Risk

When everything around you seems unsettled, and old foundations, once-sturdy, have given way to more invisible calls for faith…

As familiar faces and customary graces distance themselves, each for reasons of their own – each creating their own sense of short-term grief or longing…

I pray that you will experience a fresh rush of God’s Spirit – manifesting Himself powerfully, touching your heart tenderly, transforming you beautifully, reminding you faithfully that you are never truly alone. [click to continue…]

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man and woman

World changers… Meh.

We’ve turned that into a badly-worn cliché. It seems as though anybody with a Selfie Stick and a cause can be labeled a world changer.

And if your goal is to be famous – to get your 15 minutes of viral – let me just remind you that these days that cuts both ways. Thanks to the wonders of always-on video, social media and instant rushes to judgment, you can go from completely unknown to globally hated within hours. Just ask Walt Palmer or Justine Sacco.

But what if I were to tell you that it’s possible to have global impact – the long-term kind, way past your local address and far past your own lifetime – without being a celebrity or even well-known? What if it were possible to shake the earth with potential without ever holding a microphone or appearing in the media? What if I told you that even when you felt swatted away like a gnat by the elites, you could still make history?

This is for those who are looking for a hero without a stage, press conference, or package to sell. This is for those who may have resigned themselves to obscurity at best, or chronic rejection at worst. This is for the ordinary guy with average intelligence or the woman who has a cause (or calling), but no one to recognize their genius or talent.

I want to introduce you to the first “power couple” in the New Testament. But let me hasten to say that these two never conducted a massive missionary campaign, started a church, wrote a book of the Bible, or even said anything that was written down for future generations. They appear to be walking wallflowers. And yet the most famous Christian of his day said something about them that he never said of anyone else. [click to continue…]

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Quicksand

Ever have a conversation like this?

Whatever happened to ________? I really thought he was going places.

Not sure.  Ever since [insert a distracting or demoralizing event] he never was quite the same.

I’ve witnessed countless scenarios like that one. I even lived out a few of them.

The idea of leadership is that you’re influencing people, formally or informally, to move together toward a certain goal.  If it were easy, anybody could do it.  But because you’re dealing with people, and because leadership often involves matters of the heart, it’s easy to find yourself sucked into leadership quicksand.

At best, it’s a distraction and you lose focus.

At worst, it can paralyze and ultimately destroy your influence.

Here are 10 sloughs to avoid (or get out of today) to allow your leadership to see another day: [click to continue…]

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(Get Out of the Boat, Part 2)

Boat in storm

There’s a 92% chance that nobody will ever criticize you for playing it safe.

There’s an 11 out of 12 probability that when all hell’s breaking loose, it won’t be advisable for you to throw yourself headlong into something even more stressful.

There’s only an 8% likelihood the circumstances, life, people or even God would ever ask you to do something completely unprecedented, electrifyingly dangerous, or humanly impossible.

So you can probably just skip this post and resume your normal activities.

Unless…

Unless today’s that one-in-twelve – or once-in-a-lifetime – kind of day. [click to continue…]

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Crazy LoveBrandi is a student in upstate New York.  She introduced herself by saying, “I am a little bit of a new health nut, and love exercise, hiking and biking… I also have a serious love for candy, totally in contradiction to my healthy side.”

Then she adds this pearl:  “But hey, everyone has to have something they irrationally love.

I love it!  And I think she’s on to something. When everything in your life is reduced to what you can fit inside a logical, predictable box, it’s time to check some vital signs.

Charge to 20… Clear!

Sure, integrity and authenticity have their places – hugely important places.  But if there isn’t something that drives you on, keeps you up at night, fills your conversations, or fires your passion to the point that people think you’re just a little stubborn, obsessed or crazy, you need CPR (That’s Cardio-Passion Resuscitation). [click to continue…]

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Mountain BridgeNehemiah discovered a gap between what was and what should be.

What was – local thugs were keeping the holy city of his fathers in ruins as the people there had tried to rebuild it for 40 years.

What should be – a city with a wall around it.

In that discovery, he made a risky decision.  It wasn’t enough to pray or weep over it.  He needed to take action.  So Nehemiah aimed for The Gap.  And 52 days after his arrival in Jerusalem, the wall was completed.

Moses was hiding from his past on the back side of the desert when he discovered a gap between what was and what should be.

What was – the cries of the oppressed Israelites had reached the ears of their God.

What should be – a nation of slaves set free to inherit the land of God’s promise.

