Ambition

Carrying Weight 2

Chances are, you have no idea.

A couple of weeks ago we were packing for a week at Disney.

No, professional movers or U-Haul were not involved.

Anyway, when Robin got everything loaded into three suitcases that a near-grown human could fit into, she asked me to weigh the luggage to make sure she had thought of everything.

Um, I mean, to make sure it fit within airline regulations.

We have this handy little scale that picks up the suitcase by the handle and lets you know what you’re asking those baggage handlers to tote ‘n’ hurl. I picked up the first.

“Forty pounds,” says I.

“See what that feels like?” says my ever-wise wife. “That’s what you’re no longer carrying around.”

I should point out here that in the last five months I’ve lost about that much weight. And that little luggage exercise was enlightening.

I picked it up again, holding the scale and entire weight of the suitcase in one hand. That was what I had been carrying around, day-in, day-out, but had now shed. Needless to say, it made an impression.

I was impressed how ordinary and normal my extra “baggage” was. How easy it was to justify myself, despite the fact that 20 years ago I weighed about 60 pounds less. And how much I was presuming upon my created-by-God body to do in overtime.

I just didn’t realize how much weight I was carrying. [click to continue…]

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Shadows

“What I’m about to tell you is true. You need to change and become like little children. If you don’t, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Anyone who takes the humble position of this child is the most important in the kingdom of heaven. Anyone who welcomes a little child like this one in my name welcomes me” (Matthew 18:3-5, NIRV).

What started as an argument over greatness ended in one brief demonstration.

The greatest, Jesus said, was the one who humbled himself as a little child.

What’s the difference between that and typical adulthood? [click to continue…]

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Portrait of Invisible man in the hood isolated on black

Then there was that time I burned a hole in the back of my bathrobe.

Fortunately, I wasn’t wearing it at the time.

For reasons I can’t remember, but that made perfectly good sense back then, I was up in the middle of the night and trying to read.  For some reason the light wasn’t quite right, so I threw my robe over the lampshade.

A few minutes later I was interrupted by the unmistakable fragrance of stupid. [click to continue…]

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Shepherd Birth

O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or in things too difficult for me.
Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
From this time forth and forever (Psalm 131).

Soul-check time:  How “at rest” are you?  The answer to that will make all the difference in your worship, and your work.

This psalm of ascent is the confession of a soul at rest – a “weaned soul.”

The first verse speaks of three things the psalmist has turned away from – a proud heart, haughty eyes, or a mind that tries to figure out the impossible.  The common theme in each – I know my limits.  And I know my place.  I am free of selfish ambition and arrogance toward others.

Are you ready to start your ascent today?  [click to continue…]

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I have an urgent news flash for you:  Just because you know something is wrong, that doesn’t mean you’ll avoid it.

Shocking, I know.  And the corollary is also true: Just because you know you’re supposed to do something, that doesn’t mean you’ll do it.

Suppose you could interview Jonah – the Old Testament’s version of Gilligan – and ask him what the most important requirement was for prophets. What do you think he’d say?  My guess is that he would tell you that a prophet’s number one job is to speak what he hears the Lord saying to speak.

Why, then, did Jonah have to travel from the boat to the belly to the burp to the beach before he decided to do what his own standard said to do?

Resurrect a first-century Pharisee and ask him what it took to please God, and you’d probably hear something about keeping the law and prophets, serving God and walking in humility and discipline.

Why, then, did Jesus refer to the scribes and Pharisees as unwilling to lift a finger to meet a need, doing all their deeds to be noticed by men, loving the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and insisting on being called by respectful titles in public?  If serving God faithfully was so important to them, why did the Son of God warn people not to be like them?

Whenever the bad news breaks out about somebody who has shocked us with their oh-no, no-no behavior, we often ask silly questions like, “Well didn’t they know that was wrong?”  Of course they did.  Why, then, would someone violate their own standards of right and wrong?  [click to continue…]

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Pretender

by Andy Wood on April 4, 2012

in Gamblers, Life Currency, Love, LV Alter-egos

One of you will betray Me.

No way.

Yes, way.

Not one of us.

Yes, one of you.

But we heard you teach in the synagogues and on the hillsides.

Yes, and one of you will choose to live otherwise.

But we saw you perform miracles, like feeding the five-thousand!

Yes, and one of you who carried a basket of leftovers will himself be carried away.

But we healed the sick together with Your power!

Yes, one of you, who healed the sick with My power, will betray me.

But we cast out demons in Your name! [click to continue…]

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Ask most any Christ follower who or what the ultimate model for leadership is, and they’ll point you to Jesus Christ. 

Ask that same Christ follower what the ultimate standard for leadership is, and they’ll probably land on servanthood.  “Jesus was a servant leader,” they will opine, “and He called His followers to lead by serving.”

Okay, so far, so good. One more question.

Ask that same believer to name somebody from among the most successful ministries or institutions who actually practices servant leadership across the board…

…and watch their pupils widen.  The headlights just caught the deer.

In spite of all our claims to servant leadership, the honest truth is that leadership on a grand scale means knowing what to do with opportunity, influence, power, and public image.  Can a leader have all of that and remain a servant?

Yes. 

But will he?

Camels and the eye of the needle come to mind. [click to continue…]

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Inside you lurks a deep desire. 

It’s quiet, but compelling. 

It’s one of the secrets of everything that motivates you – in fact, your deep, abiding happiness depends on it.  Yet it’s so hidden, so behind-the-scenes, that if I were to ask you to list your strongest longings, I’m almost certain this wouldn’t make the list. 

But it’s there.  It’s powerful.  And your response to it may well be the difference between addicted and sober. 

Between ambition and actualization. 

Between frustration and fulfillment. 

The desire?  [click to continue…]

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opusI had an experience a few years ago that moved me more than anything had in months or years.  And to this day, I’m still not sure why, and/or why it moved me on that particular day.

It was a Sunday afternoon.  The house was quiet and I was alone.  I lay down on the bed and started watching a rerun of “Mr. Holland’s Opus.”  I’d seen the movie several years earlier, and for whatever reason, decided to watch it again.

I had already gotten pretty weepy at a couple of places in the movie.  But at the climax of the film, when Mr. Holland sees the lives he has impacted, and hears the governor, once his student, say, “Mr. Holland, we are your opus,” my guts turned inside out.  It hit a nerve – a deep, raw nerve – like nothing had in years – perhaps ever.

By this time I was sitting in the den, alone in the house, sobbing.  [click to continue…]

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munutoliAwards season is in full swing.  The Golden Globes, Grammys, and Emmys are history.  The Oscars are approaching.  That can only mean one thing:

Michael Minutoli is probably close by.

Michael Minutoli is a party crasher, and without a doubt one of the best.  For more than 15 years, this man has boldly gone where few of us would dare, and he never had a ticket.  You could find him at movie premiers, awards programs, concerts, and backstage parties.  Have tux, will travel.

He moves with such congruence, he blends right in.  And he has the pictures to prove it – more than a thousand of them.  You can find disposable camera prints of Michael with his arm around the likes of Harrison Ford, Katie Couric, Britney Spears, Paul McCartney, Dustin Hoffman, Tom Hanks, President Bill Clinton, Jack Nicholson, Sean Connery, Madonna, and Bruce Willis.  Just to name a few.

And boy, does he have stories to tell. [click to continue…]

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