Setting Goals for 2013

image of the cover of The MagnetGoals Goal Setting Program WorkbookI love this time of the year. These next two weeks are a time of family, fun, introspection, celebration, work, and goal setting.

I’m one of those people that have been setting goals since I was a teenager. Probably even before that.

Now that I’m 40 (41 on January 6th!), I’m thrilled that goal setting has become a habit. I’ve gotten to do some pretty amazing things so far. I firmly believe setting goals helps me seize the opportunities that Life (I’d say God!) puts my way.

Reviewing 2012’s Goals

Each year, I write out at least 100 things I want to accomplish or do in the coming year. You read that correctly: one hundred.

I find the first 10 or so are relatively easy. But to get to 100, I really need to dig deep. And to dream.

This morning I reviewed the 100 I wrote for 2012. I accomplished about 50% so far. (There are still 8 days left in the year!) I still get thrilled to see those 50%. Some of them seemed so pie-in-the-sky twelve months ago!

Some of the things that haven’t yet happened will probably make it to my 2013 list. (I still write “Be favorably interviewed on Oprah” even though she’s no longer on regular network TV.) But others were worth the process of working on. I’d hoped to speak profitably in Poland in 2012. Those plans fell through. But the relationships I created or strengthened as a result of the trip planning are priceless.

Will you join me in 2013?

Will you join me on this journey? I call my process the “MagnetGoals Goal Setting System.” It’s my take on a couple of decades of studying goal setting. (Yes, I even studied goal setting as part of an official leadership program in college.)

You can get all the steps of the process as a free e-course (classes delivered by email) by going to Or you can buy the PDF, complete with printable worksheets.

MagnetGoals isn’t for everyone. But if you’re looking for a way to accomplish more in 2013, it just might be for you!

A prayer picture for my country

Earlier this week, I read some of George Washington’s “Farewell Address.” In it, he warned of the tendency of political parties attracting people that just wanted to increase strife in discord for their own power.

So this morning, as I was praying, I found myself praying for the USA that we’ll heal inspite of the election. That those sowing discord and strife would be thwarted.

The Picture

Almost as soon as I was praying this, a fun image came to mind:
I saw people tossing seeds of thorn bushes and strife into well plowed rows. They were moving quickly.

But something remarkable was happening. Almost as soon as the seeds hit the soil, they sprang up into beautiful flowers that people naturally gathered around and admired together.

As the image ended, the sowers of discord turned around and saw what they’d planted had turned against them. The shock on their face was priceless.

Will you join me?

So I’m praying that picture today as we go through the elections here in the USA. Wherever you are, would you join me?

Why this Maine resident voted for Gary Johnson

Picture of a ballot with a vote for Gary Johnson for President 2012When I voted on Thursday, I didn’t choose Mitt Romney or Barack Obama for president. I voted for the Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson. I don’t normally make my votes public, but this year I feel compelled to.

I’ve been a Republican most of my life, much to the chagrin of my Kennedy-loving grandmother. (She thought my parents had failed because I wasn’t a Democrat!) But the Republican Party keeps moving away from me. As Christine Todd Whitman says, I’m a classic conservative. I believe in conservative fiscal management for government but very limited involvement in people’s lives. I have no idea how Republicans who are “social fundamentalists” justify the incredible government over-reaching that comes from legislating morality.

That’s why I said I’d been a Republican “most” of my life. I got fed up with the Republican Party a few years ago and unregistered. More on that below.

But let me tell you why I didn’t vote for Romney or Obama.

Why I didn’t vote for Obama

Although I didn’t vote for him, I was quite proud when Obama won the last election. As a late Baby Boomer/early Gen-Xer (depending on if you think Gen-X starts in 1960 or 1964) and a professed moderate, I thought we might see some change in government. But despite the Republicans not playing nice, he really hasn’t been the bipartisan president he campaigned as. His early attempts at bringing Republicans to the table seemed mostly for show and photo ops, not serious discussion.

