Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Determined Optimist: Shirley Henry

Shirley Henry is the type of person that never met a stranger. She makes friends easily and thinks the best of people. She is quick to like someone and slow to change her mind. She also likes to stay busy and involves herself in causes quickly. She's about as quick to help someone as she is to know and like them.

She is the second of 4 children born to immigrants from Lebanon. Her father passed away while she was young and her mother was committed to a home due to mental issues. We now think her mother was diabetic, but no one made that diagnosis years ago. The four siblings, Toni, Shirley, Bob and Joanne struggled to remain together and had some hard times as foster children.

Mom eventually married my dad and I was their first born, Mark and Matt to follow. Mom learned how to be a mother with me and that was fine. We did a lot of things together back in the days when mom's stayed home and raised their kids. Mom was pretty independent because Dad had to work so many jobs to make ends meet while he finished college at night school on the GI Bill. But I never knew we didn't have anything. I had everything I needed.

When we banged ourselves as kids, as long as there was no blood, all was fine. She'd look at us and say, "oh, you're alright. Get out there and win the next one!" "You're not hurt. Look! You're missing the game." Or, "It's just a scratch. Quit your whining." We made it alright.

She also cooked 3 meals a day. To this day, she's always cooking something. She invented a meal or two; some that stick around to this day, like Mish Mosh. She also had some famous experiments, or lessons.  A few were donated, but money was scarce, so many times we ate them anyway.  You learn to keep your criticism to yourself.  Besides, you can't make masterpieces without spilling some paint every now and then.

Mom and I had some hard times when I was a teenager (which lasted until I was about 35). She went through quite a when I did some of my less-intelligent things, like my living arrangements in the fraternity and my choice of friends. The roughest time was probably the months when I recovered from a bad automobile accident in 1979. She hoofed me to doctors sometimes three times a week for 5 months. Her only complaint was that her patient was a pain in the butt.

Mom, thanks for everything you've done for me. I appreciate you, your optimism, self discipline, and your passion for people. You have blessed me with your spirit for people and your passion for service.  I will always love you.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Primal by Mark Batterson

It is often good to focus on the core; to get back to the basics of what you believe or how you do something. Mark Batterson sets out to help our generation embark on a reformation, not one that is a new discovery, but one that is a rediscovery of something old, even Primal. Primal is the title of the latest book by Mark Batterson. In an effort to pursue reformation, Mark takes a look original reason for creation, the core meaning of the Great Commandment: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.

The author encourages us to engage Christ by applying thought and action to the four ares where we're to love God: our heart, soul, mind and strength. Each section is a thought-provoking analysis of the meaning of the those words from the original Greek, but the application uses relevant illustrations. This is not in an academic study, but an experiential one as you think carefully about what it means to love God with all your heart or with all your soul.

We live at a multi-task pace. We pay attention to our cell phones while we watch TV, surf the Internet and talk with our family. Many time the author calls us to focus, think deeply about what it means to do anything with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. For example, in the section on all of our mind, he discusses how our imagination is much more powerful than the logical-thinking part of our brain. Our imagination is able to conceive of much more than we can feel or taste or smell. But we use so little of our imagination when we are engaged with God. I confess avoiding my imagination in relationship to God. I get so easily discouraged when God doesn't meet my expectations. So I keep Him in a box. I was very challenged by the idea of worshiping God with my imagination. My gratitude goes to the author and the publisher for the challenge.

You need to read this book. Our church (the universal one) needs to re-ignite our Primal, core need to engage God and love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. This book will help you do just that.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Real Church by Larry Crabb

Larry Crabb doesn't much like going to church anymore. And he's not alone. That's actually the title of the Introduction to the book Real Church: Does It Exist? Can I Find It? by Larry Crabb.

Depending on your own perspective, I can imagine people calling the book anything from a rant to a compelling, transparent look at both the church and the person. My perspective is much like the authors. I don't much like going to church anymore either. I definitely wouldn't call this a rant.

