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Courage

(Get Out of the Boat, Part 3)

Empty Boat

(Note: Today is a very special day for me. It was 40 years ago today that the Lord made it clear to a young high school sophomore’s heart that He had a call and gifts for vocational service for me. All I had asked for is clarity, and on this night He did that in no uncertain terms.  There are many things I wish I could have done differently in the last 40 years.  But if I had one thing I could say – one lesson learned that surpasses all others during this time – what follows is a pretty good expression of it.  Hope you enjoy…)

How long are you going to wear that?

How long are you going to treat that uniform as if it’s a tattoo?

How long are you going to assume that past results are a guarantee of future disappointment?

How long are you going to treat failure as if it is a person – namely you – and not an event?

How long will you believe that people who love Jesus never blow it?  And people who blow it could never love Jesus again?

How long – how long – will you assume that forgiveness couldn’t possibly mean restoration?

Maybe you’re the one who needs to get out of the boat. [click to continue…]

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(Get Out of the Boat, Part 2)

Boat in storm

There’s a 92% chance that nobody will ever criticize you for playing it safe.

There’s an 11 out of 12 probability that when all hell’s breaking loose, it won’t be advisable for you to throw yourself headlong into something even more stressful.

There’s only an 8% likelihood the circumstances, life, people or even God would ever ask you to do something completely unprecedented, electrifyingly dangerous, or humanly impossible.

So you can probably just skip this post and resume your normal activities.

Unless…

Unless today’s that one-in-twelve – or once-in-a-lifetime – kind of day. [click to continue…]

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Desperate PrayerYou wouldn’t believe it.  Not unless you saw it with your own two eyes.

You wouldn’t recognize him. Not unless you were with that band of misfits that united under his leadership.

But here you are and there he is and My God, what has happened?  This is the guy whose exploits they sang about.  This is the Giant Killer.  In one afternoon you saw him rally his own people and send an army of Philistines running in fear.

And now he and you are living like pathetic dogs in a cave.  Dirty. Haggard. Weak. Exhausted.  And there before your eyes the man you knew would be king is at the end of his life.

Why?

Because he’s at the end of his courage.  [click to continue…]

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Breakthrough GrowthYou’ve been told how special you are, how good you have it, even in spiritual circles what an Overcomer you are. But what you hear doesn’t seem to match up with what you see.  You look at the rainbows and unicorns of somebody’s social media status and all you seem to see in your life are the clouds and jackasses.

Maybe it’s time for a reality check.  Maybe it’s time for a Come to Jesus meeting, where you actually come to Jesus.  There with a good dose of truth, faith, and courage you will see that you actually are more than a conqueror.  Yet you still must overcome.

Why?

Because every motion forward… in kingdom life, in relationships, and in your own personal growth runs headlong into resistance.

Even special people.

Even blessed people.

Even Overcomers must overcome.

Your identity isn’t a badge you wear to feel good. It’s a weapon you’re given to enforce the truth.  Maybe it’s time to sharpen that sword. Without a doubt, it’s time to overcome. [click to continue…]

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CriticOnce there lived a hard-to please husband whose wife was determined to try her best to satisfy him, if just for one day.

“Darling,” she asked that morning, “What would you like for breakfast? “

He growled, “Coffee and toast, grits and sausage, and two eggs ‑ one scrambled and one fried.”

She soon had the food on the table and waited for a word of praise.  After a quick glance, he exclaimed, “Well, if you didn’t scramble the wrong egg!”

Now that’s hard to please!

Of course, critics are nothing new. As long as people have aspired to rise above the level of the mediocre masses there have been people who attacked their motives for doing so.

As long as people have exhibited qualities of leadership there have been those in positions of power who used verbal attacks, “coaching,” and “constructive criticism” to “keep them in their place” and maintain control.

As long as somebody has offered to try to make something better by (gasp!) changing some things, there have been gossips and fish heads who questioned their right to be there, or anywhere for that matter.

Other than politics, nowhere will you find more criticism than the kind that’s hurled around in the name of God or religion. And if that describes you, I have a message for you:  God just called and He wants His name back. [click to continue…]

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Sword and Scripture

(If you never read another thing I write, before going any further, please read this short piece my daughter wrote to her children, ages 5, 2, and ten months. Click here, if you dare, and brace for impact.)

Okay.  Back?  Let’s get to it.

You don’t have the luxury of praying for people you love – especially your children or grandchildren – like a sissy.

