Adventures in Friendship… The Power of Giving Gifts

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Do you want to be remembered, appreciated, valued, loved?

Of course you do.

So be memorable. Invest in your relationships. Give value. Be generous, kind, uplifting and encouraging.

On a practical level: pay the bill for lunch, give surprise presents, write an encouraging note and send it…

“Giving a gift can open doors…” – Proverbs 18:6

“Everyone is the friend of a person who gives gifts!” – Proverbs 19:6

Jesus said, “Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends.” – Luke 16:9.

There is a real power in giving.

Think of someone else today.
Buy someone a cup of coffee or send them a gift card with a little note.
Gifts don’t always have to be big or expensive. Even the smallest gift sends the message: “I’m thinking of you”.

Live the adventure today. Invest in friendship.
Give. Love. Enrich. Bless.

Adventures in Friendship… Invite Yourself In!

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When it comes to friendships, don’t be the passive observer.

Take initiative. Risk something. Relationships are adventure!

I love the story of Jesus going to Zacchaeus’ home for dinner because Jesus invited himself over. Yup, that’s right… He invited himself over to Zach’s house.

Here’s how it reads in Luke 19:5 & 6…

When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.”

Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy.

The cool thing about this story is how excited Zacchaeus was that Jesus wanted to hang out with him.

Here’s a little secret: most people are lonely and bored. Americans today have fewer close friends than ever before. People want friendships but often lack the courage to initiate.

Be the initiator.

Invite people into your world… and invite yourself into theirs!

RE: Worship… Less Drama & More Jesus

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You ever have tense, argument-filled rides to church with your family? Yeah, me neither…

The truth is, we easily get distracted from the main course. Tension, stress, anger and frustration often cloud our view of Jesus.

The Apostle Paul said, “what I want mostly is for men to pray – not shaking angry fists at enemies but raising holy hands to God.” (1 Timothy 2:8).

Remember the story of Jesus having dinner at Mary and Martha’s house – Martha was shaking an angry fist, but Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus.

Re: Worship… less drama and more Jesus!

Book Review: Hear No Evil

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Hear No Evil by Matthew Paul Turner (reviewed by Brian Dolleman)

Review
I love the honesty and humor Matthew Paul Turner uses to talk about growing in a Fundamentalist home.

One of my favorite excerpts:

“For as long as I could remember, I had lived a separate existence from normal people. I don’t believe I comprehended to what extent my life was different from the lives of other people my age, but I wasn’t naive to how odd and detached we were. Sure, my parents installed a chastity belt around my brain to keep out unwanted predators like Pee-wee Herman and the anti-God propagandist who wrote 1984, but I wasn’t ignorant. I knew my family was different. We liked being different.

Why wouldn’t God find pleasure in my holy brown-nosing? Most of the people at my church did. As far as I knew, the faith I lived was built on nothing less than the state of my own righteousness.

I wanted to go to the theater, But I did fear that when the movie was over, I’d struggle to envision God looking at me with the same delight as he did before.

At my church my sins weren’t so much saved by grace. They were taunted by it.”

If you enjoy music, stories, satire, honesty and humor, this book is for you.

Summary of Hear No Evil:
If you’ve ever had the opening bars of a song transport you back in time or remind you of a pivotal spiritual moment, Matthew Paul Turner’s honest—and frequently hilarious—musings will strike a chord. Straightforward and amusing, Hear No Evil is Turner’s “life soundtrack,” a compilation of engaging personal stories about how music—and music’s ability to transform—has played a key role in his spiritual life. Groove along on his journey as young evangelical Turner attends forbidden contemporary Christian concerts, moves to “Music City” Nashville, and dreams of becoming the Michael Jackson of Christian music. Cosmic and compelling, keen and funny, every page is a new encounter with the people, places, and experiences that have taught the music-editor-turned-author

some new things about God, forced him out of his comfort zone, and introduced him to a fresh view of grace along the way.

