Wednesday, April 30, 2008


"We have always had to agonize over the choice between making deep change or accepting slow death."

Those words have haunted me since I first read them several years ago.

My wife and I were speaking at a retreat for Salvation Army officers in the northeastern part of the United States several years ago and learned that each of the officers had been challenged to read a book entitled, Deep Change by Robert E. Quinn.

Change is OK, but deep change, that is another thing.

We have been thinking about change at church over the last couple of Sundays and trying to discover why it is so difficult to accept and embrace. The conclusions are inconclusive but we know one thing, change is difficult.

In the book, Deep Change, the author sheds light on one reason that change is challenging. He says we often spend more time thinking about "short term personal survival versus long term collective responsibility." Ouch!

The price of not making deep change is slow death.

Allow me to make some quick observations...

Managers make "course adjustment" changes, Leaders make "deep change"

People are willing to allow "tinkering" with the machinery but resist "deep change" that can radically re-orient their lives.

Relationships can be lost because we make "incremental change" that last for a few days when "deep change" could rescue the relationship.

Deep change can set us free from malaise and mediocrity that marginalizes the life that He provides for us.

And finally....

"Deep Change" reguires deep convictions, faith and trust in a God who never changes.

Quinn makes an astute observation about "deep change." He says it will require us to, "walk naked into the land of uncertainty." I like that....not the naked part or the uncertainty part, but the fact that this might be the best definition of trust that I have read in a while.

What do you think?

Monday, April 28, 2008


Recently I was reading The Message and found Eugene Peterson’s translation of Psalm 17. My attention was arrested as I read the following passage…

I call to you, God, because I'm sure of an answer. So--answer! bend your ear! listen sharp! Paint grace--graffiti on the fences; take in your frightened children who are running from the neighborhood bullies straight to you. Keep your eye on me; hide me under your cool wing feathers From the wicked who are out to get me, from mortal enemies closing in. v.6-9

Grace –Graffiti….hmmm…that phrase made me think…The Oxford English Dictionary shed new light on these words. Consider these word meanings….

Grace-noun 1. elegance of movement. 2. (in Christian belief) the free and unearned favour of God.

Graffiti / gr feeti/ - plural noun (sing. graffito / gr feeto/) treated as sing. or plural. unauthorized writing or drawings on a surface in a public place. - verb, write or draw graffiti on.

Grace-Graffiti…Grace, the free and unearned favour of God…Graffiti…writing or drawings on a surface. Grace Graffiti…the free and unearned favour of God written on the lives of his people. Wow! What a thought….God writing His grace on the surfaces of our heart.

What a thought!

Sunday, April 27, 2008


It's Sunday evening and I am at home reflecting on a great day of experiences.

The music was great...the worship was great...and His Word was clear to all of us who were there. The service closed with a time of openness before God. Nothing fancy...not an "altar call", but a simple invitation for people to spend some time thinking about areas of their lives that needed His change and transformation.

The front of the chapel was packed with sincere pilgrims who wanted transformation.

I stood in the front and was one of those who wants transformation in my life.

Then it hit me....

In my reading earlier this week I ran across a question that haunts me. How you answer the question determines your TQ. Transformation Quotient.

Here's the question...

Is the church for me? or, Is it me for the church?

For a long time I thought the church was for me. Intuitively I knew different, but it was comforting for me to say "this is my church." I approached it as a consumer, looking for what it could do for me. I even yielded to the temptation at times to be critical and say, "I didn't get anything out of it."

As I become a serious pilgrim, I realize that the real question is, "Is it me for the church?" I am not a consumer, I am a contributor.

The moment I shifted my perspective, I began to see transformation in my life.

I have seen a lot of people who are critical of the church and leadership during my life. When I hear criticisms it makes me wonder how they see the question.

Reflections are fun at the end of a day like today.

There are a lot of things that I am not sure of, but I am sure that I want to be a part of a church where transformation regularly takes place in the lives of those who attend. I think that kind of church is a place where people see themselves for the church rather than see the church for themselves.

