Did a face plant a couple of weeks ago. On concrete. It was ugly, and so was I for a few days.
The irony of the situation was that I was bolting from one meeting to another, with a cross-town drive in-between. And the place I was in a hurry to?
A radio interview about the mental health of people in the ministry.
I wasn’t exactly expecting to have my own tested in the process. But that’s the price you pay when you’re trying to move at the speed of light on a sidewalk designed for the speed of pedestrians.
For just a minute I thought I was seeing the light of eternity. Turns out I was just seeing stars.
Aside from the wounds to my forehead, knees, hands and pride, I did learn a few things, such as what an “orbital nerve” is. Oh, and that there is more than one kind of black eye.
But the most important thing I was reminded of is that my ability to maintain my rhythm and step in this world of the falling is no comparison to God’s ability to hold me, heal me, and shepherd me home. Regardless of how I may stumble in a temporal world, in the one that matters most, He won’t let me fall. [click to continue…]
We all were born with the capacity to dream. To envision a life that could be… that will be… and the pathways to get there. To imagine a tomorrow that’s better…
“Be fruitful and multiply,” He said. That’s the stuff that dreams are made of. We dream of fruitfulness. We dream of abundance.
But life on this side of the Garden sometimes aims our dreams toward the mirror. Nighttime comes to the soul, and our imagination gets lost in what once was. Of those we once dreamed with or about, but now for whatever reason are lost to us. And it hurts like hell. [click to continue…]
Callie has been seeking the Lord a lot lately. That’s because not very many people are seeking Callie, and the loneliness hurts. Badly. Truth be told, Callie sometimes seeks the Lord to give Him a piece of her mind. But she has developed the kind of relationship with God where that level of honesty is common.
Callie believes. But her faith is being tested, almost as much as Stephen’s.
Stephen feels as though he’s two steps past the edge of the ledge, and “all” he has to stand on is the promises of God. But Stephen wants more. He wants some evidence – a little sight to go with his faith. He’s willing to do anything for God, but he wants to know exactly what that “anything” is, and feels terribly insecure in the face of an unclear future.
Stephen believes. But his faith is being tested, almost as much as John and Julie. [click to continue…]
The path of the Christian is not always bright with sunshine; he has his seasons of darkness and of storm. . . The day of evil reveals to us the value of our glorious hope. (C. H. Spurgeon)
In East Tennessee a mother suffers a broken leg and a devastated heart as a tornado claims the life of her baby.
In West Alabama a couple hears a noise and opens the front door of their home. Seconds later, there is no more home, and no more couple.
123 tornadoes, so I hear, in one day. The death toll at this point: 319.
Meanwhile, on the same day, in East Texas a spiritual champion and one of the most respected leaders of his generation collides with destiny in the form of a tractor trailer.
And as the world reels and the grieving begins in earnest, a rude reminder comes collecting – the winds blow and the rains fall on the just and the unjust, and none of us has any guarantee of tomorrow.
Does that anger you? Me, too.
Does it seem unfair? I get that. Why do tornados never seem to level prisons?
We can huff on our high horse all we want, but guess what? Neither you nor I will change the fact that life is unfairly short and at times unbearably hard.
Is that God’s fault? I’m sure we’ll get our dose of that from the usual sources. How come nobody ever “blames” God when money’s in the bank, gas is cheap and the ocean is calm? [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…]
Saw a strange thing the other day. We’d driven to Abilene to watch the Hardin-Simmons Cowboys defend the Wilford Moore trophy against local rival McMurray for the 20th straight year. Division III football at its finest.
HSU had already knocked out the starting quarterback. Number 2 wasn’t faring much better. Scrambling around in the backfield, he was nailed at midfield for about a 12-yard loss.
McMurray lined up for the next play. Shotgun formation. All of a sudden, the quarterback called timeout, turned toward the sideline, and ripped his helmet off. Next thing I know, he’s on his knees, then hands-and-knees, and he wasn’t praying.
Hmmm. Maybe he was. [click to continue…]
(A Turning Point Story)
Have you ever met someone who, in a matter of a few minutes, made you so mad you wanted to reach across a Pizza Hut booth and slap some sense into him? Or lay hands on him… by the throat? Or baptize him with a pitcher of Pepsi (‘cause he’s not worth wasting a pitcher of real Coke on)?
