New Book Excerpt Part 4

I have posted three of four excepts from my upcoming book release, Changing the Way We Do Church: Seven Steps to Purposeful Reformation. Here are the first three parts if you missed them. I will include the last paragraph from the third excerpt and then pick it up from there in this final part.

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THE DYNAMICS OF CHANGE IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
Dr. John Stanko
 An excerpt from John’s new book, Changing the Way We Do Church: Seven Steps to Purposeful Reformation

    This story [from Acts 6:1-7] epitomizes what I refer to as Holy Spirit chaos, for the ministry idea bubbled up from the bottom, or from among the membership. It did not come from the top.  When you make room for the Holy Spirit working in the people, the Spirit does not have to follow any predetermined rules, strategic plan or vision.  Leaders who want to control the process can do that easily, but they are then restricted to what they alone can see instead of accessing all that could be.

    I promised a second passage, which is found in Acts 13:1-3:

In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

    Barnabas had played a key role in the revival that was taking place at Antioch and had brought Saul in as his assistant.  At some point, the leaders took time to minister to the Lord in prayer and fasting, and the Holy Spirit spoke that it was time to send Barnabas and Saul out as missionaries.  The Spirit did not ask permission; He did not seem to care what Barnabas and Saul were doing in the Church at that point or what their absence would mean to the team left behind.  The Spirit spoke and the people were expected to respond.  I am not sure this mission was part of the church’s vision, but that didn’t matter once the Spirit had “spoken.”

    In the first example from Acts 6, we saw how a problem created a need for a whole new level of leadership. In this second example, we see how the Spirit moved people around according to His own plan and purpose.  You can see how “chaotic” this kind of ministry can seem to those who want to plan their work and work their plan. Yet purpose creates just this kind of disorder, if I can refer to it as such, for which God does not apologize. 

    Please note that this kind of disorder is not the same as confusion. There was clarity of direction in both instances, but the direction was a shift from the way the church had been conducting business.  From a human perspective it could appear to be chaotic, but from God’s perspective it made perfect sense.  This is why leaders and followers learn to live with and respond to what I refer to as Holy Spirit chaos. 

    Responding to this kind of chaos requires constant change and adjustment.  As I have said to many audiences, the church should eat change for breakfast, for we are the Spirit-led people.  Yet I have found that the Church is not particularly adept at managing change, and it starts at the top.

    Years ago, I heard Peter Drucker, father of modern management studies, say, “The only way to manage change is to initiate it!”  We should not have change imposed on us but rather have the courage and faith to seek and initiate it.

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

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Changing the Way We Do Church: Seven Steps to Reformation is due to be released July, 2009 by Evergreen Press. To order your copy, please send an email to johnstanko@gmail.com.


New Book Excerpt Part 3

I have posted two of f four excepts from my upcoming book release, Changing the Way We Do Church: Seven Steps to Purposeful Reformation. Here are the first two parts if you missed them.  I will include the last paragraph from the second excerpt and then pick it up from there in this third part.

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THE DYNAMICS OF CHANGE IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
Dr. John Stanko
An excerpt from John’s new book,
Changing the Way We Do Church: Seven Steps to Purposeful Reformation

    There is much more I could say about this passage (Acts 6:1-7), which has become the cornerstone for each purpose message I deliver publicly. The one additional point I would like to emphasize is found in verse seven.  The word of God continued to spread and the church grew because these men know how to stay focused and flow with the unexpected that tends to arise in the life of every church.

    The early church leaders did not have a vision for what kind of church they wanted to have. Instead they flowed with the vision that Jesus had for the church. That meant that they had to be flexible with what took place, but rigid where doctrine was concerned.  Today we sometimes take the opposite approach: rigid with our vision and flexible with our doctrine!

    This is important because rigidity where vision is concerned will cause leaders to dismiss those in their midst who cannot contribute toward the accomplishment of that vision.  When someone comes with an idea or with a desire to help the church, leaders very often try to fit them into some predetermined jobs.  I have often said that you can do anything you want in the church, as long as it is ushering, choir or nursery.  If you can’t help there, then many churches don’t know what to do with you (unless perhaps you are a missionary).

