Archives For Top Tens

Heaven’s Lessons

June 24, 2014 — Leave a comment

If you haven’t read this yet, go for it.

Know someone who is skeptical about the reality of heaven? This might be the book for them.

Top Tens – Gadgets (I couldn’t live without about two years ago for today’s info go to my TechStuffBuzz page)

I hesitate to call these gadgets; the word implies frivolous. These are serious tools for getting work accomplished efficiently. At least that’s why I’ve included them on this list. I admit I’m more of sucker for electronics than most, but my experimenting might save you some time and trouble. They are really more like cool tools. If you are a pastor and have some room in your budget I would not hesitate to invest in any of the following tools to make myself significantly more efficient.

Trade in your Pilot and your cell phone for a Treo 650 !
I’m on my 15th Palm device (I counted and I started early). Treo-Handspring came out with a combination device a couple of years ago that wasn’t very practical. I bit on that one, but it never worked all that well with my Macintosh computer even though it promised to do so. The new Treo works like a charm. It does email (using any POP 3 account which is most accounts), goes onto the web with ease, and does what any of the other high end phones do these days. On top of this the 650 has Blue Tooth features which are very nice. On top of all of that, your Palm Pilot is built into the phone.
When I first started using it I kept thinking that I was leaving something behind. I wasn’t leaving anything behind but some of my complication.
Cost: About $450 with activation.
I use Cingular service because it has about the best coverage plan across the US.

Radio Shack Variable Speech Control Recorder
(about $80)

Listen to audio books on cassette tape? I listen to several books a week and one or two sermons. This little player allows you to speed up the tape while lowering the pitch allowing you to listen at about twice the speed. Sounds excessive, but it works once you get in synch with it. I recommend you listen with headphones to eliminate distractions.

Olympus Auto Reverse Micro Cassette Recorder
(about $55)

I think that every Christian needs to have a micro-cassette tape recorder. I use mine on a daily basis – actually several times a day. I use mine to capture devotional thoughts that I later transcribe into either my journal or my computer depending on which is appropriate.
As an author I capture my thoughts for upcoming articles and books on my micro-cassette. Thoughts come at odd times – usually when I’m not trying really hard to think. Often when I’m driving or vacuuming or mowing the lawn – when my internal “metronome” slows down enough that I can hear the voice of the Holy Spirit speak to me clearly. When that clicker goes from 120 beats per minutes to 20 or 30 b.p.m. I almost always begin to hear from Him. My creativity is unleashed. Mindless activities do that for me.

When I am prayer walking – going through the local mall, asking God for new ideas for outreach, asking God for new ways to invade our city, he will almost always speak to me in new and exciting ways that I have never thought of before. During those times I can’t stop to write things down on a piece of paper and I am almost sure to forget what I am hearing from Him after a few minutes. That’s a perfect application for the micro-cassette recorder.

You may look a little odd walking about the mall speaking into a cassette recorder, but these days people look odd in general speaking into their earpieces that are wireless. As a whole, we increasingly look like a society of certifiable loons! Just join the club with enthusiasm!

Apple / Mac 17” Laptop
(with current set up plus 1 gig of RAM about $2,800)

I have been a “switcher” for about three years now. Before I converted to the Mac I had gotten to the point where I was crashing several times a day with simple applications like Word. From what I have been told by other Windows users my experience wasn’t completely unique. I can honestly say that since converting to the Mac OS I haven’t had one crash. I love the huge screen – large enough to place two pages side by side. I recommend you get the Apple airport in order to go wireless in your home or workplace.

I am evangelistic about a number of things in my life other than Jesus. Guy Kawasaki books, BMW motorcycles, and Mac computers to name a few of them. I count my “converts.” I have seen 31 leave the world of Windows and switch over to the lighter side of the Force!

I recommend while you are buying this you pick up the teacher-student version of the Microsoft Suite – that is, if you have children or you are a student yourself. It’s a good deal at $149. It allows 4 applications.

The new operating system is Tiger and it is phenomenal. It is the latest edition of Mac’s OSX. It is built on Unix like all of the other OSXs. It is rock solid. In the 3 years since I have switched to Mac I have not had one crash – literally. Not bad considering that I was having a crash every few days with Windows before. My friends who are still slugging along with Windows tell me that they are crashing in spite of their best efforts to keep things on the up and up and do all their upgrades on a nearly continual basis.

Bottom line: There is just no comparison between Mac and Windows. If you are serious about getting work done with a minimum of headaches and a maximum of your creativity then you’ve simply got to switch over to the Mac system.

Thank you Steve Jobs for changing the world. Thank you for changing my world and making things so much easier and for making things more sensible.

