If you are a Christian, are you also on the shelf? And is it comfortable? I am writing this in January, which is a good time to think about the new year we are in and about an hour ago I saw something that made me sad. I was waiting for a friend at a Tim Hortons and a young family came in; mother, father and two little boys. They were ragged and poor, but polite to everyone. Their order was a large coffee, probably for the parents to share, and a very small box of Timbits donut holes. That was their family break time. I guess they were probably Christians, and I know people come to Alberta, where I live, to find work. One nickname for this province is “tomorrow’s country” and I see struggling start-ups all the time. My parents did that. Today, I wish I had moved faster to buy cookies for the kids in that little family, but they walked away too fast into the cold and the snow, probably back …
Where will we be in five years? What are we building now? It is easy to predict the future for our families and marriages, jobs and businesses, and churches. I met a man recently who had a five year plan with his wife, and the plan was working. The whole family was prospering in changing times. This is a spiritual lesson we can learn from terrorists. Recently an angry man Ahmad Khan Rahami was arrested for several terrorist bombings near New York City. Apparently he is typical of a new threat to us all a “lone wolf terrorist” who acts without ties to a larger group. Politicians are warning us that anyone, in isolation, can become a violent terrorist and hurt us all. I disagree. There is a lot of discussion about the threat of violence and terrorism and isolated lone wolves, and one side in the conversation believes that successful people always work with a team. One analyst wrote about Ahmad Rahami and the “misnomer” of the lone wolf. People never do great things …
Most of us are completely wrong about the world, and how we should live. The popular ‘best way to live your life’ is wrong. About a hundred years ago, Mr McDonald, an Irish immigrant, worked as a shift manager in a shoe factory. In 1937 his two sons Richard “Dick” and Maurice “Mac” moved to southern California and opened a hot dog stand in Pasadena. In 1940 they moved to San Bernadino, nearby, and switched to Hamburgers. That tiny business grew to become McDonald’s with the golden arches. From the start, the brothers searched for their own innovative ways of operating, instead of following the wisdom of the crowd. Here’s where they are today: Equivalent to one percent of the world’s population eats at McDonalds every day, more than the population of Britain. The company sells 75 hamburgers a second worldwide, and the Queen owns a franchise near Buckingham palace. The company has more revenue than Mongolia, its economy is larger than Ecuador’s, and it is the largest distributor of toys in the world. You …
Someone, named Mathew Carpenter started promoting a new business Ship Your Enemies Glitter. I believe our new world economy is entrepreneurial. We need to start new things to survive and prosper, and Mr Carpenter started a new thing indeed. Here’s the glitter story. The founder built a web site to promote his crazy idea: We’re going to be pouring a tonne of glitter into an envelope with a folded up piece of paper. You know what’s going to happen when that special someone opens the envelope & pulls out the letter? The craft herpes will be released & will go everywhere. By Far the most effective and easiest prank ever … Click the buy button. Decide whose day you want to ruin & then enter their address. Please note, there is a lot of swearing on that web site. Also note, the new business made money. Ray Hennessey, a writer for Entrepreneur comments about this surprising new business: You need to have a business behind your idea — as great as that idea may be …
What Nehemiah Did and How You Can Do Anything: Chapter 5 and conclusion, Locate the North Star. [by Sandy McIntosh] Today we have ISIS, a militant group that has kidnapped and sold young women as slaves, beheaded Egyptian Christians with knives, and burned a Jordanian pilot with gasoline, in a cage. The group strives with great energy, but success eludes them. We also have Vladimir Putin in Russia who lost controlling influence over Ukraine when its corrupt government collapsed. He responded by occupying Ukrainian Crimea, resulting in the devastation of that region’s economy. Crimea was followed by the subversive invasion of eastern Ukraine. Affected areas of Ukraine are now in ruins and the population is growing desperate. Success also eludes Mr Putin, in spite of his great efforts.
What Nehemiah Did and How You Can Do Anything: Chapter 4, Analyze and Manage Risk [by Sandy McIntosh] Nehemiah was the great project manager of the Bible. We are told to live by faith, and that is what he did. The repair-Jerusalem project was not possible, and he was the wrong person for the job, but he did it anyway. He was highly motivated, he clearly defined the need, he measured carefully, and then he met the enemies who wanted to kill him.
