For those who think the results of last night’s election is the beginning of the end, please read this very famous Chinese parable.
“There once was a village that had among its people a very wise old man. The villagers trusted this man to provide them answers to their questions and concerns.
One day, a farmer from the village went to the wise man and said in a frantic tone, “Wise man, help me. A horrible thing has happened. My ox has died and I have no animal to help me plow my field! Isn’t this the worst thing that could have possibly happened?” The wise old man replied, “Maybe so, maybe not.” The man hurried back to the village and reported to his neighbors that the wise man had gone mad. Surely this was the worse thing that could have happened. Why couldn’t he see this?
The very next day, however, a strong, young horse was seen near the man’s farm. Because the man had no ox to rely on, he had the idea to catch the horse to replace the ox – and he did. How joyful the farmer was. Plowing the field had never been easier. He went back to the wise man to apologize. “You were right, wise man. Losing my ox wasn’t the worst thing that could have happened. It was a blessing in disguise! I never would have captured my new horse had that not happened.” The wise man replied once again, “Maybe so, maybe not.” Not again, thought the farmer. Surely the wise man had gone mad now. Continue reading
Placido Domingo, Jose Carreras and Luciano Pavarotti, together they are the “Three Tenors.” Now you know everything I know about the opera. My musical ability stops with playing the radio, but somewhere—I think it was a Seinfeld episode—I heard about Domingo, Carreras, and Pavarotti. So too me, the three always go together.
While I may not know a lot about the opera, I do know that music is composed of three parts—melody, rhythm, and harmony. Melody is the flow; rhythm is the speed; and harmony is the blend, or color, of a song. When put together correctly the resulting music is pleasing to the ear; and while all three are important, without the melody all you have is noise.
Three other things go together—faith, hope, and love. Faith, like rhythm, controls the speed in my life. Hope, like harmony is the blend, or color. Love, like a melody, makes my life flow. When I demonstrate all three, my life produces a concert more pleasing than the Three Tenors. But without love, faith and hope are nothing more than senseless clatter.
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).
The well known playwright, Noel Coward, sent an identical anonymous letter to 10 notable men in London, England. The note read, “We know what you have done. If you don’t want to be exposed, leave town.” Within 6 months all 10 recipients of the letter moved! While that was a terrible prank, it does show the incredible power of guilt.
Guilt is that horrible feeling you get in your gut when you violate a standard of right and wrong. The standard could be something you have set for yourself, or something someone else has set for you, or something that has been set by God. Since it can come from a number of different sources, guilt can be either positive or negative. Continue reading
I watched in amazement today as Felix Baumgartner leaped from a capsule attached to a helium balloon 128,000 feet above the earth with nothing but a space suit, parachute, and a tremendous amount of courage. (Here is a link to the story.) Watching him fall from the capsule was one of the coolest things I have ever seen. The picture above, taken just moments before he leaped, has got to be the coolest picture taken this year. Seconds before he jumped, Felix said, “Sometimes you have to go high to see how small you are.” Continue reading
A few weeks ago I wrote about one of my heroes in ministry. Here is a link to that post. Today, I want to tell you about another one of my heroes. His name is Pastor Mike.
Pastor Mike runs a drug/alcohol/homeless shelter in Columbia, TN called A Place of Hope. He started the facility 12 years ago and has never charged any money for his program. Pastor Mike is also a singer/songwriter. Here is his myspace page.
A couple of years ago Pastor Mike’s assistant called me to set up a time to meet with him over coffee. Until that phone call I had never heard of him, nor A Place of Hope. Pastor Mike and I met at Starbucks, and as soon as we started talking, I knew I had a new friend and a comrade in ministry. I very quickly learned to love Pastor Mike and his heart. Pastor Mike is a recovering alcoholic himself, with over 25 years sobriety. He is one of my heroes. Continue reading
I have had a lot on my mind lately. In reality I always have a lot on my mind. I am always thinking and pondering. My wife can testify that many times she looks across the room at me sitting in my lounger and knows I am a million miles away. I guess it is how I am wired. But lately it seems I have had more on my mind than usual. Nothing earth shattering. No major decisions. No health issues. No problems. In fact, quite the opposite.
I am a very blessed man. I have a wife and children who love me, a church that allows me to be myself, and lots of friends. I am one of the few individuals I know who is doing exactly what they want to do for a living. I have heard a lot of “experts” say if you can find a way to make a living doing what you are passionate about then you are a wealthy person. Well, I am wealthy beyond measure.
But I have still had a lot on my mind lately. Continue reading
“So the last will be first, and the first will be last” (Matthew 20:16)
We live in a celebrity culture. We value fame and reward people of fame with a certain amount of power, prestige, and possessions. Fame equals success and success equals fame. I don’t agree with that idea, and I bet you don’t either, but it impossible to deny that our culture is infatuated with fame.
The church world is not exempt from this infatuation.
We have our share of celebrities! Tim Tebow, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Joel Olsteen, Billy Graham, Matt Redmman, Toby Mac, Rob Bell, and John Piper, just to name a few.
Success, in the Christian world, is often based on the size of your church, how many books or cds you have sold, what conferences you are invited to…basically, how famous you are, how many people know your name. Please understand, I believe most celebrity Christians don’t enjoy celebrity, and most will tell you not to look to them, but to Jesus. But we, the average Christian, celebrate celebrity.
Our attitude of celebrity is the exact opposite of Jesus’ attitude. Continue reading
I despise hypocrisy.
I’m an expert at pointing out hypocrisy…
I know Christians who avoid alcohol at all costs, even in cough medicines, but think nothing of frequenting restaurants, or walking down Beale Street, where alcohol is everywhere. While not partaking in spirits, these same teetotalers are quick to gossip about fellow believers who do enjoy the occasional adult beverage.
I know Christians who condemn tobacco use, but who, themselves, overeat and abuse their own bodies through bad habits and lack of exercise. Continue reading
Ok, here goes another swimming story.
I try to swim 4 days a week and each time I try to swim 60 laps (120 lengths). I don’t want to confuse anyone with my amazing math skills but 32 laps equals 1 mile; so each time I swim I swim a little over 1.5 miles. Over half of the laps I do flip turns. (I defer all math questions to my good friends Chris and David. They can be reached at…………..)
I have swam enough now to see a pattern develop. Usually the first 10 laps go quickly and easily. Then laps 11-30 are difficult. Around lap 20 I really start to get winded. Somewhere around laps 31 to 50 I hit a smooth stride and get my second wind. Then, the last several laps become difficult again. Continue reading
How important is love?
One could argue love is so important that not loving makes a mockery of God’s grace.
Here is what I mean:
In 2 Corinthians 6:1 Paul tells us “not to receive God’s grace in vain.” Then he starts to describe what that means. Paul begins by telling us all the hardships and suffering he has endured as a follower of Jesus (vv. 3-10). Those hardships include beatings, imprisonment and discouragement, just to name a few. He is making the case that the Christian life is a difficult life, requiring faithful endurance. Next, speaking to the Christians in Corinth as his own children (v. 13), Paul says, “We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us” (vv. 11-12). In essence, Paul is saying to the Corinthian believers, “I have loved you, but you have not loved me back.” That fact hurt Paul more than all the beatings and sufferings he had endured. Continue reading