    This story epitomizes what I refer to as Holy Spirit chaos, for the ministry idea bubbled up from the bottom, or from among the membership. It did not come from the top.  When you make room for the Holy Spirit working in the people, the Spirit does not have to follow any predetermined rules, strategic plan or vision.  Leaders who want to control the process can do that easily, but they are then restricted to what they alone can see instead of accessing all that could be.

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

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Changing the Way We Do Church: Seven Steps to Reformation is due to be released July, 2009 by Evergreen Press. To order your copy, please send an email to johnstanko@gmail.com.


New Book Excerpt Part 2

I started out last week with the first of four excepts from my upcoming book release, Changing the Way We Do Church: Seven Steps to Purposeful Reformation. Here is the first part if you missed it.  I will include the last paragraph from the last excerpt and then pick it up from there in this second part.

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THE DYNAMICS OF CHANGE IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
Dr. John Stanko

An excerpt from John’s new book,
Changing the Way We Do Church: Seven Steps to Purposeful Reformation

    Do you get the idea?  When God “moves,” angels, governments, shepherds, families, wise men, ordinary men, women and children move, too.  Why is this important to mention at this time?  It is because we must learn to be productive in our purpose as we function in what I call Holy Spirit chaos when God “moves.”

    It is also because church growth and development require change.  They involve leaders changing the way they do business, so to speak, and followers changing the way they follow.  Growth and development require that some people move out and go, and some to come home.  They require that every one of God’s people accept his or her personal responsibility not just to be spectators to what some do but to be active participants in the plan of God.  Growth and development necessitate that we challenge everything we have accepted as normal to see if it can take us all to the next level of activity, relevance and involvement.  If anything cannot, then it must be discarded or adjusted (I am not talking about the basic tenets of the faith, of course!)

    Are you sure you want to read on?  Going forward not only has the potential to change the way we do church, but also the way we relate to the Lord.  It will change our paradigm that church is not something we do, contrary to this book title, but something we are and something we express for a purpose, that purpose being to extend God’s kingdom and government on the earth.

   To begin with, let’s look at two passages to see examples of what I mean by Holy Spirit chaos.  First, let’s go to Acts 6:1-7:

In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word." This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

   Allow me to point out a few things that are pertinent to our discussion here.

  1. Each apostle knew his own purpose, which prevented him from being sucked into the crisis of the day, which in this case was the growing number of non-Hebraic widows who were being overlooked in the benevolent distributions.
  2. The leaders had their own work to do that no one could do like they could. 
  3. The growth of the church caused problems.  This was not an indication that something was wrong with the church, but that they were doing something right. 
  4. While the leaders listened to the voice of the people, they put the problem right back on the people.  When the people basically said, “Someone needs to do something,” the leaders made them the “someones” who needed to be involved.
  5. The leaders determined that the people would hold an election.  They trusted the work of the Spirit in the people so much that they relied on the decision being the correct way forward.
  6. The church had an existing pool of talent, if I can use that phrase, from which they could draw additional leadership. These men were full of the Spirit and wisdom.
  7. The leaders knew how to delegate and did not have to do everything.

   There is much more I could say about this passage, which has become the cornerstone for each purpose message I deliver publicly. The one additional point I would like to emphasize is found in verse seven.  The word of God continued to spread and the church grew because these men know how to stay focused and flow with the unexpected that tends to arise in the life of every church.

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

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Changing the Way We Do Church: Seven Steps to Reformation is due to be released July, 2009 by Evergreen Press. To order your copy, please send an email to johnstanko@gmail.com.


New Book Excerpt Part 1

I recently put out a four-page excerpt from my new book that was distributed to my local church. I thought I would put it out to you in four parts, so you can get a taste of what is to come when the book is released. 

