Hurtful Words have an Atomic Half-Life ~ Bruce Van Horn

kicking1Our words carry a lot of weight and the things we say can have an impact long past the actual event in which they were said. I read this article today and it reaffirms the power of our words.

The author of the article shares this memory from his past:

I’m now 48 years old but I still remember the words, and how they made me feel, that a coach said to me when I was 17–31 years ago!

I was not feeling well and had performed poorly at a cross-country meet. I normally placed in the top-5 for my team, but came in well below that for this race. When the coach asked me what happened, I just said “I didn’t feel good.” He must have interpreted that as “I just didn’t feel like pushing hard today.” What he said to me in front of all of my teammates was “Van Horn, you’re a loser! You’ll never amount to anything in life.”

Read the rest of the article (the link is below) and the author’s thoughts on the power of our words. It’s a good reminder to all of us.

Hurtful Words have an Atomic Half-Life ~ Bruce Van Horn.

The Rippling Effect of Influence

churchYesterday we combined with another church in our community for our Sunday morning worship service. We are a predominantly white church and they are an African-American church and we worshiped together with a third church joining us about a year ago. For our service yesterday, some of their praise team members joined us for the music portion. Since our churches have different styles of music, they had to learn the songs “our way.” One of the songs was brand new to them (or at least most of them) and they had less than a week to feel comfortable with it. They were great!

A large portion of the service was given to testimonies and we had several individuals share. A recurring theme was how the influence of our church (which has been around for over 50 years) made a difference in the lives of people.

Here are a few examples:

– one gentleman who shared is in leadership in another church in Wilmington. He came to faith sometime after his teen years. He said some of the early seeds of faith were planted in him at the High School Prayer Breakfast our church offered when he was a student.

– another testimony was given by a man who recently moved back to Wilmington and has found a place of acceptance and support in our men’s group called “The Cave.” During his testimony he shared how he remembered coming to church here as a young boy. Now he is back and his kids are involved in our children’s ministry.

– one of our elementary aged boys was baptized near the beginning of the service. He was baptized by his grandfather who is a retired Baptist preacher who is serving as an interim minister at a local church. He meets with our pastor and several other pastors for prayer each Wednesday. He said he came to Wilmington to retire, but instead found revival. The father of the boy who was baptized grew up here at the church and has several family members who are still a part of our church family. He and his wife also serve in our student and young adult ministry.

I was impressed with the idea of how God has used this particular church family to influence so many individuals and families. While our church is far from perfect (just like any other church you would visit), God has used her to be a place of growth and life change for many individuals. Sometimes it is good to stop and celebrate who God is, what He has done and how He uses people to accomplish His purposes.

7 Men review

7 men7 Men gives a brief look into the lives of seven men who influenced the people of their time period and whose impact still endures today. Most readers will recognize the names of the men in this book, but probably don’t know a lot about each man’s story. The men featured in the book are George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, Pope John Paull II and Chuck Colson.

Obviously each man is recognizable for something they accomplished – George Washington for being the first President of the US, Eric Liddell for refusing to run in his strongest Olympic event because it was held on Sunday, Jackie Robinson for breaking the color barrier in baseball. What 7 Men focuses on are the circumstances leading up to or following those well-known events. The author highlights the decisions and choices that were made that lead up to those notable accomplishments and what occurred afterward. For example, most of the chapter on Eric Liddell discusses the direction of his life following his Olympic experience. Most people know about his gold medal. Many probably don’t know what he did when the games were over.

7 Men provided an honest look at the lives of these men. The author shared both their successes and their shortcomings. It was a good read that might prompt the reader to investigate more information about these men than what these shorter biographies provide.

You Don’t Need a Title to Be a Leader

No TitleThis is my first Mark Sanborn book, but I’ve heard him speak before and know he is a prominent voice in the area of leadership. Even if I didn’t know the author, the title of the book would have been enough of a hook to interest me in reading the book. I like the concept that everyone can lead regardless of the name on the letterhead or your business card. Since leadership is primarily about influence, a title is not required.

