Archive for the ‘Spiritual Thoughts’ Category

Why Persistent Prayer Is So Difficult

Most of my blog posts are a personal reflection of something I am learning, experiencing or with which I am struggling. The latter fits this post. I’ve recently admitted to myself, and God, that my prayer life is nearing extinction. I pray throughout the day, but the fervor and the dedicated times of prayer have waned. I’ve found myself needing to go back to training camp for a refresher on the basics of living a life that honors God. Prayer, persistent prayer, is one of these basics.

sharkThe Shark Who Gave Up

There was a study I remember from my psychology class in college that left an indelible impression upon me. A shark was put into one side of a tank which was divided by a clear glass panel. On the other side of the tank was a school of smaller fish—a perfect dinner for the shark. The shark would dart toward the fish, but each time it would ram its nose into the glass barrier. The shark tried and tried again. Each time it scurried toward a fish it would abruptly hit the glass. Finally, the shark gave up and quit darting toward the smaller fish. What happened next in the study is truly fascinating. Continue reading

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Ever Wish Life was Like a Hallmark Movie?

Elegance teen faceOnce you  have seen a couple of Hallmark Channel Christmas movies, you know what to expect when a “new” one is introduced. You can count on finding a beautiful, yet not quite “perfect,” girl with a difficult past who has to choose between her current love—an arrogant, insensitive jerk—and a new acquaintance who is kind, good looking, patriotic and certainly available.  There is  just enough drama and conflict to keep us engaged  and to stick through the commercial breaks for more. Even though we know it is coming, the final kiss in the snow gives us the warm feeling that life is well and the good people win. Ahhh! Hallmark movies are vegetable beef soup for the soul.

Christians can be attracted to such movies because of the absence of foul language and underlying themes of forgiveness, grace and love. And it’s even better when our love can be directed toward those who have managed to make it through some of life’s most difficult personal challenges like single-parenting or the death of a dear family member. We also like the justice element afforded us in these movies. The writers know this and, therefore, create that arrogant, insensitive jerk who will get what he deserves…and so we won’t feel so bad when the main character dumps him for the lonely new guy.

Wouldn’t it be nice if life was like a Hallmark movie?

Wouldn’t it be nice if the “Christian” life was like a Hallmark movie? Wouldn’t it be nice to encounter a few bumps in the road and then find an open and wide smooth highway with only minimal traffic? Wouldn’t it be nice if every problem Continue reading

A Selfish Prayer?

On my way to work this morning I asked myself a perplexing question.  It was a question anyone else would think stupid, not perplexing. The only thing you would find perplexing is that I found it perplexing. The answer is so abundantly obvious, why would anyone bother asking it. It was along the lines of, “Who is buried in Grant’s tomb?”  Duh!  But I asked it anyway.

Because my car radio was dead, I had some additional time during my commute to think…and pray. The last few days I had been convicted of my lack of prayer for my children and, therefore, I was busy catching up on prayer along Pleasant Hill Road. Then came the question: Is it selfish to pray for MY kids?  Wait! Let me explain the question.

Is it selfish to pray for MY kids?

There are billions of children around the world. Therefore, should I care more about MY four kids than any of these other children?  Just because they are MY kids, should I Continue reading

Does the Bible Downplay Physical Exercise?

BodyBuilderShould Christians put much effort into physical exercise? The question is prompted by a perplexing phrase in the Bible.

The church our family attended when I was young used the Old English translation of the Bible known as the King James Version, (KJV).  The KJV translated the phrase this way, “For bodily exercise profiteth little.”* Therefore, we could conclude the Bible downplays the value of physical exercise. But does it?

If the Bible deemphasizes physical exercise then many of us have a problem.

