I didn’t know it would be the last time.
But then again, we both had lived long enough to know there are no guarantees when it comes to this sort of thing.
It was in Orlando, coming up on three years ago. Rick said he’d drive me back to the airport. We had been together during the Southern Baptist Convention. (It would be less-than-honest if I said we had been there FOR the Southern Baptist Convention). But we used the meeting there as an opportunity for a reunion of the Wolfepack. Rick was always the undisputed leader of that gang.
During a difficult time in my life, they had made sure to include me in the meeting. And it was as though we had never missed a beat. That’s the nature of the truest of friends.
Rick dropped me off at the airport to fly home. Just after walking into the terminal, I realized to my horror that I had left my phone in his car. I found a way to call it, and of course, he turned around and brought it back to me.
He took that picture of himself on it (above), and made it the wallpaper.
That was Rick.
And I kept it as my wallpaper for about a month after my wife started asking, “How long are you going to keep that?” [click to continue…]
This is an interesting time. Another school year is in the books (to coin a phrase). I don’t think I’ve ever seen more snippets from graduation speeches than I have this year. Lots of talk about knowledge, the future, credentials and stuff.
It’s also a time for remembering, especially on this day, that freedom isn’t free. What we know and enjoy today is based on the sacrifices of men and women who gave their lives so we could be free from oppressive and abusive government.
It’s a time in which we are reminded almost daily that we live in a world where people die before they’re “supposed” to, and that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness may be inalienable rights, but they’re not time-bound guarantees.
At any point in our lives, most likely, we can point to things with humble gratitude and declare, “I don’t deserve this.” At any point in our lives, we can point to things with frustration and despair and declare, “I didn’t sign up for this.” At any point in our lives, it’s a valid question to ask, “Where is God in all this?”
So in this season of talk about knowledge and the future and no guarantees and credibility and freedom, I wanted to encourage you with some reminders that have encouraged me lately. [click to continue…]
(If you never read another thing I write, before going any further, please read this short piece my daughter wrote to her children, ages 5, 2, and ten months. Click here, if you dare, and brace for impact.)
Okay. Back? Let’s get to it.
You don’t have the luxury of praying for people you love – especially your children or grandchildren – like a sissy.
The time is too short…
The enemy is too cruel…
The church is too powerless…
The Lord is too near His return…
…for you and me to sit on an arsenal mightier than a nuclear weapon and ask God to make their lives more comfortable…
Safer to whom, for God’s sake? The devil? The world? The ACLU? The media?
Stop asking God to make your little angels little angels. Or mild-mannered weenies. In the name of all that is holy, I dare you to ask God to make them dangerous. Call on Him, in the heavenly realm, to put a sword in their teeth and courage in their hearts to blast a hole in the kingdom of darkness. [click to continue…]
Can’t believe it’s been a whole year, but I got to see Walter again yesterday. We took a little ride and shared a little fellowship. It was good to catch up.
Two years ago Walter was going through a severe depression. He had been through a series of deep losses, including his job and health benefits. That’s tough enough for anybody, but at Walter’s age new careers don’t just grow on trees. I really don’t know how old Walter is, but I’m 54 and he’s a good five-to-ten past that. I have to say, though, he makes it look good.
There is none of that suicidal darkness remaining that so gripped this man just a couple of years ago. And make no mistake about it – this was no bootstrap operation. Walter is joyfully explicit about Who gets the credit for raising him out of the pit. His life radiates with gratitude and joy, even when he’s all business.
Walter is especially excited because he and his wife are meeting their children and grandchildren in a few weeks. [click to continue…]
(Sort-of-random thoughts at the end of a very long day in a very crazy week… and I DO mean crazy)
Even though I know all the reasons it’s supposed to be a bad idea, a bowl of cereal at 11:30 at night is probably the closest thing we have today to manna.
It’s been so long since I’ve heard my mother or grandmothers’ voices, yet lately for some reason I’ve found myself hearing them in my heart at random times. In fact, so random and fleeting it hardly ever becomes a point a conversation. But is it odd to wonder if their love for me is still somehow living, even though they aren’t?
You never know how you may hear that still, small voice of God. But if an idea or a person keeps coming and going in your thoughts, pay attention. That may be a whisper from heaven for you to stand strong in prayer on their behalf, or maybe to sit still and listen to them.
