The Tipping Point

Malcom Gladwell writes some of the most interesting nonfiction books you’ll find on the market.  The first book of his I’d read was titled Blink, all about the science behind split-second cognition and how and why we think the way we do. He has a gift of taking research and breaking it down into terms easy to understand and digest.

He also wrote a book titled The Tipping Point. The concept behind a “tipping point,” is that one moment when an idea, product, or movement is embraced by the masses.  It is the moment something reaches viral status.  It is the catalyst for change, when you must do something.

We have these moments in our lives.  I had one today.

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You can be driven to your tipping point by positive and negative forces.  Our dreams and successes pull us forward into life changes.  Our stresses and fatigues push us to make a move. Fear is often the only thing holding us back and, believe me, fear works both ways.

Fear of success can be just as strong as fear of failure.

There are times we need to set hard end lines in life. We must embrace change, push ourselves forward into the journey and make a real move towards our end result.

There are times we are called out on the water. Today, as I drove home from work, that impression hit me clear as the ice that coated my car windshield. It is time to step out of the boat, to have an active and alive faith, to make a move towards total dependence on God and transforming P356 into a valid and living ministry.

I’m typing this listening to our neighbors fight while Carter and Aiden sleep in their rooms.  They deserve so much more.

So, if you are where I am tonight, know that you are not alone.  If you’ve debated that dream, pray about taking a step towards it. If you are too scared to face the storm, know that there is one who calms the waves.  He reaches out his hand is waiting for you to grasp it.

This is the first step.

~Matt

Soundtrack Inspiration: Val’s favorite song.  I’ve posted it here before but it is so relevant to my feelings tonight.

Donuts

This year, as a family, we decided to change our mindset.  Inspired by a post I found on Reddit, we are taking every day to note down one thing that makes us happy that day.  The notes are going to be stored in a box and, next year, we will open it up.  Val, Carter, and I are each doing it so, in the end, we’ll have over 1000 cards of moments that made us happy.

Yesterday, my mother took Carter to her house to spend the night.  Val told me he did his Happy card for the day before he left.  She held it up to show me:

Donuts

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 Photo Credit: ThePhin via Compfight cc

Val had picked up one for him from Wawa in the morning and that was his happy moment for the day.

As parents, believers, writers, creators, and dreamers we tend to get trapped in complications.  We find our big ideas and, in our insecurities, can find trouble just as easily. The voice of doubt waits to strike the instant it gets a chance.

Want to know one of the most critical points in life?  That minute after inspiration.  That second you articulate your dream and the silence that follows.

I want to…write a book, change my career, join a life group, be a better spouse, find love…but

at this point we need to fight the followup. Ignore the excuses. Quiet the noise.

Soak in the joy from giving your dream voice and permission. Allow yourself to dream. Visualize your success.  What could life look like on the other end of the journey?  On the way, don’t forget to enjoy the small things and have a donut every once in a while.

~Matt

The Starting Line

As with my last post, I’m continuing a look at 2015 inspired by author Michael Hyatt and his 5 Days to Your Best Year program…

Today was rough.  We had started the yearly process to verify all insurances for our active patients. Basically, it will be forty or fifty lengthy phone calls, paperwork, and scanning.  It was enough to have me drained at the end of the day.

I drove home dreaming about the future of P356 and finishing this book.  The twenty-minute ride was enough to lighten my mood.  It always pays to take time to dream your dreams and focus on your goals.  The first step is often the hardest and always the most valuable.

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So what is it you want?

Now there are a string of usual answers.  Get in shape, make money, get the promotion, find our mister or miss right.  I’m talking about a higher level.  What is your dream for 2015? What is your big goal?

We must start by stating a clear and direct intention.

We spend so much time standing at the starting line.  We dance around it, walk away and come back.  We even take a few steps forward before getting distracted and ending up back at the start. A clear and direct intention is key.

Write it down. Remind yourself on a daily basis.

My goal is for P356 to grow into a valid ministry, outreach, social service, and business.  I drove home with this in my mind and it was amazing how it helped to clear the dark skies and make the target visible.

As you start 2015, think of your big intention.  Grasp hold of it and chase it down.  When you can see the target, you can move forward and movement is the key to your best year ever in 2015.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” Hebrews 12:1

~Matt

Activation: Faith in 2015

This post starts a short series this week wrapping up 2014 and looking forward to some specific goals for the year to come…

I stood in the doorway of the dining area at Hope Rescue Mission at noon on Christmas day. They would serve, as with Thanksgiving, almost 250 men with their holiday meal. The chaplain, Steve Olivo, stood to my left.  We exchanged some small talk and I asked him if he was keeping an eye on things at Hope.  Steve normally is present for the “second shift” of time in the late afternoon and early evenings.

Robert Turchi, the director, passed by us and said, “Yeah he is, twenty-four-seven.” It took me a second.

“Really?” I asked.

“I live here now,” Steve replied. “It’s not the first time.” This is a man with a family and a home outside the walls, living at the Mission and overseeing the more than one hundred residents. I’m still struck by his comment.  I spent the rest of the day asking myself if I could do the same.

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Photo Credit: Karin Viva via Compfight cc

Pastor Olivo is one of my heroes and one of the reasons I’m writing Overcome. The men and women in the city of Reading working on the front lines of the fight against poverty deserve to be highlighted and my goal is that this book shines a light on their efforts.

I pray our faith transforms in 2015, that it is active and moving, engaging and passionate.  I pray that our boys see God reflected in us. I pray that I can serve Val and help guide our family to follow this path we are traveling.

