Stewardship

You awake?

That’s what the text read at 11:00 one night last week. My son-in-law, Curtis.

Yes, I replied, and soon the phone was vibrating.

What do your kids or in-laws or whoever call you about at 11:00 pm? This one got interesting very quickly.

“Hey man, I was sharing this with Cassie about this and she said I should call you.”

Cassie also said later I should blog about it. So there. You’re welcome.

“This” was an insight into something that dates all the way back to Eden. It’s been rocking my world ever since. The implications of this idea are poignant and tragic, yet dripping with possibilities. [click to continue…]

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(Or Ministry…  Or Job…  Or Spiritual Gifts…  Or Life Mission… Or…)

Servant Leader

Years ago I had the privilege of visiting South Korea and preaching in two different evangelistic crusades.  One day our hosts took us to a beautiful national park – a very busy place, with lots of booths, a walkway up a small mountain, and a Buddhist temple.

As we were walking down the mountain and enjoying the beautiful scenery along the wide walkway, a young Korean woman approached me and asked if I was from America.

“Could I talk to you as we walk?” she asked.  “I’m learning to speak English and it helps to practice with someone who speaks it.”

She spoke English pretty well, albeit with a beautiful Asian accent.

“What do you do for a living?” she asked.

If you travel overseas or have any experience speaking to an ESL (English as a second language), it’s pretty common to try to simplify your vocabulary in order to be understood.  I was a pastor at the time, and was pretty sure she wouldn’t know what a pastor was. So I chose a different word…

“I am a minister,” I said.

Her whole countenance changed.  Suddenly she was in the presence of someone important!

“Oh!  You are a government official?”

Yes, I know I shouldn’t have… but I literally laughed out loud.  Then I tried to explain to her that in the U.S. we use the English word “minister” in a different way.

I think she was disappointed.  Anyway… [click to continue…]

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Flying moneyEver try one of those teachable moments with your kids that gets turned back on you? As in, Who’s teaching whom?

Twenty or so years ago, we were living in West Alabama and I took Cassie, about age 9, to the local shopping center (translation: Walmart).  It was just before Easter.  We didn’t find whatever it was we were looking for, so we left past the customer service counter.

“Daddy,” she whispered.  “Look… those people are poor!

I looked.

“Those people” were a middle-aged married couple, standing at the customer service desk. They were very humbly dressed, to be sure. And they had all the individual parts to make their own Easter baskets – apparently not able to afford the prepackaged wonders that were for sale in the back.

Ah, Fatherhood! The opportunities we have to engage with our children at teachable moments to give them perspective, wisdom, and character.  This was certainly one of them, and a donned my SuperDad cape. [click to continue…]

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(A Conversation)

200291528-001The Kids

I’m impressed with your kids. Well, most of the time.

They’re not my kids.

What?

Not mine.

(Gasp!) You mean…

Noooo, not like that!  I’m their father.

Oh, so they are your kids.

Nope. I gave them away a long time ago.  In fact, on the day they were born.

To who?

To God.  He’s the one who gave them to me in the first place.  “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.  Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands” (Psalm 127:3-4, NLT).

Okay, whatever, but they’re your responsibility.

Oh, of course.  God gave them to me for a season to help turn them into strategic weapons for His kingdom. So I feed them, clothe them, and train them.

Train them to do what? [click to continue…]

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(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…]

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JumpOK, so there’s this guy who’s asking his brother-in-law for a major favor.  This isn’t like lending a wheelbarrow or babysitting the kids for a weekend.  This order’s pretty tall.  As in,

Could you leave your family?

Oh, and your country, too?

And help me babysit my family of three million?

Hey, what’s a family for?

And get this – all indications are that that the brother-in-law did it. 

Curious yet?  I sure would be, for several reasons: [click to continue…]

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maubilaDoc Johns wasn’t a doctor; he was a pharmacist.  But ever since Bo Brannon ripped his eyelid on a pretty mean briar while playing Capture the Flag at night on an old lake bed and proceeded to bleed like a stuck pig, Marion J. Johns became known to us as “Doc.”  As Bo was howling at the invisible moon, sure that life as he knew it was over, somebody in the Boy Scout troop said, “Let’s take him to Jeff’s dad… he’s a doctor!”

So Doc it was.  Bo lived; his gaping wound by night was just a pretty ugly scratch by day.  And Doc Johns – then the Assistant Scoutmaster, had a new name. [click to continue…]

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Why do you have the resources, abilities, relationships and intelligence that you do?  Why do you lack the brain, the pain, the financial gain that others have?

It all comes back to the Trust.

What you “have” isn’t yours any more than what somebody else “has” is theirs.  It all – even your life – belongs to God.  He purchased it completely with the death and resurrection of His Son.  But He has entrusted the management decisions to you.  Incidentally, the primary management decision you must make is what you will do with the death and resurrection of His Son!

Jesus’ story of the talents illustrates the point. (You can read my paraphrase/summary here.) Each of the servants received part of the master’s possessions to manage for him while he was away.  That represents your life and all it entails. [click to continue…]

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(A Turning Point Story)

Glavine

Glavine

It was something out of a Looney Toons episode.  The kind of thing you’ve heard about happening, never assumed would happen to you.

It happened to me.

I had gone away on a far journey and entrusted all my worldly goods to my wife and three kids, telling them we’d settle accounts when I got home.

Well, not exactly.

September 13, 2001 – Do the calendar math.  It was a surreal and vulnerable time. I was actually out of town on a consulting trip, when I got a call fairly early in the morning.  My twin daughters were calling, breathless with excitement.  Somebody had gotten the bright idea to leave a cardboard box in front of our house with two kittens inside.

“Daddy, can we keep ‘em, pleeze?  We’ll take care of them, and feed them, and clean up after them.  We promise.”

I wanted to kill them. [click to continue…]

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What do you do when you’ve done what you know to do, and what you know to do isn’t working this time?  How do you explain the fact that time-tested methods for producing results, solving problems, and getting ahead just aren’t working this time?  How do you plug the leaks in your economic life?

Questions like these are front and center among politicians, economists, investors, and families these days.

The problem isn’t a shortage of solutions.  The problem is that that the solutions we know are supposed to work aren’t working.

We’re like a wad of sailors on a stormy sea, who keep running to opposite sides of a ship to steady it in the waves – while all the while, the hull is leaking.  I’ve seen it at kitchen tables; I’ve seen it at capital buildings.  Everything we do to steady the ship just draws in more water, and sailing has turned to bailing.

I wonder if anybody is asking – really asking – God.

(Aw, what does HE know?)

Plenty, it would appear.  This isn’t the first time politicians and businesspeople confronted a leaky economy. [click to continue…]

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