It May Just Be

10.25.2019

It may just be that what you are lacking is not resources…but resolve.

It may just be that you don’t need to get better...but braver.

It may just be that you think you are waiting on God…but He is waiting on you.

 

Pop.u.lar.i.ty

10.18.2019

What determines if a product,  a song, a restaurant, a book, a piece of art, a YouTube video or an Instagram account is great?

Is it determined by sales, likes, or views?

Well if popularity is the measure of great then perhaps yes.

But if the measure of great is quality, then any true connoisseur will tell you popularity simply means it is popular…period.

 

It is so easy to seek acceptance and affirmation over authenticity and think it leads to a great life.

 

Win, Lose, or Draw

10.11.2019

Jacque and I attended the Rays’ playoff game this last Tuesday night. The only Rays game we made it to all season and they won. That means when we attend…the Rays are 1-0. I’m just saying.

 

Does that make me a “band wagon” fan? If so I’m not alone, more than 32K others joined me that night. During the regular season, games averaged 14,734 people in attendance (If it was church we’d call last Tuesday night Easter!).

 

Seated next to me was my Jacque, who has been cheering me on for almost four decades now…win, lose or draw. We all need some someone like that in our lives. But how do we find some someone like that? Maybe it begins by being some someone like that.

 

 

Freedom, Choices, and Consequences

10.4.2019

Freedom is the beautiful gift of choice.

Choices bring consequences.

So choose your choices wisely,

Or you may lose your freedom to choose.

 

Few things create regret like not being able to step into a beautiful moment today because of the consequences of yesterday’s choice.  

 

Trash Talk

9.27.2019

If a project tanks is it necessarily also a waste?

If a person fails have they wasted precious moments or seasons of their life?

 

I guess if you see it as arriving at the final destination…then the answer is “yes”.

But if you see it as a learning event on a journey…then the answer is “no”.

 

You decide.

 

Waiting Until

9.20.2019

“I’m waiting until I have everything…”

 

How often do you have “all”? All the facts? All the resources? All the time?

You wait until you have it all…the moment will have passed and having it all will not have mattered anyway.

 

The real question is “Do I have enough to get the process rolling?”

 

If you don’t then ask “What do I truly need before I take action?”

 

If you can’t answer that you are spending your life waiting on moments that didn’t wait on you and have already moved on.  

 

The Jones

9.13.2019

Not all that long ago the only Jones you had to worry about keeping up with were the ones who lived next door.

 

Now thanks to social media and everyone’s “best life” posts…Joneses are everywhere.

 

Perhaps we would be more content and enjoy life more if we stopped comparing our real life to someone else’s highlight reel life.

 

 

Chasing Daylight

9.6.2019

When things settle down…

When the kids get a little older…

When the economy improves…


The thing is people who step into the future God is inviting them to create with Him never wait for just the right moment. They know that windows close, doors shut and the sun sets.


Instead they act when money is tight, they pull the trigger before all the ducks are in a row, they move forward not having all the answers.


The sun sets…so they chase daylight.


Riders on the Storm

8.30.2019

This weekend is noteworthy for at least a couple reasons. College football season kicks in full swing and Hurricane Dorian is expected to arrive on our Florida shores.

 

It’s a bit late for FSU, UF or USF to start learning plays and blocking schemes now. And good luck finding plywood and generators at the home goods stores today…they’re sold out. The time to prepare for a game or a hurricane is before the season starts.  And because we never know when a bone jarring season of life will show up…the time to prepare your soul is always now.

 

Your Choice

8.22.2019

Efforts are made now, results come later.

So what you are doing now is really an investment in tomorrow.

And since tomorrow will be before you know it…right now is a great time to begin.

We choose our tomorrow by the choices we make today.

 

 

The Future

8.15.2019

The future. It shows up every single day like it or not.

We can’t change history, but we can with God and each other create the future.

The future awaits those with the faith and courage to create it.




A Drop of Water

8.9.2019

How much money does it take to make a difference?

What title do you need to make a difference?

Wrong questions.

Instead ask: What is the next thing I can say or do to make a difference with my life right here, right now?

Then…say it, do it. And get a few others to join in.

Vast oceans are made up of single drops of water.  

 

Endings

8.2.2019

It was not the ending I wanted…however, it was the ending I got.

This has happened enough times in my life to know that God’s grace is so amazing, so real…

That an ending is an ending…only if I choose to stop the story.

Sometimes the best ending is not the one I was hoping for, but one I simply could not see from where I was.

 

Quicksand

7.26.2019

Ever felt stuck. Maybe stuck in a rut. You wanted to break out…but it was like quicksand and the more you struggled the tighter the grip and the deeper you sank. So you waited for things to change or for someone to rescue you. And you waited…and waited, as life seemed to be passing you by.

 

Frustrating, painful, dream-busting.

 

The steps to getting out of quicksand I’m told are:

 

. Relax

. Toss off any extra weight you might be carrying

. Get on your back, look up and swim

. Take frequent breaks

 

Hmmm…maybe you can get unstuck after all.

 

That Look

7.12.2019

Her name is Beryl.

She is an orphan in Kenya.

Jacque and I have known her for twelve years now.

The whole trajectory of her life has been changed by Molly Waites of Springs of Hope Kenya.

Some people will never know that God sees them unless we see them.

Some people will never know that God cares unless we care.

This is what faces that know look like. 

 

Critic in the Gallery

7.5.2019

Every year the Honor’s Committee votes a few select retired players into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

 

Some of them voted ‘NO’ when Michael Jordan came up for eligibility.

 

If Michael Jordan received no votes…why are you even wasting mental energy on that critic in the gallery?

 

Silly Question

6.28.2019

Do you want things to get better?

Silly question…right?

Of course who doesn’t want improved?

Oh you’d be surprised.

Better means change and change means risk and risk means fear.

So we blame, we excuse, we delay.

Do you really want things to get better…the rest of us can tell.

 

 

What's Wrong with Sue?

6.21.2019

What’s wrong with Bill…Sue…Amy…and/or _________ ?

 

Well according to some recent research just about all the people you meet, no matter how happy they appear on the outside, are dealing with serious challenges in their lives. And for the most part, you have no clue…you just pass them at work, in the grocery store, at church, or even at family events. Life can be bone jarring hard.

 

So we often assume that people are just withdrawn, moody or a jerk…and respond accordingly. Maybe it’s better to lead with compassion and consideration. To seek to understand before drawing conclusions. My homiletics prof in Divinity school said these wise words: “Preach to a hurting heart and you’ll always have an audience”. My experience has proven him right.

 

Maybe if you honestly inquire of people how they are really doing….and really listen, you might just be the balm of grace and understanding their soul needs. There is such power in feeling seen and heard and cared about. Oh the power of kindness, empathy and listening. You have that power and it is exactly what someone near you desperately needs.

 

What's Wrong with Sue?

6.21.2019

What’s wrong with Bill…Sue…Amy…and/or _________ ?

 

Well according to some recent research just about all the people you meet, no matter how happy they appear on the outside, are dealing with serious challenges in their lives. And for the most part, you have no clue…you just pass them at work, in the grocery store, at church, or even at family events. Life can be bone jarring hard.

 

So we often assume that people are just withdrawn, moody or a jerk…and respond accordingly. Maybe it’s better to lead with compassion and consideration. To seek to understand before drawing conclusions. My homiletics prof in Divinity school said these wise words: “Preach to a hurting heart and you’ll always have an audience”. My experience has proven him right.

 

Maybe if you honestly inquire of people how they are really doing….and really listen, you might just be the balm of grace and understanding their soul needs. There is such power in feeling seen and heard and cared about. Oh the power of kindness, empathy and listening. You have that power and it is exactly what someone near you desperately needs.

 

Dadology

6.14.2019

Here’s some Douglas Dadology on 10 of the best things you can do for your kids:

. Love their mother really well

. Get your act together

. Let them fail and face consequences but teach them resilience

. Delay gratification

. Give them a chore list

. Travel, show them the world

. Read to them and then read to them some more

. Let them know they bring you joy

. Insure they know they belong…just as they are

. Give them a spiritual foundation for life in Jesus

Yada Yada Yada

6.7.2019

My Jacque told me about a conversation with a man who was harsh, judgmental, angry and condemning.

He was having a hard time understanding why no one was accepting his invitations to church.

Ralph Waldo Emerson has an answer to that: “Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you are saying”.

A Piece of the Puzzle

5.31.2019

One of the things my Jacque requested for her 60th birth-year was for us to return for a visit to her home in Montana…which we just did over an extended Memorial Day weekend. A part of the adventure involved three days in Yellowstone National Park. Bison, bear, coyote, wolf, elk, mountain sheep, geysers, thermal pools waterfalls…we took it all in. Yes, it was amazing.

 

On Sunday morning we had her family’s ranch to ourselves so we joined the Cypress tribe at the service on Facebook live. As we watched, Jacque noted that there were people in at least six different states who were dialed in. And later that afternoon at a party, a childhood friend of Jacque informed us that Cypress on Facebook live is her life-line and she considers herself a member of our tribe. As we drove off, the thought hit me…”you never know how you are a piece of the puzzle in someone else’s life that helps make the picture complete, so always just do the right thing and leave the results with God”.

Conversation Changer

5.25.2019

The directive from Jesus changes the conversation on so many issues:

 

“Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”.

 

Do: word, thought, action or whatever.

 

 

Other: religions, political parties, races, nationalities, or whoever.

 

 

Stand Out

5.17.2019

Fitting in...easy.

Standing out...tricky.

Fit in too much...no one notices.

Stand out too much...you get noticed but are thought the jerk or the fool.

Too many are fitting into a culture of divisiveness, demonizing and condemnation.

Too few are standing out for grace, love and civility.

 

 

 

To All You Mommas

5.10.2019

I’m a praying man. I have a healthy appetite for reading. And I have a heart for people.

All three have made for a better life for myself and others.

Maybe it’s because I have a praying Mom with a heart for people who loves to read.

Moms…your influence on us is greater than you realize and deeper than we let you know.

Don’t ever believe the lie your efforts are for naught.

You do you Mommas…you do you.

The world is so the less if you don’t do you.

So Happy Mother’s Day to all you Mommas!

You are stronger than you know, more beautiful than you realize, and with an impact that will outlive you for generations!

You’ve got this Momma…you got this.

 

50 Million Times

5.3.2019

“Call your elected official” said the TV ad in which some unsubstantiated statements were presented as hard core facts. The attempted scaremongering seemed to be  clearly motivated by the protection of self interest at the expense of the good of others.

 

I thought of the words of Joseph Gobbles, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda: “A lie told once remains a lie, but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth”.

 

Then I remembered the words of Anatole France: “If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing”.

 

And I also thought of the words of Solomon: “A false witness will not go unpunished, and whoever pours out lies will perish.”

 

Does the truth matter anymore? If you follow Jesus it should to you…He said He is the way, the truth and the life.

Voices

4.26.2019

Don’t confuse the loudest voices with the most important voices.

 

Don’t fall for in “BOLD AND ALL CAPS” as being what is worthy of your attention.

 

Don’t think that being a majority is the same thing as being right.

 

There is a voice that will always lead you to life…the voice of Jesus.

What More?

4.19.2019

What more must I do to be loved by you?

Isn’t that the history of love?

What more must I do to be loved by God?

Isn’t that the message of religion?

What more must God do to convince you that you already are loved…unconditionally?

Isn’t that the question that begs to be asked on Good Friday and Easter?

It’s Easter weekend and we will remember and celebrate.

On Friday we remember that sometimes love looks like a cross and sounds like the pounding of nails.

On Saturday and Sunday we celebrate a love that is more powerful than hate, evil and death.

Holy Week

4.12.2019

Next week:

. you have a list of things to do

. somebody else has a list for you to do

Next week:

. there will demands on your time

. there will be requests for your time

Next week is Holy Week. Palm Sunday to Easter.

A week set aside to engage with the passion of Christ.

Next week take control of your life and you decide what to do with your time…make it a Holy Week.

 

The Obvious Secret

4.5.2019

Last weekend Jacque and I drove to south Florida where I spoke at the memorial service of a friend and mentor who was well into his nineties. I remember someone once asking him: “what is the secret to a long life”. With his usual dry wit and without cracking a smile he simply said: “don’t die”.

 

Most of the way there and back the traffic was horrible, and at times slow and bottlenecked. On both ends of the trip I had responsibilities with a time deadline. There were moments when I just wanted to pull off and sit in a restaurant for awhile…but the only way to meet my obligations was to “don’t stop”.

 

Some things in life happen simply because in addition to giving your best, you “don’t quit”.

 

Waiting for the Rat

3.29.2019

“Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die”

 

This quote by Anne Lamott is one of my favorites on the topic of forgiveness. It’s such a great reminder that choosing not to forgive is choosing to pour toxins into the mix of your soul. And toxic souls have never made for a great life or a great parent, spouse, friend…

 

There is an antidote. Forgive.

