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Stay Connected With Your Spouse During The Work Day With This Game


My day job has some pretty decent hours to it.

I have to be intentional to keep my priorities in line.  They are pretty simple.

  1. My personal relationship with God.  I start every day at 5am to have time for prayer, reading the Bible and reflection.
  2. My relationship with my wife…more on that in a second.
  3. My relationship with my kids…starting my day at 5am also gives me time in the evening to play with the kids.
  4. My family and friends…we like to visit…and since we don’t have TV and my parents do, we tend to visit them a good bit, lol.
  5. My Jobs.  Running Aldersgate.  And, this blog and speaking.

It’s easy for these to start working in reverse order.  I have to be intentional to keep things straight.  Overtime, I do drift out of alignment.  But a bit of focus, and we are back on track.

So, I have to be intentional about my relationship with my wife, Marissa.

One of the thing’s we do is come up with unique ways to communicate and be involved with each other throughout the day.

Here’s a simple quick game we play with our cellphones.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at


One of us will start the game by texting…”One Letter Text Game” and then the first letter of a word we are thinking of. The other person text back their guess for that word. The game starter replies, “Nope” and the next letter or “Yep” if the other guesses correct.

Here are a couple rules.

  1. No using Google or other internet sites to help.
  2. You must wait at least one hour to text a reply…after all…we still have work to concentrate on.

Another variation. We will text an extreme close-up picture of something in my office or at home.  The other person has to guess what it is.

We have lots of games like this. Would you like to hear more?

What a variation you can think of?
Whats something you and your spouse do to stay connected throughout the day?

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Only God Book: Interview and Giveaway with Author Dwight Mason

This is an interview with Dwight Mason. Dwight is the author of the new book, Only God; Change Your Story, Change the World.

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For over 25 years Dwight has served as the lead pastor of the multisite, NewPointe Community Church in Northeast Ohio.

Giveaway expired.  Winners have already received their books.  At the end of the interview, I’ll share how you could win one of two autographed copies of Dwight’s book…just in time for the February 7th launch event at NewPointe Community Church.  To learn more about that event and the book, visit

Here’s my interview with Dwight Mason.

In the area of Personal Development: 
How can a person tell if the story they are living is the story God wants for them?

When considering if your story is the one God wants for you, I think you first have to understand the difference between a good idea and a God idea. A good idea is one where you have it all figured out. A God idea is one where you don’t have it figured out. A question I like to ask is this: “What are you doing that if God would die, which is theologically impossible, you would have to stop doing?” An Only God story will always lead you to a greater dependence on God. Is my story causing me to honor and glorify God, and does it enhance my relationship with Him?

…the difference between a good idea and a God idea. (Tweet That)

What advice do you have for someone who knows they are currently living a life that is telling the wrong story?

First, acknowledge that your life is telling the wrong story. This takes humility. Humility and repentance (which means a change in the way you think) are keys to getting God to work in your life. AW Tozer said, “Your view of God is the most important thing about you.” Most of us have a wrong view of God. It has been shaped by authoritative figures and life experiences instead of God’s Word.

Second, be intentional and deliberate in getting to know God in a personal way. Not “about” Him, which many people tend to do – but know Him. You will never trust someone you don’t know. The key to any significant relationship is trust. You will never be able to fully live out the epic adventure God has planned for you without completely trusting Him with all your heart. Again, you won’t trust someone you don’t know.

For most, money is our god. We trust in money more than God. The quickest way to build trust with God is by honoring Him with our finances. Malachi 3:10-11 is the only place where God says test me:

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LordAlmighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty.

Get to know God in a personal way not just about him.  (Tweet That)

In the area of Family Leadership:
What do you think the story of a husband and wife looks like? Is it two separate stories happening at the some time in the same space, two separate stories that should compliment each other or two stories that become one story that the couple is now living?

