Search This Blog

Saturday, December 25, 2010

By the Manger

"Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us." Luke 2:15

 (Written by Anna J. Lindgren)

Dark the night of sin had settled. To bring Light into that darkness God came to Bethlehem. God! How I have tried to comprehend that fact - tried in vain. I have listened to the voice of God, in the morning of time, as He spoke His creative words, "Let there be," and I have seen worlds flung into space, suns come into existence, the "Milky Way" span the measureless deep, and the countless orbs of light spring forth, at His bidding, and in dazed wonder I have cried out, "God!"

But when I come "even unto Bethlehem" with its lowing oxen, its straw, and its manger, and behold a helpless babe, my soul is too perplexed for words. I hear the angels' glory-song, and as I gaze upwards I catch a glimpse of a radiance that dazzles and a blinding light, and I see that the song that ripples down from heaven is sung by countless millions of adoring angels. What can I bring unto the One to whom all things belong! There is only one gift worthy of giving - that is mine to give - undying love, unbroken allegiance, ceaseless praise.
I want to stand by the manger long enough for all my foolish pride to die, all my vainglory to vanish, and my estimate of values to become adjusted to the humility that is God.

Four points to take from this (the four L's): Love. Life. Light. Looking.
  1. The LOVE of God - God's abundant, overwhelming, and crazy love. [Read John 3:16]
  2. The greatest gift of all - ETERNAL LIFE.
  3. LIGHT of the world - God brought light to a sin-darkened world. [Read John 8:12]
  4. Keep LOOKING to God - Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. [Hebrews 12:1-2]

As my Dad read the Christmas story this morning (Christ's birth - Luke 2:1-20), he reminded us of the importance of these four L's. God's love is uncompromisable, and the gift of eternal life He gave is the greatest gift to ever be given. God is the light of the world; we are called to be lights in this sin-darkened world. What better time to share the light than Christmas?! And finally, we must continuously seek after God, always looking to Him for guidance, knowledge, and wisdom.

On this Christmas day, be thankful for God's abundant love, the gift of eternal life, the light God has brought to our dark world, and continue to seek God by looking to Him in all areas of your life.

How has God touched your life this Christmas season? Are you continuously looking to God?

Topics Discussed: Christmas Story, Manger, Love, Life Application, Christianity, Christmas

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Compounding Joy

Are you a cheerful giver? As we approach Christmas, it is important to evaluate our hearts. It is too easy to become wrapped up in the chaos of the season - Christmas shopping, family dinners, office parties, Church and school programs, etc. - and forget the true meaning of Christmas - the birth of Jesus Christ.

The ultimate gift was given to us so that we could have eternal life... This Christmas season, instead of being so fixated on what we are going to get, we should focus on what we could give!

As I sat in church this morning and listened to my pastor preach on sowing and reaping, I was really convicted.. I am not the cheerful giver I should be. I think we all need to evaluate our hearts and be honest with ourselves - "Am I a cheerful giver?"

I want to share with you some principles of sowing and reaping, as well as some giving truths:
  1. You reap what you sow.  "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows." Galations 6:7
  2. You reap more than you sow.  "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life." Matthew 19:29
  3. Your heart matters when you give. "Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." 2 Corinthians 9:6-7
  4. You cannon out-give God. "And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: 'He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.' Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness." 2 Corinthians 9:8-10
  5. People will thank God because of what you give. "You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God." 2 Corinthians 9:11

Be a cheerful giver this Christmas! Make a difference in someones life. Give until you love it! Your heart will conform to your actions, and the more you give, the more joy you will accumulate - COMPOUNDING JOY!

Do you constantly think of what you are going to get for Christmas, or do you think of what you could give?  Share some experiences below where giving has brought you joy!

Topics Discussed: Giving, Joy, Christmas, Christianity

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Sweaters!

That's right. A must-have clothing item for the 2010 Christmas season is...a Christmas sweater! You may recall your grandparents, aunts and uncles, or parents wearing a bodacious sweater (like the one pictured below) back in the late 80's, early 90's... Well, I say it's time for this fad to come back in to style.

I mean, what's not to love about a Christmas sweater?! They are colorful, cheerful, and certainly fashionable. I think it's time we all go into our basements and attics and open up the old, dusty boxes of the 1980's.

Spread some Christmas cheer this season by sporting Santa, a snowman, or Rudolph and the gang! I guarantee you will put a big smile on someone's face.. And you could be making a big difference in that person's life.. They may really need that smile this Christmas.. Help make this Christmas a Christmas to remember!

Do you have a favorite Christmas sweater?!

Topics Discussed: Christmas, Sweaters, Fashion, Fun

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Daydreaming: Good or Bad?

