The Secret is Caring

Good Day to you!

It’s kinda nice to have someone give us a nice warm greeting each day, isn’t it?

I once knocked on a door of someone’s home as I was inviting people to a special event at our church, and was quite shocked when the owner of the home opened the door and, before I could say a word, launched into a multi-syllable cuss fest about how much of a “hypocrite you are for walking across the street from your church to talk to me when you could care less about me! You just want to show everyone you are better than them and act like you are so holy!”

This tirade went on for about five minutes, but lasted for an eternity – it seemed to me anyway. The funny thing was, this was decades earlier when our society wasn’t quite as turned off to cold call invitations. But this house was maybe a few hundred feet from our church building. I was totally shocked to hear such negative words directed at my character.

I have since learned to not take this kind of thing personally (I very much recommend a special brand of duck-feather oil – you will live a happier and longer life!)

Anyhoo… yeah, this blew a little wind out of my sails at the time. What shocked me was that this lady had me all wrong. Or did she?

As I considered her words, I realized that she was wrong in that I wasn’t out there to make anyone feel bad, or think i was more holy than they. I was out to merely be used by God to offer eternal hope to people.

At the same time, she was also right – I did NOT care about her personally. I mean, how could I? I had never met her. Sometimes we need to show people we care before we do anything else. This woman had probably been preached to and “evangelized” many times before by well-meaning church people, or others not as well-meaning.

I have learned that I need God’s compassion for others. I have seen that when I show someone care, concern, compassion, they are very open to hearing anything I have to say.

I used to think it was what I KNEW that would change the world. Now I know that it isn’t about what I KNOW, its about how deeply I CARE. True love and compassion has moved many mountains in our world.

Ask God to give you His compassion for others. And then, once you care, ask Him to show you how to show that love and concern.

The secret lies not in KNOWING, the SECRET IS – CARING!

Until Next Time
Jeff

Check out updates for my upcoming book with co-author MIKE STEHR at https://www.facebook.com/GetTheLifeBook


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Thanksgiving Training Day

Yep.

I went to Training School to learn my Thanksgiving skills.

I was schooled and sharpened; re-tooled, tried and tested by my own mother. She was a Thanksgiving Meal Master. She has been taught in the school of amazing Thanksgiving deliciousness by her mother – my grandmother, a Jedi Thanksgiving cook in her own right.

You could set the Thanksgiving Day raw ingredients in front of the average male, and they would croak under pressure, moan under total cluelessness. They could haul the giant bird up from the freezer and take the plastic wrap off. After that, they would just back away and watch football on the TV. The men in our extended family could lift and haul and peal, but they could not turn the frozen and uncooked elements into the fabulous food finale’ that my grandmother and mother could.

The first few years, I was content to merely enjoy the deliciousness and experience the dining ecstasy. But the day came when I was now old enough to be trained. My mother had no daughters. I was first in line. My number was called, my draft card was issued. It was time to step into the Thanksgiving master cook arena. It was time to sink or swim! Cook or be cooked!

At the crack of Thanksgiving Day dawn, my mother arose. Since I was now in basic training, she burst into my room and woke me up. “Time to get the turkey ready.” Oh, she said it nice enough. But I knew what the stakes were. Anytime I had to get up before dawn, I knew it was serious. I was still half-asleep. But I looked into my mother’s eyes. Her countenance said it all. “Game on!”

I was amazed how easily my mother put together the stuffing – a mix of soft bread pudding with perfectly cooked celery and the most pleasantly aromatic sage and onion smell I had ever experienced. I watched her stuff the bird in holes I never knew existed. Turns out God designed this bird to be so perfect for this magical stuffing-manna from heaven. She had figured out a way to make the stuffing the night before so that it seemed to appear out of nowhere. And they say mom’s aren’t magicians!

Then we went to the potatoes. Two million potatoes (it seemed to me) were pealed and polished. The scraps filled up three full garbage bags, I think. Then the peeled potatoes were put into a gigantic pot and boiled for a long, long time. Our family tradition included making scalloped corn and candied sweet potatoes. I have no idea how she made those dishes. The corn was succulent and salty, and the sweet potatoes were rich and luscious. No mortal could create such divine offerings.

When I thought I could not take one more culinary wonder, my mother pulled out a light saber looking knife and went into the cooked turkey – cutting slices of meat so tasty, I could not tell if the juices that seeped forth from each bite were from the fantastic fowl or from my own salivating mouth. To add more insult to outlandish injury, she created a supernatural sauce so succulent, so pungent, I felt my heart skipping beats and racing faster and faster! Yes, she called it gravy, I called it “glorious.”

It was amazing to watch this feast come together on a great table – one that had to be specially built by commercial contractors just to fit all of the food on one place. We sat down for the meal. Dad would pray that we wouldn’t die from delight. And yes, of course we were thankful. Thankful to live in a country that could come up with a holiday so wonderful.

