Time

Jillian is a successful realtor with a proven track record and dozens of happy clients. She has been with the same national franchise for seven years, but lately is rethinking that relationship. She has received an offer from a competitor and, at the same time, has endured some unwelcome changes in her firm.  Is it time for Jillian to jump ship?

Billy is a young pastor. A firebrand communicator who has led his first church to significant growth in the 18 months he’s been there. But he’s beginning to encounter some resistance there. And at the same time other larger churches are bombarding him for his resume. Is it time for Billy to bail?

Steven works for the local chapter of a national non-profit who boldly advertises the degree to which they care for suffering humanity. But Steven sees a different side – one driven by ruthless management, questionable financial decisions, and huge employee turnover. At what point does he decide there must be a better way to change the world? And how does he know that the next organization won’t just be more of the same? [click to continue…]

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Standing at the Door

(A re-examination of a previously-published post from 2007)

It was a poignant conversation that probably ended too quickly. I’m sure it called for a little more tenderness and empathy than I was offering at the time.  But hey, at least it was honest.

“I was saved at age 6, and Spirit-filled at age 9,” she said plaintively.  “Now I don’t even know there is a God.  How do I get my faith back?”

I blurted out an answer that distressed more than blessed…

“You start by showing up.”

I’m sure that wasn’t the answer she was looking for. But I still think it’s true.

When it comes to peace or healing or restoration or growth, human nature has a tendency to self-destruct.

How?

By isolating.

Withdrawing.

Withholding or running away from the situation.

The myth is that:

  • Church is for people who have God all figured out.
  • Marriage is for people who remain magically in love and intimate.
  • Financial planning is for people who have all the money they need to do what they want.
  • Friendships are for people who never get disappointed by other people.

It may be time for a healthy dose of reality. [click to continue…]

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Anticipation

It’s in the white space between the verses.  If it were captured on video, a la NFL Films, they’d replay it in slow motion with a tense musical score leading up to the climactic moment.  It often takes place in a matter of seconds and is hardly ever discussed. But we’ve all read about it. And chances are, we’ve lived it on some level.

The “it” that I’m referring to is that split-second gap between motion and miracle. When the world for just a second goes quiet and you’re breathless with anticipation.

It’s that Breathless Pause, where you’re waiting, anticipating something amazing. [click to continue…]

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This post is part of a series of posts celebrating Father’s Day titled, “That Time My Kids Hacked My Blog.” To read more, click here.

bikeDear Dad,

You may not remember the day that I learned to ride a bicycle, but I do. We were living in Fayette, Alabama and all of my friends had already figured out how to ride and graduated to ten speeds. After spending several weeks trying to figure out how, I had resigned to give up.

I am not sure how long it was, in my mind it seems like it was years but I am sure it was only a few weeks, that Mom brought up the topic at dinner. I remember telling her that I couldn’t do it. While I am sure mom said something encouraging it was your response that made a lasting impact. You said, “Yes you can…let’s go.” Then you stood up and the two of was walked downstairs into the basement took the training wheels off my bike and went to the driveway. The next hour I fell several times but each time I did you picked me up, told me I was okay, and encouraged me to try again. It wasn’t long before I figured out how to balance and pedal. Up to that point in my life I am not sure I had ever felt so accomplished and to this day I still love riding a bike.

That day you taught me how to ride, but what I didn’t know at the time was that you were also teaching me how to live life. Time and time again I have seen you act in a similar manner. [click to continue…]

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This post is part of a series of posts celebrating Father’s Day titled, “That Time My Kids Hacked My Blog.” To read more, click here.

Daddy2

Dear Daddy,

You’ve done a lot of things right as a parent, and the three of us are the adults that we are today because of your influence.  You’ve been my greatest teacher, encourager and influencer, and I’m so grateful for all that you’ve taught me.  There have been so many words of wisdom and encouragement over the past 31 years that it’s hard to identify the best or most influential, but there’s one thing that sticks out – there hasn’t been a single day of my life that I’ve doubted your love for me, or your pride in me.  Because you’ve always told me.

