For the last 2,000 years people from all over the world have staked their futures around two events that, for them, represent the most transforming experience in history. I’m referring to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
One of the most compelling proofs of the power of those two events is in the changed character of Jesus’ followers. Talk about Jekyll-and-Hyde! This ragtag group of crazies went from cowering wimps to a fearless army of witnesses with a single message: Jesus lives.
These people didn’t wait until the resurrection to believe in Christ. But they experienced a profound change in their faith when they encountered a living, victorious Lord.
So will you.
Even today it’s possible to know in your head that Jesus is alive, but live as though it’s still Friday night. In other words to believe in Jesus as though He were dead. So how can you tell the difference? Here are five signs you’re living on “Friday night” faith: [click to continue…]
(Sort-of-random thoughts after an oddly-shaped holiday season, complete with the Princess and her seven miniature companions… oh, and that reminds me… a trip to Disney, along with other uncertainties of life.)
Nearly every New Year’s night during my growing up years, I would find myself howling at the moon or somebody because of the insanity that was the college football bowl setup. Finally I have seen with my eyes what for years I had only seen in my dreams – a true semblance of a playoff. My team didn’t win. But it had a chance to compete, and that’s all anybody can ask for (unless you’re TCU, but I digress…).
Did you feel the earth rumble from all the photos taken at the Detroit auto show? Have you picked out your favorite auto eye-candy yet? The whole idea of a “concept car” fascinates me… slick looking ideas that get people all excited, only to be told they’ll never actually see that vehicle.
I started to get all huffy and offended, until I realized that the world I move in has its own version – the “concept Christian.” Sleek and slick, shiny and sexy-for-Jesus. But it is only in concept showrooms. How to get it into “real production” remains a mystery. [click to continue…]
Maybe it’s because I had another birthday yesterday, or maybe it’s because that birthday was also Election Day. Maybe it’s because I work with a school whose mission reads, in part, to “cherish character.” But lately I’ve had character on the brain.
Character in leadership.
Dr. King envisioned a day when Americans would be judged “solely by the content of their character.” Our answer to that culturally is to try and not judge anybody at all. That is, until the tide of public opinion breaks the dam of political correctness. Or the electorate gets a belly full of whoever the incumbent is. Or the arrogant, narcissistic preacher or politician or boss-person overestimates their awesomeness one time too many.
In spite of our fascination with techniques, charisma, methods, or technology, people of influence still have to deal with the Character Connection.
You have to deal with it when you look in the mirror, when nobody else is looking.
You have to deal with it when you’re on the pedestal, when everybody’s cheering.
You have to do it in the outhouse, when everybody’s jeering, or they have forgotten you.
In spite of our efforts to prove otherwise (and we’ve had some pretty spectacular efforts), character earns the politician the right to legislate and pontificate. Character earns the right for the preacher to articulate truth. Character earns the business leader the right to profit in the marketplace of both money and ideas.
And a loss of character can undermine them all.
There are lots of ideas – good ideas – about what forms and sustains character when it comes to leadership. [click to continue…]
Somewhere in the deepest places of your heart, however old and tired or fresh and alive it may seem, there lurks The Dream. Rooted in who or what you believe to be true, grounded in what you are most passionate about, The Dream is your ideal sense of beauty, happiness, and ultimate contentment.
For many people, The Dream is so patently obvious or so magically impossible, they hardly think about it, much less discuss it. For others, The Dream is tantamount to heaven, so they assume that the only joy here is preparing for life there, after death.
Let me be clear. “God has prepared things for those who love him that no eye has seen, or ear has heard, or that haven’t crossed the mind of any human being” (1 Corinthians 2:9, CEB). But in setting your heart toward home, He has given you a sense of life as it ought to be… as it can be. It may seem impossible this side of heaven…
Nevertheless, The Dream is there.
And you are here.
And in between are the Distance and the Spaces.
The Spaces are those markers and milestones that speak of the progress you have made in the direction of The Dream.