 

Sure Fire Ways to Suck the Joy out of Your Day

3.22.2019

How to suck the joy out of your day:

 

. Dwell on worst case scenarios

. Obsess over what other people think

. Focus on what you don’t have

. Watch cable TV news all day

. Create a blame list

. Hang out with emotional vampires

. Make an art out of criticizing and complaining

 

There you have it…7 sure fire ways to suck the joy out of your day. You’re welcome.

Don't Look Back

3/15/2019

For better or for worse you made a decision or a decision was made that has impacted you.

Now what?

“Keep putting one foot

in front of the other

and taking your life day by day.

There’s a brighter tomorrow

That’s just down the road.

Don’t look back,

you’re not going that way.”

           -Mary Engelbreit

I Wish

3.8.2019

We wish things were different.

 

But if you are not going to actually do anything about it, maybe you should redirect the time and energy you spend talking, wishing and fussing about it somewhere else.

Choose One

3.1.2019

What will be your chief pursuit today?

Money, pleasure, power, or wisdom?

Choose one. Choose carefully. It will determine your destiny.

Solomon chose wisdom and found it all…enough said.

As It Turns Out

2.22.2019

If we are where we are today because of the choices we made some yesterday.

Then we can end up in a better place some tomorrow by making different choices today.

As it turns out, if you have the freedom to make choices…the results are your responsibility.

Your Best Move

2.15.2019

What is the best way to influence others?

Making convincing arguments is okay.

Making neat stuff is good

Making a connection is best.

And That's Enough

2.8.2019

All we have is God and each other.

The good news is…and that’s enough.

You, me, us…and God.

 

We are either there for each other or no one is.

We must treat each other as if it matters…because it does.

 

Take care of your tribe, love them hard, hold them dear…both you and the world will be the better for it.

When You ...

2.3.2019

When you forgive

. When you fight to make the world a better place

. When you brighten the rooms you walk into

. When you respond with grace

. When you inspire others to be their best

. When you consider the good of others

 

Your life matters, you leave a legacy and the One I follow said it will be convincing proof you have encountered the grace of God.

Easy-peasy

1.26.2019

Quick, easy and guaranteed.

Most things of value are none of the above.

The real question is what are you willing to fight for, commit to and be a bit unreasonable about

The Long Haul

1.18.2019

So two years ago we raised funds to remodel the Cypress patio and playground.

Then the project was put on hold due to building settlement issues.

So we filed an insurance claim which was denied.

Then we hired an attorney.

So our insurance carrier called in their expert and we were denied again.

Then our attorney called in his expert and said you better reconsider.

So reluctantly they cut a check.

Then we hired a firm to do the stabilization work.

 

Next is cosmetic repairs, door adjustments and hopefully a final check from the insurance carrier.

And sometime this year we will remodel the Cypress patio and playground.

Some things are realized only if you are in it for the long haul.

Neither Cool Nor a Bargain

1.11.2019

 

So I finally wore a hole through both the top and bottom of a favorite pair of old loafers (or so we called them back in the day). On a quick shop search on line I found a cool looking new pair at a bargain price but the options stopped two sizes short of my foot. Not worth buying right.  No matter how cool or how sweet the price, not worth buying. Shoes that don’t fit are neither cool nor a bargain.

 

Same could be said of social circles, political affiliations, organizations, jobs, relationships and…you get it.

Ultima Thule

1.4.2019

In the midst of kicking off the new year, bowl games and a partial government shutdown…you may or may not have been dialed into the encounter a NASA spacecraft had with a rock the size of New York City at the edge of our solar system. The rock has a name only a scientist would come up with…Ultima Thule. This piece of real estate is a mere 4.1 billion miles from us and takes 298 earth years to complete an orbit of the sun. I could go on…but you can go online and check it out for yourself.

 

Ultima Thule was first discovered in June of 2014. So four years ago we just became aware of something scientists tell us has been around for eons. The more we know…the more we discover there is to know. If such is true in creation, how much more of the creator. The scriptures say of God: “He is the maker of the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the south. He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.” (Job 9:9,10)

 

So welcome to a new year, welcome to 2019. Don’t settle for a mediocre, hum-drum, more of the same-old-same-old. There is so much more for you to yet discover of God and His grace. So much more to discover of how your life is a part of the beauty God is creating in this world. It is true. Now live the life that is fully awake…fully alive.

 

Goodbye 2018  Hello 2019

12/28/2018

Goodbye 2018 and thanks for the lessons.

Hello 2019 and thanks for 365 tomorrows.

 

2018 is chronicled.

2019 is being created.

 

Dream, risk, create.

The best time to start was last year. The second best is right now.

 

 

Merry Christmas

12/21/2018

May wonder…fill your soul at the thought of God loving you enough to come to earth for you.  

May His peace…spread over this fractured world through us.

May joy…wash over your gatherings with family and friends.

 

 

 

Bob Dylan

12.14.2018

In the 60’s Bob Dylan was an iconic one of a kind legend with a massive following.

Then he went electric…then gospel.

He knew the crowd wasn’t going to follow him, but he went anyway.

He had a choice: make the music his fans wanted and would purchase or make the music that was stirring in his soul.

He was okay if the masses didn’t cheer him on…he was free to be Bobby.

 

Being free to be who God made you to be means being freed from the compulsion to conform to who others would have you be.

 

 

 

 

 

It's Not Like You're Getting a Tattoo

12.7.2018

 

“Go for it…it’s not like you’re getting a tattoo!”

 

Such were the words of wisdom my friend imparted to me. Tattoos are pretty much irreversible decisions, so think long and hard. Most every other choice we make doesn’t have such lasting consequences. So be bolder, more decisive, make mistakes, learn what works, and fix what isn’t along the way. Stop waiting for the perfect plan on the perfect day…go for it, it’s not like you’re getting a tattoo.

 

 

 

An Exercise in Truth

11.30.2018

You take your car into the auto shop for the 60,000 mile checkup. Your timing belt is getting ready to fail but the mechanic says all is well because he knows its not the news you want to hear.

You go to the doctor for your annual physical and she discovers your cholesterol numbers are way out of whack but she says nothing because she doesn’t want to hurt your feelings.

In both cases, you’d be furious to discover that someone you trusted withheld the truth so they could avoid some temporary discomfort and make you feel good.

Sometimes we need someone in our lives who will love us enough to speak the truth to us.

Reality is your friend…sometimes an uncomfortable one…but your friend nevertheless.

 

 

 

 

Against the Wind

11/23/2018

Over Thanksgiving break Jacque and I sailed off to a marina in Tampa with two of our granddaughters.

 

On the trip over we had a light but favorable wind and an out going tide that we rode like a river.

 

The return voyage was a different story... wind right on our nose and a tide that pushed against us the whole way. A slow and arduous process.

 

Sometimes things fall together and it feels like heaven is smiling on you. Sometimes it feels like we are up against it and nothing is easy. In those times “is where you are going worth the effort” becomes a vital question and a lifeline from here to there.

 

Persist...it matters.

 

 

 

 

A GenerousTicket

11.16.2018

Be grateful.

 

There are 7.7 billion people on planet earth. Of these fellow human beings of ours:

 

. 1.2 billion people have little or no access to electricity.

. 60% of the world’s population don’t have access to flush toilets or adequate water-related sanitation.

. Only 15% of we humans live in countries where everyone, regardless of gender or socioeconomic status has a voice in the political process.

. The world’s average salary is $1,480/month or almost $18,000/year. If you make $32,400/year or more…you are in the top 1% of wage earners.

. 4.4% of the world’s population resides in the U.S.

 

If you are reading this right now…I’m guessing the ticket you drew when you were born wasn’t too bad. There may be some things in your life circumstances you wish were different, but never let what you wish were different diminish gratitude for the circumstances you were born into and the generous ticket you have been offered in life.

 

Next week is Thanksgiving, we have so much for which to be grateful.

 

The Beautiful Toppler

11.9.2018

My granddaughter Abigail is taking her first steps. It’s been beautiful to watch.

Shaky short steps followed by a topple…is becoming sure strides followed by more sure strides. One day she will run!

You don’t learn to walk by listening to “walk talks” or by watching “walking videos” on u-tube. You learn to walk by making shaky short steps and toppling over.

Most people never really learn how to run in their endeavors because they don’t want to be seen making shaky, short steps and toppling over. And their life and the world is the less for it.

 

 

 

All Wet

11.3.2018

So someone thinks your idea is “all wet”. Someone else says you lack the talent, intellect, and/or drive to pull it off.

 

Walt Disney was fired by the Kansas City Star because his editor said: “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas”.

Lady Gaga was dropped by her first major record label after only three months.

Albert Einstein didn’t speak until age four, didn’t read until age seven and was expelled from school.

Steven Spielberg was rejected by the University of Southern California School of Theater, Film and Television…3 times.

Michael Jordon was cut from his high school basketball team.

 

 

 

You Do You

10.26.2018

So you are not the most talented, the best looking or the smartest person in the room.

You don’t have the level of wealth, the hair or the success you wish you did.

 

Change what can and should be changed, improve what you can improve, and leverage what makes you uniquely you.

We are all a little weird. We are all a little different. Your uniqueness is uniquely yours.

 

Stop trying to be someone else’s clone. Resist the pressure to conform.

Maybe just maybe God in His divine intellect has something uniquely suited for unique you.

 

 

The Art of Showing Up

10.19.2018

I

The Doobie Brothers are playing in the Clearwater Jazz Festival this weekend.  

Tarpon Springs is hosting an Oktoberfest.

Safety Harbor is closing down main street for 3rd Friday festivities.

 

If you want to hear the Doobie Brothers, join the lederhosen wearing crowd or stroll main street…you’ll have to show up.

 

The project which has stalled out,

That relationship that needs some work,

The spiritual life that has drifted to the back burner.

 

Here too, if you want what you say you want…you’ll have to show up.

 

Show up ready, open, and solution oriented. But show up and keep showing up.

 

As Planned?

10.12.2018

I’m old school ink and daily planner notebook.

Plan it out. Schedule it in. Get it done. Check it off.

 

But rarely does my week go…as planned.

 

Things break. People don’t come through. Children get sick. Delays happen. Hurricanes roar by.

 

All part of the plan that has a plan for when the plan doesn’t go as planned.  

 

As the scriptures say, we don’t know what tomorrow will bring…

 

Read the Last Chapter

10.5.2018

 

I know someone who makes the decision whether or not to invest time with a novel by reading the last chapter first. If they find the end of the story compelling then they engage the narrative. If not, well then it’s off to a different and better story.

 

A sage once said our lives are writing a story and before investing more of our time, energy and money in the narrative we should stop, play it out and read the last chapter. If I keep writing what I’m writing how does this story end? If you like it…great, keep the story-line going. If it’s not the ending you want to experience, well, time for a new narrative. You decide. It’s your story after all.

 

Today

9.28.2018

If you have a dream worth chasing…

If you have a relationship worth tending…

If you have a change worth making…

 

Start today. Take the next step.

You don’t need more time, info or resources.

You just need more courage.

 

Or one day you will look back and say “woulda, coulda, shoulda”.

And that day will arrive sooner than you think.

Life is short. You get one shot at it.

 

At least I think that’s what the Psalmist meant when he said the day to take action is today.

 

 

Required or Inspired

9.21.2018

For the last couple of decades I have attended the same two pastor conferences every year.

One I attend because I am required. (In order to maintain my license.)

The other I attend because it is inspired.  (And I need it to maintain and sharpen my soul, vision, and leadership skills.)

 

This week I was at the “required” conference and my take away is this: I want to be the kind of husband Jacque loves because my love inspires her to reciprocate and not because she is required by marital vows. I want to be the kind of leader the Cypress staff follows because my leadership galvanizes and not because it is required to get a paycheck. I want Cypress to be the kind of church people attend out of inspiration and not obligation.

 

If the only way you can get people to attend your conference is with a threat…then your conference probably is irrelevant or stinks, or both.

 

 

Enough to Drive You to Your Knees

9.7.2018

Some time ago I heard Bishop T.D. Jakes being interviewed and he said these words: “If what you are doing does not drive you to your knees…then start doing something bigger”.

 

I thought of the number of times I chose the sure thing over the risky thing. The comfortable thing over the challenging thing. The thing I had the ability and connections to pull off and not the thing that would drive me to my knees in prayer because if God didn’t intervene I was in deep weeds.

 

And in doing so I also choose the lessor over the greater. I choose to lead a smaller not larger life.  I choose to live the façade of risking just enough to look “sort of bold” but not enough to get any calluses on my knees.

 

What is it about us that expects too little, asks too little, and attempts too little for God in this world of such big needs?

 

Thanks Bishop for reminding us that we should never underestimate how much God intends for our lives.

 

Turn, Turn, Turn

9.14.2018

If you are a baby boomer or an aficionado of 60’s music you remember the lyrics to Pete Seeger’s classic song made famous by the Bryds: ‘Turn, Turn, Turn’. If you are a millennial…watch the u-tube video, laugh at the hair and enjoy the tune: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4ga_M5Zdn4

The lyrics are taken from and inspired by the writings of wise ole Solomon (Ecclesiastes 3) where he encourages us to look at life as a mixed bag of seasons. There will be times when we weep, tear things apart, walk away, or are silent. And obversely, there are times when we laugh, rebuild, search, or speak.

