Consumers

Edge of a Cliff

(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…]

{ 0 comments }

(Fumes, Form and Fashion, Part 1)

Burned Match

Thomas Watson Sr., founder of IBM, often said, “Everybody, from time to time, should take a step back and watch himself go by.”

Good wisdom. But hardly lived.  It’s reminiscent of the often-repeated story of the African (or Incan, depending on what you read) porters who carried the goods of an English (or American) type-A personality through the jungle with increasing pace for three days. Finally, on the fourth day, they matter-of-factly refused to go further, despite the pleas of the Western, time-bound explorers.  When asked for an explanation, they simply said, “We have been traveling so fast, we have to wait for our souls to catch up with us.”

There’s a simple word for that, often reserved for quaint memories of the good old days or emergency sessions of the Jesus Name Disaster Management Club.  It’s called renewal.  [click to continue…]

{ 3 comments }

Ram wearing spectacles.

Happy (Traditional) Tax Day!  So… Stick with me on this.

Last week, in news you probably missed, some engineering experts sounded a major alarm to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The subject: Self-driving cars.

The concern:  We’re not ready yet.

The evidence:  Unresolved technical issues, including some accidents.

The request:  Please, Dear Government Agency slow down your aggressive approach to issuing guidance for technology that is not ready for guidance yet.

That seems reasonable. Safe.  Wise for someone whose name has the word “Safety” in it.

That creates some tension for the agency, however. After all, they have a job to do – a service to the American people.  So Mark Rosekind, Director of the NHTSA, commented:

“Everybody asks, ‘When are they (self-driving cars) going to be ready?’ I keep saying they’re not coming; they are here now.”

Then he added this little revealing gem: [click to continue…]

{ 1 comment }

Microfono sala conferenze

I have news.

Big news. News some of you have been waiting four years to hear.  And you can say you read about it first here.

I am pleased to announce that the Spiritual Gifts Commissary (SGC), after lots of coffee, reviews of old church bulletins, and listening to hours of Spurgeon sermons on cassettes, has officially declared a new collection of Ten Spiritual Gifts You Won’t Find in the Bible.

This is exciting.

No longer are you limited to a narrow list of spiritual gifts found in places like Romans 12, Ephesians 4, or 1 Corinthians 12.  The Holy Ghost can manifest Himself in all sorts of ways.  Still skeptical? Consider this:  Past surveys have indicated that more than 20% of American Christians claim to have spiritual gifts never mentioned in scripture.

That many fired and wired believers couldn’t possibly be wrong.

Right?

Anyway, by definition, a spiritual gift is an unusual ability to demonstrate God’s life and power in ways that can’t be explained by talent or random circumstances. And according to the Bible, all believers have some sort of spiritual gifting.

But what? How can you know?

That’s where the SGC comes in.  In addition to the 17 gifts mentioned in scripture, they have explored other ways that people in Church World demonstrate such other-worldly force, it must be a gift.  Possibilities include the gift of condemnation, complication, or word of ignorance.  It would be well worth the time to review the original list here. Or even better, check out the lists here and here.  Who knows? Maybe the pointing towards your anointing can be found tucked away in one of those.

But wait! There’s more!  Here, in alphabetical order, are ten more Church World manifestations that may well explain how you or someone you put up with love are endowed. [click to continue…]

{ 1 comment }

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…]

{ 2 comments }

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…]

{ 1 comment }

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…]

{ 1 comment }

Carrying Weight 2

Chances are, you have no idea.

A couple of weeks ago we were packing for a week at Disney.

No, professional movers or U-Haul were not involved.

Anyway, when Robin got everything loaded into three suitcases that a near-grown human could fit into, she asked me to weigh the luggage to make sure she had thought of everything.

Um, I mean, to make sure it fit within airline regulations.

We have this handy little scale that picks up the suitcase by the handle and lets you know what you’re asking those baggage handlers to tote ‘n’ hurl. I picked up the first.

“Forty pounds,” says I.

“See what that feels like?” says my ever-wise wife. “That’s what you’re no longer carrying around.”

I should point out here that in the last five months I’ve lost about that much weight. And that little luggage exercise was enlightening.

I picked it up again, holding the scale and entire weight of the suitcase in one hand. That was what I had been carrying around, day-in, day-out, but had now shed. Needless to say, it made an impression.

I was impressed how ordinary and normal my extra “baggage” was. How easy it was to justify myself, despite the fact that 20 years ago I weighed about 60 pounds less. And how much I was presuming upon my created-by-God body to do in overtime.

I just didn’t realize how much weight I was carrying. [click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

Emilie was jealous. Eyes open, staring at the dark ceiling night after night, jealous.

And the focus? Her husband, Chris.

She was jealous of how he could carry an enormous load of stress from his work, simply say a prayer or two at bedtime, and effortlessly fall asleep.

Chris was actually 19th-century pastor Christoph Blumhardt.

One night Emilie couldn’t take it anymore, so she pleaded with her husband, “Tell me your secret!”

He replied: “Is God so powerless that my worrying would help the well-being of our parish?”

Then he added, “There comes a moment each day when we must simply drop what weighs on us and hand it over to God.”

That’s what Paul meant when he encouraged his friends in Philippi:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

Stop, drop and roll, friends. That’s how to put out the fire when you’re burning. [click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

Lattice

In his book, Rekindled Flame, Steve Fry tells of moving to Nashville and talking to some Christian recording executives about a potential project.  When asked what he was working on, he told them about wanting to write a worship musical that focused on the character of God.  To his surprise, they were very cool to the idea.

Frankly, they said, most believers wouldn’t buy an album about God.

Seriously?

Yep.

According to their demographic studies, that kind of project wouldn’t appeal to most Christians.

Later he met with a book editor that he knew had his finger on the pulse of the Christian marketplace.

“I want to write about God!” he said. “I want to take snapshots of the many wonders of His character and just focus on Him.”

“I’d like to help you write that kind of a book,” he replied. “In fact, the Christian market desperately needs that kind of book. But honestly, the average Christian is not going to buy a book about God.” The editor added:  “The only way you can get the average believer to read a book about God is to somehow show them how God benefits them.”

I want to say I’m surprised, but I’m not.

I want to say I’m offended, but I’m not.

I want to say I’m the exception… [click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }