10 Ways to End 2014

year-end-review-300x225The following are a few suggestions that you might find helpful.  Ending and starting a new year is something that I typically give a lot of thought to.

1.  I need to let some things go.  No one ever became more Christ-like through resentment.

2.  I need to be honest about my sin.  I need to be honest both with God and with others about my sin.  My failure to deal with my sin is a failure to deal with the reality of my life.

3.  I need to think about what others see in me and compare that with what others might not see but nevertheless exists in my heart.

4.  I need to deal with the habits I have accumulated over the past year.  Have I taken on habits that are not good or wholesome?  If I continue to practice these habits, what kind of person will I be one year from now.

5.  I need to take into account how I have changed or haven’t changed over the past year.  Are my friends concerned about my marriage or relationship with my children?  Has a friend approached me with concern about my behavior or my attitude?

6.  I need to acknowledge my plans.  What is in my heart regarding the future?  Do I fantasize about a future with someone else besides my spouse?  Am I planning something ungodly?

7.  I need to evaluate my health.  What about my sleep habits, my eating, and my exercise?  Do my habits and behaviors in these areas reflect the heart of one who wishes to honor God with his/her body?

8.  I need to pray about my year that it might be clear to me what areas of my life might be out of God’s will or in someway might displease him.

9.  I need to reflect on my relationships.  Is there a family member with whom I need to reconcile with?  Could a word from me restore my relationship with that person?  Could it be that an apology is long overdue?

10.  I need to ponder on the areas of my life that have not been surrendered to Jesus.  Are there clearly areas of my life where I have refused to allow Jesus to rule as Lord?

How Can I Exceed Your Expectations?

exceed-expectations-510I’m not sure where I ever heard this question. However, I like it. I like it a lot!

How can I exceed your expectations?

I grew up in Southeast Dallas in the old Pleasant Grove area. This was middle-class America. A lot of good people lived in that community. They worked hard and drove home to a white farm house or a small brick home. My mother shopped each Thursday afternoon at the Safeway on Buckner Blvd. On Sundays, most people who I knew went to church and then rooted for the Cowboys. Life seemed fairly simple.

I went to work early. I had a paper route with the Dallas Morning News for a number of years. Then I worked at a fast food restaurant. Most of my friends had jobs like that. We worked. We played sports. We rooted for our team.

The expectations that I had as a kid were not particularly high. I don’t know that I gave much thought about preparing for the future. In many respects, we were just getting by.

Years later, I live in Memphis, Tennessee. I am a husband, father, and grandfather to two wonderful little boys. I work with a seminary as well as preach and teach. I think more about expectations than I did at one time. Yet, I am not focused on the expectations I have of others or life in general. Rather, I think about the expectations others might have of me and how I would like to exceed some of those expectations.

Monday Start: Resources for the Week


For several years I used Trello, which is a very fine organizational tool.  However, I have recently began using Nozbe.  The switch wasn’t because of any dissatisfaction with Trello.  Rather, Nozbe is a tool which complements what I have gained from David Allen’s Getting Things Done.  It also integrates nicely with Evernote.


Justin Zoradi has written an excellent post “9 Important Tips for Sometimes Writers.”  (Guest written for Donald Miller’s blog.)  This piece has a number of great practical suggestions.  Also see “8 Great Writing Hacks Every Creative Writer and Blogger Should Know” by Ivan Dimitrijevic.

Deception and Brokenness

A sad story of broken humanity and sin.  See this piece which recently appeared in the Dallas News:  “The Rise and Fall of a North Texas Con Man.”


When a Little Girl with Down’s Syndrome Showed What’s ‘Possible‘” by Amy Julia Becker.


I just finished reading The Truth Shall Make You Odd by Frank G. Honeycutt.  (A book of reflections on ministry and integrity.)  Presently, I am reading Rookie Smarts by Liz Wildman and Chuck DeGroat’s “toughest people to love.”





Ministry Inside.145

trust puzzleTrust is everything!

If you are a church leader, trust really is everything. It doesn’t matter whether you are a preacher, an elder, or a volunteer with the youth group, trust is everything. A congregation’s present and future are greatly impacted by whether or not the leaders within the church can be trusted.

If people trust you, that is huge. If they don’t trust you, well, I’m not sure what you can do. As a church leader, you may preach sermons, make important announcements, or initiate special projects. However, if the members do not trust you it is awfully hard to move forward.

Monday Start: Resources for the Week

Start2Hopefully, you had a great Thanksgiving.  We were able to be with family in Dallas on Thanksgiving day. We also visited with two of our grandchildren and our daughter and son-in-law.  I really enjoyed holding little Lincoln and wrestling with Brody.

1.  This past week I have been reading The Truth Shall Make You Odd by Frank G. Honeycutt.  I read several chapters from this book a few years ago and am now reading the entire book.  Very insightful and helpful for reflecting on one’s ministry.