I believe they are different and yet can be one. I believe God has gifted each in different ways, as well as with different passions, but I believe this can fit an overarching vision that can pull the whole family together. But it will take humility and mutual submission on both parts. Whether it is a marriage, a family, church, or a company, God’s story is always big enough for each to have a role. I think this is huge because your children are watching and learning. One of the things that George Barna says is that a child’s moral foundations are generally in place by the time they are 9 years old. And in most cases, a child’s spiritual beliefs are irrevocably formed by about age 13. Scripture tells us that the hand cannot say to the foot I have no need of you. So just as we are one body with different parts and functions, I believe it works that way with marriages and families also. It is the way God develops us, so we are able to continue to write our story.

In the area of Workplace Leadership.

One of my greatest concerns is that the plot line of career and purpose in my own story becomes the plot line for the story of the organization I currently lead. I don’t want the story of the organization to die when this storyteller leaves. So, how does a leader keep from projecting and intertwining too deeply his or her story as the story of the organization they are leading? Is it even possible for the stories to be “too” intertwined?

I would say that you need to share your story. All of us have a unique story, and it needs to be shared on a personal level, as well as through a corporation where God can use your story in even bigger ways. So I believe that the two are intertwined and yet separate. It is a lot like a marriage. I am married, but I am still an individual. I lead NewPointe, and it has a story – but I am not NewPointe; I am Dwight Mason. I don’t want my personal identity to get lost in NewPointe. I have my own story. It would be dangerous for me just to live off NewPointe’s story, because I could be living off what people think of NewPointe, rather than who I really am.

Bonus Questions:

What was your favorite story to share in the book?

I really don’t have a personal favorite story. Here is why – they are all Only God stories. They are all about what happens when someone begins to trust God and live out this truth: that He is who He says He is, and He will do what He has promised to do. But, if you really pushed and forced me to tell you which one is my favorite story, I would have to choose my own. I know that most people might say, “Wow, I can’t believe you said that,” but I believe God desires every single person to say that. I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone. It hasn’t been a perfect life, but once you begin to experience and live out God’s story, you have no desire to live someone else’s story. Other people’s stories excite you and you celebrate them, but I believe your own story should always be your favorite, because that’s the way God designed it.

I want to personally say thank you Dwight for doing this interview, writing this book and allowing your story, God’s story and my story to intersect through the ministries of New Pointe Community Church. The impact for my entire family is beyond measure. And, the impact to be seen in the stories my children are going to grow up to live will be stronger because of Dwight’s leadership at our church, our church and the Only God message.

Want a copy of ONLY GOD?

All you have to do is:

1. Share this post on Twitter or Facebook.
2. Comment on this post. Any comment will do, but hearing an Only God story from your life would be awesome.
3. Sign up for my email newsletter to ensure I have a valid email address…you can unsubscribe later, this is just to ensure I can contact you if you win.

We will select two random winners in one week.

Can’t wait that long to see if you win?  I don’t blame you.  You can find the book at all major book sellers.  Here’s an affiliate link to the book on Amazon, my favorite book place…  CLICK HERE FOR ONLY GOD ON AMAZON

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How I Keep My Email Inbox Empty


I’ve been asked numerous times how I manage my email.

It’s a compilation of ideas and tips from several sources.  You might read one of these ideas and say, “Hey, that’s Michael Hyatt’s idea” or “the GTD guy says that.”  I’m not claiming credit for any of the individual ideas.

I hope it’s helpful.

My basic set-up.

I have multiple “non” gmail accounts.  I never check them.  Gmail does it for me.

My work emails are provided through 1and1.

This blogs email is provided through Bluehost.

I have two Gmail accounts.

The first Gmail is a private email that I only use to have my 1and1 work mail account automatically checked via POP3.  I never give this Gmail address out, I only give my branded eric @ campaldersgate dot org email address out for work.

The other Gmail is my personal email.

Each of my Gmail accounts have 1 label (or folder) that I created.  It’s called Needs Processed.

Screen Shot 2013 01 31 at 6 53 34 AM


Here’s how I did that….

In Gmail,

Go to Settings

You can use gmail keyboard shortcuts to move around menus


Click on Filters,

How To Get The Most our of Gmail


Click on Create New Filter

In Gmail InBox Filters


Under “To” put your email address. 

 Screen Shot 2013 01 31 at 6 57 43 AM


After you enter your email address, click on Create filter with this search

Screen Shot 2013 01 31 at 7 15 25 AM


Check the option: Apply the label.

