Monday, August 30, 2010

Harry Potter Reading Guides

Well, several people have asked for the reading guides that I have prepared for my kids as they read through the Harry Potter series. So, here they are in Google Doc/Word and PDF versions:

Philosopher's Stone* — Google/Word version or PDF version
Chamber of SecretsGoogle/Word version or PDF version
Prisoner of Azkaban — Coming Soon, lost the file
Goblet of FireGoogle/Word version or PDF version
Order of the PhoenixGoogle/Word version or PDF version
Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows — coming when I think my kids are ready to read the books.
(* Socerer's Stone is the title in the US, but I like Philosopher's Stone better which is the real and original title.)

By the way, I understand that most folks who put documents on the Web only do PDF versions, but if you do find these guides and want to adjust them to fit your needs, then by all means customize them. There is no pride in authorship here -- I am using them for my own children my own way, it's up to you to determine how you want to use them for you or your children. You may think that there are too many questions or they go too deep for your kids or you want to add more Scripture (if so, please send me the references) . . . just have fun and enjoy digging a little deeper than just reading a story!

Here are links to some of my past posts regarding Harry Potter:
Reading Questions . . . how all of this came to be with some explanation.
Thoughts on Harry Potter . . . why a Christian is letting his kids read the series.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

2010 Thoughts and Reflections on Easter

Matt 21:12&13 – Cleansing of the Temple
“It’s a sad but true fact of the faith: religion is used for profit and prestige. When it is there are two results: people are exploited and God is infuriated.” In the temple, Jesus likely saw many things that bothered him and two are specifically mentioned money changers and dove sellers. Worshipers had to pay for things using temple money not Roman coins – so there was a pretty good profit made by charging fees and low conversion rates. Also, worshipers traveling from far away likely didn’t want to carry and deal with their own animals for sacrifices so they were paying exorbitant prices for the convenience of getting there animals right in the temple.

“It’s not difficult to see what angered Jesus. Pilgrims journeyed days to see God, to witness the holy, to worship His Majesty. But before they were taken into the presence of God, they were taken to the cleaners. What was promised and what was delivered were two different things. Want to anger God? Get in the way of people who want to see Him.”

“Christ’s passion on Monday is indignance.” You may not be one that emphasizes your profit more than the Prophet, but is there any way that you are getting in the way of God? Are you resisting His plan for you? Are you keeping a part of your self from Him – trying to hide or just not giving Him full authority? Is there someone that you know you need to have a spiritual conversation with and you keep putting it off? Is there a couple that you need to invite to church but you haven’t made the effort? Is the temple that needs to be cleansed today not in Jerusalem but in you?
Sources: Matthew 21:12&13 and And the Angels Were Silent, Max Lucado, Chapter 8.

Matt 21:18-22, Rev 3:15&16 – Where’s the Fruit?
Have you ever been really thirsty only to find a vending machine that’s out of drinks? What about opening a cereal box but when you start to pour it into your bowl you find out it’s empty? Have you pulled out a pack of gum then realized all of pieces are gone? That’s how Jesus felt.

Jesus, hungry and on his way to Jerusalem, stops for figs. Look at Matt 21:19, “found nothing on it except leaves.” It was a good looking tree, lots of leaves, full, and in a great location right by the road – but nothing of substance, no benefit, no help for others, not fulfilling it’s purpose. Max Lucado says “It’s all promise and no performance. The symbolism is too precise for Jesus to ignore. He’s not angry at the tree. He’s angry at what the tree represents. Jesus is disgusted by lukewarm, placid, vain believers who have pomp but no purpose.”

Consider Revelation 3:15&16 concerning the church in Laodicea. The Lord says that they are “neither cold nor hot.” They look fine, but are not satisfying. The church can’t bring warmth on a cold day nor cool refreshment on a hot day. The end of verse 16 translates literally “to vomit.” This church with no fruit is incompatible with the Body of Christ – vomiting is the bodies way of rejecting what it cannot handle. God can’t stomach a lukewarm faith.

Where does this leave us? Earnestly seek for whether you are hot, cold, or somewhere in the middle. Do you offer promising love but your worship falls flat? Do you look nice on the outside, but your insides are in turmoil? Do you perform the right acts, but your worship falls flat? Do you relate to others but can’t remember the last time you related to God? Lord, may we be open and honest about our faith and our relationship with you. May we be found hot and may our fruit be pleasing to you.
Sources: Matthew 21:18-22, Revelation 3:15&16, and And the Angels Were Silent, Max Lucado, Chapter 9.

