Identity

Refugees

Once upon a time, long ago a man was sent on a mission.  His responsibilities were clearly laid out and for a while he kept them.  But one night he went for a walk and found himself lost.

Lost.

And in the domain of a foreign kingdom.

He was hungry. He was tired.  He no longer had the resources provided for him by those who sent him. So he asked for help from the kingdom where he was a trespasser.

That didn’t go well. [click to continue…]

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Broken Mirror

Here’s one that’s sitting on the edge of Cliché-ville…

“Do you believe God has forgiven you?”

“I do.”

“Have the people involved forgiven you?”

“I think so, yes.”

(Pregnant pause…) “But have you forgiven yourself… (more pregnant pause)?

I don’t mean to poke too hard at this – it’s a valid concern. I know plenty of people, myself included, who have become experts at beating themselves up for past failures. I have some vivid memories dating back many years that I can re-live with detailed emotional horror, usually followed by the out-loud words, “Stupid, stupid, stupid!”  I sure haven’t forgotten those things.  Does that mean I haven’t forgiven myself?

What about the person who isolates from others in the name of solitude, or who lives like Mister Achievement, as if he’s making up for lost time or in some kind of race? Is that what self-forgiveness looks like?

It sounds good to ask the soul-piercing question.  But how in the world is somebody supposed to know in truth that they’ve actually forgiven themselves? [click to continue…]

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Christmas 2016

As your heart gathers around memories of Christmases past and delights of Christmas present, as the busyness and stillness collide in something called “holiday,” I pray that like all those involved in the first Christmas, this would be a day of wonder for you.

I pray you would embrace joyfully the beauty of mystery – knowing that the mysterious is a cousin to the miraculous – and you are gloriously free from being able to explain everything in 140 characters or having to control any and every outcome. [click to continue…]

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2016ASE

This is a 2016 silver dollar.

It’s official, struck by the United States Mint. [click to continue…]

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student-in-lecture-hall.150603

(Defining Moments Edition)

“I believe every Christian walk has a string of defining moments.”

So wrote Brian Fouts, a former student. And since I’m buried in grading papers and watching for more treasures like that one, I thought Brian and some of his peers could show you a few of their defining moments.

The following quotations come from student assignments and represent amazing writing and insight, or a unique way of capturing truth or marshaling language. They taught me a thing or two about those defining moments we all have, and I think they’ll encourage you as well. Enjoy…

+++++++ [click to continue…]

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Gratitude

Come on, admit it… when you first saw this title you started hearing the old hymn in your head, didn’t you?

I once was lost, but now I’m found,
Was blind, but now I see.

If not, I’ll bet you are now.

With apologies to Philip Yancey for borrowing the title of his excellent book,  I had a curious collision with “amazing” the other day and thought I’d share it. It started when I read this simple greeting from the Apostle Paul to a group of Christians in Corinth.

I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus.

Isn’t that sweet?

Any believer anywhere can testify, as John Newton and the Corinthians could, that the grace of God has been given to us by Christ Jesus. And if this verse had no other context or backdrop it would be precious enough. But our thinking about it would soon lose its edge. Sure, everybody who knows Christ can testify of the grace of God.

Next!

Sure, we were “wretches” and now we’re saved. But that was a long time ago for a lot of us. In the immortal words of Janet Jackson, what have you done for me lately, Grace?

The answer to that – Grace in the present, not the past – is what’s so amazing about grace. [click to continue…]

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(A Brief Conversation about symbols and change and heritage and hate and other awkward things…)

What’s wrong with it?  It represents who I am.

It also represents some things you don’t want to be.

It’s my heritage!

Some would say it’s hatred. [click to continue…]

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Be the Light

I don’t think I’d have to argue long to convince you we’re living in a dark world.  Tune in your favorite news source and it seems that it’s a daily reminder that whatever was dark yesterday has only gotten darker today, and – get this – the only “fix” for it is to change the rules and make yesterday’s “dark” today’s “light.”

Pardon my cynicism, but pay attention to what everybody is calling “evil” today. All other things being equal, a decade from now people will openly declare it as “good” or “right” or necessary.

I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t be surprised that the world has its own answers to the messes it’s in.  Even now, in the United States of Iowa, one Democrat and 72 Republicans are mixing it up with the locals, presenting themselves as the light of the world.

I think you know better. [click to continue…]

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Beautiful view of silhouette of airplane

(A Fable)

Aging and sad, a grand hulk of useless machinery sits in an airplane hangar when it probably should have been sold for scrap.  Designed by an Engineer as an elegant flying machine, this plane has never left the ground or even taxied the runway.  For reasons that still don’t make sense, when the time came to assemble all the parts, in the end the plane looked more assaulted than assembled.

To an untrained eye everything appeared to be in place.  There was a fuselage, wings, wheels, and engine shrouds.  But if you looked closer, you would see that the assemblers failed to actually install the engines.

The assemblers did other damage to the interior of the plane as it was being put together – so much, in fact, that the order was canceled and a new plane secured. Having royally failed inspection, the plane was unwanted and unneeded.  It would have cost more to fix what was broken than it would have simply to start over.  So for years, lost in the shadow of what could have been, the airplane sat, exposed to the elements, powerless, lifeless, and unwanted.

Word reached the Engineer of the plight of the flying machine. Moved by a sense of love for his designed creation and a conviction that airplanes were made to fly, the Engineer did the unthinkable.  [click to continue…]

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Vacant Room

There’s a house in my neighborhood.  Beautiful place.  Well built and spacious.  And for the last two years, completely empty.

Not for sale.  We have some of those, too, complete with yard signs and open houses.

Not in foreclosure.  None of those stickers on the window with the bold letters NOTICE at the top.

No, this home – this beautiful home – is paid for (or being paid for).  Ready for move-in.  But for reasons I do not know, it sits completely empty.

I’ve been thinking about that house lately.  I’m sure the owner has his reasons.  But it sure seems sad that something built to provide a lot of comfort and satisfaction fails to fulfill its purpose as it sits, unoccupied.  Hey, even the mail addressed to “current occupant” has nowhere to go. [click to continue…]

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