Thursday, December 22, 2005

Habit 6 - Synergize

The exercise of all the other habits prepares us for the habit of synergy. Simply defined, synergy means that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The essence of synergy is to value differences - to respect them, to build on strengths, and to compensate for weaknesses.

Many people have not really experienced even a moderate degree of synergy. They have been trained to fight for themselves, and be defensive and protective in communication and interaction.

Synergy is effective because it gets the most out of everyone, instead of one or two people leading, with the others feeling like their opinions haven't really been considered. A good attitude to have when thinking of synergy is this: If a person you are dealing with disagrees with you, then there must be something they see that you do not, and you should seek to understand what they are thinking. They have a perspective, a frame of reference that you need to look at.

Negative Synergy

When we run into negative synergy, we see things like politicking, back-stabbing, rivalry, second guessing, etc. It is like trying to drive down the road with one foot on the gas, and one on the break. And then as we continue and try to move forward, we try and give it more gas before we slow down and consider taking off the brake.

Levels of Communication

There are 3 basic levels of communication:

The lowest form of communication comes from low-trust, low cooperation atmospheres. When the situation is like this, the general result is people being defensive, and the end result is a Win/Lose or Lose/Win situation. A few people get their way, most don't, and everyone walks out frustrated.

The middle form of communication is respectful communication. People are fairly mature and will listen to each other's ideas. They communicate politely, but not empathically. This usually ends in people not really understanding where each other are coming from, and a compromise is met. No one walks away fully happy, but something was accomplished, just not the best.

The third level is where we meet synergy. The synerginistic position of high trust produces better solutions than originally proposed. The high cooperation allows people to give an idea, and allow it to be constructively critiqued, so that every has a say, and the end result is mutually agreeable and better than the original.

An important part of synergy is valuing the differences. This means we understand that all people see the world, but from a different perspective. This is where people see their own limitations and shortcomings, and values what others have to say in those areas. When you become aware that someone sees something differently, you say, "Good! Help me see it how you see it!"

We need to understand that life is not always a dichotomous either/or, but there are always third alternatives.


As always, I cannot include each and every example and illustration the author uses. It seems to me though that the best way to learn about synergy is not to read about it, but to experience it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Habit 5 - Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood

Seek First to Understand

Imagine going to get your eyes checked. The optometrist after briefly listening to you takes off his glasses and says, "Here try mine on. They have helped me." You try them on and they just make things worse. He says, "Well there is something wrong with you then because these glasses have helped me for years".

After this experience, you probably wouldn't go back to this optometrist. You wouldn't have much confidence in someone who prescribes before he diagnoses. But in communication, how often do we take time to diagnose before we prescribe?

The author begins this chapter by saying that the single most important principle he has learned in interpersonal relations is to seek first to understand, then to be understood. Typically, most people do not listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to respond. While the other person is talking, they are thinking about how they will respond even before the person is finished speaking.

The highest form of listening is called "empathic listening". This is listening with the intent to understand. With this form of listening, you seek to put yourself in the other person's shoes, so that you can understand why they are saying what they are saying. This does not mean that you have to agree with what they are saying. But you want to understand as best you can what they are saying.

Communications experts suggest that only 10% of communication is expressed in words. 30% is our sounds, or how we say it, and 60% is body language. With empathic listening, you listen not only with your ears, but also with your eyes.

Empathic listening is important because it gives you accurate data to work with. Instead of projecting your own autobiography on the person, you are dealing with the reality of what is in that persons head.

Empathic listening is also risky. You need to be secure in yourself to listen well, because you open yourself up to be influenced. It is a paradox in a way, because in order to have influence, you have to be influenced.

Generally, when we listen, we tend to respond in one of 4 ways:

  1. We evaluate - We either agree or disagree
  2. We probe - we ask questions from our own frame of reference
  3. We advise - we give council based on our own experience
  4. We interpret - we try to figure people out, to explain their motives, their behavior, based on our own motives or behavior.

There are four developmental stages in empathic listening:

1. Mimick content:

Son: "Dad, I've had it, school is for the birds!"

Dad: "You've had it, school is for the birds"

2. Rephrase the content:

Son: "Dad, I've had it, school is for the birds!"

Dad: You don't want to go to school anymore"

3. Reflect Feeling:

Son: "Dad, I've had it, school is for the birds!"

Dad: "You're feeling very frustrated"

4. Rephrase the Content and Reflect Feeling:

Son: "Dad, I've had it, school is for the birds!"

Dad: You're feeling very frustrated about school.

When you do it this way, you show you are listening by repeating what the other person said, while allowing them to correct you if they feel you have not heard right. This may not even be your fault most of the time, but the speaker is just refining even what they are trying to say in order to communicate best what they are trying to get across.

Seek to be Understood

Now as you move to seeking to be understood, it is important to present your ideas clearly, specifically, and most important, contextually - in the context of a deep understanding or their paradigms and concerns. When you do this, you significantly increase the credibility of your ideas.


This chapter has actually been the hardest to summarize. I have left out so much that helps round out all that I have already written. One of the biggest things I have left out is a huge part of the Son and Dad dialogue, which shows how we would usually respond, and the author critiques it as it goes on. It is really helpful to see how we usually respond in order to fully show how we should respond. When the dad responded with evaluate, probe, advise, interpret, the son shut down and didn't share what he really wanted to. But when the father responded by rephrasing the content and reflecting the feelings, the son eventually shared how his teacher told him that although he is in grade 10, he is reading at a grade 4 level. It really showed the difference using this principle could have if used. So in some ways you need to read the whole chapter to get the full effect, but in other ways, you could just look at the title, "Seek first to understand, then to be understood", and that tells you all you need to know.

God's Plan in The Horse and His Boy

Yesterday I finished reading the 3rd book (chronologically) in the Narnia Series called, The Horse and His Boy. At first it was hard for me to get into as much as The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, or even The Magician's Nephew. I think that is because when I read The Magician's Nephew I knew that the story was important as to the creation of Narnia, as well as learning about where the wardrobe gets its power, etc. And then of course with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe it was interesting because of the recent release of the movie, and that it is just such a famous story. So then when I arrived at The Magician's Nephew there was no hype or anything. As the story went on though I began to enjoy it more and more, and in the end found the book fun and entertaining.

