Friday, August 27, 2010

Six steps to Excellence

Recent Harvard Business Review article on excellence said:

Here, then, are the six keys to achieving excellence we've found are most effective for our clients:

1 Pursue what you love. Passion is an incredible motivator. It fuels focus, resilience, and perseverance.

2 Do the hardest work first. We all move instinctively toward pleasure and away from pain. Most great performers, Ericsson and others have found, delay gratification and take on the difficult work of practice in the mornings, before they do anything else. That's when most of us have the most energy and the fewest distractions.

3 Practice intensely, without interruption for short periods of no longer than 90 minutes and then take a break. Ninety minutes appears to be the maximum amount of time that we can bring the highest level of focus to any given activity. The evidence is equally strong that great performers practice no more than 4 ½ hours a day.

4 Seek expert feedback, in intermittent doses. The simpler and more precise the feedback, the more equipped you are to make adjustments. Too much feedback, too continuously, however, can create cognitive overload, increase anxiety, and interfere with learning.

5 Take regular renewal breaks. Relaxing after intense effort not only provides an opportunity to rejuvenate, but also to metabolize and embed learning. It's also during rest that the right hemisphere becomes more dominant, which can lead to creative breakthroughs.

6 Ritualize practice. Will and discipline are wildly overrated. As the researcher Roy Baumeister has found, none of us have very much of it. The best way to insure you'll take on difficult tasks is to ritualize them — build specific, inviolable times at which you do them, so that over time you do them without having to squander energy thinking about them.

Great practical advice for all of us!

Timberview Church -- Our Identity

Timberview -- A dynamic Free Methodist congregation

Timeless Foundation
2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching rebuking correction and training in righteousness

Innovative Creativity
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created…

Missional Mindset
John 20:21 “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

Building Community
Romans 12:5 So in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

Extending Grace
Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost.”

Resourcing Families
"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

Visionary Leadership
Romans 12:8 If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously.

Incarnational Service
John 13:14 “Since I, the Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to was each other’s feet.”

Enthusiastic Worship
Psalm 71:23 My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you…

Worldwide Mission
Acts 1:8 …tell people about me everywhere – in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria and to the ends of the earth.

I like the way the combination of all these elements defines who we are as a church.

Project Runway Season 8 - My take

OK so I openly admit it -- I watch Project Runway. Of course owning up to that just proves that I am secure in my masculinity! Ha!

That being said -- I'm not really thrilled about the new 90 minute format. Too long. So I prefer DVRing the whole thing and then fast forwarding through the endless designer drama. Cassinova was too much last night! What a nutcase!

I really enjoyed reading New York Magazine's terrific review of this week's episode. Gretchen became the Evil Queen. (Hiss - boo.) Tim Gunn lost his temper and lit into her. (Yay)

Of course I too was YELLING at the TV when Gretchen kept on talking and talking and talking during the judge's questions. I also said they couldn't send her home yet because every reality TV show needs someone we can all hate. And I have also had enough of Ivy's self-important attitude and her blind allegiance to all things Gretchen. If Ivy doesn't nail it next week -- I think she goes home next.

We can wish can't we?

Re-finance Your Home?

Everyone I know in the banking /home financing industry says THIS is the week to refinance. Interest rates really are at the bottom. I checked into a 15 year mortgage and they are offering 3.75%. Amazing.

Just thought I'd pass it on.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mighty Hazel McCallion of Mississauga

So a friend of mine here in Spokane posted a video clip on Facebook of an amazing Canadian politician. She is the Mayor or Mississauga, Ontario, she has been elected 11 times in a row and she is now 88 years young! Turns out I've met her: Hazel McCallion.

She was recently featured on a CBC show called the Rick Mercer Report.

I recall meeting her when she welcomed the Free Methodist Church in Canada to our national General Conference meeting in Mississauga. I think it was about 1993. She spoke at the large Sunday worship and she told a story about going to a church camp as a teenager and how it inspired her for the rest of her life.

Way to go Hazel!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

50 Effective Ways To Boost Your Productivity

50 Effective Ways To Boost Your Productivity

Really like this article and it comes at a good time for me. Ramping up to a busy fall ministry schedule. Maybe you could use a few of these great ideas yourself.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sunday Rewind - Timberview

It was great to be back at Timberview and to observe our worship services in the capable hands of Pastor Chris Sloan. Titled "The Generational Bridge" the service featured a worship team with singers from Timberview's youth ministry "The Rock" led by our resident rocker Pete Kopplin. Pete and the team included a couple of new songs in the mix which added a fresh touch to the celebration.

