It’s the elephant in your room. It may well be the first thing that people who know you think of when asked about you. But maybe it’s been a part of your architecture so long, you’ve put a lamp shade on it and called it decorations.
I’m talking about something all of us have. The things we wish were different, but check back with us five years from now and our “elephant” is still there. It’s what I call our PWGA. The Problem that Won’t Go Away.
You may refer to it in different language. You may use words like “weakness,” or “cross to bear.” By now you may address it as the “same old same old” or as I did once in reference to my New Year’s resolutions: “Oh, you know, the usual.”
For many people, their PWGA is something that is heart-rending. Something they’ve asked or even begged God to fix, heal, or otherwise change. And yet the PWGA remains.
For other people, a PWGA is a problem requiring a solution they aren’t willing to apply. I know two words that can fix some people’s PWGA: “I’m sorry.” Or their nuclear cousin: “I was wrong.” But that’s too high a price for some people to pay. They’d rather live with the problem.
Some people have PWGAs that they are convinced have solutions. But they haven’t yet found those solutions and don’t know how to leverage their relationship with God to address it.
By now you probably have one or more of your own PWGAs floating around in your mind. Hold that thought. I want to introduce you to another guy. [click to continue…]
Once upon a time, long ago a man was sent on a mission. His responsibilities were clearly laid out and for a while he kept them. But one night he went for a walk and found himself lost.
And in the domain of a foreign kingdom.
He was hungry. He was tired. He no longer had the resources provided for him by those who sent him. So he asked for help from the kingdom where he was a trespasser.
That didn’t go well. [click to continue…]
(First Things First Edition)
Every day you and I make choices that reflect not just what we say is important, but what truly are the prime movers in our lives. Hopefully our choices line up with our stated values, but we all know that isn’t always true.
That why it’s refreshing to be reminded every once in a while to put first things first. And I have no finer teachers than my students, who often blow me away with the quality of their writing.
If you’re new to this thread, let me catch you up. I’ve graded tens of thousands of papers or projects that were nice and decently written. But every once in a while someone captures a phrase or goes off on a riff that gets my attention because of the quality of the writing or the urgency of the point. So I started keeping a file of Favorite Student Quotations.
Every once in a while I like to share seven or so of those with my readers. Consider yourself blessed and highly favored. Hear the challenge from some pretty awesome writers to keep first things first and remember what is most important.
You can thank me later. [click to continue…]
Here’s one that’s sitting on the edge of Cliché-ville…
“Do you believe God has forgiven you?”
“Have the people involved forgiven you?”
“I think so, yes.”
(Pregnant pause…) “But have you forgiven yourself… (more pregnant pause)?
I don’t mean to poke too hard at this – it’s a valid concern. I know plenty of people, myself included, who have become experts at beating themselves up for past failures. I have some vivid memories dating back many years that I can re-live with detailed emotional horror, usually followed by the out-loud words, “Stupid, stupid, stupid!” I sure haven’t forgotten those things. Does that mean I haven’t forgiven myself?
What about the person who isolates from others in the name of solitude, or who lives like Mister Achievement, as if he’s making up for lost time or in some kind of race? Is that what self-forgiveness looks like?
It sounds good to ask the soul-piercing question. But how in the world is somebody supposed to know in truth that they’ve actually forgiven themselves? [click to continue…]
Look behind you.
Not literally; behind me right now is the back of a chair.
Metaphorically speaking, look behind you, and you’ll probably find somebody following you. They may be following your instructions, following your example, or even following your dreams. They may be following your words and images on social media, but that’s not the same thing.
Look beside you and guess what? You’ll find people following there, too. They may position themselves more as friends or colleagues, but they make sure to stay in your orbit. In NASCAR they call this “side drafting.” And people are probably side drafting you, whether you realize it or not.
Let me pause here to roll my eyes and tell you – again – that even if you don’t think of yourself as a leader, you are. Everybody influences somebody. Somebody looks to you as the person to obey, the example to follow, the partner to collaborate with, or the sense maker in their times of uncertainty or confusion.
That leads to the Big Question then… Where are you leading them?
All you need to do to find the answer to that question is look ahead. [click to continue…]
(But I’ll Bet You Haven’t)
It was a harsh and hostile time, filled with great uncertainty. Public favor seemed to rock back and forth. One minute they were praised and celebrated, and the next they were vilified. A generation earlier a ragtag cast of characters had electrified the world with the testimony that Jesus Christ, who had been crucified outside Jerusalem, had risen from the dead and was alive to this day.
But what started in a supernatural flurry of worship and wonder soon turned ugly. [click to continue…]
I wasn’t going to do it this year.
I was tired. Really tired.
Frankly a little lost.
In a year filled with sorrows, disappointments, and a little health scare of my own, I had about decided to forego the attempt to frame this year around a central theme – my one word. (You can read more about the idea as a substitute for New Year’s resolutions here.)
Previous years saw themes emerge such as Lean, One, Advance!, and Renew.
Cynical candidates for this year included such cheery themes as Coast, Surrender, or Vegetate. Nothing else really seemed to resonate, so I had decided, despite a couple of really good suggestions from my daughter, to pass this year. That’s when I decided to take a walk yesterday.
And about the same time the Holy Spirit seemed to whisper, “Yes. Walk.” [click to continue…]
As your heart gathers around memories of Christmases past and delights of Christmas present, as the busyness and stillness collide in something called “holiday,” I pray that like all those involved in the first Christmas, this would be a day of wonder for you.
I pray you would embrace joyfully the beauty of mystery – knowing that the mysterious is a cousin to the miraculous – and you are gloriously free from being able to explain everything in 140 characters or having to control any and every outcome. [click to continue…]
One of my many “therapists” who came into the hospital room.
That was different.
It’s one thing to waste time. Save time. Time to stand still.
I’m making up for lost time.
I seem to have misplaced about four hours last week. Oh, I lived it. And was pretty agitated about it. I just can’t remember it.
TIA, they called it. Which led to an MRI, an EEG, and a hospital with a big FEE.
I crack myself up.
That was not exactly how I had planned my day to be. But life – and LifeVesting – has a way of throwing curves. And those curveball experiences are their own version of sowing and reaping.
Let’s start with the reaping. [click to continue…]
This photo from December 2013 – People scatter rose pedals during an interfaith graveside memorial service.in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
Suppose you were hosting an event for a crowd north of 1,400 people. Where would you have it?
That’s a pretty serious venue. Unless your name is something like Biltmore, you can probably scratch the back yard or dining room off the list. But hey, your local hotel ballroom may fit the bill. Depending on the nature of the event, a few church houses or large theaters or auditoriums would work.
When was the last time you were part of a crowd that big? I was there a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve got to tell you, it was noticeable. Parking was a bit of a challenge. The venue was a little crowded. The energy was palpable. Lots of noise and excitement.
And no, I’m not referring to a Black Friday sale at Walmart.
But I want to tell you about a different kind of assembly. One where 1,430 people came together and hardly anyone noticed. Parking wasn’t a problem. Noise wasn’t an issue. In fact, all was deathly(!) quiet, at a venue that was shockingly small.
The location: a mass grave. [click to continue…]