Insight

Compassion

Most Christians live as if Jesus doesn’t get it.

Sure, He can create the universe and conquer unseen demon hordes.

But apparently He’s clueless about your money, relationships, or dreams.

Forget the fact that He called Himself the “Son of Man” 81 times.

When it comes to really understanding, Jesus appears out of touch at best…

Stupid at worst. [click to continue…]

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Shadows

“What I’m about to tell you is true. You need to change and become like little children. If you don’t, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Anyone who takes the humble position of this child is the most important in the kingdom of heaven. Anyone who welcomes a little child like this one in my name welcomes me” (Matthew 18:3-5, NIRV).

What started as an argument over greatness ended in one brief demonstration.

The greatest, Jesus said, was the one who humbled himself as a little child.

What’s the difference between that and typical adulthood? [click to continue…]

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(A Brief Conversation about symbols and change and heritage and hate and other awkward things…)

What’s wrong with it?  It represents who I am.

It also represents some things you don’t want to be.

It’s my heritage!

Some would say it’s hatred. [click to continue…]

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Grandpaw and Archer

(My dad with Great-Grandchild #9, Archer Wiley)

 

I’ve been simmering on this for a while, and I figured since I’m away from home this Father’s Day, this would be a good day and a good way to honor my dad.  My daughter Carrie did this for me last year and reposted it again here.   I also wrote this about what I learned from my Mama last year.

Regardless of the many influences and teachers I’ve been blessed by over the years, none of them has taught or influenced me more than my dad. I have mentioned often that I was blessed to have a father who actually wanted to be a dad and influenced me to want to be one.  With 8 grandkids of my own now, I would say that desire has definitely passed through to another generation.

There are many practical things my dad taught me over the years, including how to drive a nail, play dominos, put on a jacket without bunching up your sleeve, ride a bicycle, and bathe the 36 different body parts that need cleaning up every day.

But what interests me most are the ideas that still speak to me today as principles.  These are transferrable to almost any endeavor. I could just as well title this, “Ten Things My Dad Would Teach to Pastors,” or “Ten Things My Dad Could Teach to School Teachers.”

So here, in no certain order, are ten lessons that still speak to me most every day.  I’m sure there are many more than this, but these are for starters.  See if they don’t speak to you on some level, while my daddy says, “Your welcome!” [click to continue…]

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elisabeth-elliot-missionary

Elisabeth Elliot is one of the most impactful writers I have read. She was always on my bucket list of people I hoped to meet one day.  We’ll now have to plan for that in glory, as she went into the presence of Jesus two days ago.  I thought I would share with you something from her book Loneliness about the subject of waiting.  The writing is hers; the editing is mine.  Thank you, Elisabeth, for being one of my lifevestors…

Many times in my life God has asked me to wait when I wanted to move forward.

He has kept me in the dark when I asked for light.

To my pleas for guidance His answer has often been, “Sit still, My daughter.”  [click to continue…]

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silhouette man kneeling sadness praying full length

I’m going to ask you a series of “first impression” questions.  The goal is to have a good answer without thinking or analyzing too much.

If things like this make you anxious, relax.  You’re in complete control here.

You may want to really put some legs under this exercise by writing down your answers somewhere.

Okay, ready?  Give your first answer to the following questions. [click to continue…]

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Isolation

Some of the most profound lessons in life can only be discovered face down in a proverbial ditch.  And that’s where I found myself about 25 years ago.  My career was crumbling. My family life was devastated. Whatever influence I had was waning quickly.  My dreams were being shattered.  I was a complete failure privately, and was about to be exposed as one publicly.  And for the moment, it was right where God wanted me to be.

There as life was crashing in all around me, I asked the Lord one of the most life-changing questions I could have asked, and He was gracious enough to give me an answer.

How did I wind up here?

The Lord showed me three things – three huge, blinding, colossal choices or habits that set me up for a trip to the ditch.  The first I’ve already covered here – I allowed myself to get discouraged in one area of my life, and soon discouragement spread like spiritual cancer.

Here is the second.  I read it on the 18th of the month – I know this because it was in Proverbs 18. But reading it was like reading a lab report on the condition of my heart.

