Friday, September 14, 2012
Friday, August 17, 2012
Love your enemies… Luke 6:27 ( ESV)
Friday, July 27, 2012
However many years a man may live, let him enjoy them all. - Ecclesiastes 11:8
Friday, July 13, 2012
Sunday, June 17, 2012
(Kindle version) (Print version)
We were two days out of Beaufort, North Carolina and some three hundred miles south and east of Cape Hatteras, rollicking along on a wild, lumpy sea on the fringes of a nor'easter that was pausing, not passing as predicted. Despite the low-slung storm clouds that framed the northwestern sky, the wind, waves, and boat were all moving towards the same tropical latitudes, so we weren't concerned with the growing gale - only thankful for the ride and the simple perfection of a self-steering wind vane. We had exhausted our stock of recreational diversions the first day out, so our crew had resorted to bawdy pranks with hot dogs and the Polaroid camera. Pity the poor crew member who slept in the salon.
During his morning watch, our captain had extracted a cheap boom box from behind the settee beside the quarter berth, so when I came on duty at noon I had the cockpit, rain, and radio all to myself. I was hoping for an AM station out of Nassau or Cuba, but what I landed instead was just as foreign - at least by some standards. Almost three hundred miles out to sea, where neither bird nor freighter had been sighted for days, I swerved into the Rush Limbaugh Show and another journey into broadcast excellence. Limbaugh was almost humble that day, speaking of the pride his father had felt when his son "Rusty" had finally achieved national prominence as a talk show host. The afternoon discussion centered on callers sharing their own desire for their father's approval and the importance dads make in the lives of their children.
My father never cared for Limbaugh and he never cared for sailing. Dad was a motorboat man with a special affection for outboards that were in disrepair. To my knowledge, Dad never had an outboard motor that ran for an entire afternoon, but that never stopped him from taking a chance on an overused, under-serviced Johnson. Those hot, windless days we spent on the water watching Dad tinker on his outboard helped to plant within me a love for the sea that not even trash in a carburetor can kill.
When I was eight-years-old I was sure my father was the greatest man alive. He was a tall, lanky fellow with shoulders so broad he could carry me around like a lightweight jacket. On his days off he would take me camping in the Smoky Mountains or haul me down to the coast. He taught me to bait my own hook, and when he thought I was a pretty fair fisherman, he took me to the Pamlico River where I caught twenty-six fish in a single afternoon. It wasn't until many years later that I learned I'd been catching the same tired fish all day as Dad snuck the wounded soldier off the dock and reattached him to my hook. Dad believed you could give a boy a fish and feed him for a day, or teach a boy to fish and keep him occupied for a weekend.
Dad tried hard to make me a fisherman. He'd take me out of school when the spots were running, and we'd share a small tent on Topsail Island with a squadron of mosquitoes and no-see-ums. Early in the morning, as the sun erupted beneath the horizon, we'd cast our lines past the breakers and into a school tearing at the water. That evening I'd haul my sleeping bag onto the pier to nap at the heels of my father. Dad wasn't the best fisherman ever to live, but he sure loved to fish and while I never learned to love fishing the way Dad did, I always loved fishing with him.
Dad laughed a lot back then and was inclined to build anything I wanted out of scrap plywood and two-by-fours. He built a motorboat one summer from a set of plans he found in a Popular Mechanicsmagazine. Mom kept yelling at him from the upstairs window to clean up the mess, but Dad wasn't easily discouraged, so within a few weeks we had a fine plywood motorboat. In the scheme of life a home-built motorboat is not much of an accomplishment, but when you're eight-years-old and enamored with the strength and wisdom of your father's abilities, it's a big deal. On the day we launched that boat and watched it float off the trailer, I decided my dad was just short of divine. I don't remember much else about the boat except that it developed a case of rot and had to be cut up and hauled off. Of course, by then I was a teenager and Dad wasn't as tall or wise.
