Can’t believe it’s been a whole year, but I got to see Walter again yesterday. We took a little ride and shared a little fellowship. It was good to catch up.
Two years ago Walter was going through a severe depression. He had been through a series of deep losses, including his job and health benefits. That’s tough enough for anybody, but at Walter’s age new careers don’t just grow on trees. I really don’t know how old Walter is, but I’m 54 and he’s a good five-to-ten past that. I have to say, though, he makes it look good.
There is none of that suicidal darkness remaining that so gripped this man just a couple of years ago. And make no mistake about it – this was no bootstrap operation. Walter is joyfully explicit about Who gets the credit for raising him out of the pit. His life radiates with gratitude and joy, even when he’s all business.
Walter is especially excited because he and his wife are meeting their children and grandchildren in a few weeks. [click to continue…]
You may be wondering if anybody sees, anybody knows, anybody cares. I wanted you to know someone does. And I am praying for you.
Especially on this day, as you pour yourself out in love, I pray you experience a return – not just in the world of faith, but even in the realm of sight – that others would give back to you as you have so faithfully given to them.
As you laugh today, I pray that others laugh with you. As you sing, I pray that others sing along. As you labor, I pray that others work beside you. As you dance for joy, I pray that even there you delight in the company you keep. [click to continue…]
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…]
Way back in the day, Chuck Bolte and the Jeremiah People did a hilarious skit called “The Service” about five people sitting on a church pew waiting for the service to start. There was an older couple, a younger couple who had it all together and knew it, and a young wife who in tears admits that her husband has left her and moved into a hotel.
Out come the clichés. In one place, Chuck who played the younger man, said something like, “You see, Julie, as Christians we’re on God’s winning team. We make our baskets, we sink our putts, we cross the goal line!” Then he asks that penetrating question: “Julie, have you made Christ the center of your marriage.”
“Look,” she says. “I don’t know how to make Christ the center of our marriage. I come here for help and all I get are words… words I’ve said to myself a thousand times.”
Ouch. But hey, at least she got some words. Sometimes church people don’t even do that.
In 35 years of some sort of ministry, I’ve been blessed to receive a lot of gritty grace. Sure, some people got it wrong. But I’ve seen enough people get it right to dismiss my own “inner Pharisee” and pay it forward. They taught me how to run to the spiritually wounded, not away from them. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned along the way. [click to continue…]
Davidson High School, Mobile, Alabama. Circa 1974. My freshman year. I’m standing in the cafeteria line, waiting to decide whether I was going with the hamburger or whatever today’s chef’s choice was. It was there I spotted her, headed toward the faculty dining room. This was worth losing my spot in line for.
She was our school guidance counselor, and also an experienced English teacher. She was wise about things I was ignorant of.
She also happened to be my great aunt.
“Aunt Helen!” said I. “I wanted to ask your advice about something.”
“What’s that,” she replied.
“Well, see, I’m writing a book – a novel – and I wanted to get some advice from you about how to get it published.”
(I should pause here to interpret what “novel” meant. I probably had about five chapters, about five notebook pages hand-written each, about a tough-guy high school kid who winds up dying for the girl he loves, who happened to have the same name as the girl I was fixated on in the ninth grade. Anyway…)
Her advice was sage – way wiser than my 14 years. She didn’t write off my dreams and tell me that 14-year-olds don’t get published as novelists. She didn’t boggle my mind about query letters, agents or publishing houses either. She offered me words of encouraging truth. [click to continue…]
Q – I am really backsliding in my relationship with God and I’m not really worshipping like I used to. What should I do? Please help.
There is more to life than trusting Christ as your Savior and waiting to die so you can show up in heaven. He has designed a journey of growth, love, and intimacy that allows you to make choices today that will serve you in this life (the future) and the next (your eternal home in heaven). It’s also possible, however, that you can waste your life and its opportunities for intimacy with the Lord. That’s the basis of this question.
Every believer deals with this issue – what to do when we find ourselves drifting away from that connection with the Lord. If somebody gave merit badges or degrees in this, I’d be at the front of the line! Here are some things I have found to be helpful in reconnecting my life with God, reordering my priorities, and renewing my spiritual life. [click to continue…]
It’s a small, weary feeling you carry day and night
Against a vast expanse of time, trouble, and exhaustion.
You’re at the mercy of circumstances that somebody else controls.
You feel jerked and tossed back and forth like a rudderless boat.
Lost for direction or answers,
You’re still moving, but you don’t quite know where…
You’re still seeking,
But sometimes you forget what the questions were in the first place.
Yet something keeps you hanging on –
A voice that says, “I’m here, be strong,”
A prayer of faith, a nighttime song
Of hope that says, “This won’t be long.”
Someone keeps you hanging on. [click to continue…]
The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord, but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me but always evil” (2 Chronicles 18:7).
If the guy who’s always right is also the guy who’s always talking about repentance or judgment, here’s a thought: repent and avoid judgment.
The solution is NOT to find a different collection of advisers who only tell you what you want to hear. [click to continue…]
Tucked inside a rapid-fire to-do list in the Bible is a simply-carved roadmap into the hearts of other people. After Paul suggests how believers can get along with their persecutors, and before he suggests how we can get along with other believers (that’s a much longer suggestion), he gives this encouragement:
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep”(Romans 12:15).
A simple phrase. But a world of meaning packed in these simple instructions. [click to continue…]
I will give the lonely a reason to believe in companionship again.
And in so doing, I will banish loneliness from my own heart forever.
-from The Encourager’s Creed
Somewhere near you is an Eeyore in Tigger’s clothing. They’re bouncy, flouncy, trouncy, pouncy, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun on the outside. But on the inside they’re desperately alone and resigned to eating thistles. And you can make a difference.
There is somebody not far away who is adored for all they do and have to offer. They have no shortage of attention, compliments, and outright praise. Yet for all the attention and admiration they receive, they are profoundly lonely. Why? Because while many people are amazed by them, nobody seems to understand them. But you can.
It’s the chameleon of the emotional world. It blends seamlessly into any environment, and play-acts with the best of the cons. It can empower anybody to be hysterically funny in order to disguise the depression and isolation. It can offer wisdom or encouragement or insight to anybody else, but receives precious little in return. It can mimic the language of the spiritual, with talk of solitude and prayer and hearing God – yet all the while it disguises a relational wasteland. But you can (and should) break through all that.
Loneliness. Ever since Eve and her husband were evicted from their first home, something in us has ached with a longing for companionship and deep connection. We want to know we are searched (understood) thoroughly, known intimately, and loved unconditionally. [click to continue…]