I find myself daydreaming every single day. I dream of my future (where I'll be living, what I'll be doing, who I'll be with), Heaven, being an NBA All-Star, what it would be like to be a superhero... I dream of owning a business, inspiring people to become next-level thinkers/believers/leaders, traveling the world... The list could go on forever!  

Is this a waste of my time? Should I spend less time dreaming?

I don't think so.

I am a dreamer, and that will never change. My belief is that the only way to live a full, exciting, meaningful, purposeful to dream one first. Yes, God has a plan for all of us, but I sincerely believe that in order to follow those plans, we must dream. What I mean is, I see dreaming as a means of seeking after the plans God has laid out for us.

Dreaming, to me, is a way to explore the infinite possibilities of this life we have been given. When I dream, I visualize all the different things I could do with my life, I take myself to places I could see myself living, I put myself in the positions I'm feeling called to fill... Dreaming is the first step to living. 

"Dreams are today's answers to tomorrow's questions."  -Edgar Cayce

So, I would say, without a doubt in my mind, daydreaming is neither good nor bad, it's great! And I believe it is necessary. 

If you're already a dreamer, never stop dreaming! If you're not yet a dreamer, I strongly encourage you to begin dreaming.. Dream of what you want to accomplish in your lifetime. Dream of the people you want to meet, the places you want to go. Dream big, and dream often!

Are you a dreamer?  If so, what are some things you dream of?  Please share your thoughts on dreaming.

Topics Discussed: Dreaming, Dreamers, Life Application, Leadership

Monday, December 13, 2010

Stay The Course

"Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go."
~ Joshua 1:7

"Successful leaders are intentional. They know what they're doing and why they're doing it."
~ John C. Maxwell

To be a next-level leader, you must be an intentional leader. This means your actions and work have meaning, thought, and purpose.

John C. Maxwell shares 5 ways to become more intentional, and I want to share those with you now:
  1. Have a purpose worth living for: Willis R. Whitney, the first director of General Electric's research laboratory, observed, "Some men have thousands of reasons why they cannot do what they want to, when all they need is one reason why they can."
  2. Know your strengths and weaknesses: Playing to your strengths rekindles your passions and renews your energy.
  3. Prioritize your responsibilities: Once you know the "why" of your life, it becomes much easier to figure out the "what" and "when."
  4. Learn to say no: You can't accomplish much without focus. If you try to do every good thing that comes your way, you won't excel at what you were made to do.
  5. Commit yourself to long-term achievement: Most victories in life are achieved through small incremental wins sustained over time.
(The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player)

What does it mean to you to be an intentional leader?

Topics Discussed: Leaders, Leadership, Next-Level Leader, Life Application

Sunday, December 12, 2010

5 Simple Steps to Become a Great Follower

Every great leader once followed a great leader before them. In order to become great leaders, we must first become great followers.  

It is important to have a mentor (a coach), someone that guides you and helps develop you into a next-level leader. A mentor needs to be someone worth following - a person that shares your passions and desires, a person that leads you on a straight path, a person that gives accurate and trustworthy advice, a person that equips you with the necessary tools to succeed.

If you have found someone truly worth following, become a great leader by first becoming a great follower:
  1. Ask the right questions.  A mentor can only do so much...this relationship is a two-way street, so to speak. Therefore, it is important that you ask questions, and lots of them! Remember, this mentor is mentoring you for a reason. This leader has been through experiences, successes, and failures that can help you in your strive to become a next-level leader.
  2. Learn from your mentor but don't copy them.  It is one thing to look up to your mentor and try to practice what they preach. It is an entirely different thing to just copy their every move, habit, etc. Take what your mentor says and apply it to your own life. Don't just copy everything they do, because you are not them and they are not you. There are some things your mentor will do or say that just won't apply to you personally.
  3. Be open and honest.  This is crucial. If you want to walk away a better leader, it is an absolute must that you be 100% open and honest with your mentor. This is why it is so important you choose a mentor that you are able to talk to about anything and everything! In order to grow and learn, you must have an open and honest relationship with your mentor...TRUST your mentor.
  4. Create value.  Creating and maintaining a valuable relationship with your mentor is key. To do this, make sure you schedule meetings at mutually-convenient times & places, have a plan of what you're going to discuss & study, and be in constant communication throughout the week. In order to get the most out of each meeting, it is important to schedule meetings that allow enough time to cover everything it is you want to cover. Having a plan ensures that you stay on topic and use your time wisely. Communicating with your mentor throughout the week shows that you care about them and allows for accountability. All of these practices create value and help develop a positive mentoring relationship.
  5. Show gratitude to your mentor.  Don't ever be afraid to let your mentor know how much you appreciate them. Tell them how thankful you are for their leadership and willingness to pour into your life. I promise you, showing gratitude goes a LONG way!

