Friday, May 29, 2009

Book Giveaway!

Today we're welcoming Kem Meyer to Grace, Every Day as part of her world-wide blog tour! Kem is the Communications Director at Granger Community Church and has written a terrific and inspiring book.  Less Clutter. Less Noise is well-worth your time if you are interested in streamlining and improving communications within any organization - non-profit, for-profit or in between.  

Just to prove my point, I'm going to GIVE AWAY a copy of Kem's book to one of you lucky blog readers!  Check out the fine print at the bottom of this post to find out how YOU can get your hands on Less Clutter. Less Noise for free!

I had the chance to ask Kem not one but THREE questions, and she answered each one.

BB: Kem, I loved your book. Hope you don't mind that I'm asking THREE questions.  

KM:  Beth, because you were so kind and gave me the easiest questions out of everyone—I’ll answer ALL of your questions. This stop is a refreshing change of pace. Who had the crazy idea to visit all these blogs in one day, anyway?

BB:  Hmmm....okay, first question.  It's obvious that you are passionate about all things communication.  Is there any one font that you really don't like - one that makes you recoil in disgust?

KM:  "Too many fonts" make me recoil in disgust.

BB:  Desert island.  You, on it.  Choice of three books and three cds.  What would they be?

KM:  I would leave the three books and three cds at home and take one iPhone to the desert island.

BB:  (I wish I had an iPhone....)  Okay, next question:  What's been the most intersting change in your life after moving from corporate/secular to corporate/church work?

KM: The most interesting change in my life after leaving the corporate world for full-time ministry is that the overactive extrovert stepped down to reveal I’m ½ introvert. What? In the past, the only way I could recharge was to be around people. I couldn’t get enough. Now, I need equal parts of solitude and social time to keep my tank full. Too much of either one makes me cranky. Who knew?

Thanks to Kem for stopping by to visit Grace, Every Day.  If you're intrigued by her answers or the idea of reducing clutter in communications, you need this book.

And I'll give it to you!

Here's the deal:  Choose one of the questions that I asked Kem and answer it yourself in the comments here.  Heck, if you want, answer all three - just make it three separate comments. On Monday morning, I'll print out the comments, cut them up into separate names, drop them in a hat and let David Brawley choose the winner!

Are We Worshiping?

I've been chewing on something for a few days now...and it's uncomfortable.

Leading me to believe that I need to keep at it.

Someone came to me on Sunday, with kindness and humility, to say that they didn't feel that our church was 'worshiping'.  In their opinion, people weren't connecting with the songs.  This person wasn't seeing as much demonstrative worship as they thought would suit our gathering.

Their suggestion was that we returned to the way we used to do things; "Remember back when we first started and we did songs like 'Shout to the Lord'?"

I try to appropriately filter everything I hear and read, and I prayerfully processed what I heard in the moment.  I wanted to receive it well, not to react personally; to listen and allow this person to be heard.  However, internally, I initially dismissed the comments.  After all, when is it ever good to "go back to the way we used to do things"?

But I can't let go of a nagging suspicious that God wanted me to hear something.  And pay attention.

If you have comments, observances, insight or suggestions, I'm open to them.  Fire away.

Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. - Proverbs 3.7-8

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Undergoing Major Change

At last year's Leadership Summit I was introduced to Carly Fiorina.  She was a dynamic, engaging speaker and I was captivated, listening to a strong woman talk about leadership and empowerment.  I picked up her book, Tough Choices, and have referred to it off and on throughout the past several months.  

Truth be told, I'm just reading it VERY slowly - it's sort of a monthly devotional book for me, with constant encouragement and information about leadership.  

Okay.  Honest truth?  It's in the bathroom.

