Don’t reduce God to a mix tape

Do you remember mix tapes?

Today, we call them playlists.

When I was in high school in the 1990s, I was pretty good at making the perfect mix tape for any occasion. I probably made at least a hundred of those things. I’d make one for every road trip, every friend, every girlfriend, every summer weekend.

I always had dozens of blank tapes on hand — 60 minutes and 90 minutes, depending on the occasion. I’d sit for hours, scouring through hundreds of CDs that my stepdad had collected via the Columbia House catalogs. I’d pluck the best songs from the CDs and transfer them to the cassette tapes, crafting, through song, the perfect message.

My friend Jim and I would get together and compare mix tapes. His were always a little better quality because he had some secret way to blend the tracks. My transitions between songs were never as smooth.

Anyway…

I once met a man who would engage me in deep theological discussions. At the time, I had a pretty good idea of where I was coming from. I was still a fairly new Christian and explained my beliefs as best I could. He, on the other hand, seemed to be all over the place with his beliefs. On the face of it, it sounded somewhat like Christianity, but it had a pinch of some “new age” things, a dash of Buddhism (reincarnation), something I can only describe as a “happy hunting ground” scenario, and some other things I’d never heard of before.

I was confused. And I finally admitted my ignorance and confusion and asked him: What exactly do you believe?

The answer was surprising. Continue reading “Don’t reduce God to a mix tape”

Put it in Writing

Written words are powerful.

Think about it.

When we put something in writing, there’s a sense of permanency.

If we want to make something official, we’re told to “put it in writing.”

When we make an agreement, we write a contract. Life insurance, wills, housing contracts, bills of sale. All written. All legally binding.

Think of the founding of this country. People could stand up and talk and yell and argue their opinions about independence, but once the Declaration of Independence was written and signed, a world-transforming movement began.

Writing also implies accountability and stewardship.

If you have a written set of rules and someone breaks one of them, you have a point of reference.

If my wife gives me a written grocery list and I come home without one of the items, I can’t say I didn’t know.

If you write your “bucket list,” you have a written record that allows for measurement. If you go skydiving, you have something to check off the list. If you never read War and Peace, that unchecked item will dog you until you do.

Organizations need written goals, plans, vision and mission statements.

Having these plans in writing provides clarity of vision with a roadmap.

A written plan provides a gauge. If someone comes to you with a new idea, you can check it against the plan. Does it fit? Yes. Then do it. If not, maybe it’s something to consider for next year. Or use that wonderful, freeing word: “No.”

Yes, adjustments can be made. And flexibility should be budgeted for and built into a plan. But, once a plan is agreed upon, each new adjustment should be carefully considered. You don’t want to pull resources from a planned item to accomplish a new thing and then leave yourself short.

Some people will argue against a written plan. And it’s probably due to a fear of accountability, or the fear of commitment.

Do you have written plans or do you just ‘wing it?’ How’s it working?

Recipe for a smile

Take the first 10 minutes of your morning and write a thank you note to someone.

Who?

Someone you’ve been meaning to thank. That person who’s been on your mind that you can’t find the time to reach out to.

Maybe it’s a person in your office who helped you out of a jam.

Maybe it’s your spouse. It’s been months since you’ve done something spontaneous and nice for her.

Maybe it’s your child’s teacher. You’re seeing your kid advancing in reading or math and you want to let the teacher know you see improvement.

Maybe it’s the person working the front desk. Every morning she welcomes you with a smile.

A friend.

Your pastor.

Your mother.

A waiter.

The bus driver.

If you don’t have a stamp, hand deliver it. The person you’re writing to needs to see that someone notices. Your kindness will be an answer to prayer or a welcome surprise. Either way, it’s a smile in the making.

So, who are you writing to today?

Get up and dance!

Marketing is storytelling.

Take a moment to read Acts 3:2-10

Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

This isn’t just the beggar’s story. It’s our story.

We were once crippled by sin.

We accepted Christ and, by grace, our sins were forgiven.

Let’s get up and dance! Jump up and praise God!

Like the beggar, people will notice. They’ll see the smile on your face and the relief in your eyes. Then they will ask: “What happened to you?”

Be ready to share your story.

 

A Tale of Two Envelopes

One day I went to my mailbox at work and there were two business-sized envelopes in there.

The first had a preprinted return address in the upper left corner. My address was typed on an adhesive label. The stamp indicated the letter was part of a bulk mailing.

The second was in a similar envelope. The return address in the upper left corner was handwritten in blue ink, as was my address. The stamp was one that the sender had to apply herself.

Which one do you think I opened first? Continue reading “A Tale of Two Envelopes”

9 ways to make someone’s day for $5 or less

  • Buy a coffee mug, fill it with M&Ms and give it to a coworker.
  • Find a photo of you and your best friend, print it out, put it in a frame and give it to her as a gift.
  • Buy a blank “Thank You” card, write a note to your pastor or minister, and mail the card.
  • Call your mom.
  • Buy your wife one long-stemmed rose and bring it home after work…just because.
  • Stop at your friend’s favorite ice cream stand or bakery and buy her a $5 gift certificate.
  • While you’re at the grocery store, pick up an extra bottle of your buddy’s favorite barbecue sauce.
  • Play kickball with your kids.

Life is hectic and stressful. People need to smile and know that their friends and loved ones are thinking of them. It doesn’t take much to make someone’s day!

What are some ways you can make someone’s day today?