What do you think?

Saturday, April 26, 2008


Recently I ran across an interesting paragraph, entitled The Amazing Human Mind. Here is what it looks like....

I cdnuolt blveiee that I cluod aulacity uesdnatnrd what I was rdenieg. The phaonemneal pweor of the hmuan mnid Aodccrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dnsoen’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a word are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is that the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rrset can be a taotl mses and you can still raed it wouthit a porbelm. This is bcuseae the hmuan mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the word as a wlohe. Azmanig huh? Yaed and I awlyas tghuoht slpeling was ipmorantt!

When I entered the paragraph into Microsoft Word the screen lit up with squiggly lines indicating that there were words mispelled.

What interested me was that I could read the paragraph just as easily with the words misspelled as I could with words spelled correctly.

I love words even if they are misspelled.

Waht do yuo thnki?

Friday, April 25, 2008


The week is over and tomorrow is Saturday.

I have no way of verifying the veracity of this story....but it is part of the fabric of today's activities.

Sitting in the waiting room at the hospital today, I heard a story that I found humorous.

He told me that his 8 year old nephew has plenty of energy that easily tires out his parents. He described the escapades of this little guy in ways that were amusing and captured my imagination.

It seems that he was suspended from his art class in his homeschool group. My mind raced to think of offenses that merit suspension in a situation like this.

Arriving home he announced to his parents that he was no longer able to take art lessons with his fellow home-schoolers.

"Son, what did you do? Why can't you go back?"

"I kissed my girlfriend?

"You what?"

"I kissed my girlfriend."

"Just once?


"Lots of times!"

Then the problem surfaced. The little girl that he kissed was the daughter of the art teacher. His parents probed further.

"Why did you kiss her so many times?

It spilled out..."Mom, my mind quit workin' and my lips took over."

I would have loved to have been there to see what happened next.

It's a great's the kind of line that country music songs are made of.

What a great story to end a very busy week.

Enough said.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


"Writing is not an amusing occupation. It is a combination of ditch-digging, mountain climbing, treadmill, and childbirth."

These words came from the pen of Edna Ferber and are found in Peculiar Treasure written in 1939. Before Microsoft Word, before email, even before laser printers, people wrote words on paper. Like fluid, words spilled from the end of fountain pens and pencils onto pristine pages in dazzling plots and narratives.

Ferber was an American novelist, author and playwright. One of her most famous forays into the world of writing was Showboat, later adapted by Oscar Hammerstein. She was also a Pulitzer Prize winner who wrote prolific stories of romance.

She was an adept writer.

She knew her craft and practiced it well.

Ditch-digging, moutain climbing, treadmill and childbirth are incredible metaphors that reveal the amusing occupation of writing.

Ditch-digging....pretty dirty work and toilsome on the best of days.

Mountain climbing....all uphill and very little time to stand still

Treadmill....a lot of walking in place, but great exercise for never going anywhere

Childbirth....lots of blood, sweat and tears but the results can be great

Ferber was using these words to describe the task of writing.

Could these same words be used to describe the life of the pilgrim who seeks to live in the majesty of His unfolding Story?

Some days I do a lot of ditch-digging...some days I am climbing mountains....some days are sweaty as I walk on the treadmill....childbirth...well, I have seen it twice and have reveled in its result.

I wish all days were filled with pleasantries like Ferber described in some of her writings. But I have learned that life is life and as such, we have the joy of experiencing its unfolding drama.

God, help me not to complain when I am digging ditches, help me to depend on you when climbing mountains, help me not to bemoan those times when life seems to stand still and help new ideas to be born in me that will bring glory to your Name. Amen.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


There are seven of deadly sins. And here all along, I thought all sins were deadly.

The Roman Catholic church divided sins into two categories, Mortal and Venial. Venial sins were those that could be remedied by sacraments and were not considered "serious." Mortal sins, also known as capital or cardinal sins (interesting choice of words) were those that were considered "deadly." The remedy for mortal sins is confession and contrition.

I'm pretty sure that there are plenty of mortal and venial sins in every community, including the one that I live in.

