A Good Evening

On Monday evening, I had the privilege of being a guest in the home of Dr. Tony and Sheila Stone in Stoutbridge.  Dr. Tony is a retired by active saint who traveled extensively with Billy Graham and Reinhard Bonnke.  Last Christmas Tony bought Sheila my devotional, A Daily Dose of Proverbs.  When they heard I was in the UK, they took it upon themselves to assemble a group of friends in their home to hear me speak. We got there early and Sheila served us a wonderful lamb dinner and then we had dessert when the meeting was over.  Of course, I talked about purpose and we had a grand time together.  It truly was a special evening.

Then on Tuesday, I had no meetings so I decided to plow forward with my new book, Changing the Way We Do Church: Seven Steps to Reformation.  It is due to the publisher by April 15, but I was not sure I would be able to meet the deadline. On Tuesday, however, I spent the day writing and, since this is all material I have taught and outlined, I was able to make great progress. I am now optimiistic that I can meet the deadline.  We shall see.

Wednesday I am off to Revelation TV for an evening primetime interview with live call-in comments and questions.  Then I have more meetings throughout the week as I continue to promote my books and the purpose message. For now, I am back to work on the book, in hopes that I can continue to make the progress that I enjoyed on Tuesday.  Back to work!

Direct to Birmingham

I flew over to the UK last Friday, this time out of Newark directly to Birmingham instead of London. What a great way to go! There were no lines at customs and I was the first one out to the arrivals hall at 6:30 AM.  My host picked me up and I was at my hotel asleep by 8 AM.  Although I flew over via Continental on a Boeing 757, my least favorite aircraft in the world, it worked out for the best.

Yesterday I spoke at two local churches, one in Burton on Trent and the other in Walsall, where I am staying.  The former was at Christian International Family Church, where Steve and Jen Watson are pastors.  To my surprise, Steve and Jen remembered me from 1994 when I was traveling with the Integrity Music teams and came to Birmingham.  It was just another encouragement that the Lord seems to be sending my way frequently these days.  I guess I need it.

Steve and Jen have done a super job leading their church.  I sensed a lot of love and servant-leadership in their work.  By the way, their church building burned to the ground last November and they are meeting in The Guild Hall in Burton on Trent, which happens to be the venue for Coors Brewery in the UK. And that reminds me, when we had communion in the church, they used real wine.  I haven't had wine in communion for probably 20 years.  I resisted the temptation to go back for seconds.

We had many good laughs while I spoke and the people were gracious and patient as I rambled on and on.  Then 22 of us went out to lunch afterwards.  On the way back to my hotel, I said to Dave and Pam, my hosts, "I think we just had fellowship." It was a great time.

Then last night, I spoke at The Rock Church in Walsall, pastored by Ian Evans. I was so impressed with the work the Lord has done through Ian, who started the church three years ago. He had a nice Sunday night crowd and the people were very receptive.  Afterwards, we ate Caribbean chicken (I think it was "jerk" chicken) and I signed some books and chatted with the people about purpose.  All in all, it was a great first day in the UK.  Once again, I found someone in that church in Walsall who remembered my visit in 1994.

Now I have some more meetings leading up to my live television appearance on Revelation TV's World in Focus show on Revelation TV this coming Wednesday, April 1, from 9.15 to 10:30 PM.  If you live here, you can call in your questions from 10:00 to 10:30.  So today will be a writing day until my meeting tonight. Let's see how much I can get done between now and then.

UK Meetings

Below are the scheduled meetings and events for my upcoming UK visit next week.  If you happen to be in the area, stop by and hear me speak.  Or tune into Revelation TV next Wednesday, April 1, at 9:15 for my live interview.  Here is what I have so far:

Sunday 29 March

10.30am Christian Life International Church, Bass Museum, Burton On Trent - tel 01283 534375

18.30pm Bethel Chapel, Hall St, Woollescote, Stourbridge DY 9 8Tl - Tel 01384 892137

Wednesday, April 1

9.15pm to 10:30pm  World in Focus Live -Revelation TV; you can call in your questions from 10:00 to 10:30

Sunday 5 April

10.30am Ambelecote Christian Centre, 102-104 Brettell Lane,Stourbridge DY8 4BS - tel 01922 492099

I will keep you posted as more meetings are finalized.

