Monday, December 24, 2007


My wife and I listen to a local radio show most mornings to help pass the time during our45-minute commute to work (we work at the same place, so we usually ride together). It's the perfect form of entertainment at 6:45am: there's the OCD director of the program who's a very conservative, don't-rock-the-boat kinda' guy. There's the slightly more liberal but still friendly young lady with the heavy southern accent. Then, of course there's the token "experiment guy" (you know, the single, 20-something every radio station hires to light his farts on fire, order a happy meal wearing a gorilla costume, and eat "flavored" candles to see if they really taste like they smell). And while most of the time it's lighthearted fun with contests, trivia, and the typical celebrity gossip, every now and then it gets serious when a listener calls in and asks for advice... and that's when it gets reeeeally interesting.

Last Tuesday morning, a girl called in to ask for advice: "I'm 21 years old, my boyfriend is in the military, and he's being sent over to Iraq in 3 months. They'll allow wives to stay on the base, but not girlfriends, so I feel like we should hurry up and get married before it's too late and I lose him forever. What should I do?"

The debates and arguments that followed, trying to help this girl make a life-changing decision, were nothing short of sad. "He might change; the military changes people, what then?"; "If it's meant to be, it's meant to be."; "You have your whole life ahead of you, what do you have to lose?" Round and round they went, and in the end they asked the girl, "Do you feel any better about a decision?" She said, "Ummm... not really, but I mean, I hear what you're saying..." It was time for a commercial break, so they wished her good luck and cut her loose.

I had a deep and unexpected sense of hurt that morning in my gut. It was a much-needed slap in the face to remind me how desperately our world needs to know our Wonderful Counselor. Apart from the Holy Spirit's guidance, man's sense of direction is skewed. And what peace have I ever experienced in this journey except that which comes by walking and talking with the Prince of Peace? How sad it is that our world knows their need, but not the Provider- with no one to turn to for advice but a guy who lights his farts on fire for a living. The world needs to know there's a better peace.

Secondly, it became blindingly apparent to me that the greatest joy in my life is knowing- really knowing- the voice of the Good Shepherd. In John 10:14 Jesus says, "I am the Good Shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me." I know that no matter how difficult the decision, how promising the career; no matter the circumstances, hurdles, or overwhelming odds, I am assured in prayer that the God who wove me together- even the deepest desires of my heart- is guiding my every step and I have nothing to fear. When I hear His voice in Scripture, I'm reminded that the Creator of my inmost being will also satisfy my every longing; the God who gave me eyes to see will also fill them with vision for His plan for my life; the God who gave me life will also give me purpose and contentment.

"Oh what grace we often forefeit, Oh what needless pain we bear- all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer."

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Receiving Criticism

Negative criticism is something we all have the joy of receiving- no matter what line of work you're in- but especially you friends who are in public ministry. It seems that everyone has an opinion of the right and wrong way to do your job. Thanks to Dr. Lamerson for this quote from Abraham Lincoln (check out his blog here:

“If I tried to read, much less answer, all the criticisms made of me, and all the attacks leveled against me, this office would have to be closed for all other business. I do the best I know how, the very best I can. And I mean to keep on doing this, down to the very end. If the end brings me out all wrong, ten angels swearing I had been right would make no difference. If the end brings me out all right, then what is said against me now will not amount to anything.”
—Abraham Lincoln