The Distance is the ruthless, unyielding set of facts, measurements and rules that, apart from God’s grace, show us just how far we have to go. [click to continue…]
When I get honest, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt, I hope and get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I am trusting and suspicious. I am honest and I still play games. Aristotle said I am a rational animal; I say I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer.
It’s time to face the facts.
Anybody ever say that to you?
Did they ever follow it with something that sounded like good news?
Where did reality get such a bum rap? I don’t mean Debbie-Downer-such-a-frowner stuff where you look for reasons to be miserable. I certainly don’t mean TV shows that pass for “reality.” I mean an honest assessment of the brutal facts that say, “Where you is is where you is.”
So… um… Where you is?
Do you realize that the only way you can ever experience meaningful change, positive results, breathtaking opportunities or fulfilled potential is first to enter the doorway of truth? [click to continue…]
This is an interesting time. Another school year is in the books (to coin a phrase). I don’t think I’ve ever seen more snippets from graduation speeches than I have this year. Lots of talk about knowledge, the future, credentials and stuff.
It’s also a time for remembering, especially on this day, that freedom isn’t free. What we know and enjoy today is based on the sacrifices of men and women who gave their lives so we could be free from oppressive and abusive government.
It’s a time in which we are reminded almost daily that we live in a world where people die before they’re “supposed” to, and that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness may be inalienable rights, but they’re not time-bound guarantees.
At any point in our lives, most likely, we can point to things with humble gratitude and declare, “I don’t deserve this.” At any point in our lives, we can point to things with frustration and despair and declare, “I didn’t sign up for this.” At any point in our lives, it’s a valid question to ask, “Where is God in all this?”
So in this season of talk about knowledge and the future and no guarantees and credibility and freedom, I wanted to encourage you with some reminders that have encouraged me lately. [click to continue…]
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…]
To stay in Your presence, with a heart full-ready to hear your voice…
Yielded and trusting as You’re breathing life into these old, dry bones…
Oh, what joy! This sweet surrender!
To watch for Your smile while the rest of the world is sleeping…
Dreaming with open eyes of the beautiful hope to spend endless days with You…
Oh, what hope! This sweet surrender!
I am that one who had lost his way, who spent his whole fortune in search of illusions…
But now I treasure the Faithful and True – the stubbornly real – the everlasting prize…
Oh, what life! This sweet surrender!
If I close my heart, may it be to my pride and selfish ambition.
If ever I fall, may it be into Your strong arms of grace.
Whenever I miss the mark, may I miss on the tender side of love.
If I dream the impossible dream, may it be in delicious faith.
If I do the ridiculous deed, may it be with contagious hope.
Whenever I miss the mark, may I miss on the sweet side of surrender. [click to continue…]
Pam is a worrier. She knows she isn’t supposed to, but her underlying insecurity tends to frame every thought or situation in terms of what’s the worst thing that can happen. When people tell her it’s a sin to worry, she just worries more about that. She would like some joy in her life, but after a couple of times being burned or disappointed, she feels the need to protect herself from pain.
Pam is living in the tension of a core conflict. And so is her boss, Alex.
Alex lives his life in pursuit of excellence. Work excellence. Play excellence. Family excellence. Financial excellence. Your excellence if you get close enough. The problem is that everything has to be so excellent that most times nothing is. Because Alex can’t settle for ordinary in anything, he’s haunted by mediocrity in everything.
Alex is living in the tension of a core conflict. And so is his sister, Teri.
Teri is one of the walking wounded. Her life has been a vicious cycle of injury, followed by failure, followed by injury, followed by failure again. It seems that whenever she’s working on forgiving somebody else, she becomes haunted by her own past sins or consequences. These past mistakes and conflicts have left her fearful of trusting and shy of trying anything or anyone new in her life. She knows her version of “playing it safe” is only adding to the sadness. But she’d rather have a sad heart than a seared one.
Teri is living in the tension of a core conflict. And so is her son, Will. [click to continue…]