What Nehemiah Did and How You Can Do Anything: Chapter 3, Measure [by Sandy McIntosh] You can do great things, and riding a donkey is an important step. Nehemiah is a famous Bible character who never led a victorious army or performed amazing miracles. He worked hard with his best skill set, and trusted God to multiply the results. We can all do that. And we should. For the things that we build we need project common sense, something Nehemiah had. The greatness of this builder really stood out on the night he rode the donkey.
What Nehemiah Did and How You Can Do Anything: chapter 2: Define What You Do [by Sandy McIntosh] We can do great things, with the right tools. Nehemiah did impossible things that changed history, in a good way. His story shows us how to start. Nehemiah was passionate about his nation and the city of Jerusalem, where the temple of God was, but he had a few deficits. He was a slave to the king, and probably an old man. He was probably also a “saris” a eunuch with no family. On the good side the emperor trusted Nehemiah and kept him as a top government employee. There were so many reasons to stay home and send someone else.
[by Sandy McIntosh] This is the first step in “What Nehemiah Did and How You Can Do Anything.” And you can do anything; just don’t move until you are on fire. A few years ago I was called to a meeting at work where I was told that my position was terminated, and then someone from HR slid a piece of paper across the table. On the paper were the details of my termination settlement, which was very generous. I was one of many, but it felt personal. Today my life is better; I have switched from career to contract work and I do less work for more money, with more freedom. Who can argue with that?
[by Sandy McIntosh] I am writing about “What Nehemiah Did and How You Can Do Anything” and this is the first step; we must un-learn before we learn, forget what you know and retrain. Nehemiah is not in this story. In his place I present another famous man. Do you know some of the heroes of American history; George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, maybe Teddy Roosevelt? Yes, but how much do you know about Charles Grandison Finney? You might have to go to a Bible College to learn about Finney. He was a revival preacher, college president, and anti-slavery activist and he influenced American history as much any other famous character. We mostly remember political and military heroes.
[by Sandy McIntosh] Nehemiah is a leading character in the Old Testament, or Hebrew Bible, and an important character in Jewish history. He lived long before Jesus, and his calendar did not start with a new year on January 1. It didn’t even have a January. For sure he never specifically wished anyone a Merry Christmas or a Happy New Year at the end of December. Or did he? If we can get past the superficial materialism and drunken partying, there is wisdom from God for this time of new beginnings in December, and Nehemiah was a great teacher on that subject.
[by Sandy McIntosh] Is your job bugging you? Are you unfulfilled and frustrated with your career? Do you want to turn it all around? Here’s a start; Don’t be a lazy dreamer. I have been guilty of lazy dreaming, and I know there is always a price to pay. Probably you are guilty with me. When I was younger I looked into education that would give me a vocation, a career for the long term. At a big university I visited a professor to talk about possibilities, and during the conversation he looked at me and said “Would you like to join our doctoral program?” I heard him and felt a stab of fear, so I quickly said no. Now, looking back, I should have ignored the fear and asked questions. A doctorate might have been a good thing. Sometimes I think about that road not taken and I wonder. I had a dream for something better, but it was feeble and lazy, and it couldn’t connect with real opportunities. The professor gave me a …
A few months ago, Isis, the Islamic State in Syria was a terrifying organization. In Syria, they murdered Christians and crucified their fellow Muslims. By some accounts, they killed their victims first and then put dead bodies on crosses, if that helps. Recently, Al Qaeda, the leader among Muslim extremists denounced Isis and refused to work with them. They were too bad to run with the bad boys, terrorists to the terrorists. More recently, Isis attacked Iraq and conquered a third of the country. Now they control a national territory in Syria and Iraq with vast oil wealth. Also they inherited American weapons when the Iraqis dropped everything and ran. Billions in American investments are now in the hands of their worst enemies. I believe it is only a matter of time before attacks are launched outside of the Middle East; and that puts you and me at risk.
In April of 2012, Steven Covey, a fit and an enthusiastic cyclist, was riding a bicycle on a rugged nature trail in Utah. He lost control of his bicycle and crashed, and weeks later died from complications of the accident. Steven Covey, born on October 24, 1932 was 79 when he died. At the time of his death he was a husband, the father of nine and the grandfather of 52. His financial worth was estimated at 1.5 billion. That’s billion, with a “b” and that is money that he earned in his lifetime. No doubt he was a highly effective person.
