February 22nd, 2013 | 3 Comments »

My life is busy. I don’t wear this as a badge of honor. It’s a weakness, a flaw. Over time, though, I’ve managed to discover some tools (programs and apps) that help my life run more smoothly. I use these programs and apps every day. Maybe they’ll help you too.

Byword – I write almost everything in ByWord. It’s sleek and minimalist. Using Markdown language, it’s only me and the text. I can worry about formatting later. When I get brainstorm, I have to get the words out quickly or risk losing them. ByWord let’s me do that. Plus, I can save a document to Dropbox and have access to it on my MacBookPro and/or iPad.

Scrivener – Well, I do almost all my writing in ByWord. Big projects – those with lots of references, resources, and chapters – get worked out in Scrivener. It’s great for keeping it all together in one place.

Google Drive – I’ve only recently started using Google Drive. It’s perfect for collaborating and – in my case – when you’re writing for someone else. The interface is smooth and you can upload and download all kinds of documents – graphics, powerpoint, and text. moving forward I can see Google Drive becoming more and more useful for me.

Workflowy – Worflowy is my brain. Everything is in it – ideas, to-do’s, projects, everything. Like ByWord it’s cloud based, so I have access to it everywhere

Reeder – I subscribe to 100’s of blogs and newspapers. Reeder feeds them to one place (syncing with my Google Reader).

Flipboard – If you have an iPad or iPad Mini, you MUST have Flipboard. Just downoad it now and thank me later.

Buffer App – I schedule my tweets through Buffer. It looks like I’m using Twitter and Facebook all day. I’m not. My Tweets and status changes are all in the que and ready for the day by 6:00am with a few exceptions.

Hootsuite – Facebook updates, LinkedIn post, and tweets for my personal and The Vine Church account goes through Hootsuite. It’s a wonderful company. I use them so much and rave about them so much they sent me a t-shirt and some stickers a while back. That cemented my loyalty.

Readability – Articles and blog post I want to spend more time with find their way to Readability. It just makes reading comfortable.

Evernote – Evernote serves, mainly, as my repository for brainstorming and electronic filing. Each of my sermons and writing projects for the next 4 months are stored in Evernote. As I find things that I might need, use, or find interesting, I file them away in Evernote. However, Worflowy (should I one day move to a paid account) will likely take it’s place.

Evernote Clearly – Web articles are too busy (ads, comments, etc…). Evernote Clearly is a web extension that “clears” away the gunk and junk and provides a clear reading experience. You can also clip articles directly in Evernote.

Spotify – Spotify is a music app that allows you to make your own playlist and keep them. In addition, you can listen to playlist created by others. This is A LOT of fun. Spotify has a free function (with commercials) or you can pay for a membership ($9.99 / months) which allows you to download playlist and listen on your smartphone or tablet.

Dropbox – This is essentially a hard drive in the sky. At The Vine this is the primary way we store information. Simple and easy.

Day One – As part of my daily spiritual formation, I’m reading The One Year Bible Compact Edition NIV .Each day, after reading, I quickly jot down some thoughts, ideas, and prayer using Day One. It’s a little pricey for me ($9.99), but I’ve found it worth it. The reminders are great and I’ve never journaled this regularly before.

My Fitness Pal – I LOVE this app. I’ve not found a better way to track my daily calorie intake as well as keep a diary of exercise and fitness goals. You should be using this. Nearly every food, whether from a restaurant or grocery store is logged in. You’ll know exactly what you’re eating all the time. Plus, it syncs with the iPhone app, so there’s no excuse. The next time you’re at Whataburger about to download a #6 into your gut, you’ll know that’s more than half the calories you’ll need that day.

Go ahead and give some or all of these apps a try. With a wife, two kids, a blog, a church to love, book reviews, and writing projects, I’ve found these helpful.

What other great Apps are out there? What have I missed? Share in the comments section below.


January 22nd, 2013 | 9 Comments »

Leadership can kill your spiritual life. Since becoming the senior staff person in an organization I’ve injected my reading and development with a tremendous dosage of leadership material.  I’ve been to conferences, read books, watched webinars and basically immersed my life in leadership. This has been both good and necessary. But there is a sense – as a Christian leader – that it’s all a bit too much.

Here’s what I mean.

Many of the teachers I’ve learned leadership from over the past two years are pastors themselves. Their books are about leadership; their blogs, their tweets, their conferences are all about leadership – which is both needed and good. I’m not throwing stones. But here comes the “but”….

What about “following?”

Read the rest of this entry »

September 20th, 2012 | 5 Comments »

You takin’ to me?

Seriously! Who are you talking to?

In our hectic, dog-eat-dog, workaday world, where so much rests on productivity, meeting deadlines, and getting things done, we cannot forget that the people we deal with everyday are people. Frequently people walk into my office, or I see them at my daughter’s school, or around town and behave as if people are means to an end.

No, “Hi.” No, “Good Morning.”


They launch into business – usually something they want someone else to know or do. A flippant and dismissive air of , I don’t care about you, I only care about my agenda is all too clear.