I see clients in my counseling office all the time who wonder.  They wonder if they’ve been enough, done enough, or said enough to make their fathers proud.  [click to continue…]

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This post is part of a series of posts celebrating Father’s Day titled, “That Time My Kids Hacked My Blog.” To read more, click here.

dadDaddy,

One of my favorite things about you is how you relate to people. You don’t make other people fit in your box, rather you relate to them in a way that not only allows them the freedom to be themselves but you encourage it. You seek out the unique things about a person that make them, well, THEM. The way you have parented follows suit. I have watched you relate to Cassie and Joel at times and noticed how different it is from how you and I relate. I’ve never felt sad about that because I know this great quality about you. In fact, it makes me feel more special because I know that our relationship is one of a kind, even though you have three kids.

I like to think the way you and I relate is through “moments”. These little snapshots of time that make up significant and meaningful times that we share. We’ve never really talked about it out loud before, but sometimes when we catch each other’s eyes I feel like we are on the same page, having a moment. (If that’s not what you are thinking will you just pretend that it is since this is a public letter??) Some of our moments are big and life changing and some of them are just small conversations that soften my heart. All of them I treasure.

Here are a few of my favorites: [click to continue…]

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Daddy and Laura KateYou’ve probably never heard of Yarbo.  Unless, of course, you’ve spent some time tooling through Washington County, Alabama.  This unincorporated community, positioned halfway between Chatom and Millry, flies by your car window pretty fast on Highway 17.  A couple of old chicken houses, an abandoned softball field, a few house trailers, that’s about it.

At least that’s how it looks through my window.  Yarbo is a place on the way to some other place.

My dad had a different view.

On his regular excursions between Millry, his home at the time, and Chatom or Mobile, he would notice a singular figure sitting in the shade of one of those mobile homes.  An older black gentleman would spend hours there, offering a friendly wave at passers-by.  And there in the warmth of those Southwest Alabama summer days, my father found a kindred spirit.

He waved back.

Eventually he came to look for his nameless friend and would make a point of tooting his horn and waving.  Though separated by all the things that make for TV news sound bites – race and economic status and culture and probably politics – each of these men found in a simple gesture a point of connection.

That wasn’t enough for my dad. [click to continue…]

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Seegulls lined up

In his book The Noticer, Andy Andrews offers this riddle:

Five seagulls are sitting on a dock. One of them decides to fly away. How many seagulls are left?

Answer: Five. Deciding to fly away and actually flying away are two very different things.

I don’t know who decided that the road to hell needed paving, but whoever it was picked some pretty good material. There will always be plenty of good intentions for people to talk about, and even satisfy themselves that having the intention is enough work for today. The problem is, they never get around to actually doing anything about the intention.

They were very sincere. But a lack of action made them sincerely wrong. [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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Repeat icon

For the last several years I have replaced the idea of New Year’s Resolutions with a focus on one single idea – my one word  to help frame the kind of direction I sense the Lord leading me to steer my life toward in the coming year. Previous ideas for My One Word have included Finish, Lean, and One. What’s interesting is that those ideas are still, to one degree or another, relevant and a part of my soul’s DNA.

Last year the theme was Advance! You can read more about that here.  And let me just say, advance I did! On three fronts in particular, 2015 represented major moves forward, mostly in areas of ministry and career development.

One really good thing that arose out of that has been the establishment of LifeVesting International – a mission organization designed to mobilize the church to multiply the Church. We are launching our first series of trips this year to Thailand, and I am thrilled to see where that is going.

May I just say, however, that by the end of the year, I was about advanced out. Frankly, I started the year not nearly as enthusiastic about the One Word idea as I had in previous years. And in terms of what the One Word would actually be, there was nothing really compelling or inspiring.

I thought about the word “READ” because every year at this time I get inspired to read more.

That deafening sound you hear of silence… or crickets… yeah, that’s about how much enthusiasm and passion that idea generated.

But to this point – a few days into January – there was nothing compelling.

And that may actually be the point. [click to continue…]

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