The time is too short…

The enemy is too cruel…

The church is too powerless…

The Lord is too near His return…

…for you and me to sit on an arsenal mightier than a nuclear weapon and ask God to make their lives more comfortable…

easier…

safer.

Safer to whom, for God’s sake? The devil? The world? The ACLU? The media?

Stop asking God to make your little angels little angels. Or mild-mannered weenies.  In the name of all that is holy, I dare you to ask God to make them dangerous. Call on Him, in the heavenly realm, to put a sword in their teeth and courage in their hearts to blast a hole in the kingdom of darkness. [click to continue…]

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obstacle courseSecond period was blue.  Dark blue.  That was the color of our gym shorts in seventh grade.  Well, at least for those who sailed down the steps at Azalea Road Junior High to greet the red shorts brigade who was returning from Coach Crenshaw and Coach Perkins’ gym class.

Always anxious for coming attractions, we’d ask the boys from first period, “What are we doing?”  Sometimes it was something awesome like battle ball or football.  Sometimes it was something exotic like gymnastics.  But one thing was sure to send a chill up my adolescent spine:

The Obstacle Course.

I should probably mention here that my athletic ability was legendary.  In my own mind.  But running headlong into a class of 60 or so peers left little doubt that my gateway to glory wasn’t through athletics.

And if there was any doubt – if there was any shred of athletic dignity left in me – the Obstacle Course loomed as a reminder of the inglories that awaited. [click to continue…]

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Working Alone(Inspired by and dedicated to a great group of leaders I have had the privilege of working with over the last 12 weeks.)

It was a lonely life, but Jesse’s baby boy made the most of it.  His brothers probably learned the same way he did, but had gone on to other exploits.

David?  He was confined to the idiot patrol.  He was his father’s shepherd.  And it was there – alone with the dumbest animals on the planet – that David learned to be a leader.

He was alone when a lion came and seized a lamb from his flock.  He was alone when a bear did the same.  He was alone when he delivered those sheep from the valley of the shadow of death.  And the passion, courage, and wisdom he gained there – alone – forged pathways of leadership in Israel that were still in place years after his death.

Goliath?  That was just mop-up duty.

It’s true that leadership is on display when everybody else is looking.  It’s also true that leadership is being forged when no one is.  You may feel you’re in a wilderness, stuck making up silly songs to sing to the sheep.  In fact, you may assume that your solitude or lack of position means you’re no leader at all.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  Here are eight ways to influence an entire generation, even when nobody is looking to you as the obvious solution to their leadership needs.  [click to continue…]

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Mountain BridgeNehemiah discovered a gap between what was and what should be.

What was – local thugs were keeping the holy city of his fathers in ruins as the people there had tried to rebuild it for 40 years.

What should be – a city with a wall around it.

In that discovery, he made a risky decision.  It wasn’t enough to pray or weep over it.  He needed to take action.  So Nehemiah aimed for The Gap.  And 52 days after his arrival in Jerusalem, the wall was completed.

Moses was hiding from his past on the back side of the desert when he discovered a gap between what was and what should be.

What was – the cries of the oppressed Israelites had reached the ears of their God.

What should be – a nation of slaves set free to inherit the land of God’s promise.

In that discovery, he made a risky decision.  It wasn’t enough to stand there and try to argue with a burning bush and the God who was calling him.  He needed to take action.  So Moses aimed for The Gap.  And weeks later, he and a few million of his family members stood at the edge of the Red Sea.

This is the essence of leadership.  [click to continue…]

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Tricycle WreckHave you ever felt as though you were good – really good – at something?  I don’t mean false pride or arrogance.  I mean being a person with faith.  Faith in God.  And almost as important, faith in yourself, at least in certain circumstances.

The word for that is confidence, and without it, you’re toast.

Have you ever moved confidently into a situation and blown it?  I’m not talking about giving in to your weaknesses.  I mean digging deep into the well of your greatest talent, knowledge, or skillset and serving up what they call “gopher balls” in baseball.

All of us can shrug off those areas of weakness.  We know we won’t be perfect at everything.  (You do know that, don’t you?)

But it’s hard to know where to go or what to do when we get hammered for what we think we’re good at.

I’ve seen a lot of that lately.  I’ve had a few of those experiences myself, but I’ve also come across a variety of other people who’ve faced the same thing.  Their confidence has been rattled, and they’re not quite sure what to do next. [click to continue…]

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