CHICAGO JAZZ FEST & SHISHLEEK
This one has to be quick. My alarm will be going off in about 5 hours.
Went to Chicago Jazz Festival tonight in downtown Grant Park. Sat and listened to Elvin Jones and his "Jazz Machine". We had a hard time finding somewhere to sit. Our first spot was nice, but the marijuana smoke was bothering my eyes so we went to the beer tent and found a seat. Jones is a 78 year old drummer who pulls together his band in a way that earns him the title "legend".
Afterwards, my friend Kevin and I shot uptown to the Andersonville neighborhood and had dinner at Reza's Restaurant. We enjoyed some fine Mediterranean fare - specifically the Shishleek. The menu describes it as "One skewer of char-broiled juice big chunk of filet mignon, served with grilled onions, tomatoes, green peppers and Persian white rice." Instead of the white rice, I had the dill rice - which was a little bit overbearing in the dill department. (Hint: Dill Rice will generally taste like dill.) But the ambeince was fantastic. The front of the restaurant was wide open (floor to ceiling doors which were opened all the way) - and all of you in Chicago know the great evening it was in the weather department tonight. The music was great - jazzy strings.
Well now I have to go to bed. Goodnight.
PS - For those of you who don't know me well, for the sake of clarification, the marijuana smoke was not my own...
Sunday, August 31
CHICAGO JAZZ FEST & SHISHLEEK
Friday, August 29
PIC 'N JAZZ
I added a new pick taken a week or two ago while I was driving through historic Lemont, IL. Kind of a cool "old" looking church.
Chicago Jazz Fest this weekend!! Hoping to make it down sometime.
Wednesday, August 27
CREDIT CARD & ATM MACHINES
Ok - something that I've noticed lately that I don't like very much. Think of all the places you insert an ATM or credit card into - places like the gas station pump, ATM machine, ticket machine @ the movie theatre, grocery store credit card slider, etc...
Have you ever noticed that each one accepts your card differently? For some, the black stripe has to be on top. For others, the bottom. Some of them require the card to be inserted with the black stripe on the bottom and on the left side.
My plea to all ATM, credit card machines: SIMPLIFY IT AND MAKE THEM ALL THE SAME! FOR THE SAKE OF SANITY!!!
Monday, August 25
It is absolutely amazing what people are able to live through. Tonight, Amanda has been watching a show on TLC called Amazing Medical Stories. In between the numerous, “Oh my Lord's!” and “Holy crapola's!” I put my book down and walked over to see what was so entertaining.
One guy named Mark Tatum had contracted a rear fungus disease in his face and was given the option of dying or having his eyes, nose and upper teeth completely removed. Here is a pic of him (tell the little ones to step away from the computer). He now uses a prosthetic face when going out in public. Amazing story…
Another story was about a college-aged girl who was innocently hanging up a poster in her dorm room at college. She lost her balance, fell off of the chair that she was standing on and fell out of the dorm room window. She hit an iron fence and became stuck hanging upside down, completely impaled, on the sharp spikes at the end of the fence. The spikes had gone completely through her. Amazingly, the spikes missed all of her vital organs and were pierced through fatty tissue (see, fat isn't all that bad...) In fact, doctors told her that had the fence not "caught" her, she would have died from falling injuries.
The real sad part was that she was hanging up an ‘N Sync poster. Just kidding…
PRAY FOR DIANE
Diana Phillips, who is the sister of one of my closest friends - Abe, is in the hospital in Scottsdale, AZ with renal failure (kidney failure). She will be undergoing an MRI tomorrow which will determine their approach to dealing with this. She is facing dialysis and/or surgery. Please pray that the doctors will have wisdom in dealing with this and that God's healing ability will continue to take place in her body. I will keep you posted.
On another note, we got our new sign at The Orchard (Orchard Valley Community Church) this past week. You can check it out here. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the logo, etc... My friend, Myron Netterlund designed the logo. His work can be seen here.
I am working with a web designer on our church website. Our site is going to be great! Her work is amazing and it's really incredible how we connected. I'll share more about that later.
Happy Monday and thanks for your prayers for Diana.
Saturday, August 23
I've started a new "fotolog" - you can view pics that I post. Click here to check it out.
GO INTO ALL THE WORLD
- St Francis of Assisi -
What a quote. I guess I keep coming back to this subject because I am continually being "dealt with" by God in regards to my interaction with those who are not in a relationship with Him. It is SO EASY to speak words to people, but it is NOT always easy to live out those words in a way that will convince people that Christ is right for them.