We ate and ate and ate. When the meal was over, paramedics would come and check our pulse, to see if we were still alive. If we were, as was usually the case, mom would then bring in the crème de la crème – The Pumpkin Pie!

No way! I was sure this was a secret plot to assassinate all of us. What a clever way to kill someone, and yet be totally innocent of any wrongdoing! The truth is, we loved it of course. The men looked at their huge stomachs, and for a moment had the sense to say “No way” to dessert just after total engorgement. But at the end of the day, resistance is futile. We all knew we would not only eat one piece, but two!

And just to make it irresistible, Mom would take her last trick up her sleeve – whipping cream! She would put that on top of the pie! A bright light would shine forth from her hand and it would totally wipe out all other sights or senses. We had no will left. Men, with five pounds of food undigested still in their bellies, would then eat even more pieces of pumpkin pie!

Mom had not eaten yet. She was the orchestrator of this great production. When it was over, everyone was slumped in their chairs, totally unconscious. If my memory is correct, at least once I saw her leap into the air, spinning sideways twice around (Yes, a 720!) and landed with the light saber knife extended – exhaling a victorious wheeze that would make Bruce Lee envious!

Perhaps I have exaggerated some of this in my distant memory, but that is how my ten-year old brain remembered it.

Because you see, I was trained in the fine art of Thanksgiving Day Feasts. This Thanksgiving, I will prepare the bird for the 35th time, I will perform the same miracles my mother and grandmother did. I am no chef, but when it comes to Thanksgiving, you better watch out. I got my game face on, and my light saber knife is all charged up and ready for some mean meat trimming!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Jeff

Passion

Quick shout out to all of those who helped in spreading the word about

Pebbles in the Pond – Wave II

We did it!

I so much appreciate all of your interest in this project! If you haven’t got your copy yet, I would encourage you to do so right now! And after you have read the book, please offer a brief review on Amazon.com. It helps others understand more about the book and why people like it.

BUY BOOK HERE

I like it because each chapter is written by a different author. I have met almost all of the other authors and I can tell you – they all have PASSION for life and what they believe their contribution is to life.

PASSION to help others. Wow. What a concept!

So many seem to have no passions except for themselves. Some people have passion to harm others. Some have passion to avoid having any positive passions.

But one thing I think is true – most people are driven by their passions.

It is my sincere hope and prayer that you will discover your passion through reading books like these or meeting authors like those in our book, and begin to make a difference in other people’s lives.

Mother Teresa said many times that she was not driven by the passion to change the world, but by Jesus’ love in her heart to change the life of one person – no matter how poor or insignificant the world would say that person’s life is.

I hope you can find that passion deep inside to help one person today. And together, if we all love one person, we will change the whole world together!

Until next time,

Jeff

Pebble Time!

Hey there!

As advertised, I am formally announcing the ARRIVAL of my NEW BOOK – “Pebbles in the Pond – Wave II”… I am actually one of 20 plus co-authors. Each of us has contributed a chapter that tells a personal story of transformation from trial to triumph.

BUY BOOK & GET GREAT GIFTS HERE!

Here is the VIDEO PROMO of Pebbles in the Pond – Wave II

Pebbles in Pond Pic

 

 

 

 

Each of us is a pebble in the pond called planet earth. We feel so small, insignificant. But the truth is, one person can make a small ripple that can go to the ends of the earth. Pebbles in the pond is exactly that – men and women who are making a difference one person at a time.

This world is in need of hope, love, peace, togetherness, and mutual understanding. This book is really just another way of offering hope and encouragement to people.

BUY THIS BOOK

Discover how you can turn your trials, temptations, tests into triumphs!

New Book – My Chapter

Recently I was interviewed via video for a new book in which I am one of several contributing authors. It’s called PEBBLES IN THE POND – WAVE TWO and it’s about life changing transformational events in the lives of each author; and how these events re-shaped the authors worldview, focus, mindset et.

I am excited about this project!

The book officially drops (is ready for public purchase) May 1, 2013.

Although the book is not necessarily a “Christian” book, there are certainly Christian themes and truths presented. The authors are from all over the world. Nine different nations are represented and a variety of theological and religious backgrounds.

It would be similar to a book about world hunger, or sex trafficking, or urban renewal from a variety of perspectives. Some authors may espouse a particular faith or religion, other authors may not come from a religious perspective at all. The commonality is that each writer presents the notion that all of us need to go through significant transformations deep within our own soul in order to be prepared to impact humanity.

So just know up front that you may not agree with every theological or religious perspective that the authors may personally adhere to. However I am sure you will appreciate the depth of personal pain and struggle that each writer went through in order to achieve a life-changing transformation.

