Episode 10, The AWP: The Language and Led Blanket of Love

Episode 10, The AWP: The Language and Led Blanket of Love

Featuring Special Guest Eric Markle: father, friend and fellow church leader.

Early last year I talked about the rare and unlikely event of having a very tranquil experience in the dentist chair…

I know, like I said, rare and unlikely.

But I wrote about one particular aspect of which: the moment that big, heavy, led blanket is laid across your chest and hips prior to x-rays of course.

So there is our metaphor for God’s love in fact.

God’s love is like a led blanket in at least 3 ways:

  1. It is the only place you will find real and lasting protection
  2. It must be made available to every single person and deserving of every single person
  3. It is used indiscriminately, even with an arch-enemy

Please have a listen!

Here is the MP3

Here is the iTunes link

References:
Gary Chapman book “The Five Love Languages”

1. There is no protection like the Led Blanket of Love
2. You are worthy of a love like the Led Blanket can offer
3. Led blanket love is enemy love

Bonus:
-in all things, choose love
-optimize love by loving others according to how they best receive and experience love

Application:
Five Love Languages – Gary Chapman
1. Gift Giving
2. Quality Time
3. Word of Affirmation
4. Acts of Service
5. Physical Touch

What are some examples, in your daily walk with God, of how he shows His love to you?
What is your strategy with your spouse, to express the ethic of love?
What is your strategy with your children, to express the ethic of love?

Episode 9, The AWP: Get Unstuck, Use Your Dashboard

Episode 9, The AWP: Get Unstuck, Use Your Dashboard

Ever felt stuck or stagnant in your work or relationships because you’ve lost track of what the point behind it all is…?

You may be in need of a dashboard…

Dashboard, defined as a ‘picture of performance.’ Like the dashboard of a car, everyone needs a crystal clear AND visible dashboard for progress and destinations.

We have all been stuck, unsatisfied or void of purpose in work or life and for many different reasons. One that is cheif among them-I would bet-is a lack of vision for where you’re going AND how you’re doing getting there!

That’s where a dashboard would be helpful for creating clear and visible goals for your relationships, families and organizations.

The beauty of the dashboard is not just focus on the destination, but attention to the ups and downs of the journey.

Here is the episode audio file.

Here is the iTunes link.

Here are 3 questions to ask about moving from stuckness and plateau into passion in your work, life or family.

The 3 questions:

1. What’s your fight?

2. What’s your position?

3. Are you competing?

Application:

1. Create a dashboard that’s based off of a 1, 3 or 5 year plan (for your Prefered future, desired outcomes or goals)

2. Fill the dashboard with some of the things you want to see movement on

3. Review it early and often (otherwise its not a VISIBLE dashboard at all)

4. Use new numbers (not merely budgets or bottom lines; go beyond numbers to find what you really want to measure along the way)

Here are some Sources for further reading-each one of these guys are giants in this area (compared to me!)

–>Paul David Tripp book on Parenting https://www.amazon.com/Parenting-Gospel-Principles-Radically-Change/dp/1433551934/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1530216267&sr=8-1&keywords=parenting+by+paul+david+tripp

–>Ravi Zacharis https://rzim.org

–>Chris McChesney and people knowing they are playing a winning game; has a book out but also found here: https://www.franklincovey.com/speakers-bureau/chris-mcchesney.html

–>Craig Groeschel on Declarative Statements https://openblog.life.church/the-power-of-personal-declarations/

Episode 8, The AWP: Two Things you Must Tell Your Leaders every Week (Vision & Affirmation)

Episode 8, The AWP: Two Things you Must Tell Your Leaders every Week (Vision & Affirmation)

Another really personal topic for me this month: leadership identity.

The truth is: in the constant swirl of self-doubt, negative self-talk and overall mental negativity bias, we all need to hear the following words early and often:

Who you are as a leader is worth multiplying.

Fresh & passionate leadership lies at the intersection of consistent vision and identity affirmation.

If you have even one person in your life who counts on you, a child, a friend, a co-worker or mentee, then you are a leader. You have tremendous influence. And the “stuff” that’s inside you-all the character and competency and heart and faith-is worth multiplying in the next generation of leaders.

I hope you are encouraged by this month end post.

As always you can have a listen using the following two platforms:

MP3 file

Or

iTunes

Here are some application questions and links for further support:

Application Questions:

1, Who is one person you may have overlooked calling out the best in?

2, What is one thing you can do to begin building the habit of offering consistent vision & affirmation for your people?

Entering the Podcast Space!

Hello my faithful blog subscribers!

I’m super excited to announce this new development in content.

I hoping with the new addition you can take this encouraging content on the go with you!

Yes another podcast. But not really… because if I didn’t think it offered something unique AND if I thought it wouldn’t be worth the time (HELLO! We have 7 kids now; if anyone appreciates the value of time well spent, its me!)  I wouldn’t do it!