The Depth of His Love
Saturday. No Disciples to be found. No healings or miracles. Just sneers on the faces of the religious leaders. Just tears on the cheeks of those who love Him.

Reminders of the past. The man who walked on water and calmed the storms didn’t stop the whip or the nails. The man who said that the Kingdom of God is at hand is now encased in a borrowed tomb. What had John the Baptist said three years ago, “behold the Lamb of God?” What had Jesus said a week ago about what would happen, He would “be mocked and flogged and crucified?” How had He known? How could He have allowed this to happen?

Jesus mentioned the sign of Jonah. Jesus mentioned that this temple would be rebuilt in three days. Jesus mentioned plainly that “on the third day He will be raised up."

Three days. Three days wrapped in linens and our sin. Three days lonely and loving. Loving? Really? Only His love for you allowed Him to fully express the depth of His love. Between the cruelty of his crucifixion and the radiance of his resurrection is silence. It’s the calm before the storm. The dark early morning, still and quiet before most of the world awakes. “Be still and know that I am God.” Be still today and consider the depth of His love.
Sources: John 1:29, Matt 20:17-19, Matt 12:38-40, John 2:18-20, Ps 46:10

These were primarily written for the Genesis LIFE Group of nearly and newly weds at Church at the Cross.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Chris' Book List

I got a gift certificate for as a gift and I need to find out what to buy. The difficulty is that I rarely buy books and that there are a ton that I want to read. I've been into fiction lately and have noticed that since my master's degree a non-fiction book has to be really good or very relevant for me to enjoy it.

My intent is to use this post to serve as my book list from now on (instead of the note in my former palm pilot/current treo) and keep it updated. Let me know what you think about any of these books, if I should add one to my list, or if I should remove one in your opinion.

The Cluetrain Manifesto, by Levine, Locke, Searls, and Weinberger
Eat That Frog, by Brian Tracy
Who Moved My Cheese?, by Spencer Johnson
Good to Great, by Jim Collins
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert B. Cialdini
Competitive Strategy, by Michael E. Porter

Leadership by the Book, by Ken Blanchard
Lincoln on Leadership, by Donald Phillips
Oh, The Places You'll Go, by Dr. Seuss
29 Leadership Secrets from Jack Welch, by Robert Slater
Jack Welch & the G.E. Way, by Robert Slater

Stong Fathers, Strong Daughters, by Meg Meeker
Shepherding Your Childs Heart, by Tedd Tripp
The Dad in the Mirror, by Pat Morley
Tender Warrior, by Stu Weber
Chasing Daylight, by Erwin McManus
The Everlasting Man, by GK Chesterton
Blue Like Jazz, by Donald Miller

Children's books (to give to or read with the kids):
The Chip Hilton series, by Clair Bee (23 books in the series)
Recommended kids reading: A to Z Mysteries series by Ron Roy and the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne.

To Hell and Back, by Audie Murphy
The Napoleon of Notting Hill, by GK Chesterton
It's Better to Build Boys than Mend Men, by S. Truett Cathy
The Anger Trap, by Les Carter

Finished Reading:
The Zion Covenant series, Brock & Bodie Thoene — Summer and Fall 2006
The Rising Tide, Jeff Shaara — January-March 2007
The Glorious Cause, Jeff Shaara — March-June 2007
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, J.K. Rowling — June 2007
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K. Rowling — July 2007
Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C.S. Lewis — July 2007 (with the boys)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling — July 2007
Ernie's War: The Best of Ernie Pyle's World War II Dispatches, David Nichols editor — July/August 2007
Thr3e, Ted Dekker — August 2007
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowling — August 2007
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling — August 2007
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J.K. Rowling — August/September 2007
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling — September 2007
The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw — December 2007
Same Kind of Different as Me, by Ron Hall & Denver Moore with Lynn Vincent — January 2008
Prince Caspian, by C.S. Lews (with the kids) — February 2008
Review of 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, by John Maxwell — March 2008
Blink/Blink of an Eye, by Ted Dekker — April 2008
[I think missing several here!!]
The Lightning Thief: Percy Jackson & the Olympians, Rick Riordan — March 2010
Eragon, Christopher Paolini — March 2010

In Progress:
And the Angels Were Silent, Max Lucado
How the Mighty Fall
, Jim Collins (about to start it)

Friday, December 04, 2009

2010 World Cup Group Draws

Quick, name the #1 sporting event in the world? Okay, just read the title of the post . . . yep, the World Cup soccer tournament. In 2010 it will be in South Africa and is a tournament where national soccer teams compete against each other (like the olympics, which is another reason I like it).