One of my favourite parts of the book was when Shasta finally met Aslan. He was just nearing the end of a long journey to inform the Narnians about the coming attack of the Prince Rabadash from Calormen. Shasta was tired and hungry when Aslan met him. Shasta first feared for his life in Aslan's presence because he had never heard of Aslan, and that he was good. Soon Shasta learned that through many of the difficulties of his journey Aslan had been there, and even in some cases, Aslan had caused the difficulties. The book goes on to record Aslan saying:

"I was the Lion." And as Shasta gaped with open mouth and said nothing, The
Voice continued. "I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the
cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the
jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses the new
strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time.
And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a
child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight,
to receive you"

Shasta learned that through the events of his life, Aslan had been there. He also learns that although at the time, some of the things Aslan did seemed bad, in the end they worked out for Shasta's good.

The obvious picture C.S. Lewis is portraying is that through all the events of our life, God is working through them. Sometimes we don't understand why He is doing the things He is doing, but it doesn't mean that in the end they won't work out for our good. Romans 8:28 says:

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."

This verse gives me perspective for life to know that when things are difficult, there is a purpose and plan for it all, even if I cannot see it at the time.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Habit 4 - Think Win/Win

The first thing we learn from this chapter is that there are 6 paradigms of human interaction:

  1. Win/Win
  2. Win/Lose
  3. Lose/Win
  4. Lose/Lose
  5. Win
  6. Win/Win or No Deal


Win/Win is the frame of mind that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all interactions. With a Win/win solution, both parties feel good about the decision and committed to the plan. Win/Win is based on the paradigm that there is plenty for everybody, and that one's success does not depend on another's failure.


Win/Lose is based on the fact that for me to win, others must lose or be less than me. Most people have been deeply scripted in this mentality. We think that our parents love us more or less than our siblings based on what we do. It is not who were are that shows value, but what we do.


"I lose, you win", "Go ahead, have your way with me", "Step on me again, everybody else does", "I'm a peacemaker. I'll do anything to keep the peace." People who think Lose/Win are quick to please and often get stepped on. They are intimidated by Win/Lose people and let others have their way in order to be excepted. Both Win/Lose and Lose/Win are weak positions, based in personal insecurities.


When 2 Win/Lose people get together, the most common result is Lose/Lose. When one wins, the other wants to get back at them, and it generally spirals downward until both lose. Someone who cares more about hurting someone else than their own good ends up in a Lose/Lose situation. They may cause damage to the other person, but they have lost something in the process.


A person who doesn't care about what happens to others, but seeks the best for themselves. Generally in the context of no competition.

Win/Win or No Deal

Higher than Win/Win, Win/Win or No Deal means that if we can't find a solution that benefits us both we will not force a solution. When you have No Deal as an option in your mind, you feel liberated because you don't need to force your solution on someone, you can be open. If you can't reach a Win/Win agreement, it is better to settle for No Deal than risk souring the relationship with one of the other options.

The author goes onto explain that there are 5 dimentions of Win/Win. It begins with character, and moves towards relationships, out of which flow agreements. Then it is nurtured in an environment were structures and systems are based on Win/Win. Then finally in involves process.

1. Character

Character is the foundation of Win/Win, and everything else builds on that foundation. There are 3 character traits essential in a Win/Win paradigm.

Integrity: This is the value we place on ourselves. We need to know ourselves, and truly understand what constitutes a win for ourselves

Maturity: This is the balance between courage and consideration. It is the ability to express one's own feelings and convictions balanced with consideration for the thoughts and feelings of others. If I am high on courage but low on consideration, I will think Win/Lose, and try to dominated my opinions on others. If I am low on courage, but high on consideration, I will think Lose/Win, and let others steamroll over what I believe. Therefore high courage and high consideration are essential to Win/Win (See diagram below).

Abundance Mentality: This is the paradigm that there is plenty out there for everyone. Many people are scripted with the Scarcity Mentality, that if someone else earns a piece of the pie, there is less pie out there for me. The Abundance mentality, on the other hand, flows out of a deep inner sense of personal worth and security. Even if someone else does well, I can still contribute and excel.

2. Relationships

Relationships are key in the Win/Win paradigm as you need to have built up the "emotional bank account" in order to have a fruitful Win/Win relationship. Win/Win agreements are rarely easy to establish, and the less of a relationship you have with the other party involved, the harder it is to reach the agreement. All in all, where there is no solid relationship, there is little chance of a win/win agreement.

3. Agreements

In the Win/Win agreement, the following 5 elements are key:

  1. Desired Results need to be identified and given a timeline
  2. Guidelines as to the parameters within which the results are to be accomplished
  3. Resources identify the human, financial, technical or organizational support available to help accomplish the results
  4. Accountability sets up standards or performance
  5. Consequences specify- good and bad - what does and will happen as a result of the evaluation

Both parties need to be clear on each of the 5 elements and agree to follow them in order to achieve success in the agreement. An agreement such as this takes the focus off the methods and onto the results. It gives the parties involved freedom to complete the task as they see fit, as long as they can achieve the goals of the agreement.

4. Systems

Win/Win can only survive within a framework that supports and encourages it. If you talk about Win/Win, but reward Win/Lose, you have a losing program on your hands. The spirit of Win/Win cannot survive in an environment or competition and contests. The problem is generally in the system, not the people. If you have good people in bad systems, you get bad results.

5. Processes

4 Step Process:

  1. See the problem from the other point of view. Seek to understand where the other person is coming from and what they are trying to achieve.
  2. Identify the key issues and concerns involved
  3. Determine what results wound constitute a fully acceptable solution
  4. Identify possible new options to achieve those results


And so ends Habit 4. I realize that this habit seems to focus on business relationships, but I think that these basic principles will help in all human interactions, including family and friends. What do you think?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Moving from Personal to Public

The first three habits were based on things to improve your personal effectiveness. The next three habits focus on how to be effective in the context of your relations to people around you. In the book there is a chapter in between habit 3 and 4 called, "Public Victory: Paradigms of Interdependence". This entry is based on that chapter.

