Marvin and Dick were brothers and business partners. Best friends too, if my suspicions were correct. Well into their retirement when I first got to know them, I caught them both together one afternoon when Dick was in the hospital. There Marvin was perched in a chair beside his bed and they were visiting.
“Come on in,” Marvin said. “We’re closing the books for the day.”
Turns out, through all their years in business together, every day at 5:00, the two would get together and evaluate the day’s business and plan for the next. They called it “closing the books.” This had become such a habit, when they entered their retirement years, they kept the practice going.
I’m pretty sure a cup of coffee was involved. But regardless, day in, day out, every day at 5:00, these two men would meet together and “close the books.” Even if one of them was in the hospital.
How about you? Do you have a way to “close the books” on your day? [click to continue…]
Lately it feels as though you’re doing a tightrope dance with the devil himself. He seduces you like an angel of light in one ear and shames you for all your failures in the other. Your life feels, even smells like a sulfurous war zone and it sure seems as though the casualties are piling up. But in the quake and the fury, there’s one and only one thing you need to know…
God’s got this. All you have to do is trust Him. And say “thank you.”
Like a broken cash register, your money drawer only seems to open when it time to shell it out to somebody else. From disaster salesmen to debt collectors, everybody’s standing with an outstretched hand. There’s always another reason to fret over this thing called The Economy, and even a box of Girl Scout cookies feels like a sacrificial charitable donation. But in the fear and loathing-, there’s one and only one thing you need to know…
God’s got this. All you have to do is trust Him. And say “thank you.” [click to continue…]
(Fumes, Form and Fashion, Part 4)
Phillip and Amanda are an item. Second marriage for him, first for her. Two kids together. Christians. Raising the family. Paying the bills. Doing life.
And they’re both exhausted. It’s more a case of life doing them.
Phillip, as mentioned here, is nearing 40 and finds himself yearning for a return to more structure and discipline that kept him in shape, both spiritually and physically.
Amanda, as mentioned here finds herself choking emotionally and desperate for some sort of life-energizing change.
They each have a sincere faith in God and are committed to each other. They each are mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted.
They need to hear the voice of God in a fresh way.
They both, but especially Phillip, need to go back to the basics.
They both, but especially Amanda, need a change in scenery, starting with that internal scenery we call vision.
And they both are on the cusp of something new and exciting.
And unbearably stupid. [click to continue…]
(Fumes, Form, and Fashion, Part 3)
Suffocating. That’s how Amanda describes it. No, the office walls aren’t literally closing in on her. She isn’t fighting with anyone at work, home, or anywhere else. In fact, everything is really calm. Predictable. Safe. Consistent.
Or, to hear Amanda describe it, boring, ritualistic, depressing. Yes, suffocating.
Everything on the outside speaks of steady in an unsteady world. But something inside the 33-year-old wife, mother, and loan processor at the local bank is screaming for something new. Different. Something alive.
Amanda needs renewal.
What she may not realize is that with the urge to resurge, she’s standing at a dangerous fork in the road. More on that in a minute. [click to continue…]
(Fumes, Form, and Fashion, Part 2)
Something in the woods near his grandfather’s farm seems to call to Adam. Ever since he was a little boy and his dad took him hiking or hunting there, this is the place where Adam, now a father himself, returns. It doesn’t happen nearly as often or nearly enough these days. After all, Adam has responsibilities and stresses, and there never seems to be enough time.
For Phillip, it means a return to old disciplines that kept him in good shape throughout his 20s. Now pushing 40, the problem for Phillip isn’t knowing what to do. It’s finding the will to actually do it.
Jacob follows the trail of his biblical namesake. Just as the Lord called the patriarch back to Bethel – a place where he had previously encountered the Lord – so also Jacob is sensing a stirring to return to a place of spiritual life and growth he has known in the past.
Each of these are examples of a powerful and important tool of renewal and restoration, regardless of who you are. But this is particularly true of men. It’s why you often hear football coaches talk about “going back to the fundamentals.” The biblical language mentions things like “remembering the former days.” Check this out: [click to continue…]
I got chided a little this morning for good reason. Some desperately hurting people had written comments to this post, sharing the depths of their pain, fear, frustration and even torment, and I had failed to respond to any of them.
And though it’s a little foolish to lump the hurts of people all together in one reply, I did. You can find this response also in the comments section there (#10 added later), but I thought I would share it with a larger readership with the hope that maybe it would be an encouragement to you or someone you care about. God knows it isn’t the last word on pain. It’s just what I’ve learned through some of my own.
Below is my reply. [click to continue…]
It was the revival that almost never was. It took place in New York City, back in the late 1800s. By then the Salvation Army, under the leadership of William Booth in England, was becoming a global force. Two young officers had been dispatched to the U.S. to establish a work in New York, and nothing was working. Frustrated and tired, facing nothing but hostility and opposition, they sent a telegram to “the General,” requesting that he close the mission.
They received a two-word reply: “TRY TEARS.”
They did. [click to continue…]
For the last 2,000 years people from all over the world have staked their futures around two events that, for them, represent the most transforming experience in history. I’m referring to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
One of the most compelling proofs of the power of those two events is in the changed character of Jesus’ followers. Talk about Jekyll-and-Hyde! This ragtag group of crazies went from cowering wimps to a fearless army of witnesses with a single message: Jesus lives.
These people didn’t wait until the resurrection to believe in Christ. But they experienced a profound change in their faith when they encountered a living, victorious Lord.
So will you.
Even today it’s possible to know in your head that Jesus is alive, but live as though it’s still Friday night. In other words to believe in Jesus as though He were dead. So how can you tell the difference? Here are five signs you’re living on “Friday night” faith: [click to continue…]
One of Laura Kate’s many insertions.
Take a gander at my seven-year-old granddaughter’s impressive collection of books and you’ll find something very interesting. In volume after volume, page after page, she has drawn a picture of herself.
Ask her why, and she’ll reply, matter-of-factly, “I wanted to draw myself into the story.”
This isn’t just about a second-grader’s imagination. It’s about an entire culture. Laura Kate is just one poster child among millions who have quietly (or not-so-quietly) gone about rewriting the rules for just about everything, from entertainment to technology, to politics and even religion.
I wanted to draw myself into the story. [click to continue…]
Imagine with me.
You’re an actor, and your dream is to land a role on the Ultimate Stage – a place where your talent can be on display for the entire world to sit up and take notice. A role that can lead to even bigger and better things. You don’t have to be the star. You just want to be able to show your star power.
The script: Interesting. It’s a modern retelling of a famous scene from the Bible – the time when Jesus fed about 4,000 people with seven loaves of bread and a few fish.
You’ve been summoned to a callback audition and informed you have a spot in the play. That’s all you know.
Can you imagine the excitement? The anticipation you’re feeling? This is what you have dreamed for, wished for, prayed for, and endured a lot of questions and unhelpful go-be-a-teacher suggestions for.
You. Are. Going. To. Broadway. [click to continue…]