The Deadly Sin of Envy

The Deadly Sin of Envy

Anastasia and Drusilla. These two give stepsisters a bad name. They are cold and cruel. They want to reduce Cinderella to cinders, rags and ashes. They degrade her, demean her, and dehumanize her. They experience her beauty as emptiness inside themselves. They experience her quiet peace as something they lack. Her presence causes them the pain of self-awareness. They feel persecuted by the good in her. Not only do they want what she has, they want her not to have it.

There is a name for this – envy. And it is a deadly sin. Those who practice it will never know life happily ever after.

Of course, Cinderella isn’t the only classic story about envy.

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Deadly Anger

Deadly Anger

What would cause a person to strap explosives around his body, walk into a crowded room, and kill?

What would bring a postal worker to the point of revisiting the site of his firing and take human life?

What would put a teenager on the street in prostitution?

What would send a college senior into a classroom with random murder on his mind?

Anger.

Yes, but a certain kind of anger – unresolved anger. And if you follow the breadcrumb trail backwards from the point of destructive anger, you will probably find unresolved loss. Something important has been lost and we are powerless to get it back, heal it, fix it, or protect it. And we are angry.

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When Public Families Share their Pain – Reflections on September 11

When Public Families Share their Pain – Reflections on September 11

I recently attended the funeral of Peggy Benson. The Benson name is a Nashville icon. They founded a publishing company, created a music empire, and were notable leaders in Nashville First Church of the Nazarene.

At Trevecca Nazarene University, you will find Benson Residence Hall and Benson Auditorium. In the line of presidential pictures, you can view John T. Benson. They have been entrepreneurs, business leaders, benefactors, authors, song leaders, musicians, artists, speakers, and preachers. Peggy’s last job was in the Trevecca School of Education where she spread characteristic Benson love even as she wrestled with the onset of Alzheimer’s. Daughter Leigh and son Michael gave fitting tributes to their mother, recognizing her bravery in refusing to pack it in following tragedy. She experienced the death of a sister, the tragic loss of a son, and the battle with cancer that took her beloved husband.

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Provoking God

Provoking God

Do you know how to provoke a response? My wife does. If she’s talking and I’m not listening, she turns toward the wall and says, “Why thank you, Wall. It’s so enjoyable to converse with you today. I delight in these one-way conversations.” She’s provoking a response.

We find good company in Psalm 77. Someone is provoking God to respond to their dark, desperate situation. It begins with an emotive gush:

I yell out to my God, I yell with all my might, I yell at the top of my lungs. I found myself in trouble and went looking for my Lord; my life was an open wound that wouldn’t heal. When friends said, ‘Everything will turn out all right,’ I didn’t believe a word they said.” (The Message)

What’s the problem? We don’t know. That’s what I like about these lament psalms – they are fill-in-the-blank-prayers. I can insert my own trouble. And we have plenty, don’t we?

  • Loss of people we love
  • A cutback at work
  • Shrinking 401C
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Moving to a town you hate
  • A kid going bad
  • A business going under
  • A deep loneliness
  • A painful memory that camps on the front door of our consciousness
  • A marriage getting uglier by the day
  • A checkbook bleeding red
  • A relationship that ended when we didn’t want it to

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The Identical Helps Us Hear God’s Call For Our Lives

The Identical Helps Us Hear God’s Call For Our Lives

I just watched an early screening of The Identical, a new movie to be released September 5.

the-identical-04It crosses my path in several interesting ways. It is genuinely southern, which warms my pea-pickin’ heart.  The movie tells the story of twin brothers who are unknowingly separated at birth but later their destinies collide. Both brothers are great musicians. Their music is reminiscent of Elvis, including his mixture of Christian faith and rock n roll. The underlying theme is being who you are, following your calling, and listening to the mystery buried deep within you.