I have three favorite national teams: the USA obviously, England since I just love that country and my mom lived there for awhile, and Argentina. A coach of my club team as a kid that was from Argentina and our shirts were blue and white striped like the Argentina national team, so I have supported them since then.

The first round of the tournament is to take the 32 teams that qualify for the World Cup and put them into groups of 4. The 4 teams in the groups, play a round robin mini-tourney and the top 2 teams in each group moves on in the World Cup. The groups were determined today so I thought that I would give my input on them and my opinion on who will advance from each group.

Group A: South Africa (host), Mexico, Uruguay, and France
The host country usually gets a big boost, but I just don't see it happening in this group.
Advancing: France and Mexico

Group B: Argentina, Nigeria, Korea Republic, and Greece
Korea would have a much better team if they were unified. No doubt, there are clearly two top teams in this grouping.
Advancing: Argentina and Greece

Group C: England, USA, Algeria, and Slovenia
I'm concerned that the US players will not adapt well to the environment and we don't have the most experienced team. However, I don't think that Algeria or Slovenia really provide a great test to the top two teams in this group.
Advancing: England and USA

Group D: Germany, Australia, Serbia, and Ghana
This is the first group that I think that the African environment will really help one of the teams — Ghana. Australia and Serbia are probably better teams overall, but I'm picking an upset and having Michael Essien playing for Ghana and Chelsea (the club that I support) helps them in my book.
Advancing: Germany and Ghana

Group E: Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, and Cameroon
The Dane goalkeeper Sorenson could make this interesting, but not enough to change my pick.
Advancing: Netherlands and Cameroon

Group F: Italy, Paraguay, New Zealand, and Slovakia
Slovakia is an interesting team to me, but Paraguay plays such tough competition in South America that I think they are more prepared for this tournament.
Advancing: Italy and Paraguay

Group G: Brazil, Korea DPR, Ivory Coast, and Portugal
This is by far the most difficult group and one of the good teams will get knocked out in the first round. North Korea is the poor team that will likely get beat up in this group and Brazil is the clear favorite in the group. Portugal was one of my favorite teams to watch in the last World Cup, but I am hoping that Ivory Coast advances out of the group.
Advancing: Brazil and Ivory Coast

Group H: Spain, Switzerland, Honduras, and Chile
Spain is one of the best teams in the world and to many the favorite to win the tourney. Like North Korea in Group G, poor Honduras doesn't have much of a chance in this group.
Advancing: Spain and Chile

So, there they are . . . my picks for the winners of the group stage of the 2010 World Cup in South America. So, what do you think?

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

I went to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince movie on a business trip recently and thought that I would blog my thoughts since I have shared so much about Harry Potter on this blog.

I had not read the book in quite some time so I read it again before seeing the movie. I make my kids do that so I felt like I needed to follow my own rules. Overall, the movie was very entertaining but I walked out pretty disappointed and hot over them changing some of the key elements that gave the book (and series) spiritual significance.

This isn't necessarily everything, but I was disappointed by:
* No huge discussion with Dumbledore after recruiting Slughorn and before arriving at the Burrow.
* Harry, Ron, and Hermoine's lack of compassion for others throughout the movie. When Katie Bell was cursed by the necklace, the movie showed them all just standing there! In the book, they rush to her side and console Leanne and try to help Katie. When Harry used sectumsempra on Malfoy, he looked shaken in the movie but in the book he was truly horrified , tried to help Draco, and was obviously merciful to his nemesis.
* Dumbledore's lack of training Harry throughout the movie. I think they only showed 2 lessons and they were very brief. No real development of the intenional mentoring that Dumbledore gave to Harry.
* Lack of mention that Harry's greatest protection is his love and his purity of heart. That would have added a lot to the spiritual significance of the movies.
* The fact that Harry wasn't petrified by Dumbledore in the astronomy tower. It adds a whole new meaning to the tower's significance and I don't like the new meaning -- Malfoy is really able to disarm a fully ready and undistracted Dumbledore? Harry is really able to contain himself as his mentor is killed?
* Also in the astronomy tower, Dumberdore's lack of discussion of his mercy saving Draco Malfoy was very frustrating. This is a key to spiritual significance that again was just ignored when it would have been very easy to insert that dialogue into the script.

In the end, I believe that one very important lesson in the Half-Blood Prince comes from Mark 8:36 -- "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?" I won't expound on this too much for some who may be reading the series and aren't quite up on the whole plot, but it's a key difference between Harry and Voldemort.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Chelsea at Cowboys Stadium

Wow, what a time!! On July 26th, Collin went to watch Chelsea (my favority soccer club) play Club America in the new Cowboy's Stadium in Arlington. Our tickets were in the Chelsea section and only 8 rows from the field in the corner of the pitch. My buddy was able to make it available to us to see the whole stadium (you are only supposed to access one section of the stadium upon entry) and we got free snacks and drinks.