Pastor Chris decided to use his third Sunday in charge of Sunday services to introduce a panel of two guys and a gal from the younger generation who answered a series of questions about contemporary culture, Christian spirituality, and the church, from a younger point of view. I found the three panelists both insightful and well-spoken. Way to go, Chase, Kelly and Bri. Nice job Chris!

Of course being back from a few weeks away also makes me that much more motivated to teach this coming Sunday. Like I often say -- I don't have to preach this coming Sunday -- I get to preach.


University of Michigan head football coach Rich Rod should step down

This past week coaches from the Michigan Wolverines received letters of reprimand from the NCAA. According to the Detroit Free Press, Head Coach Rich Rodriguez was singled out for "your failure to adequately monitor the duties and activities of the quality-control staff..."

Of course this comes after two terrible seasons on the field. I do not know why U of M ever hired this guys. But personally I think it is time they showed him the door!

Don't you?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Jackie Evancho, 10 (Opera Singer) ~ America's Got Talent YouTube acts

Little girl -- very big voice

Some say she is the next Susan Boyle. It will be interesting to see where this goes. Although her voice is amazing it is an odd feeling to hear it coming out of such a young person.

Almost hard to believe isn't it?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Jet Blue Folk Hero -- Really?

The story about the Jet Blue Attendant -- Steven Slater who went ballistic and quit by sliding down the emergency exit -- is really taking off. I'm not sure he is a folk hero. That seems a little much to me. But clearly a lot of people would like to quit their jobs in a blaze of glory.

Read it all HERE

What do you think?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Ernie Harwell -- Mitch Albom's Tribute

I knew it was did all of Michigan. Famed Tiger's broadcaster Ernie Harwell had come to terms with his inoperable cancer many months before. But somehow, living in Spokane now, I missed the news of his passing this past May. So I went to the Detroit Free Press where I knew Mitch Albom would have crafted a fitting tribute in his typically profound prose. I was not disappointed. Here is an excerpt:

...There is, in the story of any good man’s passing, the laundry list of achievements that should be mentioned, the fact that Harwell likely was the first baseball announcer to be traded for a player (in 1948), that he called games for the Dodgers, Giants, Orioles and Tigers, or that he missed just two broadcasts in 55 years behind the mike — one because he was being inducted into a hall of fame. The fact that he was there for Jackie Robinson’s career as well as Cecil Fielder’s, that he did 42 years in Detroit, that the press box in Comerica Park is now named in his honor, that he wrote hundreds of songs and penned a famous baseball poem, or that he felt unsatisfied by his path in the 1960s, attended a Billy Graham speech in Florida one night and gave his life, as he told me, “to the Lord,” remaining a devout Christian and living quietly by those precepts for the rest of his days...
Read more: Mitch Albom: Ernie Harwell: Gone now, but never forgotten | | Detroit Free Press

Ernie did indeed fall into the arms of Jesus. He'll be missed.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit - Friday AM

One of the most misunderstood aspects of the Willow Creek Summit is how powerful it is on a personal spiritual level.

Today began with an amazing worship set that involved a quiet reflective media leading in to worship direction from Greg Ferguson. The intensity of the worship team was palpable despite the very off-putting limitations of the video format. Here at LifeCenter the worship is played at such a quiet level (about half of what the room requires) that you feel very much like a spectator. Very few people sing enthusiastically -- it just feels odd. However there were a few moments when the authentic attitude of worship from the leaders transcended the atmosphere of the room.

Following that we heard a powerful spiritual message on what it means to be stuck in "The Land in Between". Pastor Jeff Manion from Grand Rapids shared a dynamic message based on Numbers 11 and the story of the children of Israel as they wandered through the wilderness.

Most powerfully of all Bill Hybels came up at the end and led a great prayer time including worship songs, quiet moments and a challenge to dig deeper and commit or recommit our lives to God on a personal level.

The critics of Bill and Willow typically miss this aspect of his personal passion. I love it that even when teaching leadership to pastors and marketplace leaders Bill keeps challenging people to full devotion to Jesus.

I love that!

Hybels on Leadership

Christian leaders tend to do the following things well

1. Move from HERE to THERE

Leaders help churches move and grow and change. When we begin we tend to want to describe in glowing terms what it will be like when we get THERE.

When we talk excitedly about THERE some of our key early adopters will respond warmly to this vision-casting.

However sooner than we anticipate – others will respond telling us that they don’t really what to go THERE – because they really like it HERE.

HERE is not bad at all – it is comfortable – has been effective and is not very demanding. Why not just let us stay HERE.

