From the category archives:

Insight

(A Conversation)

Crossroads

You’d think by now I’d have this down.

Have what?

Making decisions and finding God’s will.

Is that what you mean by “being at a crossroads?”

Yeah, I have some decisions to make, and it’s kind of a mixed bag.  Some really good things and some really challenging things, either way I go.

Okay…

But I don’t want to just do what I want to do. I want to do God’s will.

As opposed to your will?

Yes.  I know that he speaks through my desires.  But even that’s mixed up right now.

And you need Him to sort all that out for you?

Yeah.

Sorta like those neon arrows on the highway at night that say, “Stop here?”

Boy, wouldn’t that be awesome? [click to continue…]

{ 5 comments }

PainCharles is nothing short of an odd combination.  He’s an immensely popular preacher and pastor, having preached to more people than anyone else on the planet, with the exception of Billy Graham and perhaps a couple of others. Yet while he rarely shows it, he’s a physical mess.  He suffers from rheumatic gout and kidney disease, and there are days he can’t even leave the house because of the excruciating pain.

His wife is a mess.  This woman, whom he loves dearly, has disabilities of her own, and this weighs heavily on Charles.

His finances are a mess. Despite the reach of Charles’ ministry, a sober look at his books reveals an ugly secret: the man is broke-down broke. 

His relationships are a mess. [click to continue…]

{ 3 comments }

inflated gloveThe stress you feel is proportional to the amount of control you have over a situation.

That sounds very intuitive, but there’s a spiritual contradiction to that.  More on that in a minute.

Here’s an example of how that idea works out in the natural.  A month ago I go to the doctor and he says my lipid levels are high.  I roll my eyes and say, “same old same old.” I don’t get stressed about it because there is something I can do to correct it.  Anyway, I’ve been hearing that for 30 years.

When he sends me for another test and I find out my heart calcium score is high, almost in the danger zone, again, the first thing I do is look for something I can do about it, because I have a steadfast belief that I can do something about it.  So I’m motivated, but not stressed.

Same thing goes, even when I’m told I’m a Type II diabetic because of my lifestyle choices in the past.  Well, crud.  But I can do something about that by making different choices (and by the way I am making different choices and seeing wonderful results).

But when the doctor says I have a narrowing in the arteries at the top of my heart and he “wants to take a look at it” with an angiogram, and oh, by the way, if there is a significant enough blockage he may put a stint in it, suddenly he has crossed the line of my control.

Hello stress. [click to continue…]

{ 2 comments }

Magnifying GlassesI have found someone who’s interested in you. In fact, He’s downright fascinated by you, and apparently wants you to know it.

He also happens to be the One who created you.

And He’s so crazy about you, He just can’t take His eyes off of you.

Here’s what David said when he discovered this powerful truth:

O Lord, You have searched me and known me (Psalm 139:1).

As I read this verse a couple of days ago, I was prompted to read between the lines a bit of what the Greeks called perfect tense.

O Lord, You have searched me, and I remain thoroughly searched. You have known me, and I remain completely known.

This is not the idle curiosity of a God who is fascinated by what He doesn’t know or hasn’t figured out. It’s the love interest of the One for whom the highest expression of love is to accomplish a thorough search and display a complete understanding.

Have you ever loved the beauty of a rose so much that you studied every inch of it? Have you ever been so captured by the rhythm, melody, harmony and lyrics of a song that you played it over and over again, just to hear something new? Have you ever studied a riveting photograph or painting, poring over every detail out of deep appreciation for the artistry involved?

That… [click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

CoachQuick question:  What do Tiger Woods, Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and Rafael Nadal all have in common?

Quick answer: Other than being in the top tier of their games, they all have a coach. Back in the day, it was often said, “Even Michael Jordan has a coach.”

How about you?  Do you need a coach? Do you have one?

The short answers are yes, and yes.  Everybody needs coaches and you have them, whether you realize it or not. You may not be utilizing your coaches to their maximum potential, but you’re most likely following somebody’s guidance. And in just a minute I’ll show you how to recognize who you turn to for coaching, at least on an informal level.

But first, a word from the Lone Ranger… [click to continue…]

{ 4 comments }

Stained Glass JesusWe used to have this set of biblical art prints – four of them – that were gifts from dear friends.  The art was good, but now more than 15 years later we laughed at the fact that the characters – Jesus, Mary, a couple of others – all had “80s hair.”  It was feathered, layered, shoulder length, and looked blow-dried fresh out of a salon.

Jesus seemed to have it all. He was hip, compelling, with a laser gaze right at you and his hand reaching out in such a way that you just couldn’t say no.

Mary was, well, I don’t know how else to say it… she was hot.  In a holy sort of way, of course.  If they had mani-pedis back then, no doubt this version of Mary was just back from one.

