Discouragement

If you’ve been knocked down, get up.

If you’re too tired to take another step, but you’re not “there” yet, press on.

If your heart’s been broken, your trust betrayed, find an anchor for your soul and dig in. [click to continue…]

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The Twelve Pathways to Christmas, Chapter 7:  The Way of Warfare

(This is a reprint from a previous post and a chapter in my book The Twelve Pathways to Christmas. See below for how you can purchase the book and help support missions.)

December 23

The first thing Ryan Fisher felt when he awakened was an obnoxious cold wind, pelting his face with sleet.  The searing pain coursing down his legs and across his chest further aroused him.  Opening his eyes, he saw movement outside, but the angle of his SUV in the ditch made it difficult to tell what was happening.  One thing was sure – the distant siren and flashing lights were for him.

Another thing became certain pretty quickly.  Assuming he lived, Ryan Fisher would spend Christmas alone.  There’d be no plane to catch, and nobody boarding a plane back to Birmingham.  Not in this storm.

It was the end of the day from hell, punctuating the week from hell, capping off the year from hell.  And now, freezing and in shock, Ryan Fisher closed a mental door.  He was done. [click to continue…]

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Sadness and happiness

Hop on the Hypothetical Bus with me for just a minute.  Let’s take a ride.

Let’s assume that as far as you know you’ve been doing everything you know to do correctly.

  • You brush and floss 2-3 times a day.
  • You have your daily devotions.
  • You exercise devotedly.
  • You give your money regularly to your church and other places.
  • You do a really good job at whatever you call work.
  • You only eat organic Cheetos.
  • You get your milk from a Christian cow.

Yet despite all the good things you’re doing and the faith and expectations you’ve been exercising, you just checked the scoreboard and,

Uh oh…

Your life is something like that mean football cheer:

Watermelon, watermelon, watermelon rind!
Look at the scoreboard and see who’s behind…
You!

What do you do when the news should be good, but it’s discouraging instead? [click to continue…]

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Misty november morning at lake

Hey… you on the treadmill or the carousel.

Yes, you.    I have a question for you.

Remember the time you had an idea that would make a difference in your world?  Remember when you aspired to something better?  Something richer?  Something gloriously possible because you imagined it so?

Yeah, so… whatever happened to that idea?  Whatever happened to your dreams?

Remember when you were on a mission – when you had a sense of calling and clarity, and you even gave the G-word as your source?  Remember when you stepped out in confidence because God told you to?

Yeah, so… whatever happened to that calling?  Whatever happened to your dreams?

Remember when you were enflamed with passion or infused with hope because you could see it, taste it, enjoy it even before you experienced it?  Remember when you were so excited you could hardly sleep at night?

Yeah, so… whatever happened to that passion?  Whatever happened to your dreams?

Remember when you were determined to get something done – to solve a problem or meet a need or advance a cause?  Remember when you swore that you were done with idle living and wasted time?

Yeah, so… whatever happened to that determination?  Whatever happened to your dreams?

Remember when you were surrounded by can-do people who spoke into your life with encouragement and faith and offered to help you get where you were going? Remember when they convinced you that you had what it took to get it done?

Yeah, so… whatever happened to that connection? Whatever happened to your dreams? [click to continue…]

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Wrestling

Imagine going to the mailbox and getting a letter – a personal letter – from a famous person.  Not a politician or media darling, but someone who is supremely respected in spiritual circles.  Let’s say for the sake of illustration that it’s a hand-written letter from Billy Graham.

And since I’m making all this up, let’s say you’ve never met Dr. Graham, and are a little surprised he knows you exist, much less knows your address.  But there you are and there in the mailbox is his letter.

After some preliminaries, some kind greetings, Dr. Graham gets around to his reason for writing.  “I want you to know, [insert your name here], that I’ve been struggling lately.”  (Oh… step back… Let’s assume this isn’t a fund raising trick.  Now on with the story…)

Instantly your concern and attention gravitates to these words.  Egads, he’s getting personal! Why is he struggling?  Why is he telling me he’s struggling?  What does his struggle have to do with me?

“This has been going on for some time…”

Wow, this is serious.

“And I’ve been battling this with everything I have.”

He’s not kidding around.

“And the struggle is over you.” [click to continue…]

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Different

Made an amazing discovery the other day.

Did you know that not everybody is filled with joy when you decide to step out in faith, or take your relationship with God seriously?

Did you notice that the whole world seems to push back when you decide to make a major change for the good in your life?

That spiritual excellence irritates religious people?

That our slip-ups, foul-ups, and whassups are nothing new – we’re even creatures of habit with the devil?

That your biggest enemy is often yourself?

