Turning Points

LK

Dear Laura Kate,

It was seven years ago this month that we welcomed you into the world.  And what an amazing seven years it has been.  Of course, there are plenty of things in this world to feel alarmed or sad about.  For example, I seriously doubt that anyone has watched the news or read a newspaper in the last seven years that didn’t contain the word “terrorist” in it.

You have never known a world where, if people wanted to communicate, they actually had to look someone in the eye and use their voices to make words – or get a piece of paper and use a pen, pencil or crayon to write.

You have never known a world where English wasn’t a second language to “Textlish.”

You have never known a world without FaceBook, YouTube, or the iPhone.  “Grammy/Mommy/Papa/whoever, can I play with your phone?” became standard conversation early in your life.

Over the years, thanks to social media and places like this site, we have watched you grow and known that you were created without a mold. So when you marshalled your forces and launched an all-out invasion on First Grade, we all braced for impact.  [click to continue…]

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Wreck 2

Why?

It’s the favorite question of three-year-olds, because at three you’re still innocent enough to believe it always merits an answer.

But as time passes and our “whys?” become more sophisticated, we begin to understand that there are often multiple layers and perspectives of answers to that question.

Then sometimes there is no answer at all.  At least no answer that will ever satisfy our demand to know what on earth (or heaven or hell) is going on.

I don’t know why, and probably never will, somebody decided to stop dead still with no lights of any kind on in the fast lane of a freeway in New Orleans – just around a little curve.

I don’t know why, and probably never will, that had to take place just ahead of me.

I don’t know why, if such an appointment was necessary, it couldn’t have taken place during one of the many times I’ve cruised that stretch of highway alone, instead of when I was driving with my daughter and two grandsons.

I don’t know why, and probably never will, that high-speed rear-end collision turned into a hit-and-run.  I hit and he ran, never to be seen or heard from again. [click to continue…]

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IMG_6724

When was the last time you literally felt the tension or stress melt off of you?

How long has it been since you were so relaxed, breathing felt optional?

Where do you go to remember who you are, or reconnect – not just spiritually, but emotionally and physically also?

What would it look like for you if you suddenly found yourself surprised by peace?

All that and more has a single answer for me:  Friday.  That was the day we interrupted our regularly-schedule life and made the two-hour drive to the farm.  Know why?  Don’t laugh…

I wanted to see the flowers. [click to continue…]

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(Or Ministry…  Or Job…  Or Spiritual Gifts…  Or Life Mission… Or…)

Servant Leader

Years ago I had the privilege of visiting South Korea and preaching in two different evangelistic crusades.  One day our hosts took us to a beautiful national park – a very busy place, with lots of booths, a walkway up a small mountain, and a Buddhist temple.

As we were walking down the mountain and enjoying the beautiful scenery along the wide walkway, a young Korean woman approached me and asked if I was from America.

“Could I talk to you as we walk?” she asked.  “I’m learning to speak English and it helps to practice with someone who speaks it.”

She spoke English pretty well, albeit with a beautiful Asian accent.

“What do you do for a living?” she asked.

If you travel overseas or have any experience speaking to an ESL (English as a second language), it’s pretty common to try to simplify your vocabulary in order to be understood.  I was a pastor at the time, and was pretty sure she wouldn’t know what a pastor was. So I chose a different word…

“I am a minister,” I said.

Her whole countenance changed.  Suddenly she was in the presence of someone important!

“Oh!  You are a government official?”

Yes, I know I shouldn’t have… but I literally laughed out loud.  Then I tried to explain to her that in the U.S. we use the English word “minister” in a different way.

I think she was disappointed.  Anyway… [click to continue…]

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Archer

Dear Archer,

You entered our world today, December 18, 2014, and may I just say, you didn’t disappoint!  We fretted a little that we wouldn’t get here in time from Alabama, but like the gentleman you already are, you politely waited for us arrive, then for good measure took a few more hours for everybody to get their bearings.  Then in the fullness of time, you let it be known that you were large (our largest grandbaby yet), loud (probably the loudest, too), and in charge!

