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Author Archives: Todd Gragg

About Todd Gragg

Follower of Christ, husband, father, teacher, pastor, author, texas rangers, chicago cubs, st. louis cardinals, okc thunder, ou sooners & dallas cowboys fan, & lover of double cheeseburgers & hot wings.

2017 MLB Predictions

 

American League

AL East

  1. Boston Red Sox
  2. New York Yankees*
  3. Baltimore Orioles
  4. Toronto Blue Jays
  5. Tampa Bay Rays

AL Central

  1.  Cleveland Indians
  2. Kansas City Royals*
  3. Detroit Tigers
  4. Chicago White Sox
  5. Minnesota Twins

AL West

  1.  Texas Rangers
  2. Seattle Mariners
  3. Houston Astros
  4. Los Angeles Angels
  5. Oakland Athletics

*Wild Card

 

AL Playoffs

Wild Card

Kansas City over New York

Divisional Series

Texas Rangers over Kansas City Royals

Cleveland Indians over Boston Red Sox

ALCS

Cleveland Indians over Texas Rangers

 

AL Award Winners

CY Young – Yu Darvish (Texas Rangers)

MVP – Francisco Lindor (Cleveland Indians)

ROY – Aaron Judge (New York Yankees)

 

National League

NL East

  1. New York Mets
  2. Washington Nationals
  3. Miami Marlins
  4. Atlanta Braves
  5. Philadelphia Phillies

NL Central  

  1.  Chicago Cubs
  2. St. Louis Cardinals*
  3. Pittsburgh Pirates
  4. Milwaukee Brewers
  5. Cincinnati Reds

NL West

  1.  San Francisco Giants
  2. Los Angeles Dodgers
  3. Colorado Rockies
  4. Arizona Diamondbacks
  5. San Diego Padres

*Wild Card

 

NL Playoffs

Wild Card

St. Louis Cardinals over the Los Angeles Dodgers

Divisional Series

Chicago Cubs over St. Louis Cardinals

San Francisco Giants over New York Mets

ALCS

Chicago Cubs over San Francisco Giants

 

NL Award Winners

CY Young – Madison Bumgardner (San Francisco Giants)

MVP – Kris Bryant (Chicago Cubs)

ROY – Dansby Swanson (Atlanta Braves)

 

World Series

Chicago Cubs over Cleveland Indians

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2017 in Sports

 

Guest Post – Mark Miller

How Long Is Long Enough?

“How long do you work with someone before you make a tough decision?” This was the question two different people asked me recently. Both had inherited a person who was unable or unwilling to do their job.

Does this situation sound familiar? Clearly, you want to do the right thing. The challenge is two-fold: discerning the right thing and then mustering the courage to do it.

I have no silver bullet to offer you. However, here a few factors to consider:

Look at the person’s history – What is this person’s track record? Is it one of accomplishment or mediocrity? If the person has demonstrated competence in the past, perhaps the current concerns are circumstantial or fleeting.

Go the extra mile – Truett Cathy once told me, “No one builds a career terminating people. You build a career by helping people be successful.” These words have always driven me to go above and beyond when dealing with serious performance issues. One of my questions in these difficult situations is, “What else can I do?”

Explore other roles – This is tricky. If you are not careful, a poor performer can move repeatedly throughout his or her career without growing or changing. This “moving the problem” is not what I am advocating. Sometimes, a person just ends up in the wrong job. He or she may be extremely gifted in some other area. If you can discover that sweet spot, I am all in favor of moving someone to help them thrive.

Consider the person’s potential – This may seem controversial to some. Yes, I acknowledge the worth of every human being. At the same time, I know our time as leaders is our most precious asset. We must steward our time wisely. To over-invest in someone with limited potential doesn’t make sense. What do you believe this person’s long term impact can be if you successfully navigate the current difficulty?

Don’t forget the impact on the team – Always remember poor individual performance is cancer in a team. If it is allowed to persist it hurts the performer, the team and the leader. The team has to carry the burden of under contributing members; while the leader must focus valuable time on the individual.

Seek council – Hiring decisions are too important to be made by any single individual and so are termination decisions. Who are your trusted advisors for situations involving serious performance issues? Do you have counselors inside and outside your organization? In the world we live in, it is never a bad idea to seek legal and human resource professionals to help process your decision.

Be courageous – I know this is easier to say than it is to do. However, leaders must be courageous if our organizations are going to reach their full potential. In the case of a poor performing team member, we have two equally important factors at play – the life of the person we are working with; and our own credibility as a leader. Jim Collins challenged our leaders to respond with courage, “If you don’t you will steal a person’s life.”

