Archive for July, 2013

A Welcome Letter From Brooklyn on our Moving Weekend

Posted: July 29, 2013 by thoughtsfrommyshelf in Thoughts
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My wife and I have recently moved to the Gaithersburg area in order to plant a campus ministry at the college campus of Rockville MC ( I will be making a post on that later).

We had a ton of help, lots of hands, and have been welcomed by our home church with a lot of love and kindness. This has been an exhausting, but great weekend for us. This move could not be any more encouraging. I love that my family is closer. I love that my church is closer. I love that friends are closer.

Today, I woke up to one of the coolest welcome letters by a little cutie named Brooklyn. She is about 4 months of joy, chubbiness, and fun. Lindsay and I have  a lot of our friends and are glad to be closer to them.

Dear Uncle  Angel and Auntie Lindsay –

My mommy told me yesterday that you were not having a fun weekend… she said something about putting lots of stuffs into boxes and then into cars (do the boxes need a carseat like me? Do they falls asleep in the car like me?) and then driving a long way to put the boxes someplace new. I don’t really understand why all that’s not fun – I love the car! – but mommy thought that maybe you could use some cheering up. So I thought about it aaalll night and woke up extra early to sneak on to this compupers thing and send you this. Because mommy says that now that all your boxes are in their new place, you’ll get to come snuggle with me more! And I do love the snuggles.
Sees you soon I hopes?
Brooklyn Cates
My response to Brooklyn:
If you were able to see all of the boxes that we have stacked you would think they were jumbo letter blocks. Auntie Lindsay thinks it makes our apartment look like a maze which makes her not feel at home at all. The car ride made us very sleepy and we wish we had our parents there to drive us so that we could sleep and stare out the window. I think we will be trying to find everything we need and then we will come to see you! Tell your mommy and daddy that we love them a lot and are glad to be here. If you ever want to come over while your dad and mom go eat grown up food- which is not as good as the banana strawberry gerber- let me know and we can have you over and let them go out.
Looking forward to seeing you!
Brooklyn and Lindsay
We look forward to baby sitting

Interview With An Atheist

Posted: July 22, 2013 by thoughtsfrommyshelf in Mission
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Penn Jillette, of the magician duo Penn and Teller put out a video in which he said

I’ve always said that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward—and atheists who think people shouldn’t proselytize and who say just leave me along and keep your religion to yourself—how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?

Here is a video of an interview with an atheist that says something very similar in a very poignant way.

There are some books that you read because you have to, not because you want to.  That was true three years ago when I read, Good to Great and the Social Sectors, by Jim Collins and it is true of having to re-read it again this year. The only difference is that I am not in the same place that I was in three years ago. The first time I had to read this, I knew very little of the social sectors and had never worked for a non-profit organization (NPO’s). Now, I am transitioning into a position that is going to require me to know how to measure success.

I appreciate the work that Jim Collins has put into making his business book translate to NPO’s.  Unlike a business “a social sector’s organizational performance must be assessed relative to mission, not financial returns”. Therefore, directors of NPO’s must ask the question, “How effectively do we deliver on our mission and make a distinctive impact, relative to our resources?” This question not only guards from unhealthy applications of business concepts, it allows you to know how to measure success for your organization.

In order to measure success you need to have an executive and legislative leadership structure that can keep the checks and balances in order. The execute leader provides the overarching leadership, vision, and goals of the non-profit. The legislative leader organizes people and trains them to effectively carry out the plan of the organization.  Both are leaders, and they both train leaders, they simply carry their role within the larger vision of the organization in different ways. Therefore, for an organization to carry out its goals, it needs to be clear on the kind of leadership that is needed for the goals to be carried out.

If you have ever worked or volunteered at an NPO, you come to find out quickly that people are either passionate about the organizations goal, or underpaid in comparison to the private sector.  Finding leadership with a very small pool like this is difficult. This is why Jim Collins recommends figuring out the kind of leadership that is needed before getting the wrong people on the bus. He recommends making the selection process difficult and then states “[A] lack of resources is no excuse for a lack of rigor- it makes selectivity all the more vital.” Choose who you need carefully; they will be the ones ensuring the success of your non-profit.

