4 Sentence Book Review & New Damien Rice Tunes

“One ought, every day, to hear a song, read a fine poem, and, if possible,
to speak a few reasonable words.” –Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

There were a few things I wanted to write for today, but I think I’ll save them until next week, when I have the chance to give them some more thought. Instead, I really wanted to share 2 things: My thoughts about Jonathan Franzen’s book Freedom, which I just finished yesterday, as well as share 2 brand new Damien Rice songs that I found yesterday. Clearly, yesterday was a big day for me.

The Book: Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom follows the Berglund family from inception to demise in what feels like a too-real episode of a reality tv show. The characters lie, cheat, steal, and try to sleep with (most are successful) almost every other character in the book — family excluded. No matter how badly I wanted there to be, there’s not a single character in this story that, when faced with a choice between right and wrong, chooses the right thing to do. Though that may be the point.

The Music: Those of you who know me, even if you just read this frequently, will know I’m somewhat of a music hoarder. If there was a show on TLC about hoarding music, I may be their cover boy. Anyways, I was realizing yesterday that I hadn’t heard a lot of new Damien Rice music lately. So I went to YouTube/iTunes/Filestube to see what I could find and found some pretty good stuff.

Turns out he just helped Melanie Laurent (the French actress from Inglorious Basterds) record her first cd and stepped into the studio on a couple tracks. So here they are, in all their splendor.
“Everything You’re Not Supposed to Be”


Bonus: Damien Rice busking with Glen Hansard singing “Blower’s Daughter” and going into Radiohead’s “Creep” in Dublin last Christmas Eve.



[photo taken from http://www.pitchfork.com]

Are You a Boss or a Leader? (There’s a Difference)

Last fall I started reading a lot of books on leadership. John Maxwell, the Heath brothers, Seth Godin, and a few others have graced my bookshelf. So the question has been raised in my mind about how a leader operates as opposed to simply someone who is in charge. There are a lot of people in this world who are in charge, but they’re not leaders.

So how do you differentiate between a boss and a leader? Here are 11 different trait comparisons to help you!

1. A boss creates fear in a staff. A leader builds confidence.

2. A boss says, “I.” A leader says, “We.”

3. A boss knows how a job should be done. A leader shows how a vocation should be forged.

4. A boss relies on authority. A leader relies on cooperation.

5. A boss drives. A leader leads.

6. A boss fixes blame. A leader solves problems and fixes mistakes.

7. A boss rules over the problem 10% of the community. A leader works alongside the cooperative 90%. (One I need to take to heart).

8. A boss eventually causes resentment to grow. A leader fosters growing enthusiasm.

9. A boss makes work drudgery. A leader makes work interesting.

10. A boss sees problems as disasters that will destroy the company. A leader sees problems as opportunities to be overcome and learn from.

11. A boss says, “Go!” A leader says, “Let’s go!”

[For what it’s worth, I found this list from this blog. Check it out if you’d like!]

What sticks out to you about this list? What experiences do you have with bosses or leaders? Feel free to share them in the comments section!


How to Make 2012 Your Year of Focus

That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex… But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains. – Steve Jobs

My New Years resolution is all about focus. I was reading a bit in the Gospel of John about Jesus being the vine and us as the branches. I think what’s so interesting about that way of talking about the relationship between the two is that it’s only in pruning the branches that they can grow. This works for you, individually. It can work for your ministry, business, website.

Focus is all about finding some of the branches in our life that we can prune back in order to focus on some of the more important and significant branches of our life. When we truly examine and take a look at what really matters, we can re-focus and enable us to grow far past where they are now.

Here are four steps to re-gaining your focus and have your best year yet! (Not in a Joel Osteen kind of way… gross)

1. Don’t multi-task. Is it really better to get a lot of things done poorly than a few things done well?  Multi-tasking doesn’t work. It only offers distraction. If you’re going to do something, do that until it’s done. Then move on. Multi-tasking is inefficient, stressful and pretty disrespectful if one of the tasks you’re doing is speaking to someone. Don’t do it.

2. Group e-mail check times to twice per day (3 times max). There is nothing that kills the momentum of a productive period of time than getting online and checking e-mail or Facebook. On my better days, I check e-mail once right when I get to the office to get back to anything urgent, once just after lunch and once more just before I leave the office. If you can group the times you check e-mail and other non-productive tasks, that opens up your day immensely to do #3.

3. Pick 2 or 3 primary tasks to do each day. This goes along with #1. At the start of the day, list everything that must be done in the next week. Then pick 2 or 3 things that you can do that day and focus on doing those. These are the things that have to get done at all costs. Your day is successful if you complete these few things.