Last thought: I particularly like the 17” PowerBook because it is large enough to display two documents side by side at the same time. When you write a lot or when you are doing a lot of spread sheets that can be very helpful. I use that feature on a regular basis. The battery life is surprisingly good!

Apple Computers is now changing their name to simply Apple thanks to this little device. The iPod is the massively popular MP3 player. Before I go any further, I must admit, that I am so smitten by this little devise that I have several of them! I have given away a number of them to family and friends who were in need of a lift in life. It comes in a very cool looking shell that looks like other Apple products – it bears an amazingly close resemblence to the Apple iBook. I mostly use the 60 meg iPod Photo which allows one to store up to 25,000 photos as well as music galore. This is ideal for me to carry my portfolio around with me to show to people who want to see my digital photographic work. The battery ain’t bad either – over 12 hours on one charge. Available at many electronics stores, at any Apple store, and online at I got mine at the bleeding edge technology level price but now they are quite affordable at something like $450 for that model in particular.

I do recommend a few accessories to go along with this wonder. If you travel pick up the Bose noise canceling over the ear headphones ($299 – You’ll arrive at your destination stress free and calmed down after wearing one of these during your flight. Get a good case that straps onto your belt. There are many to choose from. Just choose “iPod Case” on Google and you’ll find many. If you want one that takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’ check out the line of cases. Lastly, check out the Altec portable speaker system that comes complete with a remote. It recharges your iPod while it plays songs at a pretty high volume and surprisingly deep bass. The Altec also runs on 110v as well as 220v if you travel around the world now and then – something I do on a regular basis.

Belt clips (available at Best Buy, Radio Shack, etc.)
What does one do with all those wonderful electronic devices? Clip them on your belt but of course! For about $5 a piece you can pick up these interchangeable clips that work for everything from your cell phone to your wireless mic to your variable speed tape player to your, well, you get the idea. I know, you’re thinking I must look like Lloyd Bridges filming an episode of Sea Hunt. Maybe so, but I’m ready for anything!

Leapfrog Communication Products Pace Setter Time Manager (
Ever had trouble keeping to your speaking time limits? This little tool might be a big help. It either rings or vibrates at two points during your talk then gives you a double ring (or vibration) when your prescribed time has expired. Also has a built in clock. It clips on to your belt, of course. This little tool has literally been the biggest help in making my talks better and more succinct than any single discovery in all of my years of speaking. I think it is a necessity for anyone who is concerned about keeping his or her talks on time and on track with their audience.

NOTE: If you have any cool products that you think would fit nicely on my handy cool tools page please forward them to me at Thanks for looking out for me!

Top Tens – Top Tens (of all time!!!)

Top 10 Ways You Know You’re in a Bad Church

Steve Sjogren 10. The church bus has gun racks
9. Staff consists of "Senior Pastor, Associate Pastor, and Socio-Pastor"
8. The Bible they use is the "Dr. Seuss Version"
7. ATM in the lobby
6. Services are B.Y.O.S. — "Bring Your Own Snake"
5. Choir wearing leather robes
4. No cover charge, but communion is a 2 drink minimum
3. Karaoke worship time
2. Ushers ask "Smoking or Non-Smoking?"
1. The only song the church organist knows is "Innagaddadavita"

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Top 10 Ways You Know You’re Having a
Dysfunctional Family Christmas Dinner

10. Your brother says to you "Hey, what are you doing here?"
9. After opening presents, everyone gathers around the piano and sings Louie Louie.
8. The eggnog is sugar-free, low-cal, fat free, low sodium…and spiked with Ex-Lax.
7. Some one gave Uncle Bob a gun for Christmas…and he works at the post office.
6. It’s at a bowling alley.
5. The Nativity has all Star Wars action figures in it.
4. The garland on the tree is made of carefully woven cigarette butts.
3.Your family actually fights over who gets the fruitcake.
2. A guard knocks on the door & says "Visiting hours over in 5 minutes."
1. Dad forgot the pizza again this year.

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Top 10 Worst Father’s Day Gifts

10. A tie. Any tie. Any size. Any shape. Any Color.
9. Annual replacement underwear.
8. Richard Simmons’ "Sweatin’ to the Oldies" Workout Video.
7. Anything with "Old Spice" on it.
6. "A Day at the Madison" gift certificate.
5. Soap on a Rope. Why?
4. An unmarked brown paper bag with Rogaine in it.
3. Martha Stewart’s "Better Living with Tofu Cookbook".
2. The Complete John Tesh CD Collection.
1. Potpourri for his sock drawer.

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Top 10 Rejected Easter Songs

10. Cadbury Fields Forever.
9. I’m So Egg-cited.
8. Hop This Way.
7. Chocolate Haze.
6. I Started a Yolk.
5. I Want to Hold Your Ham.
4. Theme from Hare.
3. Sheepslidin’ Away.
2. Hard-Boiled Days Night.
1. Hareway to Heaven.