 

It is astute to know what season of life you are in…it makes you self aware.

It is okay to give yourself permission to weep, walk away or mourn…there is a time when such is appropriate.

It is wise to remember in hard times…it is a season,  and you will laugh again, dance again, and know peace again.

 

The narrative of your story is still being written. The next page is blank. Turn, turn, turn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can People Change?

8.31.2018

Can people change?

 

In recent days I have been asked this question several times both by people wanting to experience a change in their behavior and by people wanting to believe someone who has promised to make a change.

 

My response has been “wanting to change is a great start, but merely wanting to change is rarely enough”. The reality is that if merely “wanting” to change was enough, the change would have already happened. So what does it take besides “wanting”? What I have come to see is that it takes: God, a plan and another person.

 

First it takes God. If you had the knowledge and the power it takes to make the change a reality, we would not even be having this conversation.

 

Second, it takes a plan. A path out of old ruts of thinking, behaving and relating and a path to new ways of thinking, relating and behaving. (There are many good counselors and books available where plans can be accessed.)

 

Third, it takes another person. In some ways we are our own worst enemies. We all need the encouragement, support, and accountability of someone else. Someone with whom we are willing to be scary vulnerable and willing to be held ruthlessly accountable with consequences deemed more painful than the reward we feel in continuing in our old pattern. (I know one guy who created the consequence of permanently giving up his prized, very pricey pen if he acted out again.)

 

It takes all three: God, a plan, and another person. If you are hoping someone will change but they aren’t willing to step into the afore mentioned triad of change…your hope is most likely wishful thinking and you are only setting yourself and others up for further hurt and disappointment. If you say you are serious about change in yourself…well the same goes for you too.

 

So can people change? I believe the answer is yes…if they have God, a plan and another person.

 

Minimum/Maximum

8.24.2018

I’ve noticed people tend to take one of two approaches to this life and the next:

 

“I’ll meet the minimum requirements on earth to get into heaven”

 

or

 

“I’ll give my all to the God of heaven so I can make a maximum impact on earth”.

 

63 Years

8.17.2018

I turn 63 this weekend.

I've lived a lot of life and life has written a story on my face.

For me every wrinkle, every scar, every strand of grey hair is a badge of honor.

They tell the story of:

. adventures lived

. risks taken

. challenges faced and overcome

. dreams chased

 

I cherish every moment.

It's good to be alive.

I love my life and the people in it.

I hope you see it in my face.

 

Mistakes Well Handled

8.10.18

What did you learn today?


It is late Thursday night as I hammer this out on my Surface Pro. Today I attended a conference with the staff, Elders and some leaders from Cypress. Afterwards I came home, picked up Jacque and we drove straight to a Hospice House to stand with a friend whose father is dying. I’m tired, a little mentally done, emotionally spent and ready for bed. Nevertheless before I retire for the night I’m reflecting on my day and asking God…”What are you wanting to teach me from my day?”. One of the things that came to my mind is a statement one of the presenters at the conference made today: “The road to success is paved with mistakes well handled.”


The reality is if you are going to grow as a person, if you are willing to risk for a worthwhile dream, if you want to invest your life in making this world a better place…you will make some mistakes along the way. Accept that reality. Often the price of inaction is greater that the cost of making a mistake. Embrace the mistake, learn from it, handle it well and get back to pursuing the you…the you are meant to be and the dream God has put in your heart. Cypress is a safe place for second…second chances.


What did you learn today?


Like a Duck

8.3.2018

If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and flies like a duck…then it must be a duck.

You may not want it to be a duck…but it’s a duck.

Reality is your friend.

Sometimes a harsh friend, but a friend nevertheless.

Not to say we should rush to judgement, but neither should we have to be dragged into reality.

And so the sooner we admit it’s a duck, the sooner we can figure out what’s next.

Or So We Say

7.27.2018

We say we want local merchants to make it, but we drive over to the big box store so we can save a couple of bucks.

 

We say we are tired of the political polarization in our country, but we join in the blaming and demonizing.

 

We say somebody should do something about it, but we retreat to our safe spot.

 

We say all people matter to God, but we keep a safe distance from the ones that creep us out.

 

The problem isn’t in what we say…it’s in what we do.

2000 Years From Now

7.20.2018

Ever visited places like Gettysburg or The Mall in D.C. or Da Vinci’s workshop? It is a moving experience both mentally and emotionally to realize you are standing on the very ground where something history making and future shaping took place.

 

This week Jacque and I were out and about in Athens, Greece and decided to visit Mars Hill (see Acts 17). A place where in a moment in time the Apostle Paul stood and conversed with some of the brightest philosophers of his day about Jesus and the life that is life, a catalytic moment that helped move the faith I hold from something regional and available for a few to something global and available to all. I’ve both read about and studied the narrative of the event. All well and good, but to actually 2000 years later be on the very ground where this encounter took place…felt sort of sacred. So sacred I stood there watching the setting sun and offered prayers of thanksgiving for men like Paul and places like Mars Hill.

Heroes Wanted

7.13.2018

Like so many of you, I prayed for and sought out daily updates concerning the boys soccer team that was trapped in a flooded cave with their coach in Thailand. I just couldn’t imagine on so many levels. Thankfully they are all out and seem to be okay. And gratitude to the diver who lost his life in the efforts to rescue the boys.

 

There was something different about the response to and the coverage of the event that stood out from the responses and coverage of other tragedies and challenges going on in the world right now. I just kept reading about people coming together from many different nations offering help and assistance. To this point anyway I have not been aware of any of the blaming, finger pointing, and verbal attacks that seem to define so much of what is communicated in both traditional and social media in moments like this. I’m still enough of a dreamer to wonder what other challenges in the world could be overcome if we just found a way to come together and got on the solution side of things instead of intentionally acting in ways which only further widen and destabilize the divide between us.

 

So we came together and some boys lives were saved. Now how do we come together and save the world we are leaving behind to these boys (and all the boys and girls in the world)?

Fred (Mr) Rogers said it well: “We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”

Why?

7.6.2018

“Why Papa?” my granddaughter inquired.

Any guesses how she responded to my answer…yep, with another “why”.

And you probably also know how our conversation continued don’t you?

 

If we keep asking why, we might just get to the heart of how we came to do what we do and be who we have become and realize that life might be better if we care and are courageous enough to institute some change.

Customer Service?

6.29.2018

It happened again…I had to make a call for some “customer service”. As has been my experience most every time I’ve made such an effort, my call was immediately sent to an automated response informing me that “due to unexpectedly high call volume” I would wait and listen to some elevator music.

 

The same thing happened the last time I called…and the time before that. In fact, I’ve come to expect that anytime I call anyone’s customer service line to hear that line about “unexpectedly high call volume”. As I waited and listened to elevator top 40 tunes, I wondered why the call volume is unexpected and apparently has been running at an unexpected rate for years now. Are they really that inept at planning and forecasting? Or are they being less than truthful in an effort to cover their lightly staffed support team?

 

Either way they have broken trust with me. Trust is often hard to win and easy to break isn’t it. If you are a follower of Jesus…take note.

A Little Bug

6.22.2018

So yes, as you may be aware…I was sick last weekend with a little gastrointestinal bug. Ugh! I sailed through the Saturday night service, cowboyed up for Sunday 9:15 but tapped out for the 11:00 service when it became apparent it would only end in disaster. And the folks at that service were treated to the “video me”. (I’m on the other side of it now…Yay God!)

 

Fever, nausea and such are symptoms. There is an underlying microbe or germ that causes it. Taking some pills to reduce the fever or quiet the tummy doesn’t always solve it. You have got to go after the “bug” causing it.

 

Relational spats, moodiness, anger, emotional funks, acting out…etc., etc., etc. are symptoms. It is your soul letting you know that something is wrong. You can spend your time and efforts fixing blame, addressing symptoms, and/or ignoring but you’d be far better off focusing on the bug (the cause) instead.

The Power of Caring

6.15.2018

Our recent trip to serve along side our partners at Springs of Hope Kenya was marked by bookend traveling glitches.

 

Our departure for Kenya was delayed a day due to a storm  in Atlanta and our return home was marred by three members of our team being told they had no seats for the flight out of Nairobi. Both required the intervention of the airlines. Both incidents took over two hours of wrangling. One was a bit frustrating, the other a bit maddening. The difference was the airline representatives. In Tampa we had a representative named Debbie who was pleasant, understanding and persistent as she actually worked two phones at the same time to resolve our situation. It was almost as if she was fighting for her own family. Not so much in Nairobi. We were bounced to four different agents and each acted as if it was not their problem but ours to solve. Finally, after some persistent persuasion on our part, we got things resolved.

 

Maybe the agent in Tampa was empowered to make decisions and maybe the agents in Nairobi weren’t. I don’t know. I do know that Debbie cared and if the agents in Nairobi did we failed to get that message.

 

I don’t know how to teach people to care, I just know that when people do it makes a difference because you want to make a difference. Caring cuts through bureaucracy, excuses and blaming…and gets on the solution side of things. If you want to stand out…care! Father John Powell once said this to Christ followers: “People don’t care how much you know, until they first know how much you care”.

Let it Shine

6.8.2018

When...

  • When you find a way to leave others better than you found them.
  • When you think of others before you think of yourself.
  • When you learn to love both your friends and your enemies.
  • When you touch others with what you do and not just with what you say.
  • When you return blessing for demeaning, demonizing and cursing.
  • When you see the world as it is today, but believe together we can create a better future.

When you do these things Jesus said you are a light that shines into the darkness of this world...a light that will draw others to the life giving grace of Jesus.


So let it shine...let it shine...let it shine.

B.B. King Was Right

6.1.2018

The thrill is gone… Well of course it is.

A thrill is just temporary excitement, usually associated with something experienced for the first time. First kiss, first viewing of Star Wars, first ride on the new roller coaster, first day on the new job, first…whatever.


Do you know what has a long shelf life? Significance.  And significance comes from commitment to a worthy cause greater than yourself. Thrills are fine but they come and go. Significance is what really matters.


I don’t feel like it… Of course you don’t.

But don’t most worthwhile things in life call for overcoming challenges, pushing yourself and taking some risks (and who wakes up in the morning feeling that)?  Do the work. Ignore the feelings.


The scriptures call this “faithfulness”, and the promise is “a faithful person will be richly blessed” (Proverbs 28:20).

Seek meaning, do the work…and a rich blessing will follow.

A Legit Princess

5.25.2018

This week I read the story of a real life princess.

 

Her name is Princess Anna Noela Lokolo of the Democratic Republic of Congo and she recently graduated from Eckerd College. She chose to fly under the radar with her royal roots while she was a student and not flaunt the fact that she is a legitimate princess. As well, she paid careful attention to her mannerisms and behavior as she realized it would shape people’s opinions not only of herself but her people. In her own words: “If people have a negative image of me, they will have a negative image of my tribe.”

 

Wow…wise words, mature words and probably not the words your average student chooses as the motto for their college experience. Now pull out the word “tribe” and insert other words like: family, church or company.

All Wet

5.18.2018

Monday afternoon it was raining as I picked up my Jacque from work. We both were a bit soul ragged from not just the demanding day but from too many demanding days strung together. As we drove I asked her if she wanted me to stop anywhere on the way home…“here she said, right here and let’s go for a walk in the rain”.


I took off my dress shoes and she her heels, we rolled up our pant legs, and walked in the rain. We held hands, laughed a bit, and marveled at how we had the usually busy walkway all to ourselves. I guess a willingness to get wet is one among the many things we do for the one we love.

The Best She Could

5.11.2018

So this weekend is Mother’s Day.

A day that raises some warm emotions for many and evokes some pain from the past for others.

 

If this weekend raises warm emotions for you then certainly find a way to thank, honor and celebrate your Mom or the memory of her. And do it in a way that sends the message deep into her soul.

 

If this weekend dredges up some unresolved Mom issues…then consider that maybe she was doing the best she could in those moments. Maybe she had some ghosts from her past she didn’t know how to exorcise; maybe she was facing some pressures or challenges you were totally unaware of; maybe…who knows. But maybe if you can find the grace to try and understand, maybe if you can extend the grace to forgive, then maybe you both can begin to move to a better more life giving relationship. Maybe it begins by finding a way to honor her too this weekend.

After Some Careful Thought

5.4.2018

In a stroll through a local mall this week Jacque and I discovered that the Sears store is having a close out sale. A quick google search revealed that more that 100 Sears and K-Mart stores are boarding up this year in an effort to keep the company afloat.  

 

A woman called to tell me her once thriving church has gone from three services…to two services…and now to one.

 

I heard a couple say they were going to see each other less often in an attempt to renew the spark in their relationship.

 

When your current strategy isn’t working, how much sense does it make to do the same thing…only a little less?

 

Haggai the Prophet is known for frequently saying: “Give careful thought to your ways”...maybe what is needed is a new way.

Peyton Let Me Down

4.27.2018

I read this little gift from the internet and couldn’t stop chuckling. Probably because I know at least a couple of guys who potentially authored this note.

