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Showing posts from 2008

Born Free

When I run outdoors I am filled with a great sense of freedom. I love being able to go anywhere under any weather conditions. It feels so liberating. Over the last few months, my freedom has been limited because of a minor foot injury. I have been longing for a good, long run outside.

This past weekend, my longing for freedom and running aligned in unusual fashion. Nancy and I were in DC, and I awoke Saturday morning with a chance to go running around the National Mall. As I ran from the Capitol Building to the Washington Monument, I began to think about how wonderful it is to live in a free country.

The outermost point on my run was to the Jefferson Memorial. The Jefferson Memorial was constructed under Roosevelt’s presidency to honor Jefferson’s legacy. Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States and a vocal advocate for freedom and for separation of church and state.

As I stood inside the open air memorial, I began reading the inscriptions chiseled into the walls. On…

Lucy - the doctor is in

Lucy Van Pelt has often been misunderstood. All she ever tries to do is help people, and she gets so little thanks for all of her efforts. Sure she might be a little crass, but at least she is honest. She has tried harder than anyone else to help Charlie Brown adjust to the realities of life. Is it really her fault that he doesn’t trust anyone? Well maybe.

For a mere five cents Lucy will enthusiastically help anyone identify their phobias. In fact, Lucy is willing to create a phobia just for you if you don’t already have one. Lucy insists that naming our phobias is the first step in overcoming our fears and being able to move on to good psychiatric health. Of course, Lucy gets her five cents either way.

Lucy encapsulates one of the basic tenets of modern psychological wisdom. The current practice is to name our fears so that we can overcome our fears. There really is nothing to fear but fear itself. Some fears are irrational, but should all fear be eradicated?

We fear all kinds of things…

Saving the Day

Curious George has many faults, but we all love him because we know that he truly has a big heart. He always seems to be overwhelmed by the needs that he encounters each day.

I remember watching an episode of Curious George a year or two ago during which he attempted to preserve a water hole for ducks. George discovered a large water puddle after a storm that had become a home to some sociable ducks. He instantly fell in love with the energetic ducks.

As George played with the ducks he realized that the water puddle was dwindling as the sun sucked up the water. The ducks began to leave, and George sprang into action. He immediately located his plastic swimming pool and began filling the pool to keep the ducks. The pool was located at the top of a hill, and his only means of filling the pool was to carry a water bucket to the top of the hill.

George was willing to fill the pool, but he was unable to fill it fast enough to satisfy the ducks. He realized that he needed help – and …

Quiet Strength

My admiration for Tony Dungy has grown considerably over the past few years. My biggest obstacle was overcoming his affiliation with the Tampa Bay Bucs. I don’t have anything against Tampa Bay, but I’m a Bears fan. Bears fans no like Bucs – except when they beat Green Bay.

As a Christian and a sports fan there is a lot to like about Dungy’s book, Quiet Strength. He weaves faith and sports history in a way that captures my attention and imagination.

As a student of leadership I was enthralled with Dungy’s simple leadership strategy for turning around losing organizations. 1. Don’t make excuses. 2. Focus on things that you can change, not on things beyond your control. 3. Continue doing the right things, and you will eventually be successful.

Pop psychology proposes that we need to find and correctly label the source of our problems if we are to move forward with our lives. There are at least two problems with the pop psychology model. First, we rarely find that we are the source of our pr…

Home Alone

For the past three months or so, I have been home alone. Nancy has been in Alabama helping take care of her dad. Her father passed away a couple of weeks ago after several years of battling cancer. For the last few months he needed continual care, and we decided than Nancy could best honor her dad by being with him.

When you picture me home alone for months, you may have pictured anything from a young Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone to Tom Hanks in Cast Away. In truth, the past few months have revealed some combination of the two characters in me.

One of the obvious revelations that I have experienced is just how much Nancy does for me every day. Life is filled with little things that must be done so that bigger plans can be accomplished. Nancy is a master of the little things.

Just this morning I realized how chaotic our home can be without Nancy. While I was getting ready for a busy day, I inadvertently left the water running in our upstairs bathroom sink after I finished shaving…

dumb looks from angels

I sometimes wonder how often I get dumb looks from angels. I screw up fairly often. I know that angels are accustomed to my stupidity by now, but my lack of faith and understanding about God’s will is often embarrassing.

I could tell stories for days about how God has supernaturally provided for me. I remember numerous times when God has changed people’s hearts and brought extraordinary resolutions to challenges that I have faced. I have already seen enough of God’s power to last me a lifetime. So, why do I still get dumb looks from angels?

This Easter has brought several biblical stories to mind for me. The events surrounding the empty tomb reveal the women at the tomb getting dumb looks from angels as the women searched for the body of Jesus.

“Why are you looking in a tomb for someone who is alive? 6He isn’t here! He has risen from the dead! Don’t you remember what he told you back in Galilee Luke 24:5-6 (NLT)

The angels ask two penetrating questions that drive home one central…

Brotherly Love

Male ego warning – this one is a little sappy.

I’ve been working on a message for Sunday, and I have been studying about the church at Philadelphia in Revelation chapter 3. Philadelphia means brotherly love. The word Philadelphia occurs eight times in the Bible and each time it refers to either brotherly love or an actual ancient city in Lydia. When I read about this city, I keep thinking about what it means to love someone like a brother.

I only have one sibling – who is awesome – and I’m not just saying that because she reads my blog ;-) – and she is a sister and not a brother. I mean really girls are okay and all, but most girls can’t throw a football well and make pathetic hunting partners. (Yes, I know that comment was sexist, but not necessarily chauvinistic.) Allow me to plead my case. When we were kids my older sister and I would go bird hunting together with our BB guns, but we never killed any birds. Years later I realized that we weren’t actually bird hunting. My sister only …

For the love of the game

In our spare bedroom I keep a baseball in a display case. It isn’t a homerun ball from a MLB game. It isn’t even a foul ball from a MLB game. It is a homerun ball from a little league baseball game in the mid 80’s. I still remember the pitch (a failed attempt at a slider that hung just over the middle of the plate). As I swung at the pitch I dropped my left shoulder (even though I knew better) and popped the ball high into the air, but the hit was just long enough to clear the fence. I also remember where the ball went out of the park (just to the right of a big tree outside the fence in right field) and my dad retrieving the ball for safe keeping.

We spent many afternoons practicing baseball and learning the rules of the game. We learned how to throw and how to hit (even though I didn’t learn that part too well) and how catch. We learned strategies for winning, and we learned the correct way to play a game. Our coaches taught us how to be orthodox, American baseball players. And, some…

Call me coach

At Oakland we have just started our winter basketball leagues. For many of our kids, it is their first attempt playing organized sports (okay semi-organized sports), and practice can be quite an adventure. The kids are usually high energy and willing to learn, but they are also easily distracted. Their great concern with who is first in line can rival even the most engaging practice drill that a coach can posit. I have learned that trying to settle their disputes is about as productive as telling Costello “Who’s on first.”

All joking aside the kids are great. But, why am I coaching? Well, I was asked.

Research by Thom Rainer of Lifeway suggests that a significant number of people who are not involved with our churches would get involved if we invited them. In particular when someone we respect invites us to get involved, many of us are willing to get in the game.

We had our first game this past Saturday. The kids were very excited, but one of the kids was fairly nervous and unwilling to …