This article in The Atlantic shows lots of the contradictions between the Obama portrayal and his actions: incredibly militaristic (especially killing civillians with drones), increased attacks on civil liberties, and actually “normalizing” the executive office excesses of President Bush.

But instead of ending those excesses, protecting civil liberties, rolling back executive power, and reasserting core American values, Obama acted contrary to his mandate. The particulars of his actions are disqualifying in themselves. But taken together, they put us on a course where policies Democrats once viewed as radical post-9/11 excesses are made permanent parts of American life.

I find it really odd that my liberal Democrat friends don’t seem at all bothered by this. The things they were snarky and rude about Bush, are quietly swept under the rug with Obama.

I couldn’t vote for Obama because he’s in many ways continuing the worst of the Bush legacy.

Why I didn’t vote for Romney

Honestly, I never would’ve voted for Romney. I’ve known too many people from Massachusetts to want to vote for him. But it’s how the Republican Party acts that makes me not want to vote for them. None of them really seemed to want Romney to be nominated, but when it became “necessary” they tried to force out all other candidates.

Take the example in Maine. The Maine Republican Party operatives are an inbred echo-chamber. They apparently think democracy isn’t right, that they know better than the actual Party members. I’m sure this is no different than the smoke filled back room deals of yesteryear. But it’s still nauseating. When Maine Republicans wanted to nominate Ron Paul, a legitimate Republican choice, the Maine Republican Party did everything they could to invalidate the votes. They even colluded with the National Republican Party to illegally (against their own party rules) unseat the Ron Paul delegates.

As I said, I didn’t leave the Republican Party, it left me.

I couldn’t vote for Romney because the Republican Party would see that at tacit approval for their power-hungry dishonest maneuvering. I know winning is the goal; but ethics matter to me.

Why I’m voting for Gary Johnson

I’ve learned that in many ways, I resonate with libertarians. I like some of his positions. Of course, there are some things about libertarians that don’t square with my faith. But neither do tenants of the Democrats or Republicans.

What really tipped me over to voting for Johnson was learning that the Commission on Presidential Debates was actively excluding him. Fortunately they lost some big advertisers because of their excluding Gary Johnson from the presidential debates. One of their professed reasons for excluding him? A candidate needs to receive 15% of the popular vote in opinion polls.

Reading that, I realized that according to the conventional wisdom, my vote from Maine won’t “matter” since it isn’t a battle ground state. But my vote for Johnson could help generate the 15% to at least get another voice heard on the national level.

Whatever you do, please vote

I was seriously considering not voting for president. A vote for either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney seemed like a vote of confidence for the mess that we’re in with the two party gridlock.

So this Mainer voted for Johnson for President.

Whether you agree with my choice or not, please choose to vote. We Americans too easily forget what a privilege we have when it comes to voting.

And if you want to lodge a sort of protest with the way things are, I’d urge you to consider a vote for Johnson.

Not gonna hack my wife’s blog, but I will brag

Allume Conference 2012Apparently if I hack my wife’s blog with this post, I could win an iPad.

I’m all for a challenge. And I know this is in good fun. But I have no more interest in “hacking” into her blog than I have of her hacking into any of my blogs.

But I am excited about how God is using Allume in her life. It’s been wonderful to see her come alive in a renewed way as she’s prepared for Allume. I’m loving watching her continue to define herself and to trust that she already has discovered her voice. And that it’s a good voice.

Whether it is her wonderful 31 Day of Christmas Planning or her 5 Minute Friday experiments, or her post about making Roman shades for our room, she’s a gifted writer with a lot to offer the world.

Growing together

I married well. When we got married 17 years ago, we did it to minister together. Her explorations on her blog are helping us revisit the conversation of working together. I love the idea of us blogging together! (We’ve already played at that with the “he said, she said” experiments.)

It’s even more thrilling to think of us sharing the stage. In writing and in speaking, Emily helps people grow and become more of who they truly are.