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THE DYNAMICS OF CHANGE IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
Dr. John Stanko

An excerpt from John’s new book,
Changing the Way We Do Church: Seven Steps to Purposeful Reformation

When I speak, I often ask for a show of hands of how many people would like to see God “move.”  Usually almost all hands go up.  Yet if I were to ask those same people, including the church leaders, when was the last time they went through a major change or transition, most would probably indicate that it has been a while. They would probably even recount the way that change was “forced” on them by a job loss, death of someone close or other “act of God.”
    Often when people want God to “move,” they want it restricted to the public service on Sunday morning.  They want four hours of church squeezed into a one- or two-hour meeting.  They want that time to be unscripted and filled with the unexpected.  Yet then they want to go home and have life pretty much as it has been – working in the same place, living in the same house, following the same daily schedule until they come back again in one week’s time to hopefully see God “move” again. . 
    I gave a Christmas message not too long ago and used that time as an example of God “moving.”  Consider how these people moved and were affected when God “moved.”  When God shows up, things are put into motion, especially His people:

1.    Elizabeth became pregnant late in life after the angel visited her.
2.    Her unbelieving husband, Zechariah, could not speak for nine months until the baby was born.
3.    When the baby was born, they surprised everyone by naming the boy John.
4.    While Elizabeth was pregnant, her cousin Mary also had an angelic visitor announcing that Mary was pregnant with the Holy Child Jesus.
5.    Mary immediately went off to pay a visit to see Elizabeth.
6.    After Mary went back home, she and Joseph had to go to Bethlehem to register for the Roman census.
7.    While they were there, the baby “moved” and was born.
8.    Angels came to unsuspecting shepherds at work, who stopped what they were doing to go and see the child.
9.    Meanwhile men from the East were following a moving star that led them to the house where Jesus was so they could worship Him.
10.    Herod was disturbed by the Magi’s visit and sent soldiers to Bethlehem to destroy any male babies who could be a rival to his throne.
11.    An angel had warned Mary and Joseph that Herod was coming, so they had already left for Egypt.
12.    Eventually, an angel would come back to Joseph to tell him that the “coast was clear.” Herod was dead and they could return home. 
13.    They did return to Judea but did not feel safe, so they left and went to Nazareth.

    Do you get the idea?  When God “moves,” angels, governments, shepherds, families, wise men, ordinary men, women and children move, too.  Why is this important to mention at this time?  It is because we must learn to be productive in our purpose as we function in what I call Holy Spirit chaos when God “moves.”

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

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Changing the Way We Do Church: Seven Steps to Reformation is due to be released July, 2009 by Evergreen Press. To order your copy, please send an email to johnstanko@gmail.com.


Reading

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.


Servant-Leadership

It has been a while since I wrote about servant-leadership, and I have noticed a general trend of people finding this site while doing a search on that topic.  My lack of writing about this isn't due to lack of interest or commitment, so I thought it would be good once again to devote a few posts to the subject.

I am on record saying that there is a leadership crisis in the Church and, in some ways, society in general.  Don't misunderstand; we have plenty of leaders and more than enough servants.  What we don't have is leaders who understand the concepts of servant-leadership.

I follow many of the blogs and sites that bemoan the condition of the local church. They mock some of the goofy trends in the Church that deserve to be mocked.  They debate and write to come up with better philosophical and theological solutions to our current dilemma.  Many of these bloggers are much better writers and thinkers than I, so I read them and agree with almost all of them. Yet the leadership crisis worsens daily.

For one of my upcoming D.Min. classes, I am re-reading and re-listening to Jim Collins' book, Good to Great.  In that book, Collins outlines the principles he discovered from his research into what made good companies great companies.  Collins has also written a short pamphlet applying and analyzing the "good to great" principles in the social sector, which would include churches.  One of the concepts that Collins describes, and it's at the top of his list, is what he has come to call Level 5 leaders.  This is just another name for servant-leaders.

