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July 2006
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September 2006

Zimbabwe

I have been in Harare since Monday night and it's great to be back.  I brought a traveling companion along who is a pastor from Pittsburgh.  This is his first trip to Africa and he's speechless.  He has seen so much and it's all good.  I know that he will go home and impact his church from what he has seen and experienced here.  He is already talking about a return visit.

I love Zimbabwe and have been coming here since 1995.  The people are fabulous and the land is beautiful.  Today I spoke to a lunchtime gathering of believers at the African Banking Corporation.  It was only a 45-minute session, but I know I connected with the people there as I talked about, what else, The Purpose Craze.  I tried to tie my remarks to their industry and to their personal development.  I got an email tonight inviting me back before I depart at the end of September. 

I wish I could get that kind of response in the States, but if I did, I probably wouldn't be coming here as often as I do.  God knows how to open and close doors and there is an open door for the purpose message and me here.  When I come, however, I want to bring others with me so they can see firsthand just how delightful it is here.  Otherwise, they just won't believe me when I try to tell them. 

Have you thought about coming to Africa?  Then what are you waiting for?  Planes leave every day with empty seats.  Make up your mind to come and then take steps to make it happen.  If I can help you come, write me and I'll see what I can do.  In the meantime, I have to go.  I need to get some rest for tomorrow is going to be another busy but great day in Zimbabwe!

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Luggage Faith 2

I am in the Johannesburg airport heading up to Zimbabwe.  We presented our luggage to the ticket agents and they put all our bags through at no charge.  God is good!  We were able to get all of our excess weight in at no charge, thanks to some gracious ticket agents in PIttsburgh and here. 

I had a busy five days here in Johannesburg.  First I spoke at the Women You Can! Businesswomens's Conference.  My two titles were "Leadership:  Who Is Following You and Why?" and "The Purpose Craze: Why Purpose is Good Business."  I am attaching my powerpoint and notes if you would be interested. 

I had 15 women sign up for one-on-one purpose sessions after the conference, so that certainly kept me busy.  I also sponsored a Seven Steps of a PurposeQuest seminar and spoke at Celebration Church Johannesburg on Sunday.  My message title was "Right Hand, Left Hand" and was a talk about Joseph and the price he paid in Egypt to bring about social change. 

Today I made some business contacts that will enable me to continue working here in Johannesburg.  Now I am on my way to Zimbabwe.  I will not be staying in my usual guest house, so I am not sure how much Internet access I will have.  So if you don't hear from me, don't panic.  I'll be back.

Download who_is_following_joburg.ppt

Download the_purpose_craze_joburg.ppt

Download who_if_following_jburg_a.doc

Download the_purpose_craze_joburga.doc


Seat Faith

I am in Johannesburg, continuing my reflections on and experience with faith for travel.  I wrote the other day about my luggage and how it came through with no excess weight charges.  Now let me tell you about my seat assignments on the way over.

For the Detroit to Amsterdam leg of the trip, I had an exit row aisle seat, which provides room to stretch out my legs for the long flight.  After I got on and settled, the man with the seat next to me arrived and he was so large that he needed his own seat and half of mine.  As soon as he sat down, I began to sweat where we were touching.  I ran up to the flight purser and shared my dilemma with her.  She came back to check it out, and promptly moved me up to business class with better food and a seat that reclined into a bed.  Thank You, Lord.

Then I got another exit row aisle seat for the flight to Johannesburg.  The plane wasn't full at all, so everyone had a row to themselves in my section.  I made friends with the flight attendant and we chatted before the plane took off.  Shortly after we took off, two men came up and insisted, rather rudely, that they were going to sit in the two seats next to me.  I said that this was foolish, since the section was empty. I also reminded them that I was there first.   They told me to "bug off" and sat down, so I moved back to an empty row, giving up my choice seat (graciously I might add).

When the flight attendant saw me sitting where I was, she asked me what happened and I told her. She went up to talk to the men who gave her a hard time, too.  So what did she do?  She promptly moved me up to business class for the 10.5 hour flight.  Thank You, Lord! 

It is just a matter of time before I can afford to purchase a business class seat.  In the meantime, I trust the Lord for them and secure space about 90% of the time.  So now I'm looking forward to my trip home, not just to see those I love, but also to see how God will work out my seating arrangements.  I guess it's what I will call seat faith. 


Luggage Faith

I am in Johannesburg speaking at the Women You Can Do It! Businesswomen Leaders Conference.  I am sitting in a session fighting jetlag, so I thought I would write this update to help me stay awake.  I had a great trip over here and had several faith reminders along the way.  Let me explain what I mean.

Years ago I met a man named Julio and we became close friends.  Julio lived in Colombia, South America and had great faith.  He would go to an airport, believing God wanted him to go somewhere.  The problem was that Julio had no ticket or money!  Yet he always got to where he wanted to go.  He infected me with that faith.  One particular experience really taught me a valuable faith lesson.

On one occasion, Julio asked me if I would bring down some supplies when I came to see him.  I agreed, and he told me I could pick up the boxes when I got to Miami.  In Miami, I found out the supplies were in 17 boxes!  I called Julio and said that there was no way I could do this.  I reminded him that the airline policy only allowed two pieces of luggage per person.