He got another motorboat but the outings weren't as much fun. Dad would launch the boat while the rest of us hauled our gear down to the campsite. The outboard always started on the second pull because Dad worked on motors the way Limbaugh works on liberals - it was a passion with him. We'd get a little ways from shore, then throttle up and go roaring off in a puff of smoke. On a goodday we'd get a hundred yards away from shore before the motor would quit.
On a bad day, we'd get a mile out.
If it was one of those good, hundred-yard days, my sister and I would jump in with our life jackets and swim back to camp, leaving dad to tinker with an outboard that ran only in the metal barrel out back of our garage. It was during this phase of my youth that I learned to loathe motorboats.
A few years before he died, Dad gave up fishing. Said they didn't bite like they used to. Dad came to like his satellite dish and cable box, and hearing from his boy when I was safely back in port. But I believe that afternoon on our way to the Bahamas, even Dad would have enjoyed fishing with his son one last time.
I was coming off watch and searching the icebox for dinner when the trolling line sang out in that octave that lets you know it's a big one. I closed the lid and ran on deck to help reduce sail and slow the boat. There may be plenty of fish in the ocean, but nobody likes losing one when you're hungry, and we were too thrilled with the prospect of fresh seafood to toy with that fish. We gaffed him and killed him and let the yellowfin tuna soak in lemon while we celebrated our catch with a round of drinks. I can't remember the last time a fish tasted that good. Dad would have loved it.
So here's to Dad and fathers everywhere, both in heaven and on earth, who push us to find our passion and explore the potential that lies within us. Happy Daddy's Day, Dad. I miss you.
Thursday, June 7, 2012
Saturday, April 28, 2012
Friday, March 23, 2012
Even though he led his high school team to a state championship, no college offered him an athletic scholarship. Harvard allowed he might be able to play for them - but he must pay his way.
During his sophomore season he averaged 12.6 points and was named All-Ivy League Second Team. By his junior year he was the only NCAA Division I men's basketball player who ranked in the top ten in his conference for scoring, rebounding, assists, steals, blocked shots, field goal percentage, free throw percentage, and three-point shot percentage. ESPN called him “one of the twelve most versatile players in college basketball.” Professional scouts were not impressed. On the day of the NBA draft no one called his name. The Golden State Warriors finally offered him a partial contract but released him a few months later. He bounced around with a couple other teams before falling into the development league.
Then he received “the call.” The New York Knicks needed him to play starting guard while their star player recovered from his injuries. In his first four NBA starts he scored more points than any player in NBA history, surpassing Allen Iverson, Shaquille O’Neal, and Michael Jordan. With him on the floor, the struggling Knicks became unstoppable. He produced game winning shots and helped fuel a seven game winning streak. Jeremy Lin continues to shoot over thirty percent from three-point range and average around 15 points per game. He is professional sport's "Linsation."
The Apostle Paul directs us to make the most of every opportunity; not make do or make excuses. When tossed into prison, Joseph the Dreamer changed the culture of captivity. When sent into the fields, Ruth gleaned more than grain -- she gathered a husband. Peter, when told to fish for men, founded a church. What door of opportunity has God placed before you?
Pastor David Jeremiah writes in his best selling book, Life Wide Open: “God’s open doors are often disguised as problems, time-sensitive, met with resistance, and often missed because of fear.” Are you afraid, stuck, and overwhelmed by difficulties? If so, practice, prepare, and pray for an opportunity to shine for Him.
Good things come to those who wait – great things come to those who prepare while they wait.
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Wednesday, February 29, 2012
This from Publishers Marketplace:
While IPG remains in what could be a long-standing contractual disagreement with Amazon over wholesale terms for their clients--and their approximately 4,500 ebooks remain unavailable for sale on Kindle--two other independent distributors of scale did both come to terms with Amazon in the past week or so. Both the Perseus Books Group and National Book Network (NBN) reported to their respective clients on the new terms arrived for ebooks.
