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I look down at my hand and see the mark. It’s a reminder of my depression.

I couldn’t manage the emotions driving me down, driving me deep. I needed something to stop them or stunt them, if just for a moment.

So I took the cigarette from my mouth and pressed it against my skin. My once-soft-and-perfect baby skin, free from scar, free from scratch, buckled beneath the heat. The skin crumbled; it folded inward on itself. A sign of what was happening to me.

Today I’m years away from that season, but I still bear the mark. I suppose I always will.

Life marks us in ways we do not deserve or expect. It did for Sherry.

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Here’s what happens when your nine year-old films you during rehearsal for the Made to Pray promo video.

It’s book launch time. I’d like to invite you to the Made to Pray Open House.

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Saturday, April 20
3:00 – 6:00 p.m.
CommonPlace, the coolest new hangout in State College
115 S. Fraser Street, 16801

Drop in when you can. At :00 and :30 past every hour, there will be:

  • Book giveaways
  • Book readings by special guests
  • All kinds of other fun

Here’s the schedule:

Emcee: Steve Heinz

3:00: Doors Open
3:30: Reverend Sally Zelker (Orefield, PA)
4:00: Josh Felstead (Croydon, United Kingdom)
4:30: Prayer of Commissioning with George Bakalov (Apple Valley, MN & Sofia, Bulgaria)
4:45: Songs with Artur MacLellan (State College, PA)
5:00: Colette Heinz (State College, PA)
5:30: Janet Mylin (State College, PA)
6:00: Doors Close

On top of that, there will be snacks and books on sale during the whole time.

Kids are welcome. There will be an activity for them. Bring your friends, too. There’s no RSVP needed, but you can say you’re coming on Facebook.

I hope to see you there!

And speaking of the book launch, for the next 30 days, I’ll be tweeting quotes from the book. Follow me on Twitter.

I’ve been thinking about death lately. Before I get to that, a quick story.

My wife Colette is a hairdresser. A few times she has touched up the hair of the deceased. Well, one time Colette gave a perm to a client. A few days later, the client died.

Colette was called in to refresh her hair for the funeral. When Colette saw the client’s husband, he said, “Bad timing on the perm.” At least he didn’t ask for his money back.

It seems like death is in the air.

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cs heinz new year

As we head into 2013, I’m making some changes in how I serve you. I want to serve you better.

I’ve never been big into New Year’s changes. I mean, if they’re important changes to make, why wait until an arbitrary date—the passage from December to January—to make them?

But we hold off until the New Year so we can indulge or procrastinate a bit longer. There’s nothing magical about starting on January 1. I can count lots of resolutions I made simply because it was New Year’s. It’s no surprise they failed.

But these changes are due to some other reasons.

#1: Listen to the voice within the voice. Before Christmas I had a providential conversation with my professor friend Darrell Velegol. Gently he confronted some things in me. I could have chosen to be offended, but through my fumblings over time, I’ve learned to treat criticism as a teacher. Proverbs 27.6 says, “faithful are the wounds of a friend.”

In addition to this gift, I also read a ground-breaking book over Christmas. Michael Hyatt’s book, “Platform,” shifted me seismically. It helped me to evaluate where I’m at in ministry and plan where I want to go. Within both these conversations, I heard a voice within the voice. It identified tension I have been feeling and clarified a solution. In other words, it was a confirming voice, something I had already been hearing. 

#2: If you have the chance, offer the world only what you can. For five years, I’ve written on a large variety of topics including: current events, technology, ministry, discipleship, and family. These topics interested me and inspired me at the time. For this reason, my blog has functioned like a diary, flowing from topic to topic at my will.

But I don’t think this is best for you. With all the drains on your time and attention, you should know what you’re going to get from me. And it should be unique, authoritative, and important. I can’t do that with every topic, but I can do it with a few. My blog will center on Prayer, Power, and the Presence of God. (With that said, I reserve the right to cover pressing topics occasionally). It’ll be at www.CSHeinz.com soon.

#3: If you offer the world only what you can, do it the best you can.
I want to serve you the best way possible with the means I have available. Instead of writing once a week, I plan to write three times a week. You’ll be able to receive a blog when it’s published or a weekly digest of new blogs. I’ll aim for about 500 words. This means a redesign of the website and the way blogs are delivered.