Ukrainians, almost 50 million of them, are angry. They are refusing to buy Russian goods and services, and they are one of Russia’s best customers. A popular smart phone app “Boycott the Occupiers” identifies Russian bar codes in supermarkets, before purchasing. Russian imports have declined 40 percent in a few days. The world knows the news that Russia recently sent its army into Crimea, a region in the neighboring country of Ukraine. Now Crimea belongs to Russia but the angry Ukrainians supply most water, electricity, natural gas, and road and rail access to Crimea. Since the occupation the Russian government has announced a special economic zone for Crimea, to attract investment. Vladimir Putin and his government want long-term success.
March 6, 1955 is a day in Canadian history that most of us never heard of. In the heart of the cold war, the mighty Soviet Union aimed at world domination in all things, including sports. They invented “amateur” status for hockey players who were paid as military personnel, often as senior officers. These players were trained, fed and groomed in every way to own amateur hockey, thus proving that the Communist system was superior in all things. The system was not fair, but it was clear the Russians owned the world championship. Canada had a simple system, whoever won the Allan Cup national championship, got a trip to Europe for the worlds in Krefeld Germany. Penticton beat Sudbury in a seven game series, one of the best ever, and so a bunch of mill hands from nowhere, the Penticton Vs, crossed the ocean in 1955.
Any important project requires an investment of you, and that is why so many great ideas die. What makes us stuck so that our projects die? We all get stuck and there is a small industry explaining our failures. There are books, including a Christian study guide called “Stuck” to explain the inertia problem that kills our projects. They identify negative things that we need to deal with so we can keep moving forward. But the problem is not a problem; it’s positive and good, not negative and bad. Can you find a problem in the list below? Are you a dietician? Mixed Berry Smoothie, Chocolate Danish, Double Berry Muffin, Walnut Crunch Doughnut, Timbit Dutchie, Gingerbread Man Cookies, Ice Cream all flavors, Egg Salad Sandwiches, Blueberry Fritters
Do you know much about the prosperity gospel? Prosperity teaching doesn’t allow for risks, or threats, or setbacks, and it influences most of us. Jim and Tammy Bakker were rumored to have an air conditioned dog house when they led a Christian ministry, but later Jim wrote a book “I was Wrong.” In Edmonton Alberta a real estate speculator was active for a few years named Kevyn Frederick, or Kevyn Sheldon Frederick, or Kevin Ronald Frederick, or possibly Portia Frederick. When he moved on, he left behind a ruined condo complex in Leduc (pictured), one of Edmonton’s premium hotels in receivership, and a large church without its land or building. Mr Frederick is rumored to be living in Las Vegas, or possibly Ethiopia. So how did this disaster happen to a large prosperous church?
So what are you working on in this new year; a church, a family, a career, a business? Success is simple, we are building a brick house and we only want good bricks. In the last few decades, developers have learned new ways to start new projects. One of the most successful project models is “Extreme Programming” that emphasises simplicity. Developers noticed that large super projects failed too often; years of hard work by large teams of experts could end in spectacular and expensive failure.
So what is your dream, something you want to see, or something you desperately need? Do you want something for yourself or your family, or other people; like a new career, an education, a business, or a mission for God? And you know that all dreams die right? All those great sentiments floating through our heads are just whiffs of electrical energy, and they are born to die. The good news is there are two ways to kill a dream. You can cycle that rosy thought for years and some day it will be a story to bore the grandchildren. I’ve got a few of those. The other way is to the kill the dream and make it into reality. Jesus said a grain of wheat remains alone unless it falls into the ground and dies (John 12:24), and I believe that principle applies to our hopes and dreams. My Grandfather, in Scotland was an expert on religion and theology. He read all the books and had all the answers, except someone told him to …
At the beginning of the New Year most of us have resolutions for a better life. According to experts with the Bank of Montreal, 80% of Canadians plan for the New Year with resolutions: 51% want better health and fitness 36% want better finances 31% want personal improvement 19% want a better love life 17% want career improvements That’s the picture on January 1, and apparently we keep about 60% of our financial resolutions, which works out to about 17% of the population. Otherwise, Canadians are mostly unsuccessful in their struggle to make life better.