The author is transparent and honest and represents both sides of some of his own arguments. Just reviewing the chapter titles will show you where the author's thoughts travel.
Chapter 1: Why Have We Lost Interest in Church?
Chapter 2: Why Do So Many People Still Attend Church and Like It?
Chapter 3: So What Is It that Makes a Gathering a Church?
Chapter 4: So What Is It that Causes a Gathering to Cease Being a Church?

And those were just the chapters of the introduction. The author goes on to examine the question, "Why should I go to church?" The next five chapters examine three answers to that question that just don't work:
  1. "It will make my life better;"
  2. "It will show me how to change my world;"
  3. "It will offer salvation and help for righteous living."
Before reaching the end of the book, the author calls many current church practices into question. His reasoning strikes me as biblically sound. Many of us could use asking God to take us throught the same evaluation the author describes.

For me the most compelling part of the book was in Chapter 20. The third section is titled "Marks of the Church I Want to Be Part Of" and chapter 20 is Mark #3: Finds Contentment in Wanting What Jesus Wants.
Listen to Jesus: "May they [His followers] be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me" (John 17:23, emphasis mine). Francis Schaeffer called it God's "final apologetic." What he meant, I think, was this: how we get along with one another is the most persuasive evidence the Holy Spirit has to work with as He draws people to Jesus (emphasis in the original).

Jesus calls his church to unity. Why wouldn't we expect difficulty, even satanic attack, at that very point. Maybe that's why church seems to be such a performance any more with so little community (at least in my own personal experience).

If you're having trouble with church, I recommend the book. I believe the author managed to engage in constructive examination and pursuit of a deeper relationship with Jesus. Now if more church elders and staff people would read it too.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

You Were Born For This

Book Review
You Were Born For This: 7 Keys to a Life of Predictable Miracles
By Bruce Wilkinson

Have you ever wondered why miracles are so uncommon? I haven't. I always figured a miracle is a miracle because it is an uncommon event. Miracles don't happen every day. That's what makes them miracles, right?

Not so, according to Bruce Wilkinson. His latest book You Were Born For This: 7 Keys to a Life of Predictable Miracles presents a reasoned and compelling argument that we can experience miracles every day; in fact, we probably do, but we're not aware of them. (There is also a video introduction you might be interested in.) Bruce makes the case from scripture that God is active in the world and His works are miracles. God is actively searching for people to participate in and deliver the very actions (miracles) God is doing. "God chooses to partner with ordinary people for His supernatural agenda.

Even the author refers to the book as The Prayer Of Jabez to the power of miracles. It is a follow up to Jabez in that Jabez prayed to be a blessing and to have his territory expanded, not for Jabez' benefit, but for the benefit of others. God is busy working on His agenda and he chooses to employ people in His agenda. One of the primary reasons we miss out is we're not working on God's agenda, but our own. When we work to align ourselves to God, He delights to include us in His agenda.

Bruce's style is very engaging. His reasoning and examples connect you with the points made in the book. The scripture is not taken out of context. The message is accurate and believable. It's an easy read that is worth the effort. I must make two confessions though: 1) I am not finished with the book and 2) I have experienced a couple of miracles so far during my reading, but not daily ones. Regardless, I recommend the book highly. I will finish it because Bruce always expands my knowledge of God and my greatest goal in life is to be a trusted vessel in God's work here. This book will help you connect with God and partner with Him in His works here to reveal Jesus.

If you do, I'd like to know about it. Comment here and let me know. I have one copy of the book that I'll send to a randomly-selected commenter on Sept 30. Just add your comment below to participate.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Make A Difference - James 1:22

But prove yourselves doers of the word and not merely hearers who delude themselves. James 1:22

The end of a relationship with Jesus Christ is that we are doers. There is a difference between someone who remodels his kitchen and someone who remodels kitchens for a living. There is a difference between someone who plays guitar and a musician; or someone who volunteers and a volunteer. The difference is commitment. James challenges us to be a doer. We're to be professional in our doing.