Author Bio:
Matthew Paul Turner is a blogger, speaker, and author of Churched: One Kid’s Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess, The Christian Culture Survival Guide, and several other popular books. After a childhood in rural Maryland, Turner attended Nashville’s Belmont University, where he received a BBA in music business, and was the editor of CCM magazine before leaving to pursue writing as a career. Turner has written for Relevant, HomeLife, Christian Single, and other magazines. He and his wife, Jessica, have one son, and live in Nashville, Tennessee. Visit his website: http://www.matthewpaulturner.com/

Win a free book:
Be the first one to email me (include your name and address) and you will receive your very own copy of “Hear No Evil” – FREE!

email: briandolleman@mac.com

Where to purchase this book:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Hear-No-Evil-Story-Innocence/dp/140007472X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1266431625&sr=8-1

Note: This book was provided for review by RandomHouse publishing…

The Main Course

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Worship – giving Jesus the attention, honor and glory he deserves – isn’t a warm-up exercise or a time-filler… it is the main course.

The Gospel of Luke tells the story of Jesus visiting the home of Mary and Martha:

A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said.

But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.”

The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it – it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.” (Luke 10:38-42 Message).

Martha was distracted, upset, stressed-out, caught up in the details and “pulled away by all she had to do”. Unfortunately, she missed the main course.

Don’t miss the main course!

Take time to focus on Jesus. Listen.

Give Him the attention, honor and glory He deserves.

Have a “worship adventure” with Jesus today.

Growth (it’s more than just not going the wrong direction)

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Growth is more than just not going the wrong direction.

It’s possible to stop going the wrong direction and yet still be headed nowhere.

You can stop going the wrong direction and still not grow.

Growth requires movement, change, adjustment and going the right direction.

The Apostle Paul said, “But you… are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.” (1 Timothy 6:11).

Notice the two verbs in that verse: Run / Pursue.

Run from the bad. Pursue the good.

Don’t just stop your bad habits… start new (good) ones!

Today is a great day to begin some new disciplines.

Growth demands constant motion. Pursue the good. Go after the best.

Yesterday’s motions don’t provide enough momentum to keep you going in the right direction today or tomorrow – just like yesterday’s meal won’t continue to sustain you.

Take some new steps toward growth today!

Part of the Adventure is Knowing How to Grow & Change

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Part of living the adventure is knowing how to grow and change.

Spiritual growth (growing in our relationship with God) isn’t something we do once and complete – it is a daily necessity.

One of my pastors would always say: “you grow daily or die gradually.”

The apostle Paul said:
“I pray that you will keep on growing.” (Philippians 1:9).

What we learned last year, last month, last week, or even yesterday isn’t enough for today and tomorrow.

Why?
Because today is a new day, bringing new challenges and new demands.

Growth and change is a way of life – don’t hate it, embrace it.

Athletes, and the sports they compete in, continue to evolve and improve. The game changes. Sometimes the rules change. The level of play continues to rise. New records are achieved as athletes raise the bar year after year.

This is true in life: the game has changed. The bar has been raised. There are new challenges and new demands today.

We cannot be effective today playing at the level we did a decade ago.

Have you heard the expression: “Don’t hate the playa, hate the game”?

Here’s what that phrase is saying: Don’t fault the successful participant in a flawed system; instead try to discern and rebuke that aspect of the system which allows or encourages the behavior which provoked your displeasure.

When it comes to spiritual growth, don’t hate the playa or the game!

Part of the adventure is knowing how to grow and change.

Don’t resent the need to grow and change. That’s just life.

Enjoy doing things differently – it makes you stronger!

Be hungry to learn, adapt, change and grow today.

Embrace growth and change as a way of life.

You choose: grow daily or die gradually.

Book Review: Living Rich For Less

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Book Review:
Living Rich For Less

Author:
Ellie Kay

Review (by guest blogger Shari Dolleman):
Living Rich for Less is the practical tips book of ways to give, save and spend smart even on a modest salary. Kay describes how their family was able to eliminate $40,000 of debt in just two years on one income. Their family (over a fifteen–year span) paid cash for eleven different cars, gave three of those cars away, bought two five-bedroom homes (one after the other), took regular family vacations, nicely furnished their home, clothed their kids in style, and supported more than thirty nonprofit organizations in a dozen different countries by giving away more than $100,000. How cool! Kay’s synopsis excited me about giving and actually tabulating what our family has given over the years. What a gratifying feeling to see what has been given to the cause you truly believe in. For us, it’s kingdom causes!

Ellie Kay shares the 10/10/80 rule – giving 10 percent, saving 10 percent and spending smart the remaining 80 percent of your income. “The sweetest dollar you ever make is the one you give away. The safest dollar you ever make is the one you put away and the smartest dollar you ever make is the one you spend well.”