So, how long is long enough? Hard to say. My best advice for you is something I heard from Jimmy Collins as he addressed our leaders many years ago. He said, “When dealing with performance issues, err on the side of grace.” Just not too much grace…

*****

Mark Miller is the best-selling author of 6 books, an in-demand speaker and the Vice President of High-Performance Leadership at Chick-fil-A. His latest book, Leaders Made Here, describes how to nurture leaders throughout the organization, from the front lines to the executive ranks and outlines a clear and replicable approach to creating the leadership bench every organization needs.

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Edmonton Mission Trip – March 2017

I have an amazing opportunity to travel to Edmonton Canada this March.  My church, Aydelotte Baptist Church, is in the midst of establishing a long-term partnership with the city of Edmonton.  During my trip there I will be able to attend Sunday services at one of the church plants—Open Door Church.  I will also be able to spend at least 1 day praying with and encouraging Dennis Milne (the Open Door Church Planting Pastor) and his wife.  I will then have another day to devote to prayer walking/driving around Edmonton with Stan Felder NAMB (North American Mission Board) missionary that lives in Edmonton.  This will also be a day where vision-casting and dreaming for future ways for the church to be involved in the city will occur.

The Edmonton metro area is home to around 1.1 million people, many of them working in the Oil & Gas Industry.  Less than 6% of Edmonton is evangelical & there is currently one SBC church for every 50,835 residents.

Here is where the funds being raised will be spent.

·      Travel Expenses              $1200

o   Flight                        $600

o   Meals*                      $600

·      Stretch Goal                       $1750

o   Above Expenses     $1200

o   Camera#                   $550

*This includes an incidental amount that will be used for baggage fees as well as any unforeseen expenses while in Canada.

#This stretch amount would allow the purchase of a digital camera to be used for missions and ministry purposes.

The logistics of this trip are fairly simple.  Either the Stan or Dennis will pick me up at the airport and I will stay with either the Felder’s or Milne’s during the days I am in Edmonton. The bulk of the cost is the air travel to Canada.  If you are able to give and to help financially that would be most appreciated.  The biggest thing I am asking though is for each of you to pray for this trip and for the work going on in Canada.

You can give through my gofundme account.

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2017 in Missions

 

Gettysburg Extended

Twelve score years ago our Founding Fathers sought to establish a more perfect union, a union where all are equal. Seven score and thirteen years ago President Lincoln declared that union was still flawed and work was left to be done. Two score and thirteen years past Dr. King painted a poignant picture of a beautifully diverse future where all are equal. A short eight years ago then candidate Obama powerfully admonished us to again take up the cause of ending and fighting against racism and to no longer ignore its ills and poison. Today I am declaring to you the work is not yet completed. If it is a mountain we are crossing then we are still within spitting distance of the base instead of being able to even glimpse the summit on the far horizon. All men and women, regardless of race, gender or any other status or creed, are endowed with inalienable rights, of which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Unfortunately we find ourselves today standing on a precipice upon whence we can view just how tragically these rights are deprived of for many citizens in our country.

I pen these words from a state where this is overtly true. The statistics of those imprisoned in my state are especially evidentiary of this fact. Oklahoma is 70% white but the penal system here is only 49% white. Hispanics make up only 9% of the state populace, but 15% of the prison population. African Americans account for a mere 7% of my state but they fill 26% of the prisons. This is found similarly across the nation. How can a people be free when they are grossly disproportionately imprisoned? I would say to you they cannot! We must reach high to our better angels to find a better way. For we cannot truly be free until all in our land are equally free.

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2016 in Culture

 

Red Cups, Chicken Sandwiches, & What Really Matters

Recently there has been some craziness going on in the Christian subculture. I know this might be hard for you to believe, but believe me the Christian bubble has entered into a whole new realm of kookiness. This year’s design of the red cups at Starbucks created this cray cray melee. If you are not familiar with the red cups at Starbucks they are a season thing that appear each year when they bring back the Christmas time seasonal beverages. To Starbucks addicts and lovers (which I am one) they are as anticipated as the much craved Pumpkin Spice Lattes. I don’t know if the red cup has its own Twitter and Instagram accounts, but it should. Anyways the cups this year are just red. They do not have any designs or words or anything other than the color red. Apparently this should be an affront to my Christian faith. Some dude was so offended he made an angry Facebook video saying Starbucks hates Jesus. I warned you the kookiness has gone bat crap cray cray this year.

Some people more eloquent and better positioned than I to take on the task of demolishing this line of thinking have already done so. I am not going to attempt to restate what they have already said. I will simply say Starbucks is a corporation and not a person. Corporations do not go to heaven or hell. People go to heaven or hell. With this premise being established here is what I do want to attempt to say on this matter. I want to use the rest of this space to point out how Christians should love going to both Starbucks and Chick-fil-A. We should feel comfortable spending money at both places because we love Jesus and we love people.

