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.