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Top 10 Ways to Finish Your Fast

10. 6 words: Cheez Whiz, Cheez Whiz, Cheez Whiz
9. Steve takes you out for a blob of tofu…and you like it.
8. Taco Bell–and none of that "Border Light" garbage.
7. Spam, sour cream dip, hamburger, Twinkies…and a blender.
6. Ponderosa buffet–"Get the sneeze guard outta the way and gimme a fork!"
5. Stop drooling around Skippy, your pet hamster.
4. Skyline 17-Way–with a side of Cheez Whiz.
3. Buy a shirt in the bookstore–"I fasted for 3 days and all I got was this lousy t-shirt."
2. Drive 85 mph through Norwood, get pulled over by cops, and ask where the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts is.
1. 347-1111.

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Top 10 Ways We Can Relieve Overcrowding
at Vineyard and Stay in this Building

10. "A through F, Saturday 6pm Celebration. G through L…"
9. Steve starts a 47 week series entitled "What would Jesus say to Art Garfunkel?"
8. Take home really cool virtual church helmets–now available in the bookstore!
7. New sign out front: "You must be taller than Scooby Sjogren to enter."
6. One word: TICKETRON.
5. Convince neighbors to let us do pre-school ministry in their homes.
4. Change church motto from "Come as you are, you’ll be loved" to "Come when you want, we’ll be here!"
3. Replace chairs with cramped airline seating.
2. Every week show Bengal highlights from last year.
1. New Monday Sunrise Service!

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Top 10 Returned Christmas Gifts
from the Pastors at the Vineyard

Steve Sjogren 10. Fruitcake on a Rope
9. "A Very Yanni Christmas" CD
8. Columbia House Potted Meat-of-the-Month Membership
7. Men of Opera Swimsuit Calendar
6. The "Tickle Me Elvis"
5. The Complete BeeGees Anthology
4. A Chia Dave
3. Anything with Old Spice written on it
2. Personal Seat License at the New Facility
1. One Sylvia Stayton "Get Out of Jail Free" Card

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Top 10 Signs You’re a Shopaholic
(some of these were re-worked Letterman items)

10. You get a daily wake-up call from Sears.
9. In his state-of-the-union address, President Clinton thanks you for spurring economic growth.
8. Everybody knows your name at the Vineyard free gift wrap booth–and you don’t even go to the Vineyard.
7. Your last four serious relationships were all with mall cops.
6. You’ve dropped but somehow you continue to shop.
5. Your family puts your picture on milk cartons.
4. You come to all six celebrations when you discover the new overflow section in the bookstore.
3. In a private audience with Pope John Paul II, you ask "How much for the big hat?"
2. You were really convicted by the book "12 Steps for Shopaholics Anonymous"–so you buy eleven more.
1. Visa blisters.

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Top 10 Signs of Spring in Cincinnati

10. The sound of birds hacking in Norwood.
9. Marge Schott comes out of hibernation.
8. Tree buds, tulips, & orange barrels.
7. Annual Easter egg hunt at Mount Rumpke.
6. Steve seen cutting grass in madras shorts and black socks.
5. Vineyard starts a new celebration…Oh wait…that’s every other month.
4. Old pigeons return to Fountain Square from Ft. Lauderdale…and they’re wearing white belts.
3. Only two inches of snow.
2. It’s still warmer than Dayton.
1. Two words: YOU CAN’T!

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Top 10 Things You Don’t Want to Hear
at Thanksgiving Dinner

10. More Cheez Whiz?
9. Joey, get your finger out of your ear and pass the rolls!
8. We had the same stuff last year…Wait a minute–This is the same stuff!
7. Food Fight!!!
6. Welcome to Burger King…
5. Can I have the toothpick when you’re done?
4. Turkey, Shmurkey…Pass me a Slider.
3. Pull my finger.
2. Does this look infected to you?
1. One word: SPAM

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Top 10 Favorite Songs about Thanksgiving

10. "I Want to Hold Your Yam"
9. "These are a Few of My Favorite Wings"
8. "I Can’t Get No Second Helpings"
7. "Give Peas a Chance"
6. "Red Butter Ball"
5. "Cranberry Fields Forever"
4. "Feelin’ Gravy"
3. "Take It Greasy"
2. "We’re Off to See the Gizzard"
1. "Inna-Gobble-Da-Vita"

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Starbucks Top Ten DrinksStarbucks is my second office. I am at one of the Cincinnati locations at least once a day meeting people. I find that the atmosphere created over some form of caffeine is great for conversation. Since I am ADD, drinking coffee for me is literally doctor’s orders!