A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire;
He rages against all wise judgment (Proverbs 18:1, NKJ)

At first blush it was obvious what that meant.  I was a pastor.  I was a public figure who made my living with words and relationships and eternal truths.  I was “on” 24/7, or so I thought.  So I gave every effort to play the part.  I smiled pastor smiles. I prayed pastor prayers.  I said pastor things.  And when people asked me how I was doing, I gave pastor replies.  “Good!” I would say, smiling.

I never told anybody otherwise.

I never shared what my biggest, most challenging obstacles were.  I never shared the depths of what my dreams were, either for myself or for the church.  I never told anybody I had gotten discouraged. I never asked for wisdom or help. I was a professional problem solver. I was supposed to be the solution to other people’s problems and the complete solution to my own… all the while presenting a front and leaving an impression that all was well.

The only way to pull all this off was to isolate myself.  I even had a name for it – I called it “transparency to a point.”  I would let people see and hear enough to believe I was being open and honest, but wouldn’t tell them too much.

Why?  Pride, for sure, but that’s the third answer to the question… more on that later.  Why isolate, then?  Because I didn’t want people advising me to do what I didn’t want to do.  I didn’t want to ask for anybody else’s help to succeed.  And I didn’t want to expose my life and work to somebody else’s opinion, wisdom, or direction.

In short, I isolated myself, and I was an idiot to do so.  I would caution you against the same mistake. [click to continue…]

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Sequoia

I’ve received just under 10,000 calls, texts, or emails over the last few weeks, all wanting to know the same thing:  How’s the little sequoia tree doing?

So rather than answer it both all of them at once, I thought I’d give you an update here.

It’s ugly. [click to continue…]

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Sadness and happiness

Hop on the Hypothetical Bus with me for just a minute.  Let’s take a ride.

Let’s assume that as far as you know you’ve been doing everything you know to do correctly.

  • You brush and floss 2-3 times a day.
  • You have your daily devotions.
  • You exercise devotedly.
  • You give your money regularly to your church and other places.
  • You do a really good job at whatever you call work.
  • You only eat organic Cheetos.
  • You get your milk from a Christian cow.

Yet despite all the good things you’re doing and the faith and expectations you’ve been exercising, you just checked the scoreboard and,

Uh oh…

Your life is something like that mean football cheer:

Watermelon, watermelon, watermelon rind!
Look at the scoreboard and see who’s behind…
You!

What do you do when the news should be good, but it’s discouraging instead? [click to continue…]

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Sad little girl sitting on grass

In an old strip from “Bloom County” back in the early 80s,  Opus, the beloved big-nosed penguin, is sitting at a bus stop with a Polish guy, a black guy, a white guy, an old lady and a midget (um, vertically challenged person)…

Black Guy (to Opus): Ya know… you penguin types offend me.
White Guy: Hey… I’ll tell ya what offends me… dirty words, that’s what!
Polish Guy: Polish jokes offend me.
Black Guy: Stereotypes offend ME.
Old Lady: TV sex offends me!
White Guy: LOOK! That sign is offensive!!
Midget: I made that sign and I’m offended!
Polish Guy (to Black Guy): Frankly sir, you offend me.
Black Guy: Well! I’m offended at your offense.
Old Lady: Those nudes offend my womanhood!
White Guy: Those gays offend my manhood!
Midget: This comic offends my offensiveness!

All: MY GOSH… LIFE IS OFFENSIVE!! AAAAAIGH! (they all run away, leaving Opus sitting at the bus stop)

Opus: Offensensitivity.

Have you checked your offensensitivity levels lately?  Some days it just seems that all of life is offensive.  And other days, well, maybe we have enough grace to let a few people be completely wrong.  This just in from Serenah:

I have just read your put your stingers up piece and it was helpful. But how do you put your stingers up permanently when you are in a situation you can’t remove yourself from? I know God is trying to teach me to let go of defensiveness but I don’t know how?

Fair question.  How do you drop your guard when every day feels like a march into the enemy’s camp?  Here are a couple of thoughts on the fly, but thoughts worth taking a look at.  Offensensitivity is the result of three overlapping things:  Fear, Framing, and False Beliefs. [click to continue…]

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