Leadership Lesson #1 – ALWAYS help everyone see the downside of HERE – FIRST

Don’t worry about THERE until you have clearly demonstrated what is wrong with HERE

We are not here to Preside over a great HERE
We are not here to Protect things as they are HERE
We are called to MOVE from Here to There


Spend energy finding recruiting and training Fantastic leaders throughout your church/organization.

Fantastic People have the FOUR Cs

1 Character – are they solid deep strong growing Christ-followers
2 Competence – are they gifted and focused in ministry
3 Chemistry – do they have energy and connectivity with the rest of the team
4 Culture – will they feel at home with our leadership style and organizational values

Now think about each key leader – staff – board – volunteers:

Ask yourself -- if they suddenly resigned – how would you feel?

1. Relieved

2. Concerned

3. Destroyed

Call in every person who fits category #3 – those you would be devastated to lose and tell them so. Communicate your feelings – I value you and I treasure your input.

Tell us if anything is demotivating you so we can change it/fix it.

We NEVER want to lose you.


Along the way from HERE to THERE we tend to get stuck halfway

The middle third of the Marathon is the hardest – fun is over – end is not in sight

In the middle – your momentum can get broken

People lose their bearings and run out of steam.

SO -- Learn to celebrate along the way that way you refill the Vision Bucket

Make a commitment to celebrate every mile along the way to success

Data shows there is a 40% increase in the productivity of people who are INSPIRED

Bill's last point grows out of his new book on listening to quiet leadings from God along the way -- Whispers.

I found this session particularly helpful!


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit - Jim Collins

  • Good is the enemy of the Great
    • Greatness is largely a matter of conscious choice and discipline
  • What causes the Great to fall?
    • The greatest leaders are the most humble and know it is NOT about them
  • Understand: ANYONE can fall

  • 5 Stages of Decline (Largely self-inflicted)

  • Stage 1: Hubris Born of Success
  • Outrageous arrogance that neglects our primary calling and fails to renew itself. Failure to recognize that the blessing did not come from ourselves. Those great leaders who did not fall into this showed one thing: Humility in a leader.

    They are also ambitious, passionate, and willing to do whatever is required to fulfill the mission

    Stage 2: Undisciplined Pursuit of More

    Too much, too soon; breaking ‘Packard’s law’ -- which is that you must not grow too fast for the leaders you have in place. You must get strong "Fantastic People" on the bus and in the key seats for things to move forward.
    We must resist expansion and growth until the right people are ‘on the bus’ and in the right seats. THEN figure out where to drive the bus.

    Stage 3: Denial of Risk and Peril

    Failing organizations are in denial about the reality of failure and struggle around them. Numbers, feedback, grim realities etc. are denied because things still look great. See chart from book ‘How The Mighty Fall’ (Teams on the Way Up vs. Teams on the Way Down)

    Unhealthy optimism that denies reality and is unwilling to confront the most brutal facts. Strong leaders are willing to have faith that the mission will succeed but face the facts that right now things are not going that well. The accurately see the present reality but never give up believing that they will prevail.

  • Stage 4: Grasping for salvation.

    Leaders at this level are looking for a silver bullet. They think they will get a new vision or hire a great new charismatic leader to solve the problems. What they fail to realize is that g
    reatness is never a single event or breakthrough, but a cumulative process.

    Healthy turn around comes from restarting the flywheel of growth. This is done by careful disicpliend consistent intelligent progress - turn upon turn, push upon push; disciplined choice upon disciplined choice — excellent decisions over and over and over

    Stage 5: Capitulation.

    When you get here it’s ov
    er. You just give up. You have squandered financial, moral, relational capital, etc. and you have no more options.

    To avoid this pattern of decline ask yourself what would be lost if we disappeared? Why MUST you continue to endure, struggle, persist? Be driven by large noble purposes beyond money and success -- churches ought to have something to say about this!
  • Your grand purpose must then be rooted in core values that will NOT be compromised. What do we stand for that will never give up on? Are we willing to change anything in order to realize our larger purposes?
  • Never forget the genius of the AND!
  • Great leaders are always big on AND -- it is not either change methods or stay true to our mission -- it is AND!
    • Ten ‘To Do’s’
      • Do your diagnostics. ( has free assessment for "Good to great")
      • Count your blessings. Literally. (When we see all of the blessings that we did not cause = humility)
      • What is your personal "questions to statements" ratio? (Learn to ask the right questions, and have more questions than answers. Be more concerned about being interested than about being interesting!
      • How many key seats are vacant/filled with Fantastic People on your bus? What seats have yet to be filled, and what is the plan to get to 100% right people on the right bus in the right seats?
      • Do the Teams diagnostics (from Teams on the Way Up vs Teams on the Way Down) with your Fantastic People
      • With the right team of Fantastic People create an inventory of the brutal facts about your enterprise now.
      • Create a “Stop Doing” list. (What do we have the discipline to stop doing?) this is more important than your TO Do list.
      • Define the results you seek and the careful steps to get there and measure the milestones and significant points of progress along the way.
      • Double your reach to young people by changing your practices without changing your core values.
      • Set a BHAG rooted in your purpose so that your work will never be done.

