Kindness

personal

You never know who’s watching.

You never know who models his or her life after you.  Sure, there are the ten percent who make it clear, but like icebergs, the other ninety are quiet. Below the surface and virtually invisible, but no doubt there.

All the while watching… for a path to follow… a faith to imitate… or a life that’s contagious.

So walk your path authentically. Believe hopefully.  Live abundantly, all the while leaving clues for searching hearts to find.

Because somebody’s watching.  And they’re following you. [click to continue…]

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Wreck 2

Why?

It’s the favorite question of three-year-olds, because at three you’re still innocent enough to believe it always merits an answer.

But as time passes and our “whys?” become more sophisticated, we begin to understand that there are often multiple layers and perspectives of answers to that question.

Then sometimes there is no answer at all.  At least no answer that will ever satisfy our demand to know what on earth (or heaven or hell) is going on.

I don’t know why, and probably never will, somebody decided to stop dead still with no lights of any kind on in the fast lane of a freeway in New Orleans – just around a little curve.

I don’t know why, and probably never will, that had to take place just ahead of me.

I don’t know why, if such an appointment was necessary, it couldn’t have taken place during one of the many times I’ve cruised that stretch of highway alone, instead of when I was driving with my daughter and two grandsons.

I don’t know why, and probably never will, that high-speed rear-end collision turned into a hit-and-run.  I hit and he ran, never to be seen or heard from again. [click to continue…]

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I spend a lot of time trying to think up new things, or new ways to say the familiar things.  I’m a big believer in singing a new song to the Lord and the exquisite beauty that comes from being completely random every once in a while.

That said, our brains were build to learn by repetition, and our hearts were made to be renewed by reminders.  That’s why the Bible has four gospels, Kings and Chronicles, and the books of Deuteronomy and 1 John. All built on some form of repetition.  That’s why the early church met daily from house to house or had a regular assembly on the first day of the week.  To be reminded.  To be renewed.

I know I accidentally repeat myself plenty of times, but today I thought it may be time for a little deliberate renewal – some purpose-driven (sorry, Rick) reminders of the big stuff – a harvested collection of some of the good stuff.  Not my stuff, but those themes that keep us going and keep going themselves long after we’re gone.  So here goes… [click to continue…]

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In my job I encounter a lot of difficult people in situations. I’m having a hard time seeing them in God’s eyes, so how do you love unlovable people?

Well, you’re already a step ahead of most people because you used the word “love” as a verb.  The reason most people have trouble loving difficult people is because to them “love” has something to do with a feeling, and they’re waiting around for the feelings to change.  All the while Stanley Steamroller is still on a roll right over you, or Oliver Obnoxious is still giving you all the reasons you should feel inferior.

Grrrrrr.  God loves you… but He doesn’t have to put up with you every day.

Can you imagine what it would be like to be on the other end of a frustrated phone call all day, every day?  Or to work at a Customer Service counter where, no matter who shows up, there’s a problem and they aren’t happy about it?

Can you imagine being a server in a busy restaurant on Sunday when the after-church crowd comes rolling in?

Oh.  Then there’s the bosses.  The coworkers.  The neglected or needy friends.  The family member.  And those are supposed to be for you!  I remember one place I used to live.  I didn’t have any enemies that I knew of.  My friends made me want to leave town.

How do you feel love for people like that?

Another problem with loving difficult people is that we tend to wait until we’re face-to-face with them before we head to the love dispenser.  By then it’s too late. [click to continue…]

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You show me Grace in the cases
Where I would be tempted to give up on me.
Yet you see past the walls and the falls to the work of art
Hidden in this cold heart of stone.
You alone have the faith to see what I could be
When You finish the good work You started in me
When You first showed me Grace.
And I’m amazed.  And I thank you.

You show me Grace in the places
Where I’m still resisting the changes You make.
So you shake my desire from the mire of my stubborn will –
Patiently waiting till I bend.
You intend only good for me – to flourish, free
From the lifeless and broken man I used to be
When You first showed me Grace.
And I’m amazed.  And I thank you.

