I don’t think I’d have to argue long to convince you we’re living in a dark world. Tune in your favorite news source and it seems that it’s a daily reminder that whatever was dark yesterday has only gotten darker today, and – get this – the only “fix” for it is to change the rules and make yesterday’s “dark” today’s “light.”
Pardon my cynicism, but pay attention to what everybody is calling “evil” today. All other things being equal, a decade from now people will openly declare it as “good” or “right” or necessary.
I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t be surprised that the world has its own answers to the messes it’s in. Even now, in the United States of Iowa, one Democrat and 72 Republicans are mixing it up with the locals, presenting themselves as the light of the world.
I think you know better. [click to continue…]
Chances are, you instinctively know how important and powerful a little encouragement can be. Now there’s scientific evidence worth paying attention to that’ll back that up.
This was reported yesterday in Fast Company. A recent study published in the Basic and Applied Social Psychology Journal suggests that the more detailed and specific an adviser expressed confidence in a student’s potential for success, the more likely that student would be to take action to pursue that success. [click to continue…]
You entered our world today, December 18, 2014, and may I just say, you didn’t disappoint! We fretted a little that we wouldn’t get here in time from Alabama, but like the gentleman you already are, you politely waited for us arrive, then for good measure took a few more hours for everybody to get their bearings. Then in the fullness of time, you let it be known that you were large (our largest grandbaby yet), loud (probably the loudest, too), and in charge!
Other babies have been born on this day, but only you can claim to have a sister who’s the Sasster. In a world of brothers and all-boy cousins, she’s the only girl, and I think she sorta likes it that way. I know she loves being your big sister. “He’s just adorable,” she said when she saw you for the first time. And no, I don’t know how a first grader knows the word “adorable,” but she can probably also spell it, parse it, and say it in German, Spanish and Swahili.
You’ll learn the ropes from your brothers Shepherd and Fischer soon enough. And yes, that frightens me just a bit. That’s all I’ve got to say about that.
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I once heard someone say that every Christ follower is a missionary or a mission field. And when you cease to become a missionary – that is, a functioning ambassador for Christ – you become someone else’s mission field. Whether that’s true or not, one thing is certain: every believer has been given the mandate to impact other lives positively for a living Christ and His gospel.
Yes, that means you, even though you most likely don’t consider yourself a missionary in the classic sense of the word. But I want to remind you that you quite likely stand on the spiritual shoulders of a first-century Apostle who had this to say:
For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).
This man dedicated his life to sharing a message of hope, grace and forgiveness for one purpose: winning. But not winning in the sense of producing a gaggle of losers in his wake. No, he said winning meant that those who heard his message became fellow partakers of the good news. That meant an ongoing relationship. And when you read the letters Paul wrote, you see that he did that very thing… he kept “partaking” in the gospel with them… showing them its implications, giving and receiving its encouragements.
So what about you? Who are the potential “fellow partakers” in your world? Who are the people you are uniquely positioned to influence?
Before you give me that “aw shucks” kick in the dirt or your eyes glass over, let me show you three ways to answer that question. Answer these three questions and you’ll find three fields of influence in your life: [click to continue…]
Wrote a letter of recommendation the other day. That in itself is nothing unusual – I do that often and have done it for years. I often joke with whoever I’m writing it for that after I’m done I need a bath, or a priest or something.
“I’ve already lost the boots… I’m just trying to save the hat!”
But we both know I’m joking, and that I would never be deliberately dishonest – that would eventually catch up with them and me.
But between that and the opportunity I have to preach this weekend (here, if you are in the Mobile, Alabama area), I’ve been thinking about relationships.
(Preaching moment: Your life is the sum total of your relationships… with God, with others, and with yourself. As your relationships go, so goes your life. Okay, I’m done.)
This morning I was thinking about that reference letter, and about another one I wrote a couple of months ago. That one didn’t have to do with a job application, and it wasn’t even requested. I saw a friend and colleague’s LinkedIn profile, and spontaneously wrote a letter of recommendation for his professional practice. It was honest, heartfelt, and a total surprise, really to him and me both.
It was also a wonderful relationship builder. [click to continue…]
Ever have a conversation like this?
Whatever happened to ________? I really thought he was going places.
Not sure. Ever since [insert a distracting or demoralizing event] he never was quite the same.
I’ve witnessed countless scenarios like that one. I even lived out a few of them.
The idea of leadership is that you’re influencing people, formally or informally, to move together toward a certain goal. If it were easy, anybody could do it. But because you’re dealing with people, and because leadership often involves matters of the heart, it’s easy to find yourself sucked into leadership quicksand.
At best, it’s a distraction and you lose focus.
At worst, it can paralyze and ultimately destroy your influence.
Here are 10 sloughs to avoid (or get out of today) to allow your leadership to see another day: [click to continue…]
A lighthouse in a harbor stands on solid ground,
Declaring simple truth to all who would see.
“Here I stand,” it calls to the ocean.
“No wave formed against me will ever prosper…
I bow at the mercy of no storm or sea.”
On a firm foundation the Lighthouse in the Harbor
Refuses to surrender, sound the retreat or compromise.
It stands in simple splendor, against the tide.
Though it may show signs of wear and aging,
Though it may look unimpressive to untrained eyes,
The Lighthouse in the Harbor yet still stands upon a rock –
And you… yes, you… are that Lighthouse in the Harbor. [click to continue…]
Today my mother would have turned 76 years old. She passed away suddenly four years ago – a reminder to anybody who’s paying attention that there are no guarantees in this life.
Like anybody whose life has touched another for that long, I have lived long enough myself to see Mama’s mental, emotional, and moral DNA flowing throughout my own and my sister’s life, as well as through the lives of her grandchildren and now seven (soon to be 9) great-grandchildren.
We had our points of disagreement, some of them quite loud. We also had hours of conversation – some of them way past bedtime. And like Abel in the Bible, I love the fact that long after her life here was over, she still speaks to me today.
Give her a chance, she’ll speak to you, too. Here, in no certain order, are the life lessons I learned from her. [click to continue…]
“What is the secret of your life?” asked Mrs. Browning of Charles Kingsley; “Tell me, that I may make mine beautiful too?”
He replied, “I had a friend.” -William C. Gannet
It was 18 years ago this month that I came to this place… this place of tumbleweeds and dust and amazing sunsets and more amazing people.
It was nothing short of surrender. I had given up on me – the “me” of my own making or imagination, that is.
My friends in Atlanta asked, “Where are you moving?”
“To hell,” I replied. “If the world was flat, Lubbock would be on the edge of it.”
But oh what I discovered when I showed up as a shell of the man I once was. Most importantly, I discovered that God was here all the time, waiting so patiently for me to get here. [click to continue…]
Nobody who takes on a leadership role sets out to blow it. I’ve never heard of a CEO who dreamed of halving his market share, a pastor who fantasized about getting the right foot of fellowship, or a government leader who longs to go from hero to zero.
But leadership failure happens. Often. And while it can happen quickly at times, usually there are warning signs. Unfortunately, most of the time we wait for hindsight to convince us of what foresight and insight have probably been hollering all along.
If you’re a leader, or have the ear of one, you may want to pay attention to these seven warning signals before it’s too late. [click to continue…]