Boston Garden

I started following Boston Celtics basketball when I was a freshman at a prep school in Stamford, Connecticut. So last week when I had a chance to go and see them play for the first time in the new Boston Garden, I jumped at the chance.  My friend, Pastor Jeff Williams, and I took a train from Providence and then took the subway to the Garden for the Memphis Grizzlies versus Celtics game.

Garden 2 We were in row 14 of right center court (don't ask how much the tickets were; I ordered them off a site that  season ticket holders use to sell unwanted tickets). I am attaching two pictures I took with my phone of the action on the floor.  I admit that I bought a t-shirt and a hat as my mementos of the big Garden 1 event.  But then we missed our train going back to Providence and had to wait 90 minutes until the last train at midnight.  Oh well, it was almost a perfect evening. The Celtics have lost two straight since we were there, but they did win against the Grizzlies, so I did my part to cheer them on. My other favorite NBA team, the Orlando Magic, is right behind the first-place Celtics in the standings, so I am having a good year where my NBA teams are concerned.

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. 

Seven Cities

I am sitting in the Grand Junction, Colorado airport on my way home.  I will go to Salt Lake and Minneapolis before I reach Pittsburgh, which means I will have touched down in eight cities on this trip -- Atlanta, Bentonville, Houston, Phoenix, Grand Junction, Salt Lake City, Minneapolis and then finally Pittsburgh.  One thing I have always said is that if you have seen one airport, you have pretty much seen them all. 

I had a great visit to First Assembly in Grand Junction.  Pastors Ted and Tami are doing a super job and the people are warm, friendly and open to the purpose message.  I spoke twice in the church's Stir conference and then met with 24 people one-on-one over a three day period.  With most of them, I used my battery of three profiles to help them understand who they are and how that relates to their purpose.  I try to give people new ideas of how they can move forward to be even more purposeful and productive.  One man said that quality questions lead to a quality life.  I try to give people better questions to ask about who they are and what they should be doing.

I have a busy weekend in Pittsburgh and then will go back to the Washington City Mission two days next week to do what I did here in Grand Junction.  Then I will spend three days working at Allegheny Center Alliance Church in Pittsburgh where I have taken more responsibilities lately.  More on that in a future post.

I was so busy on Tuesday that I didn't watch any of the inauguration.  I pray for the success of our new Commander-in-Chief.  it is unfortunate that the Chief Justice messed up the oath of office. 

I should be back in a better rhythm and schedule next week to write more.  I have to finish up the series on We Need to Change the Way We Do Church and have a lot more things to share.  Until then, take care and have a great weekend.

Busy Week

It's been a busy week with work at my church, my Tuesday night class, snowy weather (which requires twice as long to complete even the simplest trip by car), and getting ready for my trip to Arkansas and Colorado. Today I make two presentations to the management and trainers at Wal Mart in Bentonville.  I will be introducing The Pacific Institute training in the morning and doing a talk on servant-leadership in the afternoon.  Then I will move on to Colorado on Saturday (Grand Junction to be exact) to work with my friends Ted and Tami Miller at the Assembly of God church.  They are having a winter meeting for their church with the theme of "Stir!" and I'm sure the purpose message will do just that.

On the horizon is my trip to Kenya in February and the next class in my D Min program, which will be Biblical Counseling.  I think I am behind on my reading for that class and I know I am behind on my papers.  What's more, I have two of my cohorts papers to read and make comments due by the 17th.  I will have to do those on the plane at some point. 

Keep in mind, I am not complaining.  I am enjoying it all and the unknown of how I can possibly get it all done.  I am not even taking it one day at a time, but one hour at a time and savoring every moment.  After all, I am doing important work with wonderful people.  What's not to enjoy?  At any rate, I am about to get on a plane and I will spend the first part of my trip planning the next four or five days, planning my work so I cam work my plan.

At any rate, it's on to the next event.  Stay tuned for udpates from the road. 

Hello and Goodbye

I arrived in Kenya one week ago and it's already time to depart.  I flew in last Sunday night, one year to the day since I had been here last.  It has been great to reconnect with the city, my friends and my work here.  I had a chance to profile two groups of people, one from the Kenya Wildlife Service and another from the SARAH Network, a group of grassroots organizations addressing HIV/AIDS prevention through substance abuse counseling. 

