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January 2009
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Another Class Done

Today is my final day of lectures for my fifth of eight classes required for my Doctor of Ministry program. The eight-hour lecture day can be grueling. I read once that miners may have to mine a ton of ore to obtain an ounce of gold.  Yet that ounce of gold is worth a lot. That is how our class work can be. At times, we dig and drill long and hard and then we hit the vein of gold and it's wonderful.  You just have to stay awake and alert during the process.

I got much of my work back from some previous classes and I am pleased with the results. What's more, I am pleased that I am learning so much that will be relevant for my work at hand. But right now, I have one more day to finish one more class, and then have two more back-to-back classes in June.  Help me, Lord.


I have been so busy with my trip to Kenya and my schoolwork that I have not had a chance to report on any of my recent readings.  Already this year I have read two outstanding books (and have read or listened to a total of 8 books since January 1). 

The first book I would highly recommend is Seth Godin's latest, Tribes: We Need You To Lead Us.  It was Seth's influence eight years ago that led me to start The Monday Memo and then to launch a blog in 2005. Seth has brilliant things to say of how to design a website and other Internet programs to build and maximize relationships with friends and customers.  In Tribes, Godin "argues that lasting and substantive change can be best effected by a tribe: a group of people connected to each other, to a leader and to an idea. Smart innovators find or assemble a movement of similarly-minded individuals and get the tribe excited by a new product, service or message, often via the Internet (consider, for example, the popularity of the Obama campaign, Facebook or Twitter)" (Publishers Weekly).

Then I followed up Godin's book with Malcolm Gladwell's latest, Outliers: The Story of Success. In this book, Gladwell seeks to de-mystify why some people succeed.  For him, it is simply because they had access to unlimited gobs of preparation time, augmented by being in the right place at the right time. For example, Gladwell points out that Bill Gates, Microsoft founder, was probably the only person in the United States as a thirteen-year-old who had unlimited access to a computer.  When Gates quit Harvard at 19 to start Microsoft, he didn't just have a good idea, he had a massive amount of programming experience that allowed him to develop his business idea.

I listened to both of these books, but then went out and bought Gladwell's book so I can access some of Gladwell's quotes and research. If you are looking for something good to read, either one of these books would be worth your while.

School Days Again

I am sitting in my Counseling the Flock class in seminary. I was driving in this morning and thanking God that I have the chance to step back for the week to study, discuss and learn. I am always amazed at how God gets us ready for our futures.  I started this D. Min. program two years ago and I am so glad I did! It has forced me to focus on things I would not ordinarily be thinking about.  I know this will help me in my church work for years to come.

Yesterday, I turned in about 45 pages of papers that I had to write to prepare for the class itself.  Now we have 45 hours of lecture this week and then have another set of assignments due by May 1 for this class.  At the same time, this week we will get our work for the next two classes, which will be held back-to-back weeks in June.

When I was flying home on Sunday, I was still reading and writing, confident I could get it all done, and I did. I am still learning to relax and not stress over what needs to be done in the time available.  If Joshua could have faith to stop the sun to get things done in Joshua 10, I am trying to learn to do the same.

Back At It

I got home from Nairobi last night and I had a great trip. Come to think of it, I've never had a bad trip to any part of Africa. Some have been harder than others and some were more productive than others, but it's always good to be there. Plus I had seven others with me this time and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing them connect with the people and the land. They were a great team to travel with and I hope you had a chance to check out my travel blog that I wrote (in the third person, so even my wife didn't know it was me actually doing the writing!). If you want to go there, you will find my entries under the search name CUBM.

I wrote papers and read books all the way home on the planes and just turned in my nine papers (45 pages)  to my professor.  I am sitting in a biblical counseling class all week, Monday through Saturday from 8:00 to 4:30.  Then I resume my duties at Allegheny Center Alliance Church next week. I am learning a lot from my reading, writing and classwork and I thank God I started this program two years ago.  I have two more years until I finish, but I am looking forward to applying what I learn in my work, teaching and writing.

So I am back and will try to write more regularly. I did not post a Monday Memo last night and am behind on my John Bible studies since I had so much school writing to do. I am relaxed about it all, however, and under no pressure. I will get back to things when I have the time. In the meantime, I have to get back to class.  I feel smarter already.

