Set Apart Sunday, Jan 25 2009 

Tonight we continued the series Set Apart at Fuel, our high school youth group. Josh Sturgeon joined us to share about being set apart and the impact that our lives can have on the people we live around. Josh shared the example about how as Christian in a public high school (Algonquin Regional High School in Northborough, MA) he and his friends decided to join battle of the bands. They created a band, went up against bands that had been together for years and they won by playing songs that praised Jesus. They were set apart, but not separate. Among the world, they lived to glorify Jesus.

I  shared the story of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, young men who were among the elite of their time. They were set apart by the king, Nebuchadnezzar, but they chose to be set apart for the true King, Jesus. We see in their lives an example of how we live in this world, yet we are not of this world.

We are praying that as a group we can offer up our lives to true King, Jesus, sharing our faith with friends and family. 2009 is a year where we expect to see Jesus move, bringing people to come and know him for the first time as well as in a fresh way. Amen.

The Gospel & Personal Evangelism – Mark Dever Saturday, Jan 24 2009 

One of the most influential books I read as a student in Bible college was Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer. As a big fan of Mark Dever I read his book with Packer’s in mind. Not fair! I know, however The Gospel & Personal Evangelism was a very good. It was a straight forward book that spoke clearly on the issue of evangelism and the need for Christians to live a life that is actively sharing the Gospel of Jesus with others. He explored the following questions chapter by chapter:

1. Why don’t we evangelize?

2. What is the Gospel?

3. Who should evangelize?

4. How should we evangelize?

5. What isn’t evangelism?

6. What should we do after we evangelize?

7. Why should we evangelize?

As our church enters 2009 it is a renewed focus to live outward lives that touch the community around us. One of the leaders was sharing with our church this Christmas season and he posed the question, “If our church was gone today, who would notice? Who would care?” 

This convicting question hit home with me and my own life. Who in my life would care if I was gone? Do I make an important impact at home, in church, or at work? I think it struck home for the church as a whole also. 

We bought www.chapelcares.com (not up yet…it just links to the homepage) and as a body we are going to make a concerted effort to impact the local community, sharing the love of Jesus with all of those who we come in contact with.

My Grandfather’s Son – Clarence Thomas Saturday, Jan 24 2009 

This was a wonderful book written by an incredibly accomplished man. Supreme Court Justice Thomas was born in a poor community in Georgia. He was raised by uneducated grandparents in a bad part of Savanna. Through hard work and determination Mr. Thomas fought against the tide of racism. He graduated from Holy Cross before going to Yale to earn his law degree. He worked under President Reagan and was appoint to be a Judge on the Supreme Court of the United States of America by President H.W. Bush. My Grandfather’s Son is his autobiography. This is a wonderful, well written and encouraging story that I strongly encourage all to read.

Rocking Wall Street – Gary Marks Saturday, Jan 24 2009 

As someone who works in the world of finance, I thoroughly enjoy reading about investing. Rocking Wall Street is one of those books. Recommended by John Mauldin in his weekly newsletter Thoughts from the Frontlines, a free newsletter I highly recommend for anyone interested in finance or world economics, this book is written by a former musician who found that as he became wealthy he needed to find the best ways to invest. 

What stood out to me in this book was the focus on an END GAME. Marks makes that case that nearly everyone invests endlessly trying to create more and more and more wealth. The reality is that people should invest with a goal, a number that will allow them to pursue the life that they want to live. Once they hit that number risk should be minimized in every possible way. The summary is that if a family needs $100,000 to live on they should aim for their goal of $2,500,000 and invest it in treasury bills at 4% per year. The family earns the income they need without the stress that it may all soon be lost, ie. the many people who lost everything investing with Bernie Madoff. The stress is not worth it. Have an end game in mind, a way out, and stick to the plan. 

Overall, the first two chapter of this book were thought provoking in a great way. The rest of the book was fine.

Leading Change – John Kotter Saturday, Jan 24 2009 

In an effort to catch up on the past week weeks I am going to post a summary of the books I have read so far this year, the most recent being Leading Change. This book has nothing to do with the new President or election, but is part of my reading assignments for Leading Organizational Change, a business class I am taking through Liberty University.

This was a good book. It was a dry read that told many seemingly simply ideas about changing an organization. Amidst much of the content were some great takeaways mainly focused on continually repeating the vision in a very simply manner to a vast number of people. Often times people will tell their vision at annual meetings and in bi-annual letters or reports. These often go unnoticed, however if the vision for change is intertwined into the everyday conversations of five or ten leaders of an organization the vision will reach far more people in a much more effective manner. 

Here is the outline Kotter put forth as best for optimal change:

1. Establish a sense of urgency

2. Creating the guiding coalition

3. Developing a vision and strategy

4. Communicating the change vision

5. Empowering employees for broad based action

6. Generating short term wins

7. Consolidating gains and producing more change

8. Anchoring new approaches in the culture

52 books in 52 weeks Saturday, Jan 24 2009 

I know we are a few weeks into the year, but I did want to share my reading plan for this year. I want to ready 52 books this year, one every week. I made this decision after reading the editorial in the Wall Street Journal that said talked about President Bush and his love of books. In 2006 he read 95 books, in 2007 he read 51, and in 2008 he read more than 40 books. If the President of the United States can average more than a book a week than so can I. 

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123025595706634689.html