Archive for October, 2010

What I Think About October 31

I’ve found through my interactions with Christians in various settings and from different backgrounds that the vast majority are accepting of the American tradition that surrounds October 31.  Sure, they aren’t going to like, support, or endorse every costume they see or every activity that takes place on October 31, but their attitude is generally neutral toward this day of the year.  At the same time, there is also a vocal contingent of Christians who oppose everything about what happens on October 31.

My Little Scarecrows

This post is not intended to attack one perspective or the other.  I would merely like to share with you my thoughts on October 31.  My thoughts are pretty simple.  I like the American tradition associated with October 31. I enjoy spending the extra time with my family, carving pumpkins (see below) and creating costumes (see my little scarecrows to the right).  I also enjoy the time spent with my community.  More than any other day of the year, October 31 can open the lines of communication with neighbors.  In my parents neighborhood, everyone sits outside in their front yard.  They talk about more things during a few hours on this one night than they will every other day of the year combined.

Certainly, I don’t approve of everything that happens on October 31, but I do appreciate the opportunities that it gives me in my family and in my community.  So, I guess I agree with Tony Morgan who says, “Until someone comes up with a alternative holiday where I get to connect with my neighbors and enjoy quality family time, I’m going to be a fan of Halloween.”  And, by the way, he’s put together a more exhaustive list of eight reasons why he’s a fan.  Here’s his post:

I love Halloween. I know. I’m not supposed to love Halloween since I’m a Christian and a pastor, but I do. Here’s why:

  1. Friends from my neighborhood come to my front door, unannounced, to visit.
  2. I get the chance to meet neighbors that I haven’t met before.
  3. I have the opportunity to engage in conversations I would not normally have.
  4. My kids are darn cute when they dress up in costumes.
  5. My home feels warm and inviting after being outside for a couple of hours.
  6. No one is expecting me to do anything “pastoral” on Halloween evening. I can just be normal Tony.
  7. I have a rich assortment of candy that I can steal from my kids.
  8. I get to enjoy a fun evening with my family.

I’m probably going to get slammed for admitting this. After all, Halloween is supposed to be the evil

holiday. But, until someone comes up with a alternative holiday where I get to connect with my neighbors and enjoy quality family time, I’m going to be a fan of Halloween.

So, there you have it.  Now, you know where I’m coming from, and you know why I choose to participate in the American tradition that is known as Halloween.  Will you take advantage of the opportunity in your community?

2010 Williams Family Pumpkins: Dora & Diego

Let’s Get to Work!

This past Sunday night, I had the opportunity and privilege to share God’s truth with the people of our church.  It was a challenging message to share because so much of it hinges on our realizing that we as believers have not been left here on earth for our own benefit.  Instead, we have been left here to introduce others to Jesus!  Said another way, you are not here for you; you are here for who you used to be.  Let that thought sink in.  You are not here for you; you are here for who you used to be.

The outline for the message looked like this for those who are interested:

1. Reject the Typical Focus (Acts 1:6-7)
– The typical focus is selfish (v6)
– The typical focus is wrong (v7)
2. Remember that we are a Task Force (Acts 1:8-9)
– The task force has been empowered (v8)
– The task force has been sent (v9)
3. Remember the Time Frame (Acts 1:10-11)
– There are limits (v11)
– There are eternal implications (v12)

Because we, as a task force, are here to introduce others to Jesus, we must live like it.  We must be certain that our attitudes and actions do not cause extra difficulty for those who are coming to faith in Jesus (Acts 15:19).  This may mean changes for the way we do church, and it certainly means changes for the way we live.  We are a task force that needs to get to work.

The message ended with a reading of an encouraging and challenging prose by Dr. Bob Moorhead.  It’s called the Fellowship of the Unashamed.  A video clip of the piece is below.  I hope you find it to be challenging to you.  When you’ve finished watching it, you should be ready to “get to work!”

If you liked this video, another version can also be found on my brother’s blog.

It’s My Birthday!