If you're a young leader I strongly encourage you to find a mentor. Having a mentor is so beneficial in becoming a next-level leader. There are so many great leaders out there ready to invest in someone like YOU. I challenge you to step out in faith and enter into a positive mentoring relationship.

Have you ever been in a positive mentoring relationship? How important is it for young leaders to have a mentor?

Topics Discussed: Leaders, Leadership, Mentors, Mentoring

Friday, December 10, 2010

Leaders Point the Way

"Anyone can follow a path, but only a leader can blaze one." -John C. Maxwell

When I think of leaders, I think of people that have lived boldly, taken chances, blazed a path for others, separated themselves from this world (see my previous post), and pointed the way.

Leadership takes courage. It's not always easy to stand up and point the way...but with a set of values and morals that guide decisions, authentic leaders can stand up and do just that -  point the way!

I think we make it too difficult at times. Sure, leading others can certainly be a challenging task, but someone has to do it!

If you're feeling called to do something that is different, crazy, nuts, bizarre, ludicrous, and you truly believe in what it is you want to do.......JUST DO IT (Nike should pay me for that)! Don't just sit back and wait for someone else to make a path, blaze one yourself!

  • If you think something should be done differently, point the way!
  • If you want to start something new, point the way!
  • If you want to help someone in need, point the way!
  • If you're cast into a leadership role of any kind, point the way!!

Do you normally follow a path, or do you blaze your own? Share an experience where you have pointed the way!

Topics Discussed: Leaders, Leadership, Life Application

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Dare to Separate Yourself!

How often do you judge yourself by the world's standards for acceptability and success?

Do you depend on people of this world to tell you how to live?

Do you allow worldly things to determine your value/worth?

How often do you just give in and blend with others of this world?

Do you ever get tired of not being accepted for who you really are?

"Come out from among them and BE SEPARATE" (2 Corinthians 6:17).

It is so easy to just conform to this world... But we are called to be IN this world, not OF it. We begin to just "go with the flow" and "roll with the punches," and we suddenly find ourselves trapped - constantly judging ourselves by the world's standards and depending on worldly things to tell us our worth.

It's time to stop caring what other people think. It's time to break away from the sameness. It's time to be confident in who we are/who we were made to be. It's time to live a purposeful life!

Here are some quotes from one of my favorite authors, Stormie Omartian, on remaining separate from the world:
  • Those who get the breaks with God are the ones who first break from the world.
  • Breaking from the world means recognizing our enemy (Satan) and refusing to be aligned with him in any way.
  • Accepting the world's standards for our lives numbs our sensitivity to God's will.
  • We need to separate ourselves from the world's habits and ways of thinking and destroy the high places of our hearts.
  • You can't go forward if you cling to things that separate you from God.
(Praying God's Will for Your Life)

Challenge: Dare to be different. Dare to be yourself. Dare to separate yourself!

Why is it so easy to conform to this world, but so hard to be different?

Topics Discussed: Leadership, Life Application, Christianity

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My Top 5 Favorite Christmas Movies!

#1. A Christmas Story (1983) - This is my absolute favorite Christmas movie of all time!
"I want an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle!"
It has become a tradition in my family to watch this movie as many times as possible every Christmas. Thank you TBS for making that possible!

#2. Home Alone (1990) - A classic. No one can argue this!
"Guys, I'm eating junk and watching rubbish! You better come out and stop me."

 #3. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992) -
Perhaps even better than the original, a rare occurrence - when a sequel is better than the original (Home Alone 3 was horrendous).
"You can mess with a lot of things, but you can't mess with kids on Christmas." 

 #4. Elf (2003) - I LOVE THIS MOVIE! Perhaps Will Ferrel's finest work.
"It's just nice to meet another human that shares my affinity for elf culture."

 #5. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) - A true masterpiece by Jim Carrey.
"If you utter so much as one syllable, I'LL HUNT YOU DOWN AND GUT YOU LIKE A FISH! If you'd like to fax me, press the star key."

So there ya have it! My Top 5 Favorite Christmas movies! 

What do you think about my Top 5? What are some of YOUR favorite Christmas movies?

Topics Discussed: Christmas, Movies, Entertainment, Fun 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Taking Social Media to the Ring

Twitter vs. Facebook: the heavyweight battle between social media giants!

Social networking is becoming more and more a part of our daily routines, and it seems as though Twitter and Facebook are the final two competitors left standing in the ring, squaring off for the illustrious "social media title," if you will (I promise I'm almost done with the boxing references!).

I believe we still have a ways to go to find out who lands the final blow (last one, I swear), but the question is: who is winning the fight today?

