Author Archives: Andy Hunt

Monday Morning Inspiration

How about a nice discussion about death to get you motivated today?
Donald Miller posted this on his blog yesterday and I had to share it.  It is a short speech from Steve Jobs after he was diagnosed with cancer and knew he only had a few months to live.
He said a few things I hope I never forget:
“If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”
“Remembering that I’m going to be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. “
“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.”
If you knew you were going to die soon, would you care about pride, embarrassment, conflict or failure?  I doubt it.  Realizing your time is limited helps you strip away the things that don’t matter.
Maybe the reason we don’t pursue the things we want is because we think we still have forever to live.  I can just wait until tomorrow.  Then, when we get old and death becomes a more vivid reality, we think it’s too late to do the things we wanted to do.
I know it is a little morbid to think about dying, but this reminded me of one thing Gregg Medlyn told me he makes his clients do.  He makes them write their obituary.  I sense a common theme.  If you look at the end of your life (whether it’s tomorrow or 80 years from now) it changes the big decisions we make everyday.  Going through that exercise with Gregg changed my perspective on everyday life, because I had to fast forward to the end.  When you look at the end and work your way backward, you only think about the things that really matter.  It made me think the end could be sooner than I think, and I need to get going now to get the obituary I want.  It’s like Paul said in his sermon last week “We are all on the clock.

So I guess my question to you today is “If today were the last day of your life, would you want to do what you are about to do?”

It’s just like Van Halen said:

 

Right now, Hey

It’s Your Tomorrow

Change Your Mind

Abraham Lincoln was quoted as saying “A man is generally about as happy as he makes up his mind to be.”  Easier said than done, right?  Today I ran 4 miles for the first time in a year.  The slowest, most glorious 4 miles of my life!  It made me realize how much joy we can get in the smallest things.  I was so happy the entire time because I now know what it feels like to not be able to run at all.  It made me think about all the times I thought if I just had (fill in the blank) I would be happier.  The truth is I have about a million little things in my life that should, and do, me happy.

And then, on the way to work, I heard this song.  Was it coincidence or divine Providence?  I’ll let you decide. They played this song in Cornerstone a few years ago when Paul preached a sermon on attitude.   So many people aren’t happy, and yet happiness is something that is completely within our control.  These lyrics always punch me in the gut when I hear them:

If you want to be somebody else

If you’re tired of fighting battles with yourself

If you want to be somebody else

Change your mind

I’m constantly fighting battles with myself, and sometimes I do want to be somebody else.  I love this song, and it’s definitely in my top 5 of all time.  And for those who are keeping score, yes, there are approximately 80 songs in my top five.

 

Change Your Mind

Sister Hazel

 

Hey, hey

Did you ever think there might be another way

To just feel better, just feel better about today

Oh, no, if you never wanna have to turn and go away

You might feel better, might feel better if you stay

Yeah, yeah

I bet you haven’t heard a word I’ve said

Yeah, yeah

You’ve had enough of all your tryin’

Just give up the state of mind you’re in

If you wanna be somebody else

If you’re tired of fighting battles with yourself

If you wanna be somebody else

Change your mind, change your mind

Hey, hey

Have you ever danced in the rain or thanked the sun

Just for shining, just for shining o’er the sea?

Oh no, you take it all in the world’s a show

And yeah, you look much better

Look much better when you glow

Yeah, yeah

I hope you’ve heard every word I’ve said

Yeah, yeah

You’ve had enough of all your tryin’

Just give up the state of mind you’re in

If you wanna be somebody else

If you’re tired of fighting battles with yourself

If you wanna be somebody else

Change your mind, change your mind

Ooh, ooh, yeah

Ooh, ooh, yeah

Hey, hey, what ya say

We both go and seize the day

‘Cause what’s your hurry

What’s your hurry anyway

Yeah, yeah

I hope you’ve heard every word I’ve said

Yeah, yeah

You’ve had enough of all your tryin’

Just give up the state of mind you’re in

If you wanna be somebody else

If you’re tired of losing battles with yourself

If you wanna be somebody else

Change your mind, change your mind

Change your mind, change your mind

Don’t Call it a Comeback

Due to long hours at the new job, sinus infections, and an overall lack of sleep, I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks.  Lousy excuse, I know.  So thanks to Walter for holding me accountable.

