Category Archives for "gifts"

Don’t Forget This Deal on Cyber Monday

CYBER MONDAY

The Monday after Thanksgiving has become a big day for shoppers.  Last year, shoppers purchased nearly $2.7 Billion on-line on Cyber Monday.  Cyber Monday was created by marketers to lure shoppers like you and me into purchasing on-line.  Shoppers are enticed with “deals”, discounts, and the allure of avoiding the chaos of in-store shopping.

I don’t know about you, but my family has found it much easier to shop on-line.  We get the things we want and need for the holidays without the pressure of the in-store experience.

Since it’s Cyber Monday and I know you are looking for that perfect gift for that special someone, I thought I should remind you of a gift that everyone wants and needs:

My book, On Track: Life Lessons from the Track & Field is available on-line at Amazon.com for less than $3.00.  This is the perfect stocking-stuffer or gift for anyone.

Here’s what several reviewers had to say about On Track:

It would be very easy for someone to read the title of this short book and think, “I only watch track every four years during the Olympics…this book isn’t for me.” The author does indeed talk about track and field, mostly at the high school level and in a very light and approachable way. But what this book really does is remind the reader that we all are surrounded in our everyday lives with little things that can help us grow, comfort us, or even kick us in the pants. We just need to be paying attention.

The beauty in this book is the way in which the author sees lessons in the little things, like the way sprinters set up their starting blocks. You do not need to be a fan of track and field to appreciate these observations. I believe that the author is more hoping to arm the reader with a few tools to look for lessons in their own everyday events that are relevant to their lives. Intentional or not, the book certainly did this for me. “On Track” then ties these observations back to recognizable verses of scripture. Much as the author hopes we’ll draw on our own memorable stories in our lives, he provides these memorable scripture passages for us to draw on as well.

I wouldn’t read this book expecting to learn much about track and field. That’s not really the point. This is a great little book to have on hand for those times that you find life getting off track (pun very much intended). It is a quick read that I will be returning to from time to time to get back On Track.  Brian S. Willem

This book is an easy read and well thought out. Jon writes life lessons in parallel with track and field events, he leads us from the starting blocks to the finish line. Whether you know track and field or not, this book is an inspiring work and leaves me wanting to read more and more of Jon’s writing. Bravo for leading the pack on your first book Jon!! Chris Vonada

Such a great read! Jon does a great job relating track and field concepts to our lives in this book. Whether coming out of the starting blocks, overcoming obstacles, or finishing strong, he incorporates stories from his own life and his kids’ lives and connects those with things that we face every day.

As a former hurdler and runner, I could especially identify with his stories and challenges and it took me back to my track days. On Track is a great book for anyone who wants to grow, be stretched, and be encouraged in their role at home, work, and in daily life. I highly recommend it. Great job Jon!  Shawn Washburn

Love that Jon incorporates his faith into his passions in life – into his family, his running, his job. On Track demonstrates how learning good, strong habits and practices are a life learning not just compartmentalized into a sport. Great read for the whole family, and would be great as a small group discussion guide. Good job, Jon! Looking forward to lots more from this new author.  Diane Karchner

Jon takes us on a journey with his love of God and his love of running. There are many lessons of life molding these two loves together. You really get a sense of Jon’s dedication to living life to the fullest and enjoying the gifts God has equipped each of us.  S. Young

Jon offers a tidy little book, a parable if you will, comparing life to running at a track meet. Readers will enjoy sharing the author’s personal experiences and will find the extra boost they are looking for to get their life back on track. An easy, enjoyable and worthwhile read.  Matt Appling

In this book, Jon does a fantastic job of teaching both about track and field (for those who are too familiar) and about life. Several key factors from the starting blocks to the finish line help to show you how to keep your life “On Track”.  Joshua Rivers

Go on-line and order your copy of On Track TODAY.

(If you’d like an autographed copy, reach out to me to discuss details.)