Private victory precedes public victory. You can't have the fruits without the roots. It is important to understand and grasp habits 1-3 before moving onto 4-6.

The author then goes on to explain a concept called the emotional bank account. Like a financial bank account, the emotional bank account receives deposits and gives withdrawals. Each person you interact with has a different account with your name on it. But instead of money, you deposit things like time, courtesy, kindness, honesty, etc. You withdraw by doing opposite things like breaking promises, lying, being rude, etc. In order to have good, effective relationships you need to have a good balance built up with that person in order to have their trust. The higher the account balance, the higher the trust.

Six Major Deposits

There are various different types of deposits, so I will outline six deposits the author mentions as important.

1. Understanding the Individual
Seeking to understand someone is one of the greatest deposits you can make. If you don't understand the person, you may not understand what for that person constitutes a deposit. You may appreciate something that may be annoying to them, and while you think you are making a deposit, you are actually making a withdrawal.

2. Attending to the Little Things
Little courtesies and kindnesses are so important. Small discourtesies , little unkindnesses, little forms of disrespect make large withdrawals. In relationships, the little things are the big things

3. Keeping Commitments
Keeping a commitment or a promise is a major deposit; breaking one is a major withdrawal. If you break a promise, the next time you make one, people won't believe it. But if you keep them on a regular basis you build trust which spills over into all areas of your relationship.

4. Clarifying Expectations
It is important at the beginning of any task to clarify the expectations. People will judge based on what they perceive as the expectation. We create negative situations by assuming because we are thinking one thing, and the other person is thinking another, and then both parties are disappointed when their expectations weren't met.

5. Showing Personal Integrity
Integrity includes, but goes beyond honesty. Honesty is telling the truth - confirming our words to reality. Integrity is conforming reality to our words. In other words, keeping promises and fulfilling expectations.
It is also being loyal to those who are not present. By doing so, you show the person you are with that when they are not present, you will also be loyal to them.

6. Apologizing Sincerely When You Make a Withdrawal
When we make withdrawals from the emotional bank account we need to apologize and do it sincerely. We also need to commit to not making that same withdrawal again, or else the apology seems insincere, and therefore becomes another withdrawal.


One final point I got from this chapter is this: Relationship problems are opportunities to be relationship builders. When you have a problem with someone, you can choose to keep it this way by not confronting it, or your making a solution yourself while not including the other person. Conversely, you can choose to attempt to fix the problem by looking for a mutually beneficial solution to the problem, which in the end fixes the problem and also builds into the relationship.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Habit 3 - Putting First Things First

This post has been a while in coming. I had hoped to read this book quicker, but found that I needed to take more time with each habit if I wanted to get the maximum impact from it. I also have been pondering over my own life purpose statement, which the author wanted to be completed (at least in draft form) before reading this chapter. So I have that done (in draft form), so I will post it later, and post this chapter now.

In habit 1 we realize that we can change and we are in charge of our own lives, not the outside factors. In habit 2 we envision what we want to see happen with our lives. Now in habit 3, we put these things into practice. It is the day-in, day-out, doing it.

Effective management is putting first things first. While Leadership decides what the "first things" are, it is management that puts them first, day-by-day, moment-by-moment. Management is discipline, carrying it out.

The area of time management can be captured in a single phrase: Organize and execute around priorities.

The most important thing I learned from this chapter is the Time Management Matrix (see picture above). It goes something like this... There are two factors that define an activity - urgent and important. Urgent means it requires immediate attention. Urgent matters are usually visable. They press on us; they insist on action. A ringing phone for example. Who among us can let it ring without checking the display to see who is calling?

Importance, on the other hand, has to do with results. If something is important, it contributes to your mission, values, goals. We react to urgent matters. Important matters that are not urgent require more initiative, more proactivity. If we dont practice habit 2 and know what is important, we are easily diverted into responding to the urgent.

So Time Management Matrix goes something like this...

  • Quadrant 1 = Urgent and important
  • Quadrant 2 = Not urgent but important
  • Quadrant 3 = Urgent but not important
  • Quadrant 4 = Not urgent and not important

Quadrant 1 includes things that are crises or problems. As long as you focus on Quadrant 1 a lot, the crises will continue to grow and never be complete.

People who spend too much time in Quadrants 3 and 4 end up living irresponsible lives. Effective people stay out of 3 and 4 because, urgent or not, they aren't important.

Quadrant 2 is the heart of effective personal management. They are things like building relationships, writing a personal mission statement, long-range planning, exercising, preventative maintenance, preparation - all those things we need to do, but never do, because they aren't urgent.

The only place to get time for Quadrant 2 in the begining is by cutting out quadrany 3 and 4 activities. You can't ignore the urgent and important activities of 1, although that quadrant will shrink in size as you spend more time with prevention and preparation in quadrant 2. You have to be practive to spend time in quadrant 2 as quadrants 1 and 3 work on you. To say yes to quadrant 2 you have to say no to quadrant 1 and 3. The enemy of "best" is often "good" (i hope to read the book "Good to Great" soon which is written based on that principle. The importance of a solid personal mission statment is so that you can refer to it and say no to quadrant 3 and 4 things because you have a bigger "yes" burning inside.

And so there it is... if you actually read all that, congrats. Reading this is a quadrant 2 activity if you go out and apply or study these concepts more, but a quadrant 4 activity if you look at it and don't at least consider it for your life. Which will it be? I hope for myself that writing this will turn out to be a 2 and not a 4.

Friday, December 02, 2005

So Great a Salvation

One of the cool things about working with Campus Crusade for Christ is that that encourage you to take a day away from the ministry once a month in order to just take time to be with God. So I get to spend a day reading, listening to sermons, studying God's Word, listening to worship music, praying, etc.

So today, I was listening to my fav christian bands, The Supertones, and one of my old favourite songs by them called "So Great a Salvation". It is a quiet song written about quiet time with God.

I was encouraged by this song again today concerning how great God is, and yet He desires us to seek out a quiet place and spend time with Him. It doesn't seem to make sense, but that is God's desire. Sometimes I get too caught up in bigger things that seem more important. So here is my prayer for today:

Woke up this morning
And I just had to thank God for my life
Just read through James' book
Start to pray and ask God for a wife
It's a time of devotion
As I sit and speak to my God unseen
Why should He listen?
Well I love Him and He's in love with me

Why me God?
Why should You choose me?
On your team God, can You use even me?