 

In the last couple of weeks I’ve had conversations with a pool company, a doctor’s office, and an insurance agent who all did their level best to duck responsibility. If you want to frustrate, infuriate and lose customers this is a sure fire way to do it. If you want to gain credibility, increase influence and get ahead…take responsibility for what is yours to take responsibility for.

 

It’s your future…it’s your life…take responsibility.

I Was Wrong

4.20.2018

“I was wrong”.

“Yes, I did it” or “Yes I said that”.

“I lied”.

“I’m sorry”.

When is the last time you heard someone in authority or power say any of these statements? Isn’t the current modus operandi to instead double down, deny, cover-up, or go on the attack? And isn’t it amazing how others who benefit from the one in authority or power will over-look or excuse for fear of losing their favored position? And when that happens, at least among the thinking honest…credibility and influence go out the window.

 

Not that they are mutually exclusive, but…what do you desire more: power and authority or credibility and influence?

Gloating

4.13.2018

This week I was exposed to some “Macy’s Day Parade” levels of gloating over a “Tsunami” level of devastation that has befallen upon a church. I read a few of the on-line trolls who were taking verbal salt and rubbing it into the still open wounds and it quickly turned my stomach to the point I clicked off the search. Ugh! And what made it all the more sickening to me is that the mocking, the judgement, and the condemnation was being manufactured by those who say they bear the name of Jesus.

 

What is it about we humans that we can take such delight in damage being done to others? That takes a perverse pleasure in the pain of others? And worse, feels piously superior in the process.

 

Wise Solomon once said: “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice, or the Lord will see and disapprove….” (Proverbs 24:17, 18). And here’s the deal, the trolls are gloating not over an enemy…but over brothers and sisters who share the same faith.

 

Surely we are capable of being better than this. Jesus showed us how and said “in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you”. Wow…would that be a game changer or what…to actually live this out :”in everything”.

It's Okay

4.6.2018

There are some things in life you only cry and pray your way through as you lean into the people who love you.

 

I said these words to a young woman this week as we stood in the space where her beloved Grandmother lay dying. My heart was so stirred for her broken heart and troubled mind and I could only offer her my presence, God’s grace and a path that I have followed in such moments.

 

It’s okay to let the tears flow…your soul is crying. You certainly should pray…it opens your soul to grace and reminds us that death does not have the last word in God’s universe. And lean into people who love you…moments like these leave us feeling alone and vulnerable.

 

Over the years I’ve said the same to myself and others who were in one of life’s really hard places. Sometimes we lean into others, sometimes we are the one being leaned into…and this is one of the many things I love about my church, my people…my tribe.

A Little Extra

3.30.2018

I need Good Friday and Easter a little extra this year.

Why?

Well the stream of news coming my way this year has been less than inspiring: Parkland, ‘me too’ revelations, racially motivated shootings, two men whom I have admired and deeply respected for decades are facing troubling allegations, my personal battle with an infection is headed into month number ten, and I just found out I owe the IRS this tax season.

So I need Good Friday and Easter a little extra this year.

Why?

Well Good Friday reminds me that my life has value, purpose and worth to God. It reminds me that God is the one who will never give up on my relationship  with Him and that I, even I am the object of His love deemed worthy of the life of Jesus. There is no need for me to crawl my way to God for God crawled onto a cross for me.

And Easter…ah Easter, it reminds me that death, lies, injustice, hatred, abuse and the like does not have the last word…not in God’s universe. It reminds me that out of the ashes…beauty rises. Ultimately love prevails. So there is hope...beautiful hope.

Conversation Changer

5.25.2019

The directive from Jesus changes the conversation on so many issues:

 

“Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”.

 

Do: word, thought, action or whatever.

 

 

Other: religions, political parties, races, nationalities, or whoever.

 

 

Fitting in...easy.

Standing out...tricky.

Fit in too much...no one notices.

Stand out too much...you get noticed but are thought the jerk or the fool.

Too many are fitting into a culture of divisiveness, demonizing and condemnation.

Too few are standing out for grace, love and civility.

 

 

 

To All You Mommas

5.10.2019

I’m a praying man. I have a healthy appetite for reading. And I have a heart for people.

All three have made for a better life for myself and others.

Maybe it’s because I have a praying Mom with a heart for people who loves to read.

Moms…your influence on us is greater than you realize and deeper than we let you know.

Don’t ever believe the lie your efforts are for naught.

You do you Mommas…you do you.

The world is so the less if you don’t do you.

So Happy Mother’s Day to all you Mommas!

You are stronger than you know, more beautiful than you realize, and with an impact that will outlive you for generations!

You’ve got this Momma…you got this.

 

50 Million Times

5.3.2019

“Call your elected official” said the TV ad in which some unsubstantiated statements were presented as hard core facts. The attempted scaremongering seemed to be  clearly motivated by the protection of self interest at the expense of the good of others.

 

I thought of the words of Joseph Gobbles, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda: “A lie told once remains a lie, but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth”.

 

Then I remembered the words of Anatole France: “If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing”.

 

And I also thought of the words of Solomon: “A false witness will not go unpunished, and whoever pours out lies will perish.”

 

Does the truth matter anymore? If you follow Jesus it should to you…He said He is the way, the truth and the life.

Voices

4.26.2019

Don’t confuse the loudest voices with the most important voices.

 

Don’t fall for in “BOLD AND ALL CAPS” as being what is worthy of your attention.

 

Don’t think that being a majority is the same thing as being right.

 

There is a voice that will always lead you to life…the voice of Jesus.

What More?

4.19.2019

What more must I do to be loved by you?

Isn’t that the history of love?

What more must I do to be loved by God?

Isn’t that the message of religion?

What more must God do to convince you that you already are loved…unconditionally?

Isn’t that the question that begs to be asked on Good Friday and Easter?

It’s Easter weekend and we will remember and celebrate.

On Friday we remember that sometimes love looks like a cross and sounds like the pounding of nails.

On Saturday and Sunday we celebrate a love that is more powerful than hate, evil and death.

Holy Week

4.12.2019

Next week:

. you have a list of things to do

. somebody else has a list for you to do

Next week:

. there will demands on your time

. there will be requests for your time

Next week is Holy Week. Palm Sunday to Easter.

A week set aside to engage with the passion of Christ.

Next week take control of your life and you decide what to do with your time…make it a Holy Week.

 

The Obvious Secret

4.5.2019

Last weekend Jacque and I drove to south Florida where I spoke at the memorial service of a friend and mentor who was well into his nineties. I remember someone once asking him: “what is the secret to a long life”. With his usual dry wit and without cracking a smile he simply said: “don’t die”.

 

Most of the way there and back the traffic was horrible, and at times slow and bottlenecked. On both ends of the trip I had responsibilities with a time deadline. There were moments when I just wanted to pull off and sit in a restaurant for awhile…but the only way to meet my obligations was to “don’t stop”.

 

Some things in life happen simply because in addition to giving your best, you “don’t quit”.

 

Waiting for the Rat

3.29.2019

“Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die”

 

This quote by Anne Lamott is one of my favorites on the topic of forgiveness. It’s such a great reminder that choosing not to forgive is choosing to pour toxins into the mix of your soul. And toxic souls have never made for a great life or a great parent, spouse, friend…

 

There is an antidote. Forgive.

 

Sure Fire Ways to Suck the Joy out of Your Day

3.22.2019

How to suck the joy out of your day:

 

. Dwell on worst case scenarios

. Obsess over what other people think

. Focus on what you don’t have

. Watch cable TV news all day

. Create a blame list

. Hang out with emotional vampires

. Make an art out of criticizing and complaining

 

There you have it…7 sure fire ways to suck the joy out of your day. You’re welcome.

Don't Look Back

3/15/2019

For better or for worse you made a decision or a decision was made that has impacted you.

Now what?

“Keep putting one foot

in front of the other

and taking your life day by day.

There’s a brighter tomorrow

That’s just down the road.

Don’t look back,

you’re not going that way.”

           -Mary Engelbreit

I Wish

3.8.2019

We wish things were different.

 

But if you are not going to actually do anything about it, maybe you should redirect the time and energy you spend talking, wishing and fussing about it somewhere else.

Choose One

3.1.2019

What will be your chief pursuit today?

Money, pleasure, power, or wisdom?

Choose one. Choose carefully. It will determine your destiny.

Solomon chose wisdom and found it all…enough said.

As It Turns Out

2.22.2019

If we are where we are today because of the choices we made some yesterday.

Then we can end up in a better place some tomorrow by making different choices today.

As it turns out, if you have the freedom to make choices…the results are your responsibility.

Your Best Move

2.15.2019

What is the best way to influence others?

Making convincing arguments is okay.

Making neat stuff is good

Making a connection is best.

And That's Enough

2.8.2019

All we have is God and each other.

The good news is…and that’s enough.

You, me, us…and God.

 

We are either there for each other or no one is.

We must treat each other as if it matters…because it does.

 

Take care of your tribe, love them hard, hold them dear…both you and the world will be the better for it.

When You ...

2.3.2019

When you forgive

. When you fight to make the world a better place

. When you brighten the rooms you walk into

. When you respond with grace

. When you inspire others to be their best

. When you consider the good of others

 

Your life matters, you leave a legacy and the One I follow said it will be convincing proof you have encountered the grace of God.

Easy-peasy

1.26.2019

Quick, easy and guaranteed.

Most things of value are none of the above.

The real question is what are you willing to fight for, commit to and be a bit unreasonable about

The Long Haul

1.18.2019

So two years ago we raised funds to remodel the Cypress patio and playground.

Then the project was put on hold due to building settlement issues.

So we filed an insurance claim which was denied.

Then we hired an attorney.

So our insurance carrier called in their expert and we were denied again.

Then our attorney called in his expert and said you better reconsider.

So reluctantly they cut a check.

Then we hired a firm to do the stabilization work.

 

Next is cosmetic repairs, door adjustments and hopefully a final check from the insurance carrier.

And sometime this year we will remodel the Cypress patio and playground.

Some things are realized only if you are in it for the long haul.

Neither Cool Nor a Bargain

1.11.2019

 

So I finally wore a hole through both the top and bottom of a favorite pair of old loafers (or so we called them back in the day). On a quick shop search on line I found a cool looking new pair at a bargain price but the options stopped two sizes short of my foot. Not worth buying right.  No matter how cool or how sweet the price, not worth buying. Shoes that don’t fit are neither cool nor a bargain.

 

Same could be said of social circles, political affiliations, organizations, jobs, relationships and…you get it.

Ultima Thule

1.4.2019

In the midst of kicking off the new year, bowl games and a partial government shutdown…you may or may not have been dialed into the encounter a NASA spacecraft had with a rock the size of New York City at the edge of our solar system. The rock has a name only a scientist would come up with…Ultima Thule. This piece of real estate is a mere 4.1 billion miles from us and takes 298 earth years to complete an orbit of the sun. I could go on…but you can go online and check it out for yourself.

 

Ultima Thule was first discovered in June of 2014. So four years ago we just became aware of something scientists tell us has been around for eons. The more we know…the more we discover there is to know. If such is true in creation, how much more of the creator. The scriptures say of God: “He is the maker of the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the south. He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.” (Job 9:9,10)

 

So welcome to a new year, welcome to 2019. Don’t settle for a mediocre, hum-drum, more of the same-old-same-old. There is so much more for you to yet discover of God and His grace. So much more to discover of how your life is a part of the beauty God is creating in this world. It is true. Now live the life that is fully awake…fully alive.

 

Goodbye 2018  Hello 2019

12/28/2018

Goodbye 2018 and thanks for the lessons.

Hello 2019 and thanks for 365 tomorrows.

 

2018 is chronicled.

2019 is being created.

 

Dream, risk, create.

The best time to start was last year. The second best is right now.

 

 

Merry Christmas

12/21/2018

May wonder…fill your soul at the thought of God loving you enough to come to earth for you.  

May His peace…spread over this fractured world through us.

May joy…wash over your gatherings with family and friends.

 

 

 

Bob Dylan

12.14.2018

In the 60’s Bob Dylan was an iconic one of a kind legend with a massive following.

Then he went electric…then gospel.

He knew the crowd wasn’t going to follow him, but he went anyway.

He had a choice: make the music his fans wanted and would purchase or make the music that was stirring in his soul.

He was okay if the masses didn’t cheer him on…he was free to be Bobby.

 

Being free to be who God made you to be means being freed from the compulsion to conform to who others would have you be.

 

 

 

 

 

It's Not Like You're Getting a Tattoo

12.7.2018

 

“Go for it…it’s not like you’re getting a tattoo!”

 

Such were the words of wisdom my friend imparted to me. Tattoos are pretty much irreversible decisions, so think long and hard. Most every other choice we make doesn’t have such lasting consequences. So be bolder, more decisive, make mistakes, learn what works, and fix what isn’t along the way. Stop waiting for the perfect plan on the perfect day…go for it, it’s not like you’re getting a tattoo.

 

 

 

An Exercise in Truth

11.30.2018

You take your car into the auto shop for the 60,000 mile checkup. Your timing belt is getting ready to fail but the mechanic says all is well because he knows its not the news you want to hear.

