To a world He referred to as dark, and to people He said were distressed and dispirited, like sheep without a shepherd (that’s you and me), the Son of God appeared on the scene, moving at what must have appeared to some at times to be the speed of light. Unlike any preacher or prophet, rabbi or rabble-rouser they had seen before, He came with a different call – a different invitation.
“Join me,” He said. “Follow me.”
This was not a call for religious people to be more religious. It was not an invitation for unrighteous people to behave righteously. The stakes were and are far higher than that. The deep, abiding happiness He offers (“blessed” He called it) are an invitation to move from time Into Eternity. [click to continue…]
Okay, let’s start an argument. What would you say are the two most important words in the Bible?
I know because my two words are (probably) different, and I know I’m right.
Yeah, yeah, I know, they’re all important. But the way I figure it, if the Lord took the time to repeat something over and over and over, He must be getting at something.
Now I have to admit, it took me about 40 years to realize this. Which is about how long it took Moses to figure some things out, too, but I digress. The reason I took so long is because I let my brain check out when it should have been sitting up and taking notice. [click to continue…]
I keep a list of Darling Words – words that have a lot of charm or inspire the imagination. “Forever” is one of those words. It speaks of life. Grace. Commitment. And a long, long time.
Used poetically, Forever speaks of a depth of love that’s supposed to exceed the way we feel about watermelon or melted cheese on tater tots. It’s supposed to last longer than the latest distraction or the next annoying thing somebody does.
Forever is sometimes used to take a snapshot of a moment or a feeling. It’s the language of a hopeless romantic or magical thinker, inviting someone to a lifetime of adventure.
But more than that, Forever speaks the language of letting go of the past and starting something new. It speaks of a lifetime pursuit worth waiting for or something more powerful than death and the grave.
We come by our attraction to Forever honestly. The Bible says that God has placed eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). In spite of the vanity of our fallen condition, we are instinctively drawn to love for the long haul and life beyond this lifetime. Why, then, is “Forever” such a fleeting thing? Why don’t connections or commitments last beyond the latest inconvenience or frustration? [click to continue…]
(Sort-of-random thoughts at 30,000 feet with a lot of free time on my hands…)
It takes minutes to make paper fly; to build something capable of carrying you long distances takes months, and a lot of helpful, smart people. The same is true with your important dreams – and your character.
You were created with the language of Forever in your heart, and nothing else will satisfy.
“I will” spoken with resolve has power, but your resolve will be tested and the limits of your willpower will be exposed.
You were not born with the wisdom and capacity to wait, but wisdom and reward waits for those who learn to.
God created the world for you, not you for the world – but He does hold you accountable for leaving it better than you found it.
A thousand opportunities dance before those whose eyes are open to see them. Ten thousand chances pass by those too lost in fear or consuming to notice them.
Summers are God’s way of showing that you don’t have to be in a classroom to learn.
I just saw a man express his gratitude by giving up his first class seat to a woman… who happened to be wearing a United States Army uniform. I wonder how I can say thank-you to somebody today.
I will always respect the one who can wait (there’s that word again) with discipline, but then decisively act with courage.
I’m not so sure that God has a plan for you so much as God has a plan period and invites you to participate joyfully in it… Or bruise yourself on it. [click to continue…]
This may be a leap, but let’s assume for a minute that you know what it is you want, and you’re pursuing it. I don’t mean what you’re conquering in your search for lunch. I’m talking destiny, journey-of-desire stuff. Maybe it’s to influence or gain the approval of someone. Maybe it’s wisdom to make good choices or the ability to do something that’s hard or impossible for you right now.
Regardless, have you ever noticed that sometimes getting there feels like an eight-lane highway? And other times, the minute you start moving in that direction it feels like you just turned onto a muddy jungle trail?
Have you ever noticed that sometimes the journey launches like gangbusters, but then stalls or stagnates?
Chances are, you came to a fork in the road and made a wrong turn.