2015 will be a year of lifting.  I’ll be honest, I’ve spent too much time on the sidelines.  I was Zacchaeus climbing the tree.  I’d get myself closer, higher up above the noise of life, yet wouldn’t push though the crowd to get my hands on Jesus.

I know now he has come to me and told me to climb down.

I’m praying that 2015 is the year your writing, your faith, and your dreams are realized. Give yourself permission to climb down or, at this point, just jump for it. The hands of grace are ready and waiting to catch you.

~Matt

The Closed Doors

There was no room at the inn.

The expression, from the Christmas Story as recorded in scriptures, has come to mean many different things.  Mary and Joseph needed a place to stay.  She was pregnant. They checked around and found no inn with a spare room, ending up in a stable.  They faced many closed doors.

We all face our closed doors.

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You can be moving along and gradually, or suddenly, things fall apart.  Your path shifts. The climb is now up hill. The promises you know as truth seem so far away and you look to God and wonder where the target on your back came from.

Closed doors are a necessary part of life.

On Thanksgiving, I spoke to a friend at Hope Rescue Mission.  He was having a rough few weeks.  His children and wife were dealing with medical issues.  An extended family member was seriously sick.  He felt beaten down.  He sighed and looked at me.

“You know you’re moving in the right direction when the Devil tries to hit back,” he said.

Where are you taking your hits this week?  Looking for a new job? Kids creating stress with the holidays? Finances getting thin while your waist line may be moving the other direction?

When we follow our calling, we will face closed doors.  God’s answers will come in their time, not ours.  We can’t lose hope and I write this sentence for you as much as for me. We will get pressed, and pressure is a good sign to keep fighting.  Use it as a barometer to know you are making a difference.

Even if  you end up in your version of a stable, shake off the cold, ignore the animals, and know that the universe was changed in such a place so many years before. That night it was the perfect, and only, option.

~Matt

Soundtrack Inspiration:

“When I am weak, you’re strong.  Your grace is all I’ve got.  What love is this that loves no matter what?” ~Strong by The City Harmonic

Giving Thanks For Ignition Moments

My dad spent twenty years working at Limerick Nuclear Generating Station.  Limerick is a town about an hour north of Philadelphia. The power plant was built the year I was born.  You could say that I grew up in the shadows of the twin cooling towers that constantly sent steam into the sky.

His job as an operator led to some great conversations as a kid and he has a number of great stories.  He worked twelve-hour shifts on day and night rotations.  One night, around three in the morning, he was monitoring a diesel engine that helped to operate one of the plant’s functions. He was in the room with the engine when a voice came over his radio.

It said that a large flame had shot from the exhaust on the roof of the building.  He had started to leave, stopped, and turned back to check it out.  Before he could clear the corner of a concrete wall just inside the entrance, the engine exploded.

The wall saved him from severe harm.  He was able to go home that night without any adverse effects.

Ignition moments are powerful.

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I’ll never forget my college adviser telling me I wouldn’t be successful as a writer.  Deep down, the fire started.  I knew I would prove him wrong, even if it took a lifetime.

Tomorrow, as we give thanks with our families and friends, recognize and grasp your ignition moments.

Was it a conversation? A prayer? A story or an image?

What moment started you on your path today?  Every success has a beginning. Every great story has a first word. Every goal was an impression spoken into your soul from the outer reaches of Heaven.

As you think about these moments, share them with someone else.  Shared stories create movement.  You never know who needs to hear what you have to say.  Take a chance and see what happens.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

~Matt

Soundtrack Inspiration:

Teaching

I mentioned before that I am reading Chuck Pagano’s book Sidelined where he talks about his battle with cancer as a man of faith and professional football coach. He talks about running the team from his hospital bed, meeting with players and family members in the hospital. He hits on something that is one of the real secrets in life and I’ll put it to you in the form of a question:

Who are you teaching?

We all have a need to teach.  We have unique knowledge and experience that can be communicated to someone else.  We write. We take our children in the back yard and show them how to kick a ball, climb a tree, or swing on the swing. We guide them on first steps and through first bad dreams. On our journey of faith, we seek to follow Jesus as the ultimate teacher.

There is more than one scene in the Bible where Jesus is speaking to the crowds.  He starts as a child in the temple and progresses to growing masses of followers.  He heals the sick, casts out demons, and changes lives.  He angers and inspires.  In the book of Acts we read of our commission, to go and tell the world of the good news. We are meant to teach, to share our lives with others and not live in a vacuum.

In Pagano’s book he mentions the first game he watched from the sideline after nearing the end of his cancer treatment.  The Colts won the game and cameras recorded his post game speech:

He tells the team that they chose to live in a vision and not their circumstances. He mentions that his battle is already won and that he will dance at the weddings of his two daughters. You can see the message light up the faces of the players. Pagano used his situation to teach the team the lesson of ignoring the outside voices and chase your dreams.

My oldest son, even a month after the end of his t ball season, still calls me coach. He soaked up every moment we had together at those games and I know, as a father, he soaks up any moment we have together. He yearns to learn.

We all have a deep desire to learn. We are all called to teach. We are created to live in community with others.  See the pattern?

So as you enter this weekend, think about who you are teaching. Who is watching you for inspiration? Your neighbor? Friend? Spouse? Child? Make the most of each moment, live in a vision, and never miss the chance to teach someone.

Peter tells us to always be prepared when asked about the source of our hope. Are you?

~Matt