Courage

Problem

It’s the elephant in your room. It may well be the first thing that people who know you think of when asked about you.  But maybe it’s been a part of your architecture so long, you’ve put a lamp shade on it and called it decorations.

I’m talking about something all of us have.  The things we wish were different, but check back with us five years from now and our “elephant” is still there.  It’s what I call our PWGA.  The Problem that Won’t Go Away.

You may refer to it in different language. You may use words like “weakness,” or “cross to bear.”  By now you may address it as the “same old same old” or as I did once in reference to my New Year’s resolutions:  “Oh, you know, the usual.”

For many people, their PWGA is something that is heart-rending. Something they’ve asked or even begged God to fix, heal, or otherwise change. And yet the PWGA remains.

For other people, a PWGA is a problem requiring a solution they aren’t willing to apply.  I know two words that can fix some people’s PWGA:  “I’m sorry.”  Or their nuclear cousin:  “I was wrong.”  But that’s too high a price for some people to pay. They’d rather live with the problem.

Some people have PWGAs that they are convinced have solutions. But they haven’t yet found those solutions and don’t know how to leverage their relationship with God to address it.

By now you probably have one or more of your own PWGAs floating around in your mind. Hold that thought. I want to introduce you to another guy. [click to continue…]

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Standing at the Door

(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.

How?

By isolating.

Withdrawing.

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…]

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Standing Out

You lose the right to privacy when you fail to be ordinary.

If you stand out, you’d better be ready to stand up.

Spectacular successes and epic face-plants invite public scrutiny…

Divided opinions…

Loose-lipped speculation…

And endless reminders that people like you…

Or don’t.

The alternative? [click to continue…]

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Stand at Sunset

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…]

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Notebooks

Welcome back to my front-row seat.  In my work I have the privilege of reading a lot of stuff.  Some of it is forgettable.  Some of it is way-past-profound, either because of the quality of writing or because of the truth it conveys, and I keep a collection of the ones that bowl me over.  You can see previous collections here and here.  Both are quick reads, but profound in what they speak.

Now this collection of seven happens to have a leadership theme, but they also speak to your spiritual life, your courage, and you humility (or lack thereof).

Now… slow down… breathe deeply… and take these in.  You’ll be glad you did. Click here – you’ll be glad you did…

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(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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