I remember one of the things that swore I’d never do is be a teacher. Or go back to school after I finished my master’s. In the words of the GPS system in your car… “Recalculating!” Be careful what you vow you’ll never do. That’s why lately I’ve tended to swear off vowing. Well, except for that one thing… I vow I’ll never make a whole buncha money! Never, never I say!
We used to play this game with the kids at restaurants, especially at a cafeteria or buffet. [click to continue…]
(Inspired by and dedicated to a great group of leaders I have had the privilege of working with over the last 12 weeks.)
It was a lonely life, but Jesse’s baby boy made the most of it. His brothers probably learned the same way he did, but had gone on to other exploits.
David? He was confined to the idiot patrol. He was his father’s shepherd. And it was there – alone with the dumbest animals on the planet – that David learned to be a leader.
He was alone when a lion came and seized a lamb from his flock. He was alone when a bear did the same. He was alone when he delivered those sheep from the valley of the shadow of death. And the passion, courage, and wisdom he gained there – alone – forged pathways of leadership in Israel that were still in place years after his death.
Goliath? That was just mop-up duty.
It’s true that leadership is on display when everybody else is looking. It’s also true that leadership is being forged when no one is. You may feel you’re in a wilderness, stuck making up silly songs to sing to the sheep. In fact, you may assume that your solitude or lack of position means you’re no leader at all.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Here are eight ways to influence an entire generation, even when nobody is looking to you as the obvious solution to their leadership needs. [click to continue…]
You may or may not know the name Andrew Mason. But I’ll bet you’ve heard of Groupon, the famous deal-of-the-day website where Mason was CEO.
These have been hard times for the company – nobody is denying that, and if you’re interested in the business and numbers side of it you can find it here.
What interests me is the leadership Mason showed in leaving. In an email he sent to all his employees then posted publicly (“it will leak out anyway”), Mason showed some class, humor, honesty, and most of all accountability. Take a look: [click to continue…]
Someone once complemented a woman known for her big faith in God. Her reply: “I don’t have a big faith. I have a little faith in a big God.”
How do you describe it, slice-and-dice it, when somebody’s faith “makes the news?” The Thessalonians in the Bible were such a bunch. Look how Paul describes them:
“Wherever we go we find people telling us about your faith in God” (1 Thessalonians 1:8).
That gets my attention.
In the lives of these believers, as well as in the lives of people who turned Jesus’ head in the gospels, there seems to be a difference between simple faith and mountain-moving, remarkable faith.
One thing is sure. Nobody demonstrated remarkable faith by seeking to be remarkable. [click to continue…]
It was Christmas Eve morning, I don’t know, about 12 years ago, I guess. I got up way ahead of everybody else, and for some reason had to go to the grocery store. And for some other reason I can’t remember, it wasn’t our regular grocery store.
When I walked in, I noticed that the supermarket had a case of 24 Christmas gel candles marked down to a buck apiece. On a whim, I bought an entire case of them and hauled them home.
I was inspired.
(By the way, completely irrelevant side note, but that’s just one more reason to do your Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve. Black Friday’s got nuthin’ on the bargains you can find the day before Christmas. More here.)
I got back home and everybody was still settled in to their long winter’s nap. So I went to work. I sat down at the computer, grabbed a sheet of labels, and printed 24 that read, “Thanks for the light you bring to our lives every day. Merry Christmas, The Wood Family.”
Boy, was I inspired. Click here to see what happened
If He carried the weight of the world upon His shoulder,
I know my brother that He will carry you.
-Scott Wesley Brown
It was on an old four-propeller Lockheed Constellation airplane, on an 18-hour-long flight from Tokyo to San Francisco. It was the mid-1950s. Carol Willis was just a baby and had a severe earache. To try to comfort her, her dad walked her up and down the aisle of that old plane throughout that long night. If you’ve ever traveled with ear-sensitive children, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Over the years the family nightmare became something of the family joke. Harlan – my father-in-law – would say, “I walked all the way across the Pacific Ocean carrying you in my arms.”
But the family joke also became the family prophecy and the family legacy, and it was a part of Carol’s emotional DNA. Carol spent her growing up years in Thailand, where she and her family traveled across that ocean again to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to a nation they love to this day. [click to continue…]