I never laid eyes on you before.
Never had dreams come true before.
But there’s always a time for a new beginning.
Our multiplied sorrow now is through.
And all of the waiting’s over, too.
And it’s been worth it all, for this new beginning.
And who is like the Lord, who turns my mourning into dancing,
And holds all things together, in His hands?
He whispered, “Let there be…” and He began the world all over.
But this time He laid its future in my hands.
(Unfinished song I started 30 years ago today, when my baby girls were born)
Your life is an adventure in starting over.
You may prefer maintenance mode. You may want to pretend that you’re in perpetual motion. You may claim to be too old, too successful, too far along, or too [insert excuse here], but the fact is, your entire life is a collage of cycles and rhythms.
And that involves starting over. [click to continue…]
It all started with that “Welcome to Mobile” sinus headache.
Ever go to bed with a mild ache that says, “You should probably address this before you get in bed?”
Yeah, about that.
I had this dull ache that turned into an evil roar at 3:30 in the morning. Sinuses. Head. Neck. Attitude. Everything was in pain.
I didn’t want to wake people up, and didn’t have a lot of options, so I tried taking a shower. That’s when my wife came in to see what was up.
Did I want some pain medicine, she asked?
Boy, did I.
Now I should mention that the “pain medicine” she referred to isn’t your basic over-the-counter pablum. This was he-man stuff… soon I’d be pain-free and loving everybody.
I should also mention that it isn’t wise to take this on an empty stomach. Bad things can happen. [click to continue…]
Another semester has passed, and in the transition to summer school, I’ve been reminded again that some of the most powerful expressions of language often come from people who are just trying to get an A in a class.
I shared a collection of seven profound insights I gained from students here. Today I thought I’d take another swipe at it.
Read these slowly. Enjoy the insightful use of words and truths. This is good stuff… Click here – you’ll be glad you did…
You can get yourself in serious trouble for using the “B” word in some places. Easy girls, I don’t mean that one. I’m talking about balance.
I know several people, in ministry of all places, that come out with guns blazing when people start talking about the search for life balance or balancing the demands of ministry vs. family and all that. “It’s compromise!” they declare. “You give all you’ve got to everything that’s important,” or something like that.
I know some other people who sincerely are trying to keep all the plates spinning. They’ve given up on excellence (sadly) – they’re just looking for survival at work, avoiding bankruptcy, and keeping their kids out of Juvenile Detention. “Balance” for them would be to somehow crawl out of those holes and get back to ground level.
Soon after I wrote that last post on diligence in leadership, I was reading some assignments for a class I teach, the subject of which was life balance. About 90% of them lamented something to the effect of “I stink at this!” Some of what I read broke my heart. Most of these people are mid-life, mid-career professionals who are in – or are headed for – ministry. They have kids, parents, congregations, a full-time masters-level school load, and usually a full-time job to go with it. And here, on Easter week, for crying out loud, we were asking them to write about balance.
All that has my wheels turning and my mental oven preheating. When something’s still in the oven I like to advertise it, so consider yourself warned. What follows is half-baked and still in the oven. But if you’re struggling to find some balance to your life and its multiple demands or feeling guilty because you just can’t seem to keep all the plates spinning, then call a time out.
Put these ideas in your oven and let ‘em bake for a while and tell me what comes up. [click to continue…]
One of the most charming words in the English language is the word “promise.” Do you realize that so much of what we experience, of what we know about God, of our spiritual maturity, and of our success or failure in the Christian life has something to do with how we respond to the promises of God? Check this out:
Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God (2 Corinthians 7:1, NLT)
We do not want any of you to grow slack, but to follow the example of those who through sheer patient faith came to possess the promises (Hebrews 6:12, Phillips).
And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires (2 Peter 1:4, NLT).
To put it simply, we are People of the Promise. So let me get nosey a minute. What are you trusting God to do today that only He can do? Where is the evidence in your life that God is keeping His word to you? What is there about your life that can only be explained by the faithfulness of a loving God?
The original card-carrier for People of the Promise was a man named Abraham. And we can learn some things from his example. [click to continue…]
There come those times in the life of every Christ follower when we are faced with a set of choices. These aren’t salvation issues – far from it. But they are faith issues. Growth issues. Issues of maturity and usefulness and power.
One of those choices has to do with your strengths, or areas of confidence. It has to do with whether you will acknowledge that even in the places where you’re an outright genius, God may have a better idea. That maybe – just maybe – He’s even smarter than you are.
Another has to do with just the opposite – your areas of fear or insecurity. Will you be willing to leave the predictable, the safe, and the orderly to do something completely unprecedented if Jesus calls you there? Even if the people closest to you are telling you you’re a complete fool?
Still another has to do with having courage in the wake of failure. Will you believe the testimony of grace that Jesus declares over you, or will you give failure the final say in your life?
It all comes down, friends, to what you do with your boat. [click to continue…]
In his classic book, The Friendship Factor, Alan Loy McGinnis gives the following characteristics of a good listener:
1. Good listeners listen with their eyes.
2. Good listeners dispense advice sparingly.
3. Good listeners never break a confidence.
4. Good listeners “complete the loop” of communication.
5. Good listeners show gratitude when someone confides.
That certainly works in your relationships with people. But it’s also an opportunity to remind you that the God of Heaven invites us into a friendship with Him. In some ways, the things Dr. McGinnis has to say about listening well to other people can translate into listening to the Lord. Based on his wise advice, let me offer a few suggestions for being a good listener in the spiritual realm: [click to continue…]
During World War II a South Sea Islander proudly displayed his Bible to an American GI. “We’ve outgrown that sort of thing,” the American replied.
“It’s a good thing we haven’t,” smiled the native. “If it wasn’t for this book, you’d have been a meal by now!”
Do you ever find yourself feeling restless or uncomfortable when you hear someone else quote the Bible in public? Do you find yourself at times living like the American GI, as though you’d “outgrown that sort of thing?”
The truth is, you never outgrow your need for the word of God because you never outgrow your need for the voice of God. Ever since the days of Eden, however, the enemy has tried to stand between us and our most authentic source of life.
Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Why is it so important to hear God speak? [click to continue…]
“In Paris they simply stared when I spoke to them in French; I never did succeed in making those idiots understand their language.” -Mark Twain
In communication, clarity rules.
But logic is only one way people make sense of things. [click to continue…]
Yeah, quiet. You ask how I am… I’m quiet.
In what way? Are you upset?
No. I don’t think so. Just quiet.
Worse ways to be, I guess.
I suppose so.
And what brought you to this place of being so quiet?
I guess it all started with this sense of yearning – of longing for something more in my walk with the Lord.
That’s a good thing.
Sure, ‘til I realized what’s in the way.
Which is…? [click to continue…]