Those new contracts were some time in the making; one of the two told clients they "entered into negotiations with Amazon in October of last year and have only just concluded our agreement." The other underscored that the new terms were retroactive back to January 1, 2012.
As has been reported before, though not with any specificity, Amazon has been adding provisions for coop payments for ebooks this year. (Previously, coop was applied only to Amazon's print sales.) One of these distributors explicitly states a new provision of the revised contract is that clients will now allocate 3 percent coop on sales of ebooks. One of the two also makes explicit an increase in the portion of all coop, for both print and ebook editions, that goes towards "automation and personalization" (Amazon's term for the display of merchandising information on Amazon's site). For that distributor's clients, only half of all charged coop funds (instead of three-quarters, as in the past) can be spent on specific merchandising programs under the new contract.
Both distributors indicate that their discount schedules outside of coop remain unchanged. One writes, "The negotiations were difficult and at times contentious. Considering the point where we started last year, the final agreement we reached with Amazon was both the minimum they would accept to continue selling our Kindle titles, but it also preserved our core principles in these negotiations."
Also indicated in one client notification is that Amazon has also increased the ebook conversion fee they charge publishers who provide only a print book or PDF and want Amazon to produce the book file. That charge is now 8 percent of digital list price, up from 5 percent previously. (A note: we have deliberately obscured references to the which distributor wrote what; it's not our intention to unnecessarily reveal the specific business terms of any one company, but we recognize the abundant community utility in understanding some of the shifts in terms underway.)
Terms can certainly vary from house to house. Some independent publishers we spoke to did recently stretch to 4 percent coop on print books. At least some publishers told us they have not been approached for Kindle coop yet. It is expected that, as Kindle wins coop allocations, Barnes & Noble will impose a similar policy. In the course of conversations with a variety of publishers, we heard multiple reports from professional and/or academic publishers who sell to Amazon on traditional "short discounts" that they have been asked to radically restructure their terms of sale.
IPG president Mark Suchomel still declines to discuss their terms with Amazon, but did say of the recent and now very public standoff, "There has to be a point at which we really have to value our content." He said, "I don't necessarily want to be Mr. Crusader here. I want to do what's right and I want to do what's fair." In the end, he noted, "The big question is going to be, 'are we the only, or are we the first?'"
To that point, Educational Development Corporation announced Monday that, effective immediately, it "will no longer sell any of its books on Amazon or to any entities that resell to Amazon." In 2009 they stopped selling their Kane Miller list on Amazon and now they say they are withdrawing the Usborne line, which comprises roughly 1,500 titles. EDC President Randall White says in the announcement, "I see this as critical to the long-term growth of EDC, and a way to demonstrate our support of the local booksellers, museum shops, gift stores, and others who sell our books to consumers." White also reports in the release that "net sales of the Kane Miller books have increased more than thirty-three percent since 2009 when the list was pulled from Amazon." Of course there's a difference between having a direct sales relationship with Amazon and having your books available for sale there. As Laura Owen at paidContent noticed, Amazon still displays hundreds of Kane Miller titles for sale, apparently stocked through wholesalers.
Finally, IPG ceo Curtis Matthews posted on the company's blog on Friday on the topic of "what should an ebook cost?" In the closing he expresses what many people both outside and inside the trade still don't understand: "Only the six biggest publishing companies have had the market power to compel Amazon to accept the Agency Model, which allows the publisher to keep 70 percent of the e-book list price. Independent publishers have had to accept the Wholesale Model, which has let us keep only about 50 percent of the suggested price." That said, the pressure for increased discount, on the heels of other recent moves like the inclusion of books in the Kindle Owner's Lending Library without publishers' consent, once again has some publishers considering a move to the agency model (and/or to an agency model distributor) despite Amazon's resistance.