When we moved into our house in Grapevine we got a new TV package that included Fox Soccer Channel and that finally enabled me to watch more soccer. I've always been interested in English Premier League soccer and I have watched the World Cup pretty closely since 1986. But this new opportunity allowed me to actually get into the English Premier League on a consistent basis.

After watching many Premier League games, I really wanted a rooting interest so I contacted several of my friends who were from the UK and knew soccer. At first, I didn't want to support one of the "Big 4" teams (Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Chelsea) and considered teams that were close to the Cotswalds where my mom lived for over 5 years. But after much discussion and research, I settled on Chelsea. There are many reasons that I support Chelsea including their colors, the rampant lion and roses on their badge (reminders of the Enright coat of arms), thier players, and their location (close to a great part of London so I might actually be able to attend a home game sometime). After watching Chelsea for two seasons, I've become quite "obsessive" in my wife's opinion.

So, when I found out that Chelsea was coming to play in Dallas I knew I had to go! We got to the stadium early to watch the pre-game and check out the stadium and really enjoyed the environment. It was great to really be at a "football" match with my team on the pitch. I only regret two things: 1.) that we were not in our seats close to the field during Chelsea's goals but were watching from the suite while getting snacks and 2.) it wasn't an English match so we didn't learn that many chants and cheers.

The match was a pre-season tournament and I knew ahead of time that we wouldn't see many of the star players such as John Terry (the captain), Drogba, Anelka, Lampard, Ballack, and Cech was not in goal at all. It was still a thrill to get to see them and watch them play. They won the tournament and displayed their greatness beating some of the top teams from Italy and Mexico.

Friday, June 12, 2009

My Mamaw's Move

Well, it's been forever (10 months or so) since I've written a blog post. Why? I don't really know to be honest.

Maybe because I like to have good well written thoughts to share. Maybe because I have struggled to know how I want to use this space with the meteoric rise of Facebook usage in my life and the availability of Twitter (but I haven't tweeted yet). Maybe because I've been crazy busy lately with many projects — our CRM implementation at work and our church Web site to name only the largest two projects.

But I'm back . . . not because I'm afraid Google will forget this blog ever existed (if you've read me at all, you know that's not my motivation) . . . not because it's just time after a long hiatus . . . not because I've figured out a strategy to use my blog, Facebook, and Twitter (I haven't yet) . . . but because today was a very emotional day and tomorrow will be even more so and I need to organize my thoughts and get something down for the record (my record and for my kids later use).

I will miss my Mamaw terribly!! No, she hasn't died or anything — she's just moving to Houston to be under my mother's love and care instead of under mine. This was a very mutual decision and we are all happy and pleased with it, including me. So, this is just to get my feelings out there on the table.

Until we started contemplating this move, I hadn't really realized just how close I was to my Mamaw and how she's literally always been close by. We haven't lived in a different city since I was in college and I came home all the time anyway. I lived with my Mamaw before I got married. She continues to be a key influence on my Christian walk and has been a wonderful model and discipler for me since I was a young boy. She modeled and was a visible reminder for me of Ephesians 3:18 " to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ." She is a bastion of unconditional love, selfless service, and sweet encouragement.

I remember my other grandmother, Gran Gran, very fondly and she passed away when I was close to 11 (or somewhere around there). Gran Gran was another wonderful woman — what a blessing those women were and are to me, I truly would not be half the man I am today without their influence. One of my heart's desires is for my children to have fond memories of their Mamaw! I want them to remember
* that she was at all of their events,
* that she called them all the time,
* that she fawned over their creations at church or school like she was in the Louvre,
* that she always wanted to feed them and take care of their every need (whether real or perceived),
* that she loved them for who they were and not who everyone else wanted them to be,
* that she saw through all of their faults and focused her praise on their strengths,
* that she was a genuinely joyful and loving person, and
* that she was a reflection of the God that she loves so much.

Okay, okay, she's not dead . . . but I am grieving. Grief is an emotion felt when something is lost. I feel like I am losing the ability for my kids to continue to get to know her and build memories with her (they are ages 5-10). I feel like I am losing the opportunity to see my Mamaw whenever I want and whenever I need to see her. I feel like I am losing a very close friend who I can talk to about anything. I feel like I am losing a mentor and discipler — although I know that I'm not, she's just going to Houston.