In that discovery, he made a risky decision.  It wasn’t enough to stand there and try to argue with a burning bush and the God who was calling him.  He needed to take action.  So Moses aimed for The Gap.  And weeks later, he and a few million of his family members stood at the edge of the Red Sea.

This is the essence of leadership.  [click to continue…]

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So somebody’s in charge, but nobody’s actually leading.  There’s a boss, but no vision caster.  You have an authority figure, but no one is harnessing the best efforts of the people in your organization.

In short, you have a leadership vacuum.  What do you do?

Quit?

Lead a mutiny?

Facebook your friends and tell them what a loser you have as a leader?

Try to outmaneuver others politically and manipulate your way to power?

Sit and suffer and hope for the best, while your peers keep howling for leadership?

How about asking God to smite somebody while you’re at it?

These are all approaches used to face situations that have become almost cliché they’re so common:  What do I do when my leader isn’t leading?  Organizations everywhere – businesses, churches, nonprofits, and schools are decrying a lack of leadership.  Somebody needs to make the tough decisions, cast the difficult vision, harness the amazing abilities and energy of the people!  And we seem to be convinced that the answer to the search lies somewhere else.

Maybe it doesn’t.  Maybe the search for someone to step into the leadership ends with you.  Maybe you’re the leader the organization needs, even if people in executive suites don’t necessarily see it yet.  Maybe you’re the catalyst for change, even if you don’t have the sanctioned power to make it so. [click to continue…]

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The earliest known drawings of you-know-who. From the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco

Suppose you could travel back in time and witness some event as it happened.  What would you like to see firsthand?

My family and I played that “what if” game on a trip a few years ago.  There were the obvious answers, of course, – to see the Red Sea divided into two walls of water, the resurrection or ascension of Jesus, to hear Lincoln’s Gettysburg address.

But lately I’ve been working on another list, because it speaks not just to the past, but to my future and yours.

If I could be a fly on history’s wall, here are some things I’d like to see, in no certain order:

I’d love to see Walt Disney show his wife sketch of a cartoon mouse he drew on the train ride home – one he called “Mortimer.”  Lillian had a better idea.  “Call him Mickey,” she said.

I’d love to see Oprah Winfrey’s first screen test.

I’d love to hear Billy Graham the first time he ever stood to preach.

I’d love to see Norman Vincent Peale’s wife, Ruth, mail his book manuscript – still in the trash can – to yet another publisher because he forbid her to take it out of the trash.  (The book was The Power of Positive Thinking.  It sold 30 million copies.) [click to continue…]

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Life is filled with plenty of things worth waiting for…

The answer to a prayer…

The fulfillment of a promise…

The completion of a process….

The realization of a dream…

These and many more are examples of the rewards of waiting for what is precious.

That said, there is one thing that isn’t worth the wait – now or ever. [click to continue…]

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I don’t know what else to call them.  But if they were all in the same vicinity or neighborhood, they’d be part of a ghost town.  They’re usually uninhabitable, with windows and doors gone or broken, and the roof letting in morning sunshine.

There’s at least one near you somewhere, but it may not be as easy to see as the hundreds that dot the wide open landscape near where I live.

Abandoned, but never empty.  For lack of a better term, I call them ghost houses.

Not haunted houses, though I’d rather not wander into one of these things after dark.  Broad open daylight either, for that matter.

Once upon a time these places provided a home for families.  Now they sit empty.  Sometimes the reason is obvious; sometimes it doesn’t make sense at all. Just in the last week I’ve seen several once-lovely and spacious homes now left to the elements, vandals, and critters.

Maybe someone died, and left no heir.  Maybe business dried up or sold out and forced a move.  Maybe the place got tied up in some sort of disagreement in court or with a bank.

Regardless, the end result is the same – empty, eroding testaments to lost usefulness and life.

Oh, if they could talk!  Oh, if they could teach us!

Call me weird (okay, who said that?).  But what started as a years-long fascination has led me to visit and photograph over 200 of these old places over the last week.  Most were houses.  But there are also old stores, gas stations, barns, schools, and even a few abandoned churches.

Some are part of the three certifiable ghost towns I’ve visited (a story for another day).  Most stand alone on the edge of town or in the middle of nowhere.

Nobody built one of these planning for them to sit desolate.  But sit they do.  And while the ghost houses have lost their primary purpose because nobody can actually live or work in them anymore, they being dead still speak.

And no, they’re not hollering, “Boo!”

They’re teaching some powerful lessons that speak to us as individuals and leaders, churches and organizations. [click to continue…]

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