You go to the doctor for your annual physical and she discovers your cholesterol numbers are way out of whack but she says nothing because she doesn’t want to hurt your feelings.

In both cases, you’d be furious to discover that someone you trusted withheld the truth so they could avoid some temporary discomfort and make you feel good.

Sometimes we need someone in our lives who will love us enough to speak the truth to us.

Reality is your friend…sometimes an uncomfortable one…but your friend nevertheless.

 

 

 

 

Against the Wind

11/23/2018

Over Thanksgiving break Jacque and I sailed off to a marina in Tampa with two of our granddaughters.

 

On the trip over we had a light but favorable wind and an out going tide that we rode like a river.

 

The return voyage was a different story... wind right on our nose and a tide that pushed against us the whole way. A slow and arduous process.

 

Sometimes things fall together and it feels like heaven is smiling on you. Sometimes it feels like we are up against it and nothing is easy. In those times “is where you are going worth the effort” becomes a vital question and a lifeline from here to there.

 

Persist...it matters.

 

 

 

 

A GenerousTicket

11.16.2018

Be grateful.

 

There are 7.7 billion people on planet earth. Of these fellow human beings of ours:

 

. 1.2 billion people have little or no access to electricity.

. 60% of the world’s population don’t have access to flush toilets or adequate water-related sanitation.

. Only 15% of we humans live in countries where everyone, regardless of gender or socioeconomic status has a voice in the political process.

. The world’s average salary is $1,480/month or almost $18,000/year. If you make $32,400/year or more…you are in the top 1% of wage earners.

. 4.4% of the world’s population resides in the U.S.

 

If you are reading this right now…I’m guessing the ticket you drew when you were born wasn’t too bad. There may be some things in your life circumstances you wish were different, but never let what you wish were different diminish gratitude for the circumstances you were born into and the generous ticket you have been offered in life.

 

Next week is Thanksgiving, we have so much for which to be grateful.

 

The Beautiful Toppler

11.9.2018

My granddaughter Abigail is taking her first steps. It’s been beautiful to watch.

Shaky short steps followed by a topple…is becoming sure strides followed by more sure strides. One day she will run!

You don’t learn to walk by listening to “walk talks” or by watching “walking videos” on u-tube. You learn to walk by making shaky short steps and toppling over.

Most people never really learn how to run in their endeavors because they don’t want to be seen making shaky, short steps and toppling over. And their life and the world is the less for it.

 

 

 

All Wet

11.3.2018

So someone thinks your idea is “all wet”. Someone else says you lack the talent, intellect, and/or drive to pull it off.

 

Walt Disney was fired by the Kansas City Star because his editor said: “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas”.

Lady Gaga was dropped by her first major record label after only three months.

Albert Einstein didn’t speak until age four, didn’t read until age seven and was expelled from school.

Steven Spielberg was rejected by the University of Southern California School of Theater, Film and Television…3 times.

Michael Jordon was cut from his high school basketball team.

 

 

 

You Do You

10.26.2018

So you are not the most talented, the best looking or the smartest person in the room.

You don’t have the level of wealth, the hair or the success you wish you did.

 

Change what can and should be changed, improve what you can improve, and leverage what makes you uniquely you.

We are all a little weird. We are all a little different. Your uniqueness is uniquely yours.

 

Stop trying to be someone else’s clone. Resist the pressure to conform.

Maybe just maybe God in His divine intellect has something uniquely suited for unique you.

 

 

The Art of Showing Up

10.19.2018

I

The Doobie Brothers are playing in the Clearwater Jazz Festival this weekend.  

Tarpon Springs is hosting an Oktoberfest.

Safety Harbor is closing down main street for 3rd Friday festivities.

 

If you want to hear the Doobie Brothers, join the lederhosen wearing crowd or stroll main street…you’ll have to show up.

 

The project which has stalled out,

That relationship that needs some work,

The spiritual life that has drifted to the back burner.

 

Here too, if you want what you say you want…you’ll have to show up.

 

Show up ready, open, and solution oriented. But show up and keep showing up.

 

As Planned?

10.12.2018

I’m old school ink and daily planner notebook.

Plan it out. Schedule it in. Get it done. Check it off.

 

But rarely does my week go…as planned.

 

Things break. People don’t come through. Children get sick. Delays happen. Hurricanes roar by.

 

All part of the plan that has a plan for when the plan doesn’t go as planned.  

 

As the scriptures say, we don’t know what tomorrow will bring…

 

Read the Last Chapter

10.5.2018

 

I know someone who makes the decision whether or not to invest time with a novel by reading the last chapter first. If they find the end of the story compelling then they engage the narrative. If not, well then it’s off to a different and better story.

 

A sage once said our lives are writing a story and before investing more of our time, energy and money in the narrative we should stop, play it out and read the last chapter. If I keep writing what I’m writing how does this story end? If you like it…great, keep the story-line going. If it’s not the ending you want to experience, well, time for a new narrative. You decide. It’s your story after all.

 

Today

9.28.2018

If you have a dream worth chasing…

If you have a relationship worth tending…

If you have a change worth making…

 

Start today. Take the next step.

You don’t need more time, info or resources.

You just need more courage.

 

Or one day you will look back and say “woulda, coulda, shoulda”.

And that day will arrive sooner than you think.

Life is short. You get one shot at it.

 

At least I think that’s what the Psalmist meant when he said the day to take action is today.

 

 

Required or Inspired

9.21.2018

For the last couple of decades I have attended the same two pastor conferences every year.

One I attend because I am required. (In order to maintain my license.)

The other I attend because it is inspired.  (And I need it to maintain and sharpen my soul, vision, and leadership skills.)

 

This week I was at the “required” conference and my take away is this: I want to be the kind of husband Jacque loves because my love inspires her to reciprocate and not because she is required by marital vows. I want to be the kind of leader the Cypress staff follows because my leadership galvanizes and not because it is required to get a paycheck. I want Cypress to be the kind of church people attend out of inspiration and not obligation.

 

If the only way you can get people to attend your conference is with a threat…then your conference probably is irrelevant or stinks, or both.

 

 

Enough to Drive You to Your Knees

9.7.2018

Some time ago I heard Bishop T.D. Jakes being interviewed and he said these words: “If what you are doing does not drive you to your knees…then start doing something bigger”.

 

I thought of the number of times I chose the sure thing over the risky thing. The comfortable thing over the challenging thing. The thing I had the ability and connections to pull off and not the thing that would drive me to my knees in prayer because if God didn’t intervene I was in deep weeds.

 

And in doing so I also choose the lessor over the greater. I choose to lead a smaller not larger life.  I choose to live the façade of risking just enough to look “sort of bold” but not enough to get any calluses on my knees.

 

What is it about us that expects too little, asks too little, and attempts too little for God in this world of such big needs?

 

Thanks Bishop for reminding us that we should never underestimate how much God intends for our lives.

 

Turn, Turn, Turn

9.14.2018

If you are a baby boomer or an aficionado of 60’s music you remember the lyrics to Pete Seeger’s classic song made famous by the Bryds: ‘Turn, Turn, Turn’. If you are a millennial…watch the u-tube video, laugh at the hair and enjoy the tune: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4ga_M5Zdn4

The lyrics are taken from and inspired by the writings of wise ole Solomon (Ecclesiastes 3) where he encourages us to look at life as a mixed bag of seasons. There will be times when we weep, tear things apart, walk away, or are silent. And obversely, there are times when we laugh, rebuild, search, or speak.

 

It is astute to know what season of life you are in…it makes you self aware.

It is okay to give yourself permission to weep, walk away or mourn…there is a time when such is appropriate.

It is wise to remember in hard times…it is a season,  and you will laugh again, dance again, and know peace again.

 

The narrative of your story is still being written. The next page is blank. Turn, turn, turn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can People Change?

8.31.2018

Can people change?

 

In recent days I have been asked this question several times both by people wanting to experience a change in their behavior and by people wanting to believe someone who has promised to make a change.

 

My response has been “wanting to change is a great start, but merely wanting to change is rarely enough”. The reality is that if merely “wanting” to change was enough, the change would have already happened. So what does it take besides “wanting”? What I have come to see is that it takes: God, a plan and another person.

 

First it takes God. If you had the knowledge and the power it takes to make the change a reality, we would not even be having this conversation.

 

Second, it takes a plan. A path out of old ruts of thinking, behaving and relating and a path to new ways of thinking, relating and behaving. (There are many good counselors and books available where plans can be accessed.)

 

Third, it takes another person. In some ways we are our own worst enemies. We all need the encouragement, support, and accountability of someone else. Someone with whom we are willing to be scary vulnerable and willing to be held ruthlessly accountable with consequences deemed more painful than the reward we feel in continuing in our old pattern. (I know one guy who created the consequence of permanently giving up his prized, very pricey pen if he acted out again.)

 

It takes all three: God, a plan, and another person. If you are hoping someone will change but they aren’t willing to step into the afore mentioned triad of change…your hope is most likely wishful thinking and you are only setting yourself and others up for further hurt and disappointment. If you say you are serious about change in yourself…well the same goes for you too.

 

So can people change? I believe the answer is yes…if they have God, a plan and another person.

 

Minimum/Maximum

8.24.2018

I’ve noticed people tend to take one of two approaches to this life and the next:

 

“I’ll meet the minimum requirements on earth to get into heaven”

 

or

 

“I’ll give my all to the God of heaven so I can make a maximum impact on earth”.

 

63 Years

8.17.2018

I turn 63 this weekend.

I've lived a lot of life and life has written a story on my face.

For me every wrinkle, every scar, every strand of grey hair is a badge of honor.

They tell the story of:

. adventures lived

. risks taken

. challenges faced and overcome

. dreams chased

 

I cherish every moment.

It's good to be alive.

I love my life and the people in it.

I hope you see it in my face.

 

Mistakes Well Handled

8.10.18

What did you learn today?


It is late Thursday night as I hammer this out on my Surface Pro. Today I attended a conference with the staff, Elders and some leaders from Cypress. Afterwards I came home, picked up Jacque and we drove straight to a Hospice House to stand with a friend whose father is dying. I’m tired, a little mentally done, emotionally spent and ready for bed. Nevertheless before I retire for the night I’m reflecting on my day and asking God…”What are you wanting to teach me from my day?”. One of the things that came to my mind is a statement one of the presenters at the conference made today: “The road to success is paved with mistakes well handled.”


The reality is if you are going to grow as a person, if you are willing to risk for a worthwhile dream, if you want to invest your life in making this world a better place…you will make some mistakes along the way. Accept that reality. Often the price of inaction is greater that the cost of making a mistake. Embrace the mistake, learn from it, handle it well and get back to pursuing the you…the you are meant to be and the dream God has put in your heart. Cypress is a safe place for second…second chances.


What did you learn today?


Like a Duck

8.3.2018

If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and flies like a duck…then it must be a duck.

You may not want it to be a duck…but it’s a duck.

Reality is your friend.

Sometimes a harsh friend, but a friend nevertheless.

Not to say we should rush to judgement, but neither should we have to be dragged into reality.

And so the sooner we admit it’s a duck, the sooner we can figure out what’s next.

Or So We Say

7.27.2018

We say we want local merchants to make it, but we drive over to the big box store so we can save a couple of bucks.

 

We say we are tired of the political polarization in our country, but we join in the blaming and demonizing.

 

We say somebody should do something about it, but we retreat to our safe spot.

 

We say all people matter to God, but we keep a safe distance from the ones that creep us out.

 

The problem isn’t in what we say…it’s in what we do.

2000 Years From Now

7.20.2018

Ever visited places like Gettysburg or The Mall in D.C. or Da Vinci’s workshop? It is a moving experience both mentally and emotionally to realize you are standing on the very ground where something history making and future shaping took place.

 

This week Jacque and I were out and about in Athens, Greece and decided to visit Mars Hill (see Acts 17). A place where in a moment in time the Apostle Paul stood and conversed with some of the brightest philosophers of his day about Jesus and the life that is life, a catalytic moment that helped move the faith I hold from something regional and available for a few to something global and available to all. I’ve both read about and studied the narrative of the event. All well and good, but to actually 2000 years later be on the very ground where this encounter took place…felt sort of sacred. So sacred I stood there watching the setting sun and offered prayers of thanksgiving for men like Paul and places like Mars Hill.

Heroes Wanted

7.13.2018

Like so many of you, I prayed for and sought out daily updates concerning the boys soccer team that was trapped in a flooded cave with their coach in Thailand. I just couldn’t imagine on so many levels. Thankfully they are all out and seem to be okay. And gratitude to the diver who lost his life in the efforts to rescue the boys.

 

There was something different about the response to and the coverage of the event that stood out from the responses and coverage of other tragedies and challenges going on in the world right now. I just kept reading about people coming together from many different nations offering help and assistance. To this point anyway I have not been aware of any of the blaming, finger pointing, and verbal attacks that seem to define so much of what is communicated in both traditional and social media in moments like this. I’m still enough of a dreamer to wonder what other challenges in the world could be overcome if we just found a way to come together and got on the solution side of things instead of intentionally acting in ways which only further widen and destabilize the divide between us.