Peter Drucker wrote 1/3 of his many books before age 65 -- 2/3 after age 65!

“The path out of darkness begins with those individuals (leaders) who are constitutionally incapable of capitulation.”

Again thanks to Eric Spangler's Blog for the basics which I was able to massage with some of my own comments etc. I have been having issues with editing the format -- sorry about that.
The content is still good stuff.

Willow Creek Leadership Summit -- Dr. Peter Zhao Xiao

Dr. Peter Xiao is a prominent Chinese economist who was commissioned by his government to study the success of the American economy. He concluded that a moral foundation based in Christianity allowed the American economy to flourish and he argued that China's economic growth would benefit from the spread of the Christian faith in China. He has embraced Christianity himself.

As a friend of China myself and student of Chinese culture I greatly admired Dr. Xiao's teaching and was
very aware that his remarks were no doubt being scrutinized by his own government who granted him permission for his lecture in a large church in America. Some of his remarks regarding past Chinese leaders and current government policy were clearly shaped by the political reality he faces.

(Dr. Xiao spoke through a translator who was introduced as a fellow Christian with little formal training as a translator. The translator chosen did not speak great English. Although the translator seemed very sincere and inspired by the moment I felt like he hurt the overall impact of this presentation.)

“I am here today to share the findings of my research which led me to the conclusion that the success of American society has resulted from its Christian foundation. When I began to study American society I read the Bible, saw the power and potential of the Christian faith and personally converted to Christianity. I have since gone back to
China to report to the leadership that I believe China will be blessed if the country openly embraces the Christian faith.

There are four great platforms of the interaction with the larger world:
Economics / Politics / Sports / Faith. China has excelled in each of these except this arena of Faith.
The greatest events of the past 2000 years include: The coming of Jesus 2000 years ago, the Protestant Reformation and evangelization of the Western World 700 years ago, the Rise of America 300 years ago, and now what is commonly being called the rise of China.

This notion that
China is rising is not completely accurate. What is really happening is that China is returning to its role as a world leader. She is coming back!
If world history is compared to a 5000 meter race - China was in the lead for all but the last 2 laps. Until as recently as 1820 China held one third of the world’s economy – which no one nation can match to this day. China is making a come back.

fell far behind in many ways during recent centuries until the last 30 years. Now she is catching up economically. By the end of 2010 China will surpass Japan and become the second largest economy in the world. By 2020 it may surpass America. However although China may catch up economically there is more to real success than just economics. China still has many unresolved problems: major pollution of large parts of the country, injustice and slavery, corruption in business etc.
China can export TVs but not the kind of things people want to watch on TV -- ethical standards and moral authority are still weak.

In Asia there are no countries who want to follow
China. But around the world more people want to follow America. America has something China does not -- America has a Dream. The
American Dream is more than nice cars and big houses and healthy systems – it also means American values -- which are largely Christian: Truthfulness, Honesty, Freedom, Love. China does not have a dream beyond gaining more wealth.
China should not only grow as an economy – she should also embrace the advanced cultures of the world and nurture herself on the values of the world as found in the teachings of the Christian Faith.

has already been influenced by Christianity for several centuries but early on most of that influence came from missionaries that the west sent to China. Though significant this Christian witness was often received with skepticism and resistance especially by our leaders. But still I want to thank you – Christians in the West -- for sending great Christians to teach us about your faith: Robert Morrison, James Hudson Taylor and Eric Liddell, the famous Olympian, to name a few. They helped to established a foundation of Christian faith for many Chinese.

When all the Christian missionaries were asked to leave
China in 1949 there were about 1 million Christians in China and many felt this would spell the end of their faith. But God worked in ways we could not have foreseen. God even used people who did not believe in Him to open up the way for the Christian message to flourish. Chairman Mao cleaned house of all religions including the false cults. Deng Xiao Ping opened up the window to the possibility of returning to religious faith. Since all this came to pass we now know that over the past 30 years there has been a
100 fold increase in Christianity in China. We now have 80 million Christians (conservatively) – to 130 million Christians in China. If it is not already -- then soon China will be the nation with the most protestant Christians in the world and will begin to send Christians to reach other parts of the world.

