Insight

The Twelve Pathways to Christmas, Chapter 7:  The Way of Warfare

(This is a reprint from a previous post and a chapter in my book The Twelve Pathways to Christmas. See below for how you can purchase the book and help support missions.)

December 23

The first thing Ryan Fisher felt when he awakened was an obnoxious cold wind, pelting his face with sleet.  The searing pain coursing down his legs and across his chest further aroused him.  Opening his eyes, he saw movement outside, but the angle of his SUV in the ditch made it difficult to tell what was happening.  One thing was sure – the distant siren and flashing lights were for him.

Another thing became certain pretty quickly.  Assuming he lived, Ryan Fisher would spend Christmas alone.  There’d be no plane to catch, and nobody boarding a plane back to Birmingham.  Not in this storm.

It was the end of the day from hell, punctuating the week from hell, capping off the year from hell.  And now, freezing and in shock, Ryan Fisher closed a mental door.  He was done. [click to continue…]

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Uh oh…

Somebody lost touch with their “Y.”

When you lose your “Y” something else seems missing, too.

Somebody offers a solution: “What’s missing is a B!”

So your J-O-Y becomes a J-O-B. [click to continue…]

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Navigating the turbulence and cross-winds, whether in life, work, or play, means mastering the art of the pivot.

To pivot is to change directions quickly in response to a new set of circumstances.

New opportunity? Pivot.

Setback?  Pivot.

The beauty of the pivot is that those do it well make it look as though it were completely planned all along. [click to continue…]

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Jillian is a successful realtor with a proven track record and dozens of happy clients. She has been with the same national franchise for seven years, but lately is rethinking that relationship. She has received an offer from a competitor and, at the same time, has endured some unwelcome changes in her firm.  Is it time for Jillian to jump ship?

Billy is a young pastor. A firebrand communicator who has led his first church to significant growth in the 18 months he’s been there. But he’s beginning to encounter some resistance there. And at the same time other larger churches are bombarding him for his resume. Is it time for Billy to bail?

Steven works for the local chapter of a national non-profit who boldly advertises the degree to which they care for suffering humanity. But Steven sees a different side – one driven by ruthless management, questionable financial decisions, and huge employee turnover. At what point does he decide there must be a better way to change the world? And how does he know that the next organization won’t just be more of the same? [click to continue…]

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…for we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).

You and I are flex-fueled vehicles.

We are equipped to move forward,

powered either by confidence in the living God

or by what makes sense to us logically, emotionally, or sensually at the time.

There is a difference…  A massive difference.

What’s in your tank?

Here’s how you can know… [click to continue…]

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Opportunity Clarity Action

So Jesus said to them, “For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes (John 12:35).

There is clarity (Light).

There is opportunity (a limited time).

There is action (walk).

Clarity without opportunity calls for waiting, not walking.

Opportunity without clarity calls for caution and connection.

When clarity and opportunity converge, this calls for action. [click to continue…]

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A.W. Tozer, in commenting on the difference between a yesterday and a today faith, wrote this:

We habitually stand in our now and look back by faith to see the past filled with God. We look forward and see Him inhabiting our future; but our now is uninhabited except for ourselves. Thus we are guilty of a kind of [temporary] atheism which leaves us alone in the universe while, for the time, God is not. We talk of Him much and loudly, but we secretly think of Him as being absent, and we think of ourselves as inhabiting a parenthetic interval between the God who was and the God who will be. And we are lonely with an ancient and cosmic loneliness.

Your capacity to believe God is the gateway to a life of power, usefulness, and joy. And yet during his earthly ministry, nothing caught Jesus by surprise more than the “people of God” or so-called “believers” not believing – living with that cosmic loneliness that Tozer wrote about.

“Where is your faith?” He would ask. [click to continue…]

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Broken Mirror

Here’s one that’s sitting on the edge of Cliché-ville…

“Do you believe God has forgiven you?”

“I do.”

“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…]

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Baby Ready

He’s this year’s first round draft choice. The Player to Be Named Later.  If you’re keeping score that’s number nine for us, and the eighth boy in a row.

Yep. It’s Baby Maybe season, and the landing gear is down.  He can be here at any time.

Now the official due date is sometime around the end of the month, but all indications point to a potential early arrival.  So we’ve made ourselves ready to go when the word goes forth.

We’re living with a sense of imminence.  And it’s affecting every part of our lives. [click to continue…]

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Standing at the Door

(A re-examination of a previously-published post from 2007)

It was a poignant conversation that probably ended too quickly. I’m sure it called for a little more tenderness and empathy than I was offering at the time.  But hey, at least it was honest.

“I was saved at age 6, and Spirit-filled at age 9,” she said plaintively.  “Now I don’t even know there is a God.  How do I get my faith back?”

I blurted out an answer that distressed more than blessed…

“You start by showing up.”

I’m sure that wasn’t the answer she was looking for. But I still think it’s true.

When it comes to peace or healing or restoration or growth, human nature has a tendency to self-destruct.

How?

By isolating.

Withdrawing.

Withholding or running away from the situation.

The myth is that:

  • Church is for people who have God all figured out.
  • Marriage is for people who remain magically in love and intimate.
  • Financial planning is for people who have all the money they need to do what they want.
  • Friendships are for people who never get disappointed by other people.

It may be time for a healthy dose of reality. [click to continue…]

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