Until several months ago I had spent the last three and half years on the management/leadership team of a Chick-fil-A, the home of the greatest chicken nuggets, the inventor of the chicken sandwich, and the maker of waffle fries, sweet tea and fresh squeezed lemonade. Oh and Chick-fil-A is the Christian fast food mega star. Here is the thing about Chick-fil-A though: it is a business. Now the leadership of the company, they are Christians. They seek to bring God glory in all they do. However at the local level many of those owner/operators have one thing on their minds and that is making money. They will sell a #1 large sized with a Dr. Pepper to a heterosexual, open carrying, flag waving, Christian, tea party republican just as easily as they will sell a #5 8 count grilled with cole slaw and a medium unsweet tea to a transgender socialist atheist, or a cobb salad and a water to a radical suicide bomber. Just make sure and remember to hold the bacon on that salad for the radical terrorist. Some owners are very generous and giving and want to bless those around them and some just want more money in their own accounts. That is ok, they are business owners making a living.

Here is the other thing about Chick-fil-A. You may go there because you love Jesus and Tim Hawkins and Duck Dynasty but chances are the person serving you doesn’t. Chick-fil-A hires people. Not all of them are believers in Christ. Not all of them are republicans. Not all of them are heterosexual. That shouldn’t change your opinion of Chick-fil-A though. You should still go there. You should still support them. Why? Because people need Jesus!

The thing is, this should be our same attitude when it comes to Starbucks. I love coffee. I know there is better coffee at other places, but I love Starbucks because it is convenient and consistent. And well I am addicted to Pumpkin Spice Lattes. There was a Starbucks across the parking lot from my Chick-fil-A. I went there a lot. The workers all knew me by name, and I knew them by name. They ate a lot of Chick-fil-A too. Some of the workers there loved Jesus and some didn’t. They are people. Just like the people working at Chick-fil-A. Now the Chick-fil-A workers have less tattoos and piercings and facial hair (I have not shaved since leaving Chick-fil-A and it feels so good!), but they are all people. They are people that need Grace. They are people that need Jesus.

During my three and half years slinging chicken I was privileged to get to know some of my employees and co-workers well. I was able to pray with my boss as his wife went through a terminal illness. I got to celebrate engagements and graduations with some employees. I got to pray with some of the people there as they faced tough times in life. I also got to pray with some customers as they faced things in life and to celebrate with them as well. I also was able to get to do the same with some employees from Starbucks. I got to know them and got to model Jesus to them. If I avoided the place where they worked because of something as silly and arbitrary as a cup I would not have been able to build a relationship with those people. Now God might have sent someone else to fill that gap and to minister to those people, but I would have missed out on that.

So instead of getting mad over really silly things we need to have a heart that loves people and seeks to get to know them because they need Jesus too!

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2015 in Culture, Current Events

 

Spirit Led Church Planting – Reflections From The Beach

Recently I have been thinking a lot about church planting and what that means and looks like in a  place like Oklahoma.  This morning as I played in the water along the beach in Galveston, TX I had the chance to reflect upon a lot of my recent thoughts and let God speak to me.  In general I think church planting is far too often done more from a practical, logical, and entrepreneurial stance than it is done from a spiritual one.  Now I think the former has a place but not so much that we over plan and strategize to the point that we leave no room for the moving and leading of the Holy Spirit.

At the beginning of the book of Joshua the Israelites are preparing to finally enter into the Promised Land.  The long, wondering journey is now over and the time for taking the land has finally come.  In chapter 1 Joshua is commissioned by God and takes command of the people.  Then in chapter 2 they send in the spies to Jericho and in chapter 3 there is a fascinating account of all the people crossing the Jordan river.  It is this crossing of the Jordan river that my mind turned to this morning while enjoying the rolling waves coming across the sandbars and that I believe has much to teach us about church planting by the Holy Spirit.

12Now therefore take twelve men from the tribes of Israel, from each tribe a man. 13And when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap.”

14So when the people set out from their tents to pass over the Jordan with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, 15and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest),  Joshua 3:12-15

We got to Galveston mid afternoon yesterday and after unloading the vehicles we all hurriedly changed into our swimsuits and hit the beach.  I was tired after having woken up at 4:00 AM to start the drive to the beach so I did not venture out to far from the shore.  I played in the shallow water and took my kids out as far as they would go without screaming.  This morning though I was rested and invigorated and decided to venture out much further.  I reach a point on a sandbar where I could still stand with my head above water.  The calm water was to the top of my shoulders and when bigger waves would roll across I would have to jump to keep my head above water.  It was at this point that I began to think about the above passage.