I’ll offer a monthly webinar on different types of prayer. Register for the webinar on praise on January 7 from 8:00 – 9:00 PM ET. We’ll discuss 12 easy ways to praise God and 7 results of praise. Later in the year, “Made To Pray” will be published.

Question: As you head into 2013, what can you offer the world that only you can? You can leave a comment below.

A few reminders:
1. Make a year-end donation for our mission trip to Southeast Asia.  Your gift will help us bring Philippines slum pastors Roy and Evelyn Malpas to the conference. Worship recording artist Allan Scott is now coming with us.

2. Register for the January 7 webinar. And invite a friend. It will be better than you’re expecting.

3. You’re the reason I do what I do.

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I’ve got to brag on my wife.

Colette spoke at chapel at Grace Prep High School today and I’m falling in love all over again. She’s one of the most beautiful, sincere, and fierce people I know.

Here are some snippets from her talk:

I’m so excited to be here, I’m drinking decaf because with caffeine I’d be too annoying.

If God’s depositing in you, you need to risk.

Before we can minister for the LORD, we need to minister to the LORD.

Sometimes the only time our friends hear us say “God bless you” is when they sneeze.

If we don’t believe we can do greater works, we won’t position ourselves to do them.

Worship is supposed to be a sacrifice, but often we’re just thinking of ourselves.

For so long I have walked with an empty cup because I didn’t believe in ministering to God first.

Before you read the Word, minister to the LORD.

Worship is not about religion, it’s about alignment.

chris_heinz_senior_high_school_thumbI came across the speech I wrote as a senior in high school. That was 1995 and I was 17. Popular were the “Things I Learned…” books, so in 1995 I wrote the 95 things I’ve learned so far. Here they are in original form, that is, unedited. I still agree with most of them, although I would love to rewrite a few.

When I was assigned to write a speech about my experiences thus far, I immediately felt overwhelmed. How could I possibly include every moment that has been significant, every person that has made a difference, every little idiosyncrasy that makes me unique? I couldn’t choose just one friend and forget the others or pick one experience and blank out the rest. I had to include them all.

Probably the only thing that ties them together is the fact they’ve all taught me something. They’ve done it in their own ways, in their own styles, in their own times, but they have all left me a little wiser. While others have been floating through life I have been soaking it all in. It’s been quite a journey. So now I present to you, as a member of the Class of ‘95, the 95 things that I’ve learned throughout this journey called life.

In case you don’t make it to the end, here’s the conclusion:

It’s difficult for me to write any kind of conclusion to this presentation. I feel there isn’t much else in need of being said. However, I think we all have to take heart and think about #95: “I’ve learned that we are all as capable to teach as we are to learn.” It’s a powerful thing to interact with one another: we obtain new knowledge, which can hurt and which can heal. What we do with this newfound knowledge can make all the difference.

If it can hurt, do we pass it along, or if it can heal, do we keep it to ourselves? We can all influence the world in such profound ways. We all have special gifts and talents, experiences and opportunities meant just for us. How we will use these stepping stones is for us to choose. Will you teach and will you learn? I challenge you to decide.
– Christopher Heinz, June 10, 1995

