Bearing the Wrong Cross

Consider four imaginary scenarios involving patience:

  • Anne gently answers the same questions over and over while caring for her mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s.
  • Brian is chronically late to work because his carpool buddy, Zack, is never ready when Brian arrives to pick him up. Zack doesn’t know the meaning of the word “hurry.” He’ll spend ten minutes finishing his breakfast while Brian nervously glances at his watch. Brain wants to tell Zack that his tardiness is a problem, but the guy is a non-stop talker, which makes it hard to find an opening to bring up the subject. [Read more…]

Talents Surrendered, Talents Reborn


One of the women who shaped my adolescence was a former fashion model named Vangie. She dressed with bold pizzazz, her stylish clothing and jewelry accenting the colors of her perfect face and hair. Then one day she came to church looking more casual and down-to-earth. “I’ve given up wearing makeup,” she explained. “The Holy Spirit showed me that I’ve been getting my self-worth from my appearance, instead of depending on God.” [Read more…]

The Dark Side of Dream-Seeking

We humans enjoy putting our talents to good use. I like to feed my creative side by inventing fun activities for the children at my school. It’s exciting to see my original ideas blossom into meaningful experiences for the kids. But, it’s not all sweetness and light. I hate to admit how many times I’ve snapped at a child who happened to interrupt me while I was self-importantly rushing around setting up my latest project. I doubt that God is pleased when I care more about showcasing my cleverness than about the welfare of the children I’m supposedly serving.

Our imaginations and ambitions, like all of God’s gifts, can be used either for good or for evil. Self-fulfillment cannot be, must not be, our ultimate purpose. [Read more…]

Dreaming Out Loud

images-1Other people cannot read my mind. This fact seems perfectly obvious, but sometimes I overlook it. Especially when my cherished hopes and dreams are involved. Afraid someone might laugh, I keep quiet. Then, I get frustrated that no one helps me reach my goals. As if people should be able to see inside my head and know what I want!

It took me years to admit out loud that I wanted to be a writer. It was my carefully guarded secret, and it should have come as no surprise that people had all kinds of other plans for me. They weren’t rejecting my dream, they were simply busy pursuing their own projects and responsibilities. [Read more…]

Godly Dreams


If our greatest need is to have a meaningful purpose, then we should take seriously our inner sense of calling. Cherished daydreams can provide clues to our life’s mission.

But, is it Biblical to pursue our own personal dreams and goals?  Some would say “no.”  Take, for example, this opinion expressed in an online forum:

“I doubt there would be anything in the Bible to support following your dreams or never giving up. The Bible teaches you to NOT be self-absorbed and also, to follow the Bible it is necessary to give up a lot of what is YOU.”   (See this Comment) 

[Read more…]

A Person Needs a Purpose


What is the most powerful human need? Aside from food, water and air, what do we hunger for?  According to Viktor Frankl, we crave, above all, to have a sense of purpose.

Dr. Viktor Frankl was an Austrian psychiatrist and the founder of a method of treatment called Logotherapy (after logos, the Greek word for “meaning.”) He began developing his theories while working in suicide prevention during the 1920‘s and 30‘s. His insights were tested and refined in the fires of the Nazi Holocaust. Frankl lost his parents, his brother and his pregnant wife. He himself was imprisoned in four different concentrations camps, including Auschwitz. [Read more…]

Who is Your Gatekeeper?

When my daughter was in training to manage a fast food restaurant, she was surprised to learn that a sudden rush of customers doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to open more cash registers. Why? Because taking orders faster does no good, if the kitchen can’t keep up. Nothing frustrates customers more than to be stuck waiting around after they’ve already paid for their food. If there’s going to be a bottleneck, it should happen while they’re still free to leave, before they’ve put down their money.


This is a good analogy for the yes-or-no choices we face every day in our personal lives. Wanting to be generous with our time and energy, our impulse is to say “yes” every time we’re asked to step up and take on a worthwhile responsibility. We think it’s virtuous to overextend ourselves. “Giving our all” means taking on more than we think we can handle and then relying on God to come through with the power to get the job done. Right?