You show me Grace in the spaces
Between where I should be and where I remain,
With a stain from a past that still casts a dark shadow when
All I can see is sin and shame.
Yet you came to restore the years and store the tears
That I’ve cried in my brokenness, longing and fear
When You first showed me Grace.
And I’m amazed.  And I thank you.

You show me Grace in the faces
Of people who touch the untouchable me.
They can see through my blindness, with kindness they lovingly
Call out the best in me to grow.
And You know how I need to feel what You can heal
Through the tangible goodness You chose to reveal
When You first showed me Grace.
And I’m amazed.  And I thank you.

You show me Grace in the traces
Of glory that whisper to me of my home.
While I comb through the aches and the breaks of a world that yearns
For the day You return to claim
Those you came to redeem from the grave and captive slaves
Like I was when You found me and paid all to save –
When You first showed me Grace.
And I’m amazed.  And I thank you.

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As I give thanks to You at the end of the day or greet this day with hope, the one thing lately that I want above all else is to live with a full heart.  The one thing I fear most is passing through what’s left of my days with sterile laughter, superficial comfort, or counterfeit gladness.

I don’t want to say, “I love you” and not mean it.  I don’t want see your handiwork in all its glory and not be moved by it.  I don’t want to chase a life of ease and catch up to an empty heart.

So I come to You, knowing there’s no one who can fill my life with that kind of love, or free my soul from that kind of passionless bondage, like You do.  And I pray that just as the morning sun fills the earth with light even on a cloudy day like today, that You would do what only You can do: [click to continue…]

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Ronnie Blair spent a lifetime waiting for the perfect moment.  And he never seemed to find it.

He waited to ask Lisa Crane to the Senior Prom.  Ricky Styles beat him it to it.  Now they’re married with two kids and a third one on the way.

He waited to apply for the college scholarship from his father’s employer; didn’t want to appear too eager, he said.  He missed the deadline.

He waited for the perfect job to present itself upon graduation, and in the process passed up three good choices.  He wound up taking an entry-level hourly position not even in his field.

He waited for the perfect time to ask Leanne Wilson to marry him, and to her it seemed as though he was afraid of commitment.  They wound up possibly the only couple in town who got engaged as the result of an argument.

In Ronnie’s life, the pattern was always the same.  [click to continue…]

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When it comes to relationships, are you a builder or a buster?  I’ve known both, and I’m sure you have, too.

Relationship builders are liked.  Respected.  Trusted.  They believe in the deep, abiding value of relationships with others, and invest their lives in nurturing them.  But they also seem to go about relationship building in an almost-effortless way.

Relationship busters are different.  They may get along with anybody for a season, but sooner or later their relationships tend to blow up or fall apart.  Or they live in constant relationship drama.

One of the things I have learned about relationships is that a large part of them are an inside job.  That is, there is a difference between the way builders and busters think.  And whatever controls your thinking right now establishes the course of your relationships for a long time.

In his letter to the Colossians, Paul writes from a Roman prison and encourages them to engage in linking thinking: [click to continue…]

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In the course of this short year so far, I have been reminded suddenly, and sometimes rudely, how short life can be, and how there are no guarantees of the things or people we tend to take for granted in this world.

I have also been reminded that life is filled with the potential to make mistakes.  Sometimes those mistakes arise out of misguided values.  Sometimes out of boneheaded stubbornness.  Sometimes mistakes arise out of good things taken too far in self-serving directions.  Often those mistakes come when we lose our sense of balance.

I’ve thought a lot lately about how short life is, and frankly, sometimes how much shorter that I wish it could be.  Hillsong United’s “Soon” sure sounds appealing: [click to continue…]

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It’s time to break the silence.  So in a minute I’m going to tell you the most shameful, disgraceful thing I’ve ever done. Then I’m going to tell you the second most shameful, disgraceful thing I have ever done.  I’m not proud of either (hence the terms “shameful” and “disgraceful”), but in the spirit of James 5:16, there is healing to be found in honesty and vulnerability.  

More on that in a minute.  But first, here are seven new half-baked ideas that are still baking up in my oven… [click to continue…]

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