Friday, February 24, 2012
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain. - I Corinthians 15:58
When told that rubber from India could be used for a multitude of products, Charles Goodyear spent years boiling rubber with magnesia, nitric acid, lime, and bronze powder in an attempt to make it more useful. Each experiment failed. Depending upon the temperature, the natural properties of rubber made it too sticky, brittle or pliable. Charles sank more money into his projects – and sank his family further into debt.
Then in1939 while standing beside a hot stove, Charles accidently brushed sulfur from his hands. The rubber melted, reacting with sulfur and produced vulcanized rubber, a flexible material that could be shaped into a variety of products. For months afterward when anyone asked where they might find Charles Goodyear, they were told, “Look for the man without a penny in his pocket wearing an India-rubber cap, coat, shoes, and purse. That’ll be Charles Goodyear.”
Paul, in writing to the struggling church in Corinth, encouraged its members to remain steadfast in their work within the Kingdom of God. To work in solitude, unnoticed by man, reveals our true character, motives, and passion. It is here in the desert, away from the applause and at-a-boys, that Charles Goodyear’s “rubber meets the road.”
So I ask you: If you knew you could succeed, what would you try to create, build, or write?
Perseverance is endurance combined with the absolute assurance that we will succeed. Perseverance is more than blind faith and foolish determination. It is the quiet confidence that we are right in our course of action -- that our supreme effort and immovable determination will achieve for us the thing we seek.
Today Charles Goodyear’s “accidental brush with luck” is everywhere, from the tires on our cars to hockey pucks on the ice.
The question is not: “Will this work?”
The question is: “Will I?”
Friday, February 17, 2012
You Shall Dream Dreams, by Eddie Jones
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. - Joel 2:28 (King James Version)
Arthur watched his friend’s eyes grow wide with excitement as the car turned off the main highway and onto a dusty drive. To the east he saw the snow-capped slopes of the San Bernardino Mountains shimmering silver. To the west, a copper sun sank into the Pacific Ocean. Beyond the hood of the car lay 160 acres of dirt.
His friend pointed through the windshield. “Right over there, Arthur, where those trees begin, that’ll be yours.”
“It’s a big field of dirt clods.”
“’Course it’s a field. That’s why it’s cheap.”
“I don’t know, Walt. The price they’re asking is a lot of money for acres and acres of dirt.”
“You’re not buying dirt. You’re buying a dream. There's a fortune to be made here, you’ll see.”
“Tell me again how this park of yours is going to work.”
Author’s friend turned off the engine and stepped out. Arthur followed, wishing now he’d kept his mouth shut.
“It’s not going to be just any park. It’ll be magical.”
“Right. An enchanted amusement park,” Arthur said.
“Think of it more as a Kingdom. It’ll have a castle and moat, guards, wizards, princes, and princesses.”
Arthur said, “You got a name for this park?”
“You’re kidding, right? Who’s going to pay to come play in a mouse park?”
“Okay, we’ll work on the name. The point is, this’ll be a place where dreams come true. I got the plans all right here, in my head.”
“Why not put your tiny town in that clearing?” said Arthur, pointing toward a wide swath of tumbleweeds and sagebrush. “That way, you wouldn’t have to knock down as many trees.”
“My Wild West settlement goes on that plot.”
“I suppose it’ll have cowboys and horses and gun fighters.”
“Wouldn’t be much of a frontier village without those, now would it?”
“I wish I had your vision, Walt, I really do.”
“You can. You just have to believe.”
Too often we see life through the tiny periscope of our past failures. Fear and friends warn us to turn back from the dream God places within our hearts. Next week, I’ll join seventy-five other writers who have heard God’s call and responded with a shout of, “Yes, Lord. Send me!” We will gather for our annual Writer’s ADVANCE Boot Camp and train for the challenges of changing our culture and world through words.
The prophet Joel spoke of a time when God would pour out his Spirit on the people and infuse them with new visions. The wonderful thing about serving a living God is that He takes the initiative to inspire us with His power. If the dream is only ours, we’ll tire and quit. But when God gives us a vision and we respond with a "yes" by buying land, clearing trees, and building His "magic kingdom," we can change the world.