Forbes magazine, in an article entitled America's Most Sinful Cities, examined US cities and named cities to correspond with each of the mortal sins. Pretty interesting stuff.

Lust, Gluttony, Avarice, Sloth, Wrath, Envy and Pride. Here's what the list looks like...

Lust - Denver, Colorado....record contraception sales

Gluttony - Memphis....gotta love those ribs

Avarice - San Jose...."do you know the way to San Jose..."

Sloth - Memphis...enough said

Wrath - Detroit...#1 Murder ranking in the US

Envy - Memphis...again...ouch!

Pride - Salt Lake City...

I was hoping that my city wouldn't be on the list, and sure enough we avoided making the list. That made me feel proud, then I wondered if that feeling was a mortal or venial sin.

I love bbq...oops, gluttony lurks around the corner.

There are times when my attitudes make me a viable candidate for living in Memphis.

Then there are moments when I feel a sense of, "at least I am not as bad as that person." I hear Salt Lake City calling. insatiable desire for wealth....that thought has crossed my mind on occasion. Just because it probably won't happen doesn't mean that I am exempt from the temptation to go down that road.

Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I'm about; See for yourself whether I've done anything wrong—then guide me on the road to eternal life. Psalms 139:23-24 (The Message)

Enough said...

What do you think?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I am always impressed by the writings of a second century saint named St. Irenaeus.

He was a formative factor in the birth of early writings in Christian theology. It is not those writings that have my attention, it is a simple prayer that he wrote.

It is a prayer born out of his desire to be malleable in the hands of God.

It is not thou that shapest God,

It is God that shapest thee.

If then, thou art the work of God,

Await the hand of the Artist who does

All things in due season.

Offer Him thy heart,Soft and tractable and

keep the form in which the artist has fashioned thee.

Let thy clay be moist lest thou grow hard

And lose the imprint of His fingers.

Moist clay is easily shaped. Dry clay isn't.

Moist clay retains the imprint of the shaper. Dry clay doesn't.

Moist clay is pliable. Dry clay isn't.

"Still, God, you are our Father.We're the clay and you're our potter: All of us are what you made us." Isaiah 64:8

My prayer is the God will rain down his Spirit and moisten the clay of my life so that He can shape me into a container that He can use. I pray that I will remember that he is the shaper and I am the shaped.

Sometimes I think I am the shaper....when I do my clay becomes hard and brittle.

I want to be shaped by the Master Shaper.

How about you?

Monday, April 21, 2008


Every once in a while I read a prayer that reminds me that many of the prayers I pray are anemic. It is easy to get into a rhythm of prayer in which familiar words and phrases can flow mindlessly from our lips.

In the fourth century St. Ephrem wrote a prayer that to this day is prayed in the Eastern Orthodox Church nightly Monday through Friday in Lent.

It is simple, yet profound.

O Lord and Master of my life!

Take from me the spirit of sloth, faint-heartedness, lust of power and idle talk.

But give me rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience and love to my servant.

Yea, O Lord and King!

Grant me to see my own errors and not to judge my brother, for thou art blessed unto ages of ages. Amen.

I love this prayer.

Robert E. Webber, in Ancient-Future Time: Forming Spirituality Through the Christian Year says, "sloth is a laziness that prevents us from choosing a spiritual pilgrimage." He goes on to say that "faint-heartedness is a despondency, a negative and pessimistic attitude toward life."

The remedy for sloth and faintheartedness is chastity. This word is often used to think about issues of sexuality and sexual purity. However, there is a much deeper meaning. One that St. Ephrem would have understood. Chastity means re-establishing true values in every area of our life, and then living by them.

I love the last part of the prayer....

Grant me to see my own errors and not to judge my brother...

This frees me from the tendency to be a "fruit inspector" when I should be seeking "the fruit."

Sunday, April 20, 2008


I am easily distracted and I am not alone.

Sitting in church, sometimes my mind wanders off like a lost sheep hiding from the shepherd.