I turn 29 today.  It’s almost hard to believe that I’m this old (I know that some of you don’t think that 29 is old, but it is to me…it’s the oldest I’ve ever been!).  I think that when I was younger I never thought I’d live this long because I couldn’t visualize what life would be like at this age.  But, I’m here now.  Thankfully, I’m still alive.  And, I like living.  Life has it’s ups and downs, but I really enjoy living.  And, I hope you do, too.

In honor of my birthday, let’s all take a brief moment to reflect on our lives.  Birthdays are a good time to re-evaluate life and ask some important questions.  So, let’s take a few moments to think about some things (I’ll be writing as if I’m asking the questions to myself… feel free to answer them along with me in your head… or out loud if no one is listening nearby 🙂 ).

Questions About the Past:

  • Are you where you thought you’d be 5-10 years ago?
  • Did you stop following some hopes and dreams that need to be revisited?
  • Did you lose your way along the way?  Do you need to return to the desired path?
  • Have you learned major life-lessons along the way?

Questions About the Present:

  • Are you content with where you are now?
  • Are you doing work that matters?
  • Are you following your life’s mission statement and core values?
  • Is your life currently pleasing to God?

Questions About the Future:

  • Where do you want to be in 1, 5, 10, 20 years?
  • What steps do you need to start taking now to get you to where you want to be?
  • At the end of your life, how will you view this period of time in your life? (Was it helpful/ necessary/ useless/ wasted/ insignificant/ vital?)
  • If you stay on this current path, will you be happy with your legacy at the end of your life?

These are just a few questions to get us thinking, you know?  Obviously, we could have come up with an indefinite list of questions to ask, but the important thing at this point is that we all take a moment to inventory our place in life.  Think about the past, present, and future.  We want to end well so that we can hear the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant…enter into the joy of your Master!” (Matthew 25:23).  So, let’s start planning now for a great future!

And by the way, let’s not wait until my next birthday… the big 3-0 to re-evaluate our lives.  Let’s plan to schedule some regular time to think about where we are and where we want to be.  Okay?

Dealing with Criticism

Have you ever gotten a small fleck of dust in your eye that you just couldn’t seem to get out?  It’s there.  It hurts.  It’s annoying, and because of it, you can hardly see.  You keep blinking and rubbing just trying to get it out.  You know, it really doesn’t take much to mess up your eye, huh?  Well, that’s the way criticism is sometimes.  It doesn’t take much criticism to really mess up your day and make it hard to see clearly.

Criticism is like that.  It can really be annoying.  It can really hurt.  And, it can really make it hard to think or see things clearly.  To combat the power of the flecks of criticism in your life, let me offer you several things to consider:

1. Consider the Source
Some people are just complainers by nature.  It’s not okay that they are, but since they are complainers, you can expect them to complain.  Dogs bark.  You expect it.  Complainers complain.  Expect it.  So then, the weight of a complainers complaint should be diminished in the same way that the cries of the boy who cried wolf were ignored over time.  Consider the source, and if appropriate ignore it!

2. Consider the Consensus
The majority can be wrong.  (Especially when it comes to politics).  But sometimes, the consensus opinion has truth in it.  So, the consensus opinion is treated a little more weightily.  Consider the consensus opinion.  If most people are pleased with your work, attitude, performance, efforts, product, service, etc., then embrace the consensus.  You’re probably doing just fine.  If the consensus isn’t with you, give things a really hard look to make sure you’re on the right track.

3. Consider the Expert
Some opinions matter more than others.   For example, the opinion of an expert in a field matters more than the opinion of a novice or than the opinion of someone from a different field.  Think about it, if Tiger Woods comes along and gives you advice on how to improve your golf game, you should probably take his advice.  But, if Charles Barkley comes along and gives you some tips…well, I think you know where this is going.  Consider the expert.  He just might have something good or important to say.