4. Take periodic breaks and reward yourself. After you finish one of your tasks on the day, or when you get to a good break point, stand up and take a little break. Go for a walk. Re-fill the coffee. Whenever I’m out at our Gold Canyon campus working on a sermon I’ll head out to the fountain and look out at the foothills. Take a few deep breaths and just clear my head.

Get these things done each day and that will free up your afternoons and evenings not to worry about e-mail or the tasks that got left undone. But to take a walk. Go to a movie. Grill out. Take up a new hobby.

With these steps, you’ll get more done in a day or week than you ever have before. You’ll prune back the branches so that you can grow beyond your wildest imagination.

What are some things that help you focus? What are some of the things that make you procrastinate? Share them in the comments section so we can all get a wider picture at just how many things distract us from our focus.


4 (of many) Things Wrong with Rick Perry’s Abysmal Ad

Within the last week, Rick Perry has managed to stir up a lot of controversy with a new ad he has released declaring war on Obama’s war on religion. There are a number of things wrong with Perry’s ad, and I am here to point out a few of them. Just so we’re on the same page Here’s a full text of the ad, just to catch people up. (I’m posting the text of the ad because I refuse to post a video link of that garbage on this site.)

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a Christian, but you don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.

As president, I’ll end Obama’s war on religion. And I’ll fight against liberal attacks on our religious heritage.

Faith made America strong. It can make her strong again.

I’m Rick Perry and I approve this message.

Here we go.

1) We need to stop declaring wars on emotions and concepts. Obama doesn’t have a war on religion. He’s the Muslim with the controversial United Church of Christ pastor, remember? That’s like doubly religious. Wars have real enemies. The wars on religion, drugs, terror etc are insane because their target is amorphous. In my opinion, wars are the last thing Perry will ever look to end. Which brings us to…

2) There’s something wrong in this country when gays CAN’T serve openly in the military. The object of someone’s sexual desire does not hinder their ability to serve and protect this country. It’s like saying all left-handed can’t serve in the military (not a perfect metaphor, but close). In the end, when you’re in battle, it just does not matter who the other person goes home to at night.

3) Your kids can pray in schools all they want. This whole thing about how kids can’t pray in school is absurd. Of course they can. The law you are thinking of simply states that teachers are not allowed to lead the class in prayers. Which is fine, and do you know why? Because…

4) This whole thing is about respect. You know what doesn’t contribute to the overall respect for people? When a candidate who is supposed to be a leader, spouts a philosophy of “us vs. them” politics which fundamentally divides. As someone who is going to be a pastor, I whole-heartedly agree that faith can make us strong. But faith that is belligerent in the face of such blatant disrespect makes us all weaker.

So Mr. Perry, Governor Perry… do us all a favor and leave. Ride off into the night. Tuck your tail between your legs and get out of public discourse. Because what you’re saying is not good for anyone. Much less Christians.


Also… how funny is it that he’s wearing the same jacket as Heath Ledger in “Brokeback Mountain”? You can’t make it up.

You’ve Got To Be Kidding Me

20111112-124621.jpgThis past week, the whole Penn State situation has dominated the news. Questions of why no one who had information of sexual abuse came forward in the over 13 years since this happened have been constantly asked this week. On the other side of the news, we have the fight for the GOP nomination heating up between Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Rick Perry, and the rest of the crew. In light of the shock felt throughout Pennsylvania, Herman Cain’s camp made a particularly shocking comment this past week.

There have been a number of women who have accused him of sexual harrassment at some point in the past. I will leave alone his disparaging comment toward Nancy Pelosi in the most recent debate, but instead want to focus on his lawyer’s most recent comments. In a recent interview, Cain’s attorney, Lin Wood, said that any new woman who are thinking of coming forward with any allegations against Cain should “think twice” before they do.

So here we are. At the crossroads of communities crying out for support for victims of sexual harrassment and abuse, and wondering in shock and awe of how no one could have thought to report the insanely vicious and criminal acts of Penn State. Simultaneously, we are being threatened by a presidential candidate NOT to report harrassment and abuse under the insinuation of retaliation by the campaign.

What the hell kind of leadership is this? Instead of someone, anyone, stepping up to lead us in this mess… we can only stand by while potential victims are threatened into silence. Call me old fashion, but that just cannot stand.

We need a leader. Someone to help us make sense of what happened. In the midst of a presidential campaign, that would be a wonderful time. And the ball is dropped. Again.

I’m not sure exactly how to move forward in this, but we have to do something. On Monday, I’ll have a post about our crisis of leadership looking deeper into what we can do about it.


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