Julio told me to take all the boxes to the airport and tell them the supplies were the work of the Lord.  If the person said it could not be done, then I was to ask for the next person in rank above him.  I didn't sleep the night before, convinced that I was going to be stuck at the airport with 17 boxes plus my luggage.

When I got to the airport, I unloaded all the boxes and proceeded to go through six airline employees who said it couldn't be done.  Finally, the "big boss" came out, looked at the boxes, heard my story and said, "Okay, we'll take them all, free of charge."  I was astounded.

So the other day, I was packing to come to Africa and knew I had too much weight.  I had clothes for orphans, books for leaders and files for my work, along with all my personal belongings.  Then I remembered that trip through Miami with those 17 boxes.  I decided to trust the Lord and pack everything, thinking that it wasn't the end of the world if I had to pay excess weight fees. 

I got to the airport with my traveling companion and four bags weighing 275 pounds.  Airline regulations allowed 200 pounds.  Both agents who helped us allowed our bags to go through and didn't charge us any money.   Now I am working on how I can get all that luggage into Zimbabwe at no cost.  If God did it once, He can do it again.

Do you have any past faith lessons that you need to recall today?   Are you not trying to do something, convinced that it won't work?   I want to live in my luggage faith not just when I travel, but every day.  That will enable me to do things I didn't think possible, which is to be practical application of faith in our lives. 


A Vacation Work Ethic

Did you ever notice how much you can get done on the day before you start your holiday or vacation?  You are focused, perhaps you have made a list and you have unlimited energy.  Why is that?   It's because you know that if you don't get things done, you won't be able to go on or enjoy your time off.  So you use every available moment and you prioritize what you need to do.  You may stay up all night, or work the weekend before you go, but you will get done what needs to get done.

Since I travel so often, I find this dynamic regularly present in my life and work.  For instance, tomorrow I leave for five weeks on the road.  I have gotten more done in the last few days than I did in the last week or so.  I know there are things I must do before I leave, things that I can't do while I am out of the country. So I have used my time well and I am leaving with a sense that I did all that I could do.   To be truthful, I have been productive since I got home on June 25 from my last trip to Africa.  Why?  Because I had a plan for the entire two months, and I stuck with that plan. 

There is no substitute for discipline where productivity is concerned.  No one can make you produce or be efficient.  You must do that for yourself.  You are productive before you go on holiday because you want to be.  You also want the holiday, so you are willing to do whatever it takes to leave.  Why not apply that same principle to starting your business, writing a book or learning a language?   Set your sights on what you want to do and then pay the price to get it done.  It's that simple; the hardest part may be deciding what you want to get done.

So I am off to Africa with two full suitcases and another list of things I need and want to do over there.  I return home on September 28, and want to have my next book manuscript finished by then.  What do you want to get done by September 28?  I urge you to determine what it is and then get about doing it.  You may surprise yourself at the amount of work you can get done if you simply act like you are going on vacation next week.


Proverbs

I had a seminary professor who said once, "Study the whole Bible, but choose one book that is 'your book.'  When you choose that book, study it, take it apart regularly, put it back together and then take it apart again.  It doesn't matter if it's Old or New Testament, just choose a book that you will focus on."  For me, that book is Proverbs.

My book, A Daily Dose of Proverbs, was the result of doing what my professor suggested. Since there are 31 days in most months and 31 chapters in Proverbs, it is possible to read a chapter a day -- the fifth chapter on day five, the seventh on day seven and so forth -- and read all of Proverbs every month.   In my book, I chose one verse for every day of the year from the chapter for the day and wrote a one-page devotional.  It is my best-selling book and I regularly get great feedback from readers, some of whom have read it daily for several years.

What book of the Bible is "your book?"  Which one do you read, study and then begin to read all over again?  If you don't have one, this would be a good time to choose.  If you do, are you still reading and studying it?  Chances are you won't ever be a Bible scholar, but you could be a scholar where that one book is concerned.  Why not try focusing on the one and see if it doesn't make you better equipped to understand the whole--where the Bible is concerned that is. 

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Must Read

I know I told you about a must read book just a few days ago, but I have another one to add to your list.  Yesterday I finished Left to Tell:  Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza.  Immaculee Ilibagiza survived the Hutu genocide against her fellow Tutsi tribe members in 1994 by hiding in a bathroom for 91 days with 7 other women. 

She emerged from that bathroom, having had an encounter with Jesus that enabled her to survive her captivity and eventually forgive her tormentors  She also emerged to find out what Jesus had already told her:  Her mother, father and two brothers were killed by the Hutu death squads, along with one million other Rwandan Tutsi men, women and children. Today Immaculee is telling her story from here in the United States where she lives with her husband and two children. 

I finished this book in three days; I just couldn't put it down.  Where was I when all this was happening in 1994?  I had read about it, but had no idea the scope of the horrific events that were taking place.  This book only confirmed my personal commitment to make a difference in the world.  As you know, I travel and work extensively in Africa and after reading this book I am more committed to work there than ever.  I cannot go back and undo anything that was done in Africa or anyplace else, but I can work today to enrich the lives of the people among whom I work today.

