You likely have those things that, when they come along, you know that Christmas will be here soon. Maybe it is a decoration, or a food, or a song, or a smell in the air—whatever it may be, when it is present, Christmas is not far behind it.
For my brother and me, when we were children, it was The Wish Book. My mother would bring home that thick catalog, The Wish Book, full of nothing but toys. Continue reading
Legalism is just the flesh in its Sunday best.
(This is a new version of an earlier piece from a couple of years ago, but it is Christmas, after all…)
This is the time of year when the thoughts of many turn to family, memories, and or course, gifts.
God is a gift-giver. The best one, in fact. Continue reading
It is one of the loudest things you will ever hear.
The silence of God.
The battle-torn heart-cry rasps your voice, your cheeks redden, salt-burned with tears, and you raise your face, hoping to hear a word…hoping to hear anything at all…
But there is only the sound of the blood pulsing in your ears and the rise and fall of your breath marking out the moments of no answers. Continue reading
There’s an old joke about a church hosting a visiting pastor who was very passionate about his message and roved about the stage limited only by the reach of the long cord running from his lapel microphone back to the sound system. While waving his arms and shouting loudly, he came very near to the edge of the stage more than once as the microphone wire pulled taut. A little girl on the front row leaned over and asked her mother in a panicked whisper… Continue reading
I have hiked miles upon miles over unforgiving terrain, walked knife-edged ridges covered with ice and snow and scaled vertical cliff faces hundreds of feet above valley floors, but the mountain before me made me shudder.
It was only about two feet tall.
On my bed.
I started thinking lately about what really matters when I am in the middle of doing ministry. After much thought and prayer, I arrived at these essentials… Continue reading
“What will you have to drink?”
That is a question we hear often whether at a restaurant, at dinner at home or with a hospitable friend.
But I have never heard God ask that question. Continue reading
I don’t know what You have for me Lord.
But You have my yes.
I have fought long to view my circumstances through a safe and constricted window with a too-small view of Your eternal grandeur…
Handed my yes over to a thousand other lesser things while holding back my sacrifice at Your altar…
Attempted to fit surrender into my life instead of fitting my life to surrender…
And accept my yes.
Whatever You want.
Wherever You want it.
However You want to accomplish Your plan.
Place me in the middle of Your will so that I will be out of Your way.
You have my yes.
“Give me your needs, dreams and hopes. Your well-worn desires and uncertain days in the unknown future. Trust that I see and know.”
“Turn over the painful mistakes, the guilt-riddled, sleepless nights and the weight of past regret. Let My grace be more than enough for you.”
“Surrender every moment, every breath, every heartbeat to Me–the One who gave them all to you.”
To all I know and all I know not with a whole heart and without reservation.
You have my yes.
I will say what You want me to say.
Go where You send me.
Live and love and lead as You desire and direct and empower.
Your will alone.
You have my yes.
As Creator, You made me.
As Redeemer, You bought me.
As Lord, You own me.
As Father, You love me.
Being fashioned of clay,
Purchased by blood,
Designed for Your service,
And adopted as Your child,
You have my eternal yes.
We jockey for position…
First in line.
We do whatever it takes to get ahead of the next person and make ourselves the priority.
But then we read Jesus’ words: Continue reading
The massive dust cloud billowed across the highway as the eighteen-wheeler a short distance ahead of me left the road, plowed through the dry dirt and withered grass, crossed the ditch and buried itself in a pile of recently-cut pine trees.
This changed the tone of the Saturday drive.
Looking back, I am thankful for lost dogs who aren’t really lost.
I’ll explain what I mean soon, but back to the wreck… Continue reading
I’ve read Carey Nieuwhof’s book on leading change, and it’s great. Here he explains the dynamics of opposition to change in a super-clear and solid way.
It is known as a memento mori. A tangible reminder of the brevity of life.
The name comes from a practice of the Romans. A slave would accompany a victorious general in his chariot as he rode along in the triumphal celebration. As the crowds cheered the warrior’s return, the slave would stand behind him and whisper, “Memento mori.” The phrase means, “Remember that you must die.” It was a reality check intended to relax the grip of dangerous pride and point toward the passing nature of human glory. It also clearly stated that life is short.
Over the centuries, memento mori have taken many forms. In some instances, it was a skull kept on display or an image of a deceased person. The clockmakers of Europe created mechanical images of the Grim Reaper to come out on the hour and ring the chimes marking the passing of irretrievable moments. Still other cultures used trinkets and jewelry to remind them of how life moves swiftly along.
For me, it’s the milk display in grocery stores. Continue reading
“Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages. Bitter cold. Long months of complete darkness. Constant danger. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.” – December 1901
So it is said the advertisement placed in the Times of London read in promotion of Ernest Shackleton’s expedition to the Antarctic at the turn of the 20th century. Numerous men showed up to join him, spurred by the promise of risk and the faint possibility of success. On the third expedition, his ship, The Endurance, was crushed by the ice and, for 22 months, the crew found themselves braving the elements and clinging to meager hopes. Continue reading
God corrects, chastens and calls us to obedience, but He never discourages His children.
Since this is true, any discouragement I feel is not from Him.
That is comforting, but there is another side to that idea…
If am being controlled by His Spirit, I will not be discouraging to others.
I usually ask God certain questions when I face the unknown…
“What do You want me to do?”
“Where do You want me to go?”
“When do You want me to act?”
Yesterday, He convicted me that I seldom, if ever, ask Him a specific question when I don’t see a clear path ahead…
“Who do You want me to become?”
I can do the right thing in the right place at the right time and still fail to become more like Christ.
I often want Him to inform me, while He desires to transform me.
Today, after a prayer, and quite suddenly, God brought this sermon to mind (click here to watch). I had honestly forgotten about it. Having forgotten and having listened again just now, everything was a total surprise…and exactly what I needed to hear at this moment.
I know it has been a hard row to hoe for you lately. You didn’t ask for this situation; it dropped into your lap, or more accurately, dropped on you. It’s unfair how you have been treated; no one deserves that. Now you face the darkness and have no idea of when you will see relief. It would be one thing to face this with just yourself to look after, but you have others who depend upon you as well. It keeps you from being as lonely, but adds to the pressure to be brave, to be strong, to offer direction. You grow fearful, restless and uncertain about what lies ahead…
Can I tell you something?
A big God lives in the small you.
With Him, you are…more than a conqueror. Your battle is fierce; He is more fierce.
But that God who answers by fire is also your Father. Let Him love you as only He can. Cry to Him. Tell Him your deepest thoughts, without shame. Let the pain come before Him raw and unrehearsed. Speak aloud those desires of your heart. The fearful ones. The ones you are frightened to voice because they seem so impossible. Yes, He knows them already, even before you speak them, but speak them anyway. Feel the weight of the plea on your lips. Offer those words as a sacrifice to Him.
Tell Him your sorrow. Let Him meet you in the pain, the hurt, the rejection and the betrayal. He is not indifferent to you. He has not forgotten you. He is near to you, loving toward you and His heart longs to restore your heart.
Rest easy in Him dear one. Even in the darkness of the now, He will be your light.
During my years of teaching, I gave numerous tests. Some of these tests checked basic understanding: listing verb tenses for a particular Latin word, matching definitions to literary terms and labeling cellular structures on a diagram. But most of the tests pushed the students deeper. During any given unit, I would hammer the application of the knowledge in an effort to show the pupils how to use the information. Knowing the facts is necessary, but applying those ideas is the source of great power. “We teach you to think better,” I would say. A noble idea, but one met often with yawns and rolled eyes.
Until test time… Continue reading