Waiting in line at the store, sometimes my mind meanders around like a spinning top on a marble table.

Listening to people talk, sometimes my mind skips around like a small child bouncing on a trampoline.

Distractions....they are everywhere. Life seems to be a blur of events, sounds, voices and demands. For a person who is easily distracted, these are difficult days. Our senses are stimulated by a variety of situations, and we are being bombarded at every turn.

I am not alone.

It is easy to always think of distractions as negative forces impinging on our psyche, but there may be distractions that are "holy" in their content and character and are formative to our development as "Christ-followers."

These positive distractions have a way of reminding us that He is at work through all situations.

Distractions may easily divert our attention away from the task at hand. They have a way of re-orienting our concentration away from primary tasks and causing us to have our energies given to things of lesser importance.

The writer of the book of Proverbs said..."....keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions. Watch your step, and the road will stretch out smooth before you. Look neither right nor left; leave evil in the dust." Proverbs 4:23

Sideshow distractions....hmmmm. Have you had any recently?

"I want you to live as free of complications as possible....All I want is for you to be able to develop a way of life in which you can spend plenty of time together with the Master without a lot of distractions." I Corinthians 7:32

A lot of distractions...sound familiar? Barbara Ehrenreich, a social critic says it this way, "America is addicted to wars of distraction."

The only remedy to distractions may be to develop a life in which you can spend plenty of time together with the Master.

He is greater than the distractions that I face, and for this I am grateful.

What do you think?

Saturday, April 19, 2008


Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor who was executed for his opposition to the Nazi party wrote these powerful words from a concentration camp.

He said...."Nothing that we despise in the other man is entirely absent from ourselves. We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer. The only profitable relationship to others -- and especially to our weaker brethren -- is one of love, and that means the will to hold fellowship with them. God himself did not despise humanity, but became man for men's sake." Letters and Papers from Prison

In solitude, he wrote about the people that kept watch over him. Even those who treated him with contempt and hatred.

I first read Bonhoeffer in college and then again several years later. His writings are profoundly simply. Provocatively bland. Straightforward, able to pierce callous hearts and minds.

Let me suggest a couple of guidelines that bombard my mind...

God is calling me to treat everyone the same as He treats me.

God is calling me to respond to everyone with the same measure of grace that He applied in my life.

God is calling me to step into people's stories in the same way He stepped into mine.

I must admit, life is a lot simpler, cleaner and easier if I live life by my rules.

But it is a lot more interesting if I choose to live by his Story.

What story is unfolding in your life?

Friday, April 18, 2008


It has been a long day.

I heard a lot of stories today....everything from the ridiculous to the sublime.

I sat with people who are struggling to make ends meet. I talked with people who are experiencing great slices of life. And I listened to stories of transformation.

Now I am sitting on the deck in my back yard. Did I mention that, "it has been a long day?"

It feels good to be serenaded by birds, interrupted by the sounds of crickets and warmed by the sun.

It made me think.

How often am I quiet enough to hear silence?

Silence is often shunned by people who live busy lives. Noise is welcomed as an anesthetic against the deafening silence.

At the end of a busy day...a day full of stories....I welcome silence.

Silence on the deck....a reprieve from the busy-ness of the day.

Decks are the 21st century expression of the front porch. In an effort to have privacy people moved the gathering place from the front of the house to the back of the house. Thus decks came into existence.

Here I sit on the back deck. Resting...reflecting...recalling a day spent tracing the rhythms of His Story in the lives of His people.

It was a great day... a busy one, but a great one.

In the book of Nehemiah the Levites, in a busy time, calmed all the people, saying, "Be still, for this is a sacred day." 8:11.

Was your day "sacred?"

Thursday, April 17, 2008


In my reading this week, I ran across an arresting statement.

"We have all the riches, all the wealth, but do we have human warmth? Just below our mesmerizing surface lies a psychic mix of anxiety, guilt and depression so heavy that it can no longer be relieved by another purchase."

It caused me to wonder how often we anesthetize ourselves by making another purchase. It makes me wonder if we pursue things instead of pursuing the One who makes all things.