In the early pages of the book, Sanborn establishes that as a primary principle: “The bottom line is, influence and inspiration come from the person, not the position.” His encouragement to the reader is that he or she can be leader, even if his or her title doesn’t reflect a leadership position.

Throughout the book, he provides examples from his own experience and the experience of others to demonstrate how influence and inspiration can come from all different levels. He refers to people who are teachers, bellhops in a hotel, insurance customer service agents and waitresses to give evidence of leadership.

One of his principles I highlighted was this: “Leadership is intimately linked to service.” Whether someone sits at the top, in the middle or at the bottom of an organization, he/she can still be a leader as he/she serves.

A critique I have of this book is that at times it seem a little disjointed. I felt like he jumped from topic to topic within a chapter. While the content was good, I didn’t always feel like it connected within the chapter.

I really like the principles Sanborn lays forth regarding leadership and it would be a good read for anyone who seeks to be a person of influence.

(I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review)

National Honor Society

IMG_1972[1]I had the privilege today to attend the National Honor Society Induction Ceremony at Clinton-Massie High School. My daughter, along with 26 other students, were accepted into NHS and the ceremony not only honored them, but also underscored the values of NHS.

There were a couple of things that stood out about the morning. The first was the emphasis of the four standards of NHS: Character, Scholarship, Leadership & Service. Normally when I think of NHS, I think of good grades. The brief program this morning brought to light the importance of the other characteristics. Current members read a brief explanation of each standard. One of the statements that stood out to me went something like this:  “The development of character happens by choice, not by chance.”  Thought that was a powerful statement.

The other thing that stood out to me is that each inductee had an influential adult escort him/her during the ceremony.  It was cool to see parents, teachers, coaches, and family friends who were selected to accompany the students.  It gave the students a moment to honor adults who have impacted them and it communicated that we are who we are because of the people in our lives.

It was an honor for the families and the students who are now members of NHS.

I was a little behind the news on this, but was impressed how Louie Giglio handled the situation pretty well. I saw several tweets on it before I had a chance to read the article.

Really like this quote Giglo gave: “Clearly, speaking on this issue has not been in the range of my priorities in the past fifteen years. Instead, my aim has been to call people to ultimate significance as we make much of Jesus Christ.”

Raising Jesus

Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, most people – and churches – are focusing on Christmas. Last Sunday kicked off our latest sermon series and it is taking a look at the Christmas story. One of the cool things about this sermon series is that several churches in our area will be preaching from the same text each week. As we worship and study at WCC, there will be four other congregations examining the same piece of scripture.

The message this past Sunday focused on Mary and Joseph and how they responded to God’s call to be the parents of Jesus. Joseph, because Mary was pregnant outside of marriage (which was punishable by stoning), wanted to divorce her quietly. When the angel appeared to him, the Bible tells us Joseph was obedient.

Mary, when the angel appeared to her, was understandably taking by surprise that she would be chosen to carry God’s Son. When the angel explained God’s plan, she submitted to it – “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:38)

In his message, our pastor made a great point. (He said it probably wasn’t original with him, but I’ll give him the credit). He pointed out that Jesus learned obedience and submission from his mom and dad. As an adult, Jesus was obedient to His Father – to the point of death on a cross – and he saw that attribute in His earthly parents. Jesus was also submissive to God’s will – an attribute He saw in Mary and Joseph.

While Mary and Joseph weren’t perfect, they were an example of obedience and submission as they fulfilled God’s plan for their lives. It’s interesting to think how their example impacted their son, Jesus, as He was growing from a young boy to a man who would give His life for us.

A Life Well Lived

The past week has been a rough one for our church family. We have had several members pass away and three funerals will occur in our building over a span of about 5 days.

I was honored to be a part of Pete’s funeral on Friday. I knew Pete for a little over 12 years, but there who so many who knew him for 20, 30 or 40+ years. His funeral was both easy and difficult. It was easy because his was a life well lived. He loved God, loved his church, loved his family and loved others. So many people attested to that by their presence at the visitation and funeral service. It was difficult because he was so loved and will be missed by many. His passing came suddenly and so was a surprise to his family and friends. His funeral was more of a celebration of his life and his relationship with God than it was a time of mourning. His wife said it well when she said that is what he would have wanted – a celebration.