Midway through the book Fiorina talks about the creation of Lucent Technologies, which arose out of AT&T getting rid of a collection of assets called Newco. She was tapped to be Executive VP of Corporate Operations.  Here's what she says:
"For some, the words aspiration and inspiration are mumbo jumbo; or hype; or soft, nonoperational stuff. These are people who forget that every income statement and balance sheet in the world is produced by the everyday hard work of everyday people. And people achieve more when they're motivated by a purpose worthy of their efforts. They align their individual actions in to a more powerful collective effort when they know they strive for a common and commonly understood goal. Nowhere are aspiration and inspiration more important than in a large, complex organization undergoing major change. In large companies myriad actions taken and countless small decisions made must add up to the bottom line. And in a period of change, each employee must break old habits and learn new skills, and every employee's actions and decisions must align in new ways to produce something different."

In the midst of everything that we are doing as PCC staff members, in spite of what we're feeling and experiencing on a personal level, regardless of the current status of our personal relationship with God, we are in the middle of some major changes at PCC. We are the folks who are not only doing the "everyday work of everyday people", but we are also inspiring and leading volunteers who are doing the same thing as they serve at PCC.

We each have unique goals for our ministry areas that are hopefully clearly and commonly understood by those folks who serve with us. But I think it's important to still remember that we are, technically speaking, a "large, complex organization undergoing major change."

Our mission is to reach and lead. That is the purpose worthy of our efforts. Lives are changing because of what God's spirit is doing through PCC.

I just want to challenge each of us - myself included - to continue to live in the awareness of the challenges of change, and to take to heart the necessity of breaking old habits, learning new skills and aligning our actions and decisions in new ways. God is using us - and he is also changing us, through this time of change. It's a remarkable thing that ultimately results in eternal impact for our community. We are led by a senior pastor and an executive pastor - but we are also given the great responsibility and even the luxury of leading ourselves.

I'm focusing on praying for us as a body today, and thankful that God's drawn us all together for the sake of His name.

Cross-posted at Words Matter

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Less Clutter, For Free!

On my recent study break, I wrote about Less Clutter. Less Noise, a great book on communications by Kem Meyer.

Well, Kem's on a blog tour and she'll be visiting HERE in just a few days, answering some riveting questions and providing a shot of glamour for Grace, Every Day.  

Be sure to check back here in a few days for YOUR chance to win a free copy of Less Clutter. Less Noise! In the meantime, go check out her blog.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

What If Jesus Were Attacked By A Polar Bear?

We all have questions.  Some seem a bit more...well, creative...than others.  Still, it is our nature to wonder why, to push back, to look for answers.

What are some of your questions?  Particularly when it comes to religion, and Jesus, and God and creation and the church?  What are you thinking about?

Thanks to Tim Stevens for the video link...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Apologetics With Mike Licona

Live blogging from the Innovative Church Network meeting at Atlee Community Church. The speaker today is Mike Licona, an apologist - that is, somebody is "concerned with the defense or proof of Christianity." It's absolutely fascinating to hear from somebody whose primary focus in life is to help establish formative foundational evidence for faith in Jesus. There's a great resource here as well

Some of those most powerful take-aways from today's talk:

You can make up for being average when you have a strong desire and passion for something.

An ignorant culture will be slaughtered by their ignorance outside of the church bubble.

We have to defend our faith firmly and confidently, but with gentleness and respect.

Early biographies of Mohammed indicate that Islam and it's earliest followers used force and violence.

Historical evidence points to Jesus' resurrection and is therfore a good basis for the truth of Christianity.

Licona debated Bart Ehrman regarding the veracity of the claims of Christ in an attempt to expose the idiosyncratic view of history held by this extremely influential individual. He prepared for 5 1/2 months, 50 hours a week for the first debate. Licona acknowledges that apologetics is not just an intellectual effort but a spiritual battle.

Historians can establish with certainty that Peter, James and John were martyred for their faith due to reliable historical sources.

In starting dialogue with someone about faith issues:
With an atheist, establish if it's an evidenciary issue or one of the will. "What would it take to convince you?" Looking at the resurrection of Jesus is a defining issue for truth; there is excellent historical evidence for this event.

