From the category archives:

Protecting Your Investment

worship surrender 2Raise your hand if you’ve ever stood in church and sung, “I surrender all.”

Raise your other hand if you were invited to “come to the altar and surrender all to Jesus.”

Both my hands are up. I’m typing with my toes.

Just two problems with that idea.  First, surrender isn’t something you do in church.  Second, surrender isn’t something you do at the end or the close of anything.

A few years ago I learned a new language – the language of surrender and freedom.  Inspired by someone’s idea of absolute commitment to Jesus expressed as, “I don’t have to survive,” I began a mental and spiritual journey of surrender.  What else can I let go of? How else can I be free?  And I began to make the list…

I don’t have to be successful…

I don’t have to get angry…

I don’t have to feel rejected…

I don’t have to be right…

You get the point.

Lately I’ve been revisiting that idea, for an important reason.  [click to continue…]

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200291528-001The Kids

I’m impressed with your kids. Well, most of the time.

They’re not my kids.

What?

Not mine.

(Gasp!) You mean…

Noooo, not like that!  I’m their father.

Oh, so they are your kids.

Nope. I gave them away a long time ago.  In fact, on the day they were born.

To who?

To God.  He’s the one who gave them to me in the first place.  “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.  Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands” (Psalm 127:3-4, NLT).

Okay, whatever, but they’re your responsibility.

Oh, of course.  God gave them to me for a season to help turn them into strategic weapons for His kingdom. So I feed them, clothe them, and train them.

Train them to do what? [click to continue…]

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Footsteps in SnowThis is a true story.  The names are changed.

Will was an insecure, painfully shy 11-year-old boy who came from a very poor family.  But his sixth-grade teacher, Mrs. Goodwin, saw something special in him – not just in the student he was at the time, but as the adult he could become. And through that year, she began to give Will a gift that no one to that point had ever dared offer – the gift of confidence.

She told him he was the smartest student she ever had. She said it to him personally and to the class.

She told him how much potential he had.

She took him to her home.

She even took him to the junior high school he would attend the next year to introduce Will to his teachers and tell them what a great student he was.

She told him that the only other student who showed his potential became the vice president of a well-known university.

True to Mrs. Goodwin’s prediction, Will became the first person in his family to go to college. Buoyed by her care and concern he went on to a successful academic career… as a… (you guessed it) vice president of a major university.

Mrs. Goodwin was more than a teacher. She was a leader. She saw in an awkward kid a destiny that nobody else saw. Put in leadership terms, she had a vision. Then she set about investing the time and service necessary to put Will on a path toward that vision.

And the tool she used:  Influence. [click to continue…]

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bettyCrockerOkay, time for a little famous brands trivia.

Without Googling for answers, see if you can guess how many of the following brand names were/are actual people:

Aunt Jemima

Ben and Jerry

Betty Crocker

Chef Boy-Ar-Dee

Duncan Hines

Marie Callender

Martha White

Orville Redenbacher

Sister Shubert

Uncle Ben

Answers are below: [click to continue…]

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wpt043Way back in the day, Chuck Bolte and the Jeremiah People did a hilarious skit called “The Service” about five people sitting on a church pew waiting for the service to start.  There was an older couple, a younger couple who had it all together and knew it, and a young wife who in tears admits that her husband has left her and moved into a hotel.

Out come the clichés.  In one place, Chuck who played the younger man, said something like, “You see, Julie, as Christians we’re on God’s winning team.  We make our baskets, we sink our putts, we cross the goal line!”  Then he asks that penetrating question:  “Julie, have you made Christ the center of your marriage.”

“Look,” she says.  “I don’t know how to make Christ the center of our marriage.  I come here for help and all I get are words… words I’ve said to myself a thousand times.”

Ouch.  But hey, at least she got some words.  Sometimes church people don’t even do that.

In 35 years of some sort of ministry, I’ve been blessed to receive a lot of gritty grace.  Sure, some people got it wrong.  But I’ve seen enough people get it right to dismiss my own “inner Pharisee” and pay it forward.  They taught me how to run to the spiritually wounded, not away from them.  Here are a few lessons I’ve learned along the way. [click to continue…]

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Logo of Groupon

You may or may not know the name Andrew Mason.  But I’ll bet you’ve heard of Groupon, the famous deal-of-the-day website where Mason was CEO.

