I wasn’t going to do it this year.

I was tired. Really tired.

Frankly a little lost.

In a year filled with sorrows, disappointments, and a little health scare of my own, I had about decided to forego the attempt to frame this year around a central theme – my one word. (You can read more about the idea as a substitute for New Year’s resolutions here.)

Previous years saw themes emerge such as Lean, One, Advance!, and Renew.

Cynical candidates for this year included such cheery themes as Coast, Surrender, or Vegetate. Nothing else really seemed to resonate, so I had decided, despite a couple of really good suggestions from my daughter, to pass this year.  That’s when I decided to take a walk yesterday.

And about the same time the Holy Spirit seemed to whisper, “Yes.  Walk.” [click to continue…]

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Seegulls lined up

In his book The Noticer, Andy Andrews offers this riddle:

Five seagulls are sitting on a dock. One of them decides to fly away. How many seagulls are left?

Answer: Five. Deciding to fly away and actually flying away are two very different things.

I don’t know who decided that the road to hell needed paving, but whoever it was picked some pretty good material. There will always be plenty of good intentions for people to talk about, and even satisfy themselves that having the intention is enough work for today. The problem is, they never get around to actually doing anything about the intention.

They were very sincere. But a lack of action made them sincerely wrong. [click to continue…]

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Repeat icon

For the last several years I have replaced the idea of New Year’s Resolutions with a focus on one single idea – my one word  to help frame the kind of direction I sense the Lord leading me to steer my life toward in the coming year. Previous ideas for My One Word have included Finish, Lean, and One. What’s interesting is that those ideas are still, to one degree or another, relevant and a part of my soul’s DNA.

Last year the theme was Advance! You can read more about that here.  And let me just say, advance I did! On three fronts in particular, 2015 represented major moves forward, mostly in areas of ministry and career development.

One really good thing that arose out of that has been the establishment of LifeVesting International – a mission organization designed to mobilize the church to multiply the Church. We are launching our first series of trips this year to Thailand, and I am thrilled to see where that is going.

May I just say, however, that by the end of the year, I was about advanced out. Frankly, I started the year not nearly as enthusiastic about the One Word idea as I had in previous years. And in terms of what the One Word would actually be, there was nothing really compelling or inspiring.

I thought about the word “READ” because every year at this time I get inspired to read more.

That deafening sound you hear of silence… or crickets… yeah, that’s about how much enthusiasm and passion that idea generated.

But to this point – a few days into January – there was nothing compelling.

And that may actually be the point. [click to continue…]

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Misty november morning at lake

Hey… you on the treadmill or the carousel.

Yes, you.    I have a question for you.

Remember the time you had an idea that would make a difference in your world?  Remember when you aspired to something better?  Something richer?  Something gloriously possible because you imagined it so?

Yeah, so… whatever happened to that idea?  Whatever happened to your dreams?

Remember when you were on a mission – when you had a sense of calling and clarity, and you even gave the G-word as your source?  Remember when you stepped out in confidence because God told you to?

Yeah, so… whatever happened to that calling?  Whatever happened to your dreams?

Remember when you were enflamed with passion or infused with hope because you could see it, taste it, enjoy it even before you experienced it?  Remember when you were so excited you could hardly sleep at night?

Yeah, so… whatever happened to that passion?  Whatever happened to your dreams?

Remember when you were determined to get something done – to solve a problem or meet a need or advance a cause?  Remember when you swore that you were done with idle living and wasted time?

Yeah, so… whatever happened to that determination?  Whatever happened to your dreams?

Remember when you were surrounded by can-do people who spoke into your life with encouragement and faith and offered to help you get where you were going? Remember when they convinced you that you had what it took to get it done?

Yeah, so… whatever happened to that connection? Whatever happened to your dreams? [click to continue…]

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Making the right choice

It’s been a couple of years now since I repented of New Year’s resolutions.  I knew it was time when somebody asked me about mine a few years ago and I said, “Oh, you know, the usual.”

(Totally irrelevant side note:  Wouldn’t be funny to go into a gym today or tomorrow and find some dude who’s built like a tank and who looks like he’s lifting one and say to him as those muscles rip through his shirt – “Ya’ know, those New Year’s resolutions never really work.”  Anyway…)

That’s why when somebody introduced me to Mike Ashcroft’s idea and book a few years ago it really hit a nerve.  The idea is very simple:  Build your year around one simple word – one theme that describes who or where you want to be at the end of the year.  What amazes me is how easy it is to land on a theme based on what I call my descants of the soul – the themes that seem to be repeating themselves in my life recently.

In 2011, my one word was Finish!  I didn’t finish a lot, but it was exciting to think about.  Lean was the word in 2013.   And my one word for 2014 was One.  Both have been helpful in shaping my thinking and focus for the year.

This one is different.  It’s more of a call to action, and frankly, a part of me doesn’t like it.  I’ve reached a point in my life where a significant part of me is screaming out for quiet, simplicity, retreat, and life on the porch.

Not time for that yet. [click to continue…]

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Vision NeedIt was painful and ugly, Lisa told us.  She had left town to attend a school, presumably to train people to be worship leaders.  What she discovered instead was an unhealthy, “I’m always right” form of egotistical authority-wielding.  If anybody in the so-called “school” suggested an idea that didn’t line up perfectly with the ego-polishing done “on the stage,” there was hell to pay.  And the favorite punch(ing) line: “You need to buy into the vision.”