It comes across as rude. And you don’t want to be rude.

Read the rest of this entry »

July 18th, 2012 | 2 Comments »

A Needed And Important Repost:


Sooner or later every leader will have to deal with someone – or a group of someone’s – who are reflexively oppositional. Most of us know what to look for, but if you don’t, here are a few profiles.

  • The person who is against every idea, sometimes even their own.
  • The person who when presented with a any idea, first tells you all the obstacles or hurdles involved.
  • The person who during the implementation phase of anything new determines, at the first glitch, that the entire program is unworkable.

I could give you more, but you get the idea. There are some folks, that no matter what, will react negatively to any and ever idea, proposal or change. In a certain way, these folks can be helpful. We all need people who can look down the road and help us avoid some of the pitfalls. But mostly, without redirection, the reflexively oppositional are a drain our emotions, progress, and morale. As a leader, you need to know that the reflexively oppositional exist; they will curtail and undercut any opportunities for growth and development and then ultimately blame the leader when things don’t get better. If one thing is true about the reflexively oppositional, it’s that nothing is ever their fault. Now that you know that, what should you do? Here are a few ideas:


  1. Teach! Believe it or not, many of the reflexively oppositional have never been taught to brainstorm and develop ideas. Find a conference or teacher that can help Negative Nellies how to brainstorm. In the short term, at your next meeting, ask your team to bring $20 in $1 bills and you bring a large bowl. During the brainstorming session, whenever someone says, “we can’t…” or “that won’t…” they have to put $1 into the bowl. After about 6-months use the money to do something fun with your staff or buy gifts.
  2. Redirect! I did this just this week. When a new idea or initiative is proposed, make sure that positive comments are shared. As my wife says, “Any dumb dog can tell you why something won’t work.” Ask your team to give you 5 positive and possibilities before they can say anything negative. When someone complains, stop them, and say, “Now tell me something positive about __________.” People aren’t wired to think this way, so we have to be constantly redirected. The people on your team that can’t ever be positive will learn that you’re not a worthwhile destination for the negative.
  3. Project. As a leader, you must focus on projecting the positive. Sit down with a journal or notebook and map out all the successes you and your team have had, then remind people of them. This past week, I sat down and listed the successes we’ve had in my brief at Redwood Church – building renovation, incredible small group launch, Men’s Fraternity, reconnection with our mission point in Haiti, relaunched Women’s ministry, increased mid-week attendance, Sunday morning message discipline,  etc…. These efforts required prayer, time and hard work. Don’t lose them to the archives of memory. Keep them close to inspire you and your team.
  4. Give it Over. Many of the reflexively oppositional are so because they feel they are never listened to or don’t have enough influence in the organization. Give it to them. Give them a large responsibility and the freedom to run with it. Many an oppositional worker has been humbled by the experience of having to lead and produce something from beginning to end. Handing over responsibility allows them to unleash their full potential. And you never know, they may be a lion of a leader who just needed an opportunity. For this to work though, they have to be responsible for all aspects of a project. It’s easier to gripe when you’re only responsible for 6% of a project. Give it over.
  5. Hire Differently. The simple truth is that you don’t want to work with everyone, regardless of their competence or lack thereof. If you’re in an industry that requires innovation or if you’re a possibility thinker, you MUST surround yourself with the same kind of people. You’re looking for “What if…” people, not “We can’t people.” We can’t people have never innovated an industry, grown a market-share or otherwise changed the world. You don’t want them! During the hiring process ask outlandish questions and see what responses you get.

The Reflexively Oppositional will always be with us, it’s our challenge to manage them well. Many Debbie Downers are critical-thinkers that organizations need, but their comments and affect need to be harnesses. Hopefully, leaders can help one another out.

How do you handle the reflexively oppositional in your organization? If, like me, you have been oppositional in your past, how did you break free?


June 22nd, 2012 | 3 Comments »

As a congregant you have a significant role to play in helping your preacher preach better. In the last post, we talked about time and the effect lack of time can have on sermon preparation. Think about this: After Seinfeld went off television, Jerry Seinfeld decided to retire all his old stand-up material (watch the movie, “Comedian”). He spent the next year crafting a new act. After a year, Seinfeld had 30-minutes worth of material.


Guess what? Your preacher does 30 minutes every week!

Could he or she speak shorter? Probably. But here’s my point: Many of us have been in church so long that we’ve forgotten or never understood what we were asking of our preacher in terms of the speech act itself. Your preacher, unlike Jerry Seinfeld, can’t simply use the same “material” over and over again and be effective. Read the sermons in the book of Acts. They are strikingly similar and mercifully short. Churches asks their minister to speak a fresh word every week and sometimes to speak multiple fresh words throughout the week. Hear me correctly, this isn’t a preacher complaining about his job. Complaining is fruitless. It is, however, one preacher asking you to help your preacher preach better by understanding what they are up against.

Read the rest of this entry »

Skip to toolbar