Opposition (pause here to sigh).  Come on, Lord!  Why can’t something be easy?

Truth is, some things are.  [click to continue…]

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Exhausted AthleteHey.

I’m gonna make this quick.  Not because it’s not important, but because this is just a time-out, not halftime.  I have to make a mad dash to the bank (more on that later),  and you have to hurry up and do whatever it is you do when you’re in a hurry or somebody’s hurrying you.

Look.  I know you’re tired.  I know you’re facing a little resistance.

Okay, a lot of resistance.

I know that things are taking longer than you anticipated

I understand that you’ve had some disappointments or setbacks.

I realize that light you saw at the end of the tunnel hasn’t gotten any bigger lately.

I get it.

But you’re not gonna quit.  You’re not gonna give up.  You’re going to see this through.  Know how I know?  Three reasons. [click to continue…]

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Christmas 2004.  I’m pretty sure it was the last time I made the trek to Deer Bluff.  Pictures were the thing this year, and one day Joel wanted to go to Deer Bluff to take some.  It was nice to be back there, this place near the family farm that has always captured my imagination.

At one point I was up on top of the bluff and Joel was down below taking pictures of the initials carved in the stone near the small cave.  Meandering through the volcanic rock and fallen branches, I tripped over a log and fell with a thud on my stomach and shoulder.  I also hit some sort of piece of wood, and cut a couple of plugs out of my fingers.

The fingers were the ugliest, but the shoulder was the greatest concern.  Lying there, I wondered if something had been broken.  Later, my biggest fear was that I had torn my rotator cuff.  Finally, a year later, the MRI showed I had shredded the tendons in my shoulder and yes, I would need surgery.

Awesome.  So that’s what a stumbling block is.  And I was right in the middle of a stumbling zone. [click to continue…]

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Today’s a special day – not just because it’s my daughter-in-law’s birthday – that would make it special enough!  But today’s also the fifth birthday of this site.

Almost 10 years ago my friend Kevin Rhoads was telling me about a new way to communicate that had become really popular – something called “blogging,” which was short for “web log.”  “It’s sort of like an online journal,” he said.

Hmmph.  Knowing the kind of stuff I usually put in my journal, my first reaction was, “That’s a crazy idea.  Who would want to read that?”

Then a couple of years later I wrote a book for a 40-day church campaign, complete with videos and teaching sessions, called LifeVesting.  You can read the back story here.  After that, I was looking for ideas to keep the momentum and to expand the message that was in that book.

It was then that I was introduced, I think by Kevin again, to Seth Godin’s blog, and I was hooked as a reader and inspired as a writer.  So that’s how a blog can help.

So on October 12, 2007, the LifeVesting site was launched.  Five years into it, this is post number 780.  Through a wide variety of ideas, rants, thinking-by-writing, and a few pictures along the way, the central theme remains the same:  Your life can be better tomorrow than it is today.  You can create your future, solve problems, impact eternity, and really live today.

This was never intended to be just a blog site, and I’m excited about new plans that are coming.  Soon, Lord willing, I will be developing the “web site” side of this ministry in which we offer a newly-rewritten LifeVesting book, other books and media, and live and online seminars.  In addition to that, we are already working on a web site for The LifeVesting Group, our professional counseling and coaching ministry.  More on that very soon.

But today we celebrate.  Or at least I do, and you get to peer in.  In thinking about what I could share in terms of a “best of” or “most popular,” I found a plug-in that helps me know how often different posts have been shared on Facebook, Twitter, or Google-Plus by you, the readers.  There could be many reasons why somebody clicks on a post or page, but only one reason they would share it – it must have meant something to them and they wanted others to see it as well.

So here’s a countdown of the top 11 most-shared posts over the past five years (there was a tie for 10th).  Please click on a few of these – maybe you can see what the excitement was all about.  (Of course, feel free to share them again!) [click to continue…]

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There’s a well-known philosophy in some leadership circles that leaders never admit their mistakes.  This being an election year, you can expect to see that in full force.

The problem with that philosophy is that being in a position of leadership – formally or informally – puts you out in front of people where they can see your mistakes loud ’n’ clear.  So when you pretend you don’t have any, you look worse than proud.  You look rather stupid.

The biggest issue with mistakes in leadership is not whether you make them, but whether you repeat them.  Show me a politician, a corporate executive, a pastor, or any other form of “leader” who dodges the issue of failures, I’ll show you a leader destined to repeat the same mistakes.

On the other hand, if it’s true that being a leader means being “first learner,” then one of the best places to start is with your own lessons learned the hard way.  Here are 10 lessons I learned by getting it wrong before I ever got it right: [click to continue…]

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