I don’t know who the artist was, but I’m sure he or she was probably tired of all those sissy-looking Renaissance-era paintings of Jesus who looked as though He just had his nails done, and wanted something different.  More reflective of the styles and cultures of the artist’s day, by the time we got them, they were very dated.  We wound up hanging them in our laundry room. Not quite sure why. [click to continue…]

{ 5 comments }

NotebookGot caught last week.  I’m talking deer-in-the-headlights, flat-footed, let-me-know-if-I’m-drooling caught.  All with a simple question.

I was having lunch with a friend to told me he got caught flat-footed with a question he didn’t have an answer for.  “So I thought I’d ask you the same question.”

Gee, thanks, I think.

The question:  What are you looking forward to right now?

Huh?

Say that again?

What are you looking forward to?

“Duh….”

“I know, right!” he said gleefully.

I was coming off a couple of weeks of intense work, up until about 2:00 every night. I was in head-down, just-get-it-done mode.  Who has time to think ahead?

Precisely.

I had no clue how to answer that because I wasn’t looking forward to anything.

Enough about me.  How about you?  What are you looking forward to?

I’ve had some time to think about that question a lot since then.  Especially since Cassie, my daughter, came over the same night with her planning notebook for the Disney trip we’re all taking this Christmas, adorned with vintage Mickey on the cover.

I should probably confess here that my “anticipation” of a Disney trip for 11 people somewhere has the words “legalized theft” in it. But that’s beside the point.

The point here is that she’s living the trip now and we’re still nearly four months out. She’s already picked out the restaurants where we’re dining, gotten detailed maps of the whole Magic Domain, logged onto the advice sites as to how to avoid the long lines and all that.

In short, Cassie has her A-Game – her anticipation game – at least when it comes to Christmas this year.  And she was pretty inspiring to me to find my own.

Here’s the bottom line:  [click to continue…]

{ 4 comments }

Broken RoadThis is a story about a father and son.

About a pathway to prosperity and strength.

About how that pathway separated them, then brought them back together again.

It’s a story of shattered dreams, unspeakable grief, profound loneliness, and the ultimate family reunion.

This is the story of the Broken Road, and how God used it in two people’s lives to rewrite history – theirs, and yours.

Psalm 105 contains an interesting description of the father, Jacob:

Israel also came into Egypt;
Thus Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham.
And [God] caused His people to be very fruitful,
And made them stronger than their adversaries.

Sounds simple enough.  But let me ask you a question. If you were going to write a plan to get somebody to a place of fruitfulness and strength, how would you script it?

Start with a dream, maybe?

Then a few targeted objectives?

Maybe a good strategic plan, with a collaborative partnership or two?

Throw in some hefty funding, maybe some high-dollar training, and a few little victories to establish momentum, and you’re on your way, right?

That’s not exactly how this story went down.  [click to continue…]

{ 2 comments }

IMG_7524I love photography for two reasons. First, I love capturing light and images and special moments that I can share and re-live. The one to the left is a recent sample.

Second, taking pictures puts me on the right side of the camera.  As long as I can stay away from that nosy lens, I can imagine that I actually look the way I do when I look at myself in the mirror.  No awkward angles. No unflattering poses. No ruthless inventory of how I really look.

The same kind of thing happens in the spiritual realm. There are plenty of ways to pose so that we get a flattering, but dishonest look at ourselves.  That’s unhealthy for two reasons. First, it can put us in denial of something that can really hurt us in the long run. Second, it can produce shame that blinds us to our great, great value to God and to the world.

How would you like a strategy for taking an honest inventory of your heart and soul?

Wait.

Maybe I should phrase that a different way…

Do you need a strategy for taking an honest inventory of your heart and soul? I don’t really care whether you want it or not.

Here are eight questions that can turn the lights on in your spiritual life.  They can be used alone or together. You can go through them in 15 minutes, or an hour, or an entire day. The questions are based on Paul’s energetic series of charges to the Thessalonians:

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:16-22).

Take a few minutes or however long you can. Get alone with a journal, legal pad, or an electronic tablet and write down some notes based on your first response to these questions: [click to continue…]

{ 1 comment }

American 1Of all the nations who have drawn some borders and set up shop, perhaps none has a shorter and more mixed (some would say mixed up) pedigree than the United States.  If the planet was populated by nothing but dogs, we’d be the mixed breeds – the hardy, loveable mutts who may not be able to point to a long pedigree, but will probably live the longest, love the hardest, and fight the fiercest of anybody in the pound.

To be an American is to be a delightful, maddening mix of contributions and contradictions, possibilities and problems.  We’re a living demonstration of what can happen when you let “the help” run the kingdom.

To be an American is to believe in the power of the people.  Your people, that is.  It is to believe that authority resides in the will of the majority, even though at any given time the Commander-in-Chief was elected by less than 21% of the population. Or if that doesn’t work, maybe power can reside in the rulings of some Federal judge who can see things your way until the majority gets with the program. [click to continue…]

{ 6 comments }