I think a few years back
On a road that headed to nowhere
Now that You found me
I can see that You were always there
So great a salvation
But to You my Jesus what am I worth?
It's quiet times like this
I feel I get a glimpse of Heaven right here on earth

Oh, hold me in your arms of love
Sometimes I swear I feel your heartbeat
I could never ever thank You enough
But here's my life for whatever it's worth

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Fighting for Joy like a Justified Sinner

One of the other books I have been reading recently is John Piper’s When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy. I haven’t been reading it as deeply as I probably should in order to get the full profit from reading it, so I decided to do a blog on one of the recent chapters so I could allow it to sink in a little deeper. The chapter is called “Fighting for Joy like a Justified Sinner”

One of the main points of this chapter was to learn the fact that we need to preach the gospel to ourselves regularly, and especially during times when we are going through a wilderness time in our walk with God. What I mean by this is that we need to constantly go back to verses that talk about how God has transported us from the Kingdom of Darkness unto the Kingdom of Light. God made us, sinners who deserve judgment into justified sons and daughters.

One of the things that cause us as Christians to distress is confusing justification and sanctification. Justification is the immediate act when we become Christians that takes us out of God’s judgment. We are immediately in perfect standing legally before God. Sanctification, on the other hand, is the process we go through in this life of becoming holy. It is a process and will not be complete until with are with the Lord in heaven. Piper says this about the difference:

Both are gifts, and both are bought by the blood of Christ. They are inseparable
but different. Both are by faith alone. Justification is by faith alone because
only faith receives the declaration that the ungodly is counted righteous.
Sanctification is by faith alone because only faith receives the power to bear
the fruit of love. It is crucial in the fight for joy that we not confuse or
combine justification and sanctification. Confusing them will, in the end,
undermine the gospel and turn justification by faith into Justification by
performance. If that happens, the great gospel weapon in the fight for joy will
fall from our hands.

In the next section of the chapter he speaks about “becoming what you are”. As Christians we are justified. Now we need to see ourselves as justified:

One of the ways the Bible talks about our action in relation to our standing in
Christ is to command us to become what we are. For example, using Old Testament
ceremonial language Paul says, “Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new
lump, as you really are unleavened” (1 Cor. 5:7). In other words, become what
you are. You are unleavened (sinless in Christ); therefore become unleavened
(sinless in practice).

I think this simple truth really ministered to me. I don’t have to do something on my own to earn anything. I am simply becoming what I already am in God’s eyes. And it is not like after being justified by faith alone we now need to become sinless on our own. We just need to be progressively becoming more and more obedient and less and less sinful in the power and strength that God provides through faith.

The chapter goes on to talk about how Micah fought for joy and various other things, but this is the part that really ministered to me. I am thankful to God for John Piper and is writings and how God has used him to help many Christians around the world take their joy in Christ.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Habit 2 - Begin with the End in Mind

The chapter began with the author asking the reader to picture themselves at their own funeral. Then to imagine what the reader would want the people giving the speeches to say about them. When you come up with what you would want said about yourself, you see what are the most important things to you. These are the things you should be making sure you accomplish in life.

If you begin with the end in mind, you can make sure, on a day-to-day basis that what you are accomplishing during your day is actually something that is important to you.

One of the most important things I took from this chapter so far is the fact that you can busy yourself with many things, but it doesn't necessarily mean that you are being effective. The world will give you many things to keep busy with, but unless you keep a tab on what you are doing and making sure that it is in line with your end goal, you could busy yourself with many things that don't really matter.

Beginning with the end in mind is based on the principle that all things are created twice. For example in construction, the architect builds every detail of the building on paper before a single nail has been hammered in. It is the same thing with our lives; if we do not plan ahead as to what we want to be accomplishing, we by default empower other people and circumstances to shape our lives. We will be constantly reacting to things around us instead of proactively makings sure that we are the architects in our own lives.

Beginning with the end in mind is a practice of personal leadership. Leadership works at directing the ship, whereas management makes sure the rowing is being done effectively. If we are not leading out in the direction we want to go, it doesn't matter how good managers we are, as we will only be effective in going in the wrong direction. Effectiveness does not depend solely on how much effort we expend, but on whether or not our efforts are focused on going in the right direction.

We need to make sure we have clarified our values and goals before we start expending energy and efforts that could possibly be leading us in the wrong direction. One way we can make sure we are always effectively moving in the right direction is by creating a personal mission statement. With this statement, we can compare our actions on a regular basis to what we have written as our most important goals.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Habit 1 - Be Proactive

Recently I have begun reading the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. I have realized that one area I want to grow in is Leadership, and so I have been recommended 4 books, all of which I have to goal to read by Christmas. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is the first book on that list.

In this book, the author tells the reader to read the book as if you are going to be teaching the content of the book shortly after. In this way, you will take more from the book than if you were just reading it for leisure. So I intend to report on each of the 7 habits, for you, my class J. Of course, what follows is just a short “Coles notes” of the chapter. You will be missing the helpful analogies, stories, etc. But hopefully you will get the basic gist of it. Maybe it will whet your appetite to read the book yourself. So far I recommend it!

Habit 1 – Be Proactive

We as humans are not our feelings. One thing that separates us from the animal kingdom is that we can “step outside” ourselves, and look at our paradigm (how we see things).

There is a theory that says that our lives are determined by three things: Genetic determinism (Our DNA), Psychic determinism (The way our parents formed us growing up), and Environmental determinism (the people or situations around us). When we are confronted by a stimulus, we will respond in a certain way because of the three determiners. For example, when someone cuts us off on the highway, we will react in this certain way; or when we receive a gift, we will react that way. This is called the stimulus/response theory. Is this theory correct?

A guy named Victor Frankl discovered during the holocaust (he was a Jew in the Prison camps) that even among the most horrific circumstances, that he had a choice whether what was happening around him would determine his mood. He discovered a fundamental principle about man, that in between stimulus and response, man has the freedom to choose. It is not what others do to us or even our own mistakes that hurt us the most; it is our response to those things.