It's amazing to me, but more and more, as I talk to those who are either new to Christianity or have not yet made that "leap", I am finding that the concern of the typical "postmodern" is not "Did Jesus exist?" or "Is the Bible authentic?" - the real question is, "Why is this Christianity thing right for me?" or "Is what I'm seeing in you what I want to become?" OUCH!!! What a thought...!
I can't think of too many places in scripture where Christ said that it will be by our words that people will know that we are His followers. Actions speak louder than words. Talk is cheap.
God, help my life to reflect your love. When people see me, help them to see You. Let my words have the backing of a committed life. Amen.
Friday, August 22
WHAT SHOULD GOOGLE DO?
Click here to read Seth Godin's new (and free...) e-book, What Should Google Do? It's what I like to call a "creativity stoker"!
You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader (free download located here).
Thursday, August 21
ACCOUNTABILITY & WHITE SOX
A while back, I read Rudy Giuliani's book Leadership - how he turned NYC's crime rate around in a rather short amount of time. His secret? Accountability.
In my opinion, accountability (Not peer to peer accountability as in "moral" accountability - I'm talking about leadership accountability) is simply holding someone to their word and/or responsibilities. In our church, we have begun implementing systems of accountability on all levels - staff, volunteers, etc... and have literally watched the standard of leadership rise. It's not perfect, but it's getting better all the time.
It's also not always easy - especially in a transitioning organization where accountability hasn't always been a top priority. All of the sudden, there is follow up and accountability where before things were allowed to "fall through the cracks" and not get done.
In my opinion, accountability is what separates the "great" leaders from the "good" and even sometimes "not real good" leaders. Hopefully, when it's all said and done, you end up with a strong leadership team (at all levels) who appreciate and see the benefits of accountability.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this - please comment!
Gotta go - White Sox game tonight. $1 hot dog night. HALLELUJAH! :) (By the way - I'm not a Sox fan, but the tickets were free...)
Wednesday, August 20
George W. Christ?
President Bush is a good man, but this is pushing it just a little...
.PIF = PRETTY INTENSE FRUSTRATION
I logged online here @ Starbucks this morning and felt pretty important when my email inbox showed me 75 new emails. That is, until I realized that they all had viruses attached to them. I've been hit. Hit hard...
Check out this link if you're having problems too. The emails have an attachement with them ending in ".pif" - which I believe stands for "Pretty Intense Frustration"...
Tuesday, August 19
Ok - I'm being bombarded with viruses today!!!! @*#&$*#&@(*$&@#(*&!!!!!!!!!!
Anyone else getting it? I'm getting the W32.Sobig.F@mm.
If anyone is bored and doesn't have anything to do, I can send you a copy...
While sitting at your desk make clockwise circles with your right foot.
While doing this, draw the number "6" in the air with your right hand.
What direction is your foot going now?
FRISKY FROGS IN MISSOURI; INNOVATION; RANDOM THOUGHTS...
Just returned from hanging w/ some "ministry" friends in Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri. Quick trip, but well worth it. Spent lots of time on a boat...
There's nothing better than hanging out with friends and sharing some great laughs and scattered conversations.
I must say that the creativity factor is much higher in Missouri than I last remembered. There were several restaurant names that continue to resonate in my mind. (Examples: The Horny Toad; The Frisky Frog, one that I better not say, but rhymes with DECKERS, Clown & Poop Deck and The Happy Fisherman.) Some real eye catchers, let me tell you...
I began a book while out of town entitled, Weird Ideas That Work: 11 1/2 Practices for Promoting, Managing, and Sustaining Innovation by Robert Sutton.
I haven't gotten too far, but the "jist" of the book (up to this point) is that the people who stand out as being "innovative" and "creative" are people who just downright accomplish more than most people - which means that they also tend to fail more than most people. And then on occassion, these people happen to stumble upon "success".
In other words, many great innovators/inventors, etc... spent more time failing than succeeding - primarily because they spend more time "DOING". I'm not sure how much sense that last line made, but I'll share more later.
Oh yeah - I also ran into Harry Carry while at a Dairy Queen in Missouri. He looked pretty good for having passed away a few years ago... (prime example of "scattered conversation"...)
Anyway, glad to be back home in the land of strip malls, good drivers, Starbucks Coffee and lots of Home Depots. (Just kidding about being glad about strip malls...)
Thursday, August 14
CELEBRITIES CALL FANS?
Hollywood Is Calling - Check this link out.
I'm just wondering... What makes these people think they actually have "fans"?
What has hollywood come to??? I can think of a few more actors who better get on this list...
Whale flatulence stuns scientists
OH MY! What a shock! Whales have gas! WOW! Imagine that... And it smells bad too! (Read the article...)