If you answered yes to any of those, you may have once been in youth ministry, too. Or you’re just a little weird when it comes to Pizza Hut.
This is a story with a surprise ending. This is Jason’s story. And it could be yours… or the next teenager you meet. [click to continue…]
Yesterday I was talking to an old friend on the phone, and heard myself say something before I realized what I was saying. (Does that ever happen to you, or am I just weird?)
Before I tell you what I said, I guess I need to fill in some white space first.
A few days ago I had an experience that left me disappointed and hurt. The details aren’t important; what is important is what happened in my heart as a result of it. I will tell you that it was a church wound (one of the most difficult of all), and that I had similar initial feelings to other kinds of pain in my life. I wanted to go into a cave and hide. I was fearful of being hurt again. I wanted to be angry and pout.
But almost immediately, I noticed another kind of result in my spirit. I was sobered. Humbled. Unusually aware of the holiness, wisdom, and love of God. Emotionally and mentally aware that God is no man, that I can fool, manipulate, or even impress Him. Even more aware that neither I nor any man can despise the profound work of grace He has made in my life.
And regardless of how any of us behave, He still owns His church. I can sit on my high horse or hide in my cave all I want, but at the end of the day, He is still God, and still expects me to reflect His character and power. And He will even use busybodies, gossips, accusers and politickers in Church World to make His case.
I don’t know that I have ever been in a painful situation in which I was more aware of the awareness of God. And if I may say so, even in the pain, I felt safe and loved.
Here is what I said to my friend, after I filled in some details: [click to continue…]
(10 Things God Uses to Enlarge Your Legacy)
Okay, take your mark. You’re about to take off on a marathon. Your coach is the Lord Jesus, the Author of your faith. Under His direction, you’ve cast aside any weights that may hinder you. At His instruction, you clear your way of any sin that might entangle you. At His signal, you’re off! And following His wise counsel, you have focused your attention on him, because he’s the Finisher of your faith as well.
You lengthen your stride and settle in. You know this is no sprint; you’re in it for the long run. Before long your body, mind, will, and emotions, begin signaling you, this won’t be easy. But about the time you reach your first obstacle, God has a surprise for you. You are not alone! You’re surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses! And they’re “in the grandstands” cheering you on.
These aren’t just spectators. They’re your “friends in high places” – people who have run the same race and faced the same obstacles you face. In this greatness are models of faith and perseverance who
by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment (Hebrews 11:33-37).
These aren’t just dead figures from the past. Their faith – and witness – live on. They’re watching you. Pulling for you. Believing in you. Teaching you. They’re here to testify – that’s what witnesses do – that you, too, can influence a new generation. They also testify of the tools our Father uses to deepen your message, and enlarge your influence. Here are a few: [click to continue…]
This is for Larry Chastain.
Dee Ann Hallmark.
Priceless people, much younger than me, whose last visit I had with them was over a casket.
This is for parents and grandparents, girlfriends and boyfriends now long since somebody else’s spouse, little brothers and sisters who once were left as only children.
This is for Caden Trethewey and Elizabeth Rodes. Two children I will never meet in this life whose stories profoundly touched me, and I think will touch you.
This past Saturday, Elizabeth was born in South Carolina. Both her parents, Will and Kelly, are on staff at Newspring Church in Anderson. She was nine inches long and weighed 8 ounces – a victim of anencephaly. Without asking for it (who would?), Will and Kelly discovered what so many before them have – that Jesus Christ came to heal the brokenhearted.
Here’s Will in his own words:
I wish that I could describe the presence of God that was with us in that hospital room, but I can’t. Even if you know Jesus, it would probably defy your comprehension, like it still does mine. It is just one more thing in life that I don’t understand, but I do know that God is sovereign and He reigns over all of this and all that is to come.
This is not the end of the story, but rather the beginning of a great work.
You can (and should) read his entire reflection of the story here.
The Tretheweys tell their own story in the remarkable video below. [click to continue…]