Executing Your Plan

(And You Can and Should, Too)

Travel with me to an ancient version of Death Row. A lonely old man sits in isolation – a rare occurrence for a life so well-traveled and surrounded with people. And he awaits his fate.

He’s a dead man walking.

Yet even though his body is scarred and his bones crooked from a hardened life, he doesn’t have the same despair or desperation that’s typical of someone living under a death sentence. In fact, he has – dare I say it? – a sense of satisfaction. Fulfillment. Maybe even a touch of pride.

How do I know? His own words.

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

Those words from Paul have carried a new fascination for me recently.  Here was a man who know what his life was about, and lived it. He followed the course laid out for him, and he finished it.

Put in other language, Paul had a vision, and throughout his life he stubbornly, doggedly, faithfully pursued that vision.  Doing so was costly in the short run. He was routinely run out of town, beaten to a pulp, deserted by his friends, and bedeviled by danger. But to him it was a price worth paying, to get to the end of his life with two things: [click to continue…]

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…for we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).

You and I are flex-fueled vehicles.

We are equipped to move forward,

powered either by confidence in the living God

or by what makes sense to us logically, emotionally, or sensually at the time.

There is a difference…  A massive difference.

What’s in your tank?

Here’s how you can know… [click to continue…]

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Opportunity Clarity Action

So Jesus said to them, “For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes (John 12:35).

There is clarity (Light).

There is opportunity (a limited time).

There is action (walk).

Clarity without opportunity calls for waiting, not walking.

Opportunity without clarity calls for caution and connection.

When clarity and opportunity converge, this calls for action. [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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businessman or writer, making notes in his diary notebook

Marvin and Dick were brothers and business partners.  Best friends too, if my suspicions were correct.  Well into their retirement when I first got to know them, I caught them both together one afternoon when Dick was in the hospital. There Marvin was perched in a chair beside his bed and they were visiting.

“Come on in,” Marvin said.  “We’re closing the books for the day.”

Turns out, through all their years in business together, every day at 5:00, the two would get together and evaluate the day’s business and plan for the next.  They called it “closing the books.”  This had become such a habit, when they entered their retirement years, they kept the practice going.

I’m pretty sure a cup of coffee was involved.  But regardless, day in, day out, every day at 5:00, these two men would meet together and “close the books.”  Even if one of them was in the hospital.

How about you?  Do you have a way to “close the books” on your day? [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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Change

Change.

Dear God, something needs to change.

Your measurables need to change – those places where you keep score with numbers or portions.

Your immeasurables need to change – those areas where nobody’s chaperoning you and you don’t get tickets or fired for blowing it – you just slowly die or spiritually starve by neglecting them.

Your relationships need to change – the ones you have taken for granted or the ones with open wounds.

Your focus needs to change – the bulls-eye of your pursuits, that somehow are chasing trivia and ignoring your most important dreams or vital values.

Something needs to change. [click to continue…]

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Marathon

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews12:1-2a, NET).

You are running, and the race is long. I pray that your eyes, your ears, your heart will be open to know just how many witnesses you have – how great a cloud of watchers, so aware of the race you are running.

Others near and far have been tripped up and fallen. I pray that you run free from the entanglements and weights – light-hearted, love-driven, and alert to distraction.

Underdogs and favorites all start well, but only one receives the prize. I pray that you will have the will of the marathoner, knowing the road is long but your will and power to endure is longer still. [click to continue…]

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Woman Sitting Down in Prayer Silhouette

If you ask God to do something and he doesn’t – or hasn’t yet – what’s your next move?

Assume the answer is a permanent “no”?

Ask again, but stop at that magical number of three?

Give up praying altogether because you’re disappointed? Maybe there’s another way. [click to continue…]

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You live in what feels like a constant state of tension. Even your “good stress” is, well, stress. You check the news at least each day to make sure you’re on top of the latest thing to worry about. Your time is stretched so thin that any interruption or change of plans sends you reeling emotionally.

Your credit cards are loaded to the max, and your life feels a lot like your email inbox – loaded with clutter, junk, and unfinished business – some of which is actually important.

Your best sleep comes after 2:00 in the morning. You avoid those medical checkups because you already know what they’re going to say. Unless, of course, you need to get that prescription refilled.

And then…

…then, somebody comes along, usually on a Sunday, and says…

“Let’s worship Jesus!”

And honestly, it just feels like another reason to feel anxious.

What if I were to tell you that if you’re harried and helpless, stressed out or fried emotionally, the Bible actually gets where you’re coming from? If I could show you a way to magnificently worship the Lord Jesus, even when you’re at the end of your rope, would you be interested?

This is an Offering for the Overworked, overstressed, overeating, over-fill-in-your-blank.

Ready? Here it is: [click to continue…]

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