According to the experts in global culture, setting aside specific countries or tribes, you belong to one of 10 primary social groups: Anglo, Germanic, Latin European, African, Eastern European, Middle Eastern, Confucian, Southeast Asian, Latin American, and Nordic.
One in 10 – that alone makes you pretty statistically insignificant.
Broadly speaking, again setting aside the ever-increasing labels for new “communities” springing up, three genders have been formally recognized at a government level somewhere in the world – male, female, and transgender. Factor that into the previous set of distinctions, and move over – now you’re one in 30. [click to continue…]
It’s a Martian word, so you probably don’t hear it a lot down here, unless you move in some hipster or techie circles. It’s a darkly guttural word that sounds something like a bullfrog in a fight with a cat, so it lacks a certain sense of poetry.
But it’s an important word to describe a unique and powerful ability that can separate:
- leaders from posers,
- successful marketers from annoying advertisers,
- elected officials from also-rans,
- spiritual shepherds from obnoxious preachers,
- faithful, lifelong friends or marriage partners from relational flame-outs,
- Oprah from, well, anybody (okay, just kidding… a little).
I’m referring, of course, to grokking. [click to continue…]
God grant me serenity to call the impossible, possible with You,
Vision to see the achievable in obviously-hopeless situations,
And wisdom to discern the difference.
Give me faith to boldly ask You for the unthinkable, [click to continue…]
Come on, admit it… when you first saw this title you started hearing the old hymn in your head, didn’t you?
I once was lost, but now I’m found,
Was blind, but now I see.
If not, I’ll bet you are now.
With apologies to Philip Yancey for borrowing the title of his excellent book, I had a curious collision with “amazing” the other day and thought I’d share it. It started when I read this simple greeting from the Apostle Paul to a group of Christians in Corinth.
I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus.
Isn’t that sweet?
Any believer anywhere can testify, as John Newton and the Corinthians could, that the grace of God has been given to us by Christ Jesus. And if this verse had no other context or backdrop it would be precious enough. But our thinking about it would soon lose its edge. Sure, everybody who knows Christ can testify of the grace of God.
Sure, we were “wretches” and now we’re saved. But that was a long time ago for a lot of us. In the immortal words of Janet Jackson, what have you done for me lately, Grace?
The answer to that – Grace in the present, not the past – is what’s so amazing about grace. [click to continue…]
World changers… Meh.
We’ve turned that into a badly-worn cliché. It seems as though anybody with a Selfie Stick and a cause can be labeled a world changer.
And if your goal is to be famous – to get your 15 minutes of viral – let me just remind you that these days that cuts both ways. Thanks to the wonders of always-on video, social media and instant rushes to judgment, you can go from completely unknown to globally hated within hours. Just ask Walt Palmer or Justine Sacco.
But what if I were to tell you that it’s possible to have global impact – the long-term kind, way past your local address and far past your own lifetime – without being a celebrity or even well-known? What if it were possible to shake the earth with potential without ever holding a microphone or appearing in the media? What if I told you that even when you felt swatted away like a gnat by the elites, you could still make history?
This is for those who are looking for a hero without a stage, press conference, or package to sell. This is for those who may have resigned themselves to obscurity at best, or chronic rejection at worst. This is for the ordinary guy with average intelligence or the woman who has a cause (or calling), but no one to recognize their genius or talent.
I want to introduce you to the first “power couple” in the New Testament. But let me hasten to say that these two never conducted a massive missionary campaign, started a church, wrote a book of the Bible, or even said anything that was written down for future generations. They appear to be walking wallflowers. And yet the most famous Christian of his day said something about them that he never said of anyone else. [click to continue…]
Raise your hand if you want tomorrow to be better than today.
Raise your other hand if you would rather God give you prosperity than calamity.
Good. I’ve got you where I want you. Now give me all your money.
You and I were hard-wired for hope. Something in our DNA makes us want to believe that tomorrow can and will be better than today. When times are easy, we tend to presume on that. When times are tough, we go looking for it.
Maybe that’s why Jeremiah 29:11 has become such a popular verse in recent years. Go into any Christian book store or gift shop and you’ll see it on coffee mugs or on some idyllic painting or poster:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Doesn’t that do something for you? It certainly does for me. It tells me something about the heart of my God for me as an individual, and for the people I care about.
Trouble is, we take it completely out of context. [click to continue…]
I was going to write something about America or the lost art of Independence or something like that today. Then I heard that Andy Griffith died. What – or who – could be more quintessentially American than that?
Andy and his neighbors in Mayberry came into our home weekly when I was a kid – and daily through syndication for years after that. And there was a reason. Yes, he served as a reminder of a simpler time. After all, can you imagine anybody but Opie having a secret password – much less a dozen of them? But he also reminded us of the values and wisdom we’re capable of, even today.
Nobody ever actually lived in Mayberry. Yet vicariously millions of us have. There wisdom wasn’t reserved for ivory tower elitists or political think tanks. Lifetime lessons were readily available from places like the Sheriff’s office, Floyd’s Barber Shop, or Gomer and Goober’s Service Station. The cast of characters, always good for a laugh at ourselves, also reminded us of somebody we knew.
Everything I ever needed to know, I could have learned in Mayberry. So could you. Here’s just a sampling… [click to continue…]
Take a look at this picture.
Care to guess where these beautiful stones came from? [click to continue…]
“Joel Andrew Wood! I call you to walk with me in Integrity, Responsibility, and Accountability, and to join me in this community of men!”
There, through a line of tiki torches and a longer gauntlet of whooping, encouraging, cheering men walked my son. For fourteen years I had been his hero. Tonight he would be mine.
As he reached the end of the double line where I was standing, I placed a special necklace around his neck that he has to this day. Then I turned him to face those men and said some of the most powerful words I have ever spoken: “Gentlemen, this is Joel Andrew Wood, my son, in whom I am well pleased.”
I have always lived with the honor of walking in my own father’s unconditional favor – even when he didn’t always approve of my choices. On this night 11 years ago, I had the greater honor of publicly declaring that same kind of blessing over my son.
A Fatherless, Manless Culture
Ours may be the only culture that has no formal point where a boy becomes a man. [click to continue…]
To see in him the image of two – an increase to my place in the world;
To shelter him, and walk at his pace until he can walk at mine;
To lend my strength until he has his own;
To model a partnership of intimacy and trust;
To introduce him to an abundant world;
To teach him the ancient ways, that will live in him beyond my lifetime;
To set him free, even from my influence;
To touch eternity by the ways I touch his life…
This is the sacred trust – to forever remain the friend of a child.
Photo Source: Scenes from Indonesia
Photo credit: REUTERS/Beawiharta