Of course I made time to visit Nairobi National Park for an afternoon game drive, although the animals were all in hiding from the heat of the day.  Then I went on the Safari Walk, a new exhibit built in 2006 by the Albino Zebra European Union.  It is a sort of zoo that features many interesting African species (such as the albino zebra pictured here), and I found the Safari Walk very well done and worthwhile.  Today I have a few more appointments before I return home tonight.  The weather has been great here, which is more than I can say for back home, where it is frigid.  I guess I have avoided winter long enough; it's time to go home.

Farewell to Yankee Stadium

Yankee Stadium I had the chance last week to go to New York with a friend to visit Yankee Stadium one more time before they close it down and open the new one across the street.  My friend, Bruce, and I got tickets but we didn't know they were in the next to the last row behind home plate.  I am including a picture for you to see how high up we were (click on it to get a bigger view). Yet is was a special night, even though the Yankees lost to the White Sox.  Last Sunday, the Yankees played the last game there after 85 years of special moments. 

While Bruce and I were in New York, we took the double-decker bus rides to both uptown and downtown and, even though I've been to New York many times over the years, I learned a lot more about the city.  We ate in Little Italy, where the festival of San Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples, was taking place.  I got to see my two children (they came to Paesano's in Little Italy) and John III joined us for lunch the next day at the Carnegie Deli on 7th Avenue.  We took the 4 Subway to and from the stadium and parked in the theater district both days, which made it easy to get in and out of the city (we stayed in New Jersey because the city hotels were all so expensive).  All in all, we had a grand time.

Since I've been home, I have been busy with various projects and school.  I am on the board of directors for two new ministries that I have come to know over the last few months and I have initial meetings with those organizations this week.  I am spending a lot of time at the Center for Urban Biblical Ministry, where I enjoy working with the adult students and Karla Byrd, the director (Karla is the woman on the home page of my new website with whom I am sitting on the bench). 

I just finished helping one person publish her book and now I am working to help three others write theirs.  This means I am involved doing some ghost writing, consulting and editing work for those three.  This is something I believe I am supposed to do on a regular basis as I come alongside others to help make their work a reality

Not much else new to report.  I have some blog entry ideas that I hope to get to over the next day or two.  Stay tuned. 

Jersey Boys

I got home from the UK last night after a great stay. The weather was the best I have encountered there in years -- 11 days and I didn't use my umbrella once! I had many "marathon" days of 13-14 hours of profiling and meetings. I spoke 8 times and enjoyed just about everything I did. I was reminded that the UK is an expensive place these days. I paid the equivalent of $42 in taxi fares just to get around Heathrow Airport when I arrived there on Monday. Gas in England right now is about $9.00 per gallon. I am not complaining, however, when it comes to income. With the exchange rate of one pound to two dollars, the pound goes a long way toward paying the bills back home.

I had some time last Friday so I hopped into London to see a show. This time I chose to see Jersey Boys, the story and music of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. It was an energetic presentation and my generation was well represented in the audience. In other words, there were a bunch of gray heads bobbing and singing along to music that we all grew up with. The lead singer sounded more like Frankie Valli than Frankie does and all in all, it was an enjoyable evening.

A key player in the show the Four Seasons was (and is) creative genius Bob Gaudio. It was Gaudio who wrote many of the Four Seasons most successful songs and he is the one who positioned the group for their ultimate success. Whenever I see someone like that, I admire their creativity and then ask, "If that's what he (or she) did for the cause to which they were committed (in this case success, money and fame), then what should and can I do for the Lord?" I leave shows like that inspired and committed to do more than I already am.

Now I am home in our new house and there is work going on all around us. They are finishing our basement where the PurposeQuest offices will be, putting in our landscaping and hanging blinds. It is all so exciting.

This week I have a lot of work to do to get ready for my radio debut next Wednesday and to premier my new, The Faith Files, this coming July. I also have 21 books to read for my next two doctoral courses, scheduled for this coming August. So much to do and all the time in the world to do it, since I have 24 hours a day like everyone else. It's what I do with those 24 hours that will make the difference between mere existence and success.