If I understand it correctly, in a few weeks we will receive a payment that is part of the "economic stimulus plan" from the US government. What will we do with it? What will I do with it?

Make another purchase?

Move it into circulation for His Kingdom's sake?

Hide it under a bushel?

I am not sure...

Recently an organization created a simple commercial calling attention to our need to curb our consumption at all levels.

It was a power-point kind of commercial. Simple.

Three frames fading from one to another in a slow dissolve.

The first frame had the words....Feeling Empty?

The second frame had the words...Don't Worry

The last frame slowly emerged from the black screen with the words...Consumption will fill the void...

All of the major networks rejected the commercial.


I have a suspicion. What do you think?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Sitting in Borders just before lunch, I reached for the most recent edition of Adbusters. This is a journal that always has provocative words, pictures and thoughts. I first started reading Adbusters several years ago and have found it to be a scintillating window through which you can get a view of global postmodern thought.

I have never met Eric Slate.

He tells an interesting story that captured my attention. He says, "Once while I was riding on a crowded bus, the man sitting next to me threw his cell phone out the window. When his phone rang, instead of dutifully answering it, he casually tossed it away. I was stunned."

Slate goes on to describe the event...."He looked at me, shrugged and looked away. I had no idea if it was his, if it was stolen or even if he knew what a cell phone was. But in one seemingly careless motion, he managed to liberate himself from something that has completely consumed me."

Recently I watched the episode of Seinfeld in which Elaine is in a limo and the person she is with throws her electronic daily planner out the window. It causes her to panic when she realizes that without it she is lost.

I don't have the courage to throw my cell phone out the window, although there have been times when I have been tempted.

Technology which is suppose to simplify our lives has made it more complex.

I read today that "technology dependence" is now classified as a major health problem. The author says it is in "the same category as alcoholism, gambling and drug addiction."

Say what?

It may very well be that the more connected we are the more distant we have become.

Celente put it this way, "human beings are being trapped in a high-tech cycle that is freezing their minds away from living in the moment, looking at life and taking in what's around them."

Hey...I gotta run, I am getting a text message.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Prayer is a mysterious thing.

Donald Miller, the author of Blue Like Jazz, says, "I believe that the greatest trick of the devil is not to get us into some sort of evil but rather have us wasting time. That is why the devil tries so hard to get Christians to be religious. If he can sink a man’s mind into habit, he will prevent his heart from engaging God." p.13

He goes on to say, "there are places in our lives that only God can go."

I have a prayer that I pray that allows me to invite God to those places. It is by Trudy Archambeau, an unknown pray-er, who authentically longed for God.

God of second chances and new beginnings
I am always amazed
that you choose to use me for
your kingdom purposes.
You use me as I am;
tending sometimes not to do my best
prone to error
and very inclined to trip and fall.

Always your grace
is greater than my mistakes and stumblings.
Thank you, O God,
for using me in spite of myself!

Unfailing God,
remind me often that,
in your sight,
failure is never final.
By your grace,
enable me to deal with
my own failures constructively
and with the failures of others patiently.

Let it be so.

This prayer has helped me move from history to mystery in my prayer life.

Prayer is a mysterious thing.

What do you think?

Monday, April 14, 2008


"I can think of no other pursuit in the world that is more difficult or more rewarding than leading a church that is committed to creatively changing lives for the glory of God. These are words from a pastor named Ed Young that challenge my heart.

I always live somewhere between difficult and rewarding when I think about ministry.

Both of these descriptors are real, even though sometimes I pretend they are not. Today I sat through meetings where I heard stories of difficult times and rewarding times in kingdom ministry.

Tonight I watched as three people were ordained into the ministry. They had that invincible look in their eye...that look that seeks to convince observers that nothing is to diffcult for them. I had that look one time. Living life has tempered that optimism and made me aware that "apart from Him I can do nothing."

It was a night of affirmations.

It was a night of confirmations.

