Tuesday, April 15, 2014

MORE wk IV Oakbrook Church 4.13.14

  Click the image to watch the entire service or go to about the 26:00 mark to start with the talk.

Click here for a free PDF transcript of the talk

Get an audio podcast by:

Going to iTunes & search "Oakbrook Podcasts"
Get it thru our App, search "Oakbrook Church"
Look for this icon in either case:

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Oakbrook Church, BLESS wk 3, Eat

 Click the image to watch the entire service or go to the 29:00 mark to start with the talk.

Click here for a free PDF transcript of the talk

Get an audio podcast by:

Going to iTunes & search "Oakbrook Podcasts"
Get it thru our App, search "Oakbrook Church"
Look for this icon in either case:

And just for fun ;-)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Photogs: DIY Beauty Dish (i.e. What's a beauty dish?)

 Do you see the little round white highlights in Slater's eyes? (Click image to enlarge.) Those are there because I had a flash attached to a beauty dish. This is a common tool in portrait photography. For this shot I placed my homemade beauty dish in front of him and a flash above him.

Here's a closeup of the effect, a mirror image of the beauty dish. (Click to enlarge.)

Here's what a beauty dish looks like, in fact this is exactly what mine looks like. This DIY image is from Todd Owyoung's website. He's a great photographer and very helpful as you'll soon see. I've gleaned a lot from his site and work the past few years.

You can buy a beauty dish from anywhere from $150 to $300+, or you can make one (for a fraction of the $) as I did with Todd Owyoung's very specific instructions including detailed parts list, where to buy and a video. Todd has made it a very simple DIY project. If you need any of the tools to DIY hit me up and I'd be glad to loan if you're local.

Click here to get Todd Owyoung's DIY beauty dish tutorial.

Click here to check out Todd Owyoung's website.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Don't Let the Amazing New Hire Wreck Your Team

Natalie and Melissa: rock stars.

At the Main Street Cafe and at your business or non-profit, people come and people go. We hope and pray that the newest hire will fit in with the current team, really have the skill set, and will catch on fast.

We hope for these things, because guess what: everyone interviews well and everyone's resume and references are amazing. Why is this amazing person even looking for a job?! ;-)

Recently we added someone to our rock star team at the Main Street Cafe, and guess what: she's amazing. That's what I've heard. Sandra came home after her first few days with unsolicited glowing reports. "Oh, she's this and she's that...the crew loves her...she's amazing."

This (hopefully) is a typically scenario for most of our businesses and non-profits. We hire well and then let the accolades flow pretty freely, "Oh, he's great...having you seen him do this?...Oh she's soooo good...Unbelievable!" Odds are (hopefully) we're saying these kind of positive words around the new employee and the rest of the team. But...

We need to remember that bringing the new baby home from the hospital without doting on big bro and sis will go badly for everyone. So this is a great time to verbally let your people who've been with you for a while, know how amazing you think they are.

We would hate for the excitement around our amazing new hire to accidentally lead our other great employees to think, "Great. What am I, chopped liver?" Or worse, other archaic 1930s catch phrases.

So as you dote over the amazing new hire, remember to also verbally appreciate the amazing people who've been shouldering the load for months, years or more.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

4 Things to Learn from Shark Tank

ABC's Shark Tank is a show where the millionaire panelists choose whether or not to invest their money into companies owned by participants who come on the show and pitch them. It's a fascinating look into what sells, what's successful, and what doesn't and why. I see the takeaways of this show to all kinds of businesses and even ministry. (Currently runs Fridays 9am)

1. Listen to people with proven success

When you’re around proven professionals, people who are doing it successfully, listen to everything they say. None of the Sharks may invest, but one may say a sentence that can be the missing piece of strategy to be successful. Or they may simply say, “You’re on the right track. Stay the course. You don’t need more money now.” Some participants get on and are working their mouth more than their ears; bad plan.

Do you have proven successful people in your life and are you listening to them?

2. Your passion can be misplaced.

Often participants love their product so much they miss the point. E.g. It’s really a bad idea. It needs a major shift to be successful. It’s a great product but not a good money-maker.  Also the method of making the product successful can get swept up in the passion for the product. Your passion needs to be on the end result. Passion for steps in the process of getting to the end result can be misplaced enthusiasm. Put your passion into the mission, not the means to the mission. As soon as there’s a better way to achieve your end result, you’ll miss it because you love the current path to it too much.

Given your mission, is your passion appropriately positioned?

3. You can be working a bad plan.

It’s not uncommon when a participant starts explaining what they’re doing, for the Sharks to all shake their head at the same time. They immediately know the participant’s not on the right path. What that means is you can execute perfectly but not get to your goal because you’re perfectly executing the wrong play. See point #1. And also constantly evaluate if your plan is actually producing the goal instead of just making you feel productive.

Are you honestly evaluating and measuring what you say your mission is?

4. Subject yourself to brutal truth.

It’s called Shark Tank for a reason. These successful people say it fast and unedited, especially Mr. Wonderful. They find weak spots and blind sides almost immediately. It’s amazing how much scrutiny and wisdom a company can be exposed to in just seven minutes. And if applied, potentially amazing how this brutal truth can redirect a company.

Do you have people who will speak brutal truth to you?

If you watch Shark Tank, what other takeaways did I miss? Post below.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Word to the Engaged & Soon to be Engaged

There's a phrase when it comes to weddings that we've all heard. It sounds benign and fun enough but I thinks it needs reeling in a bit. The phrase? "It's my day." Or, "It's our day."

The problem is that phrase is not the whole truth. It falls short of the bigger truer reality, which is, "It's our day--that we're inviting all our family and friends too--that we're expecting them to give a chunk of their weekend to and we also expect them to bring us gifts we specifically asked for."