What is a Level 5 leader?  Collins explains:

 "Level 5 refers to a five-level hierarchy of executive capabilities, with Level 5 at the top.  Level 5 leaders embody a paradoxical mix of personal humility and professional will.  They are ambitious, to be sure, but ambitious first and foremost for the company [or organization], and not themselves. . . Level 5 leaders are fanatically driven, infected with an incurable need to produce sustained results.  They are resolved to do whatever it takes to make the company great, no matter how big or hard the decisions." (page 39). 

It is my contention that we can debate the theology of the Church all day long -- what it should be, the appropriate mix of outreach and missions, and the appropriate structure -- but until we have a change in the heart and thinking of leaders, we will continue to repeat the same problems we have experienced in the last 30 years. We don't have a lack of creativity or ideas of what the Church should be; in my opinion, we don't have enough servant-leaders.

I have found that when most people plant churches, sometimes even breaking away from an oppressive church situation to do so, they don't resolve to change the leadership philosophy or practice they experienced. They simply determine they are going to do a better job than the previous leaders under which they served. Until we see and accept that the current leadership attitude and spirit are flawed, then we will not see any change in the Church, whether we call the church seeker-sensitive, seeker-friendly, seeker-tolerant, seeker-suspect, or "us-four-and-no-more."

I heard Collins talk about Level 5 leaders in New York City before he ever published Good to Great and I cried.  (For those of you who know me, you know that is a significant event!).  He talked about how Level 5 leaders practice the principles of the window and the mirror.  I'll let Collins explain what he means in his own words:

"Level 5 leaders look out the window to attribute success to factors other than themselves.  When things go poorly, however, they look in the mirror and blame themselves, taking full responsibility.  [Other kinds of leaders do] just the opposite--they look in the mirror to take credit for success, but out the window to assign blame for disappointing results." (page 39).

Why did I cry when I heard him talk about this?  I cried because I never, ever heard or read about anything like this in the Church, and I still don't, for the most part.  I read plenty about philosophical changes that need to be made in church theology but until we identify leadership as the problem and pursue specific remedies, we won't make much progress.  We will start over and over again, and enjoy the ennui of fresh starts, only to find ourselves in the same woeful predicament due to lack of servant-leaders.  My solution to the church leadership crisis is to work to become a Level 5 leader.  I don't need a title, an armor-bearer, an office or a position to do so.  And neither do you.

I want to contribute to the healing of the Church and her members not by replicating the mistakes of the past, only doing a better job of implementing a flawed system and philosophy.  I want to model servant-leadership and train servant-leaders, not working with those who are content to tweak the past but who want to learn from the past and change the present for a better future.  And by the way, I don't think the leadership crisis is limited to the Church.  I do believe, however, that we must address it there so that we can once again produce leaders who go forth to transform society.  At the present, most leaders are built and shaped outside the church and then come to worship.  I want to reverse that process -- they come to worship, are shaped into servant-leaders and go out from that point.

Stay tuned for more to come about servant-leadership in the coming days.  I haven't forgotten about it.  I am just now ready to do something about it! 

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


Eckhart Tolle

I have been asked many times to comment on the best-selling book by Eckhart Tolle entitled A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose.  This book was released this past January and sales were boosted by a recommendation from Oprah Winfrey's book club.  Oprah has also featured Tolle on her website and has promoted his teaching as one who offers insight into God.  Earlier this year, I could walk into any bookstore and see a stand with this book at the front door.  I noticed that it is still number 16 on the USA Today best sellers list.

So what do I think of the book?

1.  It isn't as bad as I expected if read not as theology but as pop psychology.  While Tolle portrays himself as an expert of sorts on world religion, he had some good things to say about how to help people. He has had some experience counseling others and I thought some of his advice was sound.