STARBUCKS VS. CARIBOU COFFEE
Don't tell anyone, but tonight I visited Caribou Coffee... Being the crazy and almost sick Starbucks fan that I am, I feel as though I have committed the ultimate coffee related sin: Coffee Shop Treason.
I have a perfectly good excuse as to why my car drove itself to Caribou instead of Starbucks. Tonight, we filled our cars up with a bunch of students and decided to go "off-campus" for our Bible study and chose Caribou. We chose Caribou because of it's outdoor seating area - which, I must say, the Starbucks down the street is severely lacking in. But, as always, as I sipped my 3 shot, extra hot, skim mocha, I quickly remembered why Starbucks has my vote. Here's why:
1. Wireless Internet - Caribou doesn't have this.
2. Wall plug-in's for my laptop - Caribou didn't think of this. Or if they did, they didn't think hard enough...
3. Better coffee. I know this is debatable, but the coffee @ Starbucks just tastes better.
4. I don't know anyone who works at Caribou, so I have to pay for my coffee every time. (Lord, help the corporate people at Starbucks not to read this...)
5. Nicer decor/environment @ Starbucks. Caribou is "cute", but I feel like I'm in a lodge somewhere in Northern Minnesota (I guess that is what they are going for...), but Starbucks "feels" better - and is a more productive environment.
I'm sure there are more reasons, but I have suddenly gotten so tired that I am literally seeing 2 computer screens in front of me and there is drool running down my chin.
Wednesday, August 13
I'm ticked... For 2 reasons.
1. I can't say.
2. My local Starbucks isn't carrying the orange cranberry muffins today. So, I'll settle for the low-fat blueberry muffin.
(Aren't my problems huge?!)
Tuesday, August 12
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JESUS, SAVE ME FROM YOUR FOLLOWERS!
Ok, I've got to get this out of my system... Have you ever seen those bumper stickers that say, "Jesus, Save Me From Your Followers!"??? Well, I have to admit - I laugh everytime I see those. Actually, I just sort of smirk a little bit and try to put myself in the shoes of the person who thinks like that.
Like me sometimes...
Ok, really - think about this. I know I'm reading into this (probably way too much) kind of far, but think about the cry of that statement. "Jesus - I believe in you and your power to help me, but those Christians who "follow" you, I just don't know about them."
What is up with this?
Could it be that many Christians have developed a "persona"? A persona of being judgemental, sarcastic (towards those who aren't following Christ), with the "I'm better than you because I am a 'believer'..." attitude.
What is this?!
I think the grace of God is amazingly powerful - yet in some ways, thin. Thin enough to see through it and remember what our life was like without His grace. For most of us it was an ugly life - full of things that none of us are proud of. I know we are supposed to forget about the past, but sometimes I think it's good to remember what our life was like BEFORE the change.
I recently read a story about some students who were being interviewed about religion at The University of California. When asked what they thought about Jesus, their responses were incredible! Words like, "Jesus? He's beautiful!" or "Yes, Jesus...He's my man...!" But when asked about Christians, words like this were uttered: "hypocrites, judgemental, etc..."
Again, What's wrong with this picture?
I don't picture Jesus walking around towns and villages staring down his nose at people. I think a lot of it has to do with our reaction towards those who have not yet bowed their knee to Christ. We expect non-Christ followers to act like Christians. We hear someone cuss or get upset and say something that we all probably say anyway when no one is looking, and we jump on them or look at them like they need to step up to our definition of "proper Christian behavior."
I can only speak for myself, but my hope is that when a seeker or unchurched person sees me and my life that they will look at me and say, "Now, if that is what God does in someone's life - then I want it." I hope that I'm seen as a "safe" person for my unchurched friends and family members to come to with their "issues" and "problems". If they feel like they can't, then there's a problem - it's at that moment that maybe I've become less like Christ and more like the religous Pharisees.
Monday, August 11
One more thing... Just so you know, the "comments" are posted publically on the site. That means that everyone can read your posting. If you're ok w/ that - than post away! If you're not, you can email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org and it will be private!
YOU HAVE A VOICE!
I have added the ability for you, the reader, to make comments after each post. Click on the part that says, "COMMENT" and go for it! I can't wait to hear what you have to say!
TRACE YOUR MONEY - NEW HOBBY?
I've heard people say before, "I just don't know where all my money goes!" Well, now there's a way to find out!
A few days ago, I was rambling on in my blog about where our dollar bills end up over a lifetime (mine in Iraq?). Well, Bob from St. Louis sent me this link which actually traces the life of a dollar bill.
I think we all need to take the time to enter in the serial number of every dollar bill that we run across. What d'ya think? Sounds like a new hobby to me...
