Insight

path(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…]

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Comforting friend. Woman consoling her sad friend.

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…]

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Clasped hands on troubled man

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…]

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Empty Tomb of Jesus at Night

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…]

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One of Laura Kate's many insertions.

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…]

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Broken Bread

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…]

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Pavarotti-Brooks

The late Luciano Pavarotti holds the Guiness World Record for the most curtain calls by a singer or actor – a staggering 165. Together with Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras, he sang in the biggest-selling classical record of all time.

When Pavarotti sang, no one sang along.  They would sit breathlessly, passively, allowing themselves to be carried away by the extraordinary power of the tenor’s voice.

“Excellent” hardly conveys the talent the world lost on September 6, 2007.

Garth Brooks is the greatest-selling albums artist in the U.S. since 1991 and the second-best-selling solo artist of all time in the U.S. His concerts literally sell out in 15 minutes. And when he takes the stage he takes his audience with him.

When Garth Brooks sings, if you don’t sing along you look a little strange. Take it from experience, if you don’t know all the words you’ll act like you do.

Excellent? Oh my yes, in a completely different way. [click to continue…]

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delete-ruthlessly

I’m not a hoarder. Really. But I do accumulate. A lot. And that applies to just about every zone of my world.

Quick check:

  • There are currently 15,993 email messages in my inbox. But that’s OK – only 7,108 of them are unread.
  • When my next-door neighbor moved out a couple of months ago, she had a whole bunch of pretty good stuff she was literally giving away – said take anything I wanted. So I did. Now it’s all in my garage, and one day I’ll get around to figuring out what all I got.
  • Right now I’m wearing a t-shirt I got in 2003. It’s still hole-less and relatively stainless, so it stays in the rotation, which now occupies two big drawers because one wouldn’t hold them.
  • Oh, and books. Way back in the day I kept up with exactly how many I had. Suffice it to say, I lost count. Now, counting ebooks, I have three libraries in three locations. And one of my New Year’s resolutions, if I had any (which I don’t) is to actually try to read some of them.
  • I have a to-do list that’s as long as your arm, but if you asked me to do something, I would most likely say yes if it were in my capacity to do it.

I could go on, but I fear that some of you who are really organized or efficient are starting to get hives, and I don’t want to cause you to stumble.

The point to all this is that I have a huge “front door” when it comes to gathering up things to do, be, and have and a naturally disorganized, balls-in-the-air approach to managing all of it.

Until I have to. Last week I had to. [click to continue…]

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Child sitting on a pier and drinking tea on a cold evening

Believe it or not, the time will come…

the realization will dawn…

your heart will rest

Because for the first time in a long time,

perhaps the first time ever,

you will know that your waiting is done.

But there you will discover another kind of waiting –

one of attending…

loving focus…

adoring and serving.

And then more than ever, it will be worth the wait. [click to continue…]

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Shut-Down“Today I spent Christmas completely alone…”
(from my journal, December 25, 1995)

Quick quiz: What do Bluebell Ice Cream, Tylenol, Rolaids, SMU Football, and ancient Judah (Israel) all have in common?

Answer: They all experienced a drastic, though temporary shutdown.

Shutdown. The word was hardly used prior to 1950. Now it’s a common part of our lexicon. It’s typically used of the government when Congress can’t seem to get together on a budget or debt ceiling limit (which in government terms is about the same as “budget”). A government shutdown, of course, is commonly believed to be a horrible thing.

Other than that, you often hear the term used to describe some sort of drastic action taken by a company. The whole state of Texas declared a state of emergency on April 4 when Blue Bell started closing its creameries – all of them – because of an incident of listeria contamination.

(If you aren’t from Texas or have never observed that state’s love affair with Blue Bell, picture shutting down football in Tuscaloosa, guns in Wyoming, or lobster rolls in Maine.)

I’ve been thinking about shutdowns lately for a couple of reasons, not the least of which was the heartburn I felt last night and the Rolaids I was gratefully chewing on (sorry Tums, you’ll have to go back to being Plan B). I have also been remembering a personal shutdown period I went through myself exactly 20 years ago. I don’t talk about it much anymore, but it still shapes a large part of who I am today. [click to continue…]

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