I urge you to get this book now and read it, whether you work in a foreign land or in your own home town or village.  I promise that this book will change your life and make you a better citizen of the world and person of purpose. 

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Henri Nouwen

If you haven't ever read a book by Henri Nouwen, I consider you spiritually malnourished!  Nouwen's books always give me a spiritual jolt and cause me to reflect, think and pray.  Whenever a book can produce those results in anyone's life, I consider that book to be a "must read."  I would say that almost any of Nouwen's books are a "must read" but especially The Wounded Healer and Return of the Prodigal Son.

Nouwen passed away in 1996, but his books live on.  What's more, two of his students have now written a book that includes Nouwen's lessons to them while Nouwen served as their spiritual adviser.  This book's title is Spiritual Direction:  Wisdom for the Long Walk of Faith.  Every one of the chapters in this book is a question and include titles like:  Who Will Answer My Questions?, Who Am I?, Who is God to Me?, How Do I Hear the Word? and How Can I Be of Service? 

I could include 100 quotes from the book in this post, but I want to give you one from the chapter on community and forgiveness, Where Do I Belong?  In that chapter, Nouwen (or his students) wrote:

Any relationship you enter into--in communion, frienship, marriage, community, or church--will always be riddled with frustration and disappointment.  So forgiveness becomes the word for divine love in the human context. . . .

As people who have hearts that long for perfect love, we have to forgive one another for not being able to give or receive that perfect love in our everyday lives.  Our many needs constantly interfere with our desire to be there for the other unconditionally.  Our love is always limited by spoken or unspoken conditions.  What needs to be forgiven?  We need to forgive one another for not being God!

Spiritual Direction is filled with nuggets and insights like the one I quoted, making it a book I highly recommend.  Just click on the title above to order your copy today.  If you're like me, you'll find it an easy read, but one that you will want to re-read again and again. 

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I Sort of Met Another Man On a Plane

About eight years ago, I bought a book by Pat Lencioni entitled The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.  I grabbed the book as I was getting on a plane in Atlanta on my way to Zimbabwe.  I finished the book in Zimbabwe and gave it to my friend, Sue Mbaya, to read.

A few months later Sue was in the States and was reading that book on a plane from New York to Detroit.  Guess who was sitting next to her?  None other than Pat Lencioni!  What a coincidence!  What providence!  They got to talking and Pat wanted to know how she got his book in Zimbabwe.  Sue told him about me.  He gave her his contact information, which she passed on to me.  The rest is history. Pat and I connected and now we are friends. 

I have told this story many times, because it is a great example of how you connect with people when you pursue your purpose.  Good things happen to you, and you have to work to make them happen.  You just to be in the flow, in the groove that is taking you where you need to be when you need to be there.  It's the greatest feeling in the world when things like meeting Pat happen to me.  And I now have another model of a man I'd want to be like when I grow up.

By the way, Pat is a great speaker and author of other books in addition to the one I mentioned above.  Check out the website for Pat's consulting company called The Table Group and be sure to hear Pat out if he's ever speaking at a venue close to you.  You'll be glad you did.

Feel free to add your comments to this entry on the site where it is posted.

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I Met A Man on a Plane

I am in Detroit, having flown all night from Seattle.  My final stop today is Washington DC where our family is gathering to celebrate my mother-in-law's 80th birthday.  Happy birthday, mother!  As I have written before, I can sleep on a plane.  I was asleep shortly after we boarded last night and I woke up on our final approach to Detroit. 

I have had many plane rides, but I remembered one in particular as I just browsed an airport bookstore that was open early (it's 5 am here).  I saw a new book by Tom Morris entitled If Harry Potter Ran General Motors.  I had the privilege of meeting Tom once on a plane ride about 10 years ago.  I had been upgraded to first class and started talking to the man next to me.  I asked him what he did and he told me he gave speeches based on a book he had written. 

He gave me his card and it gave me his name, Tom Morris, and the name of his book:  If Aristotle Ran General Motors.  I thought it was a joke, but it wasn't.  He had written a business book about his passion, philosophy.  As I listened to him talk, I thought to myself, "That's what I want to do.  I want to write, travel and speak."  At the time I was on a church staff, but today, I do what Tom Morris was doing when I met him, namely, doing what I love.

Yesterday, I wrote asking you what your elegant dream was.  Ten years ago, my elegant dream was to be like Tom Morris.  Just today, I spent some more time in my journal outlining my latest elegant dream and what it would take to accomplish it.  It is elegant, believe me, which means in part that it will cost a lot of money.  But it's a dream and if I knew how I would accomplish it, it wouldn't be a dream.  When I met Morris, I had no idea how I would do what he was doing.  Today I am doing it.  So in another ten years, I should have my latest elegant dream down pat.

Don't shortcircuit the dream process in your life.  What do you want to do?  Then start by seeing yourself doing it.  Then start looking for the answers that are already all around you.  The solutions don't come until you start the dreaming process.  Don't wake up from your elegant dream but rather allow it to take firm hold in your heart and mind.  After that, it is just a matter of time before your elegant dream becomes an elegant reality. 

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