The Rise of Social Networking

We live in the dotcom era...couple that with the continual advances in technology and you inevitably get the rise of social networking. In the past decade, we have shifted from networking and engaging with people in public, to networking from the comforts of our homes. The world is at our fingertips, and what better way to meet people than by sitting on the couch in sweatpants, drinking hot chocolate, playing games on our iPhones, and watching episodes of "Lost" via HuluPlus?!

I kid, but I have a point, right? Don't get me wrong, I understand the value of face-to-face communication/networking, but the vast reach of social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook is hard to ignore. The rates at which new users are joining Twitter and Facebook are jaw-dropping!

Bottom line, social networking is booming, and although we may be a ways off from crowning a winner, the fight is more intense, and meaningful, than ever.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Twitter

Twitter is quickly becoming a #1 promotional tool for bloggers, online marketers, and individuals or businesses trying to brand themselves. It is a quick and easy way to share your thoughts on a topic, promote a blog, and ultimately connect with like-minded users. The fast-paced nature of Twitter is appealing to most, and the instantaneous communication between users is becoming extremely valuable. Twitter users are constantly finding new and creative ways to communicate, promote, learn, discover, and collaborate with other users.

Twitter is easy to jump from one page to the next, allowing you to quickly meet and network with users from all around the world. Another key advantage of Twitter is its unbelievable reach. Twitter is experiencing unbelievable growth, and users are able to instantly connect with whomever they so choose.

Some disadvantages of Twitter could include the initial difficulty of finding people to follow (worth following), the 140 character per update limitation, the fact that not all users are active users, the high degree of noise/spam, and the over-emphasis on follower counts. 

Overall, Twitter is a fast-paced, highly interactive platform that allows users to casually communicate with others, or aggressively market and promote themselves and their blogs, websites, and so forth.

Some Statistic - Twitter
  • Twitter now has 105,779,710 registered users.
  • New users are signing up at the rate of 300,000 per day.
  • 180 million unique visitors come to the site every month.
  • 75% of Twitter traffic comes from outside (i.e. via third party applications.)
  • Twitter gets a total of 3 billion requests a day via its API.
  • Twitter users are, in total, tweeting an average of 55 million tweets a day.
  • Twitter's search engine receives around 600 million search queries per day.
  • Of Twitter's active users, 37 percent use their phone to tweet.
  • Over half of all tweets (60 percent) come from third party applications.
  • Twitter itself has grown: in the past year alone, it has grown from 25 to 175 employees.
(Huffington Post, April 2010)

Advantages & Disadvantages of Facebook

Facebook is a great way to stay connected with friends and family. Users of Facebook can easily create and maintain friendships via wall posts, FB chat, FB messages, photo albums, and more. It is a one-stop-social media-shop that allows them to manage their own lives, connections, and relationships all in one central platform.

It is very easy to find and connect with people on Facebook. The people you are communicating with are often your friends and family that you have known for years. Therefore, Facebook is more about maintaining connections rather than increasing the number of connections (i.e. Twitter followers).

Some disadvantages of Facebook could include the complexity of navigating from page to page, the less instantaneous form of communication, and the busy design of profiles (lots of advertisements, photos, applications, boxes, etc.).

Overall, Facebook is a social networking platform that allows users to stay connected with friends and family, share info/photos/notes/messages/videos/links all in one central application, and easily meet new friends and contacts.

Some Statistic - Facebook
  • More than 500 million active users
  • 50% of our active users log on to Facebook in any given day
  • Average user has 130 friends
  • People spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook
  • More than 70 translations available on the site
  • About 70% of Facebook users are outside the United States
  • Over 300,000 users helped translate the site through the translations application
  • There are over 900 million objects that people interact with (pages, groups, events and community pages)
  • Average user is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events
  • Average user creates 90 pieces of content each month
  • More than 30 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) shared each month.
(, 2010)

How I See It

Facebook is where I connect with the people I already know. Twitter is where I connect with people I want to know. I use Facebook to talk to old friends from high school, current friends from college, and my family. On the other hand, I use Twitter to promote this blog, meet new people/contacts, develop professional relationships, learn about topics I'm interested in (e.g. Marketing, Leadership), and follow the lives of people I could never be friends with (i.e. Athletes, Celebrities).

I use both platforms. More importantly, I use them the way they were designed to be used! I wouldn't want to have to choose between the two, simply because I use them for two entirely different purposes. However, I would give the slight edge to Twitter because of the instantaneous nature of communication. I also like the easy-to-use design of Twitter and the fact people have to limit their tweets and replies. But that's just my two cents...

So, Who is Winning the Fight Today?

That is the question, isn't it? It is hard to say. Both Twitter and Facebook are growing rapidly, and neither have shown signs of letting up. It will be interesting to ask this question in about five years!

Which do you prefer, Twitter or Facebook? Who do you think is winning the fight today?

Topics Discussed: Social Media, Social Networking, Twitter, Facebook