Proactivity defined is that we as human beings are responsible for our own lives. Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions. We can take what happens around us, good or bad, and not let our feelings or emotions determine our decisions. We have the initiative to make things happen. Look at the word responsibility – response ability – the ability to choose your response. Highly effective people do not blame their circumstances or conditions. Their behavior is a result of their own conscious choice.

Many people wait for things to fall into their laps. In this way, they act reactively. This limits them to their surroundings or conditions. People who have made a great difference in the world, conversely, act proactively regardless of their circumstances.

Anytime we think that the problem is “out there”, that thought is the problem. By blaming things that are “out there” we allow what is “out there” to control us. The proactive approach is to change from the inside-out: to be different, to be more resourceful, to be more diligent. We need to look at what we can control rather than what we cannot. If I really want to change the situation, I need to work on the one thing I have control over – myself.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Heavy thoughts...

At my church in Kitchener we are going through "40 Days of Community" which is the follow-up to "40 Days of Purpose" from the famous book The Purpose Driven Life. For each of the 40 days you have a reading to go through. I just wanted to share part of yesterday's:

"Love cares about the destiny of others. If you knew the cure for cancer or AIDS, and you kept it as secret, telling no one while millions continued to die, would that be loving? Of course not, If you knew the key to extending human life by 50 years, would you want to share it with others? Of course you would. But as believers (Christians) who've learned the way to eternal life, we have an even more important, longer lasting, and urgent message to share with the world, and love leaves no choice"

What the author is saying is that as Christians, we believe that we have the most important cure in the world. The effects of sin on a human has eternal consequences, while the effects of AIDS are temporary. With this in mind, is a Christian a loving person if they don't share their faith. I mean, if they are honest with themselves, they believe that if people don't have Christ, they are going to be in Hell when they die. Sometimes we like to sugarcoat this fact with phrases that are more pleasant such as "eternity apart from God", but the reality is no Christ = Hell.

As a Christian, this is a devistating fact to ponder. I can do all the nice things in a world, but if I don't tell a person about Christ, have I really showed them love? Maybe in some ways, but ultimately not.

The way I see it, if a person's house is burning down while they are sleeping inside it, knitting that person a sweater might be nice, but it would be far more important and loving to wake them up and get them out of the house.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Leafs Rule, Habs Drool!!

So as I mentioned in my previous post, Vanessa and I went to the Leafs-Habs game in Montreal last Saturday (Oct. 15). It was an awesome game to be at. The Bell Centre is really big (about 22,000 compared to the ACC at 18,800). We were up in the nosebleeds but the seats weren't that bad as we were right on the goal line.

We were sitting right behind another pair of Leaf fans. This guy probably spent $100 in mostly beer for him and his girlfriend. He also bought a $6 Canadiens flag which he doubled as both a foot rest (see picture), as well as a cloth to wipe excess beer from the side of his cup. Although I thought he was funny, when he asked me to step on the flag I declined. Even though I hate the Habs, there is still a respect about another teams crest.

One of the coolest things about being Leafs fan is being part of something that is so huge. At the Bell centre there was probably at least 25% Leafs fans that made the 5-6 hour drive to Montreal. When the Leafs scored it was so awesome as it was just about as loud as when the Habs scored (minus the Bell Centre horn and music). Pretty much the whole row behind us was Leafs fans. This picture was taken after Lindros got his second which turned out to be the game winner. What made it even more sweet was that everytime Lindros touched the puck the all the Canadiens fans booed. When Lindros scored (twice) they were so sad. I'm sure they were thinking "Ah zut". I love it!

Final Score: Leafs 3, Habs 2. Leaf goals by Allison, and Lindros (2). As you can see in the penalty summary the Leafs ended the game with McCabe in the box. The last few seconds were so frantic as the Habs also pulled their goalie so the last 25 seconds were 6-4. Luckily for us Eddie the Eagle came up big. I love that guy!

So the happy couple left the Bell Centre smiling like the cat who caught the canary. We actually bought each other the tickets as birthday presents for each other. We stayed with friends who live a 15 minute walk from the Bell Centre so it was perfect! (Thanks Andy and Loni).

So ends the trip to Montreal. If any of you have ever wanted to see a game at an opposing teams rink/stadium, I wholeheartedly reccomend it. Especially if you are Leaf fans, because you know that no matter what rink you are in you will not be alone!

Go Leafs Go!

Fever Pitch

After a long drive back from Montreal, Vanessa and I decided to take it easy for the night and rent a couple of movies. We watched Fever Pitch, and Kicking and Screaming (which is the movie with Will Ferrell where he plays his sons soccer coach).

I really enjoyed Fever Pitch. I suppose there are a couple of reasons. I like sports movies, and I think that Jimmy Fallon is hilarious. But I think the main reason I enjoyed it was because I could relate to Jimmy Fallon's character a lot. In the movie he plays a 30ish year old teacher who can never hold down a relationship because he has an obsession with the Boston Red Sox. Now I realize that I am married and so while I didn't relate to him in that respect, I did relate to his sports obsession. I mean, I could watch Leafs highlights and Leaf's related programming all day. In the movie, Jimmy Fallon's room has Red Sox everything... bedsheets, pillowcases, posters, etc. I'm sure that if I was single living on my own my room would have all of these similar things for the Leafs. In the movie Fallon says something about how he loves loving something that he cannot control and that is bigger than himself. I think these are similar reasons about me loving the leafs. I love being part of Leafs Nation, a group of fans that spans across the country. I loved being at the Leafs-Habs game in Montreal and being part of the huge contingent of Leaf fans that made the long drive in order to support their team. There is no other fan base in all of hockey that comes close to Leaf fans. It was cool to watch Fever Pitch and get an insight into Red Sox Nation, a similar group of fans.

On a slight tangent, the movie also made me upset because it reminded me that the Red Sox won the World Series that year. You see, before the Sox won the World Series in '04, they had not won the championship since like 1918. They referred this streak of not winning as "the curse", since they had not won since they traded Babe Ruth to the Yankees. Since that year the Yankees had won like 26 World Series', while the Red Sox won none. It was a cool sporting tradition, and I loved cheering for the Yankees in the playoffs after the Blue Jays playoff aspirations had died. I also enjoyed that there was another sports franchise that hadn't won their championship in such a long time. I mean come on, 1918 made 1967 look like a couple of days ago.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Who the heck is Shelby Lynne??