I thought that it was about those being ordained until I listened closely to the ritual. I contemplated the difficult and rewarding places that I have been in ministry and realized that this was a night of affirmations for me as well. It was also a night of confirmations.

Now that I am sitting at home reflecting on the evening, I recognize that His story continues to shape the story of my life and ministry. For this I am thankful.

C.S. Lewis said, “Christianity is the story of how the rightful King has landed, you might say in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in His great campaign of sabotage”

Tomorrow I will get up and continue to be shaped by His Story, I will continue to tell His Story and I will continue to experience difficult and rewarding places along the journey.

When was the last time you shared His Story?

Sunday, April 13, 2008


Sunday afternoon at home....I love the sound of that phrase. It conjures up images of rest, relaxation and an opportunity to unwind.

Sunday afternoons over the years have been celebrated in a number of different ways. I have memories of Sunday afternoons when "time stood still." When I was young the last thing I needed on a Sunday afternoon was a nap. I was ready for activity.

As time passes, I relish the idea of Sunday afternoons where "time stands still." Maybe it is because I am seeing the value of celebrating Sabbath. Maybe it is because time now has a different meaning for me than when I was younger.

Today I sat down for a while. Not long enough, but I sat down and rested for a little while.

There was something refreshing about the few moments of Sabbath in the middle of a busy day.

Here's a thought...What if our Sabbath was spent free from all unnecessary clutter? Living in a cluttered world wearies pilgrims who long for simplicity. What if our Sabbath was spent free from the tyranny of the clock? Living by the clock saps our creative energies. What if our Sabbath was spent resting in preparation for service rather than fretting about what lies ahead?

Today I "sabbath-ed."

Coca-Cola had a great slogan years was Coke, The Pause That Refreshes.

Sabbath for me has become a Pause That Refreshes

Sabbath...Have you experienced that recently?

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Richard Foster wrote, "It is far better to soak in five pages of substance than to read 500 pages of fluff."

Words are everywhere.

The Lord's Prayer has 66 words
The Gettysburg Address has 286 words
The 10 Commandments has 179 words
The Declaration of Independence has 1300 words
The Pythagoream Theorem has 24 words
Archimedes Principle has 67 words

I read this week that the United States Government Regulations on the sale of cabbage has 26,911 words. Whew! Makes me tired thinking about it.

I always vacillate between "fluff" and "substance." It is easy to get distracted by "fluff" and miss what is all around us.

Carl Sanburg, the great American writer said, "There is an eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud."

Reading keeps my mind sharp and allows me to focus on substance when the world around me tempts me with fluff.

This mystery has been kept in the dark for a long time, but now it's out in the open. God wanted everyone, not just Jews, to know this rich and glorious secret inside and out, regardless of their background, regardless of their religious standing. The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you, so therefore you can look forward to sharing in God's glory. It's that simple. That is the substance of our Message. Colossians 1:26

Where is your focus? Substance or fluff?

Just a thought

Friday, April 11, 2008


I love front porches. We had one when I was a kid growing up. Porches are places to pontificate. Front porches are mostly non-existent today and so are the conversations they fostered.

I was thinking about porches today. Here's what came to my mind...

"If you can't run with the big dogs, then stay on the porch."

“Friends are the pillars on your porch. Sometimes they hold you up, sometimes they lean on you, and sometimes it's just enough to know that they are standing by.”

“The best kind of friend is the kind you can sit on a porch swing with, never say a word, then walk away feeling like it was the best conversation that you ever had.”

Here's my favorite...

"Don't live on the porch and think you are in the house."

Francois Fenelon wrote those words in the late 1690's. Insightfully he suggested that many people today never delve deeper into matters of faith. They are content to "live on the porch" and never "enter into the house."

"Enter with the password: "Thank you!" Make yourselves at home, talking praise. Thank him. Worship him. " Psalm 100:4 (The Message)

As a kid I often heard these words...."Get in the house!" Today I am hearing my Father say, "Get in the house!"

There is a big difference between "porch-sitting" and "house-dwelling."

Where are you sitting these days?