In conclusion, there are three components that are critical to have for an organization to identify and ensure success. First, you need to be able to define what success will look like for your organization by the impact that is distinct to the resources you have. Second, you need a leadership structure that works for your organizations effectiveness in being successful. Lastly, you need to get the right leaders. Great leaders will work hard in their role and secure your organizational goals by developing and deploying your staff to reach them.

Lessons learned after 2 years of marriage

Posted: July 9, 2013 by thoughtsfrommyshelf in Marriage
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Two years ago on a Satur198148_1308056318928_832180_nday afternoon, I stood in front of the most beautiful woman I know and committed to loving her before our family and friends. Today, I celebrate two years of a lifelong journey with my wife and it has been absolutely wonderful.

I have learned a lot about her, myself, and the faithfulness of God. I came into marriage thinking I knew what married life would be like. I had ideas, thoughts, plans, and a vision. Well, lets just say that I was very uniformed for what was to come. The first year of marriage was like a crash course on how selfish I was/am. It was hard to let go of the single man I was for 23 years. It was hard to come home from work and find out that instead of rest I would punch in for my role as a husband. I have had a lot of my preconceived notions about marriage changed. Not only have they changed, they have been exchanged for something better. A life that is not centered around me, but around my wife and the good of our family.

Lewis Smedes wrote about his commitment to his wife in an article, “My wife has been married to seven different men, and all of them have been me.” He was trying to get across the fact that men and women change in marriage. The more your are married, the more you shed off ideas that move forward “my” agenda for what would best serve “our” agenda. I thank God for my wife and all that she has been to me. The love is sweet, our commitment has been tested, and our promise has been proven.

Here is a humorous take on what I just shared.

Ramadan 2013: July 9- August 7

Posted: July 3, 2013 by thoughtsfrommyshelf in Mission, Prayer
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Each year, Muslims around the world participate in a 30-day holy month called Ramadan. Participating in Ramadan, one of Islam’s five pillars (or core requirements), means abstaining from food during the daylight hours. In addition to the fast, Muslims increase their focus on adhering to Islam’s other pillars, including prayer and charity. Ramadan is always the ninth month on the lunar-based Islamic calendar, and this year, it will begin on July 9 and end on August 7.

Ramadan is obviously very important for Muslims, so as people who care about them and their salvation, we should familiarize ourselves with it. Additionally, Ramadan serves as a good time for Christians around the world to focus their prayers on Muslims who are so fervently seeking their god. We would do well to pray that in their seeking, they would find truth – the emptiness of their religion and the fullness of God in Christ.

Let’s also pray for our Christian brothers and sisters around the world who are living and serving among Muslims. As Muslims unite in heightened religious devotion it is not uncommon that they attempt to convert non-Muslims to Islam, and so these 30 days can be especially tense for Christians living in Islamic areas of the world. Pray for their endurance. Also pray for a role reversal – that as Muslims seek to convince and convert, they are convinced and converted after encountering the grace of Jesus in their Christian neighbors.

Here is some recommended reading on Islam and Ramadan, as well as some resources to aid you this month as you pray for Muslims:

This was originally posted on the Secret Church blog. Be sure to check it out for updates and information regarding Secret Church gatherings and the persecuted Church.

Amazon Prime

Posted: July 2, 2013 by thoughtsfrommyshelf in Uncategorized
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Amazon Prime is a special membership program that offers participants premium benefits for just $79 per year. It offers members the ability to watch over 40,000 movies and TV episodes, anytime. Plus, they receive FREE two-day shipping on millions of products with no minimum order size. 

One of my favorite perks about being a Prime member is being able to borrow books from other Prime members for as long as I want. If you want to a free 30 day trial you can click here. College students get member ship for free so sign up!