Let me now say that in some warmer ways:

"It's our day, but our parents who've unselfishly sacrificed and given to us our whole lives, are also involved."

"It's our day, but it's really more like a public event seeing how we've invited hundreds of people to share it with us."

"It's our day, but we have invited all these wonderful people to an event that we're hosting."

"It's our day, but if we focus too much on just ourselves and just what we want, we will unintentionally be selfish and poor hosts to the people we most care about."

I've never met a wedding couple that was trying to be self-centered at their wedding, yet I've seen weddings that failed to take into account those statements. I think it's time to re-examine the wedding paradigm and bring more honor to it and less accidental selfishness.


Embrace the paradigm that your wedding is a group affair and simply maintain that through the planning and implementation of it.

What this means is you factor in the perspective of your parents, wedding party, and guests. This doesn't mean you give up control or give in to everyone's opinion. You simply consider them along with yourselves in the process. "This is what we want. Now how does that affect our parents/wedding party/family/guests?"

Specific example: As a bride you could pick out the bride's maid dresses you really like because this is the only wedding you're ever going to have.

Or you could consider your bride's maids. You could realize that Beth "and her girls" would be "falling out" of that strapless little number you love so much, or that Gwen's hips would look like two unruly bulldogs in a bag walking down the isle in that dress. And you could consider the price of the dress versus the financial state of your bride's maids. Considering the people wearing the clothes you pick out is honoring to your wedding party.

And even when it comes to picking out food for the reception, perhaps you don't choose your personal favorites, but rather ask yourself if your favorites would be a good fit for the hundreds of people you've invited. When hosting a party we pick the menu with our guests in mind, not us. The meal that's just for us is for the day we don't have guests, right? This is a simple way to honor your guests.

And when it comes to pictures, I can think of nothing more rude than asking your hundreds of guests to wait around an hour or so between the wedding and reception while you have a photo shoot simply because you don't want to see each other before the wedding. That puts a meaningless tradition above your guests. It's more honoring to your guests to do a first look and take the majority of photos before the service, leaving but a few photos right after the wedding.

And here's why it's so important to factor in and honor your parents, family and guests: Years down the road it's not the ruffle in the bride's maid dress that you'll remember. It's not the kiddie menu or sushi menu you chose that you'll remember.

It's the women in the dresses...
The men in the suits...
Your parents in the front row...
Your dear friends...

It's the PEOPLE you'll remember decades into the future. So why not factor them in as you and your fiance plan and implement a day that everyone shares in--and you get to be the center of. I challenge that a wedding that's more honoring will be richer and more memorable.

Click here for more thoughts on weddings including wedding party attire and First Look.

Peace and more honoring weddings ;-)

Monday, December 30, 2013

Confession of a Pastor: Counseling

Looking back on 2013 it has been a year of years. I knew it before I even looked back on it; I knew it in the middle. In May I lost a very close friend, George Roberts, and officiated his funeral. The next month I lost my friend Mike Bolinger and officiated his funeral. In November my mother passed away and I officiated her funeral.

In the midst of these events our church staff shrank by a record number of people. Translation: lots of serious things to navigate, financially, organizationally and emotionally. To boot I didn't get my usual block of vacation in the summer.

In the early fall I went to give my highly prized O- blood. Nurse, "Sir, your blood pressure is really high. If you were my brother I'd tell you to go to the doctor right away." I went, talked to the doc, reflected on stressors to-date, took some tests. The tests were ok. The list of stressors I wrote down appeared daunting.

So I decided to take the advice I'd give so many people: Why don't you go see someone, a counselor? I didn't have to sell myself on this. I could feel the enormity of feelings way closer to the surface than normal. I could feel what I dubbed soul fatigue, a lack of energy and lack of desire to go once again into the breech, of about any kind of challenge. Not like me at all.

So I made an appointment with my friend, Keith, a man whom I respect highly and refer my closest friends too.

I can tell you there is something comforting in talking with a counselor knowing their professional life would be in great peril should they share your comments with anyone. It's not that I had anything to hide, it's just that knowing that was calming, relaxing.

At this place in life, generally speaking, a lot of people lean on or look to me, which is a very honoring thing. (It's the gray hair, my age.) But it felt really good to be in a room where that wasn't going on. I could relax and look to Keith.

I've seen him a handful of times in recent months. It was weird in that there's not some plan or script we worked through; we just talked. But it has been good. He put it on me, as to when I want to see him. I made it a point to see him even if I was feeling good, because I wanted to do the work of being restored; I wanted him to make the assessment of how I was doing, not me.

I met Keith right before our Christmas services at Oakbrook. I can't say that some clear catharsis happened, but something felt like it broke loose. He in a subtle way pronounced me "ok." Maybe a bit wounded or tired, but ok. I felt a sense that that was perhaps my last visit, but time will tell.

Sometimes as much as we need someone to point the way or plot a course of recovery, we need someone we trust to tell us we're ok. Sometimes that's just enough to instill the hope we need to focus on the future instead of being preoccupied with our wounds. Feeling ok and being affirmed that we're ok, firmly instills hope in our soul, at least for me anyhow.

One of my learnings has simply been to embrace what I've told others so often:
When things in life are challenging beyond your normal; when events in life seem beyond your known ways of coping or solving things, it's probably wise to see someone--to see a counselor.

One of my favorite sayings is the Amish proverb: "Praying doesn't plow the field." So I pray that God will restore my soul and I'm plowing the field by going to see Keith. And I've honestly dialogued about how I'm doing with my lovely wife Sandra and trusted friends, Mark, Greg and Sean.