2.  Tolle is a Buddhist, pure and simple.  Of course, Buddhists always claim not to be a religion, which is absurd.  This book and Tolle's other book, The Power of Now, are steeped in Buddhist philosophy.  I don't think the emphasis on paying attention to the "now" is half bad advice, but some of what I call Buddhist double-talk is just too much to bear at times.  It gives me a headache.  For example,

It has been said "God is love" but that is not absolutely correct.  God is the One Life in and beyond the countless forms of life.  Love implies duality; lover and beloved, subject and object.  So love is the recognition of oneness in the world of duality.  This is the birth of God into the world of form.  Love makes the world less worldly, less dense, more transparent to the divine dimension, the light of consciousness itself (page 106). 

Huh?  What did he just say?  I know how Tolle would respond to my confusion: If I don't understand what he wrote, I am not enlightened.  Well, let me start a not-enlightened club and be the president.  But don't worry, Eckhart, I don't understand much of what the Dali Lama says or writes either.

3.  Tolle's handling of Scripture, while appearing to be authoritative and authentic, is, well, it's Buddhist!  He speaks of Scripture with such confidence but may I point out that when a Buddhist wants to make sense, they usually refer to the Bible, for nothing much else in their world is practical or makes much sense to the ear and mind of the everyday reader.  It is interesting also that whenever Tolle wants to portray something negative about religion, he almost always refers to Christianity.  Now I am not denying that there is much in "Christian" history that is not positive, but why not mention a Muslim once when talking about violence and religion?  Didn't Islam invade Europe centuries before the Crusades? When's the last time your heard about a Buddhist hospital, school or orphanage? 

4.  Let's go back to Tolle's use of the Bible in his book.  On page 184, he wrote this:

Jesus points to this when he says, "Be ye whole, even as your Father in Heaven is whole."  The New Testament's "be ye perfect" is a mistranslation of the original Greek word, which means whole.  This is to say, you don't need to become whole, but be what you already are -- with or without the pain body. 

This is just one example of how Tolle misrepresents and complicates Scripture to justify what his own point of view. The only time I screamed when I listened to and read this book was when Tolle quoted the Bible to prove a point.  As my former coach would have said, this guy is "a lost ball in tall weeds" when it comes to the Bible.

Contrast what Tolle wrote with what was written by William Hendriksen in his Commentary on Matthew (pages 317-318) and see who gives a plainer, easier-to-understand analysis:

In the present connection, however, "perfect" means "brought to completion, full-grown, lacking nothing." Jesus is saying to the people of that day, as well as to us now, that they and we should not be satisfied with half-way obedience to the law of love, as were the scribes and Pharisees, who never penetrated to the heart of the law.  Though in a sense Jesus is here repeating the admonition implied in verse 45 ("that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven"), he now (here in verse 48) indicates even more definitely that it is the Father's perfection that we should strive to imitate, perfection here (as the preceding context indicates) in the love he shows to all.  Is he not the One who causes his sun to rise on evil and good, and sends rain on righteous and unrighteous?

If Oprah wants to recommend someone who can provide clear and simple insight into God and His words, perhaps she should recommend Hendriksen and not Tolle!  Maybe she should return to her Baptist roots instead of resorting to Buddhist weeds.

5.  As a purpose teacher, and this book first caught my attention because it has purpose in the title, Tolle is true to Buddhism but untrue at the same time, which makes him a good Buddhist (confused? that's the whole point!).  He would describe your purpose as so caught up in the "now" that your purpose is to read this blog entry.  That is your purpose and that sounds Buddhist.  When you are finished, you will find another purpose.  If you never see this entry, it is because it is not part of your purpose.  Huh?  So my purpose is just to live in the now and not give any thought to tomorrow.  This isn't  true to Buddhism, for even the Buddhists talk about the eightfold path and one of the "paths" is what they refer to as "right livelihood."  Yet this is what I have come to find when I search Buddhist material.  They are committed to everything and nothing at the same time.  Tolle would be of this same mindset.

All in all, I would not recommend this book if you are searching for your purpose, for there isn't much help on that front.  I would recommend it if you want to keep up on what everyone else is reading and talking about in secular circles.  I don't think Tolle's material is going to usher in a "new earth" any time soon, but I know that Jesus will come back to do that and, at that time, the eternal purpose for everyone will be made abundantly clear. 


