Pleasers

A.W. Tozer, in commenting on the difference between a yesterday and a today faith, wrote this:

We habitually stand in our now and look back by faith to see the past filled with God. We look forward and see Him inhabiting our future; but our now is uninhabited except for ourselves. Thus we are guilty of a kind of [temporary] atheism which leaves us alone in the universe while, for the time, God is not. We talk of Him much and loudly, but we secretly think of Him as being absent, and we think of ourselves as inhabiting a parenthetic interval between the God who was and the God who will be. And we are lonely with an ancient and cosmic loneliness.

Your capacity to believe God is the gateway to a life of power, usefulness, and joy. And yet during his earthly ministry, nothing caught Jesus by surprise more than the “people of God” or so-called “believers” not believing – living with that cosmic loneliness that Tozer wrote about.

“Where is your faith?” He would ask. [click to continue…]

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Senior

Hello, this is Carl.

Hi Carl. A mutual friend gave me your card. Is this a good time to talk?

Sure. How can I help?

Well, I’m not sure if you can. The card says “Criticism Coach.”

Yep. That’s me.

I gotta be honest. I’ve never heard of a criticism coach.

Neither had I until the day I decided the world needed one.

So you just sort of made this up?

Well, I formalized the idea a couple of years ago. But I’ve been criticoaching for years.

Criticoaching?

Yeah, that’s my shorthand term for it. I did make that up.

What is a Criticism Coach?

So at the risk of asking a dumb question, what’s a criticism coach? [click to continue…]

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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…]

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ede8e3d9-3f21-494e-bc51-911da377800e

(Presidential Campaign Edition)

Unless you’ve been under a rock for a year, you are well aware of the fact that here in the U.S. we’re in another election cycle, which means, of course, that for over a year people will be competing for poll numbers and dollars (the gifts that keep on giving) before somebody in one state (and only one state) will decide the destiny of 80% of the candidates.

No, really. I totally love American democracy.

Anyway, with a second Republican debate scheduled for tonight, I thought in preparation the candidates could use some last minute wisdom, since I’m sure they all subscribe to the blog.

I got nothin’.

But before Mr. Trump labels me a loser and tells me I’m fired, I know somebody who does. As I have mentioned before, I keep a file of my favorite student quotations, usually from written assignments. These are those rare occasions when a student writes something so compelling it sort of stops me in my tracks, either because the statement is profound, very well written, or downright funny.

I have shared this before here and here. We’ve looked at leadership, funny stuff, and spiritual passion in previous episodes. If you haven’t seen them, check them out – they’re all fast reads.

Today’s collection has a leadership focus, but sounds a clarion call to those who would be president and those who must choose them. Read these carefully and pray for your president – and those who have the task of selecting him or her. [click to continue…]

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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…]

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Elephant Foot

When everything’s urgent and demands attention now…

And everywhere you turn invites stress at best, frustration at worst…

It’s hard to think, much less act, positively.

So remember again how you eat that elephant… [click to continue…]

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Loneliness Concept - 3D

What did rejection look like to you on the school playground?  What about Junior High?  College?

What did rejection look like after you got married, or started a family?  What does it look like today in your workplace or your worship space?

Describing your experience with rejection is like describing an encounter with a snake.  Each experience is a little different, and the beast appears differently in every scene.  But in each case the result leaves a story to tell and an emotional experience to re-live or respond to.

I’ve had my own experiences, of course.  And I’ve seen it played out in countless lives…

Like the 59-year-old woman who said of her then-76-year-old mother, “Just once I wish I could hear my mother say I did something right.”

Or the only-child high school student who was rejected by his friends because he had a helicopter mother before the term was ever invented.  She meddled, and her son, whom she was trying to help and advance, was hated all the more.

Then there was the businessman who was rejected in the business world because he was part of a revolutionary approach to financial services, but was obnoxious about it.

I knew a pastor once who was rejected by the deacons in his church. After years of service, they felt that it was time for a change. So they gave him a deadline and asked him to find somewhere else to go. When he was unable to, they cornered him about resigning, and he turned the rejection tables back on them. Unbeknownst to them, he showed up one Sunday morning with has car packed, he got up at sermon time, explained that he’d been asked to resign, and walked out the door.  Ouch.

It may surprise you to know that some of the most memorable and powerful success stories in history are people whose lives arose from the ashes of rejection.  [click to continue…]

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Portrait of Invisible man in the hood isolated on black

Then there was that time I burned a hole in the back of my bathrobe.

Fortunately, I wasn’t wearing it at the time.

For reasons I can’t remember, but that made perfectly good sense back then, I was up in the middle of the night and trying to read.  For some reason the light wasn’t quite right, so I threw my robe over the lampshade.

A few minutes later I was interrupted by the unmistakable fragrance of stupid. [click to continue…]

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Couple looking serious

(A Conversation)

Stuck.

Stuck?

Yeah, that’s probably the best word for it.

As in, you’ve hit the ditch and can’t get out?

Maybe.  Or more like I get so far and every time I hit this wall I can’t ever seem to break through.

Maybe you don’t really want to break through.

What’s that supposed to mean?

Maybe you’d rather lose a thousand pounds than 20.

I don’t follow.

Isn’t it easier to lose one pound and gain it back, then repeat the process a thousand times, than losing 20 and keeping it off?

Okay now you’ve gone to meddling!  And yeah, maybe that’s true, but humor me.  Let’s assume I really want to lose the 20 pounds.  Or I really want to pray consistently.  Or I really want to stop feeling so insecure.

But you feel stuck?

I feel stuck.

Powerless to break free?

Yeah, that.

Tired of 1 John 1:9 being your life verse?

Yeah… Hey!  Wait a minute! Are we talking about me or you?

Well, let’s just say, to quote two former presidents, “Ah feel yur pain” because I’ve been “knee-deep in doo-doo” myself.

And what did you learn?

That I was a bad liar. [click to continue…]

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Lawyer attorney in classic polish gown covering eyes with blindfold

I hate to start a piece with a bunch of disclaimers, but I think I should.

  1. This is a little off my reservation, but only a little.
  2. This article is addressed to Christian people who still believe they are or should be an influence in the culture and society. If that doesn’t describe you, there isn’t much of value for you here.
  3. This article is addressed also to those who have a growing sense of frustration that the America you thought you knew is a thing of the past.
  4. This is going to come across as very cynical, but I don’t mean for it to – I am actually very hopeful that you and I can be salt and light in this world.

Still with me?

OK.

I had an “Aha!” moment the other day.  You may have figured this out a long time ago, and maybe I’m late to the party, but hey, I was a 10-month baby. [click to continue…]

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