Good Days in Kenya

We arrived in Kenya on Thursday evening and all are doing well.  I have had the team ease into Kenya life and ministry, so they've done some sightseeing and connected with a few of the locals. Today is church and then tomorrow then begin going out to do some work and ministry with the SARAH Network, specifically the WAPIS and Upako Projects.  We are recording our visit at this blog site; once you register, you can find us under the search name CUBM.

Monies continue to arrive for The Sophia Fund, and please don't stop sending them!  I have turned over $2,000 to Maggie Oketch, director of the SARAH Network, for exclusive use in feeding programs.  I have some pictures on my profile at Facebook and also on the travel blog mentioned above. 

I am heading to Nairobi Pentecostal Church for service this morning and then I will use the rest of the day to get ready for two messages I have to deliver tomorrow at a clergy retreat for the SARAH Network. They are attempting to recruit more clergy in the fight against substance abuse and AIDS.  I will keep you posted. 

How Big Is Wal-Mart?

I seldom forward stuff like this, but I found the size and scope of Wal-Mart fascinating, perhaps since I recently visited their corporate headquarters.  Here is some perspective:

1. At Wal-Mart, Americans spend $36,000,000 every hour of every day.
2. This works out to $20,928 profit every minute!
3. Wal-Mart will sell more from January 1 to St. Patrick's Day (March 17th) than Target sells all year.
4. Wal-Mart is bigger than Home Depot, Kroger, Target, Sears, Costco and K-Mart combined.
5. Wal-Mart employs 1.6 million people and is the largest private employer.
6. Wal-Mart is the largest company in the history of the world.
7. Wal-Mart now sells more food than Kroger & Safeway combined - they did this in only 15 years.
8. During this same period, 31 supermarket chains sought bankruptcy (including Winn-Dixie).
9. Wal-Mart now sells more food than any other store in the world.
10. Wal-Mart has approx. 3,900 stores in the USA of which 1,906 are SuperCenters; this is 1,000 more than it had 5 years ago.
11. This year, 7.2 billion different purchasing experiences will occur at a Wal-Mart store.  (Earth's population is approximately 6.5 billion.)
12. 90% of all Americans live within 15 miles of a Wal-Mart
13. Let Wal-Mart bail out Wall Street!

I'm all right with Wal-Mart bailing out the government.  How about you?

A Trillion

Here is a copy of an email I got from my friend Dan yesterday:

How much is one trillion seconds?    317 centuries.

There are 86,400 seconds in. . . . . One day.
1 million seconds in. . . . . . . . . 11.5 days.
1 billion seconds in. . . . . . . . . 31.5 years.
1 trillion seconds in. . . . . . . . .31,500 years.

The next time you read in the papers something about a trillion dollars, consider that that number represents a-dollar-a-second for 31,500 years, which is from the age of mastodons and wooly mammoths all the way down to the present.

If you had gone into business on the day Jesus was born, and your business lost a million dollars a day, day in and day out, 365 days a year, it would take you until October 2737 to lose a trillion dollars.

The U.S. Congress has done seven times this damage to their constituents in a little over eighteen years.

This is pretty mind-blowing stuff.

Found Another One

I found another one of my audio messages on our church website, this one called One More Time.  It's my look at faith and the life of Samson as it relates to purpose.  If for some strange reason you can't get enough of me, you can listen to it here (see August 10, 2008).  If you have had enough, then ignore this and wait for another post later in the week from Kenya.

Fund Update

To date, I have received a little more than $2,000 for The Sophia Fund, $500 of which I already sent into Zimbabwe via my friend Bruce.  The rest of the money I am taking with me to Kenya to present to my friends and coworkers there.  There is still time to give in order for me to give it to the people in Kenya when I go, and I will continue to receive contributions throughout the year and will get it to those who need it.

You can use the "Chipin" widget on this site to contribute, go directly to my website to contribute there through PayPal, or send a tax-deductible check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 91099, Pittsburgh, PA  15221.  Make sure you let me know it is for The Sophia Fund. Don't delay; give today and make a difference in the world.

The last posted entry explaining The Sophia Fund is here.

Stirred Up

Yesterday I preached a message at my home church entitled Stirred Up.  In it, I take a look at the man who was ill for 38 years whom Jesus found by the Pool of Bethesda in John 5:1-10.  I applied the lessons from that story to your search for and fulfillment of purpose and it seemed to go well.  I got good feedback, but of course you only hear from those who enjoyed it.  Those who didn't usually sneak out the back or side door!

At any rate, I am attaching my message slides for you to read.  Also, the message is available on my church's website via podcast if you would like to hear it. 

Download Stirred Up ACAC