Living Rich for Less takes a look at what the rich and famous give in proportion to their earnings. Using an online celebrity calculator she makes the point that money earned and donated by the average American is far more valuable than a lot of the donations by celebrities. For example “if I gave $100 to support a third-world child, Julia Roberts would have to give $83,000 to be as proportionally generous as I am!” I’ve always loved the idea of equal sacrifice in giving. To whom much is given much is required. I’m motivated to give and see it’s importance even if it’s not millions like the “celebrity giving” we hear about. It all makes a difference!

Throughout the book are ideas and tips on how to save on everyday expenses from vacations to groceries to paying for college. I found myself circling, tabbing and making notes throughout the book with suggestions to myself: “Do this! This is great! We do this!”

What a great reminder of what’s important. Give, Save and Spend. Living Rich for Less is definitely worth the read and will help you do as the title suggests.

Summary:
You really can be rich in every way, every day…

So you want to own the home you love, make memories on wonderful vacations with family or friends, finance college educations, and help others too?

You can—starting here and now.

With lively humor, proven know-how, and practical principles for financial health, Living Rich for Less helps you stretch your dollars to realize the lifestyle of your dreams. Ellie Kay’s entertaining and enlightening examples show you simple steps to save, spend, and give smart, and her three main principles are undergirded by dozens of effective rules and hundreds of Cha-Ching Factor™ tips that keep or put money in your pocket.

Living Rich for Less helps anyone get there in our taxed-out, maxed-out times. Because financial security doesn’t mean just genuine prosperity, but being able to live luxuriously, give generously, and care for yourself as well as the others around you.

Where to get the book:
Amazon (www.amazon.com)

Win a free book:
Be the first one to email me (include your name and address) and you will receive your very own copy of “Living Rich For Less” – FREE!

briandolleman@mac.com

for more information, visit my website: www.briandolleman.com

Sunday Review: Joy… and Snow

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Snow and church never seem to get along very well  – unless we’re talking about church in the mountains where everyone gets around on snowmobiles. In the Seattle area, it seems like everything comes screeching dramatically to a snail-like pace. The masses don’t know how to drive… people actually park their cars on the road and start walking!

Yesterday was one of those icy, snowy days. As pastors, we’re thinking things like: “should we hire someone to come plow the parking lot?” and “if it’s bad enough that the parking lot needs to be plowed, will anyone be driving in those conditions anyway?” and “should we just cancel church so people don’t have to risk their lives driving here?” and “if we cancel one or more of our services, how will we ever let people know?”

So, we eventually decided to go ahead with church as planned. No snow plow. No late start. No cancelled service. Just marching on with our regular services…

I wondered if anyone would show up. I expected a very small turnout.

By our 8:30 leadership rally point meeting, the church was buzzing with activity. We had a great group of volunteers that came early and were ready to serve.

Our total attendance for the day was about half of what it normally is, but church was excellent, fun and well-worth the effort of driving in the snow.

We even had first-time guests in both services… Wow! You know those people really wanted to come to church – they pushed through the arctic conditions and intimidation of going somewhere for the first time, refusing to accept even “legitimate” excuses for not coming to church.

After the second service, a group of guys from the church met at Meeker Middle School for a serious game of football… in the snow! It was awesome, a blast.

The message on Sunday was #3 in the Kingdom Christmas series… on joy.

Luke 2:10
…I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem

Jesus was a baby. He didn’t begin his ministry until he was 30 years of age. He didn’t go to the cross & die for our sins until he was 33 years old.

The joy was about something that could be seen down the road – it was about something that was not immediate – yet it was certain, destined, promised & was sure to happen.

The good news that brings great joy to all people – the birth of Jesus Christ – was an event, but that event would be incomplete without a process.

What did Jesus do until he began his ministry at the age of 30? The answer is found in Luke 2:52 – Jesus grew in wisdom & stature & favor with God & man.

Events are significant but they are incomplete without a process that follows…

Hebrews 12
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

Verse 2 in the New King James Version –
…looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus wasn’t near-sighted. He was able to see the prize, reward, blessing, promise that was at a distance – which is why he was willing to endure the cross.