Do you shop on-line?  What’s the best deal you have ever found on-line?

Christmas for 7000!

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Have you started making plans for Christmas?

Have you started putting your Christmas list together?

My wife is getting our Christmas list together.  In fact, she has already started listening to Christmas music.  It seems a bit early to me, but I was reminded by a recent correspondence that it is time to get ready for the Christmas season.

This brings me to today’s post.  I suppose it is more of a challenge.

My friend, Dave Sgro, has been working and serving in the village of Santo Domingo Xenacoj in Guatemala for the past several years.  Each year, he has been conducting a Christmas giveaway for the children in the village.  It started out small, and it has grown to a few thousand.  This year, GO Ministries (Dave’s mission organization) has expanded into a nearby village.  They plan to giveaway Christmas gifts to 7,000 children.  This is a major endeavor with tremendous opportunities to touch the lives of children and their families.

Your help is important to make this happen.  And you’ll need to act fast in order to pull this off for a late December giveaway.  Check out Dave’s video and instructions below for more details.

These gifts will go to kids I have played with and served the past three years in Guatemala.  You will make a difference if you decide to help out.

 

Here’s a list of the items Dave is looking for in each shoe box:

CHRISTMAS ITEMS (Remove packaging as possible)
1. Tooth Brushes
2. Tooth Paste
3. Combs
4. Brushes
5. Marbles
6. Stickers
7. Jump Ropes
8. Plastic Animals
9. Playing Cards
10. Nail Polish
11. Pens
12. Pencils
13. Erasers
14. Rulers
15. Matchbox Cars
16. Crayons
17. Travel Shampoo
18. Travel Soap
19. Hair Things
20. Lip Gloss

To help you see the impact of past Christmas giveaways, check out this video:

What’s on your Christmas list?

How To Waste Your Gifts

In several passages of the New Testament, Paul talks about spiritual gifts.  He explains that we’re each given certain gifts when we become followers of Christ.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

I Corinthians 12:7-11

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been reminded of this topic.  Last week, I led a discussion in my Foundations Class about gifts.  This week at RIOT, guest speaker, Matt Silver, spoke about the importance of sharing our gifts instead of hoarding them.  Yesterday, I was having a conversation with Terri Stone, the Pastor of Pastor Care, and we talked about the importance of using our gifts in the right places.  As I’ve been thinking more about the subject, it dawned on me that many of us waste our gifts.  Here are some of the ways we waste our gifts:

  1. We don’t know our gifts.  If I read Paul’s letters to the Romans and the Corinthians correctly, we each have spiritual gifts (when we decide to make Jesus the leader and forgiver of our lives).  How can we use or gifts, if we don’t know what they are?
  2. We don’t serve in our area of giftedness.  Instead of being strategic, we take an unplanned approach to jumping into ministry.  This does a disservice to the body of Christ.  It’s like taking off our arm, attaching it to our head, and trying to listen with it.  It just doesn’t work right.  My arm wasn’t meant to be an ear.  Some of us are not meant to teach.  Some of us are not meant to preach.
  3. We over-serve.  I may have just made up that word.  Here’s what I mean.  We over involve ourselves.  We plug into every ministry we possible can.  Our calendars are completely filled up with serving opportunities.  This is like asking our hands to listen, to speak, to think, to walk, to see, to smell, to digest our food, to breathe, etc.  You get the idea.  Our hands can’t do all that.  And if they tried, they would wear out pretty quickly.  Strategically serving where we are gifted keeps us from wearing out.  It also allows other parts of the body to serve where they are gifted.

So how can we use our gifts more wisely?  Here are a couple of ideas.