Do me a favor if you are going to the trouble to actually click on the podcast link (provided below!) please

RATE AND REVIEW!!!

If we all do that it gives the podcast better position for ‘best new podcast’ category (which is really all about reaching and encouraging more people!)

Here’s the run down:

2 posts a month.

No more than 25 mins each.

About family life, leadership and faith.

The point is to better get through stuck and plateau seasons. I GUARANTEE if you listen you’ll be encouraged and inspired.

I would not, will not post content that is worthless! The sound of my voice is not that great! But if you could use useful anecdote from my life and the wisdom of great leaders I’ve come to know, then tune in!

And if enough of you ANDROID folks are interested I’ll put it up on your favorite podcast platform too!

Here is the link for iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-applebee-way-podcast/id1360268888

Here is the podcast website link (for those not using Apple products):

http://www.buzzsprout.com/145440

 

 

Porn, Covenant, Intimacy and the Answer to our Broken Sexual Worldview

Porn, Covenant, Intimacy and the Answer to our Broken Sexual Worldview

It’s every week for months now that another high-profile figure is engulfed in the next alleged sexual assault scandal.

This last one regarding comedian and actor Aziz Ansari finally struck a chord and I’m connecting the dots.

First, my heart breaks for any person who has every felt intimidated, pressured, trapped  or manipulated into a situation mental, emotional or physical. And I can only imagine the isolation that ensues from feeling voiceless-before, during or after such an episode. For those, I simply say: 1, I am glad if you find voice or advocacy for your voice; 2, solidarity of any kind is good and; 3, God is close to the broken-hearted.

Now here is my proposition. This issue, while not new by any stretch-but finally proliferated from an uncovering standpoint-originates from 3 fundamental societal shortcomings.

1 The pornification of society.

These men-and I can almost guarantee you (though there is obviously no possible way to prove this) that every single one of these accused men has been addicted to pornography.

And while I will not list all the objectively and quantifiablely destructive aspects of pornography I will simply highlight a couple relevant issues and cite what is one of the best articles ever published on the topic.

The bottom line for me is this: an insane number of-yes, mostly men-are addicted to porn; they are becoming exposed to porn at earlier ages and there are AT LEAST two horrifying side effects: 1, boys and men come to view woman as objects and 2, after a certain level of exposure to porn the type and degree of porn gets more and more graphic and grotesque.

These and many other notable objections are posted here for further reading; if you even know a person of the male variety, I HIGHLY recommend checking this article out.

2, The distortion of true intimacy

When I was still in student ministries we did a series on dating and sex and here was the big idea from 4-6 weeks of teaching on the subject: the definition of intimacy is to know someone fully and to be known by someone fully.

The basis is trust, security and in-depth knowledge of one another. And, biologically speaking, boys tend to be more wired for the pleasure of sex, while girls are wired for the real ethos of intimacy: to be known, cherished, trusted, wanted, valued and LOVED!

In the article I read about the Aziz Ansari accuser, you want to know one of the parts that stuck out to me the most? It wasn’t the graphic and very sad sexual advances. It was the part where they sat down, she had expressed discomfort and she imagined that perhaps he would rub her back or play with her hair… THAT is the very personification of intimacy.

Note that those gestures could have been accomplished by a father figure rather than a sexual partner. That may sound odd, but which one is trusted, honored and cherished more: the father who raised this young woman or the one night stand super star?

3, The lostness of covenant

Though an intensely Biblical word, I would define covenant as compact, contract, agreement, vow, commitment-all powerful words that evoke a mutual promise. A mutual promise, by the way, that forms the bedrock for ALL ELSE in a relationship-of any significant kind-romantical or otherwise!

When I was a freshman in college, I had my first major breakup where I had been intimate with the girl. Without going into too much detail, she was the one who had a breach of trust and for days and weeks I pouted about like a real victim! And then something rocked me to the core.

My dad-in no uncertain terms-said something to this affect, ‘Ben, sooner rather than later you are going to have to admit at least equal fault because you actively engaged in a relationship where there weren’t really any terms…’ It was a sort of the “alls fair in love and war” comment, but he was saying so much more than that…

He was saying that apart from covenant, it’s all up for grabs… cheat, lie, makeup, “open relationship,” sleep around, commit, don’t commit… nothing is truly defined so nothing is truly agreed upon.

So listen: does cheating and unwanted sexual advances still happen within the covenant of marriage? Sure, I suppose so. But without that starting place, without that foundational piece, without that plan you are playing a losing odds game that I just do not think is worth the human heart.

Don’t believe me? Test it for yourself: go ahead and continue serial TBD relationships and report back if it leaves you feeling more fulfilled, more known, more satisfied and happier or not… because if year over year, guy after guy, girl after girl you wind up with the same results isn’t that the definition of insanity?