Any of us that have been in church for some time have surely heard of the dramatic crossing of the Red Sea and how God parted the waters before Moses or any of the Israelites set foot into the sea bed.  This crossing of a body water is very different.  Both are miraculous and amazing but I think this Joshua passage speaks to what it is like to set out to plant churches by and through the leading of the Holy Spirit.  When the priests carrying the ark of the covenant first lifted their feet to step into the Jordan River they were not lifting the feet over dry ground.  No they were lifting it over water.  They weren’t just lifting it over calm or relatively calm shallow water either.  No they were lifting their feet over roaring flood stage waters.  The Jordan River is normally 90-100 feet wide and ranges from 3-9 feet deep.  In flood stage this is increased dramatically sometimes reaching widths up to 1 mile and depths of 150 feet.  This spring and summer those of us in Oklahoma have come to better appreciate flood waters.  As I was bouncing and frolicking in almost 5.5 foot water this morning I began to  imagine what it would be like to take a step over roaring deep water and trusting that when I brought my foot down it would be on dry land.  It would take some faith that is sure!

Flood (1)

That is the same type and level of faith it takes to pursue Spirit led church planting.  When you say yes to God that you are going to plant a church and follow where His Spirit leads then you may not know where your foot will hit when you take that next step or the next one or the next one or the one after that.  Your trust and dependence has to be firmly embedded in God.  This is the type of church planting we need.

When we plant churches through the direction of the Holy Spirit that is what will happen.  The Holy Spirit will move and call people to Christ.  It may be tens, it may be tens of thousands.  It may be messy at times and it may be trying and difficult.  It will require deep faith and a continual openness to saying yes to where and how the Spirit leads.  It is what is deeply needed though.  Let’s follow God into the deep waters and plant churches as His Spirit directs!

Oceans (1)

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2015 in Church Planting

 

Mission Trip Recap – Ruined In A Good Way

About a month ago I took a trip.  It was a trip out of the country.  I cannot say much about the actual trip for security reasons.  I will simply say I went to a place to meet with some men and women from other places to learn what they go through on a daily basis because they love Jesus.  I spent a week in that place.  It was my first trip like this.  I have been back home for over three weeks and I cannot get the people I met with out of my mind.  I cannot get the place I went to out of my mind.  I cannot get this burden for those people off of my heart.  I cannot stop being consumed with a desire to share the cause of the persecuted Church!  There is no ceasing in sight of my obsessive passion to see the Gospel of Christ taken to the ends of the world, and I pray that never ends!

The passion for Jesus I saw in these people was amazing.  He is all they have to cling to and that is a beautiful thing.  They have given up everything to follow Him.  It has cost them dearly.  And they would say it is the greatest thing in their life.  They cannot stop talking about it.

This is where this trip really wrecked me.  I talk a lot in a given day.  I talk to my wife.  I talk to my kids.  I talk to friends.  I talk to family.  I talk to coworkers.  I talk to random people.  I talk to myself.  I am normally constantly communicating in some form or fashion.  Yet what is it that I am communicating?  Work, random events, tv, sports, food, traffic, weather, etc.  You see I talk all the time.  Yet I seem to rarely use this amazing privilege to talk about the thing that matters the most.  I neglect to talk about the Gospel.

You see I have this ever growing yearning to be a part of taking the Gospel to the thousands of unreached people groups in hard to reach and dangerous places, yet I cower from taking the Gospel to my neighbor or friend or coworker.

The people I met with and learned from in that place face real legit danger for talking about Jesus and the Gospel in the places where they live.  In some of those places sharing the Gospel or giving someone a Bible is worse than terrorist activity.  They talk about Jesus and they lose their house or job or extended family, many times they are beaten or imprisoned.  Still they don’t stop talking about Jesus!  I am not going to lose my job or be cut off from my family or lose my house or be beaten or jailed.  If I talk about Jesus I might have people have a different opinion of me.  It might not fit the bill for the people pleasing person I normally am because it is off the normal script.  I don’t face real persecution for talking about Jesus yet I let fear prevent me from doing so far too often.

Maybe you are stronger and less of a coward at heart then I am but I highly suspect you are in the same boat as me.  So where do we go from here?  Where do I go from here?  How do I change?  How do I stop being a coward and use the amazing freedom I have to talk about the Gospel?  To begin with I need to pray.  To pray for courage and boldness.  To pray for wisdom.  To pray for discernment.  To pray to be led by the Spirit.  Then I need to act.  To tell.  To let the remembrance of the depth of the grace shown to me in the Gospel cause me to be consumed with sharing that same Gospel with the world.

I do feel as a result of my recent trip that missions will be a much larger part of my life than ever before.  I also think how I live and act and see things in my everyday life here and now has changed because of this trip.  I have nothing more important than to share the Gospel with those around me.  I pray you do the same.

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2015 in Life, Ministry, Missions