  1. Discover your spiritual gifts.  Talk to leaders in your church.  Ask them if they offer help for discerning your spiritual gifts.  There are several spiritual gifts “tests” that can be used to help you figure out how you might be gifted.  Check out Discover Your Spiritual Gifts The Network Way by Bruce Bugbee.
  2. Be strategic with your spiritual gifts.  Jump in and serve where you are gifted.  It will feel right to be serving where you are gifted.  Find out how you can get involved at your church.  Go through the list and cross of ministry areas where you know you’ll fail.  Circle the ministry areas that interest you.  Start serving.  If one area of service doesn’t work out, try a different area that you circled.  It’s important for you to plug-in where you are most gifted.  The whole body will benefit.  I would also encourage you to find accountability.  Use friends and church leaders to help direct you to an area of service that fits you best.  Often others can see where you fit in better than you can see yourself.
  3. Resist the urge to do everything.  You may be robbing others of using their gifts to the fullest when you do everything.  Besides, you will wear yourself out and become ineffective when you try to do everything.  Find your sweet spot!

I know that I need these reminders from time to time.  It’s easy for me to lose focus on my spiritual gifts.  I tend to over involve myself in areas that don’t match up with my giftedness.  I want to be a productive part of the body of Christ.  I don’t want to waste my gifts!

Do you know your spiritual gifts?  How are you using your gifts to serve the body of Christ?  What other suggestions do you have for making the most of our spiritual gifts?

Good and Perfect Gifts

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

James 1:17

What good and perfect gift can you celebrate today?
Today, I’m hooking up with The Sunday Community.  Hop on over here to see what I’m talking about.

You Are An Important Piece Of The Puzzle

Today, I’m leading a Foundations Class at church.  We’ll be talking about using our gifts as part of living a transformed Christlike life of servanthood.  As I thought about this topic, I thought of puzzle (see my picture below).

Each of us along with our spiritual gifts represent of piece of the puzzle.  Our piece is an important part of the whole puzzle.  When we show up and use our gifts in the right place, the puzzle becomes more complete and beautiful.  When one of the pieces is missing, the puzzle isn’t complete.  When we put the puzzle together incorrectly (like when we try to plug into the puzzle in a spot that doesn’t match our gifting), the puzzle doesn’t work out so well.

Do you know your spiritual gifts?  How are you using your gifts?

Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free —and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.  I Corinthians 12:1-31

 

The Gift

My wife’s parents were in town over the weekend to take in a Talent Show, a jewelry open house fundraiser, and a piano recital.  Since it was so close to Isaac’s birthday, they also took time to celebrate with a couple of gifts.  One of the gifts in particular had a big impact on my son, and it reminded me of another gift experience from my past.

For those of you who don’t know, Isaac is a gifted piano player.  He loves to hear a song and to spend a little time at the piano working it out.  He’s a quick learner, and he has an amazing ear.  Isaac did a great job at his piano recital this weekend where he played Sonatina in A Minor (I forget the composer).  Leanne’s dad is a piano tuner.  Isaac has watched Pap-pap tune a few pianos in the past, and I think he’s helped out on a few of them as well.

Can you see where I’m going with this?

Isaac received a piano tuning kit for his birthday.  When Isaac unwrapped the present, his eyes lit up.  There was a silence in the kitchen.  It was almost a holy moment.  Isaac was so excited to receive this gift.  I think he realized that he could make some serious coin my learning his Pap-pap’s skill, but I also think he realized that this was a very special gift.  Along with the tuning kit, Isaac received a step by step manual on how to tune pianos.  This manual was written by Pap-pap (and typed out by Grammy).  What a special gift!

This experience reminded me of another experience from my younger days.

My dad is a pastor.  Growing up, he used to wear a robe almost every Sunday at the Presbyterian Church we went to for most of my growing up years.  Every Christmas and Easter, the senior pastor wore his academic hood along with the standard robe and stole.  My dad had his master’s degree, but he didn’t have an academic hood to go with it.  One year for Christmas, I can remember my dad receiving a special present from my grandparents.  Neither my brother or I knew what it was at first.  In fact, one of us asked why Dad received hockey shorts for Christmas.  Meanwhile, my dad was in tears.  This gift meant so much to him.  It was one of the “holy” moments in our house.