Whether you want to believe it or not, we are all sales people.  Almost everyday we are trying to sell somebody something.  Ever asked a girl out?  You are selling.  Ever interviewed for a job?  You are selling.  Ever tried to convince your friends to go to certain restaurant when you are all getting together for dinner?  You are selling.  Ever simply wanted somebody to understand your way of thinking?  You are selling. Despite the negative connotation of sales and sales people, I don’t think there is anything wrong with trying to convince someone of something you are passionate about.  After all, have you ever talked to a non-believer about your faith and invited them to come to church with you?  Guess what?  You were selling.  Even though you might hate the word “sales,” you have to do it in your everyday life, so you might as well be good at it.

I saw this video last week, and it really struck me as a great way to improve your skills of persuasion.  Simon Sinek talks at the TED conference about what makes great leaders inspire action.  He says, very astutely, that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

I think we can apply this principle in our everyday lives to get better results.

Selling From the Inside Out.

The “why” is why we do things or believe certain things.  The “what” is what we do. In most of our inter-personal interactions, we focus on the what.  You can see it in the workplace.  Ever had a manager tell you to do something “because I’m the boss” or “because that’s our policy?”  That isn’t telling me why.  Talk to me like that, and I’m more likely to defy you than follow you.  Instead, try it from the inside out:  “Here’s why we are doing this, and that’s why I want you to take these steps to get there.”  Okay, now I’m listening.

Simon uses the example of Apple (love them or hate them, that company knows how to sell) to illustrate his point.

If Apple focused on the “what” their ads would sound like this:  “We make great computers.  They’re beautiful designed, simply to use, and user friendly.  Want to buy one?”  Eh, maybe not.  Yet, that’s how most of us communicate interpersonally.  But here is how they sell from the inside out starting with their passion or their “why.” “Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo.  We believe in thinking differently.  They way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly.  We just happen to make great computers.  Want to buy one?”

I’m not suggesting that we think this deeply when trying to convince our friends about going to a specific restaurant, but there will be a time when you will want to persuade somebody to do something.   They probably won’t buy what you do, but they probably will buy why you do it.  People are drawn to passion.  If they see it in you, they will want it for themselves.

Can you articulate why you are passionate about some things?  If so, now you might be able to get others to share your passion.

 

On this topic, more to follow . . .

A Meaningful Story is Always a Good Story

I came across this article today and it highlights one of the things we discussed when finishing up the Storyline series.  Don’t misunderstand what Donald Miller is saying.  He isn’t suggesting that we all have to be rock stars to tell good stories with our lives.   Living a meaningful life that is pleasing to God is the point.  And meaningful stories are always good stories.  Some of the best stories I’ve seen in movies or read about grabbed me because of the struggle of a character who wanted something and overcame obstacles to get it.

This article is about “Shifty” Powers.  If you’ve seen Band of Brothers (probably my favorite mini-series), you know about him.  He fought with the 101st Airborne division in WWII.  Chuck Yeager makes a great point, when Shifty died, there was no fanfare like we saw when Michael Jackson died.  But that doesn’t mean his story is any less meaningful.  Band of Brothers isn’t about a group of celebrities.  It is a great story about a regular bunch of guys who sacrificed everything to conquer an evil force.  Don’t let your story get hijacked by society and our obsession with celebrity. 

For my money, Shifty told a great story with his life.

 

“Shifty” By Chuck Yeager

 

 

Shifty volunteered for the airborne in WWII and served with Easy Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, part of the 101st Airborne Infantry. If you’ve seen Band of Brothers on HBO or the History Channel, you know Shifty. His character appears in all 10 Episodes, and Shifty himself is interviewed in several of them.

I met Shifty in the Philadelphia airport several years ago. I didn’t know who he was at the time. I just saw an elderly gentleman having Trouble reading his ticket. I offered to help, assured him that he was at the right gate, and noticed the “Screaming Eagle,” the symbol of The 101st Airborne, on his hat.