In my case, I wrote about a life-changing moment in my ministry in which God totally re-directed my thinking, my values and my goals while I was on the pastoral staff at a midwest mega-church.

Next time I will give you a “sneak peek” of my chapter – so you can read a few paragraphs of what I wrote.

I will get you book purchase info in coming days as May 1 draws near!

Peace, love and grace to you!

Jeff

What’s Your Story?

I love a good story.

Especially do I love a good story well told.

One of my favorite memories growing up was listening to my father and his brothers telling stories about their childhood. The crazy pranks they pulled on each other growing up on a Southern Minnesota farm rank in my mind as some of the most hilarious and outlandish stories I can ever remember hearing.

One such story that I recall them telling often was when my uncle (5 uncles and 1 aunt on my father’s side) was a teenager and working shirtless in the yard under a sweltering sun, my father (2 years younger) saw a perfect opportunity to pull the daily prank. He plucked a corn cob out of the field, emptied the core, and filled it with the usual load of gun powder. Then my father attached a fairly short wick – judging his distance (as all of them had become increasingly proficient at estimating when it came to homemade explosives), he snuck behind the large hay barn, and lit the wick. Immediately he flung the corn bomb over the barn, not really knowing how close his throw was to hitting his brother.

It should be noted that this particular corn cob was not of the soft sweet corn variety. Rather, it was the hard as rock kernel kind. As luck, or fate, would have it, my father threw the most accurate corn grenade in the history of corn cob explosive tosses. It was heading point blank for the bare back of my bent-over uncle. And when it got to about five feet from his back, it exploded into a spray of hard corn kernel shrapnel. Needless to say, I shrill cry of agonizing pain went out from the family acreage and was heard fifteen miles away in every direction. Cut to – the lifeless body of my uncle laying prostrate and unconscious on the ground, with about one hundred red dots swelling at a rapid rate.

That story has been told probably over a thousand times over the years. The amazing thing is, it was just one story among dozens and dozens of equally dangerous and hilarious stories about my father’s family. Somehow they survived, I am happy to report!

The skill with which each uncle told their story is especially remarkable. After a few of these story sessions, it was clear they had learned the art of telling stories. They all seemed to have a knack for setting up each story with enough backdrop and detail, but also knew how to deliver the pay-off, or punch line depending on the story.

They were all true stories, with very little exaggerations. But what was amazing was the roar of laughter that was always produced with each story. Many times, there were twenty or thirty cousins and nephews and aunts and relatives gathered around. I dont know if I have ever laughed harder in my life.

I have always been a story-teller. I have always enjoyed hearing stories and watching or reading stories. Most likely this has to do with my upbringing.

God is the ultimate storyteller. It has been said that the story of Jesus is the ultimate story. Some of the greatest movies of all time have a messianic storyline. Many superhero storylines follow a messianic plot line. In fact, God is in the habit of making great stories out of you and I. Each one of us has a journey, a destiny, a story to fulfill. Just read the Old Testament for five minutes and you will come across some amazing stories of people in need, and trusting God as He once again comes through.

So the next time you find yourself really enjoying a good story, just think about the story you are in – your own life! Believe God for miracles in your life today. Don’t give up. Don’t give in. Don’t let others discourage you. Usually those who discourage us are too afraid to finish their own story so they spend their time foolishly tearing down other’s stories. Quite frankly, the Bible has strong words for the small people who resort to such actions. Don’t give up on your story! But even when we fall down, He will be there to complete the story He started in you! (Philippians 1:6)

Timing is Everything

Comic genius Steve Martin explains the secret to comedy is “all about the… Time-t…ti-ming…. Timing!

I think success is very similar. I have tried to push through some projects and ideas only to hit a brick wall, resulting in complete failure, or frustration. But then there are other projects that seem to have a path cleared out before them. Even if there is a lot of work involved in following them through, there is a sense of “easy” to them.

Right now, one of the projects I am involved with is an adaptation of Charles Dickens classic tale “Oliver Twist”. This will be shown for a couple weeks run live on our stage at Rochester Assembly. I am re-writing it specifically for this production. Also our music director is writing new music for it. I am excited to see what we come up with!

We will be auitioning most of the parts. I have already chosen one actor to play one of the main characters. We will see who rises to the top this time around.

One of the reasons I opted for an original adaptation over a pre-existing version is because some of the characters and moments in the original Dickens novel are left out in many of the film and stage versions (including the Oscar winning film Oliver!). I want this version to be a touch darker and even deal with some of the more controversial material Dickens dealt with such as religious insensitivity, child abuse, the neglect of the poor, and basic love for the lower classes of society. But of course, true to Dickens form, there still needs to be plenty of humor and irony.

Will continue to update on this project!