Is Comparison Always Bad?
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” I’ve been hearing that for decades. But is it, always? Examples of how true that is, most certainly abound. I recently read my friend Amy’s Facebook account of her college experience. A gifted singer, she was a jazz vocalist major at a university known for its excellent music program. The only problem was that she had a friend and classmate who was so much better than Amy. She used to go home on weekends and bemoan the difference to her parents, asking why they couldn’t be jazz musicians like her friend’s parents. She eventually changed her major to pre-med, which was easier in comparison.…
Trusting God on the Other Side of Bizarre
In my last blog post, “Trusting God in the Bizarre,” I shared how a diagnosis of tongue cancer had blown up my world and how I was wrestling with my fear—again—of pain and suffering. It has now been 11 weeks since a surgeon removed a third of my tongue. I am still healing, both my tongue and my neck, from which he removed 20 lymph nodes—which were cancer free. I still thank the Lord for that graciousness. My speech is no longer impaired although it is affected. I sound like I have a cough drop in my mouth when I talk, and the “s” sound is still a challenge. Let…
A picture of healing and hope from the Master Gardener
Today I am honored to feature the heart of my friend Laney Wooten. Laney lives outside of Longview, Texas. She is a wife to Jon and a mother to 8 children. Laney is a worship leader, gardener, homeschool Mom and a faithful follower of the Lord. In the years I have known Laney she has lost a father, released a special needs son to full time care, parented a second child through special needs and walked through adoption and trauma. She invites you in on her most recent journey through loss, grief, and healing. I pray her vulnerability will inspire you to visit the neglected spaces in your own heart…
Our Path to Purpose
What do Aristotle, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Bono of U2 have in common? They joined the many sojourners throughout history who have pursued transcendent purpose in life. As we journey through life, where would our path take us if we set our compass toward purpose-filled life?
Salt and Light Online
Salt and Light Online During the pandemic, I was honored to be asked to address a student leadership conference for a Christian school in the Philippines via Zoom. Looking over my notes, there isn’t much here that doesn’t apply to ALL of us with any kind of online connection. In order to follow Jesus’ call to be salt and light, and applying it to online life, I’d like to take a look at dangers of the dark side of online life, as well as suggest ways to be wise in the use of this technology. The Comparison Trap I don’t think anything has fueled the temptation to compare ourselves to…
Set Aside Your Mourning Clothes––A Prayer Exercise
The last two years have been a time of prolonged loss, anxiety, and uncertainty for many of us. And whether or not we remember when we put on our mourning clothes, many of us struggle with when we should take them off. How do we know?
The Shadow Over Christmas is the Cross
Christmas, for many, is colored with twinkling lights, the sound of singing, bright colored packages topped with elegant bows, cookies, candy, parties and laughter. But for others, Christmas is colored with the stark reality of roaring fires that ravage neighborhoods, hospital rooms, funeral homes, broken relationships, drunken relatives, or memories of those whose faces are missing from their lives. As we teach our children about Jesus, God’s greatest gift to the world, we must not forget to teach them that the manger was shadowed by a cross. The Messiah in the manger was destined to be a man of sorrows acquainted with all our grief, bearing all our sin and…
Mental Health Challenges: Remove the Stigma
How has COVID affected you, your family, your church, your job, your neighborhood, your world? If you’re like about half of all Americans, the pandemic has taken its toll on your mental health—and if not yours, that of someone (or many someones) you love. Various studies have revealed that about 47 percent of US adults say pandemic stress alone has had a negative effect on their mental health. That rings true, doesn’t it? Most of the public school teachers I know suspect the percentage is higher, expecting to see a pandemic of depression as young people return to school and compare notes about their lives for the past year. The pandemic has definitely…
Disney Pixar’s Soul: A Spiritual Review
Disney Pixar’s latest feature film, Soul, follows the unassuming life of Joe Gardner. ( Caution, if you haven’t already seen the movie this blog includes spoilers.) He is a middle school music teacher with dreams of making it big. The character’s angst to accomplish his life’s dream drew me in as I sat and thought of my own unfinished goals. Joe’s desperation to become a successful Jazz performer highlights humanity’s struggle with meaning and purpose. While the movie Soul may not be a biblical guide to life, it echoes biblical principles without even knowing it. Joe Gardner’s search for purpose and fulfillment is reminiscent of the book of Ecclesiastes. After…
Stop Saying Christianity Doesn’t Make You Happy
This week, a Gallup Poll has reported pretty dismal mental health ratings, adding to a year full of statistics about depression, suicide, porn, stress and substance abuse. 2020 stinks, and the world doesn’t know how to handle it. So can we please stop adding to the problem by saying that Christianity doesn’t make Christians happy? I know, I know. When we say this, we’re trying to explain that we–and our happiness–aren’t the point. We’re reminding one another that our faith doesn’t protect us from life in a broken world. We’re saying that the abiding joy in Christ is substantially different than flurries of happiness that may come. These theological truths…