Following Your Passion

Look behind you.

Not literally; behind me right now is the back of a chair.

Metaphorically speaking, look behind you, and you’ll probably find somebody following you. They may be following your instructions, following your example, or even following your dreams. They may be following your words and images on social media, but that’s not the same thing.

Look beside you and guess what? You’ll find people following there, too. They may position themselves more as friends or colleagues, but they make sure to stay in your orbit. In NASCAR they call this “side drafting.” And people are probably side drafting you, whether you realize it or not.

Let me pause here to roll my eyes and tell you – again – that even if you don’t think of yourself as a leader, you are. Everybody influences somebody. Somebody looks to you as the person to obey, the example to follow, the partner to collaborate with, or the sense maker in their times of uncertainty or confusion.

That leads to the Big Question then… Where are you leading them?

All you need to do to find the answer to that question is look ahead. [click to continue…]

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Peace of mind

This just in… Thanksgiving is staging a comeback.  After several years of retail retreat from Black Friday, creeping into stores opening sometime on Thanksgiving Day, retailers seem to have gotten the message either from employees or the public.  More and more are again choosing to close on Turkey Day.

Oh. I mean Thanksgiving.

But this isn’t about retail habits or family traditions. In fact, it isn’t about holidays – American or otherwise – at all.

It’s about giving thanks. [click to continue…]

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It was a funny exercise. The memory-making type of thing that happens randomly when you spend time hanging out with kids. Or in my case, grandkids.

Laura Kate and Shepherd (#1 and #3 of 9 if you’re keeping score) were in the back seat and we were headed home from a VBS family night. With everybody’s schedule crossways on this particular night, I got to be the “family.” We’d had the program, topped off by some awesome brain-freezing shaved ice. They had played in the bounce houses some, and now we had escaped the Alabama humidity and were back in the truck headed to their house.

We got to talking about different sounds that animals make, and I was asking them if they could imitate them. Then, on a whim, I asked, “Can you imitate Fischer?”

Fischer is their four-year-old little brother.

Laura Kate popped up: “Mama, Shepuhd and Sistuh huht my feewings.”

You just had to be there… It was dead-on and hysterically funny.

We went from that to others, like their parents, but the first one was the hit of the night.

Who doesn’t love a good impression – especially a funny one?  And it’s true, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery – even to an 8-year-old.

It’s also a raw demonstration of leadership at a very fundamental level. [click to continue…]

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Hey.  Bible scholar.

Yes, you.

I have a thought question for you.

Remember David?  King… giant slayer… and that other nickname he is famous for?

Yeah, that one – a “man after God’s own heart.”

God Himself used the phrase first and it is repeated throughout scripture. Samuel said to Saul, “But now your kingdom shall not endure. The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart…” (1 Samuel 13:14). And He found that in David.

And He repeated that over and over again, not just during David’s lifetime, but throughout the Bible.  Something about this man, who obviously had some pretty serious personal flaws (liar, adulterer, and murderer for starters) was so unique that God used His version of neon lights and pointed to this man again and again.

Why? [click to continue…]

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Alabaster Jar

Suppertime.  And it’s quite a little dinner party there in Bethany.  All twelve disciples of Jesus are there, as is Jesus Himself, for whom the dinner was made.

Curiously enough, Lazarus – the friend of Jesus who never uttered a recorded word – is there, too.  And this is after his four-day journey to the pit.

Martha is there, of course, being Martha, and making things happen.

And in comes Mary.  She’s carrying an alabaster box.  With all the movement and conversation as people recline at a Middle Eastern dinner table, I doubt very many people notice her at first.  But that’s OK.  Mary wasn’t interested in being noticed.  She was interested in something – and Someone – much greater.

That said, no one could escape the fragrance that filled the room.  It penetrated everything, everyone, everywhere.

Is that nard?

Nard it is.

That’s expensive stuff.  To say nothing of the now-broken box that carried it.

Where is that coming from? [click to continue…]

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names of God 2

A Celebration of the nearness and faithfulness of a God who reveals Himself by His names.

(Try reading this out loud, perhaps with a partner.)

We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks,
For Your name is near… And Your nearness is our good.

I AM THAT I AM.

And we give You thanks.

I always have been and always will be.

And we give You thanks.

I need no one to define Me, or remake me in their image.

And You are near.

I reveal Myself unceasingly.

And Your nearness is our good.

I am faithful and true in My covenant love.

So we Your people and the sheep of Your pasture
Will give thanks to You forever.

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We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks,
For Your name is near… And Your nearness is our good.

I am Jehovah-Nissi, The Lord Your Banner. [click to continue…]

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Relaxing in the park

If all you knew about love was rumor and reputation,
If all you held on to were wistful hopes or magical memories…
If everything you trusted to carry you relied on fair weather
Or the favor of fickle people,
Then whatever you know of love would be vain.

But there is a Love that is real, that stands and delivers
More than wishful thinking or the Good Ole Days…
A Love that lasts through the strain of the Dog days
And the pain of disappointing people…
A Love that goes to the Ends of the Earth.

If all you knew of love was agreement and approval,
And the whole world danced while you sang your song…
If every morning greeted you with sunshine and rainbows
And the endless praise of life-long admirers,
Then what you call Love is at best empty.

But there is a Love that holds on to you when life pushes back,
And embraces you warmly when people grow cold.
A Love that endures the pelting of blinding storms
And the ignorance of sightless critics…
A Love that goes to the Ends of the Earth. [click to continue…]

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Grandpaw and Button

One of my favorite pics of Grandpaw and Button

It was one of the many differences between us.  Maybe it was generational. Maybe it had more to do with personality. I don’t know.  To me it was silly at best, annoying it worst.

Corny, that’s it.  It was corny.

But my dad did it without apology, and routinely yucked about it.

“This is so-and-so,” he would say, “but I call him [insert nickname here].”

To know him well enough to banter at all – which for him meant more than one conversation – usually earned you some sort of nickname.

The manager of the local bank:  “I call her Cuz.”

A friend and pastor’s wife:  “Here comes Trouble.”

His and Dean’s friend Dolores got a play on the pronunciation, for no apparent reason:  “Doh-loh-reez.” [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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Open door to dark room with bright light shining in.  Background Illustration.

“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends” (Revelation 3:20, NLT).

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Open the door, Someone is knocking.
Someone who awakens dormant dreams,
Who sees through the terrible darkness that surrounds you
And who feels with you in your sorrows and joys.

Open the door, Someone is calling.
Someone who feels the gaping distance,
Who reaches relentlessly across the heart-spaces,
And presses on to show you His boundless love. [click to continue…]

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