my family coming back? After all these years, the jungle was surrendering them. Very cautiously, he stood, and crept slowly over to them. He took care not to startle them into fleeing. They had been gone so long, he wasn’t sure they would recognize him.
His heart pounded and the lump in his throat grew until he thought he might suffocate. Still, onward he crept. He was so close now, within ten feet. Unable to contain himself, he leapt forward as a whimper of excitement, and a longing eternal moan rose from his breast. Instead of the waiting arms of his family, the last thing the sad man saw was the grimace of an unknown white jungle demon.

I hope that you have enjoyed this reflection. If you have any questions or comments, please do so here.

I am very grateful to all of you who have read Under the Lontar Palm.

Meetings or Doings?

Successful committees, project groups, and other volunteer or lay-organizations begin with conducting good planning and effective meetings. Warning, using the following tips may result in conducting more effective meetings. Consider:
• Do you really need a meeting? Most things can be accomplished with a phone call or better one on one commutation
• Calculate Cost-Lay group meetings have intangible costs. Consider the cost of time away from family, rearranging free time, frustrations associated with weekend or evening meetings, or missed dinners
• Purpose-What do you want to accomplish? Who needs to be there?
• Prior to the meeting-publish agenda and contact members ahead of time
• During the meeting use the agenda to maintain focus and keep meeting moving. Record notes to use as minutes
• Follow-up (What Next)-Publish minutes and contact people to keep decisions alive and meet deadlines
For more Lay Leader ideas, contact the editor or visit his website @ LayMentor.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Saul or David?

A few weeks ago the Mt. Zion Men’s Ministry had an excellent opportunity to welcome Jay Jacobs and Chet Williams Athletic Director and Chaplain at Auburn University. These excellent speakers sacrificed their valuable time to address 220 men from Mt. Zion and the surrounding communities. After a dinner of Bar-B-Q and fellowship, they took the stage to give two of the most applicable testimonies I have ever heard. Like many other men, I heard the Lord speaking through those men and I have thanked God for them and have prayed for their ministries since.
Jay began sharing that when eagles get sick, they soar to the highest perches and let the sun bake them back to health. It is a healing process where they submit and are cleansed. He called men to quit trying to do it all and rely on the Lord to cleanse us and make us whole. Jay also encouraged us to better relationships with other solid Christian men.
He then compared two great rulers; Saul and David. Both anointed of God, but both serving differently. While Saul received the mission from God, he took the call and ran with his own power. He was only as strong as himself and his Army. His reign was short. David, on the other hand, sought after God and kept the communication open. He received guidance and continue to let God interact with him. So, are you a Saul or a David?
Chet, continued with Jay’s message. He talked about the power of one Christian who continued to share with him how much God loved him. This Christian man, his roommate in college, broke down racial barriers to witness to Chet and let him know that God had a plan for him. Finally, on a lonely night, after years of Chet trying to do it his own way, he let God in. On his way to ending his football career and wonderful college opportunity, he visited his friend and subsequently asked Jesus to be his savior.
Both men realize that not only do they need the Lord, but they need strong Christian men to fall back on, encourage, and work for the better good of the kingdom. Christians should not bear the world on their shoulders…that’s God’s business. So, men, are we going to be Sauls or Davids?

Friday, February 10, 2006

Bed Time

What is it about bed time that brings on the water works. I mean, one minute my four year old Patrick and I are laughing, then the mention of bed time brings it to a crying halt. There we were, in mid-wrestle and full giggle when the timer went off,(we set the oven time for just about everything, bath, dinner, name it) and his face went from gleeful smile to contortions of gnome-like quality.

Atlease he is easily distracted with a few well placed questions about how his day went. Then we brush teeth, read a story and have a rock-a-bye (that's the best part) and then it's off the bed. The transition is amazing.

I guess it's just something about bed time.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Martyr in Muslim Countries

A priest lost his life in Turkey. This might be linked to the printing in European newspapers of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, which has caused anger in Muslim countries. Earlier Sunday, hundreds of Turks protested in Istanbul against the cartoons.

Keep in prayer missionarieswho are pointing those in Muslim cuntries toward the one true God and his son Jesus. Thier lives are in danger as they live out thier divine purposes. Pray for thier safety and protection. Also pray for those who killed him that they may come to know the Lord Jesus as thier savior

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Leading Volunteer Projects


So, your church has identified a volunteer opportunity and you have prayerfully considered. After all, you have a lot of experience with the type of project; it fits your skills, talents, abilities and spiritual gifts. Though it may be a stretch, you are sure that you are the right person for the job. You approach the church leadership and offer your skills. You are so convincing and enthusiastic, that they select you to head the project.
Heading the project? Didn’t you volunteer just to assist in some way? What do you know about leading anything? Suddenly you lose passion, find yourself doubting the very skills, abilities and gifts that gave you confidence enough to volunteer. This is obviously new territory and leading a group of volunteers is way different than leading a team at work. This is definitely going to test your abilities. Well, where do we begin?
People volunteer for many reasons. They may have skills and love to contribute or they may enjoy being in the mix. Perhaps they step up because nobody else is volunteering. You may be suddenly in charge and maybe by yourself because of the last reason…nobody came. Rick Warren wrote in the Purpose-Driven Life that the reason many churches fail is because the workers aren’t working.
Here’s another fact, 90% of businesses fail within the first five years. You think that’samazing, 90% of those businesses fail after the next five years. That’s sobering, and it has a lot to do with vital project management skills many leaders lack. These are basic skills that are transferable under any situation. If churches can’t successfully complete projects, they’ll never survive.
The first crucial step in good project management is to adequately identify the need and communicate it. This is your opportunity to create a vision that is in harmony with the direction your organization is headed. Ask for direction and provide feedback from the leadership or committee who assigned the job. This vision is critical to understand up front. If you can’t communicate it back in a relatively simple paragraph, then you and the leadership are not on the same sheet of music. Consequently, you will not be able to adequately motivate those who will work on your team.
Jeff will gladly email the remainder of this article upon request. Request at