Only God can tell us who we are and to be that person is to know our self deeply.  It is the kind of movie that will make siblings talk, couples imagine their own children, and baby boomers remember the days of our childhood. The movie honors the old-time religion that many of us grew up in but recognize as a little narrow today.

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For Labor Day

For Labor Day

Thanks to all who have communicated with me about my new book on work.

I wrote The Way We Work out of a conviction that the primary worship we offer to God is our work. How we work is a daily sacrifice of praise to the God who sustains us. It is a great exercise to end each work day with a prayer that says, “This is my offering to you, God.” Like Paul said to the Ephesians, we work for God.

Work is also our primary witness. We honor God by the quality of our work. I cringe when somebody is lazy, unethical, and sub-par on the job but says, “Jesus” all day long.  Just shut up and do your job well. Then you can add the Jesus label.

Trevecca Nazarene University employees work on Labor Day. The odd academic calendar requires it so that students can go home earlier for Christmas. Here’s a salute to my friends who offer their worship to God via serving college students. They do great work.

Wishing you a great Labor Day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The One

The One

From childhood we’ve heard the stories of “the one who could”:

Cinderella—the one who could fit into the glass slipper
King Arthur—the one who could remove the sword from the stone
Prince Charming—the one who could wake Sleeping Beauty

Our primal stories all have a hero who fits the moment and arrives to save us as hope is expiring.

But long before belles of the ball fit slippers and swords were withdrawn from stones and kisses woke sleeping beauties, people were longing for the one who could. This is the quest of the human heart in Scripture.

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Today’s College Students Are Tomorrow’s Leaders

Today’s College Students Are Tomorrow’s Leaders

College campuses across the country are once again coming to life as students head back to school. The same is true at Trevecca Nazarene University here in Nashville. Our sidewalks and dorm hallways are busier these days as we’re all gearing up for the first day of the fall semester next week.

This has been on mind lately as I’ve been featured on a couple of websites. Please check out my guest posts at Ministry Matters and Student Leadership University.

Must Be Present to Win

Ever been at one of these? They are giving away stuff but you have to be there. No phone-ins or email registrations. You must be present, on the spot, in the moment… or you do not qualify.

Developing leaders is like this. We engage people in the very work we are doing as a shaping experience. At Trevecca Nazarene University, our chief administrative leaders are charged with identifying up-and-coming leaders who have the capacity to assume our role someday. …

Read the entire article at Student Leadership University’s blog here.

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My Top 10 Must-haves for College Students

Ah, August.

Summer’s winding down as retail store aisles fill up with pencils, markers, and glue. Ask any parent what’s top of their mind these days and I guarantee you’ll get an answer that sounds a lot like this: ‘back to school!’

Read the entire article at Ministry Matters here.

Here’s wishing all students a wonderful 2014-15 school year!

Letters to Churches

Letters to Churches

A man was stranded alone on a desert island. Years passed before he was rescued. During this time he built three buildings. His rescuers asked what they were. Pointing to the first he said, “That’s my home, where I live.” Pointing to the second, “That’s the church where I worship each Sunday. I’m a religious person.” When asked about the third building, he replied, “That’s the church I used to attend.”

Church—for many the word does not evoke feelings of deep commitment or devotion. Like grocery stores and telephone companies, we will switch in a flash for a better deal.

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Celebrate Left-Handers Day!

Celebrate Left-Handers Day!

A Left-Handers Day? Really?

I suppose there are Hallmark Cards for this one, too. How many special days do we need?

My guess is that we are on a quest to make every day “spesh-shull” (can you hear my Church Lady tone)?

Maybe we need to add Right-Brain Day and Left-Brain Day for those who reason differently. And then we can go for Bald Day, Blonde Day, and Bear-Killer Day.

Sooner or later, multiple celebrations will occupy the same calendar day. And a bald, left-handed, right-brained bear-killer will insult a blonde and get sued—on the very day that he was being celebrated for all his differentness.

But then—I am right-handed.

Here’s to the left-handers!