01. I’ve learned that often I have hurt those I love most in order to impress those I love least.

02. I’ve learned that sweat is good.

03. I’ve learned that honesty really is the best policy.

04. I’ve learned that if I like myself, nothing else matters.

05. I’ve learned that parents really are on their children’s sides.

06. I’ve learned that taking your little brother out to lunch isn’t as bad as it sounds.

07. I’ve learned that not all people have good intentions.

08. I’ve learned that a lecture and a grounding won’t stop me from doing what I want to do.

09. I’ve learned that I have to be convinced myself in order to take a stand.

10. I’ve learned that most people will believe what they want to believe.

11. I’ve learned that really good friends don’t come along too often.

12. I’ve learned that burying my head in my dog’s fur is one of the best things in the world.

13. I’ve learned that being sick isn’t as bad when Mom’s home.

14. I’ve learned that I can’t stay in school all day.

15. I’ve learned that when God seemed far away, it was me who moved.

16. I’ve learned that at the touch of a girl, things don’t seem so bad anymore.

17. I’ve learned that complaining doesn’t solve anything.

18. I’ve learned that I can stare at the sky for hours.

19. I’ve learned that everyone should be a twin.

20. I’ve learned that I enjoy getting dressed up.

21. I’ve learned that the most fun occurs while doing something you can’t plan for.

22. I’ve learned that there isn’t anything worse than junior high.

23. I’ve learned that more people have dreamt they’ve gone to school in their underwear than haven’t.

24. I’ve learned that futons aren’t as fun as they look.

25. I’ve learned that a good cry once in awhile isn’t sissy at all.

26. I’ve learned that junior highers really aren’t that bad.

27. I’ve learned that the best revenge is no revenge.

28. I’ve learned that my coaches care more about me than my swimming.

29. I’ve learned that long distance relationships don’t work.

30. I’ve learned that life really is like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re gonna get.

31. I’ve learned that being a leader is a lot more than giving speeches.

32. I’ve learned that I wouldn’t mind turning out like my parents.

33. I’ve learned that first-ever paychecks are meant to be spent right away.

34. I’ve learned that of the few things this teenager does now, it’s not everything.

35. I’ve learned that even my little brother has something to teach me.

36. I’ve learned that I hate when Corl Street has a blinking red light.

37. I’ve learned that pimples are a bad idea.

38. I’ve learned that everyone should dye his or her hair sometime.

39. I’ve learned that the feeling I get after cleaning my car isn’t the same I get after cleaning someone else’s.

40. I’ve learned that mooning people doesn’t end when you hit 40.

41. I’ve learned that I should take time to enjoy the books read in English class.

42. I’ve learned that “Wind Beneath My Wings” applies to everyone.

43. I’ve learned that it feels good to receive a compliment, but even better to give one.

44. I’ve learned that if you can’t tell your parents about it, it’s probably bad for you.

45. I’ve learned that I don’t like deodorant flakes.

46. I’ve learned that people can be amazingly compassionate.

47. I’ve learned that no one has ever died from not doing his or her Physics homework.

48. I’ve learned that everyone has a past.

49. I’ve learned that “Forrest Gump” has a different lesson every time.

50. I’ve learned that children’s books aren’t really written for children.

51. I’ve learned that a lot of people are born not with a lack of will, but a lack of opportunity.

52. I’ve learned that I love to have my feet rubbed.

53. I’ve learned that I don’t enjoy shaving my body and wearing panty hose.

54. I’ve learned that the best way to my heart is through a song.

55. I’ve learned that a maroon gown never looked so good.

56. I’ve learned that we spend too much time talking and not enough time listening.

57. I’ve learned that everyone is an authority on something.

58. I’ve learned that yellow traffic lights mean “slow down,” not “speed up.”

59. I’ve learned that Eat ‘N Park really is the place for smiles.

60. I’ve learned that I can eat Pop Tarts anytime except for in the morning.

61. I’ve learned that a good reputation isn’t a bad thing.

62. I’ve learned that Physics Day at Kennywood isn’t as fun as it sounds.

63. I’ve learned that more goes on at junior high fun nights that at most high school proms.

64. I’ve learned that we are all more alike than different.

65. I’ve learned that happy teachers produce happy students.

66. I’ve learned that three months of summer pass by much quicker than three months of school.

67. I’ve learned that new sneakers are meant to get dirty.

68. I’ve learned that when people aren’t happy with themselves, they can’t be happy with anyone else.

69. I’ve learned that my lowest times in life have been the greatest teachers.

70. I’ve learned that swimming outside at 6:30 in the morning is actually a good thing.

71. I’ve learned that I enjoy helping a girl put her swim cap on.

72. I’ve learned that everyone should over-tip.

73. I’ve learned that making my dad laugh is one of my greatest joys in life.

74. I’ve learned that most people who wear sunglasses do it to look at other people.

75. I’ve learned that it’s possible to meet your future spouse in high school.

76. I’ve learned that doughnuts taste best in English class.

77. I’ve learned that everything goes with jeans.

78. I’ve learned that it’s bad to throw away incriminating evidence in an envelope with your name and address on it.

79. I’ve learned that manhood is not defined by the length of your hair.

80. I’ve learned that love is different for everyone.

81. I’ve learned that people more than twice your age can be among your greatest friends.

82. I’ve learned that I’m not a good pen pal.

83. I’ve learned that the night before Christmas isn’t meant to be slept through.

84. I’ve learned that some children are more mature than some adults.

85. I’ve learned that there are few things better than the feeling I get after cleaning my room.

86. I’ve learned that I enjoy getting mail.

87. I’ve learned that optimists live longer than pessimists.

88. I’ve learned that everyone should go skinnydipping at least once.

89. I’ve learned that people should smile more.

90. I’ve learned that “your only limits will be the size of your dreams and the degree of your dedication.”

91. I’ve learned that ghosts are real.

92. I’ve learned that gym class is a dangerous place.

93. I’ve learned that I enjoy seeing my name in print.

94. I’ve learned that every adult walked 12 miles to school in the snow.

95. I’ve learned that we are all as capable to teach as we are to learn.

Which ones resonate with you? Do you have any to add?

smart guy

Note: I wrote this article for another website. It’s not the kind I’d normally post on CSHeinz.com, but here it is anyway.