Thursday, April 10, 2008


St. Francis of Assisi was right.

He captured the heart of the church and understood nuances that slipped past many of his contemporaries. Describing those he served he said, "He who works with his hands is a labourer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands, his head and his heart is an artist."

The church is made up of laborers, craftsmen and artists."

All are sacred. All are essential. All are important to fulfilling the church's calling.

I know some of all three.

Everytime I meet a laborer I am grateful for their work. When I meet a craftsman I marvel at their ability. When I encounter an artist I am in awe. God works equally in all three. It is my perceptions of each that labels one more important than another.

Some days I am a laborer...occasionally I am a craftsman...once in a while I feel like an artist.

Last year while on a trip through the Smoky Mountains I watched as a young lady created artwork on pottery. She worked effortlessly at her craft. Standing there, the verse from Isaiah came to my mind.

Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8.

I want to be clay in the hands of the Master Artist.

How about you?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


What a paradox.

One person can afford any birthday gift they want, another will celebrate his tenth birthday with no birthday gifts. What a paradox.

The invitation came via email. You know the kind you get on a regular basis. As soon as the invitation comes, you ask, "what do I get the person who has everything?"

Embedded in the invitation were familiar words...Please, do not bring a gift, it is not about the gift, it is about fun with friends!!!! I love the sound of that. Friends.

Then these words got my attention....If you feel you can not comply with the no gift policy, please gift someone else on behalf of me and let me know what you did. Wow! The possibilities are endless.

Here is where the 10 year old boy comes into the picture. He is the son of a another friend of ours. He lives in an area of town where gifts are few and far between. What a contrast.

So, last night we went to the party. We brought our card to the person who sent the invitation. Inside the card we wrote these words...You have been such a blessing in our lives. We are giving a birthday gift on your behalf to a little ten year old boy who will not be receiving a party or any gifts for his birthday. Because you have blessed us, we will bless him with a gift. Thanks for your friendship.

I am so thankful for all that I have....friends, family, health, work, and hundreds of other things. It was a blessing to attend the birthday party of a friend, it will be a blessing to give a gift to a little boy who we have never met, it is sheer joy to think that it will bring joy to both.

Affluenza is killing us. What would happen if we decided to bless others in the same way we have been blessed. I think my friend has caught on...Please do not bring a gift, it is not about the gift... It's about the gifts God gives.

But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. Galatians 5:22 The Message

What do you think?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Reading The New York Times over lunch today, I ran across a small article that captured my attention. It started on the front page with a small blurb tucked at the bottom of the page. The teaser said, The Washington Post received 6 Pulitzers, the most received by any newspaper in a given year. The New York Times won two.

My attention was piqued.

A Pulitzer Prize was awarded to Gene Weingarten of The Washington Post for Feature Writing.

In minute detail he portrays an account of a Grammy Award winning violinist by the name of Joshua Bell playing anonymously outside of a subway station during rush hour.

People would easily pay over a hundred dollars a ticket to see him perform in concert halls in any major city.

But here he was playing anonymously outside of a subway station during the city's busiest time. Weingarten was curious if people would stop and listen to this virtuoso.

Meticulously recording every detail, Weingarten noted that during 45 minutes over a thousand commuters hurried past Joshua Bell. As the violinist prepared to put his instrument back in its case, he fumbled the loose change and added it up. $32.17

That in itself is shocking. What is even more shocking was that Weingarten, the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, admitted later that the whole thing was a stunt. Yes, the journalist had orchestrated the whole thing.

A stunt.

I am not sure how I feel about all of that. I am intrigued by the fact that Joshua Bell played for 45 minutes to a passing crowd of over a thousand and made $32.17. The fruit tray in the green room of large concert halls where he played probably cost more than $32.17

How could people miss the fact that in their presence was a concert genius? How did they see past the fact that the same music in the concert hall was available outside at the mouth of the subway?

It has caused me to wonder. Do I miss genius just because it doesn't appear in a package that I would recognize? Do I fail to experience the work of the Master because it is on the street rather than in a church?

Just a thought.