Probably the most powerful moment for me came the Sunday after Pete’s funeral. I have the privilege to lead worship at our church and so was on the platform Sunday morning. Pete’s wife and family were present for church. As we started singing the song, “How Great is our God,” Pete’s wife and daughter stood in honor of the One who they were worshipping. Even in the valley of the shadow of death, they put their trust, confidence and hope in God. What an example of how we should spend the time we’ve been given.

The Value of a Retreat – Part 2

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about our time at the junior high retreat.  This past weekend we took some of our high school students to the high school retreat that was facilitated by one21 Ministries.

It was a great weekend for many of the same reasons that I mentioned about the value of a retreat.  We were in a different environment listening to some different voices, enjoying some new experiences and creating some new memories.

The theme of the weekend was “my life will say something.”  The encouragement to each student (and adult) was to live in such a way that our lives tell the greater story of the Gospel.  We were reminded of the importance of hearing what God has to say about us and not listen to the voices – and lies – of those around us.

We heard a powerful testimony from a high school senior who just a year ago had her lower lip bitten off by a dog while she attempted to serve someone else.  She spoke of the importance of hearing God’s voice and what He has to say about true beauty.

Beth Guckenberger spoke on Saturday night.  She and her husband live in Mexico where they help care for orphans and operate Back2Back Ministries.  I have read one of her books, but this was the first time I had the opportunity to hear her speak. She shared the story of how she and her husband became involved in orphan care and encouraged us to use our voice to speak into those issues that stir up within us.  She used the phrase “the burr in your saddle” to describe that issue you have to do something about.  She is a gifted communicator.

One of the highlights of the weekend was simply spending time with our students.  I have been in Wilmington long enough to have known much of the group for a number of years.  I have seen many of them come up through the elementary and junior high years to become young men and women.  We laughed, enjoyed the beautiful weather and had a great time.

The weekend was a reminder of how each of us can use our voice, our life, our uniqueness and our passions to speak God’s story to those in our lives.

Kudos to Coach Crean

I remember reading this article a few weeks ago about Indiana University coach Tom Crean. While it had to do with his role as coach at the school, it really wasn’t about basketball. Crean leveraged his influence as a coach to help a young man who needed someone to take an interest in him.

The article originally appeared on csnchicago.com by sports writer David Kaplan.


We too often hear about the negatives in the sports world including celebrities who far too many times fail to lend a helping hand when they are presented with a chance to make an impact on someone’s life. However, when someone of note goes above and beyond the call it’s important to let people know about it and the impact that it had on someone’s life.

Today, I received a call about Indiana basketball coach Tom Crean who is considered to be one of the better young coaches in the game and also one of the most focused and intense. The caller told me the story of a young man who is a freshman at Indiana and was finding his adjustment to college a difficult one. Crean saw the young man sitting in the lobby of the basketball practice facility recently and noticed him a couple of times as he went in and out of the basketball offices. He also noticed that the young man appeared to be very upset.

Crean invited the student into his office and proceeded to hear his story and counseled the young man on how difficult the transition to college can be and encouraged him to stick with it. He also introduced the student to the rest of his staff and he got him an opportunity to work around the basketball program as a member of the athletic department.

The young man had turned off his cell phone after telling his parents that he needed to take a walk and think and his parents were very worried when they were unable to reach him. When Crean inquired as to whether the young man had spoken with his parents recently the young man said no. Crean called the parents, gave them his personal contact information and told them he would look out for their son. After arranging for a job in the athletic department the young man is reported to be doing very well and has adjusted to life away from home.

When I reached Crean today he didn’t want to comment, calling it a private matter but he did say that he hoped as the father of three kids that if the roles were reversed that someone would do something to help one of his kids should they be in a tough spot.

Nice to hear that a celebrity who is also a father was there in a time of need and went way above and beyond the call of duty to impact a life. Congrats Tom Crean, the example you just sent should be a lesson to everyone.