NEW LOOK; JIM COLLINS (Good to Great) THOUGHTS
I hope this new "color" isn't hard on the eyes... If you feel like giving me feedback, let me know. I've been screwing around with HTML - just changing colors, etc... on the site and learning a little bit in the process as well.
I'm happy that Monday is finally here. It's been a CRAZY week - Leadership Summit (which I will share more about after I have a chance to digest it all...), teaching this weekend, etc... This coming weekend we are heading to Lake of the Ozarks for a couple of days to visit some friends and hang out. Quick trip, but should be a good time.
Ok - I guess I will share a couple of thoughts from the Leadership Summit. Jim Collins spoke at one of the sessions (author of GOOD TO GREAT).
One of his ideas that I really like (which I've read about before - but it just seems to keep coming back up...) is his idea of how if you want to move an organization from good to GREAT (good is the enemy to great) than you must first get the "right" people on the bus - which involves (in the process) getting the "wrong" people off of the bus. Then, once you have the right people on the bus, it's time to get the "right" people in the "right" seats. Then, after all of that is said and done, the decision is made as to where to drive the bus.
This thinking is quite different from many leadership paradigms - which would say, "Get a great plan first, then gather the people." The idea behind Collins' teaching is before the decision is made where to go, get the right people on the bus and then decide. Interesting concept and I think I would have to agree - because "buy in" from people needs to be based on the heartbeat/values of the organization - not the current "approach" or "style" - both of which are subject to change as our external conditions change (i.e. culture/ideologies/etc...).
Especially important for the emerging church...
Saturday, August 9
I am way too tired to write much tonight... Crazy week - Leadership Summit. Teaching on Sunday and heading out of town again next week. You'll hear from me in a day or two when I can actually hold a thought for more than .544 seconds.
Thursday, August 7
LEADERSHIP SUMMIT DAY 1
Wow - what a day... Great 1st day at The Leadership Summit.
Bill Hybels began the summit with 2 sessions. The first session was entitled, "The Leadership Test". He correlated the leadership of Jesus and His interaction with His disciples with leadership in the church and business realm.
The 5 tests, according to Hybels, are:
1. The "Bias Toward Action" Test
As a leader, go out of your way to create "test environments" for people. Find out who the "make it happen people" are in your organization.
Jesus knew how much "action" His life and mission would require, so He made it a priority to seek out action oriented leaders.
2. The "Can You Follow Directions" Test
BYSSIW = Because you say so, I will.
Does your prospetive leader have a cooperative attitude?
3. The "Who Deserves the Credit" Test
Obviously, God is the 1st to get the credit when something is successful. But so does the "team" - the group of committed leaders.
When we work on a team, we need to privately, publically and frequently give credit to those on the team.
4. The "Grander Vision" Test
Jesus challenged His disciples by offering them the opportunity to be a part of a "grander" vision - from fishers of fish to fishers of men!
As leaders (especially in the church arena) we need to continually challenge people to give what's left of their lives to the "grander" vision.
5. The "Will You Leave It" Test
This is the most expensive test!
Connecting with the "Grander Vision" will cause you to give up a lot - but God always gives it back... And then some!
Jim Collins lectured on being a "Level 5 Leader". You can read about that by clicking here.
Andy Stanley spoke on "Making Vision Stick".
You can check out pictures here.
More on Friday...
MY MONEY IN IRAQ?
It's a bright, sunshiny day here in Chi-town. In fact, for the sake of current convienience, it is a little too bright. I'm sitting in a Starbucks in Naperville and there is not a spot in this store where the sun is not beaming directly on my face. AHHHHHH! I guess it's a great way to get caffeinated and tanned in one shot.
Ok - I have a totally weird thought that I'm sure people everywhere have thought of. I was reading a story last night in Newsweek about Saddam Hussein's sons Odai and Qusay and the events surrounding their deaths. In the article, it was talking about how when they went through the home where they were staying at the time of their death, they found several million dollars. Some was Iraqi money (dinars) and then there was quite a bit of United States currency.
So here was my thought (and yes, I know it's totally dumb and I'm ashamed to even take up your time with this...): How many hands has that money passed through over the years and is it possible that in the 29 years of my existance that one of those dollars were at one time in my possession? Sorry - I know that's crazy and I will, for the sake of an excuse, blame this on ADD or something like that.
Gotta go - Leadership Summit will be starting in about 30 minutes. More updates later...
Monday, August 4
GET PAID TO GO TO CHURCH!
Check this out...
UPCOMING WEEK; LEADERSHIP SUMMIT
Wow! What a week this one will be... On Monday evenings (Mondays are my day off...) I usually sit down to review my week and "mentally" prepare my brain for what's coming.