Eat, Pray, Love

For some unknown reason, I picked up an audio version of Elizabeth Gilbert's best-selling book, Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything and endured all 11 CDs to the end while driving around town.  I have some alternate titles to suggest for this well-written but misguided work:

1.  Liz Gilbert Goes to the Prom at 35 Years of Age.
2.  Liz Gilbert Fashions a God That is Just Right for Her.
3.  Liz Gilbert Brings Sex in the City to Indonesia
4.  Liz Gilbert Saves Herself . . . And Is Proud of Her Efforts
5.  Liz Gilbert Rejects the "Christian" God and Finds Many Others
6.  Liz Gilbert Hears Voices that Say "I'm OK, You're OK"
7.  Liz Gilbert Starts Out an Emotional Mess and Ends Up an Unemotional Mess

If you notice, every suggested title begins with Liz, which is just how the book is written.  It's all about Liz.  Poor Liz doesn't want any pain in her life, so she spends a year in Italy, India and Indonesia trying to sort things out.  Gee, I wonder how anyone who isn't free to do that can find their inner peace?

Liz Gilbert is an entertaining writer, and I think she represents a large portion of modern seekers who want to find themselves but don't want God to help them. They want to do it on their own terms.  Yet Gilbert starts the book a mess where men are concerned (she ends her eight-year marriage) and ends it a mess (she "takes a lover," a 52-year-old Brazilian living in Bali).  After 12 months on the road, Liz landed right back in the arms of someone new who she will find, if she sticks with him for eight years, will have as many problems as her ex-husband did. 

So this book reminded me that we have a lot of work to do in reaching this generation for the Lord.  It also reminded me of the old song that I still hum from time to time, Jesus is the answer for the world today. Above Him there's no other, Jesus is the Way.


Three Cups of Tea

No, I am not inviting you to my new home for tea. Rather this is a review of a book I finished up in the UK by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. Thee Cups of a Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . One School at a Time is the story of Mortenson who, after a failed attempt to scale a mountain in Pakistan, determined to build a school for the village that nursed back to health after his near-fatal climb. Mortenson is the rather eccentric son of Lutheran missionaries to Tanzania who has done a remarkable job not just building one school, but many schools throughout Pakistan and Afghanistan. His work continues and information is included in the book of how to follow and get involved with this work.

Do I recommend this book? Absolutely! I would suggest that you stop what you are doing, and buy and read this book. Mortenson's urgency, his faith, the obstacles he overcame and the focus of his work should serve as a wonderful role model for you as you attempt to do great things with your life. If you are not attempting great things, this book will stir and inspire you to strive for remarkable results.

I am serious; this book needs to be on your reading list as soon as possible.

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Learned Optimism

I am off to Nigeria later today, but wanted to send along a summary of a book I read recently. The title is Learned Optimism: How To Change Your Mind and Your Life by Martin Seligman, Dr. Seligman is noted for his study of positive psychology, choosing to study the psychology of success rather than failure. With that in mind, Seligman shares his research concerning the role of optimism in successful people. It should be no surprise that he found that optimistic people were consistently more successful, healthy and fulfilled than pessimistic people.

What I liked about the book that it gave insights in non-technical and non-clinical jargon. Seligman includes profiles that the reader can take to determine his or her level of optimism. He then prescribes simple ways to think in new ways that can address and reverse pessimistic tendencies. It also included helpful insights for parents to help children who manifest pessimistic tendencies early in life.

This book got me thinking about, well about my own thinking. I identified certain negative attitudes I have that have definitely hindered my performance and have implemented some corrective behaviors. I have already had opportunities to assist others in recognizing and addressing pessimistic thoughts and statements.

This is a book I would highly recommend for anyone battling depression or negative thoughts. While not biblical in its approach, I found this book highly practical and a useful tool for future purpose and creativity coaching.

I will write as I can from Nigeria. If you think of it, please pray for a safe journey and for financial provision as I go.