Oh happiness, there’s grace,
Enough for us and the whole human race
-David Crowder

Sometimes we just make it more complicated than it should be… than it has to be.  Can you relate?

We’ve long ago learned that money and things don’t buy it, though that doesn’t seem to stop us from trying.

Technology promises to serve it up, but that server keeps crashing… hard.  Of course, that won’t stop us from lining up for the next iThingy when it comes out (complete with a three-year service plan and a monthly charge).

Love?  Can’t love do it?  Sure, depending on whose definition you’re talking about.  Honestly, most people’s definition of love would complicate a two-car funeral or reduce the rest of the world to service providers.  And can you really be happy when the people around you are so miserable trying to keep you satisfied?

Yeah, I know.  It’s complicated.

We’re like the parents of that preschooler who just spent hundreds on that latest gotta-have-it toy with its techno-wizardry, who are mystified that the kid just wants to play with the box.  And he’s having a blast with the box, while the exasperated parents keep shoving this strange, noisy thing in his face trying to get him to be happy.

Most of us, though, have trained ourselves to look past the simple source of creative imagination (the box) and demand that the latest products or people provide us the happiness we demand.  And we never quite arrive at what’s advertised… at least not for very long.

Maybe we’re looking in the wrong place.  Maybe it’s time to go back to the box.  Maybe it’s time to unplug – to go from “batteries not included” to “no purchase necessary.”

Maybe it’s time to rediscover the beauty of Simple Happiness.  And you’ll find it: [click to continue…]

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You can’t.

You can walk it out.  You can stand there and look humble while people tell you that you’ve got it.  You can make corrections when you stand convicted of the need for some changes.  You can use it to plead with God or The Man (whoever that is) for justice or a raise or something.  You can even dare to mention it when you run for political office.

But you are not equipped to be the architect or builder of an integrated life – yours or anybody else’s.

This is no self-improvement process, friends.  You can’t build integrity into your life by getting more information, imitating somebody else, or rigidly keeping a code of conduct. You can’t get it with an extreme makeover, a friendly takeover, or a cosmetic rake-over.

Integrity is an inside job.  It’s the result of a transformational process that takes your dis-integrated self and changes you through and through by a power that is not your own.

That said, just as an office building is designed and constructed according to a set pattern, so your Master Designer and Builder follows a blueprint for building wholeness in you.  And while you don’t have the power to do this yourself, your faith and submission to His work can help speed the process.

Each of these stages builds on the other, and I believe the order matters.  And yet, these are all lifetime pursuits that we’ll never perfectly achieve this side of heaven.  Designing and building a life of integrity involves: [click to continue…]

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I know I’m not supposed to worry.


I know I should have more faith in God.


I know this should be an easy, clear decision.


I want to pursue this direction.


I long ago lost count of the number of times a counseling or coaching encounter started there.  Here’s what I know.  Here’s what I should be.  Here’s what I want.


These are the starting points of conversations about something we all encounter – core conflicts. [click to continue…]

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Many years ago, a little girl and her dad were walking through the grass on the Canadian prairie.  In the distance, they saw a prairie fire; eventually, they realized, it would engulf them.

The father knew there was only one way of escape. He quickly started a fire right where they were and burned a large patch of grass.

When the huge fire drew near, he took his little girl and stood on the section that had already been burned.  When the fire actually did approach them, the girl was terrified by the raging flames.  But her father assured her, “The flames can’t get to us.  We’re standing where the fire has already been!”

There is a fire that Christ-followers face that can seem as frightening.  [click to continue…]

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It was a new day at Grace Church.  A new pastor was coming, and this would be his first weekend.  People were excited, and they needed to be.  Grace had gone through an ugly split that had left a lot of angry, hurt, and confused people in its wake.  A pretty solid plug of people had started Faith Church down the road and had contacted the outgoing pastor from Grace to help them get started.  Some people had left for other churches.  Some people had quit attending anywhere.

One of the walking wounded was a former associate pastor – Chris Naylor.  Chris had received “the right foot of fellowship” from the previous administration.  Though he had found other opportunities for Kingdom service, Chris was still a member – at least on paper – at Grace.

That’s why I was a little surprised when I asked Chris and his wife Rachael if they were going to hear the new guy that weekend, and both immediately, categorically said, “No.”