These have been hard times for the company – nobody is denying that, and if you’re interested in the business and numbers side of it you can find it here.

What interests me is the leadership Mason showed in leaving.  In an email he sent to all his employees then posted publicly (“it will leak out anyway”), Mason showed some class, humor, honesty, and most of all accountability.  Take a look: [click to continue…]

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faceplantDid a face plant a couple of weeks ago.  On concrete.  It was ugly, and so was I for a few days.

The irony of the situation was that I was bolting from one meeting to another, with a cross-town drive in-between.  And the place I was in a hurry to?

A radio interview about the mental health of people in the ministry.

I wasn’t exactly expecting to have my own tested in the process.  But that’s the price you pay when you’re trying to move at the speed of light on a sidewalk designed for the speed of pedestrians.

For just a minute I thought I was seeing the light of eternity.  Turns out I was just seeing stars.

Aside from the wounds to my forehead, knees, hands and pride, I did learn a few things, such as what an “orbital nerve” is.  Oh, and that there is more than one kind of black eye.

But the most important thing I was reminded of is that my ability to maintain my rhythm and step in this world of the falling is no comparison to God’s ability to hold me, heal me, and shepherd me home.  Regardless of how I may stumble in a temporal world, in the one that matters most, He won’t let me fall. [click to continue…]

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Time to let you in on a little secret weakness.  Sometimes I hate being reminded.  Especially when I’m already doing the thing I am being reminded of, or I’m already aware of it.  Now let me hasten to say that when somebody reminds me of something I have totally forgotten, I’m usually very grateful.  But the obvious?  The no-brainers?  The already-doings?  That’s another story.

Does this ever happen to you?  You’re locking the doors before retiring at night and a voice from the other room hollers, “Don’t forget to lock the doors!”

Or maybe you’re buckled into that airplane seat, starting to get lost in whatever you’re reading, and they start that handy demonstration explaining how to use a seat belt?

I had a little visit with the Lord about this the other day.  Not airline safety demonstrations, but this issue of hating to be reminded.  Let’s just say it was His idea. [click to continue…]

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A cathedral in Europe was famous for the large, magnificent, stained‑glass window that was located behind the altar and high above the sanctuary.  One day a violent windstorm shattered that beautiful window into a thousand pieces.  The church custodian was hesitant to discard the fragments, so he put them in a box and stored them in the basement of the cathedral.

Shortly after the storm, a man who had heard about the damage asked for and received the broken pieces of glass.  About 2 years later, he invited the caretaker to visit him in a nearby village.  When the custodian arrived, the man explained that he was an artisan and that he had something to show him.  When the craftsman unveiled his work, the visitor was astonished to see a lovely window fashioned from the broken fragments.  It was even more beautiful than the original.

You can be, too.

Like the shattered window, sometimes we live in the wake of a painful experience that threatens to leave us broken and scarred – an unrecognizable leftover of what we once imagined ourselves to be.

Abundance?  Hardly.

Joyful?  Are you kidding?

I heard a beautiful reflection on that a couple of years ago from a TV show, of all things: [click to continue…]

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John Smoltz was famous for getting himself in trouble.

He’ll be in the Baseball Hall of Fame for the ways he could get himself out.

Smoltz didn’t always start well, but he knew what to do when he got himself into trouble.  He describes the mental process he would go through in his book, Starting and Closing.  At some point he would take his game to an entirely different level.  And the mental signal he would give himself:  Rally time.

That’s a theme that I’m seeing all over the world these days.  In one situation after another, we’ve gotten ourselves into trouble.  In baseball language, there’s one run in, the bases are loaded, and nobody out.

Rally time.

It’s rally time in places like Colorado and Pennsylvania, as people are looking to make sense out of the senseless and somehow create a world where kids can be safe.  But the rally comes from recognizing that our hope isn’t built on metal detectors and psychobabble, but on the peace of God that passes all understanding.

It’s rally time in places like Washington and state capitals everywhere, as incumbents try to keep their jobs and others try to take them away – all based on promises and politics.  But the rally comes from recognizing that our hope isn’t built on Republicans or Democrats, but on the government of the Lord God. [click to continue…]

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