Conclusion:

The thing is: all 3 of these are intertwined… the pornification leads to a demented sexual worldview, intimacy-in any significant sense-is a foreign term AND this leaves (mostly) women at a loss for a man who knows how to really unlock the needs of her heart.

The lack of covenant leads to the brokenness of serial sexual encounters-damaging both parties ability to give and receive love. The lack of covenant love-making leads to a hunger to fulfill that need elsewhere and we are back to square one (porn or getting sex wherever we can)!

As a father, husband and man I will keep my prescriptions brief and pointed. I put the onus squarely on the shoulders of other men: father a young man (spiritually or biologically) and be bold and courageous enough to teach them the biblical worldview of intimacy, sex, purity, the dangers of porn and, of course, what it really means to win a woman for life… to lay your life down for her like Christ served the Church.

Take the book of Ruth as a beautiful starting place if you want a Biblical example of BOTH intimacy AND covenant; Ruth 1:16 says (from one widow to another),

But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. 17 Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!”

Do me a favor and share this; I think this message needs to go out… to the hurting and those doing the hurting alike. Share and challenge others to break free from the broken cycle of repeat sexual encounters and/or porn consumption. Real and lasting intimacy is not found in those places. It’s found at Calvary-where a covenant was offered to give life and meaning and hope to any and all future covenants. 

Things Conveniently Left Out (Jesus’ Miracles-Then and Now)

Things Conveniently Left Out (Jesus’ Miracles-Then and Now)

Over the past couple months I’ve been very slowly working my way through the New Testament Gospel of Luke.

I’ve had a couple revelations going through Luke’s narrative of Jesus’ life and ministry and one of them has been about how we, in our modern-day practice of faith, seem to have conveniently left some things out.

Big things… if you really read it.

I think there is one great big category of things we leave out today-in our Christian conversation and practice. And that’s:

Miracle work (healing… demon possession… basically God’s authority over all things).

I think we have high levels of discomfort around things like healing and Jesus setting people free from demons

So much so that today it seems we rather use the generalized term of “spiritual warfare.” But see even that seems a watered down disservice to the very explicit references in the Gospels…

Several times there’s a possessed person and Jesus commands the demon to come out.

Jesus doesn’t turn to Peter and say, “hey man how’s your heart?”
Peter to Jesus, “man this work is getting hard, I’m having a difficult time believing, and there’s just so much conflict with these fellow Jews… it’s really bumming me out
To which Jesus responds, “man, well that just really sounds like spiritual warfare to me

No, this was the reality:

33 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, 34 “Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

35 “Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him. – Luke 4

Across the Gospels there are at least 25 references to this type of miracle work-battling demons.

Or consider the load of references to Jesus’ healing activity in the Gospels; some say there are 31 unique individual stories with a total of 727 verses that relate to Jesus’ miraculous work in this department!

The final broad category would be Jesus’ myriad examples of control over nature. From multiplying the fish and loaves to walking on water to calming the storm and so on and so forth, Jesus was consistently asserting his authority over the natural world.

So why does it appear in our modern conversations and practice that these topics have all but dried up?

Our first major hang up is that we dodge these topics because they’re hard to digest…

because we don’t see them anymore in our Western expression of faith and community, we easily dismiss them out of hand.

I think Christians are up against one great, big common mistake: we cherry pick scripture for the ones that are “easier to handle” more “feasible to grasp” or “in less dispute”…

The thing motivating that cherry picking is that, again, some things are easier to explain and fit within our modern conceptions of belief and practice.

In short, people-all people believing and unbelieving-have a hard time wrapping their heads around the supernatural… that’s kind of the whole fundamental premise of belief in the God of the Bible!

But let’s take that one step further, even as Christians; and consider this:

Why does it feel like a quantum leap for us to go from belief in a big, sovereign, creator God to belief in the tangible miraculous ministry of Jesus (and that of his disciples/apostles by the way!)?

In failure to take that leap, we will only scratch the surface of the power alluded to there…

My contention is that we can’t preach that way, we can’t live that way.

We either take the Gospel for the full force of what it was and is today or we scrap the whole thing.

We either take Jesus-the man and the ministry-as real and believable today as He was then or we don’t.

We can no longer say, ‘well yes of course we will take his wonderful sermons and confounding parables but the practice-not so much.’

We can’t pick and chose this deal; we must refuse the urge to cherry pick.

But the wrestling match between Christians of every stripe continues: do miracles continue on in our modern age?

That brings us to our second hang up: our perpetual failure to unite the “natural” and “supernatural” in our every day life and experience.