“We’ve been spending some time rethinking our organization’s vision,” John said.

“Why is that?”

“Because we need a better way of communicating to the public and to our people the essence of why we’re here.”

May I offer a polite suggestion? (If not, I’ll be happy to offer a rude one.)

Before you start planning or pontificating on what you, somebody else, or the organization “needs,” don’t you think it would be a good idea to have a clear definition of “need?”

And before you merge onto the leadership freeway, teeming with thousands of commuters headed, they say, in the direction of their “vision,” don’t you think you need to have a grasp on what a vision actually is? [click to continue…]

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PuzzleKnow what’s always messed me up with New Year’s resolutions?  New Year’s Day is a holiday.  So all those goals and new beginnings typically start around January 2 and I’m already a day behind.  Then I need to put up Christmas stuff and I’m two days behind.  I’m getting tired just thinking about it.  So I need some mental rest from the holidays.  Three days behind.

So this year I brightened up and decided that this will take a bit more planning and thought. And yes, I’m talking slap-dab in the middle of the Christmas holidays.

So I’m writing this to myself, but inviting you to come along for the fun.  Here are ten suggestions to prepare for the coming year – do all these by December 31, and you can have New Year’s Day off.  I know, I know!  You’re welcome! Click here to get started

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“You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.” – Yogi Berra

 Had a blast from my past yesterday.  I returned to the scene of one of my greatest personal undertakings, which I wrote about here.    And it was an interesting reunion.

Twenty years ago, flush with vision and excitement, I began a project that many people refer to today as their Bucket List.  I took three pieces of paper and began three lists – 100 Things I Would Like to Be, Do, and Have.  Now 20 years later, it felt good to see some of the things that had been achieved.  Earning a Ph.D. was one of those.  Becoming a grandfather was another.

I also found things on the lists that still had value to me, but had yet to be fulfilled.  Places to go.  Things to accomplish.  Roles to embrace.

In between was a lot of fluff, trivia, and some disappointments.  If I intended to do anything with the lists anymore, it was definitely time for an overhaul.  Some things needed to be punted.  (Example:  I had listed about nine different master’s degrees.  Hey… it was a phase.)  Some things needed to be written off as a bust (no more dreams of Rogaine or the Hair Club for Men).  And some things were valid, but needed serious reworking.

Most importantly, over the last 20 years, my horizon has changed in major ways.  What was important – heck what was possible back then – has changed dramatically.

In the process of some major course correction and target adjustments, I’ve learned some things about how to recognize goals that need reevaluating or reshaping.  Take a look at where you are headed in light of these warning signs: [click to continue…]

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Want to have a good day tomorrow?  Then ask for it!

Every Christian I know gets up in the morning with some sort of desire for a good day.  I know of no one who actually relishes the idea of a total disaster, although I have encountered plenty who expected it, planned for it, and sure enough, got it.

These “good days,” of course, are always measured by our expectations. To the degree that we accomplish what we set out to do and no person or circumstance violates our standard of expectations, our days are classified as “good.”  Anything less than that spells trouble.

The Bible makes it abundantly clear that the success or failure of your day does not depend on your circumstances, but on your preparation for them, and your reaction to them.  And one of the greatest tools at your disposal is the time you spend alone with God in the morning.

Here is a growth idea that will add strength, beauty, and productivity to the activities of your day when you use it during that morning time.  After you have spent some time praising the Lord, and have submitted your authority and your will to Him, pray for a “G.O.O.D.” day! [click to continue…]

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If you intend to be successful in any area of life, sooner or later you are going to have to have to fight for it.  I wish I could tell you that being intentional (a popular darling word) was enough.  But it isn’t.

I wish I could prove to you that some simple formula – here a step, there a technique, everywhere a quick-and-easy procedure – would guarantee the fulfillment of your fondest hopes.  Can’t do it.

I wish I could assure you that if it was really hard, or lonely, or dangerous, that the idea was certainly not God’s will.  If that were true, the Almighty’s got some ‘slpainin’ to do with some people who are now in heaven.

But the truth is, sooner or later, you’re going to have to fight for your family.  Or for your testimony.  Or for your walk with God.  Sooner or later you’re going to have to fight for answered prayer.  Yes, answered prayer!  Or the advancement of the gospel.  Or the safety of one of the world’s most endangered species – American children.

Sometimes when you run to the battlefield you may discover that you are the only one standing there.  You may find that you’re surrounded by taunting enemies, and for backup you have a bunch of gossips, critics and spectators – but nobody willing to draw a sword or raise a shield with you.

Still think that cause is worth the fight?  David did.

In the familiar story of David and Goliath, the young man after God’s own heart – newly empowered and anointed by the Spirit of God – brought a giant to his knees while the army of the living God looked on in disbelief.  What was the difference between David and the rest of the army of Israel?  Didn’t they have the same power available to them?  Yes.  Didn’t they have the same God?  Yes.  So what did David have that they didn’t?

In the life of David, there was a difference in: [click to continue…]

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