Here is a list of my favorite drinks at Starbucks. Maybe they will stimulate your imagination a bit on your next visit there.

Thanks to my daughter Laura for the help with drinks. She is a Starbucks aficionado.

The “Body for Life Solution”
Soy Latte with Sugar Free Vanilla
–if you are on the Body for Life program.

The “Frozen Pick Me Up”
Coffee Frappochino with extra shots of espresso

The “Healthy Contradiction”
Soy Mocha

The “Pick Me Up”
9 shots of espresso; 10 sugars; venti Americano base (espresso and water) with room for cream

The “Contradiction”
Venti extra mocha, extra whip cream, skim mocha

The “Adkins Latte”
Venti single shot latte made with steamed shipping cream with whipped cream on top.

The “Hippie Favorite”
Grande soy, sugar free vanilla, extra hot chai latte in a mug for her – no paper wasted today!

The “Children’s ADD Therapy Drink”
Grande extra brownie, extra vanilla syrup, extra whip, vanilla crème Frapuccinno (no coffee)

The “Put Me to Sleep”
Grande 140 degree vanilla steamer (just syrup and milk)

The “New Yorker”
Venti traditional and 3 shots of espresso… flipping the bird upon receiving of drink is optional 😉

Top Tens – Movies (worth seeing)

DISCLAIMER: The movies listed below are not necessarily movies that I can scene-for-scene recommend. When I view a film that has a disturbing scene or two I tend to walk away and forget the specifics that offended me and capture its essence more than the particular specifics. You may view one of these movies and find it somewhat offensive and if I were with you I might agree with your assessment. I offer you this list as an adult to other adults. Honestly I don’t know what each of their ratings are. I have viewed films rated PG that offended me – and I have seen others rated R that didn’t bother me. (Perhaps the film rating system is imperfect?)

I offer this list because I am frequently asked what movies I have enjoyed. Here’s a shot at such a list. Sorry in advance for ones the I left out or included that you don’t approve.

It’s a Wonderful Life
This film is in a class by itself on this list. I have seen this movie at least one hundred times and don’t consider a minute of viewing time wasted. It is a classic because it captures the notion that all of us are significant beyond what we realize. I’m not an overly emotional person, but I cry at several points each time I view this movie.

Wizard of Oz
How could someone from Kansas not have this near the top of his movie pick list? I’ve watched it at least once a year. The music is great. The choreography is lively. Best of all, the Wicked Witch of the West no longer scares me.

Citizen Kane
I know, it looks corny to have this on the list, but I seriously like it. Get past the Rosebud stuff . Pay no attention to the scoffers and you will enjoy this one – trust me.

Buckaroo Banzai – across the eighth dimension
A funny, off the wall sci-fi flick that I find hilarious. If you are like me you probably won’t get it the first time through. I recommend you watch it at least twice before passing judgment. In addition to a great story line, it is filled with actors who made their debut here and went on to fame in other movies. This film may be hard to find because it is currently out of print. My hope is that it comes out on DVD before long.

Rear Window
The Birds is for the birds compared to this one. Undoubtedly Hitchcock’s best flick. The casting is outstanding. The story line is Alfred’s greatest. To top it off it was recently redone with Dolby sound and the color touched up.

I watch and have watched a lot of movies – in my humble opinion this is one of the most powerful films ever made. I can’t watch it without being moved by the courage of the African-American soldiers depicted in this true story from the American Civil War.

Pay it Forward
This is the best servant evangelism recruiting film ever made.

It didn’t get great reviews, but since when have reviewers recognized a redemptive movie when one was staring them in the face. I’m downright evangelistic about this one.

This academy award winning film is a powerful story of redemption. There is some violence, but that follows with the theme of the Roman soldiers. I think this movie could be used as a recruiting film for budding leaders because it so wonderfully captures the idea of the servant-doing leader.

Raising Arizona
This is one of the funniest movies of all time. It’s done by the Cohen brothers, so it’s definitely a dark comedy. Don’t take offense at it, laugh and have a good time. I don’t necessarily recommend all of the Cohen brothers films, but this is their wittiest and most profitable to date.

Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?
Another Cohen brothers film so, of course, it’s a dark comedy. There’s a story of human will and the desire to overcome the powers of the lower human nature that runs throughout the movie that make this movie hilarious.

Blade Runner
This dark, futuristic film is loaded with actors who were previously unknowns, but went on to big roles in Hollywood. It’s intense, but the music is great and the story is riveting.

Apocalypse Now
Do not watch this one if you are in a funk. Most film reviewers regard this as the best Viet Nam movie – I agree. This infamously dark flick powerfully captures the plight of humankind who face life without a personal relationship with God – at least that’s how I interpret it.

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