She’s had it all along

We recently came across some writing she did for the family over a decade ago. Her writing makes our family richer. She was a great writer then too. But I love how getting ready to go to Allume seems to have renewed her confidence.

And it’s fun to be the one at home hearing about all the cool experiences he’s having!

Check out HopeCaptive

Her blog is definitely worth putting into your blog reader. It’s currently at

Incarnation and…Doctor Who?

My daughter made a connection between the soul/body connection of Scripture and Doctor Who's 2 hearts!

The other day, my seven year-old daughter was asking me about death. She talked about the idea of our body decaying but our soul living on.

In an effort to stave off Gnosticism, I told her that though popular Biblically, we don’t believe in a soul/body split. I told her I didn’t know exactly what happened at death but I do know that we are not “spirit beings having a human experience.”

I told her about Genesis. That the way the ancient Hebrews tried to explain this mystery was God forming clay and then breathing His breath into it. The material without the spirit isn’t a living person. Neither is the spirit without the material.

We are both spirit and body. Inseparable.

She looked at me as though asome of this was making sense. To show she was getting it, she asked:

I get it. It’s like Doctor Who’s two hearts, right?

Um. Yeah. Something like that. 😉

Pray and then get active

Sometimes the chapters get in the way

I’ve been reading the Bible for roughly 28 years. I think we started studying it as a family when I was 12.

I’m been sharing devotions with my son, using Jon Swanson’s 300 Words a Day and 7×7. [7×7 is reading the Bible for 5 minutes, asking God a question, and listening for 2 minutes. Therefore, it is 7 minutes a day, 7 days a week.]

For the 7×7 last week, we were working through Matthew 9 and 10. Matthew 9 ends with the inspiring:

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.

Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” [Matthew 9:35-38]

I’ve read this passage dozens of times. I’ve studied it. Heard it preached on. I’ve even preached on it myself.

But in the past, I let the chapter get in the way. I’d stop. And feel great that I was praying for God to send people to do the work.

I’d just never realized I was praying for God to send ME to do the work

Most of the time I read this, I thought God was sending out someone else. Oh, I realized there were times I was used by God as a “worker in the field” in answer to someone else’s prayer.

But then comes Matthew 10!

Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness…These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions… [Matthew 10:1,5]

If the chapter division (inserted long after the Bible was compiled) wasn’t there, I’d have read something like, “Pray for God to send the workers. Now get busy being the answer to that prayer.”

Pray. And then get active.

It’s so easy to read the end of Matthew 9 and feel complacent and somewhat passive. “Ok, I’ve prayed. Thanks Jesus for letting me be involved without getting my hands dirty.”

But our God is the God of the dirty hands. He keeps involving Himself with us. And He calls us to be His hands and feet.

We can’t get out of if by saying this was a special sending for the 12. After this, the 72 were sent. And before Jesus’ ascension, He sent all His followers to “do the stuff”: healing, driving out demons, baptizing, and discipling.

This is the Kingdom He invites us into. One where He reigns. He equips us with authority and power. And He expects us to get busy being the Kingdom.

It reminds my of the Frederick Buechner quote: “Vocation is where our greatest passion meets the world’s greatest need.”

My take away: if you sense the urge to pray for a situation, explore to see if that is the first step in being sent to work on it.

Read it anew:

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.

Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness…These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions…[Matthew 9:35-38; 10:1,5]

Just accept it!

This month, I’ve been working hard to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. That’s meant not doing work or TV until midnight. It’s meant reordering my days and even being more consistent in exercising.

One unexpected twist: I’m so peaceful it freaks me out.

I’ve long known I’ve been motivated by stress and deadlines. What I guess I didn’t realize is how “normal” that low grade stress had become.

So now I’m finding myself having to press in to this new sense of calm rather than self-sabotaging it and getting stressed.

Stressing about not being stressed? Yeah, I know I’m odd.