Walt Disney wasn’t the sort of man to let a dream die. How about you? Is God calling you to a dream? Stretch out your hand and touch the stars.
To learn more about how you can tap into your spiritual gifts and use them to change the world visit: Milestone Motivation
Friday, February 10, 2012
Listen to Get Away With God – He Said
A few months ago I told a radio host that the greatest threat to America isn’t the loss of jobs, a broken educational system, or moral decline. “I’m concerned about where our nation is headed,” I said, “but none of those things are going to destroy us. What I fear is that we’re on the verge of losing our creative gift of innovation, and only God Almighty can fix that.”
Here’s what I meant. Americans invented the automobile, airplane, telephone, computer, Internet, and countless other devices. Each product generated an industry and powered growth. Other countries have produced innovative goods too, but when it comes to lifting mankind from poverty to prosperity, no nation can rival our “Yankee ingenuity.” But without God, I fear we’ll lose our standing and leadership.
An individual may claim to have the gift of creative genius, but God alone gives ideas. This is why we call it inspiration (Spirit within), enthusiasm (God inside), imagination (forming something that is not). Our minds are finite; God is infinite.
Paul’s post-Emmaus walk left him creatively bankrupt. His idea of who God was and what He desired from him -- an apostle and follower -- proved to be wrong. In a moment of enlightenment, Paul discovered that God is more than laws, regulations, and results. God is a god who speaks through voices, visions, and dreams. And He wants to walk with us.
Have you “seen the light?” Or, are you caught up in the manufacturing of your life that you no longer see the need for God? When Paul sought to know God’s mind and will, he did not attend a Bible study, prayer group, or doctrinal discussion. He went to the place where God always meets man -- the desert. There, away from the distractions of life, God’s Spirit still speaks.
America does not need a debt-reduction plan, a job-program overhaul, or an economic stimulus package. We only need God.
Maybe you’re feeling spiritually bankrupt today. If so, walk with God on the hot sands of Arabia and wait for His voice to speak to your heart.
Friday, February 3, 2012
But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you! - Jude 1:9
Listen to In Defense of Satan - He Said
“I have no special regard for Satan,” Mark Twain said. “But I can at least claim that I have no prejudice against him. It may even be that I lean a little his way, on account of his not having a fair show. All religions issue bibles against him, and say the most injurious things about him, but we never hear his side. Of course Satan has some kind of case, it goes without saying. It may be a poor one, but that is nothing. That can be said of any of us.”
Satan is deceitful; I’ll give you that. But is he the source of all our setbacks and sorrows? Does he spread cancer, crash computers, or cause strife within families and congregations? Or could it be we give him more credit than he is due?
This week I heard Satan blamed for a toothache, faulty software, rudeness, high gas prices, the poor housing market, snow, rain, heat, and rap music. Too often when problems arise in the midst of what we “know” to be God’s will, we blame Satan.
For example, the other day a friend counseled me: “Stand firm. Satan is trying to tick you off and make you say something you don’t mean.” Perhaps. Or maybe God is teaching me patience and training me to hold my tongue?
Here’s another: “Satan is trying to drive a wedge between us.” Maybe. Or else God is growing me in the area of forgiveness.
Another friend wrote to say: “Satan has attacked us in our physical lives.” He certainly did with Job. But we also know that God allows affliction to draw us to Him. Would it be wrong of God to allow us to scrape our knee so that we might crawl into His lap for comfort?
When the archangel Michael got into a tussle with Satan he kept his thoughts to himself. Perhaps Michael knew what we tend to forget; that Satan is God’s creation too. If those who stand in the presence of God dare not speak against the devil, who are we to blindly judge?
Maybe if we didn’t mention Satan’s name so often, others would view us as victors in Christ, not wimpy warriors struggling to lace up our boots.
Just a thought.