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…]
Yes, this is me mocking my grandson. Or maybe Cason's mocking me. Hmmm.
Tucked away in the third stanza of a familiar hymn, Fannie Crosby penned these lines that were years ahead of her time:
Down in the human heart, Crushed by the tempter,
Feelings lie buried that grace can restore.
Except for the grace of God, every single one of us will go to our graves feeling guilty about our feelings. Can you relate to any of these?
- “I didn’t love my mother enough.”
- “I hate my father.”
- “I don’t like being a mother.”
- “I will never forgive her as long as I live.”
- “I love one of my children more than the other.”
- “Why can’t he just die?”
One person has said, “Emotions are what we have the most of, and know the least about.” One of the longest, and most frustrating searches that many people have is why do I feel the way I feel, and what can I do about it?
On the other hand, some people (stupidly) dismiss all that and passively allow themselves to be led around by their feelings as if they are helpless to do anything about them. Ever hear something like this? [click to continue…]
(Tense Truth: Every believer occupies a position of victory and authority because of the finished work of Christ. But we can position ourselves to fall victim to Satan – an already-defeated foe.)
He’s the player to be named later. The unwelcome guest at any crisis, the unspoken stalker behind every fear. He’s the artful author of your doubtful thoughts about God and the persistent reminder that you should just go ahead and quit.
And before a wise apostle concludes his note of encouragement to suffering believers, he puts in a plug to remind you and me…
This lion doesn’t sleep tonight. Or any night.
Pull back the Curtain of the Seen in the Land of the Obvious, and you will find that behind every frustration, accompanying every conflict, and beside every expression of trust in God, a battle is being waged. And you’re in it. [click to continue…]
Rag. Now there’s an every-day word.
Unsophisticated, earthy, almost guttural – rags are blue-collar, made-for-dirt, hidden-from-company kind of stuff.
We all have them, but some people go to considerable lengths to deny it.
“It’s not a wash rag, dear. It’s a wash cloth.”
“Oh. Yew not from around heah, are ya’?”
That t-shirt or those shorts you’re wearing? Rags in the making.
I grew up with wash rags, shop rags, shoeshine rags, snot rags (my dad’s term), and dust rags. “Dust cloths” were the property of Yankees and people from other parts of town. [click to continue…]
Soon we’ll be electing a new president, and get all those changes we’ve been hoping for. Gas prices are coming down. Congress will soon have – I mean, give us – some more of our money to spend. The economy is going up, or down, depending on who you listen to. The Iraq war is getting better, and troops are coming home. The Dallas Cowboys (plus Jessica) are America’s Team again. I guess there’s nothing left to worry about, right?
Not long ago I was in a public restroom that still had one of those pull-down linen hand towels. Somebody left the front panel off, and there for all to see were these emboldened words:
FAILURE TO LOAD PROPERLY COULD RESULT IN INJURY OR DEATH!
I dried my hands on my jeans. I mean, you never know! I could just see my tombstone now:
“Here the body of Andy lies,
He pulled on a towel, and found a surprise.
He lived life well, and we’ll never forget -
Now his soul’s with God, but his hands are still wet.”
I was eating at a world-famous restaurant that will go unnamed. As I walked beneath its arches (oops!) and ordered a burger, I grabbed a few napkins. There in beautiful print were these words: [click to continue…]
I guess it was the first face-off between parent and teacher in Carrie’s life. She was a little freaked in first grade about some impending disaster reported as fact in her science class – global warming, the death of the ozone layer, or something. We were riding in the car, and she asked me what I thought (in first-grade language, of course) about the certain impending doom of planet.
I found myself speaking from the depths of my soul – using words I’d never put together in the same sentence before.
“Carrie,” I said, “never, never, never believe anyone who would make you afraid of the future.”
I came by that honestly. I remember asking my dad at about the same age, “Did you know that the Russians have enough bombs to destroy every American?” He replied, “Yes, and we have enough bombs to blow up every Russian.” That more or less ended the Cold War for me. (By the way, you just haven’t lived until you’ve heard “Shout to the Lord” sung in Russian. Those American Idol contestants got nothin’ on our brothers and sisters in the former Soviet Union.)
This all came back to me last week. I was shopping with my wife at Walmart and passed a display of some sort of DVD series or books or something. The basic idea was, “spend your money on this to learn about how we’re all going to hell in a handbasket.” I passed.
[click to continue…]