2.  See “How to Make To-Do Lists Better, Faster, and More Fun” by Stephanie Vozza.  Helpful.

3.  Whether you like poetry or not, don’t miss L. L. Barkat’s piece from the Huffington Post10 Great Titles for the Poet’s Wish List.”  I have gained a real appreciation for poetry because of L. L. Barkat and her writing.

4.  You might find valuable the article “How to Give a Stellar Presentation” which appeared recently in the Harvard Review.

5.  See the piece by Maria Popova “C. S. Lewis on Why We Read.”


What is My Purpose?

3.2-Detail-Good-PurposeI know what it is to want to hide.

When I was in college, I hated this question: “What are you going to do when you grow up?”

Some of us seem to know even from middle school. Others seem to have no idea. I had no idea.

I went to the University of North Texas. They wanted me to declare a major. I chose sociology. That lasted for about a semester and then it was pre-law. Then finally it was business. I eventually graduated with a degree in business.

I came to a place in my junior year, spring semester, when I decided I would quit school. We had an English test the following day and I didn’t study. You don’t have to study for the test if you are going to quit that day.

I decided to drive to Dallas and look at other possibilities. I thought that maybe that day, I could get this sorted out.  I thought I might be a radio announcer and so visited a school that trained announcers.  I then visited a trade school and realized that wasn’t for me either.  Finally, that same day, I went to the Human Resources office at the Dallas Police Department in downtown Dallas.

That hour, a conversation with a very wise African-American police sergeant convinced me to stay in college. “Son, why don’t you just finish college?” he said.

I actually listened.

My Secrets May Hurt More People Than Me

SecretThe person with secrets often feels like she has gotten away with something.  That person may know that she has given in to a temptation and now remains undetected. When no one seems to know, you are basically carrying a secret.

“As long as no one knows, no one gets hurt.”  At least this is thinking of some people.  They get involved in a particular behavior they know is wrong but they believe they will remain undetected.

  • This may be the person who has a separate bank account from his spouse.  He uses it to buy what he wants to buy with their money and yet remain unaccountable.
  • This may be the person who lies on his tax return but is convinced his misdeed will never be detected.
  • This may be the person who has her eye on a co-worker and really believes that any illicit behavior will never be discovered.

Monday Start: Resources for the Week

Start (1)Insight

See “Where to Look for Insight” by Mohanbir Sawhney and Sanjay Khosla (Harvard Business Review).


J.R.R. Tolkien’s 10 tips for writers.  Interesting and helpful tips.


See this infograph: Why You’re Still Bored.  Very interesting regarding boredom, social media, and the culture.

Making a List?

Stephanie Calahan has written a good post, “I’m Sure You Have a To-Do List, But Do You Have a To-Be List?”

One More List

Rachel Gillett has written a good article “What Happened When We Created Daily Lists of Our Successes.”

Ministry Inside.144

post-it-noteOn my desk is a post-it note that reads:

Be Better Than Yesterday.

I look at this quite often.

One of the great temptations in our work is to coast. Actually, this is one of the great temptations of life. People who coast have figured out a way to do life with little effort.  We can become lazy and slothful. Some of us become mindless.  We have learned to live in such a way that requires little thought.

Church leaders who coast are doing their churches no favor.  Yet, many of us may find it to be tempting.  I recall the elder who said to his fellow elders and ministers regarding the ministry of their congregation as the New Year approached:  “Well its business as usual.  Let’s just do what we’ve been doing.”  Such a statement created no passion or call to prayer.  It seemed that we were about to yawn together as a group.

No conversation.  No thought.  No reflection.  No call to put our faith in God against the forces of this world.

Business as usual.

Monday Start: Resources for the Week


Note from Presentation Zen: “10 tips for improving your presentations and speeches.”  Very helpful.


Norvel Young, the former Chancellor and President of Pepperdine University had a way of bringing joy and energy to a room.  Recently I was re-reading a portion of a biography about Young entitled Forever Young by Bill Henegar and Jerry Rushford.  The authors quote Young as saying, “I stand on tiptoe looking forward to what God will do in my life in the years ahead.”  I really like this.

Far too many people look backward instead of forward.  Of course, it is fine to look back with thankfulness.  It is fine to look back to learn and appreciate.  Many people, however, look back with a nostalgia seems to view one’s best days of life as having already occurred.   Yet, as believer, while we appreciate and learn from our past, we are called to lean into the future by our faith in God.


See “How to Push Yourself Out of Your Comfort Zone.”


Do you read Books and Culture?  (I read the print edition.)  This publication really helps me stay abreast of many books I would otherwise miss.

Harding School of Theology

Saturday evening, HST hosted its annual dinner honoring the 50 year existence of this wonderful theological library.  For many years Don Meredith has served as the librarian, along with Bob Turner and Sheila Owen.  This was a night to honor the wonderful contribution this library has made for many years and today continues to serve many students, ministers, and many others.


You might enjoy a recent presentation I made at the Harding Lectures.  “A Return to Leadership.”