Robert Frost was right in his famous poem about the two roads and choosing the one less traveled by. What he failed to mention was that life or any worthwhile pursuit is a series of forks in the road, not just one. One road leads to a path that makes it easier to pursue your dreams; the other leads to mediocrity, failure, and defeat.
Appearances are Deceptive
Paths that lead to mediocrity and failure are well-worn and popular. They require the least mental effort or “soul work.” But what starts off as the path of least resistance quickly turns to the path of resistance-beats-my-brains-out.
Other paths may appear to require a lot of work or may leave you feeling isolated and alone. But somewhere in that spiritual, emotional, and mental work you activate forces that begin to carry your load, increase your speed, and move you in the direction of your truest desires.
The other tricky part about these forks in the road: [click to continue…]
Somewhere in the places where sighs give way to hope and promises sing to aching hearts, your soul waits for something different. More than the pleasure of a passing moment or those 15 minutes of look-at-me, you were created with a craving soul. “He has planted eternity in the human heart,” Solomon said, “but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.”
One day – sooner rather than later – that craving will be satisfied. And not by what the pavement is made of or what the real estate market is like past the pearly gates. Not by something that resembles Sunday morning at the church house, Monday noon at the White House, or Friday night at the penthouse. Craving souls are smarter and deeper than that.
One day – nearer rather than farther – tired hearts, stale relationships and flyblown religion will give way to a new dawn. And at long last your soul will taste satisfaction. Ashes will give way to beauty. You’ll trade your mourning in for the oil of joy. You’ll wear a garment of praise – complete with dancing shoes – instead of a spirit of heaviness. In the satisfaction of the soul… [click to continue…]
This is awkward. But I want to tell you about an experience I had a long time ago, when I was young and stupid (as opposed to middle-aged and ill-advised).
I was in a season in my life when I had lost nearly everything. I don’t mean that poetically. I mean, everything.
Friends… nearly all vacated.
Integrity and credibility… a bad joke.
I was a shell of a man, crushed under the weight of stupid choices, addictive behavior, and shame. I would sit and, without realizing it, rock back and forth. (Braves fans, remember how Leo Mazzone, the former pitching coach would rock on the bench? Yeah, that was me and worse.)
On this particular day, I was sitting in a hospital day room when somebody stuck his head in the door. “Anybody here named Andy Wood?” he asked. [click to continue…]
Carved into the side of one of my favorite places in the world – Deer Bluff, near the family farm in Alabama…
That brings up a thought:
Ever seen something like this carved in a rock or a tree (or written on a bathroom wall or somebody’s notebook)?
J.S. + E.J. = Tru Luv 4 Ever.
Without bothering to even ask whether you ever wrote something like that, I wonder where J.S. and E.J. are now? I wonder how “tru” their “luv” is today? I wonder if “4 Ever” really meant 4 days, or 4 weeks?
Then again, who knows? J.S. and E.J. may be J.S. and E.S. today, with four kids, three pets, two cars, and a nice mortgage. Maybe there was more than just “4” in their “4 Ever.”
Forever. Yet another of those charming words we overuse and undervalue. Often said in the extremes of emotion, for many of us “forever” only means until we calm down or come up for air. And yet we do live in a world of certainties, where words like “forever” and “always” really mean something. Trouble is, because of the ways we so often water it down, sometimes we lose the force of forever when it’s the real thing. [click to continue…]
This Sunday Tom Brady will lead the New England Patriots toward the pinnacle of NFL success – a fourth Super Bowl win, riding the wave of an unprecedented undefeated season. He is one of the most adored and admired players in football history. On top of that, he has been heralded as America’s Most Eligible Bachelor by “Entertianment Tonight” and a host of others who know this kind of thing.
And he’s anything but satisfied.
In a December 2007 interview on “60 Minutes”, Brady got honest and vulnerable. Take a look. If you are a Christian, your temptation will be to preach to Tom Brady. Before you give in to that urge, I suggest you let Tom Brady preach to you.
[click to continue…]