Making conversation, I asked him if he d been in the 101st Airborne or if his son was serving. He said quietly that he had been in the 101st. I thanked him for his service, then asked him when he served, and how many jumps he made. Quietly and humbly, he said “Well, I guess I signed up in 1941 or so, and was in until sometime in 1945 …” at which point my heart skipped.

At that point, again, very humbly, he said “I made the 5 training Jumps at Toccoa, and then jumped into Normandy.  Do you know where Normandy is?” At this point my heart stopped. I told him “Yes, I know exactly where Normandy is, and I know what D-Day was.”

At that point he said “I also made a second jump into Holland, into Arnhem .”

I was standing with a genuine war hero, and then I realized that it was June, just after the anniversary of D-Day. I asked Shifty if he was on his way back from France, and he said “Yes… And it’s real sad because, these days, so few of the guys are left, and those that are, lots of them can’t make the trip.” My heart was in my throat and I didn’t know what to say.

I helped Shifty get onto the plane and then realized he was back in Coach while I was in First Class. I sent the flight attendant back to get him and said that I wanted to switch seats. When Shifty came forward, I got up out of the seat and told him I wanted him to have it, that I’d take his in coach.

He said “No, son, you enjoy that seat. Just knowing that there are still some who remember what we did and who still care is enough to make an old man very happy.” His eyes were filling up as he said it, and mine are brimming up now as I write this.

Shifty died on Jan. 17, 2011 after fighting cancer.

There was no parade.

No big event in Staples Center ..

No wall to wall back to back 24×7 news coverage.

No weeping fans on television.

And that’s not right!!

Let’s give Shifty his own Memorial Service, online, in our own quiet way.

P.S. I think that it is amazing how the “media” chooses our “heroes” these days… Michael Jackson & the like!

Is it Well With Your Soul?

Two weeks ago in Cornerstone, Josh played the hymn “It is Well With My Soul” and said we should all lookup the story behind why the hymn was written.  I was trying to relate the lyrics to my life.  New job, loving family, great friends, so yeah, it is well with my soul.  It’s easy to say that when things seems to be going right.  Read the story of the author and how he came to pen that song.

Put yourself in his shoes and imagine you were writing a hymn to God.  What would the lyrics sound like?

I wish I had faith like Horatio Spafford

 

Taken from www.biblestudycharts.com:

 

This hymn was written by a Chicago lawyer, Horatio G. Spafford. You might think to write a worship song titled,

‘It is well with my soul’, you would indeed have to be a rich, successful Chicago lawyer. But the words,

“When sorrows like sea billows roll … It is well with my soul”, were not written during the happiest period of

Spafford’s life. On the contrary, they came from a man who had suffered almost unimaginable personal tragedy.

 

Horatio G. Spafford and his wife, Anna, were pretty well-known in 1860’s Chicago. And this was not just because

of Horatio’s legal career and business endeavors. The Spaffords were also prominent supporters and close

friends of D.L. Moody, the famous preacher. In 1870, however, things started to go wrong. The Spaffords’ only

son was killed by scarlet fever at the age of four. A year later, it was fire rather than fever that struck. Horatio

had invested heavily in real estate on the shores of Lake Michigan. In 1871, every one of these holdings was

wiped out by the great Chicago Fire.

 

Aware of the toll that these disasters had taken on the family, Horatio decided to take his wife and four

daughters on a holiday to England. And, not only did they need the rest — DL Moody needed the help. He was

traveling around Britain on one of his great evangelistic campaigns. Horatio and Anna planned to join Moody in

late 1873. And so, the Spaffords traveled to New York in November, from where they were to catch the French

steamer ‘Ville de Havre’ across the Atlantic. Yet just before they set sail, a last-minute business development

forced Horatio to delay. Not wanting to ruin the family holiday, Spafford persuaded his family to go as planned.

He would follow on later. With this decided, Anna and her four daughters sailed East to Europe while Spafford

returned West to Chicago. Just nine days later, Spafford received a telegram from his wife in Wales. It read:

“Saved alone.”