I was reading the editorial in a magazine put out by Campus Crusade in the States called Y-Jesus. This magazine takes a look at some of the different evidence and research compiled about the life of Jesus Christ. The editor's main point was that Jesus in unique because he has survived the test of time. Our culture is so enthralled in magazines such as Us and Entertainment Weekly, but I am certain that if we looked at one of those magazines from a year or two ago there would be many people who we have no idea who they are. One example is this Shelby Lynne. You can see in the above picture that she won a Grammy. It was for "Best New Artist" in the year 2001. This is only a couple of years ago, but now she is unheard of. Our celebrities are in and out of popularity so fast. In one day, out the next. Many people receive their 15 minutes and then all of a sudden it is over. Think of the Simpsons episode when Bart becomes famous for his "I didn't do it" line. He had posters, pull-string stuffed toys, etc. But then one day no one cared anymore, and he was kicked out of Krusty's studio faster than he was brought in. I know that this is just a cartoon, but it illustrates something in our culture so well.

Then there is Jesus. Here is a guy born in a stable in a little town in the Middle East called Bethlehem. He grew up as the son of a carpenter, and had only 3 years of public ministry. Jerusalem was nothing in the Roman world... it would be like a someone who became famous from Nunivut, and then staying in Nunivut as opposed to moving to LA or New York or Toronto. Imagine if Shania Twain had stayed in Timmins, or if Avril Lavigne had stayed in Napean. They wouldn't be the superstars they are today. Yet Jesus didn't move to Rome, where all the spotlight was. And now his legacy is still renown 2000 years later. There is no one in all of history who has a following so long after their time on earth. There are some famous people who we can still remember from his time or even before, but they are reduced to our dusty history books. Jesus has a following that has not spread by magazines or award shows or political campaigns. He is renown and loved by many because there is something that is different about him, that separates him from other famous leaders like Napoleon, Martin Luther King Jr., or the Many famous Roman Caesars. The thing that separates Jesus from the rest is that he is God. He was fully God and fully Human, something that our finite minds will always struggle to fully understand.

10 years from now names like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie will more than likely be obscure figures that we will want to search on Google to remember them. They maybe cool because they will be old school, kinda like how we appreciate Michael J. Fox and his role Back to the Future. But Jesus will remain one of the most popular figures in history, and people will still be talking about him. People will still be arguing that he was just a good teacher, or a prophet, or Son of God, etc, but his followers will remain and so will his fame and renown because he is unlike any other figure in history.

Friday, September 30, 2005

I Hate When This Happens...

Has this happened to anyone else??

Why is this picture amusing to me?

1. I love simple humour and this is simple. Cartoons where I have to read anything more than 3 boxes usually isn't worth the extended read.

2. The cat has a look on his face that says, "meh, I suppose I will indulge myself in a 25 cent goldfish"

3. The fact that this is so ridiculous. If the cat actually inserted the coin and turned the knob, a lot of water would come out, and he is not even guaranteed a fish! Although he does have a chance at two!

4. The cat has a pocket.

If you discover more reasons why this is funny, let me know in the comments section!

P.S. Maybe I should look into having different sections of this blog or create a new one as it is quite funny that I post something like this moments after posting something so serious and from the heart. I think I will leave it all on one blog though as this gives you a better understanding of all that is Jamie Strickland.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

God's Power for God's commands

I am reading Piper's follow-up book to Desiring God called When I don't Desire God - How to Fight for Joy. So far I am really appreaciating this book. One of the things that struck me in the last chapter I read was concerning the rich young ruler. In Matthew 19 there is a story of a rich guy who met Jesus and asked him what he had to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus says that he has to sell everything he owns and give it to the poor and follow him. The rich guy walks away sad because he can't give up all his riches. Now usually when I read this story of hear it in a sermon I assume that this story is not aimed at me. I am not rich. But Piper points out that apart from God working in our hearts, we are all too selfish and stubborn to turn toward God. Our turning to God is a gift from him, and not something we can do on our own. After the Rich guy walks away Jesus says that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. The disciples knew that was impossible, so Jesus responded by saying that "with man it is impossible, but with God all things are possible". With man it is impossible choose God over money, but with God all things are possible.

As humans we need to rely on God's empowering strength to choose him over things of the world. It is a difficult concept to wrap your mind around, that we have to rely on God for the stregth to follow his own commands, but it is also freeing. I know by know that I can't do it on my own. I have tried many times but my heart is just so hard. Only God can soften it. This is a fact that should bring us to prayer constantly. St. Augustine himself prayed, "Grant me the grace (oh Lord) to do as you command, and command me to do what you will! O holy God, when your commands are obeyed, it is from you that we recieve power to obey them." He realized so early into the life of the church that even when we obey God's commands it is only by his strength and empowering that they are done.

Bowling and Blue Behinds

Last night, being Wednesday, we went out for 99 cent bowling. After 10pm at the local bowlerama, games of bowling, fries, and hot dogs are all 99 cents. This has been a tradition for me for a probably 3-4 years. Originally it was myself, Wes, and Steve as the core with the likes of Tumber, Vanessa, Lup, Mark Chan, Tim Sree, and Gedny as the group who came out every once in a while ensuring that we would average 5-6 bowlers per week.

I discovered however last night that there is something missing from the bowling nights of old. What is missing is the competition that we used to share. Whether is was the loser who had to pay for everyone's games, or snacks or whatever, I can't seem to bowl when nothing is on the line.

The ultimate example of our betting on bowling happened during the winter 2 years ago. We had probably already played a game to decide who was paying, but we wanted to go a step further. We decided that whoever lost the next game had to stick their bare butt in the snow. (I don't quite recall how we decided that, but it happened). I believe Tumber was our first loser. In the following weeks Steve, and Wes had to follow suit. Eventually I was coerced into taking a seat in the snow (although I never lost), and the rest is history.

