Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Surprise Center

We had those little pigs in a blanket things a couple of nights ago. Don't you just love the sausage surprise in the center? What is it that makes those Little Smokies so good? Lard, right? And it’s amazing to me how you find them at every Christmas party—smothered, wrapped and slathered with every tasty thing you can think of. Get ready, people. We’re heading into the heavy-duty Little Smokie season.

The bad thing is that I don’t realize I’ve had too many until…well…I’ve had too many. I finally figure it out when I can’t get my jeans zipped. Then there’s weeping and wailing and trashing of jeans. So many Smokies. So little wiggle in the jeans.

Okay, maybe the blue jean wiggle room is inching away, but I really don’t want to let the season inch away without making sure Jesus is at the center of every holiday prep, present and party. I want to be all about preparing HIM room. Not the kind of room that can be measured in inches. All the room. Every part--allowing him to occupy every spot in every corner of my mind and soul.

So, we're kicking of the holiday season here by centering on Jesus. No surprise, Christ should be the at the very center of our Christmas--the very heart.

…And not on purpose, but maybe also kicking off the holiday season by trying to learn how to zip these jeans without my eyeballs bulging out of my head.



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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Imagine That!

Did you ever have an imaginary friend when you were little? I don’t think I ever thought of it, though if I had, since I tend to like an audience entirely too much, I think I would’ve preferred an imaginary entourage.

Either way, I’m wondering now if I really might’ve missed something. I can definitely see some advantages. Imaginary friends don’t get mad when you forget their birthdays—they don’t even have birthdays unless you want them to. They never interrupt and they don’t squish you if they sit on your lap. And by the way, when you go to Six Flags, your imaginary friend gets in totally free. They’re pretty quiet, though—not great conversationalists.

Isn’t it sad that a lot of people think of God as sort of an imaginary friend? They think of him when it suits them and how it suits them. But that’s no real concept of God. He could not be more real. He is the standard for “real.” He created everything we see—even us. And he’s not quiet. He speaks to us through his word. In Jeremiah 23:23-24 he says, “‘Am I only a God nearby,’ declares the LORD, ‘and not a God far away? Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?’ declares the LORD. ‘Do not I fill heaven and earth?’ declares the LORD,” NIV.

The Message phrases the last question this way: “Am I not present everywhere, whether seen or unseen?”

No, he is no imaginary friend. And pondering his omni-presence is heavy thinking. It causes me to praise God all the more that his omni-presence comes with omni-power! And, if there’s such a word, omni-mercy.

And hey, I guess if there’s no such word, I can just imagine it.
Speaking of imagining, I met someone the other day with a longtime mentoring calling. He didn’t have an imaginary friend growing up. He had an imaginary protégé.



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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Text-mania

A friend of mine recently experienced a major texting disaster. Her thumbs were flying when with one bad thumb-move she accidentally lost control and dropped her phone. That wouldn’t have been so bad, except that the phone fell into a large container of water. I’m trying to keep it family-friendly here, but let’s just say that the next slogan for character-building week could be “Just Say No to Toilet Texting.”

I think I’ve figured out why texting is so hot—and why it seems to happen nonstop these days with some folks. I think the text-mania is because so many of us have decided we would rather talk (or type) than listen. Dishing it out, but not taking it, as it were. Tech-savvy lets us get across our own message, then skim the response. We can ignore the response altogether if we want. It’s kind of the way of our culture sometimes, isn’t it?

But it’s not the Bible way. In the book of James, for instance, we see a call for us to emphasize the listening, not the speaking. And if we’re not listening, we’re missing that call. Voicemail won’t help there.

Our call is to get our eyes off our own needs and flush out new ways to listen—and hey, texting can fit in there. Oh, and sorry about the “flush” reference.



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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Power In-age!

We had a power outage for a couple of days a few weeks ago. I had a speaking engagement and had to fly out early. The challenging part was that I had to pack IN THE DARK. I was just hoping I'd get to the speaking venue with two shoes that matched.

The biggest crisis, though, was that I had to do my readying with no BLOW DRYER OR CURLING IRON. Oh, the humanity. It's one thing to go to a speaking engagement with shoes that don't match. But with bad hair? I have to tell you, I was sorely (and follicly) missing the power.

It's a good reminder though, that a power outage doesn't have to be our biggest worry. Why? Because we have a power INAGE. When we have Jesus on the inside, we have all the power we need to live a life of real significance. Colossians 2:9-10 says, "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority." He is the head of every power, and we've been fully given his fullness. Could we be any more power-full?

I'm so thankful to the God of all power who has, by his grace, allowed the fullness of his power to live in us through his Son, Jesus. Living in his power is living in delight. And it's living in "de light." With or without electricity.



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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Spa Survivor

I finally found a Survivor I want to sign up for. It’s…SPA SURVIVOR. Instead of competitions where you end up dragging yourself all across a sandy desert beach, you have to endure a really rough exfoliator. Yeah, that’ll rub you the wrong way.

Competitions could include running with cotton balls between each toe, finding the way to the ladies’ room with a cucumber slice over each eye and trying to get a credit card out of a tight wallet before the nails are completely dry. Tough, I know, but I think I could take it. Why, I’ve even been known to endure a brow-waxing…and that’s brutal, man. I would likely be willing to endure a seaweed wrap with hardly a whine for the right spa survivor incentive. A really tight seaweed wrap even.

Okay, in truth, my spa survivor skills are not all that likely to impress. But have you ever thought about God’s Word as our spiritual day spa? It truly is the most impressive. No brutal brow-waxing or exfoliators. Even when it causes us to see things in our lives that are a bit painful, God’s word always rubs us the RIGHT way.

Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” That may sound more painful than a brow-waxing, but searching the scriptures, studying them, applying them, meditating on them and making them part of our lives doesn’t simply change the shape of a brow. No, it changes the shape of our lives. As we focus on his word, we can see our thoughts and attitudes lining up with his thoughts and attitudes. That’s when we can find a whole new depth of real, purpose-filled life.

The Bible encourages us not to merely survive this life. Who wants to settle for mere surviving when we can be thriving? It’s tribal or non-tribal survival “thrival.”

So let’s peel those cucumbers off our eyes and look daily into the living, active word of God. It’s grand to thrive! Even if we leave our brows outrageously furry and decide to EAT the seaweed.