This past Easter, I got to see Dad wearing his academic hood as he led the services at a church in Duncanville, TX.

Moments like this can be “holy” in that they have meaning that goes beyond description.  They demonstrate sacrifice and thoughtfulness.  I definitely been on the receiving end of these types of gifts in the past.  I want to be on the giving end.  So  often, we go through the motions when it comes to giving gifts.  We think of the “easiest” or “most needed” item.  The month of May is a busy gift giving time for our family with several birthdays and Mother’s Day.  I want our gift giving to be thoughtful and sacrificial.  How about you?

How do you typically approach gifts?  Have you ever experienced a “holy” moment related to a gift given or received?

 

Ice Breaker – Favorite Toy

It’s that time of the week again…one more ice breaker question before Christmas!  I’m going to stay with a Christmas related question again for one more week.  For those of you who are new or who forgot, ice breaker questions are used to help people get to know each other – to “break the ice” so to speak.  I love hearing what other people have to say and how they think.  So for today, I’m excited to throw out another simple ice breaker question.  I’ll answer it first, then it’s your turn.  Answer the question by leaving a comment for us all to enjoy.  Thanks!

Question:  What was one of your favorite toys as a child?

My Answer:  Here you go….

I can think of several of my favorite toys growing up like Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars, Legos, Lincoln Logs, and Tinker Toys.  To be honest, I still love playing with these things.  But there’s one toy I wish I still had – The Green Machine.  For those of you who didn’t grow up in the late 70s and early 80s, The Green Machine was the Michael Jordan of Big Wheels.  The Green Machine had two handles that you used to steer the back two wheels, and it was longer and lower to the ground than the typical Big Wheel.  I still remember riding my Green Machine down the street and picking up as much speed as possible.  When I reached top speed.  I would push one of the handles forward and pull the other handle back.  This would throw The Green Machine into an incredible spin as the plastic wheels slid across the pavement.  My understanding is that they actually make an adult size version of this classic.  Maybe next Christmas…!

So there you have it, my answer to the question.  Now it’s your turn….I can’t wait to hear what you’ve got to say!

Ice Breaker – On The 13th Day Of Christmas What Gift Are You Hoping to Get

It’s that time of the week again…time for an ice breaker question!  I’m going to stay with a Christmas related question again this week.  For those of you who are new or who forgot, ice breaker questions are used to help people get to know each other – to “break the ice” so to speak.  I love hearing what other people have to say and how they think.  So for today, I’m excited to throw out another simple ice breaker question.  I’ll answer it first, then it’s your turn.  Answer the question by leaving a comment for us all to enjoy.  Thanks!

Question:  On the 13th day of Christmas what gift are you hoping to get from your true love?  Or what gift can I, The Stretched Blogger, give you?

My Answer:  Here you go….

I know it’s much better to give than to receive.  In fact, I much prefer the giving part to the receiving part, but I had to ask the question anyway.  I’m not sure how anyone could need or want anything after getting a partridge in a pear tree, two turtle doves, three french hens, four calling birds,….  But maybe all these things left you wanting just a little more.

From a blogging perspective, I’m thinking that this would be a great year to get my own domain name and to start self hosting.  But I think I will probably take care of that myself.  What I’d really like to get this year are some other things that might take my blogging to another level.  Here’s a list of possibilities:  a new Standard Theme blog layout, a new laptop (maybe even an Apple), guest bloggers, opportunities to guest post, ideas and inspirations, a few advertisers, new readers, and lots of comments to extend the Stretched Community.

Besides this, I really have everything I could ever want or need.  I have an awesome family.  And I have some incredible friends – including the Stretched Community.  What more could I ask for?

So there you have it, my answer to the question.  Now it’s your turn….I can’t wait to hear what you’ve got to say!