Whether you’re selling a product, message, or service, your knowledge might be killing it. I’m the director of marketing for a software company. We have advertised the same way, with the same message, for years. But because of new competition, we decided to present a more compelling and unexpected message.

A company-wide meeting was coming up, so we decided to test two ads on our employees. They were decidedly different ads—one was safe and traditional while the other was playful and provocative. We wanted to see which ad was more compelling. I was sure the hipster ad would be the winner, hands down.

But the results spoke otherwise. It was almost a tie, 16 to 14. I was shocked. Boring and predictable almost beat sleek and sexy. The nursing home almost beat the sorority. What on earth happened here?

It was the Curse of Knowledge. This concept is discussed by Chip and Dan Heath in their book, “Made to Stick.” They write, “Once we know something, we find it hard to imagine what it was like not to know it. Our knowledge has ‘cursed’ us.” This newfound knowledge now pings around in our brain, affecting everything. We are changed and can’t go back.

My coworkers couldn’t overcome the knowledge of how our company had previously advertised. They were trained in our old, steady message. And because they were trained, they couldn’t accept a new way, even if the new way was better.

(No offense to my coworkers. The curse of knowledge is as old as humanity. Remember the Tree from which the first man and woman ate? The Tree of Knowledge. You know how that ended up.)

You see the curse operating in people who have mastered certain subjects. Perhaps a man from a mining town goes to college and, against the odds, majors in poetry. After a few years, he returns home and meets his old friends for a drink. All this time, they’ve been mining while he’s been studying poetry. Do you think they’ll connect easily?

He’s been changed by color and emotion, verse and meter. He’s read the greats, Donne and Dickinson, Shakespeare and Eliot. He’s labored for days to master 14 lines, a sonnet. And his friends, they’ve been doing the same dank dark for years. There will be a language gap, wouldn’t you say? A language gap due to a knowledge gap.

But the conversation doesn’t have to end. Perhaps the man can offer value to his friends. Mines could use come color, and darkness some light. They could benefit from his outlook on life. But first they have to get past their differences.

Herein lies the conundrum. Your knowledge is a good thing. It gives you the edge. The reason you have a product, message, or service is because you have knowledge that others need. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t have value to offer. Your customers seek you out because there is a lack in their lives. Some blaring deficiency, inability, or struggle is driving them to seek answers. So they find you.

But just because they find you doesn’t mean you’ve closed the deal. Your knowledge can still kill it. You have to speak their language. Our tendency when we know something is to spout lofty talk and speak abstractly. We go deep. But the customer isn’t looking for deep, he’s looking for shallow and practical. What’s going to fix his pain? He doesn’t care about iambic pentameter and haiku. He just wants to survive.

We also skip to the end too quickly. We’ve been transformed by the knowledge we possess, and want others to change, too. So we say the punch line before setting up the story. We forget that we’ve walked 100 miles to get there, and expect others to be at mile 100 from the start. But they’re not. Transformation is a process; pain comes before healing. Eventually poetry might fill the mine, but first start with a two-line rhyme.

Here are three suggestions to help you avoid knowledge-killing your product, message, or service:

1. Remember your life before you attained your particular knowledge.
You didn’t always know what you know. Revisit where you came from. What circumstances led you to seek change? What language did you use then? What pains were you trying to solve? This will keep you humble.

2. Communicate transformation in steps.
Most likely you baby-stepped from where you came. And change will come in baby steps for your customer. Speak in language appropriate for the stage the customer is at. Start with the pain, and move through the steps. This will hold out hope in an attainable manner.

3. Interact with your customers often.
The deeper you go, the easier to lose touch with those who aren’t there yet. So connect with your customers. Dialog with them, converse, become friends. This will tie you to your audience.

You can overcome the curse of knowledge so your product, service, or message can live…and give life to others. But soft!