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…]
The world is full of complex, overwhelming problems.
It’s also full of all sizes and shapes of problem solvers. [click to continue…]
Janie had an appointment with God. And the Lord didn’t show up. He’d always been pretty good at keeping the times Janie had set for Him – mostly in the little things like daily blessings and answered prayer. But this was a big one, and the Lord didn’t keep His end of the bargain.
See, Janie just knew that God was going to give her a husband, and she knew who it would be. Chuck was obviously God’s choice for her… how else could she explain all the little coincidences, the magic feeling in her heart, and even those confirming verses she read in scripture.
Apparently, however, the Lord forgot to clue Chuck in on the plan, and the big guy had plans of his own.
Janie was devastated. And more than that, she was bewildered. She had been so sure in her heart. But somebody missed God, or God missed somebody. And the result? Janie’s appointment with God ended up as a dis-appointment.
Same thing happened to Chuck with regard to his career, though he wouldn’t call it that. To Chuck it was more of a calling. [click to continue…]
Wanna get away? Want some great in-flight entertainment? Just take a trip with your favorite three-year-old. And try making a list of all the questions you hear. Here, hot off the press, is a partial sampler from a flight we took this past Friday.
What’s amazing is how many of the questions are the same when we’re 33 or 55. We just develop questions behind the questions as we get older. The rest of this is written by Mr. Cohen Thomas (he just doesn’t know it yet)…
Why are we not going?
Are we going down?
[After passing through the clouds] Where is God?
Are we almost to Disney Wouwd? (World)
What’s that button for?
Why are we not going to Grandma and Granddaddy’s house?
Are we almost to Disney Wouwd?
Why are we going to be there tonight?
Why? [click to continue…]