 

So we came together and some boys lives were saved. Now how do we come together and save the world we are leaving behind to these boys (and all the boys and girls in the world)?

Fred (Mr) Rogers said it well: “We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”

Why?

7.6.2018

“Why Papa?” my granddaughter inquired.

Any guesses how she responded to my answer…yep, with another “why”.

And you probably also know how our conversation continued don’t you?

 

If we keep asking why, we might just get to the heart of how we came to do what we do and be who we have become and realize that life might be better if we care and are courageous enough to institute some change.

Customer Service?

6.29.2018

It happened again…I had to make a call for some “customer service”. As has been my experience most every time I’ve made such an effort, my call was immediately sent to an automated response informing me that “due to unexpectedly high call volume” I would wait and listen to some elevator music.

 

The same thing happened the last time I called…and the time before that. In fact, I’ve come to expect that anytime I call anyone’s customer service line to hear that line about “unexpectedly high call volume”. As I waited and listened to elevator top 40 tunes, I wondered why the call volume is unexpected and apparently has been running at an unexpected rate for years now. Are they really that inept at planning and forecasting? Or are they being less than truthful in an effort to cover their lightly staffed support team?

 

Either way they have broken trust with me. Trust is often hard to win and easy to break isn’t it. If you are a follower of Jesus…take note.

A Little Bug

6.22.2018

So yes, as you may be aware…I was sick last weekend with a little gastrointestinal bug. Ugh! I sailed through the Saturday night service, cowboyed up for Sunday 9:15 but tapped out for the 11:00 service when it became apparent it would only end in disaster. And the folks at that service were treated to the “video me”. (I’m on the other side of it now…Yay God!)

 

Fever, nausea and such are symptoms. There is an underlying microbe or germ that causes it. Taking some pills to reduce the fever or quiet the tummy doesn’t always solve it. You have got to go after the “bug” causing it.

 

Relational spats, moodiness, anger, emotional funks, acting out…etc., etc., etc. are symptoms. It is your soul letting you know that something is wrong. You can spend your time and efforts fixing blame, addressing symptoms, and/or ignoring but you’d be far better off focusing on the bug (the cause) instead.

The Power of Caring

6.15.2018

Our recent trip to serve along side our partners at Springs of Hope Kenya was marked by bookend traveling glitches.

 

Our departure for Kenya was delayed a day due to a storm  in Atlanta and our return home was marred by three members of our team being told they had no seats for the flight out of Nairobi. Both required the intervention of the airlines. Both incidents took over two hours of wrangling. One was a bit frustrating, the other a bit maddening. The difference was the airline representatives. In Tampa we had a representative named Debbie who was pleasant, understanding and persistent as she actually worked two phones at the same time to resolve our situation. It was almost as if she was fighting for her own family. Not so much in Nairobi. We were bounced to four different agents and each acted as if it was not their problem but ours to solve. Finally, after some persistent persuasion on our part, we got things resolved.

 

Maybe the agent in Tampa was empowered to make decisions and maybe the agents in Nairobi weren’t. I don’t know. I do know that Debbie cared and if the agents in Nairobi did we failed to get that message.

 

I don’t know how to teach people to care, I just know that when people do it makes a difference because you want to make a difference. Caring cuts through bureaucracy, excuses and blaming…and gets on the solution side of things. If you want to stand out…care! Father John Powell once said this to Christ followers: “People don’t care how much you know, until they first know how much you care”.

Let it Shine

6.8.2018

When...

  • When you find a way to leave others better than you found them.
  • When you think of others before you think of yourself.
  • When you learn to love both your friends and your enemies.
  • When you touch others with what you do and not just with what you say.
  • When you return blessing for demeaning, demonizing and cursing.
  • When you see the world as it is today, but believe together we can create a better future.

When you do these things Jesus said you are a light that shines into the darkness of this world...a light that will draw others to the life giving grace of Jesus.


So let it shine...let it shine...let it shine.

B.B. King Was Right

6.1.2018

The thrill is gone… Well of course it is.

A thrill is just temporary excitement, usually associated with something experienced for the first time. First kiss, first viewing of Star Wars, first ride on the new roller coaster, first day on the new job, first…whatever.


Do you know what has a long shelf life? Significance.  And significance comes from commitment to a worthy cause greater than yourself. Thrills are fine but they come and go. Significance is what really matters.


I don’t feel like it… Of course you don’t.

But don’t most worthwhile things in life call for overcoming challenges, pushing yourself and taking some risks (and who wakes up in the morning feeling that)?  Do the work. Ignore the feelings.


The scriptures call this “faithfulness”, and the promise is “a faithful person will be richly blessed” (Proverbs 28:20).

Seek meaning, do the work…and a rich blessing will follow.

A Legit Princess

5.25.2018

This week I read the story of a real life princess.

 

Her name is Princess Anna Noela Lokolo of the Democratic Republic of Congo and she recently graduated from Eckerd College. She chose to fly under the radar with her royal roots while she was a student and not flaunt the fact that she is a legitimate princess. As well, she paid careful attention to her mannerisms and behavior as she realized it would shape people’s opinions not only of herself but her people. In her own words: “If people have a negative image of me, they will have a negative image of my tribe.”

 

Wow…wise words, mature words and probably not the words your average student chooses as the motto for their college experience. Now pull out the word “tribe” and insert other words like: family, church or company.

All Wet

5.18.2018

Monday afternoon it was raining as I picked up my Jacque from work. We both were a bit soul ragged from not just the demanding day but from too many demanding days strung together. As we drove I asked her if she wanted me to stop anywhere on the way home…“here she said, right here and let’s go for a walk in the rain”.


I took off my dress shoes and she her heels, we rolled up our pant legs, and walked in the rain. We held hands, laughed a bit, and marveled at how we had the usually busy walkway all to ourselves. I guess a willingness to get wet is one among the many things we do for the one we love.

The Best She Could

5.11.2018

So this weekend is Mother’s Day.

A day that raises some warm emotions for many and evokes some pain from the past for others.

 

If this weekend raises warm emotions for you then certainly find a way to thank, honor and celebrate your Mom or the memory of her. And do it in a way that sends the message deep into her soul.

 

If this weekend dredges up some unresolved Mom issues…then consider that maybe she was doing the best she could in those moments. Maybe she had some ghosts from her past she didn’t know how to exorcise; maybe she was facing some pressures or challenges you were totally unaware of; maybe…who knows. But maybe if you can find the grace to try and understand, maybe if you can extend the grace to forgive, then maybe you both can begin to move to a better more life giving relationship. Maybe it begins by finding a way to honor her too this weekend.

After Some Careful Thought

5.4.2018

In a stroll through a local mall this week Jacque and I discovered that the Sears store is having a close out sale. A quick google search revealed that more that 100 Sears and K-Mart stores are boarding up this year in an effort to keep the company afloat.  

 

A woman called to tell me her once thriving church has gone from three services…to two services…and now to one.

 

I heard a couple say they were going to see each other less often in an attempt to renew the spark in their relationship.

 

When your current strategy isn’t working, how much sense does it make to do the same thing…only a little less?

 

Haggai the Prophet is known for frequently saying: “Give careful thought to your ways”...maybe what is needed is a new way.

Peyton Let Me Down

4.27.2018

I read this little gift from the internet and couldn’t stop chuckling. Probably because I know at least a couple of guys who potentially authored this note.

 

In the last couple of weeks I’ve had conversations with a pool company, a doctor’s office, and an insurance agent who all did their level best to duck responsibility. If you want to frustrate, infuriate and lose customers this is a sure fire way to do it. If you want to gain credibility, increase influence and get ahead…take responsibility for what is yours to take responsibility for.

 

It’s your future…it’s your life…take responsibility.

I Was Wrong

4.20.2018

“I was wrong”.

“Yes, I did it” or “Yes I said that”.

“I lied”.

“I’m sorry”.

When is the last time you heard someone in authority or power say any of these statements? Isn’t the current modus operandi to instead double down, deny, cover-up, or go on the attack? And isn’t it amazing how others who benefit from the one in authority or power will over-look or excuse for fear of losing their favored position? And when that happens, at least among the thinking honest…credibility and influence go out the window.

 

Not that they are mutually exclusive, but…what do you desire more: power and authority or credibility and influence?

Gloating

4.13.2018

This week I was exposed to some “Macy’s Day Parade” levels of gloating over a “Tsunami” level of devastation that has befallen upon a church. I read a few of the on-line trolls who were taking verbal salt and rubbing it into the still open wounds and it quickly turned my stomach to the point I clicked off the search. Ugh! And what made it all the more sickening to me is that the mocking, the judgement, and the condemnation was being manufactured by those who say they bear the name of Jesus.

 

What is it about we humans that we can take such delight in damage being done to others? That takes a perverse pleasure in the pain of others? And worse, feels piously superior in the process.

 

Wise Solomon once said: “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice, or the Lord will see and disapprove….” (Proverbs 24:17, 18). And here’s the deal, the trolls are gloating not over an enemy…but over brothers and sisters who share the same faith.

 

Surely we are capable of being better than this. Jesus showed us how and said “in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you”. Wow…would that be a game changer or what…to actually live this out :”in everything”.

It's Okay

4.6.2018

There are some things in life you only cry and pray your way through as you lean into the people who love you.

 

I said these words to a young woman this week as we stood in the space where her beloved Grandmother lay dying. My heart was so stirred for her broken heart and troubled mind and I could only offer her my presence, God’s grace and a path that I have followed in such moments.

 

It’s okay to let the tears flow…your soul is crying. You certainly should pray…it opens your soul to grace and reminds us that death does not have the last word in God’s universe. And lean into people who love you…moments like these leave us feeling alone and vulnerable.

 

Over the years I’ve said the same to myself and others who were in one of life’s really hard places. Sometimes we lean into others, sometimes we are the one being leaned into…and this is one of the many things I love about my church, my people…my tribe.

A Little Extra

3.30.2018

I need Good Friday and Easter a little extra this year.

Why?

Well the stream of news coming my way this year has been less than inspiring: Parkland, ‘me too’ revelations, racially motivated shootings, two men whom I have admired and deeply respected for decades are facing troubling allegations, my personal battle with an infection is headed into month number ten, and I just found out I owe the IRS this tax season.

So I need Good Friday and Easter a little extra this year.

Why?

Well Good Friday reminds me that my life has value, purpose and worth to God. It reminds me that God is the one who will never give up on my relationship  with Him and that I, even I am the object of His love deemed worthy of the life of Jesus. There is no need for me to crawl my way to God for God crawled onto a cross for me.

And Easter…ah Easter, it reminds me that death, lies, injustice, hatred, abuse and the like does not have the last word…not in God’s universe. It reminds me that out of the ashes…beauty rises. Ultimately love prevails. So there is hope...beautiful hope.

Conversation Changer

5.25.2019

The directive from Jesus changes the conversation on so many issues:

 

“Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”.

 

Do: word, thought, action or whatever.

 

 

Other: religions, political parties, races, nationalities, or whoever.

 

 

Fitting in...easy.

Standing out...tricky.

Fit in too much...no one notices.

Stand out too much...you get noticed but are thought the jerk or the fool.

Too many are fitting into a culture of divisiveness, demonizing and condemnation.

Too few are standing out for grace, love and civility.

 

 

 

To All You Mommas

5.10.2019

I’m a praying man. I have a healthy appetite for reading. And I have a heart for people.

All three have made for a better life for myself and others.

Maybe it’s because I have a praying Mom with a heart for people who loves to read.

Moms…your influence on us is greater than you realize and deeper than we let you know.

Don’t ever believe the lie your efforts are for naught.

You do you Mommas…you do you.

The world is so the less if you don’t do you.

So Happy Mother’s Day to all you Mommas!

You are stronger than you know, more beautiful than you realize, and with an impact that will outlive you for generations!

You’ve got this Momma…you got this.

 

50 Million Times

5.3.2019

“Call your elected official” said the TV ad in which some unsubstantiated statements were presented as hard core facts. The attempted scaremongering seemed to be  clearly motivated by the protection of self interest at the expense of the good of others.

 

I thought of the words of Joseph Gobbles, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda: “A lie told once remains a lie, but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth”.

 

Then I remembered the words of Anatole France: “If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing”.

 

And I also thought of the words of Solomon: “A false witness will not go unpunished, and whoever pours out lies will perish.”

 

Does the truth matter anymore? If you follow Jesus it should to you…He said He is the way, the truth and the life.

Voices

4.26.2019

Don’t confuse the loudest voices with the most important voices.

 

Don’t fall for in “BOLD AND ALL CAPS” as being what is worthy of your attention.

 

Don’t think that being a majority is the same thing as being right.

 

There is a voice that will always lead you to life…the voice of Jesus.

What More?

4.19.2019

What more must I do to be loved by you?

Isn’t that the history of love?

What more must I do to be loved by God?

Isn’t that the message of religion?

What more must God do to convince you that you already are loved…unconditionally?

Isn’t that the question that begs to be asked on Good Friday and Easter?

It’s Easter weekend and we will remember and celebrate.

On Friday we remember that sometimes love looks like a cross and sounds like the pounding of nails.

