(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…]
Seagulls: Mine. Mine. Mine. Mine.
Nigel: Oh would you just shut up? You’re rats with wings. (from “Finding Nemo”)
“Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night” (Philippians 2:15, The Message)
Ever been haunted by words?
I have. Sometimes somebody expresses something so profoundly, so powerfully, that the power of their words lasts for years.
Randy Stonehill did that for me with a song he wrote 35 years ago, when I was a senior in high school. In a couple of lines in one song, he described the desperation of the human condition. The words and music still tear my heart out to this day: [click to continue…]
Brad is a living legend… at the local bar. At first his mostly-daily trips were his way of unwinding after a stressful workday. But over the years, one painful situation after another brought Brad to the point where he lives pretty much continuously between buzz and stupor. Offering the standard denials and predictable claims that he can quit anytime, Brad has long ago crossed the line between soothing his nerves and declaring war on his soul.
Sandy is a shell of the girl she once was. The once-vivacious high school and college student now sits in her immaculate apartment, trying to stay busy enough to avoid the reminders of how alone she is. Estranged from her family, deeply disappointed by marriage and even motherhood, Sandy has never let go of the bitterness that ultimately seeped into every corner of her life. To a stranger, Sandy is a hard-working professional with impeccable taste in decorating and fashion. But the excellent exterior hides a war-ravaged soul. [click to continue…]
Last night the Texas Rangers won their first-ever postseason series.
And they celebrated with ginger ale.
Because Josh Hamilton, the Rangers’ star outfielder, graciously refuses to go anywhere near alcohol.
When the Rangers clinched their division in Oakland back in September, as beer and champagne flowed in the visitors’ locker room, Josh changed in a side office and left the clubhouse to go speak to a church group in Oakland about his life and testimony.
But last night, after winning the division series – something the Texas Rangers (and former Washington Senators) had never done – the team made sure it would be a team celebration. [click to continue…]
Maybe I’m weird (okay who said that?). But this video fascinates me, and I can watch it over and over.
Maybe it’s the technology involved in capturing the motion. Or…
Maybe it’s because it illustrates an important truth I learned years ago:
Q. – Squeeze an orange until something gives, and what comes out?
A. – Orange juice.
Q. – Why does orange juice come out?
A. – Because orange juice is what’s inside.
Q. – So what comes out of you when you get squeezed?
A. – Whatever is inside.
The Squeeze. Can you relate? The truth is, sometimes the world or the devil or life-in-general comes calling, and there ain’t room enough in this here peel for the both of us. Something’s gotta give.
And out it comes… whatever is on the inside.
That’s why I just smile whenever I hear somebody blurt out something, then hurriedly say, “Oh… I didn’t mean to say that.” [click to continue…]
Halftime, Durham, North Carolina. The Duke Blue Devils have just scored the first touchdown that top-ranked Alabama has surrendered in two-and-a-half games.
Not exactly a moment to panic, however. Alabama leads at the half, 45-13.
Cue the halftime interview with Coach Nick Saban. “Coach,” Sideline Babe says, “Were you upset about giving up your first touchdown of the season?”
“I don’t care about the touchdown,” Saban replies. “I’ve just been talking to our guys about playing to a standard.”
Fast-forward one week. Halftime again. This time, nobody wearing white and crimson was strutting to the locker room. The defending national champions are trailing a very strong Arkansas Razorbacks team in Fayetteville 17-7, and it’s no fluke. These Hogs are good, and Bama’s looking rough.
Somebody… not namin’ names here… but somebody woke somebody up. Final Score: Alabama 24, Arkansas 20.
After the game, Coach Nick had this to say:
“I want them to remember what it’s like not playing the way you’re capable of playing, not playing with the intensity and focus you need to have. We have a standard we want to play to, we want to play to it all the time. We certainly didn’t get that done in the first half.”
Another Clock is Counting Down
Football is not the only place where the clock is ticking toward zero. [click to continue…]
In the 2004 version of The Alamo, there’s this scene where Billy Bob Thornton, as Davy Crockett, looks over the fort wall at Santa Anna’s approaching horde. There, standing next to Colonel Travis, Crockett mutters grimly… “We’re gonna need a lot more men.”
Sam Houston… we’ve got a problem.
Problems come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Oh, to have the impossible-looking situations we faced in third or seventh grade! But every now and then, you and I are faced with circumstances that go beyond a headache or a flat tire.
We’re in grad school, friends. And we’re getting the third degree. [click to continue…]
Your most trusted employee visits your email inbox with a request for a meeting. When you find the time to get together, he discloses to you that he has a substance abuse problem that requires in-house treatment. Upon further review, you discover that his abuse took place on more than one occasion while on the job – a fireable offense. This is his first sign of trouble. What do you do?
Your teenage daughter is at a friend’s house for a sleepover; you know the friend and are at least familiar with the friend’s parents. You’re awakened at 1:20 a.m. by your daughter asking you to bail her out of jail. The charge: drunk driving. This is the second time you have caught her drinking, but the first time you have had any evidence of drinking and driving. How do you respond?
Your youth pastor has been rumored or accused of inappropriate relationships with girls in his youth groups – one former, one current – which he vehemently denies. He explains that he was just showing Christian concern for someone who had been abused or hurt in the past, and his kindness was misinterpreted. Nevertheless, Scripture is clear that there shouldn’t even be a hint of immorality or impurity among God’s people, and particularly leaders. The youth pastor is very popular among the students, but has his critics among your adults. Keeping him could leave you liable to a lawsuit or public accusation; firing him could decimate your youth group. What do you do? [click to continue…]
An audio drama with four characters:
The Imagined Voice of the Holy Spirit,
and Bob Dylan
(Note: If you’re reading this via email or RSS feed, this post is best read from the site by clicking on the title above. And now… on with the drama…) [click to continue…]
News flash! As a culture, we don’t wait well.
That’s why, in the previous post, I mentioned that it’s easy to get into trouble when we’re in those waiting seasons. (In theory, of course… not that I have ever actually gotten so impatient that somebody in a uniform decided it was time to have a little chat… but I’m sure you know somebody like that.)
One of the problems we have with waiting is that we don’t know how. We think of waiting as the kind of thing you do in a bureaucrat’s line or a doctor’s office (now you know why they call them “patients”).
In the Bible, James offers a different idea. And when I read this during a particularly hard waiting season, it really got my attention:
“The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts…” (James 5:7-8).
I happen to live in the middle of the largest contiguous cotton-growing region in the world. My neighbors know a thing or two about waiting on a harvest. Their livelihood depends on it. And believe me, you won’t find a busier bunch. [click to continue…]