Other babies have been born on this day, but only you can claim to have a sister who’s the Sasster.  In a world of brothers and all-boy cousins, she’s the only girl, and I think she sorta likes it that way.  I know she loves being your big sister.  “He’s just adorable,” she said when she saw you for the first time.  And no, I don’t know how a first grader knows the word “adorable,” but she can probably also spell it, parse it, and say it in German, Spanish and Swahili.

You’ll learn the ropes from your brothers Shepherd and Fischer soon enough.  And yes, that frightens me just a bit.  That’s all I’ve got to say about that.

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Raw Chicken

Have you ever had somebody you wanted so badly to impress that you were sure to set yourself up for disaster?

Not really?

Okay, you can just laugh at my story then.

I was in my first pastorate – a lovely country church just out on the edge of a small town in southwest Alabama.  People there were so kind and gracious to us.  I was new and eager to impress, plus was passionate and excited about reaching people and seeing the church grow and flourish.

But this isn’t about reaching people or growing churches.  It’s about chicken.

Grilling chicken, to be precise. [click to continue…]

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Mama and the Twins

Today my mother would have turned 76 years old.  She passed away suddenly four years ago – a reminder to anybody who’s paying attention that there are no guarantees in this life.

Like anybody whose life has touched another for that long, I have lived long enough myself to see Mama’s mental, emotional, and moral DNA flowing throughout my own and my sister’s life, as well as through the lives of her grandchildren and now seven (soon to be 9) great-grandchildren.

We had our points of disagreement, some of them quite loud.  We also had hours of conversation – some of them way past bedtime.  And like Abel in the Bible, I love the fact that long after her life here was over, she still speaks to me today.

Give her a chance, she’ll speak to you, too.  Here, in no certain order, are the life lessons I learned from her. [click to continue…]

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Old Jalopy

The Rental

Last week we made a cross-country U-turn and returned to Lubbock for a wedding and some work and training.  We needed to rent a car, but weren’t too worried about it.  Hey, it was Wednesday, in June, in Lubbock Texas.  What could possibly be a problem with renting a car?

Texas Tech University, that’s what.  It’s the tail that wags everybody’s dog in Lubbock, and it seems they were having Freshman Orientation or something, and all the cars were booked.  Except at Hertz.  So we stand in the long line and wait.  Finally I tell the desk jockey I would like an SUV for four days.

“I can do that rental for $131.00,” she says.  I’m impressed.  “Go for it,” says I.

Turns out that was $131.00 a day.  Something about supply and demand.

Oh well.  Sometimes you’re just running on five cylinders.

(Speaking of supply and demand, the next day Alamo had a supply – $21.00 a day for a Camry – and I made a demand that Hertz take their gold-plated rental back.) [click to continue…]

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Leaving Texas

“What is the secret of your life?” asked Mrs. Browning of Charles Kingsley; “Tell me, that I may make mine beautiful too?” 

He replied, “I had a friend.”  -William C. Gannet

It was 18 years ago this month that I came to this place… this place of tumbleweeds and dust and amazing sunsets and more amazing people.

It was nothing short of surrender.  I had given up on me – the “me” of my own making or imagination, that is.

My friends in Atlanta asked, “Where are you moving?”

“To hell,” I replied.  “If the world was flat, Lubbock would be on the edge of it.”

But oh what I discovered when I showed up as a shell of the man I once was.  Most importantly, I discovered that God was here all the time, waiting so patiently for me to get here. [click to continue…]

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waterfall 10

It all started with that “Welcome to Mobile” sinus headache.

Ever go to bed with a mild ache that says, “You should probably address this before you get in bed?”

Yeah, about that.

I had this dull ache that turned into an evil roar at 3:30 in the morning.  Sinuses. Head. Neck.  Attitude.  Everything was in pain.

I didn’t want to wake people up, and didn’t have a lot of options, so I tried taking a shower.  That’s when my wife came in to see what was up.

Did I want some pain medicine, she asked?

Boy, did I.

Now I should mention that the “pain medicine” she referred to isn’t your basic over-the-counter pablum.  This was he-man stuff… soon I’d be pain-free and loving everybody.

I should also mention that it isn’t wise to take this on an empty stomach.  Bad things can happen. [click to continue…]

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