Wrong! God expects us to be good stewards of the time and talents he has given us. Good stewards deploy their resources carefully. Good stewards count the cost and make the hard choices—saying “no” to some things so they can say “yes” to others. [Read more…]

Do What You Love / Love What You Do

carpentry-workshopConscience and reason, guided by scripture, can help us avoid evil and choose good. But what if the choice is between an abundance of good options? Often, we have so many opportunities to do good that we can’t possibly pursue them all. How do we choose? Which work seems meaningful? Which projects will leave us energized instead of exhausted at the end of a long day? Is it selfish to choose work that inspires us? Is it okay to enjoy our work? Isn’t “work” supposed to mean doing our fair share of the drudgery that nobody wants to do?

Work is seldom easy, but it should be satisfying. When our labors are well-aligned with God’s purpose for us, we’ll  have a sense of peace about doing our job — even if it’s challenging and difficult. [Read more…]

Lessons from Our Coach

sand_floorMy previous blog described the first steps in connecting with our ultimate Life Coach, the Holy Spirit. Today’s topic is the ongoing training program. Unlike earthly coaches, the Spirit rarely speaks with an audible voice. Most of us will never hear Him, this side of heaven.

Many times, I’ve wished that God would just tell me what to do! He has all the answers; why won’t He just give them to me? Gradually, I’ve come to believe that He is less interested in seeing the “right” outcome to my situation than in seeing the right understandings growing in my mind. He wants me to develop good judgement, and that can only happen when I use my judgement — making decisions by applying my own intelligence and conscience to the facts as I understand them.

Does this mean God expects us to flounder through life without His guidance? Not at all! [Read more…]

Meet Your Coach

youth-sports-coach2Every athlete needs a coach. As one trainer told me, “It’s not true that ‘practice makes perfect.’ The truth is that perfect practice makes improvement.”  

Coaching is  not limited to sports. The apostle Paul says all of life is a race, and much more is at stake than a gold medal. ( 1 Corinthians 9: 24-25, Hebrews 12:1,  1 Timothy 4:7-8)  We need a wise coach—someone who sees our potential and pushes us to do the hard work needed to get there. Someone to help us see our errors and overcome them. Who, better than our Creator, to fill this role?

A coach channels the athlete’s energy and effort. Drawing from a deep store of knowledge, the coach gives just enough guidance for the next, immediate step of growth. Our ultimate Life Coach knows our abilities and knows how to teach us. He will not give up when we become discouraged.

A reasonable person might object, “I can’t hear God talk. How’s he supposed to guide me?” [Read more…]

Avoiding the Wrong Track

track_e1305540301619I remember a turning-point moment during my “thirty-something” years. I was chatting with one of the other moms at my children’s school. She began to talk about her divorce and the problems she was facing. My mind ran through a list of all the ways I might help. Could I babysit her kids? Provide transportation? Maybe even invite her to live with us? A lifetime of training in “love your neighbor” had prepared me to offer my services without a second thought. But as I opened my mouth to speak, a sinking sensation reminded me to face facts. For instance, the fact that I had already made similar offers to a number of other people—more offers than I could responsibly fulfill.

I closed my mouth. I liked this woman and wanted to help her. But my plate was already full. [Read more…]

Mission 2014: Step Up to Greatness

“I believe I’m made for greatness,” says my friend, Grant Phillips. “We all are,” he adds. Then he explains: “Greatness happens in those moments when we get the chance to show love in action.”

He’s right. Human beings were made to give and receive love. It’s our highest calling.

Don’t worry, this blog will not tell you to try harder, care more, give more or do more. Like most folks, you’re probably stressed and worn out from doing too many things for too many people. I won’t tell you to love more; I want to challenge you to love smarter.

Or, more precisely, to love wiser. [Read more…]