With the problem of evil (probably the strongest argument against Christianity) and the sheer volume of senseless evil, look at Plantinga's Free Will Defense: God cannot do logically contradictory things. He cannot create a square circle, or a married bachelor, or do the square root of blue. These are logically incoherent. Thus, God cannot create a world of free beings, all of whom choose to do right, all of the time. Free will necessitates choice, and at least some will choose sin. His only other option would be to create a world without free will, which would be inconsistent with the true nature of love.

If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.
If objective moral values do not exist, there is no basis to call something 'evil'.
If there is no basis to call something evil, the entire basis of the existence of evil disproving the existence of God is worthless.

Personal interaction with atheists often indicate, rather than disbelief, an intense anger or injury regarding the church or Christians.

Starting the conversation with someone who has been disappointed by God requires listening. Christians are "knuckleheads" more than they should be, and often cause problems that lead others towards a form of atheism.

You can't judge a philosophy by its abuse. Stalin was an atheist - but that doesn't stop atheists from identifying with him. In an atheistic reality, there are no rules, so Stalin and other dictators did not break any rules. However, Christian leaders HAVE "broken the rules".

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Merely Irritating

My foot hurt this morning.  While still in bed, I realized that I kept waking up because of a recurring pain. 

Straining to wake up, it seemed like there was something on the inside flesh of my foot that hurt just enough to be annoying.

I ignored it and fell back asleep.  But every time I moved, brushed my foot against the mattress or my leg, the pain returned.

I got up, decided to ignore the issue - it was minor - and got the house going for another school day.  But every few minutes I'd bump something or brush up against something, and I'd notice the pain.  Never enough to cause me to stop, I just kept on.

I did this for a few hours, while everybody got off to school.  But when it came time to get serious about the day, the minor issue became more of a problem.  

So, I stopped what I was doing and headed for the bathroom.  Dug up a pair of tweezers.  Poked around until I found a miniscule sliver of something and removed it.

The problem was gone.

I couldn't help but consider the personal spiritual implications.  They're there.  Suffice it to say that there are things - tiny things that seem almost irrelevant - that I ignore until they really complicate my life.  Merely taking a few minutes to address the issue relieves the problem. Small, it's merely irritating.  Ignored, it grows into something more potent and often dangerous.

But so often, I just can't be bothered, or I put it off, or I just say, "Later."

I suppose I'm not the only one who does this.  And I suppose I'm not the only one who suffers the consequences.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


So much is going on in our community this week.

But I was particularly struck by something powerful in small group last night.  In a conversation that wound its way from Biblical parables to sin, grace, tithing, alcohol and everything in between, at one point somebody sucked it up and got really vulnerable.

They simply said, "Hey, I wanna be absolutely honest with you guys about something."

And they clarified a statement, explaining the entire truth about something they'd shared earlier.  

They told the last 10%.

They gave it all up, risking vulnerability and absolute honesty.

It was a small thing, really; nothing huge in the grand scheme of life.

But it was honest.  It was the truth.

Is there something you need to be honest about?  Is there some area of life where you're skirting full disclosure?  Are you holding back just enough to matter?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Promised For You And For Me

What a wonderful way to start the day.

I think she means it.

Thanks to Zac

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Everything At PCC

Proud of my church and our creative team.

Proud of my kids, too. That's one dancing with Jesus, and one giving her a hard time about her hair....

Friday, May 8, 2009

Don't Be A Slacker

I'm working out at a new place now.  Actually, I need to reframe that sentence.  

It should say, "I'm working out now.  At a new place."

I haven't been consistently working out in over a year.

So, the key point is this:  I'm working out.

And part of the new place deal is a session or two with a "personal trainer".  Of course, I'm hoping and praying for Jillian from The Biggest Loser.  

But I got Kim.  And that's a good thing.

Kim was awesome.  She kicked my butt in conversation, which is really all we did yesterday.  She said, "You're basically fit.  You're just not working hard enough.  Quit running; your body knows how to run.  Get on the elliptical.  And sweat.  If I walk by, I don't want you smiling and saying, "Hi, Kim!  How ya doin.?  You need to be gasping for breath." 

Basically, she told me I was a slacker.  

So I worked hard yesterday.  

