Archives For God

I was turned onto this book by a dear friend who happens to be a psychologist. Our conversation that night was around why people do what they do. I was fresh off some training with some Franklin Covey guys where they used an illustration (Fig. 1) that shows our behaviors are shaped by our beliefs and those behaviors produces results that either reinforce or challenge our beliefs. Belief Behavior ResultsThe point is that if you want to see change in your life, just changing what you “do” won’t produce any sustainable results unless we also change what we believe.

That’s when my friend said I should read Gary Smalley’s book, Change your Heart, Change your Life. He went on to tell me that it was a book about just what the Franklin Covey guys illustrated and was, in part, a personal testimony of this life-change technique in Smalley’s life.

So, I picked up the eBook for my iPhone and started reading it, but I didn’t read it alone. I invited a friend to read it with me (HINT: accountability technique was just disclosed). In the very first chapter, I was hooked. If the rest of the book delivered on just half of what Smalley claimed to do, I would be a better man for it.

In essence, the book walks you through how to both identify the beliefs that shape negative behavior and how to replace them with Scriptural Truth and in essence transform your life into one that is described as “abundant” by Jesus.

In just a few short weeks, I was indeed thinking and believing things differently as was my reading buddy. We both saw how those new beliefs had an internal and external impact on our lives. I highly recommend this great little book that can help unlock the potential for the life God desires for us all.

In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that this book contains the techniques and principles needed to kick that nagging behavior that is stealing life from you over and over. It is a must for men and certainly won’t be a waste of time for women.

I’ve been tinkering with Google SketchUp and have been really impressed with how easy it is to pick up and create some very cool and quite accurate drawings. So, I’m officially adding Google SketchUp design services as a marketable skill to be included in the Manatt Web suite of offerings.

Before you bombard me with requests and lots of money, I should warn you that it takes me an inordinate amount of time to do these things and I charge by the hour. So, if you’re OK with that, I’m too. Just head on over to and click the big GET STARTED button and we’ll be in business.

No big announcement would be complete without a few examples of my work. I’ll show two for now just to whet the ole appetite:

This will be some cabinets I build in our office. The top will eventually extend and become a desk and the entire unit will fill one of the walls. It is deep enough to add bookcases above and will also have doors added to the front to conceal the junk…I mean, valuable treasures we need to keep there.

This monster is a wheelchair ramp that we’ll be building in a house for CityFest. I will feature a gate and steps at the end of the first leg of the ramp (v. 2.0) to accommodate able-bodied people. The construction material will be pressure treated dimensional lumber. This project will also feature replacing the front steps and a wheelchair “boardwalk” from the carport to the mailbox as well as some basic landscaping and all around care.

If you’re in Central Arkansas on or after Oct. 2nd, come on by at the corner of Hwy 10 and Russ St. and be sure to bring your gloves and a hammer or two. You won’t be alone as literally thousands of people from the area churches will be out in force that day loving on our cities with the sweat of their brow and the work of their hands.

I saw an ad the other day promoting a video series that touted to be THE way to bring the Christian church back to what God intended. It was a beautiful video – very emotionally engaging and fired me up…until I saw the “Purchase” button at the end.

I’m a staunch capitalist and believe that the fundamental basis for prosperity in America relies on producers to create goods and services that people want to buy. Included in that is a protector from monopolies because competition keeps commerce honest. BUT – that’s business, not church.

If the video’s claim is true, why not ensure every Christian in the world gets it? Why charge $12? Is that what it’s worth? The claim makes it sound so much more – even to the point of absurdity.

My point is this – all too often it seems like Christians are hocking the secrets of the universe and reminds me of the merchants at the temple that got Jesus all fired up. Does it cost money to produce videos and publish books – yep. Do we have to follow the same rules the world has to make sure those costs are covered – absolutely not.

If this video or that book can change the world – get it funded through donations and then give it away. Let the impact of the message determine it’s viability to get funding. One thing is for sure – there will be a lot less clutter on our church bookstores…heck – there won’t even be a bookstore because everything in it is free.

Let’s not take the maturity of God and sell it for trinkets – let’s make sure that life-changing message is heard.

Who’s with me???

I was speaking with some friends last night and the subject of church came up and I had an opportunity to share about a paradigm shift I’ve made over the past few years that has revolutionized some real key aspects of being a Christian.

The first thing is that I believe God has given ME a ministry – to my wife, my kids, my neighborhood, my workplace, my church, etc. He desires me to live out my faith both with Him and the world around me daily – with passion, integrity and complete abandon.

Secondly, He’s given me a proper perspective on the role of my local church in that ministry. In the past, I felt like I was part of the ministry of my church – one small part of a much larger effort. This meant that I felt obligated to make sure I was operating within organizational parameters. From the curriculum I was taking my small group through, to the volunteer role I was playing on Sunday morning, to the various service activities I put my hand to – all of it was the ministry of the church and I was there to help fulfill it as I could.

That’s not how things are today. Remember, God has given me a ministry and is holding me responsible for it. It is personalized to me and takes into account who I am: my strengths, weaknesses, personality, experiences and the specific skills and talents He chose to endow me with. As such, the local church has become a resource to my ministry. Let me say that again – the local church is a resource to MY ministry; not the other way around.

This has produced a confidence of responsibility that frees me up to listen to the Author of my faith and the Designer of my ministry and move according to His plan. All of a sudden you have a new grid to filter opportunities through and it puts the power and accountability squarely on your shoulders, which can be a bit daunting if you think you are doing this on your own strength. That’s another post altogether though.