The biggest challenge facing
China is not economic – it is spiritual. We in China will either have "Transformation WITH the cross" or "Transformation WITHOUT the cross." For us to truly succeed we need transformation WITH the cross.

I have also reminded our people that the concept of becoming more open to Christianity is consistent with the Chinese way of thinking.
Chinese culture is not stubborn and static – it is willing to adapt and learn and change. In the past some dynasties turned to Taoism and Confucianism for a spiritual foundation. Later still other dynasties added elements of Buddhism to stabilize the nation. Now as China enters a third great era of renewal as a nation I recommend that we should allow Christianity to form the basis for this renewed society.

One reason it would be a good idea to embrace Christianity i
s that our government has a stated goal of building a more harmonious society. Surely Jesus and his teachings of unconditional love can make this harmonious society possible. Christianity is know to help people become more loving. Another reason to embrace Christianity is that o
ur government has asked everyone to conduct business honestly -- using only one set of books instead of two. Christianity values honesty. We already see the it is the Christian business people in China who are the first to respond positively to our government's call to not bribe – not to be sexually immoral – not to abuse employees – not to keep dishonest books.

So I strongly encourage that in the coming decade
China should become transformed WITH the cross. We should embrace the Christian faith more openly. If we do this China will become a
City on a Hill - A Nation of Integrity and A Blessing to the World.

In closing O have a word for you Christians in the West. Pl
ease pray for us and continue to show us how you can be economically great and still be honest and moral and kind and loving. Set a good example for us as a nation and as individual Christians so that we can learn more about how to follow Jesus every day in every aspect of life.
Thank you.”

Amazing insight into the Chinese mind from a Christian perspective...

Willow Creek Global Summit Notes: Andy Stanley

According to Andy every church/organization has issues that are ‘in tension’ that shouldn’t be completely resolved.
ie: time and energy for family life or work
marketing or sales
management or leadership
focusing on reaching the unchurched vs spending more energy on caring for the already churched.

Really – is one of these options completely and constantly better than the other?

When these large areas of consistent tension arise – consider that these are not opposites to be decided between but instead they are “tensions to be managed.”

To distinguish between problems to solve and tensions to manage, ask the following:

Does this problem or tension keep resurfacing? Seasonal cycles?
Are there mature advocates for both sides? Like those asking how we can make/keep our church safe for unbelievers and how we can do more to develop mature believers?
Are the two sides really interdependent?

The role of leadership is to leverage the tension to the benefit of the organization.

Identify the tensions to be managed in your organization.
Create terminology (“I guess that’s a tension we’ll have to learn to manage.”)
Inform your core. (Key players must understand this principle.)
Continually give value to both sides.
Don’t weigh in too heavily based on your personal biases. (Understand the up side of the opposite side, and the down side of your own side.)
Don’t allow strong personalities to win the day. (I need passionate people that will champion their side, but I need mature people that realize the larger realities and the tension that will never go away and we must manage.)
Don’t think in terms of balance. Think in terms of rhythm. Don’t try to be fair and balance all issues but address them in rhythm.

When is the time or season to lean away from something? When is the time or season to lean in? There’s a time when we need more singing than preaching, a time when we need more preaching than singing. . . We must pay attention to the rhythm of our organization.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Sun is Sending us a Message - This Week

Earth is bracing for a cosmic tsunami Tuesday night as tons of plasma from a massive solar flare head directly toward the planet.

The Sun's surface erupted early Sunday morning, shooting a wall of ionized atoms directly at Earth, scientists say. It is expected to create a geomagnetic storm and a spectacular light show -- and it could pose a threat to satellites in orbit, as well.

"This eruption is directed right at us and is expected to get here early in the day on Aug. 4," said Leon Golub of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. "It's the first major Earth-directed eruption in quite some time."

Bill Cosby is not dead -- and he's not pleased about a fourth death hoax

Bill Cosby is not dead -- and he's not pleased about a fourth death hoax

Monday, August 2, 2010


I love the over-the-top attitude of Iron Chef America. This video is a compilation of all the reveals of the secret ingredient in the history of the show. Frozen peas are especially exciting...


The Simpsons Movie / Inception Trailer 3 Mash Up

This is VERY funny. Stay to the last line -- it's worth it!