 

On November 2nd 1873, the ‘Ville de Havre’ had collided with ‘The Lochearn’, an English vessel. It sank in only

12 minutes, claiming the lives of 226 people. Anna Spafford had stood bravely on the deck, with her daughters

Annie, Maggie, Bessie and Tanetta clinging desperately to her. Her last memory had been of her baby being

torn violently from her arms by the force of the waters. Anna was only saved from the fate of her daughters by a

plank which floated beneath her unconscious body and propped her up. When the survivors of the wreck had

been rescued, Mrs. Spafford’s first reaction was one of complete despair. Then she heard a voice speak to her,

“You were spared for a purpose.” And she immediately recalled the words of a friend, “It’s easy to be grateful

and good when you have so much, but take care that you are not a fair-weather friend to God.”

 

Upon hearing the terrible news, Horatio Spafford boarded the next ship out of New York to join his bereaved

wife. Bertha Spafford (the fifth daughter of Horatio and Anna born later) explained that during her father’s

voyage, the captain of the ship had called him to the bridge. “A careful reckoning has been made”, he said, “and

I believe we are now passing the place where the de Havre was wrecked. The water is three miles deep.” Horatio

then returned to his cabin and penned the lyrics of his great hymn.

 

The words which Spafford wrote that day come from 2 Kings 4:26. They echo the response of the Shunammite

woman to the sudden death of her only child. Though we are told “her soul is vexed within her”, she still

maintains that ‘It is well.” And Spafford’s song reveals a man whose trust in the Lord is as unwavering as hers

was.

 

It would be very difficult for any of us to predict how we would react under circumstances similar to those

experienced by the Spaffords. But we do know that the God who sustained them would also be with us.

 

No matter what circumstances overtake us may we be able to say with Horatio Spafford…

 

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,

It is well, it is well with my soul.

 

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,

Let this blest assurance control,

That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,

And hath shed His own blood for my soul!

 

It is well … with my soul!

It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Want to Make Today Memorable?

If you are like me, you’ve been thinking about the Storyline process and asking if you are telling a good story with your life.  You’ve probably been looking for a way to tell a better story with the big picture.  Simply asking “Is this telling a good story?” makes the decision making process easier on the big questions in life.

 

“Should I date this person?

“Should I take this job offer?”

“Should I use my free time to volunteer for a cause that touches me?”

 

The answer is simple, if it tells a good story, then we should do it.

 

It struck me this morning that we can apply the same methodology to the mundane things we do everyday. “Is this telling a good story?”  If so, let’s do it.

 

“Should I display an act of kindness to a complete stranger for no reason whatsoever?”

“Should I buy lunch for a friend that I know is struggling with something?”

“Should I get so blitzed tonight that I spend the next two days hungover and unproductive?” (Sadly, I’ve told this story many times)

“Should I use my day off to sit on the couch watching reruns and trying to set the world record for Cheetos consumption?”

 

I’m reminded of a memory that started Christmas morning when I was 5 years old.  It was on that Christmas morning that mom and dad gave my brother a toy guitar.  For it was on that guitar that my dad composed his early-morning wake up songs for the kids.   Now, dad never actually learned any chords on the guitar, which was fine because when he sang he never actually hit any notes.  While the songs were musically horrible, they were terribly effective at getting us out of bed.  I can still hear the haunting melody of “Wake up all you sleepyheads” (somehow composed in the key of “T”) in my head to this day. My dad turned an event as dull and ordinary as waking up and turned it into a memory that still lives (and/or haunts me) over 30 years later.

Donald Miller says in A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, “The saddest thing about life is you don’t remember half of it.  You don’t even remember half of half of it.  Not even a tiny percentage, if you want to know the truth.”

How can you make today memorable?

I Don’t Have Any Bloody Use For It

I guess I couldn’t wait until Monday to get going with my thoughts:

In A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Donald Miller wrote about attending a seminar on screenwriting by Robert McKee, who is an authority on storytelling. McKee is the one I quoted in class saying, “You have to put your characters through hell.”  McKee’s seminar was used in the movie “Adaptation” with Nicolas Cage.

The following link is a scene from the movie based on his seminar.  This is one of my favorite scenes in the movie.  Think about how this relates to what we’ve been talking about in class.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VseQe4TFsg.  Pardon the language in the clip.  There is proficient use of the f-word throughout, just like there is if you sit next to me at an SMU football game.