4. Consider the Caring
We all have people in our lives who really care about us and have our best interests at heart.  They care about us, and we care about them.  They might be friends, family, co-workers, or whoever.  Though some people who care about us may try to shield us from the truth, those who truly want what’s best for us will shoot straight with us.  They will tell us the truth because they care.  So, we should consider the thoughts of those who really care about us.

5. Consider the Father
Ultimately, the opinion that really counts is God’s.  He is the One whose approval is most valuable.  In reality, in everything we do, we are performing for an audience of One.  We must consider whether or not the Bible endorses what we are doing and consider what God thinks about our efforts.  At the end of the day, we should be striving to glorify God and to please Him.  The other opinions don’t really matter as much.

One Final Note
Sometimes it can be really hard to combat that fleck of criticism.  It can get the best of us.  Even though we try really hard to consider the right things, bad thoughts and feelings can creep in.  The solution: live out Philippians 4:6-9.  Don’t worry.  Think about what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.  And this, we must do all of the time.  Constantly tell yourself the truth.  Sometimes, you’ll have to be firm with yourself.  You might have to give yourself a little jolt to get your thoughts in the right place.  It’s going to take some work, but if we live this out, God will grant us what the passage promises…PEACE!

You Can’t Brainwash Me That Easily

Earlier this week, Steve Jobs, the Wizard behind the curtain at Apple, piped in on the company’s national conference call with investments analysts. Now usually, he doesn’t take part in the call at all. But, for whatever reason, he decided to get on the phone this time for a little rant. “What was the topic of his rant?” you might ask. Well, he was going off about the tablet competitors for the iPad. Now obviously, the iPad is dominating the market right now because the competitor devices are just beginning to hit the market. But even so, Jobs took several minutes to hate on the competition because of its software (Android or RIM instead of iOS) and size (7″ instead of 9.7″).

Well today, the guy in charge over at RIM (They make the Blackberry) responded to Steve Job’s rant. And well, I think he’s on to something here. Here are some of his comments:

For those of us who live outside of Apple’s distortion field, we know that 7″ tablets will actually be a big portion of the market, and we know that Adobe Flash support actually matters to customers who want a real web experience . . . We think many customers are getting tired of being told what to think by Apple.

You know what?  I think he’s right, Apple is trying to tell us what to think. And, it is getting kind of old…especially when they do it this way.

The bottom line is this: If you want me to buy your product, pitch your product. Don’t dis the competition.

In reality, the TV ads for Apple’s recent iDevices have been great because they demo the product in all it’s splendor. Rants like this though just don’t cut it. C’mon Steve, focus on your company…not the other guy.

For us, the principle is much the same. Instead of worrying about or complaining the other team, family, student, church, or whatever focus instead on getting your product, service, grades, or family in order. It’s a better choice for you to focus on changing the one place where you have the most influence…in yourself. So get to it!

The Sky’s the Limit

When I was a a freshman in high school, I went through a phase where I was really in to Estes model rockets.  I loved those things!  I had an entire set up with multiple rockets and all.  I had a remote activated launch pad that made me feel like I was mission control, and I even had a shuttle-shaped rocket.  I had little rockets and big rockets.  I had one’s that glided to the ground and I had one’s that parachuted to the ground.  It was a lot of fun.  I hope one day that my son, Jeremiah, is in to something like that.  You know, a hobby that we can do together.

Well anyway, one day my dad, my brother, and I all went to the local elementary school to launch a rocket. This was back when elementary schools actually let the public use the playground and recess fields. Nowadays, the public schools are ironically closed to the public with 6 foot high fences around the entire perimeter. So anyway, it was a nice, overcast, Florida afternoon at the elementary school. We chose that location because there was plenty of space. I could launch a rocket and then go and retrieve it from across the field.

On this particular day, we were set to launch a special rocket that deployed a GI Joe action figure from the aircraft and allowed him to parachute to the ground. My brother loaned us the GI Joe, and I securely attached the parachute. It was going to be great. The launch went flawlessly. The rocket soared into the air. And then, at just the right moment, the rocket deployed the GI Joe, parachute and all. And that’s when it happened. You see, on this particular day, we neglected to account for one thing…the wind. As the rocket fell harmlessly to the ground, the GI Joe drifted farther and farther away as the wind took him across the field, over the tree line, and beyond our eyesight. The GI Joe was gone forever. It was a bittersweet day. The launch was perfect, but we lost the GI Joe. But don’t worry for my brother though, we went to Wal-Mart right away to replace his action figure.