The local church’s proper role is to equip and unleash God’s people to pursue Him and His purposes in their lives. Sometimes this is easier for them to say than do, but I think we can help if we will adjust our thinking just a smidge to take responsibility for what God has given us and make that our focus.

As with other paradigm shifts I’ve talked about, there needs to be a cautionary note to prevent misinterpretation. I’m not saying that we should ignore and abstain from getting involved with what the local church is doing. Often, these events are great ways to grow relationships, meet new people and be a blessing to the world around us. The shift is in motivation. No longer do you have to do these things as an obligation to the church, but rather as a strategic choice in serving your God – and there could be no more lovely fragrance to Him than a right heart that’s passionate to serve Him and be a part of His plan for His people.

So, the question comes down to motivation. Are you abdicating the responsibility for your faith to the church or are you taking personal responsibility for your ministry and seeking His guidance about what’s next? You don’t need permission from anyone to do what God is calling you to – you only need faith expressed in courageous obedience.

Being Dad

Steve —  6.21.2010 — Leave a comment

I had a wonderful Father’s Day this year. It was filled with family, fun and good food. In fact, the entire weekend was one of the best in recent memory.

One of the contributing factors was the way I was touched this year about being the father to my wonderful kids. Looking back down the road that led to this moment is like stopping at a vista overlook atop a mountain and seeing the road below that you had just been on. It twists and turns and disappears into the trees and valleys just to reappear where you don’t expect it.

Memories come flooding back of the hard times when we panicked because we thought we were lost and the timid confidence when we finally found our way.

Times when the trees formed a tunnel that blocked the sky only to give way to sunshine that made us squint just to see the road.

The rest stops that let us stretch our legs, grab a snack and prepare for the next patch of road.

The subtle and steady rise in the road as the mountain loomed large in the windshield that made our pulse quicken only to realize just how far away we still were.

The narrow roads with amazingly dangerous drop-offs that made me slow our pace and put both hands on the wheel.

The disbelief of the claimed summit and the view that fills our soul with God’s wonder.

This Father’s Day, my soul was filled with God’s wonder of being a dad and husband to the best family on the planet. In my wildest dreams, I never would have been able to predict just how FULL my heart is and how blessed I feel.

At the same time, there’s a twinge of sadness because I don’t have the chance to celebrate my earthly father. His death when I was a boy has left a hole in my heart that I still feel some 33 years later. But just a twinge…

Thanks are in order to my lovely wife for celebrating me, loving me, respecting me, and placing her trust in me as I place my trust in my Heavenly Father to make the road down the other side of the mountain a journey filled with strength, courage and wisdom. May we keep our eyes fixed on Him as we put one foot in front of the other on our way Home…

The title for this post actually came to me in a dream and I was describing to someone in a heated debate how their version of organizational effectiveness was like throwing dice in the dark: gambling and guessing about success.

This post (and the dream) come in the wake of years of passionate thought around what it takes for organizations to realize their potential and prevent the loss of toes at their own hands.

To me, it comes down to just one thing: metrics. Every action can be measured in some form or fashion. Consequently, that measurement can be evaluated against a standard and determined to either exceed or fall below that standard. The difference (or delta for any math majors) between the standard and the measurement will help determine next steps to either help maintain an exceptional result or correct a sub-standard one.

The real money is in answering some very key questions:

  1. What’s the question? Most want to ask a different question first – what to measure? But, before you determine what you are going to measure, you must first know what question you are trying to answer. Of course, there is an endless number of questions, so you have to be willing to ask the best and most important questions. How do you determine that? The mission statement of the organization should be your guide.

    For example: If the question is how to determine sermon effectiveness on a given Sunday, someone might suggest you measure attendance. Is the question a good one? Sure it is because spiritual growth is most likely part of any church’s mission statement. Can you measure attendance? Sure, just count the people in the seats mid-way though the service. Does that number correlate to effectiveness of a sermon? Unless you’re sole reason for preaching is to fill seats, then the answer is no. Silly example? You would be surprised how often this metric is used to answer all kinds of questions.

  2. What to measure? Now that we have our question, we can now get down to defining the measurements we need to make. Even still, a deep understanding of what success looks like must shape our thoughts in this regard. To be truly beneficial, success must be defined AND agreed upon before we can measure and draw conclusions from the data we collect.
  3. What to conclude? Ever heard of a police detective determining the suspect before any evidence has been processed? That’s called predetermination and just as in police work, making the data fit a predetermined conclusion is – simply put – wrong. Why go through the exercise of asking good questions and putting together meaningful metrics only to get the answer you wanted anyway?The truth is rarely easy to uncover and  sometimes less easy to swallow. It’s our nature to want to shortcut the process and our brains automatically make connections that aren’t based totally in factual evidence. That’s why we must resist these urges and maintain the integrity of the process. The only way to move forward toward a better tomorrow is to let the unfettered truth come to light and allow it to dictate next steps.

Like I said in the beginning, I believe this is the crux to discovering the potential for an organization’s effectiveness, but it is by no means the only piece of the puzzle. The process of examining decisions for success takes time, resources and energy – all of which are in short supply in America and especially in our churches.

It is my assertion that until we are able to ask the BEST questions, measure the RIGHT criteria and conclude HONESTLY the truth of a situation, we won’t BE better tomorrow than we are today. Until then, we are just throwing dice in the dark.