I know that she is only going 5 hours to the South, but it feels like a great distance for me. I have had the privledge to serve and care for her for many years as her primary caregiver. It has been my honor to give back to her a small part of what she has so graciously given to me — time, transportation, energy, an extra brain, love, care, errands, food, and so much more.

She spent the day in our home as movers were packing up her apartment in the assisted living facility. My middle child wanted to sleep in the same room with Mamaw — he's the sensitive one and has a strong connection to her. He just couldn't fall asleep and he came in crying to me because he was afraid that he would miss her in the morning (we're flying out early). Very few people in the world love us like Mamaw does and she has made an impact on my kids lives. He held me for awhile and told me that he wrote her a note and would I make sure that she saw it in the morning.

"Dear Mamaw,

I hope your move goes well. I eventually had to go to sleep upstairs. I'm praying for you Mamaw and love you. XOXO OXOXO OXOXO OXOXO OXOXO OXOXO [exact number of Xs and Os in his note]

Love, Cooper"

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Opening of the 2008 Olympics

I just can't wait! I love the Olympics! I love the competition, the nationalism, seeing all the different countries represented, and watching sports that I normally wouldn't care anything about.

Getting ready for the Olympic games, I wanted a good schedule of when the various sports would be on TV. I was very disappointed in NBC's online TV schedule, but I did find a great page of the sports and their schedules.

Speaking of sports that I don't care anything about, here is a list of the sports that I won't watch unless nothing else of interest is on -- Badminton, Equestrian, Handball, Field Hockey, Rhythmic Gymnastics, Sailing, Shooting, Synchronized Swimming, Table Tennis, Tennis, Trampoline, and Weightlifting. Now, this is just my personal opinion in an Olympic setting!
* Badminton and Table Tennis should just be recreational sports and not played competitively ever.
* Admit it, in Equestrian the real athlete is the horse not the rider so why not have Horse Racing also?
* Rhythmic Gymnastics and Synchronized Swimming are done by very talented people and some of it is really cool, but they really seem more like art done by athletes.

The sports that I really like to watch in the Olympics are -- Basketball, Beach Volleyball, Gymnastics, Judo, Pentathlon, Soccer (which has already started), Swimming, Tae Kwon Do, Track & Field, Volleyball, and Wrestling.
* I don't know why I like Basketball since I don't like the NBA much. But, it is a very international sport and it's fun in the Olympics.
* Beach Volleyball and Soccer are sports that I just like to watch but don't feel very much like Olympic games. I like them anyway though.
* Gymnastics, Track & Field, and Wrestling just scream Olympics to me and I have many happy memories watching them in the past.

What do you think?

Yes, I like the Olympics so much that this is my first blog post in awhile even before writing about our trip to Hawaii!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

June Scattershooting

Well, it's been too long since I made time to write here . . . sorry! I changed jobs and moved to a new house, so there has definitely been news just no time to write!!

* We love the new house -- more space for everyone and a great neighborhood!

* I love my new job -- great people to work with, fun challenges, something different every day, and lots to learn!

* The Southern Baptist Convention in Indianapolis was great. I met lots of neat people, heard some great sermons, and enjoyed the atmosphere.

* I don't really recommend changing jobs and moving in the span of two weeks, but I didn't plan it that way either!

* Is moving getting harder or am I getting older . . . wait, don't answer that!

* In his June 8, 2008 Monday Morning Quarterback column (in the section "Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me"), Peter King wrote about David Tyree's faith-based autobiography, More Than Just The Catch. It was a great section that gave God the glory!

While cleaning out my desk, I found where I had written down a few quotes. Unsure of the sources, but . . .
* "If you are being pulled on, picked on, or eaten up, you must be bearing fruit."
* "Let your burning desire blaze your trail."

Don't know what "scattershooting" is? Here's a formal definition but here's what I really mean by it.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Not "Success" but "Value"

I just read a great quote that got me to thinking. I read it in the Leadership Wired newsletter, a great newsletter from INJOY. Albert Einstein said:
"Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value."
That really got me to thinking and evaluating myself and my career. I had never heard this quote before but it lines up well with my overall career philosophy. My intent is to add value each year, each project, each day, and with each task. I have never measured "success" with money, job title, office size, or material possessions. I'm a people person and an organization/team guy. As a supervisor, I'm overjoyed when my employees reach their goals -- their success is my success. As a leader, my focus should not be on what direction I want to go but what direction is best for the team and the organization in the long run. Those things (and much more) serve to make a man of value.

A job change is pretty likely for me right now and I have felt like a man of value. I have felt valuable with the offer extended to me and I have felt valuable discussing it with my current boss. There are successful people in every organization, but people that are valuable are almost irreplaceable.