So, the moral of the story is two-fold.  First, it’s good to get out there and try something cool with the people you love.  Aim high… the sky’s the limit.  Second, when you go out to do something big, make sure you plan well.  Expect the wind.

Here’s an interesting video I came across recently. Back in the day, my shuttle-shaped rocket was pretty cool, but the father and son team in the video below actually sent a balloon into space! Now, it’d be really easy to say “Yeah, sure they did (insert a sarcastic phrase here).” I mean, when you let a helium balloon go, it disappears into the sky. Who knows what happens? Well, these guys are different.  They sent a huge balloon into space and tracked it’s journey with an on-board HD video camera and an iPhone (for GPS). Check out the video. These guys dreamed big. And, you should too! Go out there and do something big!

Homemade Spacecraft
from Luke Geissbuhler on Vimeo
Video from a camera attached to a weather balloon that rose into the upper stratosphere and recorded the blackness of space. Visit for all the info.

Are You Tired of Being Tired?

Some of us really look tired all of the time.   Are you one of the tired masses? Dark circles under the eyes.  Trouble focusing.  Dragging from place to place.  Falling asleep at the computer.  Nearly dosing off at red lights.  Getting home at night but not remembering anything about the drive home.  Difficulty remembering the day’s events.  Does any of this sound familiar?  Are you tired of being tired?  I know I am.

Well, studies continue to show that we are more productive when we are well rested.  And yet, many of us think that our schedules are working.  So, what can we do to get more rest so that we can be more productive (get more done)?

Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers and one of the busiest guys around, recommends seven action steps for getting more rest.  I’ve included them here for your consideration, along with a few of my own at the bottom.  Read on…

Here’s how I (Michael Hyatt) make sure I get a good night’s sleep:

  1. Avoid caffeinated drinks in the evening. When I was younger, I could drink coffee after dinner. No more. I cannot drink caffeine after 4:00 p.m.
  2. Eliminate all negative input. I am a worrier by nature. If I watch or talk about anything negative after about 6:00 p.m., I will stew on it all night.
  3. Go to bed on time. This is huge. I have to be strict with myself. For me, this means no later than 10:00 p.m., unless it’s a weekend.
  4. Make sure the room is dark. We have blinds on the windows that cut out 95 percent of the outside light.
  5. Keep the temperature cool. In the winter, we keep it at about 68°. In the summer, about 70°. I sleep more soundly if the room is cool enough to require a blanket.
  6. Listen to relaxing music. This doesn’t work for everyone, but I listen to the same exact music every night. It’s become an audio queue that says to my subconscious mind and body, “It’s time to go to sleep now.”
  7. Run a fan. The “white noise” mutes outside noise and puts me to sleep. When I am on the road, I loop “Ambient White Noise for Sleep,” which I downloaded from iTunes.

To Michael’s list, I would also like to add a few more action steps:

8. Get a good pillow. Everyone has different tastes here, and that’s okay, but you really need a pillow suited for the way you sleep.  Back, side, and stomach sleepers all need different pillows.  I just got a new pillow from Ikea.  It’s amazing.  You spend a good portion of your day in bed so make sure you have good stuff, and replace it when needed.

9. Get a good bed. Like #8, this one varies person to person, but if you’re bed is saggy in the middle or if you’ve had it since the 3rd grade, it’s probably time for an upgrade.  Like I said earlier, you spend between a quarter and half of your life in bed…get a good one!

10. Get a CPAP machine. Some individuals will never get a good night’s rest until they get a CPAP machine to regulate their breathing.  If you snore badly and wake yourself up in the middle of the night because of it, you might be a candidate.  Go take part in a sleep study to find out.