After taking this stroll down memory lane it becomes so clear why bowling doesn't have that same spark anymore. No one is sticking their butt in the snow.

P.S. A special thanks to wes for allowing me to post this embarrassing picture of him. Wes, when I see you next, I will ask your permission.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

My Beloved Leafs

So with the hockey season just around the corner, I am pondering what the season will look like for the Leafs. I don't like making predictions, as they are for gypsies, but I think this year has a lot of questions. Will Eric Lindros, Jason Allison and Jeff O'neill be able to play the way they have before, when they were premier players in the league? Can Mats Sundin put up the numbers he has in the past which saw him the in the top 5 of the league in points? What about the D? Is McCabe, Kaberle, Klee, Khavonov, (with pick 2 of Brown, Berg, Coliacovo, Kronvall, Marchment) enough to be a solid core? And then the biggest question mark, the Eagle. Is Eddie ready to carry the team again, and win a few games for us?

The answers to these questions will soon be answered, but I think it is wise to note that all teams have questions. No one at the begining of the 03-04 season would have predicted that it would be a game 7 between Calgary and Tampa Bay in the final.

I am always optomistic when it comes to the leafs, so I think we will have a decent season. We'll make the playoffs and then lets just hope that we can stay healthy, because anything could happen at that point.


Thursday, September 22, 2005

Other Letters written by Paul

Today in my Bible reading I read the entire book of Colossians. It is a short book, 4 chapters long, so it did now take very long. In a book I am reading I was told that it is good to read the entirety of a book (in the Bible) first, and then read it in shorter readings (i.e. a few verses, or one chapter at a time), in order to get more out of it. So anyways, I got to chapter 4 verse 16 which says:

"And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read to the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea."

From this it seems that Paul is saying that the Colossians and the Laodiceans should read each others letter from him, in addition to their own. This would mean that there are other letters that Paul wrote that did not make the canon (Bible).

Which lead me to wonder… if we ever found any more of Paul’s letters, say the one written to Laodicea, what would we do with it. I am sure some would want to include it in the Bible, while I suspect that most would not. I think that while it would be cool do be able to read another one of Paul’s letters, it would not be enough, just because it was written by Paul, to be entered into the Bible. It is not because Paul wrote it that makes it Biblical, it is because the Holy Spirit inspired it that makes it Biblical. I believe that if God wanted any other books in the Bible, it would be there. There were many books that did not make it into the Bible that were written by people in and around Christ, but the early church fathers overwhelmingly voted against their entry.

The whole topic of what made it into the Canon and what didn’t is a very interesting topic, something that I would like to learn more about some time down the road. But even with the limited knowledge I have, it comes down to trust in God’s sovereignty, and trusting that what he wanted us to have as the Bible, is what is there.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Little Green Men???

I was reading this small booklet the other day called, Is There intelligent Life in Outer Space. The booklet was made by a Christian organization called Answers in Genesis.

I have kind of casually held the opinion that there is no life on other planets, based on the fact that the Bible doesn't really mention it, and if there was life on other planets, the Bible would have said something, especially in the book of Genesis that recounts the creation of the World.

One of the interesting points that the booklet mentioned was that NASA has a sector that is devoted to searching for intelligent life in outer space. When searching for this life, they once came heard a pulse from Space. They noticed that it was coming in at a regular rate of once every 1.3 seconds. PULSE - 1.3 secs - PULSE - 1.3 secs - PULSE... Etc. This kept going. After reporting it, they said if could be coming from little green men in outer space. So this pulse was named LGM-1 (LGM = little green men).

What they later learned was that they actually found a rapidly rotating neutron star, which was making this sound entirely on its own, without artificial aid.

Now these same "scientists" also are the ones that believe in evolution, and the big bang as the beginning of the universe. The writers of this booklet I was reading pointed out an interesting double standard held by these scientists. This is what they wrote:

"Do you see what is so illogical about the search for non-human intelligence? If these same scientists would exchange their telescopes for microscopes, look down into the cells of every living creature and observe the DNA making up chromosomes, they would see the most complex code, the most complex information system, the most complex language in the universe. They would look at this and say, "Chance!" Yet if they receive the simplest ordered sequences from outer space, they are prepared to say, "Intelligence!"

I thought this was an interesting fact. I still don't understand how people can see the genetic code in each human cell and say that we all came here by chance. It just doesn't make sense to me. But if you think it does, let me know what I'm missing...

If you are interested in reading this, or other articles by Answers in Genesis, visit their website at:

Sunday, September 04, 2005

I will try to fix you??

I think somebody is trying to tell me something... A few thing have come across my path today to urge me to consider how I react to a problem or difficulty. One of the songs that has been going around in my head over the last little while has been the song "Fix you" by Coldplay. As I was looking at the lyrics I wondered whether it trying to fix something is the best thing to do in the face of a problem. Some of the lyrics go like this:

"When you try your best but you don't succeed When you get what you want but not what you need When you feel so tired but you can't sleep Stuck in reverse When the tears come streaming down your face When you lose something you can't replace When you love someone but it goes to waste could it be worse? Lights will guide you home and ignite your bones And I will try to fix you"

I think this is how I always react when Vanessa has a problem or is going through a hard time. I just want to fix it. She always tells me that she doesn't want me to fix it, she wants me to feel what she is feeling, and to relate to her. That is hard for me, because I always want to just fix it.

I was also reading an article today by Albert Mohler, who is the President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He was being interviewed about how Christians should respond to tragedies such as Hurricane Katrina. He said:

"I think the first thing we have to do is to weep with those who weep. And this is not a tragedy that is over. It continues to unfold. And so right now, there are people who do not know where their wives and husbands and children are. They have no idea what their future might be. They have no idea if there's even a home to which they can return. Some of them already know they have lost loved ones, and some of them have not even been recovered, in terms of bodies. So there's an appropriate Christian response to weep with those who weep".