And last night, I slept better than I have in weeks.  I think I'm getting into that hot-flash stage of life.  Waking up at least four times every night, just sweating and kicking the covers off....I think that qualifies.  But last night?  A full night's sleep, uninterrupted.

Which means that today, when the alarm went off, I happily got out of bed.

Sometimes you just gotta do what you're doing with a little bit more effort to get better results.  I think I can apply that to most of my life.

It's going to be a good day.

"All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally. I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself."  1 Corinthians 9.25-27, The Message

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Blog Stat Surprise

Looking at blog stats tonight, just out of curiosity...

And taking a look at the number one search term that lands folks on my blog.

Guess what it is?  Something churchy?  My name?  Something musical?


The google image search for "dirty boys feet", because of this post right here.

Which really makes me sick.

I'm just saying.  It's a crazy, mixed-up world we live in.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Porn Is Bad. Don't Do It.

Today's service - on porn - was particularly meaningful to me. 

I was exposed to porn as a child.  It had a profound affect on me. It really messed with my self-image. To this day, I'm impacted by the thought that I'm supposed to look/act/be like those earliest images. It's been a real struggle at times.  

I can safely say that I'm through the worst of that, but it's been a challenge to my confidence and view of myself as a beloved daughter of God.  I'm not going into the details here, but I would like to say this:

Porn is bad.  Don't do it.

Seriously, I think the impact on the person who is using is devastating - but the greater risk is to those around you who might be exposed.  I'm speaking, specifically, about the kids around you who might stumble upon your books or magazines or web pages or dvds or cable channels.  And don't kid yourself.  It'll happen.

This is a hot button issue for me, so I'm going to get on my soap box. I'm not often dogmatic about right and wrong, but on this issue, it's black and white as far as I'm concerned.  Let me share just a bit about what I know porn can do to a young person.

Porn creates a secret.  Dysfunction begins with secrets.  Secrets bind anxiety.  One of the greatest ways to screw up a family - whether it's you, a single dad with kids; or you, a single mom with kids; or you, big brother or sister; or you, grandpa; or you, a cool aunt; or you, with your roommates:  no matter who you are, when you invite porn into your life, you crack the door open to influence all the people who are part of your life.  It's a huge risk.

Porn violates innocence.  For my part, I learned how to define myself, my body image, my idea of beauty through porn.  I've fought that battle all my life.  Others are going through the same struggles.  Are you willing to wreck the natural development of a kid just to feed your lust?  

Porn warps natural sexual devlopment
. Early discoveries of sexual images define and shape one's understanding of their sexuality.  This post is not an appropriate place for that sort of detailed discussion, but use some common sense.  Here's an easy example:  How many girls see a Victoria's Secret ad - on tv or in print - and don't walk away thinking that's the definition of a desireable, sexy woman?  And how many boys see that and expect that to be how a woman should look and act?  Take that road a bit further and think about what expectations boys and girls have regarding their intimate lives after being influenced by porn.

Porn is bad.  Don't do it.

I never forgot what I'd seen and read.  It stayed with me into my adult life.  After I got serious about my relationship with God, I was actively involved in a church and committed to following Christ - but I grew to believe that there was a huge blackness in me where this sin lived. I felt, literally, as though the inner part of my heart was black. I was "okay" in every other way, but I had this filthy thing burned into me that was my cross to bear, my sin, my thorn, a part of me that would never be gone. I felt different than everybody else. I felt as though I could never say anything to anybody. I never told anyone.  The secret of porn had burned into my soul.

Through an amazing turn of events, God opened some doors for me to come clean and to live in freedom.  There is no blackness in me, no condemnation, no darkness.  There is only grace. Those images are gone.  The slate's been wiped clean.  But it took some intentional steps and a willingness - even a desperation - to be free.  

If you want to hear the details of how God led me through this mess, let me know.

If you have any issue at all with pornography, do something about it.  

And if you need somebody to talk to, you can find me at beth {at} powhatancc {dot} com.

And yes, just for the record - I DO think Victoria's Secret ads qualify as porn.