Then, select the name of your label in the drop down box.

Click on Create Filter.  I would not have the filter automatically applied to all conversation that match this filter.

Screen Shot 2013 01 31 at 7 17 52 AM


Repeat for all your email address’s that arrive to this gmail account.

Now, the beautiful thing is, your inbox is always empty..BUT WAIT…this isn’t the end.

The benefit to setting up your Gmail to operate like this is you create a distraction free email area.  When I need to send an email, I open Gmail to an empty inbox.  I can hit c and compose a new email.  If I want to check if a reply has arrived, or for an email I’m waiting for.  I search for it.  No distractions from email while working on tasks.


Using keyboard shortcuts, I process the Needs Processed label twice per day.  If you don’t use keyboard shortcuts, that’s okay.  But, turning them on and using them saves a lot of time.  I use the same shortcuts in Reader and my Google Calendar.

On the Gmail main screen.  Click on the label you created, should be under your inbox, for me it’s Needs Processed.

Normally, there are several emails I don’t need to open at that moment nor will they require action from me at anytime.  For example, forms submitted on our website to request information on renting the camp.  I don’t need to reply to any of these normally because my Director of Guest Services does.  HOWEVER, if they’re out for the day…I can provide a reply to someone inquiring about renting facilities quickly.  It’s just good customer service.

For these emails that normally don’t require my attention, but that still need to come to me.  I hit j to move to the first message in the list I don’t need to open, hit x to highlight it, then I continue using j to move down and k to move up to messages that I don’t need to open or deal with and highlighting or un-highlighting using x.  Once I have highlighted these emails, I hit y.  This archives them in All Mail, forever.  Now, a search can find them anytime I need them.

If I have mail that I will never need to open ever.  I highlight them and hit Shift 3 to move the item to the trash.

Within seconds I’ve cleaned out several of my emails.

Now, I start at the top of the list of emails.  I use j or k to move to that email.  Hit x to highlight and hit return to open.

If I can reply in less then 2 minutes or take other action to address the email in less then 2 minutes, I do.

If I can’t take immediate action.  I do one of two things.

If I can/should deal with it that day, I write it on my task list.

If I can deal with it another day, I calendar it. Under More (just above the email) I select; Create Event.  You will need a google calendar for this.  I schedule the email as a meeting on my calendar.  I might schedule it for tomorrow or next week.  Just depends on when I need to get to it.  After I deal with it, I archive the email to All Mail.  Again, don’t worry…a quick search and you will find it.  But, on the event on my calendar, is the text of the email for access there.

I do this with every email, in order, no exceptions.  Don’t skip an email and leave it in Needs Processed.

After less then 10 minutes every email is processed.  I have an empty inbox and Needs Processed label.  Nothing is getting missed or following through the cracks.  And, I’m not wasting time re-reading the same subject lines over and over.

Well, I hope this helps.

I’m always looking to improve my system.  If you have alterations, please let me know.

I’d love to hear what your think down in the comments.

Reach For Excellence By Staying In The Middle


Icarus was the son of Daedalus. They were imprisoned on an island together. Daedalus used his skills as an inventor to build wings for himself and Icarus. He used wax and string to fasten feathers to reeds of varying lengths to imitate the curves of birds’ wings.

Leadership Lesson On Reaching for Excellence Based on the story of Icarus

Courtesy of by EC_Hallex 


As they stood on the highest cliff about to take flight, Daedalus warned Icarus to fly at medium altitude.  He warned, If they flew too high, the sun could melt the wax of their wings.  Fly to low, and the sea water would dampen and weigh down the feathers.  Either way, the wings would fail and death would be unavoidable.

As any young boy would, Icarus became exhilarated once in flight. Ignoring his father’s warning, he flew higher and higher. Sure enough, the sun melted the wax holding his wings together, and Icarus fell into the water and drowned.

This story has a great cautionary lesson for leaders.

Excellence is found by a continues pursuit of providing sustainable delivery of the mission better than you did the day before.  (tweet that)

Sustainable, that’s the key.  I could grow our organization very quickly.  I have the knowledge and skill to, and I’m sure that’s the same with you.