On Saturday and Sunday we celebrate a love that is more powerful than hate, evil and death.

Holy Week

4.12.2019

Next week:

. you have a list of things to do

. somebody else has a list for you to do

Next week:

. there will demands on your time

. there will be requests for your time

Next week is Holy Week. Palm Sunday to Easter.

A week set aside to engage with the passion of Christ.

Next week take control of your life and you decide what to do with your time…make it a Holy Week.

 

The Obvious Secret

4.5.2019

Last weekend Jacque and I drove to south Florida where I spoke at the memorial service of a friend and mentor who was well into his nineties. I remember someone once asking him: “what is the secret to a long life”. With his usual dry wit and without cracking a smile he simply said: “don’t die”.

 

Most of the way there and back the traffic was horrible, and at times slow and bottlenecked. On both ends of the trip I had responsibilities with a time deadline. There were moments when I just wanted to pull off and sit in a restaurant for awhile…but the only way to meet my obligations was to “don’t stop”.

 

Some things in life happen simply because in addition to giving your best, you “don’t quit”.

 

Waiting for the Rat

3.29.2019

“Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die”

 

This quote by Anne Lamott is one of my favorites on the topic of forgiveness. It’s such a great reminder that choosing not to forgive is choosing to pour toxins into the mix of your soul. And toxic souls have never made for a great life or a great parent, spouse, friend…

 

There is an antidote. Forgive.

 

Sure Fire Ways to Suck the Joy out of Your Day

3.22.2019

How to suck the joy out of your day:

 

. Dwell on worst case scenarios

. Obsess over what other people think

. Focus on what you don’t have

. Watch cable TV news all day

. Create a blame list

. Hang out with emotional vampires

. Make an art out of criticizing and complaining

 

There you have it…7 sure fire ways to suck the joy out of your day. You’re welcome.

Don't Look Back

3/15/2019

For better or for worse you made a decision or a decision was made that has impacted you.

Now what?

“Keep putting one foot

in front of the other

and taking your life day by day.

There’s a brighter tomorrow

That’s just down the road.

Don’t look back,

you’re not going that way.”

           -Mary Engelbreit

I Wish

3.8.2019

We wish things were different.

 

But if you are not going to actually do anything about it, maybe you should redirect the time and energy you spend talking, wishing and fussing about it somewhere else.

Choose One

3.1.2019

What will be your chief pursuit today?

Money, pleasure, power, or wisdom?

Choose one. Choose carefully. It will determine your destiny.

Solomon chose wisdom and found it all…enough said.

As It Turns Out

2.22.2019

If we are where we are today because of the choices we made some yesterday.

Then we can end up in a better place some tomorrow by making different choices today.

As it turns out, if you have the freedom to make choices…the results are your responsibility.

Your Best Move

2.15.2019

What is the best way to influence others?

Making convincing arguments is okay.

Making neat stuff is good

Making a connection is best.

And That's Enough

2.8.2019

All we have is God and each other.

The good news is…and that’s enough.

You, me, us…and God.

 

We are either there for each other or no one is.

We must treat each other as if it matters…because it does.

 

Take care of your tribe, love them hard, hold them dear…both you and the world will be the better for it.

When You ...

2.3.2019

When you forgive

. When you fight to make the world a better place

. When you brighten the rooms you walk into

. When you respond with grace

. When you inspire others to be their best

. When you consider the good of others

 

Your life matters, you leave a legacy and the One I follow said it will be convincing proof you have encountered the grace of God.

Easy-peasy

1.26.2019

Quick, easy and guaranteed.

Most things of value are none of the above.

The real question is what are you willing to fight for, commit to and be a bit unreasonable about

The Long Haul

1.18.2019

So two years ago we raised funds to remodel the Cypress patio and playground.

Then the project was put on hold due to building settlement issues.

So we filed an insurance claim which was denied.

Then we hired an attorney.

So our insurance carrier called in their expert and we were denied again.

Then our attorney called in his expert and said you better reconsider.

So reluctantly they cut a check.

Then we hired a firm to do the stabilization work.

 

Next is cosmetic repairs, door adjustments and hopefully a final check from the insurance carrier.

And sometime this year we will remodel the Cypress patio and playground.

Some things are realized only if you are in it for the long haul.

Neither Cool Nor a Bargain

1.11.2019

 

So I finally wore a hole through both the top and bottom of a favorite pair of old loafers (or so we called them back in the day). On a quick shop search on line I found a cool looking new pair at a bargain price but the options stopped two sizes short of my foot. Not worth buying right.  No matter how cool or how sweet the price, not worth buying. Shoes that don’t fit are neither cool nor a bargain.

 

Same could be said of social circles, political affiliations, organizations, jobs, relationships and…you get it.

Ultima Thule

1.4.2019

In the midst of kicking off the new year, bowl games and a partial government shutdown…you may or may not have been dialed into the encounter a NASA spacecraft had with a rock the size of New York City at the edge of our solar system. The rock has a name only a scientist would come up with…Ultima Thule. This piece of real estate is a mere 4.1 billion miles from us and takes 298 earth years to complete an orbit of the sun. I could go on…but you can go online and check it out for yourself.

 

Ultima Thule was first discovered in June of 2014. So four years ago we just became aware of something scientists tell us has been around for eons. The more we know…the more we discover there is to know. If such is true in creation, how much more of the creator. The scriptures say of God: “He is the maker of the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the south. He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.” (Job 9:9,10)

 

So welcome to a new year, welcome to 2019. Don’t settle for a mediocre, hum-drum, more of the same-old-same-old. There is so much more for you to yet discover of God and His grace. So much more to discover of how your life is a part of the beauty God is creating in this world. It is true. Now live the life that is fully awake…fully alive.

 

Goodbye 2018  Hello 2019

12/28/2018

Goodbye 2018 and thanks for the lessons.

Hello 2019 and thanks for 365 tomorrows.

 

2018 is chronicled.

2019 is being created.

 

Dream, risk, create.

The best time to start was last year. The second best is right now.

 

 

Merry Christmas

12/21/2018

May wonder…fill your soul at the thought of God loving you enough to come to earth for you.  

May His peace…spread over this fractured world through us.

May joy…wash over your gatherings with family and friends.

 

 

 

Bob Dylan

12.14.2018

In the 60’s Bob Dylan was an iconic one of a kind legend with a massive following.

Then he went electric…then gospel.

He knew the crowd wasn’t going to follow him, but he went anyway.

He had a choice: make the music his fans wanted and would purchase or make the music that was stirring in his soul.

He was okay if the masses didn’t cheer him on…he was free to be Bobby.

 

Being free to be who God made you to be means being freed from the compulsion to conform to who others would have you be.

 

 

 

 

 

It's Not Like You're Getting a Tattoo

12.7.2018

 

“Go for it…it’s not like you’re getting a tattoo!”

 

Such were the words of wisdom my friend imparted to me. Tattoos are pretty much irreversible decisions, so think long and hard. Most every other choice we make doesn’t have such lasting consequences. So be bolder, more decisive, make mistakes, learn what works, and fix what isn’t along the way. Stop waiting for the perfect plan on the perfect day…go for it, it’s not like you’re getting a tattoo.

 

 

 

An Exercise in Truth

11.30.2018

You take your car into the auto shop for the 60,000 mile checkup. Your timing belt is getting ready to fail but the mechanic says all is well because he knows its not the news you want to hear.

You go to the doctor for your annual physical and she discovers your cholesterol numbers are way out of whack but she says nothing because she doesn’t want to hurt your feelings.

In both cases, you’d be furious to discover that someone you trusted withheld the truth so they could avoid some temporary discomfort and make you feel good.

Sometimes we need someone in our lives who will love us enough to speak the truth to us.

Reality is your friend…sometimes an uncomfortable one…but your friend nevertheless.

 

 

 

 

Against the Wind

11/23/2018

Over Thanksgiving break Jacque and I sailed off to a marina in Tampa with two of our granddaughters.

 

On the trip over we had a light but favorable wind and an out going tide that we rode like a river.

 

The return voyage was a different story... wind right on our nose and a tide that pushed against us the whole way. A slow and arduous process.

 

Sometimes things fall together and it feels like heaven is smiling on you. Sometimes it feels like we are up against it and nothing is easy. In those times “is where you are going worth the effort” becomes a vital question and a lifeline from here to there.

 

Persist...it matters.

 

 

 

 

A GenerousTicket

11.16.2018

Be grateful.

 

There are 7.7 billion people on planet earth. Of these fellow human beings of ours:

 

. 1.2 billion people have little or no access to electricity.

. 60% of the world’s population don’t have access to flush toilets or adequate water-related sanitation.

. Only 15% of we humans live in countries where everyone, regardless of gender or socioeconomic status has a voice in the political process.

. The world’s average salary is $1,480/month or almost $18,000/year. If you make $32,400/year or more…you are in the top 1% of wage earners.

. 4.4% of the world’s population resides in the U.S.

 

If you are reading this right now…I’m guessing the ticket you drew when you were born wasn’t too bad. There may be some things in your life circumstances you wish were different, but never let what you wish were different diminish gratitude for the circumstances you were born into and the generous ticket you have been offered in life.

 

Next week is Thanksgiving, we have so much for which to be grateful.

 

The Beautiful Toppler

11.9.2018

My granddaughter Abigail is taking her first steps. It’s been beautiful to watch.

Shaky short steps followed by a topple…is becoming sure strides followed by more sure strides. One day she will run!

You don’t learn to walk by listening to “walk talks” or by watching “walking videos” on u-tube. You learn to walk by making shaky short steps and toppling over.

Most people never really learn how to run in their endeavors because they don’t want to be seen making shaky, short steps and toppling over. And their life and the world is the less for it.

 

 

 

All Wet

11.3.2018

So someone thinks your idea is “all wet”. Someone else says you lack the talent, intellect, and/or drive to pull it off.

 

Walt Disney was fired by the Kansas City Star because his editor said: “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas”.

Lady Gaga was dropped by her first major record label after only three months.

Albert Einstein didn’t speak until age four, didn’t read until age seven and was expelled from school.

Steven Spielberg was rejected by the University of Southern California School of Theater, Film and Television…3 times.

Michael Jordon was cut from his high school basketball team.

 

 

 

You Do You

10.26.2018

So you are not the most talented, the best looking or the smartest person in the room.

You don’t have the level of wealth, the hair or the success you wish you did.

 

Change what can and should be changed, improve what you can improve, and leverage what makes you uniquely you.

We are all a little weird. We are all a little different. Your uniqueness is uniquely yours.

 

Stop trying to be someone else’s clone. Resist the pressure to conform.

Maybe just maybe God in His divine intellect has something uniquely suited for unique you.

 

 

The Art of Showing Up

10.19.2018

I

The Doobie Brothers are playing in the Clearwater Jazz Festival this weekend.  

Tarpon Springs is hosting an Oktoberfest.

Safety Harbor is closing down main street for 3rd Friday festivities.

 

If you want to hear the Doobie Brothers, join the lederhosen wearing crowd or stroll main street…you’ll have to show up.

 

The project which has stalled out,

That relationship that needs some work,

The spiritual life that has drifted to the back burner.

 

Here too, if you want what you say you want…you’ll have to show up.

 

Show up ready, open, and solution oriented. But show up and keep showing up.

 

As Planned?

10.12.2018

I’m old school ink and daily planner notebook.

Plan it out. Schedule it in. Get it done. Check it off.

 

But rarely does my week go…as planned.

 

Things break. People don’t come through. Children get sick. Delays happen. Hurricanes roar by.

 

All part of the plan that has a plan for when the plan doesn’t go as planned.  

 

As the scriptures say, we don’t know what tomorrow will bring…

 

Read the Last Chapter

10.5.2018

 

I know someone who makes the decision whether or not to invest time with a novel by reading the last chapter first. If they find the end of the story compelling then they engage the narrative. If not, well then it’s off to a different and better story.

 

A sage once said our lives are writing a story and before investing more of our time, energy and money in the narrative we should stop, play it out and read the last chapter. If I keep writing what I’m writing how does this story end? If you like it…great, keep the story-line going. If it’s not the ending you want to experience, well, time for a new narrative. You decide. It’s your story after all.

 

Today

9.28.2018

If you have a dream worth chasing…

If you have a relationship worth tending…

If you have a change worth making…

 

Start today. Take the next step.

You don’t need more time, info or resources.

You just need more courage.

 

Or one day you will look back and say “woulda, coulda, shoulda”.

And that day will arrive sooner than you think.

Life is short. You get one shot at it.

 

At least I think that’s what the Psalmist meant when he said the day to take action is today.

 

 

Required or Inspired

9.21.2018

For the last couple of decades I have attended the same two pastor conferences every year.

One I attend because I am required. (In order to maintain my license.)

The other I attend because it is inspired.  (And I need it to maintain and sharpen my soul, vision, and leadership skills.)

 

This week I was at the “required” conference and my take away is this: I want to be the kind of husband Jacque loves because my love inspires her to reciprocate and not because she is required by marital vows. I want to be the kind of leader the Cypress staff follows because my leadership galvanizes and not because it is required to get a paycheck. I want Cypress to be the kind of church people attend out of inspiration and not obligation.

