A little about me as told by my wife...

We are not certain precisely when my husband became a believer. We know that it occurred sometime during our first year of marriage. We also know that it was very hard for him to surrender himself into God's loving care, because of anxieties that my husband had acquired while a child.

During most of his childhood, my husband was poor. He told me that they liked to believe that they were lower middle class, but now he knows that they were just plain poor. He never was sure when he'd have enough clothes, or shoes that fit, or food on the table. As a result of this past, my husband didn't want to live his adult life in want.

Also, now as an adult, my husband was hearing Christians say: Trust in God...He wants to save you from your sins and have a relationship with you. My husband kept on holding back from God for months because he wasn't sure if he could trust this Jesus to truly take care of him....all his needs,.., spiritual as well as physical. Finally, the scripture Matthew 6:25-34 broke through the wall of his fears and my husband surrendered himself completely into the Lord's care. And he was excited; excited about living the Christian life. He wanted to follow Jesus' leading in life. He had sold out to Jesus completely.

During our first year of marriage, my husband was learning his profession. And as "the new kid" he was assigned to run the work and deliver it when it was done. Quite often these deliveries took place in the late night hours. And he usually had many stops each night. In order for me to even have time to talk with him, I often chose to ride in the car with him while he made his deliveries. It was during one of these evening delivery trips that an interesting event occurred.

We were downtown and finishing up to go home. It was cold that night and the sky looked like some snow flurries could be expected. Since we hadn't had snow yet that winter, the sidewalks were clear, but everything was so cold and gray. Our car had just turned the corner when my husband saw a man walking on the sidewalk toward a wide doorway and my husband pointed this man out to me. The man was dressed poorly; very inadequately for the weather. And his shoes, if you could call them that, were split in so many places that they could not possibly keep out the elements.

Almost as quickly as we drove past this man, my husband pulled over to the curb, put on his flashing lights, and announced that he was giving that man his shoes! I really had no time to protest because my husband was already out of the car. I watched as they talked and after some discussion, the man accepted the shoes. My husband came back to the car in his socks and we talked as we drove toward home.

I was concerned because my husband had only two pairs of shoes that were decent enough for work and here he'd just given one pair away! But my husband said that the scriptures said that if you have more than enough and someone was in need, then the Lord wants us to share. He also explained that he could only wear one pair of shoes at a time anyway, so now this simplified things. We closed the conversation with the thought that when my husband needed another pair of shoes, the Lord would provide them.

Time passed, and we could have used that extra pair of shoes, but we got along. Occasionally we talked about the incident and wondered if the Lord had ever intended to give my husband that second pair of shoes.

Approximately 18 months after my husband gave away his shoes, we were visiting at a friend's apartment. Midway through the evening, our host got up and told my husband that he had something for him. He brought back a pair of brown loafers. They fit perfectly. He went on to explain that for more than a year the Lord had been prompting him to give these shoes to my husband, be he just hadn't gotten around to it. We mentioned that my husband had wanted another pair of shoes, but didn't go into any details. We looked at each other and we couldn't wait to talk about it on the way home.

We decided that the most important issue in the "shoe incident" was the way in which the Lord used people to convey his blessings. But the people were always "allowed" to function within their own free-will. My husband was a vehicle for blessing for the man with no shoes because my husband was so willing to obey without question. Our friend withheld a blessing that the Lord intended for us because he was unwilling to obey without question. And the Lord never made our friend obey, he only prompted and let our friend choose to obey. This was an exciting revelation to us because we were able to see both sides of a blessing and how a man can choose to be a part of it.

10 types of people...

There are only 10 types of people in the world:
Those who understand binary, and those who don't.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Lord's Prayer

The Aramaic Prayer To Our Father
"Lord's Prayer"

This wording and pronunciation is the closest that
we know to the form which Jesus spoke.

aboon dabashmaya
Our father who is in heaven,

nethkadash shamak
holy is his name,

tetha malkoothak
your Kingdom is coming,

newe tzevyanak
your will is being done

aykan dabashmaya af bara
on earth as it is in heaven,

hav lan lakma dsoonkanan yamanawashbook lan
give us our bread day by day

kavine aykana daf hanan shabookan
lhayavine oolow talahn lanesyana
as we forgive those who trespass and sin against us

ela fatsan men beesha
deliver us from evil 02/22/2004

Monday, February 16, 2004

Digital Rules

Digital Rules
Rich Karlgaard, 02.16.04, 12:00 AM ET

Purpose Driven

Most business books are big fat bores, except for those that are skinny bores--those trite little tomes involving whales and cheese and lessons learned from kindergarten. Unless I know the author personally, I won't read a business book. If I do know the sucker, I like to drop the book on the pavement--in his presence--and back my car over it. I spent too many years reading such piffle, underlining and highlighting "salient" points, taking notes and promptly forgetting everything I'd read within a week. Lessons from business books never stick.