He then goes onto say how we also need to help practically through finances, etc. But the point I am getting at is that he first tells us to "weep with those who weep". I think there is a generally feeling in people that we just want people to understand us first and foremost. Don't try to fix me, just understand me. I think that is something I need to work on as I try to grow as a husband and as a person.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Jesus in the Gospels

I have been reading a bunch about original sin lately. Recently, my readings have taken me to a five part sermon series by John Piper called, Adam, Christ, and Justification. One line that really stuck out to me as I was reading was this:

"When you read the gospels and you see your Lord living out a perfect life
of righteousness, rejoice that he not only is giving you an example of how
to live, but he is also laying the foundation for your acceptance with God
by grace through faith alone."

I had never thought of it that way. As we read the life of Christ, it is not only an example of what we should be striving towards that we see, it is the living out of the righteousness that we, as Christians, are seen in by God.

I think this will change the way I read the gospels, as I can now treasure Christ even more as I ponder the righteousness that I have through him alone.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

No protection for turning back

I have been reading a Christian classic called, The Pilgrim's Progress. It is about a guy named Christian who is on a journey from the city of destruction, to the City of Zion. The story is about the various things and people he meets along his way. I just finished a chapter called "Apollyon". In this chapter Christian meets a character named Apollyon, who represents Satan.

In the previous chapter , Christian had just been given the armour of God. The armour of God consists of:

Belt of TRUTH - God
Breastplate of RIGHTEOUSNESS - The Righteousness of Jesus in you
Sandals of PEACE - Inner peace and readiness
Shield of FAITH - Living by faith
Helmet of SALVATION - Salvation through Christ today and forever
Sword of the spirit - GOD'S WORD - God's Word countering spiritual deception and accusations

John Bunyan, the books author, goes on to write:

Christian began to be afraid, and wondered whether to go back or to stand his ground. But he remembered that he had no armour on his back and thought that by turning his back he might give the fiend the advantage since then Apollyon could easily pierce him with his darts so Christian resolved to go out and stand his ground. "For", he thought "if all I wanted to do was to save my own life, that would still be the best way to stand."

The key point here is that there is no protection for the back in the armour that God has given us as Christians. Our fight has to be one that is always moving forward. If we look back, that is when Satan has the power to defeat us. However, if we press on, even during tough times, and continue forward, we can be sure that we have a tool from God to win the battle.

I thought this was a profound thought from the pen of Bunyan. For anyone interested in reading a deep, but easy to read book, full of Christian truth, I recommend the Pilgrim's Progress. It is a classic.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Matt bonner, my hero

Just want to take a quick opportunity to say that matt bonner is awesome! For those of you unfamiliar with the "red rocket", he is a player on the Toronto raptors. This guy plays tough d, hits his shots (especially 3's) and plays his heart out every game. Not only that, but he plays in the NBA, and doesn't even have a car. He walks to the ACC for games and practices.

Apparently he has a grandparent who is Canadian, so Leo rautins (Canada's national basketball head coach) says he is going to see if there is some loophole that could allow him to play for Canada. That would be sweet.

we have lost enough Canadians to other countries (rusedski in tennis, Lennox Lewis in boxing, Owen hargreaves in soccer), it would be nice to get some love back!

Friday, January 21, 2005

no absolute truth!!

as we are advertising for ravi zacharias coming to the university of waterloo, one particular event stands out...

in order to show how silly it is for people to say, "you have your truth, i have my truth", one of our students stood outside the Student Center, on a freezing cold day wearing only shorts and a billboard over his chest. the billboard said something to the effect of, "there is no absolute truth. you think it is -10 today, i think it is +20".

he was pretty cold afterward, and said some of his extremities were still numb, but in the end he decided that no matter how hard he tried to beleive it was +20 outside, in reality, it didnt change the fact that it was -10.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Noah's ark not by natural causes?!?!?!

Hey guys,

so i was flipping through the channels the other night when i came across this documentary about noah's ark. it was interesting...

their whole point, whoever made it, was to prove that to believe that noah's ark actually occurred is silly. the basis of their argument? based on research, it is impossible that this event could have occured by natural causes. {insert sarcasm here} excellent job sherlock, i never would have guessed that the gathering of animals from all around the world couldn't have happened without any sort of SUPERnatural intervention.

it was actually quite funny though... they actually tried to show how hard it would have been to gather these animals, by having actors portraying noah and his family struggling to get those pesky camels on the ark. you should have seen them pulling on those harnesses! it looked like they were about to pass out from exhaustion. plenty of brow wiping action was going on.

the more and more i go through life, the more and more i realize that people are funny...

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Jesus Among Other Gods

Does everyone know that Ravi Zacharias is coming to Mac/Waterloo/Guelph later in January??

Anyways, to prepare for his visit, I began to read one of his books called, "Jesus Among Other Gods". The book sets out to compare Jesus to other leading religious figures (Mohammed, Buddha, and Krishna), and to show how Jesus stands out as special among them.

The first chapter was a bit about his (ravi's) early life, and setting the context for the rest of his book.

The second chapter was really good, and for the first time in a while i felt like i learned something new and cool. It talked about how Jesus has no begining, as well as the fact that Jesus doesnt have a specific home on earth. The other figures all had beginings and hometowns. (Jesus as a human had a birth and hometown, but existed in eternity past with God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit).

Anyways, the cool new fact that i learned was concerning one of the problems that Muslims have with Christianity, which is the fact that Jesus is God's son. Most Muslims i have talked with, both here in Canada, and in Tanzania, say that God could not have a son, since that would have to mean that God had sexual relations with a women.

In the book, Ravi says that this is an interesting problem, since the Qur'an itself states that Jesus was born by a virgin birth (Surah 19:19-21). The Qur'an claims that this happened when Mary was confronted by the Angel Gabriel, and he "breathed in the sleeve of Mary's shirt, amd thus she conceived" (this is not a quote directly from the text of the Qur'an, but a note at the bottom of the page to help explain what these verses meant).

So all this to say, i find it interesting that Muslims would say that Jesus couldnt be the son of God, because that would mean God had to have had sex with a women, when in the Qur'an it clearly states that Jesus was born of virgin birth, only not of the Holy Spirit (as the Bible says), but by the angel Gabriel.

There was also some other interesting stuff that i learned from this chapter, pertaining to certain Islamic beliefs, but i found that one the most interesting.

so far i really recommend this book, and i am really excited for Ravi coming to our campuses!! for more info in his time at Mac/Waterloo/Guelph go to