|Thursday, November 03, 2016|
An Unguarded Moment
|What Would You Do More Of?
|Thursday, October 27, 2016|
The idea was doomed from the start. In a well-intentioned attempt at physical fitness, I agreed to play racquetball with my son, Tim, during my lunch break. Though I love the sport, it (apparently) no longer loves me. Tim and I discussed the fact that he is about half my age. We agreed we’d both “take it easy” and play “just a little bit.” Five weeks afterward, my throbbing back still reminded me I shouldn’t have even attempted playing “just a game or two.”
It’s one thing to overdo it in sports, but what about the rest of life? In the book, If I Could Do It All Over Again, I sat down with 28 well known Christian leaders. We talked over some tough questions. Asking them what they would do less of yielded some interesting answers.
Joni Tada told me, “I would look at a lot less news on the television. Sometimes it becomes a fixation. It can depress my spirits.”
Ravi Zacharias said, “I wouldn’t worry as much. God is completely in control.”
Tony Evans admitted, “I love sports. I love watching sports and keeping up with sports. But I would probably spend a little less time on sports if I could do it all over again.”
What would Gail MacDonald do less of? “I would do a lot less hurrying. It was Dallas Willard who said, ‘Be ruthless with hurry.’”
Preacher and author Tim Keller confided, “I would do less surfing of the Internet, without a doubt. I think the Internet is a friend of information but an enemy of thought. It’s great at snippets of information, but it doesn’t help you think or reason.”
Singer Michael W Smith confessed, “I’d be less concerned about ‘How many records did we sell this week?’ Less of that whole immature thing of trying to be recognized, trying to be accepted.”
So what would YOU do less of, if you could do it all over again? Email me your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Argument with God
|Thursday, October 20, 2016|
Sometimes the Word of God really messes with your life. Have you noticed?
The other morning, I prayed on the train in to Chicago that God would specifically direct me to someone who needed some encouragement, or something of Jesus Himself. Know what happened? Nothing. Nothing that morning. In fact, nothing out of the ordinary happened all day long.
That afternoon, as I walked the 1.5 miles back to the train, I reviewed some memory work, the third chapter of First John. Because it helps to cement the verses, I often quote them out loud. I was three-fourths of the way to the train and about to turn a familiar corner. That's when he came into view.
A homeless man, baseball cap shielding him from the afternoon sun, crouched on the corner. As I walked past his outstretched paper cup and the donation plea that went with it, I was actually hearing my own voice recite 1 John 3:17: “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need and has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?”
I managed to make it almost to the other side of the street when the unwanted selfie of my own Phariseeism prompted an inner conversation:
“Really?! You can quote that verse about seeing a brother in need and not have pity on him? Exactly what, then, is the point of memorizing this passage?”
“But what if I’m just empowering his drug or alcohol addiction?”
Well….even I know you can't win an argument with the third member of the Trinity. I knew at once I needed to make a U-turn back to the man on the corner. As I gave the guy some money, I said something about the Lord. He immediately produced a Bible in a surprisingly nice case. “I haven't had one of these in a long time,” he said. “Believe me. I use it.” I had no reason to doubt him. We talked a bit further and he gave evidence of a saving faith in Jesus Christ.
So why was that guy there on the street corner? Did God place him there just to check my integrity? I don't know.
I can only confess my own struggle and remind you as I remind myself: It is not advisable to attempt an argument with the Holy Spirit. Trust me--you can't win!
|Thursday, October 13, 2016|
I can still feel the burning sensation of the stinger, jabbed into my flesh. But honestly the fault was mine.
At one of the grandest camping places in the country (kings-camp.org) our old pop-up is on loan to our son and daughter-in-law. For some time, the hatch that covers the power cord coming out of the thing was broken off. I should have replaced it months ago but didn't.
A few weeks back, my Dad asked if I needed anything from the local camping store. I walked him over to our pop-up trailer, showing him the plastic power cord inlet that had lost its cover. As we peered at the protruding cord, I noticed a wasp on the thing—right there at the opening. I gave the cord a wiggle (not recommended). Immediately, a small squadron of very angry wasps descended on me, one immediately stinging the back of my leg.
Hours later, having foamed the wasps' entrance (aka, the camper's power cord storage inlet) I counted as 12 wasps crawled, tumbled and suffocated out of the opening. Next, we examined the cavity in the wall of the camper, just to be sure there were no more wasps hiding out. What I found was a honey comb, complete with embedded wasp larvae. With long nose pliers, I gently pulled out the honeycomb (photo on this page), observing a few more dead wasps and one on its last legs (literally).
I offer not one, but two spiritual morals to this tale.
Moral #1: Don't delay taking care of the small openings for sin in your life. Left unattended, you're sure to invite trouble...right in the walls of your soul.
Moral #2: If you hang around wasps, you're going to get stung. We cannot play with sin.....
|Thursday, October 06, 2016|
Her slightly chunky two-year old arm twined around mine as stray blonde hairs from her head tickled my shoulder. As Lucy nuzzled into me, my heart was as gooey as a chocolate bar in summer.
At that moment, the tot at my side could have asked for the moon, and I would immediately have called up NASA with a down payment.
Lucy and her older sister, Joslynn, recently came out with us to spend a weekend at the camper. Because my natural “gifting” tends toward silliness, two-year old Lucy is usually not far away.
Silly faces. Silly noises. Silly stories. These seem to be my specialty. But if it's true that I can communicate on the level of a toddler, our toddler granddaughter taught me something of the profound that weekend.
1 John 3:1 speaks of an unusual kind of affection. The verse reads, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God.”
I saw several glimpses of “lavished love” as the weekend unfolded. For no apparent reason Lucy would frequently lean her head against my arm or shoulder. More than once, she wrapped her arm around my own, flashing perfect white teeth and a smile that would melt granite.
While her sister, Joslynn, hauled fish out of the lake (at eight years old, she has quite a thing for fishing) Lucy took a break from guarding our bait supply. From behind, she threw her arms around my neck and insisted on kissing me generously, laughingly. At night, she laid her head on my chest or arm. Most profoundly, she gently stroked my cheek.
It was rich. Lovely. Lavish.
With nearly every kiss, or pat, or gentle touch, I saw an image of “the great love the Father has lavished on us.” When was the last time you experienced—or expressed—that kind of love?
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