Ooh.  Sorry I asked.

“My friends think I’m bitter,” Chris added.

“Are you?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he replied honesty.  “How do you balance the fact that on the one hand I love the church and wish nothing but the best for them, but on the other hand, have absolutely no respect for their system of leadership or the choices they have made?”

“I don’t know.”

Chris was just getting warmed up as Rachael was tearing up. [click to continue…]

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Alexander's Bridge over Chickamauga Creek

Imagine throwing a little backyard barbecue and inviting 12,000 of your closest friends.  And even closer enemies.

It happened nearly 125 years ago, in 1889, at a place called Chickamauga, near Chattanooga, TN.  And it took place where these friends and enemies had once gathered 26 years earlier to kill each other.

You don’t hear as much about the Battle of Chickamauga as you do Vicksburg or Gettysburg or Shiloh.  But in two days, 66,000 Confederate and 58,000 Union troops staged two days of hell – desperate, often hand-to-hand combat.  Somewhere around 18,480 Confederate and 16,240 Union soldiers were killed, wounded or missing when all was said and done.

One side won the battle.  The other won the war.

Then as time passed, something remarkable happened.  [click to continue…]

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For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;

My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer (Psalm 32:4).

Everybody talks about the fever heat of summer.

But nobody talks about the heavy hand of God anymore. [click to continue…]

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When it comes to relationships, are you a builder or a buster?  I’ve known both, and I’m sure you have, too.

Relationship builders are liked.  Respected.  Trusted.  They believe in the deep, abiding value of relationships with others, and invest their lives in nurturing them.  But they also seem to go about relationship building in an almost-effortless way.

Relationship busters are different.  They may get along with anybody for a season, but sooner or later their relationships tend to blow up or fall apart.  Or they live in constant relationship drama.

One of the things I have learned about relationships is that a large part of them are an inside job.  That is, there is a difference between the way builders and busters think.  And whatever controls your thinking right now establishes the course of your relationships for a long time.

In his letter to the Colossians, Paul writes from a Roman prison and encourages them to engage in linking thinking: [click to continue…]

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In the previous post, we explored the idea of Life Shapers – the people who help make you more than you naturally would be in specific areas.  Some people influence you to be stronger, wiser, funnier or more committed to excellence.  Others may influence you to be fearful, suspicious, negative, or angry – all by the ways they interact with you.

This may explain why you’re drawn to the friends you have.  Maybe you like them, or maybe you like the person you are when you’re with them.

It may also suggest some people you need to avoid.  What your Mama (and the Bible) told you about bad company rings true in many cases.  But I’m not just talking about party animals or thieves.  If they constantly leave you feeling shamed, rejected, angry or afraid, maybe it’s time to choose a new set of influences.

Quoting from the last post…

You are who you are largely because of the people who believe in you, have you in their hearts, and expect the best (or worst) from you.  This may be a good time to say “thank you” to the ones who are building you up, and “good-bye” to the ones who tear you down.

And for those who still answer when you call or read what you write, maybe it’s time to wise up – and rise up – to the life-shaper you can be.

Bringing Out the Best in Others

Do you realize the potential you have to be a life shaper?  You are just as much a potential influence on others as they are on you.  And while your nonverbal communication is still much stronger, there are some intentional things you can do to bring out the best in others. [click to continue…]

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The Gift of Being There

by Andy Wood on December 8, 2010

in Life Currency, Love

It’s a common exchange, repeated in restaurants, homes, and shopping malls everywhere…

“Oh there you are!  I’ve been looking for you everywhere.”

“I’ve been right here the whole time.”

Life gives us seasons – and this is one of them – when we are reminded that the greatest blessings come in the form of the simple happiness of relationships.  Working together.  Enjoying down time together.  Praying together.  Simply enjoying the Gift of Being There…

It’s one of the most common prayer requests you’ll hear, especially for someone who’s going though “the stuff.”  The theology is a little strange, because somebody’s asking God to do what He is already doing.  But we all sort of know what it means:  “Lord, be with them during this time.”  We’re asking God to give someone else the Gift of Being There.

I can’t think of a more God-like expression of generosity, grace, and love than what some people call “the ministry of presence.”   [click to continue…]

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