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Going to California!

There is a pretty clear line drawn on my blog right now… my last blog post occurred in September, 2014. Why? On August 8 of last year, I said goodbye to an organization that had given me a chance to grow up and become a leader in a field that I really enjoy working in: Data Analytics. I was with my former employer for 16 years, and I could not have asked for a better group of leaders and co-workers.

But when I saw my opportunity to step out and start a new company, focusing intently on client service and agile project delivery, I could not pass it up. And things have been going pretty well. Starting your own business is not for the faint-of-heart, but it is a thrill nonetheless. And I could not ask for a better business partner than Will Harvey, our co-founder at Think Data Insights.

In our field there is an annual conference that tends to be “the place to be.” We were deciding whether we should go or not (you know… did the cost justify the value), when I decided I would submit an abstract for a topic to speak on. And it turned out they chose my topic! I’m so pumped! So, in mid-April, I’ll be travelling to Santa Clara, California, to attend an amazing conference and speak on the topic of “Prototyping Analytics”.

I wrote a blog on it if you are interested in more details.

I'm speaking at PASS BA Conference

I’m speaking at PASS BA Conference

A Haunting Reading

It has been a while since I have written on my blog.  I had not realized how long (almost 2 months), until a few people who recently read a few posts commented on them, causing me to go back and read them myself.  I have wondered why I have not posted.  Did the newness wear off?  Did the excitement of writing and sharing get replaced with the reality of the demands of life?  I don’t know.  But I would like to get back at it.  I so enjoy writing.

This morning I had an interesting experience.  As I sat downstairs reading my Bible, I came across a passage that I could not simply pass over.  I read it and paused.  I reread it.  I tried to move on, but I was haunted by this passage.  Here it is:

Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
2 Timothy 3:12

The words in this passage are clear.  There is nothing I had to look up or seek deeper knowledge on what it could mean.  It states very simply that if a Christian desires a godly life in Jesus (which by what I read of Scripture, we all ought to), then we will suffer persecution.  Now, given that Paul was writing this letter to a very specific audience, it could be easy to dismiss what he is saying.  Christians in the time these letters were written had been persecuted mercilessly.  Paul continually sought to encourage his fellow believers to press on in the faith.  So, in many ways, this was just another reminder to these believers that they will indeed experience persecution.  I can hear Paul now… “yep… you can expect it.  Don’t be surprised by it one bit.”

That brings me to modern day Christianity.  In particular, to American Christianity.  I believe we are living in an amazing time of peace and prosperity in the United States.  I will be the first to admit that I was born into a privileged life, one that by comparison to much of the rest of the world, would have the appearances of royalty.   And I will also admit that I don’t experience persecution.  I just don’t.  And I think that is why this verse haunted me.  If everyone who wants to live a godly life in Jesus will suffer persecution, why don’t I?  So, I prayed, re-read the passage, prayed some more.  Then I read more of 2 Timothy 3, and I finally landed on the following conclusions:

God speaks to me through the “haunting verses”

I had a sense as I was sitting there reading that verse that God was “fathering me”, wanting to teach me something profound.  I really felt like I was on holy ground.  Honestly, this does not happen very often in my life.

Rejection = Persecution

I am often afraid to share Jesus Christ with other people, or to live my life boldly, and a big reason why is I do not want to be rejected.  And for me, this is an experience of persecution.  I often crave affirmation from people, and to have someone reject the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ for something the world has to offer is really difficult for me to bear.

Putting my hope in Christ above affirmation of others IS one way I can live a godly life

I may not be the next Billy Graham, and that is OK.  God uniquely made me to fulfill a purpose in this life.  One of the barriers for me doing this is seeking the approval of others.  So, to reject this and turn to Christ as my greatest hope is one way I can “live a godly life in Jesus”.

If I am not experiencing persecution, this may be an indication that I am desiring something more than Jesus himself

Jesus-seeking Christians will experience persecution.  What form that takes for each person, I don’t know.  I do know that I am called to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit leading me to see where I might be denying Jesus in my everyday life.

 

Now what?

I’ll probably re-read 2 Timothy 3 again tomorrow morning.  I loved the sense that I was near God this morning.  And I will pray that God would continue to “haunt me” through his teaching and leading my by His Word.  And finally, I will “seek first the kingdom of God” by starting my day in prayer, meditation, and reflection on His Word tomorrow morning…  before news, Facebook, e-mail, and even family demands.  I will place my hope in Christ, the anchor for my soul.

Taking The Stairs

I am near the end of a very enjoyable and challenging book called Take The Stairs, by Rory Vaden.  With “7 Steps to Achieving True Success” as the subtitle, I knew I was in for an amazing ride.  Who would not want success?  And in only 7 steps, right?  I’m kind of a sucker for productivity and motivational books and speakers.  But I had been reading a number of Rory’s columns in our local newspaper, and I found them to be very insightful and inspiring.  So, I decided to take the plunge and buy the book.

No elevator to success

The theme of his book is simple:  We live in an escalator-mentality world, full of people, like you and me, who choose easy over rewarding, short-term pleasure over long-term fulfillment.  The solution?  Take the Stairs.  Not necessarily in an actual “take the stairs everywhere you go” kind of way (though more on that later).  But more of a Take the Stairs mindset.  A way of thinking about your world, your relationships, your job… really everything.  Doing the hard things that frankly, many people just don’t want to do.  Sometimes experiencing pain, discomfort, and “less” now, so that you can experience unbelievable freedom, satisfaction, and “fullness” later.

Now, here’s the good part.  Let me tell you what has happened since I’ve started reading Take the Stairs:

  1. I am literally “taking the stairs” every day at work now.  I work on the 3rd floor, and for the most part, I took the stairs down each day.  But I always take the stairs up now… always.
  2. I got my wife Carol to read this book.  Now, you have to understand.  She enjoys reading, but frankly, with the life and schedule demands she has on her, I don’t see when she could read.  And I’m the one with all of these great “idea” books I’m telling her about.  She picked this one up and we’re talking about the ideas… together!  It is amazing.
  3. I began a workout program in my home 2 weeks ago.  The full schedule of this Burst training routine is Mon, Tues… then off Wed, back on Thur, Fri, Sat… then off Sun.  I have completed 11 workouts in a row, according to the schedule.  I am feeling more fit by the day.  I LOVE IT!
  4. I have taken action on a few personal and work goals and am beginning to see things a little more clearly on next steps to take.  (That sounds vague, but I can’t really talk much about it right now).  Suffice to say, I am seeing fruit.
  5. I have seen various personal struggles with sin dissipate, being replaced with a joy and love for Christ.  Not perfected… but definitely in the right direction.

So, I want to encourage anyone who is tired of being average, living with an escalator, “Procrasti-nation” mindset… go take the stairs.  Whether you read the book or not.  Go do something on purpose… because it is hard and rewarding.  Your faith will grow.  Your confidence will grow.  And I think your desire and passion will grow.