So Questions:

How much do you average a night?
How important is sleep to you?
Can you add to this list?

Take Advantage of the Teachable Moments!

Teachable moments happen when the eagerness to learn meets the opportunity to teach.  This isn’t about the classroom, though it can happen there.  Often times, students are in class because they have to be or because they want to graduate.  The teachable moments that I’m talking about are different.  They are usually unplanned.  They happen when someone who is ready to learn encounters someone who is ready to teach.

For example, A teachable moment happens when a player seeks out his coach asking him how to improve his game.  One of my players sought me out on Facebook today.  It was pretty cool.  Another player asked me at practice today what he needs to work on.  Again, I love that attitude.  I’d rather have a guy come and ask me what he needs to improve rather than having to point something out to a guy who thinks that he’s doing everything right.

Even better than those examples, I enjoy it when my son asks me to tell him a story.  Jeremiah asks me for stories a lot.  And, he wants me to make up a new and fresh one.  He keeps me on my creative toes.  And, what I’m saying today is that these stories are an excellent opportunity to teach my son Christian values and principles.  I never waste a story.  They’re great.  I’ve told Jeremiah the stories of Obeyemiah, Sharemiah, Nicemiah, Okayemiah, and more! You get the idea. 🙂 He’s 4 years old so of course he loves them, and I enjoy telling them.  I’m taking advantage of teachable moments.

I’m trying to be intentional about it because… the thing about teachable moments is that they aren’t always there.  I know Jeremiah won’t always want to learn… and I may not always be ready to teach.  I have to tell these stories to him while I can.  The same is true with the football team and my students in Spanish class and everyone else with whom I come in contact.

Like I said earlier, teachable moments only happen when the eagerness to learn meets the opportunity to teach.  They come and go.  So…

Please take advantage of the teachable moments.

Be looking for them.

Are you looking for teachable moments?

Have you taken advantage of any lately?

Is It Time For An Upgrade?

Is It Time For An Upgrade?

So, this week I realized that it was time to upgrade the operating system on my windows mobile phone.  It was getting glitchy and needed a “refresh.”  Have you ever noticed that nearly every PC seems to get slower and slower over time?  The machine starts out lightning quick, but before long, almost without our noticing, the machine begins to lag until we realize it’s time for an upgrade (software or hardware).  Well, this happens in life too and sometimes…

We Need An Upgrade

We wake up one day and realize our system is really bogged down.  We need a change.  The problem is that we really like our system.  We’ve gotten used to the way things are going.  We really like the way that it looks and feels.  Plus, it’s a lot of work to upgrade.  And, it’s time consuming.  And then, there’s the work it takes to get used to the new.  So what ends up happening is that…

We Don’t Want To Upgrade

Because it’s challenging.  But the good thing is that the discomfort of the upgrade only lasts for a little while.  Before long, we’re enjoying all of the benefits of the new.  Think about it, when we first upgraded our Windows 95, 98, ME, 2000, XP, or Vista, the change was tough at first, but now we’re enjoying all of the improvements of Windows 7.  And so, the truth is that…

We Need to Upgrade

Said another way, we need to change.  We need to adapt.  We need to keep up.  Not just with technology but also with our methods and practices of life.  In the same way that it would be ridiculous to still be using an old junker PC running Windows 95 (a 15 year old operating system), it is ridiculous to live and act as though it were still 1995.  So, much has changed.  The truth is that things are changing at lightning speed every where now.   Are you keeping up?  Are you just slowly rolling through a sub-par life?  Is it time to make some changes (upgrades)?  It will be uncomfortable at first, but the benefits will be awesome.  It’s time to make some big-time decisions that will move you in a positive forward direction.  It’s time to do something that will make a difference…in your life and in the community around you.  So the question is…

Are You Ready to Upgrade?

It’s your call.  What are you going to do?  Don’t live a blah life.  It’s probably time for an upgrade of some sort, isn’t it?  I know I’ve got some planned upgrades.  How about you?