Miller says in Storyline , “We should not feel guilty or ashamed of having desires.”  From the beginning, God created us to have desires.  Adam was lonely, so God created Eve.  Maybe we don’t pursue things because we feel guilty for having desires.  Miller continues, “We shouldn’t feel guilty about desiring shelter, transportation, food, sex, love, community or even clothes.  These are all positive desires.  There are also evil desires, and many desires that are good, out of an appropriate context, become evil.  In other words, following God is a lot like becoming mature and being able to discern right from wrong, pure from corrupt.” 

If you want to tell a good story with your life, you have to start by having desires.  As McKee says, “You cannot have a protagonist without desire.  It doesn’t make any sense.”

A few years ago, I had a burning desire to be a part of a community.  Now I have Impact and all you guys.  Positive turn.

 

Who is the Audience for your Story?

Someone mentioned in class that we need to be careful about what other people think of our story.  It made me realize that one question we haven’t asked is “Who is the audience for my story?”  As much as we want the approval of our friends and family, I’m wondering if I’m really trying to tell my story for them or for me.  I am working with God to tell my story.  It seems to me that those are the only two opinions that really matter.  Maybe being a “people pleaser” is one of the things that is hijacking our story.

Donald Miller says in Module 2 of Storyline, “God created us with a need for food and water, but He doesn’t become food and water.  He created us with a need for community, but He doesn’t become multiple people and invite us to go bowling. God created us with desires He fulfills through means He provides.  Or, better said, all our needs are not met in Christ, though they may be met by Christ.”

We all need community and other players in our story.  I guess the hard part is drawing other people into your story without letting their needs and desires write the plot for you.  If someone knows an easy way to do that, please let me know.

 

This reminded me of a poem I heard a long time ago that states the point much better than I just did:

 

The Man in the Glass

 

When you get what you want in your struggle for self

And the world makes you king for a day,

Just go to a mirror and look at yourself,

And see what that man has to say.

 

For it isn’t your father or mother or wife,

Who judgment upon you must pass;

The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life

Is the one starring back from the glass.

 

He’s the fellow to please, never mind all the rest.

For he’s with you clear up to the end,

And you’ve passed the most dangerous, difficult test

If the man in the glass is your friend.

 

You may be like Jack Horner and “chisel” a plum,

And think you’re a wonderful guy,

But the man in the glass says you’re only a bum

If you can’t look him straight in the eye.

 

You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years.

And get pats on the back as you pass,

But your final reward will be the heartaches and tears

If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.

 

Dale Wimbrow (c) 1934

Your Ambitions Must Be Clear

If you listened to Paul’s sermon on Sunday, it seems like he is right in step with what we are covering with Storyline.  He left us with three questions to ask ourselves:

  1. Where to begin?
  2. What is your biggest obstacle?
  3. What are you willing to do about it?

These are three important questions to ask yourself in order to write your subplot.  I think before we ask these questions we have to hammer down something we (I mean “I”) glanced over in class – Your ambitions must be clear.  Donald Miller says, “If you’ve ever watched a movie in which you weren’t sure what the protagonist wanted, you were likely bored out of your mind.  Clarity is critical.”

Think about every great movie you’ve ever seen.  Was there ever a point when you didn’t know what the protagonist wanted?

  • William Wallace wanted freedom
  • Rick wanted to get Ilsa back
  • Dorothy wanted to get back home
  • Luke wanted to become a Jedi and defeat the Empire
  • Bill and Ted wanted to save the future
  • Ashton Kutcher and Sean William Scott wanted to find their car

Are your ambitions that clear?

Looking at the three questions, you can’t decide where to begin unless you know where you are going.  It reminds me of the passage from Alice in Wonderland when Alice asked the Cheshire Cat which road she should take.  He asked her where she wanted to go.  She said she didn’t know.  He replied “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

When deciding where to go, maybe you are waiting on God’s will.  If you are waiting for a burning bush or to become a pregnant virgin, odds are that isn’t going to happen.  There are examples in the Bible when God speaks directly to people, but I think God speaks to us in more subtle ways.  Paul said in his sermon that something is bubbling up inside you, that’s probably the will of the Lord.

What is bubbling up inside you?  Pray about it, and let’s talk about it on Sunday.