I wasn’t going to do it this year.
I was tired. Really tired.
Frankly a little lost.
In a year filled with sorrows, disappointments, and a little health scare of my own, I had about decided to forego the attempt to frame this year around a central theme – my one word. (You can read more about the idea as a substitute for New Year’s resolutions here.)
Previous years saw themes emerge such as Lean, One, Advance!, and Renew.
Cynical candidates for this year included such cheery themes as Coast, Surrender, or Vegetate. Nothing else really seemed to resonate, so I had decided, despite a couple of really good suggestions from my daughter, to pass this year. That’s when I decided to take a walk yesterday.
And about the same time the Holy Spirit seemed to whisper, “Yes. Walk.” [click to continue…]
(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.
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…]
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…]
What are you good at? I mean, really good? When people ask you about your strengths, what are your boilerplate answers?
Now, the dreaded weaknesses. What are those things you repeatedly tell people or God or yourself that you need to work on and improve?
Now I’m sure as soon as you read those questions, the ready answers showed up. And at some point you’ve probably had the tug-of-war about which you should work on – do you leverage your strengths or work on your weaknesses?
Now take both of those mental lists and set them aside for a minute. Let’s boldly go where no one dares to go…
Let’s talk about your mediocre middle.
See, none of us are awesome at everything, and none of us is terrible at everything. A significant part of your life falls somewhere in the middle. And because it isn’t all that remarkable, you just don’t give it that much attention.
Too bad, since that’s where most of us live most of our lives. [click to continue…]
(In 100 words, every New Testament reference, in order, from John to 1 John, describing God’s vision for how Christ followers act toward each other. Read this slowly. Thoughtfully. Out loud if possible. Learn some things… watch the flow, note the repetitions… and remember, this means both giving and receiving, so go back and re-read it as a potential receiver. Leave a comment and tell me what you find. )
+++++++ [click to continue…]
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…]
It’s hard for Alex to force himself to go to work these days. The honeymoon there is way past over, and the only reason he shows up now is a paycheck. He compares himself to others who have gone way too long without any job, and feels guilty for complaining. But this work situation is starting to affect his health, his relationships, and his confidence. He’s been looking, but no other possibilities have presented themselves.
What does Alex do? Does he endure or does he walk away? Does he press on, or does he “step out in faith” in search of new opportunities?
Tyler and Jennifer have reached a similar decision, not about work, but about the church they attend. The congregation has been hit hard with splits, neighborhood transition, and pastoral changes. They have been a part of this fellowship since they married, and have faithfully served. But they have moved to another neighborhood themselves, and it feels harder and harder to go back to what feels like a sinking ship.
What do they do? Is this a time to be “steadfast, immovable,” and all that? Or is it a time to “mount up with wings as eagles” and fly away?
(Yeah, you can make the Bible say just about anything you want it to in cases like this.)
These kinds of questions are common for any believer… [click to continue…]
Ever have a conversation like this?
Whatever happened to ________? I really thought he was going places.
Not sure. Ever since [insert a distracting or demoralizing event] he never was quite the same.
I’ve witnessed countless scenarios like that one. I even lived out a few of them.
The idea of leadership is that you’re influencing people, formally or informally, to move together toward a certain goal. If it were easy, anybody could do it. But because you’re dealing with people, and because leadership often involves matters of the heart, it’s easy to find yourself sucked into leadership quicksand.
At best, it’s a distraction and you lose focus.
At worst, it can paralyze and ultimately destroy your influence.
Here are 10 sloughs to avoid (or get out of today) to allow your leadership to see another day: [click to continue…]
I never laid eyes on you before.
Never had dreams come true before.
But there’s always a time for a new beginning.
Our multiplied sorrow now is through.
And all of the waiting’s over, too.
And it’s been worth it all, for this new beginning.
And who is like the Lord, who turns my mourning into dancing,
And holds all things together, in His hands?
He whispered, “Let there be…” and He began the world all over.
But this time He laid its future in my hands.
(Unfinished song I started 30 years ago today, when my baby girls were born)
Your life is an adventure in starting over.
You may prefer maintenance mode. You may want to pretend that you’re in perpetual motion. You may claim to be too old, too successful, too far along, or too [insert excuse here], but the fact is, your entire life is a collage of cycles and rhythms.
And that involves starting over. [click to continue…]
Here’s a good conversation starter for you. If you could identify one thing in a prospective leader that would ensure success, what would it be?
Or if you are currently in a place of influence, what’s the one thing you should strive for, today and every day?
Let the suggestions roll in… discussions like these will yield stand-by favorites such as vision, compassion, examples, character, communication, inspiration, encouragement and the like. All good answers.
It probably wouldn’t surprise you to know there’s a Bible answer for that. In fact, there are several, if you dig deeply enough. But there’s one place where the Bible – particularly the Apostle Paul – addresses leaders. And there he could have used any word in the language of his day to challenge them. So what one word did he use? See for yourself: [click to continue…]