Think back to the best leaders you've known. I'd bet one thing they had in common is that they weren't afraid to do what they said. They were people who had integrity. Integrity is the most common response to the question, "What do you want in a leader." Integrity means less that your leaders are honest, but more that they are true, pure. Their message was consistent with their beliefs. When we say someone has integrity, we are saying that they are what they claim to be. Integrity is the opposite of hypocrisy. The original Greek word for hypocrite meant an actor or one who wore a mask. Anyone who appears different than they truly are is a hypocrite. They're acting. If the best leaders in your memory were actors, you haven't had a good leader. Great leaders are what they represent. They live the life they call others to. Followers of Jesus are to do what they claim to believe.

Another problem with integrity in leadership is that it spills over from the professional life to the personal life. If you tell the truth to your teammates, but you lie to the government about your income, are you still a liar? Do you really have integrity? If you're an honest politician but you cheat on and lie to your wife, are you not still a liar? How can you be called honest if you're not always honest? If you lead a team and preach commitment to your company, do you bad-mouth your superiors? Would you be surprised to know that I have? We all have fallen in some way or degree. You can't achieve perfection in your integrity, but as a fellow member of the human race, your friends and teammates ask that you pursue integrity and that you're closer than they are. It's hard to lead someone to integrity if you're not on the same road.

Finally, we can't just do anything. We must use judgment and discrimination because we're called to do "the word." Our profession as followers of Jesus is to be full time doers of the Bible! "Wait a minute!" you say. "We can't be accountable for everything in the Bible! That's impossible!" And, you'd be right. No one would ever do anything if they had to become an expert on the Bible before they started. In Romans 3:23, the Bible itself says, "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." We fall short, but that's no excuse. We can't wait until all the lights are green before we leave the house. Becoming a full-time doer of the word is a process. Just like any profession or vocation, we have to start. Doctors practice medicine and lawyers practice law. Just as integrity is a pursuit, knowledge of Jesus and the Bible is a pursuit. Once we believe that Jesus is who he claimed to be, we begin the pursuit of knowing Him and glorifying Him. Once you believe Jesus is the way, the truth and the life as John 14:6 says, then you can truly begin to study for the tests that life will bring your way.

Today, ask God to make you a doer of the word. Take a few minutes more than usual and learn the Bible. Take a few minutes more than usual to talk with Jesus and ask for direction. But be careful, if you get an idea that lines up with the teaching you know to be true, you probably need to take action. How else will you be able to call yourself a doer?

As you pray, ask God to show you where you can do something different today.

What thoughts came to your mind?

Do they line up with scripture and what you know to be right? *

If it did, what are you waiting for. Go and be a doer of the Word today. The word of God is your new job. Do it like you mean it. You get to work on your career and the rewards are eternal! Think about it. Then, get to work.

*If you're not sure, check with your pastor or send me a note. I don't have all the answers but I may be able to help. Or I definitely will help you find a friend who can walk with you as you work on your career in Christ.

Photo © Vyacheslav Osokin -

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Seven Wonders of the World

My mother reminded me of the Seven Wonders of the World today.

7 Wonders of the world

Thanks Mom!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Social Media Madness Part 2

Well, my Twitter account is back online and it remains  It apparently happened some time last night or early this morning.  Jessica's account @jdhenry09 is back as well.

We still have no communication why we were suspended or reinstated.  I wonder if we'll ever know.  Now I can begin to develop a strategy to better manage this if it ever happens again.

The blog is back up as well, but clearly "under construction." I tried to change the primary domain on my hosting account and messed up Wordpress.  While I think the site is pretty much back in tact, there are still a couple of problems and we're also implementing a theme customization, so some things will remain under construction for another day or two.

Several folks offered info and sympathy.  Thank you very much.  Also, thank you to everyone for your patience.

Mike Henry

Posted via email from Mike's posterous