The big "highlight" of my week will be on Thursday, Friday and Saturday when I (along w/ some of our staff) will be attending the Willow Creek Leadership Summit. We will be attending the "off-site" video feed at Community Christian Church in Naperville, IL.
The speakers at this conference are going to be FANTASTICO!
Bill Hybels - Senior Pastor @ Willow Creek Community Church here in Chicago (you know - that small little church in Barrington...)
Jim Collins - Author of the MUST READ BOOK Good to Great)
Karen Hughes - Ex-Presidential Advisor to Prez GW Bush
Andy Stanley Pastor of Northpoint Community Church in Atlanta - where I just visited for about the 5th time and must say that this church is one that every church leader needs to look at - tons of innovative/creative ideas in reaching the unchurched...)
Patrick Lencioni - author of The Five Temptations of a CEO (Great book!)
And a bunch more really top notch communicators/leaders...
So - stay tuned for updates on this conference. If any of you are going to be attending at the Community Christian location, let me know - it would be great to connect!
And in all seriousness - if you have not yet read, Good to Great by Jim Collins, YOU NEED TO! It is an absolutely fantastic book about being - yes...you guessed it - GREAT. The 'jist' of the book is that "good" is the enemy to "great" and too many people, businesses and organizations settle for good when greatness CAN be acheived. Very practical and probably one of the single most impactful leadership books I've ever read.
Goodnight and may the face of the Lord shine upon you and may the presence of the Holy One surround your bed as you dream in the Spirit. (I'm totally kidding...)
A FEW THOUGHTS ON LEADERSHIP & EMOTIONS
I am convinced that if there is anything that will hinder us from being long term, effective leaders it is the tendency that we often have to not keep a proper handle on our emotions.
There is no way around the fact that the role of leadership in our lives will bring with it "ups" and "downs". There will be days when we, as leaders, will feel excited, motivated, and optimistic.
Then, there will be those days when we feel completely out of our "element" and even question whether or not we are truly "called" to be a leader. There will be times that we look around us and say to ourselves, "I am the worst leader in this world - I am making no impact on the environment around me whatsoever!"
So with all that said, I truly believe that one of the things that will help us keep our emotions in "check" is to keep our eyes focused on the BIG PICTURE.
The tendency that most of us have is to hang out in a ditch. We either become negatively jolted by every bit of bad news or we have the tendency to jump over on the other side of the ditch and sometimes "over" celebrate accomplishments and get into this "everything's cool - let's just stop pushing now" mentality.
I think there has to be a balance in between the two. When I read and study successful business people, the one thing that I see over and over again is that those CEO's keep their eyes on the big picture - not on the wavering stock market or bad news that might come in on occassion. They don't ignore those things, but they also don't allow those "temporary" DISTRACTIONS (and let me tell you - that is exactly what they are - distractions...) to knock them off their path.
Speaking from the aspect of an organization that is in transition, I can say that one of the things that will continue to push us through to "success" is staying "die-hard" focused on what God wants us to do - no matter how bad it looks, no matter what people say, no matter what the 'market' says - but staying consistently focused on what we believe we are here to accomplish.
That means that, as a leader, not everyone will like you and me and there may be times that Newsweek will give us a downward pointed arrow. But then again, Newsweek can kiss my....
Can I get a big "amen"? Tell me your thoughts - I'll post them... email@example.com
Saturday, August 2
WINDING DOWN BACK HOME IN CHICAGO
Back home now... Feels good. I'm tired and going to bed. Goodnight.
Kind of a cool picture of lightening striking the Sears Tower here in Chicago. Check it out here.
Story on Mel Gibson's new movie, Passion, Click here.
Friday, August 1
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
Quick stop in Knoxville, TN. This wireless Internet stuff is great! Sitting in a Borders Bookstore feeling at home... On my way to Cincinnati.
Picked up a book on tape called A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. Fun author - and full of tiny knowledge tid-bits.
BORING TRAVEL UPDATE, SORRY!
Almost 2AM in Atlanta. Getting up in a few hours to shoot up to Cincinnati. See route here... Been a crazy couple of days - more updates later...
Ate at Chick-Fil-A today. I have to take advantage of the trips down south. They don't have those in Chicago.
Also had some good cheese tonight. It's called "Drunken Goat Cheese" It's much better than the "Sober Chicken Cheese." Sorry - bad joke.
Anyway - they take this cheese (from Spain) and they let it soak in red wine for 48-72 hours. It's unbelievable! I'm not sure if it's the goats that are drunk or the cheese - but regardless - it's GOOD STUFF!
Talk to you up north!