I am a proponent of physical exercise. As a member of the Metro-Atlanta YMCA, I regularly engage in “bodily exercise”—and my current level of Platinum, earned by workout points, evidences my commitment. I also have a drawer overflowing with t-shirts earned from running races. And hanging on a wall are medals that were gently placed around my neck after crossing the finish lines of marathons. My passion for wellness is further evidenced by my Raving Wellness Blog and periodic presentations on corporate wellness.  I believe in physical exercise. Yet, is there a conflict for me and others who profess an adherence to the Bible and who are also committed to physical exercise? Continue reading

Revealed: The Ugly Truth Behind My Midlife Crisis

Call it what you want. The desert. The wilderness. A dry season. Sidelined. Hiddenness. Benched. Fruitless. Invisible. Void.  –Whatever you call it, it’s those periods of life when any semblance of significance appears to be only a distant memory or some desperate fantasy. I’ve been there. I live there.  For at least the past decade, this has been my dungeon.

I’m not one who enjoys bearing their soul. Yet, after reading Alicia Britt Chole’s Anonymous I felt like somebody had finally articulated my Anonymousstruggle. Reading it plunged me to a new depth of repulsive self-awareness. It’s been a couple of months since I completed the book and I have yet to get it out my mind. I’ve embraced it, debated it and challenged it. I’m anonymous and my prideful self doesn’t like it. I want to be somebody—a real (important) somebody.

It came to me osmosis-like. Without debate, I latched onto “Be all you can be.” I demanded and expected a purpose-driven life. I aimed high. I searched for significance. From the earliest stages of conscious desire I set in motion the pursuit of meaningful goals. I purposed to live a consequential life. I purposed to live a life that would achieve much. I had plans—mammoth plans. With seven years of higher education behind me I was ready to lead, impact, revolutionize and succeed. I would be somebody …for God, of course.

Well, at least I thought I would be somebody. Now, with every September comes an annual reminder of not measuring up to my potential. Turning 32 was tough; for by this age Jesus had become all He would be—certainly I would be well on my way by then too. But no. Therefore, my “arrival” was postponed. The goal changed: “When I get in my forties I will reach my prime!”  By forty I was a little smarter and could run a 10K, but significance was nowhere to be found.

I use to think “hell on earth” was hyperbole. I still do, yet it pretty well sums up my view of turning fifty and the recurring realizations of dashed dreams that have followed. Regrets abound: Failure in parenting. Failure in husbanding. Financial failure. Overweight and under-accomplished. This is a mid-life crises in overdrive. Continue reading

I’ve Got the Power

PowerManIt wasn’t that it was written in some magnificent prose. Nor was it some new revelation for me. I know this stuff. At least I say I know it. I’ve even taught it. But there was something about reading it this time that nailed my conscience.

For the last couple of days I have been reading through Alicia Britt Chole’s Anonymous. It had been recommended by Kevin Myers at 12Stone, a church that warmly welcomed us on our August Sunday morning visit.

Chole writes about those seasons in our lives where we are out of the limelight and our purpose appears to be nil. She calls it the “hidden years” and likens it to the years leading up to Jesus emerging on the scene and coming to John the Baptist to be baptized. Jesus’ life had been “hidden” for nearly two decades. No messages. No miracles.  No visible example of how to live.

Using these silent years of Jesus as a springboard, Chole aims to show the purpose and value in these hidden seasons and how to respond in the midst of the dark days of apparent insignificance. This is what she writes: Continue reading

Picasso-like Christianity

I once heard a good piece of advice: Never agree to plastic surgery in a doctor’s office with paintings by Picasso.

Nothing can botch our Christian faith more than prominently placed inaccurate beliefs—beliefs that are often introduced to us in the first years of life.

A common song in my childhood Sunday School went like this:Bible

Every promise in the Book is mine!
Every chapter, every verse, every line.
I am standing on His Word divine,
Every promise in the Book is mine!

Oh, how we sang it with uninhibited enthusiasm! The meaning was clear; every promise in the Bible was for me.

The Bible is full of promises. Yet, I challenge the statement that every promise is the Bible is for me. I do not believe it. Continue reading