Principle of Freedom

I was talking to a friend recently. He’s at something of a crossroads. Ready to move forward, but stuck where he is. Wanting something different, but not sure how to define it. Caught somewhere between disappointment and desire, he hears the lament of the Grouse.

That’s a voice I’m all-too-familiar with. And I suspect you’d say the same thing. When I hear the Grouse speaking, the voice sounds exactly like mine. And when you hear its moody whine, it sounds like yours.

The Grouse often sounds logical. Sometimes fearful. Sometimes it takes on a protective, caring tone; at other times it mocks you. Sometimes it whispers, sometimes it sings. And sometimes it screams like a spoiled child.

Crazy thing is, nobody can hear the Grouse but you. But it’s as real as Minnesota snow in January.

The Grouse is an internal voice that stays quiet so long as we play it “safe,” and never attempt to change anything. But let a man dare to dream in the wake of big disappointments, and out comes the Grouse. Let a woman turn her wishful thinking into bold action, and the Grouse will start sounding the alarm.

The goal of the Grouse is to get you to do nothing. Stay comfortable. Don’t offend anybody. Avoid disappointment at all cost. Don’t embarrass yourself or make anybody else uncomfortable either.

Just. Don’t. Change. [click to continue…]

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If you’ve been knocked down, get up.

If you’re too tired to take another step, but you’re not “there” yet, press on.

If your heart’s been broken, your trust betrayed, find an anchor for your soul and dig in. [click to continue…]

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God has ways of doing things.

His ways are different that our way of doing things.

There’s a way that makes sense to us, but the results are disastrous.

But God has different ways.

And He asks us to walk in all of them. [click to continue…]

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and in the wilderness where you saw how the LORD your God carried you, just as a man carries his son, in all the way which you have walked until you came to this place. (Deuteronomy 1:31)

You thought you were walking.

You thought you were slogging on, one trudging step at a time.

You thought the miles were your miles, your blisters and callouses also.

You thought it was your unpleasant surprises.

Your frightful experiences.

Your daily grind.

But you may have missed another viewpoint… one rooted in a higher story. [click to continue…]

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It’s been more than 40 years, but the scene hasn’t changed all that much.  Downhill run, dirt road, just north of the family farm.  Back in the day I was driving my Granddaddy’s pickup and my grandmother was in the passenger seat. I don’t remember the occasion, but most likely we had taken Lucy or Dot or some other domestic help back to their house, and we were headed back.

Just as I cruised down the dirt road, flexing my pride in the manly art of driving, the pickup slipped off the road into a shallow little ditch.

“Ditch” is too harsh a word.  More like a little soft trough where rain water would gently ease down the hill. Really wasn’t that big a deal.

“Oh, no, we’re stuck,” Grandmother said immediately.

Ridiculous!  It wasn’t deep, we were doing downhill, and all I had to do was give it a little gas, turn the wheel, and…

Well crud.  We were stuck. [click to continue…]

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It’s one thing to be in shape to be led to still waters and green pastures.

It’s another to be ready to charge the enemy’s camp through the valley of the shadow of death.

We don’t mature to make our lives easier or more comfortable.

We mature to become wiser.

Fight smarter.

Recognize danger before it attacks. [click to continue…]

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They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden (Genesis 3:8)

The nature of the shameful is to hide from God when we sense He’s moving toward us.

The assumption of the fallen is to assume that the Great Unfallen would not pick us up. [click to continue…]

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Interesting question came across my radar last week. Ashton was in a room full of worship leaders for a nationwide series of summer camps. For 8 weeks they will be leading the same songs, doing the same things, week after week. Her question:

What advice would you give to us on how to remain renewed and refreshed every week? How do we not get into a cycle? Even when it is week 4 for us and we have sung the same songs every week… how do we fight that?

It’s a valid question, and the Fuge worship leaders aren’t the only ones who face it. The truth is, everybody in spiritual leadership has the task of “handling the holy things” week in and week out. Ashton’s “holy things” may be music and microphones. Yours may be a Bible or a lesson plan. Someone else’s may be the routine schedule of meetings you attend or lead. Regardless, Christians gathered in the name of Christ for any reason have an occasion to invite and expect His presence.

Until we don’t.

Until we drift into a routine or rut – what Ashton calls a “cycle.”

Now it’s time for this. Next – that. Then back to this. Then the other.  Before long, not only can we get bored with the whole thing, we telegraph that boredom to the very people we’re supposed to be leading.  As a result, the “gospel” no longer feels like “good news” and we lose our sense of wonder and gratitude.

(If that sound a lot like your Sunday morning experience, I’m sorry. But I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to remain that way.)

My response to Ashton was one of those things that startled me with how fast it came. (That’s usually a sign that I didn’t originate the answer.)  The key to avoiding the rut:  Play, Stay, Away, and Pray. [click to continue…]

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Highway

Imagine your life as various points on the highway.  Fast Lane, Slow Lane, Shoulder, Ditch.

And at any given time, in any given area, you can be in one of those four.

Living in the Fast Lane means you’re getting where you’re going. You’re fulfilling your purpose.

In the Slow Lane you have a lot of movement, but you never quite seem to get there, wherever “there” is.

On the Shoulder, your “engine” is running, but you’re not moving ahead at all.

In the Ditch means you’ve crashed or are stuck, and without help you aren’t going anywhere.

Having punched my card in all four locations, I can tell you we’re all a mixed bag. You can be idling on the shoulder in one area, cruising in another, and crashed out in a third. So let’s break it down a little more. [click to continue…]

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see,speak,hear no evil

Don’t miss the miracle.

Don’t get fixated on the “only one way” to find light and life and healing and power. Don’t let the miraculous wonder pass you by while you wait for things to be done your way, or the way they’ve always been done in the past.

Listen for the call.

Hear the voice of compassion.

Let faith arise and take Him at His word.

Step boldly in the direction of your dreams and His power.

Find glory in a Father who doesn’t abide by your limited expectations. [click to continue…]

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