But what good is rapid growth, without the systems and ability to maintain it over time?  In business we can’t work from a wristwatch, we have to work from a calendar.  I learned this lesson the hard way, through failure.

We should always always always be reaching to deliver the best.  But, that doesn’t mean reaching up…it means reaching out.  Like Icaras, fly to high and you will get burnt.

Here are some ways flying to high can bring an organization down:

  • Using debt to expand your business.
  • Growing by adding new staff too quickly.
  • Hiring staff without a ridiculously thorough screening and interview process.
  • Declining quality in the pursuit of quantity.
  • ??? Add to the comments your warnings of flying to high.

But wait.

Icarus was also warned about flying to low.

Here are some ways flying to low can bring an organization down:

  • Settling for the states quo.
  • Getting caught up in, “we’ve always done it that way”.
  • Buying into the praise and hype of your most thrilled customer, which will cause you to become complacent.
  • Trying to please everyone by not standing firm in your convictions.
  • ??? Add to the comments your warnings of flying to low.

As a leader, I must be ever watchful for the dangers of flying to high.  But, I must also make sure we don’t get comfortable or lazy and fly to low.  I want us to continue moving into the ever expanding horizon of our future.  I want us to use wisdom to achieve excellence.

How do you keep your organization flying “just right”?  What other lessons can you pull from Icarus?  If you disagree with me, why?

Thanks For Reading

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How to Be a Great M.O.T.H.E.R.

This is a “guest” post by my wife, Marissa. I’m so excited to have her along for the ride. Please enjoy her post and leave a comment below.


My daughter’s in a “follow me” stage, meaning she will take us by the hand, spout out “follow me” in her beautiful 28 month old way, and then pull you wherever she wants you. This is wonderful to me, her voice makes me smile, her attempts to pull an adult that’s over 4 times her size is hysterical, and her desire to share things with me warms my heart.

Image courtesy of stockimages at

Image courtesy of stockimages at


But this makes me think about my job as her Mother, I long for my children to “follow me” in life, to allow me to take them by the hands and lead them.

However, before I can expect them to follow, I must ask, “am I worthy of being followed”.

Being a M.O.T.H.E.R. is not easy, and there’s no checklist, or acronym that can contain all the things she needs to be, but I pray that this will be food for thought.

  • Be a MENTOR:: which is different than a teacher, this is more of a guide. Guides point things out, ask/answer questions and help the people that are with them. Show them how to live, remember More is Caught Than is Taught.
  • Be ORIGINAL:: I feel like motherhood in America has become a contest; who feeds the most organic, who does the most crafts, she breastfed, the list goes on and on. STOP IT MOMS, stop comparing your mothering to others. (tweet that) We are all created differently, so be the mom that God created you to be. It’s fine to do crafts, eat organic, give an allowance, or have chores, but don’t do those things out of pressure.
  • Be TRUSTWORTHY:: this means that you’ve proven you can be trusted. Don’t tell your girlfriends your kid’s secrets, remember important things in their lives, show up when you say you will, follow through on disciplines. When you show you can be trusted your kids will be more likely to listen to you.
  • Be HOMEWARD FOCUSED:: I’m not saying to be a stay-at-home-mom, but the Bible’s clear that a mom needs to make sure that all the affairs in her home are taken care of first, relationally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
  • Be EMPATHETIC:: When we put ourselves in our children’s shoes we can help, relate to, and lead them so much better. If your middle schooler is crushed because her “boyfriend” dumped her, don’t just laugh it off, think back (I can remember when Craig dumped me in 5th grade, and how much it hurt). We need to understand that they are experiencing very real emotions.
  • Be RESPECTFUL:: Of them and their father. Show your children that their dad is worthy of respect. Don’t be a bully just because you have the power, don’t be mean because you can get away with it. You kids are people, treat them with respect. **Sidenote: if you think they’re doing something wrong, rule-breaking, or dangerous, you don’t need to “respect their privacy”, find out! **

Put them all together and we have:

Homeward Bond

This is a follow up post to How to Be A Great F.A.T.H.E.R.

Update / April 9th 2013.  @MarissaDingler now has her own blog.

What would you add to the list of what makes a great mother?

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