Why do we stop trying, bail out, drop out, quit, move on, and leave? Because we only see the immediate – we are so caught up with the discomfort of the moment that we lose sight of the goal, reward, or prize.

Jesus has 20/20 vision. We need “Jesus glasses” – the ability to see what Jesus sees.

We tend to overestimate the significance of events & underestimate the significance of process.

Events that produce the sensation of pleasure or happiness do not last –
Drugs
Dessert
Sex
Shopping

Likewise, events that produce the sensation of pain or discomfort do not last –
Saving instead of spending
Exercise
Eating healthy
Waiting for marriage
Talking through a difficult issue with someone

Events are good for making decisions but only process produces consistent growth.

Thank God for events but they are limited in what they can achieve.
Don’t attempt to build your life on events, rather, embrace the process.

Naaman threw a fit when the prophet didn’t come out and wave his hand over Naaman’s leprosy. He was looking for something spectacular and dramatic. Instead, Elisha sent a message through his servant for Naaman to go dunk himself in the Jordan river 7 times.

Naaman wanted an event but his cure was at the end of a process.

Galatians 6:9
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

A harvest of blessing is waiting for you
Joy awaits you, so…

Don’t give up
Don’t back down
Don’t quit now
Don’t lose heart
Don’t settle for something else
Don’t stop short
Don’t take the quick fix

Get your “Jesus glasses” on & see the prize, the reward, the promise, the blessing…

Psalm 30:5b
Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.

Psalm 126
5 Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy.
6 They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest.

Joy says, it might be tough right now, but I’m not giving up because my blessing is right around the corner.

Joy says this current pain is just a minor nuisance compared to the incredible reward that will be mine soon.

Joy says… Our marriage is difficult right now – but we will grow through this & experience the joys that come with the lifetime covenant of marriage.

Joy says… I don’t  always feel goose bumps when I read my Bible – but I am committed to the process of becoming more like Jesus, which is deeply satisfying & rewarding.

Joy says… I don’t need a quick fix, a hit, a pill, a drink, a shopping binge, a random sexual encounter, or a lotto ticket – because I’ve come to realize that these things leave me broke, hurt, lonely, hungry, addicted, strung-out, unsatisfied & always wanting more.

Joy says… I will embrace the process – the process of learning, growing, improving, changing, being transformed, of raising my kids to know Jesus, of working on my marriage even when it’s uncomfortable, of being smart with my money when everyone else is charging away, of serving my church when others are hopping from place to place, of becoming whole not just full of Christian clichés.

Psalm 34:5
Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.

DID YOU MISS CHURCH ON SUNDAY?
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Leadership Insights From Daniel 4

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Leadership isn’t about YOU – it’s about OTHERS.

Too many leaders are concerned about THEIR title, power, authority, perks, rights, place, agenda, comfort, etc.

Great leadership is motivated by a genuine desire to HELP OTHERS .

Remember what Jesus said? “I DIDN’T COME TO BE SERVED, BUT TO SERVE AND TO GIVE…”

Daniel was quickly promoted. He was a success story. God’s favor was on his life and Nebuchadnezzar (the king Daniel served) benefited from having Daniel “on his team.”

Daniel certainly received the perks of leadership. Not only was Daniel promoted but he was also showered with gifts and the “extras” that seem to go along with leadership positions.

One thing I noticed about Daniel is that HE BROUGHT OTHERS WITH HIM AS HE RECEIVED PROMOTIONS.

Daniel 2
47 The king said to Daniel, “Truly, your God is the greatest of gods, the Lord over kings, a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this secret.”
48 Then the king appointed Daniel to a high position and gave him many valuable gifts. He made Daniel ruler over the whole province of Babylon, as well as chief over all his wise men.
49 At Daniel’s request, the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to be in charge of all the affairs of the province of Babylon, while Daniel remained in the king’s court.

Notice what verse 49 says, “At Daniel’s request, the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to be in charge…”

Daniel saw to it that his friends were promoted. He didn’t have to. He could have left them in the dust as he moved on to bigger and better things… but he made sure that his buddies were brought up along with him.

Leadership Thoughts:

As you grow to new levels, make sure you bring people with you!

Promote others.

Believe in people. Believe in them more than they believe in themselves. Help them accomplish more than they could on their own.

By the way – that last point is my life mission statement: I exist to believe in people more than they believe in themselves and to help them accomplish more than they ever could on their own.