 

If the only way you can get people to attend your conference is with a threat…then your conference probably is irrelevant or stinks, or both.

 

 

Enough to Drive You to Your Knees

9.7.2018

Some time ago I heard Bishop T.D. Jakes being interviewed and he said these words: “If what you are doing does not drive you to your knees…then start doing something bigger”.

 

I thought of the number of times I chose the sure thing over the risky thing. The comfortable thing over the challenging thing. The thing I had the ability and connections to pull off and not the thing that would drive me to my knees in prayer because if God didn’t intervene I was in deep weeds.

 

And in doing so I also choose the lessor over the greater. I choose to lead a smaller not larger life.  I choose to live the façade of risking just enough to look “sort of bold” but not enough to get any calluses on my knees.

 

What is it about us that expects too little, asks too little, and attempts too little for God in this world of such big needs?

 

Thanks Bishop for reminding us that we should never underestimate how much God intends for our lives.

 

Turn, Turn, Turn

9.14.2018

If you are a baby boomer or an aficionado of 60’s music you remember the lyrics to Pete Seeger’s classic song made famous by the Bryds: ‘Turn, Turn, Turn’. If you are a millennial…watch the u-tube video, laugh at the hair and enjoy the tune: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4ga_M5Zdn4

The lyrics are taken from and inspired by the writings of wise ole Solomon (Ecclesiastes 3) where he encourages us to look at life as a mixed bag of seasons. There will be times when we weep, tear things apart, walk away, or are silent. And obversely, there are times when we laugh, rebuild, search, or speak.

 

It is astute to know what season of life you are in…it makes you self aware.

It is okay to give yourself permission to weep, walk away or mourn…there is a time when such is appropriate.

It is wise to remember in hard times…it is a season,  and you will laugh again, dance again, and know peace again.

 

The narrative of your story is still being written. The next page is blank. Turn, turn, turn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can People Change?

8.31.2018

Can people change?

 

In recent days I have been asked this question several times both by people wanting to experience a change in their behavior and by people wanting to believe someone who has promised to make a change.

 

My response has been “wanting to change is a great start, but merely wanting to change is rarely enough”. The reality is that if merely “wanting” to change was enough, the change would have already happened. So what does it take besides “wanting”? What I have come to see is that it takes: God, a plan and another person.

 

First it takes God. If you had the knowledge and the power it takes to make the change a reality, we would not even be having this conversation.

 

Second, it takes a plan. A path out of old ruts of thinking, behaving and relating and a path to new ways of thinking, relating and behaving. (There are many good counselors and books available where plans can be accessed.)

 

Third, it takes another person. In some ways we are our own worst enemies. We all need the encouragement, support, and accountability of someone else. Someone with whom we are willing to be scary vulnerable and willing to be held ruthlessly accountable with consequences deemed more painful than the reward we feel in continuing in our old pattern. (I know one guy who created the consequence of permanently giving up his prized, very pricey pen if he acted out again.)

 

It takes all three: God, a plan, and another person. If you are hoping someone will change but they aren’t willing to step into the afore mentioned triad of change…your hope is most likely wishful thinking and you are only setting yourself and others up for further hurt and disappointment. If you say you are serious about change in yourself…well the same goes for you too.

 

So can people change? I believe the answer is yes…if they have God, a plan and another person.

 

Minimum/Maximum

8.24.2018

I’ve noticed people tend to take one of two approaches to this life and the next:

 

“I’ll meet the minimum requirements on earth to get into heaven”

 

or

 

“I’ll give my all to the God of heaven so I can make a maximum impact on earth”.

 

63 Years

8.17.2018

I turn 63 this weekend.

I've lived a lot of life and life has written a story on my face.

For me every wrinkle, every scar, every strand of grey hair is a badge of honor.

They tell the story of:

. adventures lived

. risks taken

. challenges faced and overcome

. dreams chased

 

I cherish every moment.

It's good to be alive.

I love my life and the people in it.

I hope you see it in my face.

 

Mistakes Well Handled

8.10.18

What did you learn today?


It is late Thursday night as I hammer this out on my Surface Pro. Today I attended a conference with the staff, Elders and some leaders from Cypress. Afterwards I came home, picked up Jacque and we drove straight to a Hospice House to stand with a friend whose father is dying. I’m tired, a little mentally done, emotionally spent and ready for bed. Nevertheless before I retire for the night I’m reflecting on my day and asking God…”What are you wanting to teach me from my day?”. One of the things that came to my mind is a statement one of the presenters at the conference made today: “The road to success is paved with mistakes well handled.”


The reality is if you are going to grow as a person, if you are willing to risk for a worthwhile dream, if you want to invest your life in making this world a better place…you will make some mistakes along the way. Accept that reality. Often the price of inaction is greater that the cost of making a mistake. Embrace the mistake, learn from it, handle it well and get back to pursuing the you…the you are meant to be and the dream God has put in your heart. Cypress is a safe place for second…second chances.


What did you learn today?


Like a Duck

8.3.2018

If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and flies like a duck…then it must be a duck.

You may not want it to be a duck…but it’s a duck.

Reality is your friend.

Sometimes a harsh friend, but a friend nevertheless.

Not to say we should rush to judgement, but neither should we have to be dragged into reality.

And so the sooner we admit it’s a duck, the sooner we can figure out what’s next.

Or So We Say

7.27.2018

We say we want local merchants to make it, but we drive over to the big box store so we can save a couple of bucks.

 

We say we are tired of the political polarization in our country, but we join in the blaming and demonizing.

 

We say somebody should do something about it, but we retreat to our safe spot.

 

We say all people matter to God, but we keep a safe distance from the ones that creep us out.

 

The problem isn’t in what we say…it’s in what we do.

2000 Years From Now

7.20.2018

Ever visited places like Gettysburg or The Mall in D.C. or Da Vinci’s workshop? It is a moving experience both mentally and emotionally to realize you are standing on the very ground where something history making and future shaping took place.

 

This week Jacque and I were out and about in Athens, Greece and decided to visit Mars Hill (see Acts 17). A place where in a moment in time the Apostle Paul stood and conversed with some of the brightest philosophers of his day about Jesus and the life that is life, a catalytic moment that helped move the faith I hold from something regional and available for a few to something global and available to all. I’ve both read about and studied the narrative of the event. All well and good, but to actually 2000 years later be on the very ground where this encounter took place…felt sort of sacred. So sacred I stood there watching the setting sun and offered prayers of thanksgiving for men like Paul and places like Mars Hill.

Heroes Wanted

7.13.2018

Like so many of you, I prayed for and sought out daily updates concerning the boys soccer team that was trapped in a flooded cave with their coach in Thailand. I just couldn’t imagine on so many levels. Thankfully they are all out and seem to be okay. And gratitude to the diver who lost his life in the efforts to rescue the boys.

 

There was something different about the response to and the coverage of the event that stood out from the responses and coverage of other tragedies and challenges going on in the world right now. I just kept reading about people coming together from many different nations offering help and assistance. To this point anyway I have not been aware of any of the blaming, finger pointing, and verbal attacks that seem to define so much of what is communicated in both traditional and social media in moments like this. I’m still enough of a dreamer to wonder what other challenges in the world could be overcome if we just found a way to come together and got on the solution side of things instead of intentionally acting in ways which only further widen and destabilize the divide between us.

 

So we came together and some boys lives were saved. Now how do we come together and save the world we are leaving behind to these boys (and all the boys and girls in the world)?

Fred (Mr) Rogers said it well: “We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”

Why?

7.6.2018

“Why Papa?” my granddaughter inquired.

Any guesses how she responded to my answer…yep, with another “why”.

And you probably also know how our conversation continued don’t you?

 

If we keep asking why, we might just get to the heart of how we came to do what we do and be who we have become and realize that life might be better if we care and are courageous enough to institute some change.

Customer Service?

6.29.2018

It happened again…I had to make a call for some “customer service”. As has been my experience most every time I’ve made such an effort, my call was immediately sent to an automated response informing me that “due to unexpectedly high call volume” I would wait and listen to some elevator music.

 

The same thing happened the last time I called…and the time before that. In fact, I’ve come to expect that anytime I call anyone’s customer service line to hear that line about “unexpectedly high call volume”. As I waited and listened to elevator top 40 tunes, I wondered why the call volume is unexpected and apparently has been running at an unexpected rate for years now. Are they really that inept at planning and forecasting? Or are they being less than truthful in an effort to cover their lightly staffed support team?

 

Either way they have broken trust with me. Trust is often hard to win and easy to break isn’t it. If you are a follower of Jesus…take note.

A Little Bug

6.22.2018

So yes, as you may be aware…I was sick last weekend with a little gastrointestinal bug. Ugh! I sailed through the Saturday night service, cowboyed up for Sunday 9:15 but tapped out for the 11:00 service when it became apparent it would only end in disaster. And the folks at that service were treated to the “video me”. (I’m on the other side of it now…Yay God!)

 

Fever, nausea and such are symptoms. There is an underlying microbe or germ that causes it. Taking some pills to reduce the fever or quiet the tummy doesn’t always solve it. You have got to go after the “bug” causing it.

 

Relational spats, moodiness, anger, emotional funks, acting out…etc., etc., etc. are symptoms. It is your soul letting you know that something is wrong. You can spend your time and efforts fixing blame, addressing symptoms, and/or ignoring but you’d be far better off focusing on the bug (the cause) instead.

The Power of Caring

6.15.2018

Our recent trip to serve along side our partners at Springs of Hope Kenya was marked by bookend traveling glitches.

 

Our departure for Kenya was delayed a day due to a storm  in Atlanta and our return home was marred by three members of our team being told they had no seats for the flight out of Nairobi. Both required the intervention of the airlines. Both incidents took over two hours of wrangling. One was a bit frustrating, the other a bit maddening. The difference was the airline representatives. In Tampa we had a representative named Debbie who was pleasant, understanding and persistent as she actually worked two phones at the same time to resolve our situation. It was almost as if she was fighting for her own family. Not so much in Nairobi. We were bounced to four different agents and each acted as if it was not their problem but ours to solve. Finally, after some persistent persuasion on our part, we got things resolved.

 

Maybe the agent in Tampa was empowered to make decisions and maybe the agents in Nairobi weren’t. I don’t know. I do know that Debbie cared and if the agents in Nairobi did we failed to get that message.

 

I don’t know how to teach people to care, I just know that when people do it makes a difference because you want to make a difference. Caring cuts through bureaucracy, excuses and blaming…and gets on the solution side of things. If you want to stand out…care! Father John Powell once said this to Christ followers: “People don’t care how much you know, until they first know how much you care”.

Let it Shine

6.8.2018

When...

  • When you find a way to leave others better than you found them.
  • When you think of others before you think of yourself.
  • When you learn to love both your friends and your enemies.
  • When you touch others with what you do and not just with what you say.
  • When you return blessing for demeaning, demonizing and cursing.
  • When you see the world as it is today, but believe together we can create a better future.

When you do these things Jesus said you are a light that shines into the darkness of this world...a light that will draw others to the life giving grace of Jesus.


So let it shine...let it shine...let it shine.

B.B. King Was Right

6.1.2018

The thrill is gone… Well of course it is.

A thrill is just temporary excitement, usually associated with something experienced for the first time. First kiss, first viewing of Star Wars, first ride on the new roller coaster, first day on the new job, first…whatever.


Do you know what has a long shelf life? Significance.  And significance comes from commitment to a worthy cause greater than yourself. Thrills are fine but they come and go. Significance is what really matters.


I don’t feel like it… Of course you don’t.

But don’t most worthwhile things in life call for overcoming challenges, pushing yourself and taking some risks (and who wakes up in the morning feeling that)?  Do the work. Ignore the feelings.


The scriptures call this “faithfulness”, and the promise is “a faithful person will be richly blessed” (Proverbs 28:20).

Seek meaning, do the work…and a rich blessing will follow.

A Legit Princess

5.25.2018

This week I read the story of a real life princess.

 

Her name is Princess Anna Noela Lokolo of the Democratic Republic of Congo and she recently graduated from Eckerd College. She chose to fly under the radar with her royal roots while she was a student and not flaunt the fact that she is a legitimate princess. As well, she paid careful attention to her mannerisms and behavior as she realized it would shape people’s opinions not only of herself but her people. In her own words: “If people have a negative image of me, they will have a negative image of my tribe.”

 

Wow…wise words, mature words and probably not the words your average student chooses as the motto for their college experience. Now pull out the word “tribe” and insert other words like: family, church or company.

All Wet

5.18.2018

Monday afternoon it was raining as I picked up my Jacque from work. We both were a bit soul ragged from not just the demanding day but from too many demanding days strung together. As we drove I asked her if she wanted me to stop anywhere on the way home…“here she said, right here and let’s go for a walk in the rain”.


I took off my dress shoes and she her heels, we rolled up our pant legs, and walked in the rain. We held hands, laughed a bit, and marveled at how we had the usually busy walkway all to ourselves. I guess a willingness to get wet is one among the many things we do for the one we love.