Much better learning tools are novels, history books and biographies. For me, at least, these can really teach. Why? I suppose it's because when your imagination is engaged, when you dig the lessons out yourself and connect them to your own life, the learning goes much deeper.

With that said, I give you the best book on entrepreneurship, business and investment that I've read in some time. It's not new and it's not a business book. It was written in 1995 and comes from the field of religion. It's titled The Purpose-Driven Church and was penned by Rick Warren.

Warren--in 1980 and from scratch--launched Saddleback Church in Orange County, Calif. Under his leadership, the church has become the fastest-growing one in America. (Saddleback is a Southern Baptist evangelical church, by the way.) Weekends bring in an average of 15,000 worshippers. Saddleback has spawned dozens of so-called daughter churches throughout the country. Were it a business, Saddleback would be compared with Dell, Google or Starbucks.

The Purpose-Driven Church has sold more than 1 million copies. Its sequel, The Purpose-Driven Life, has sold 12 million copies. Whatever you think about Warren or his religious beliefs, he has discerned a consumer need out there.

So let's engage our imaginations, substitute the word "business" for "church" and see what Warren has to tell us.

• Don't try to make your business grow. Instead, work to make your business healthy. Because if it's healthy, it will grow.

• Don't be afraid to make it up as you go along. Warren quotes Mark Twain, who once said: "I knew a man who grabbed a cat by the tail and learned 40% more about cats than the man who didn't." A healthy business is one that tries many things that don't work--and has the scratches and scars to prove it.

• Don't trap yourself in costly infrastructure. To accommodate Saddleback's continual growth, Warren used 79 different facilities for functions in the church's first 15 years--schools, bank buildings, recreation centers, theaters, restaurants, large homes, even a 2,300-seat tent. Only in 1995, when the church had grown to 10,000 worshippers per weekend, did Warren erect Saddleback's own building. "The shoe must never tell the foot how big it can grow," he says.

• Don't compete for market share. Instead, compete with nonconsumption. "The church [business] must offer people something they cannot get anywhere else," Warren says.

• Sell big! "I've discovered that challenging people to a serious commitment actually attracts people rather than repels them," says Warren. "The greater commitment we ask for, the greater response we get."

• Faith and dedication won't overcome lack of skill and technology. Funny words from a preacher, but how true. "One of my favorite verses," Warren says, "is Ecclesiastes 10:10: ‘If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed, but skill will bring success.'"

• Borrow from others' successes. "Anytime I see a program working in another church [business], I try to extract the principle behind it and apply it in our church. I'm very grateful for the models that have helped me. I learned a long time ago that I don't have to originate everything for it to work."

• Never enter a new business without first picking someone to lead it. "If no leader emerged, we would wait on God's timing before beginning a ministry," says Warren.

• Purpose not only defines what your business should do, it defines what it shouldn't do. "The secret to effectiveness is to know what really counts. Then do what really counts."

• Nothing should precede the purpose of your business. "Plans, programs and personalities don't last," says Warren. Only purpose lasts. It can heal your business, too. "Nothing will revive a discouraged church [business] faster than rediscovering its purpose."

The Lesson of Dell

A couple of weeks ago I interviewed Michael Dell at an investment banking conference. As terrific as Dell Inc.'s success has been, some think the company's announced goal of $60 billion in sales (now $40 billion) by 2006 is, well, too audacious. To hit its mark, Dell must succeed across a range of new businesses--plasma TVs, printers, MP3 players, high-end servers, even consulting services. Many battles on many fronts--thus the skepticism.

But when I look at Michael Dell, I see a guy who told me in 1992--at age 26--that he was going to become the IBM of the 21st century. (Talk about inviting skepticism!) In Dell I see a company that, despite its size, retains its clear purpose. Carly Fiorina of Hewlett-Packard, a top-class CEO herself, inadvertently got Michael Dell to reveal his purpose when she accused Dell Inc. of being a one-trick pony. "No," Dell shot back. "We're a two-trick pony. We satisfy customers and we make a profit."

Such clarity will propel Dell Inc. to $60 billion by 2006.

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