I’ll let Tim Stanford from a 2012 Christianity Today article speak for me:

Everything that happens in creation is pregnant with the power and the presence of God. Nowhere you can go escapes him. Nothing that happens, happens apart from his will. Everything is natural and supernatural at the same time.

I recommend that we go back to the wisdom of Augustine, who understood miracles not as violations of natural law (how and why would God violate his own work?) but as occasions when God walks on unusual paths. They are not more God-inspired than, say, the daily sunrise. They are just an unusual break from the way God ordinarily works, and thus a signal of something important.

Miracles are so unusual that we stop in wonder. By their rarity, their unusual character, they grab our attention. That is what signs do. They stand out from their environment so that we notice them. Otherwise, how could they point?

“Everything that happens in creation is pregnant with the power and the presence of God.” The sooner we take on that lens as a trademark of our worldview, the better it will be… for our personal faith, our community of believers and for those who are watching from outside.

One thought-provoking idea to end: as to the question, always, of how might this impact our leadership?

Just think how much better your odds are at influencing others who you think might never change, never grow into their potential or leading whole organizations no less that you hope might impact or influence the world… bold aspirational goals like these are so much better imagined when we maintain the faith in miracles… right?

4 Leadership Learnings From United Airlines

4 Leadership Learnings From United Airlines

This past week another major leadership and organizational failing was put on display for the world to see through a 2 minute viral video (these days captured from multiple angles).

It was painfully sad to watch; hard to believe that something like this could happen in a developed, civilized, modernized, progressive, etc etc etc type of society.

But alas it did happen and with pretty immediate and broad-sweeping repercussion.

Stock values plummeted in the millions, thousands of people nationwide speaking of boycotting, celebrities make their typical noise-the whole thing very bad for business.

I want to address the learnings from this international faux pas by connecting with how United lost their way in 4 key areas.

1. They forgot that the customer is the hero.

That is to say ALL customers should be treated like they are the hero of the story.

I mean you could say they fell pretty far, pretty fast from “hero” and forgot altogether they were dealing with people… human beings, PAYING HUMAN BEINGS!

LEARNING:

If you want to get new customers, create loyal customers and generate repeat customers, your best bet is to create a narrative with the customer at the epicenter.

2. They forgot to train their people around ownership and autonomy.

The best startups these days focus on hiring and training people who can adopt company values, execute on company vision and all at the same time think for themselves the best way to serve the customer.

I was listening to a podcast this morning where one of the most legendary hotel executives of all time was saying that he would empower his staff (cooks, cleaners and managers) With $2k in discretionary allowance for serving the guest as they saw fit!

LEARNING:

The best companies do this; they devolve powers. And they can get away with that kind of trust because they have taken the time to create value, vision and buy in.

There are countless illustrations for this from Zappos and Amazon to even hospitals and mom and pop shops who have learned the beauty of training employees to make the best independent decision for the customer (patient, parishioner, etc) sometimes regardless of the employee handbook.

It’s clear from reading any one of the myriad headlines from this week, but this company (its senior leadership and thus its employees) had their heads so buried in handbooks and even unspoken standard operating procedures that they forgot what really matters!

3. They forgot what it means to hustle, innovate and determine what success looks like.

I’d be willing to guess that one reason that this company, (its CEO and thus its employees) arrived at this place, this major public screw up, is because they became fat and happy.

As you can read from this article and so many others like it, the airline along with 2 other major ones handles nearly 85% of the total market share… that right there will leave you pretty out of touch with reality.

It’s what made the idea of a so-called “boycott” so ironical because it was very clear that, at least if you want to fly in most major cities, you won’t have a choice.

LEARNING:

Can you imagine what kind of debilitating affect this has on the lifeblood of an organization?!

It’s like Craig Groeschel always says: the biggest threat to future success is current success.

They got lazy, lackadaisical and then they just got flat-out rude.

4. They forgot how to communicate like they were actually in the people business!

This is how, from a PR standpoint, the CEO can mess up 3 more times before finally getting it right.

He was so out of touch with having to defend and protect (let alone polish!) the brand that he made it worse before making it better. It took almost the entire week for him to arrive at, “I’m sorry, we were wrong, here’s your money back.”

LEARNING:

This last one affects everything from marriages to multi-national conglomerates because it’s fundamentally about ownership and repentance. The fastest way to mend a broken bridge is to call it was it is: BROKEN!

But #4 and #3 are intimately connected because when you’ve so lost touch with your vision and your customer it’s a very natural slide into forgetting even how to apologize for a gross and basic wrong.

Which therein lies the undergirding principle of every item on this numbered list: a total and complete loss of vision for what serves people best.


What’s a recent leadership learning of yours? It’s easy to point fingers at big targets like United (on blast via viral video), but it’s another thing to practice personal introspection for your last 3 screw ups and determine your course of action for proactively getting better… so I’ll ask: where are your growth opportunities?