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Archive for the ‘Healing’ Category

I drove home from Memphis in silence today.

This was a long day that began with news of the death of a church member and then ended with the experience of being with another family while they said good-bye to a 15-day old child (the father has written a stunningly beautiful reflection on his son’s brief life here).

So, at the end of this painfully long day I made the 90 minute trip home in silence. My soul could not bear one more word, note, voice, or sound. Even the rhythmic bumping of tires against the pavement on I-55 seemed to blur into the grief that encapsulated the drive home.

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Yes, I’m well aware that I haven’t posted anything here in a long time. The guilt eats at my soul every day of my life (OK, that’s probably a bit of an overstatement, but occasionally I’ve thought, “I could blog about that .  . .”).

But this is an anniversary and I have something to say.

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ImageAs the years go, 2012 has been a good one personally and professionally. This year was a marked difference from 2011, which at times I would like to forget, but believe will ultimately go down as one of the more important years of my life.

On December 31, 2011 the new year was not looking so bright. Just 10 days before I had spent the night in the hospital because of chest pains related to a season of unrelenting stress. I limped through Christmas Eve—typically my favorite service of the year—and struggled to prepare for worship on January 1 (which was the first Sunday of 2012).

I went to bed on New Year’s Eve early (because that’s how I roll now that I’m past 40). And then a strange thing happened. I dreamed. And I learned an important principle: God will always conspire to remind you of the truth that He is not done with you. That the past does not determine your future.

I’ve never been a big proponent of “dream interpretation.” I had a friend in seminary who kept dream journals of every dream he ever had. He had rows and rows of journals and had trained himself to wake up to write down his dreams. He was a good friend, but I always felt like this was an odd quirk that he shouldn’t share with anyone.

Dreams are just dreams, right? They don’t mean anything. They’re just random images produced by neurological stimuli.

That’s been my take on dreams, at least. Until December 31, 2011. That night my dreams were vivid and clear. I’ve never had anything like them before and haven’t since. And I’m convinced that they were God’s desperate attempt to reach me at one of the darkest moments of my life. God conspired to reach me through a way that I could see and understand. And because of these two dreams when dawn broke on a new year, I truly believed I had begun a new year.

Dream One.

In the first dream I was back in my home church in Ackerman. The pews were out of order and the lights were off. And people kept telling me that I was supposed to preach. Which was terrifying to me because I wasn’t prepared to preach. I wasn’t even sure why I was there. Then behind me a voice came whispering to me, “Christ is alive.”

And the dream was over.

Dream Two.

I was wandering through a dark parking garage. I think there were others with me but never saw anyone. As I exited the dark parking garage, a strong voice told me, “No more fear.”

And the second dream was over.

When I woke the next morning, the dreams did not fade. They stayed with me. As I rose to preach that morning, I preached with the confidence that Christ was alive and that I no longer had to fear. In fact, I distinctly remember the joy of that morning. Probably the first joy I had felt in some time.

And here’s what I took away from that: Our God will go to great lengths to remind you of the truth of his love and grace. Maybe God won’t use dreams to speak to you (or maybe God will). Maybe it will be a great sunset, an unexpected conversation with a friend, that random quote you see at 2 a.m. on Facebook, a Bible Study, a sermon, an encounter with scripture. Who knows. But here’s the thing: I am convinced that our God will conspire to bring light to your darkness. And will use any means necessary.

That unexpected scheming of God gave me dreams that allowed me to begin again this year. My prayer is that you will have the eyes to see and the ears to hear as you enter this new year and new season of your life.

Happy New Year.

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The news came via text message in the middle of staff meeting on Monday: AUNT JOAN DIED. My father likes to text in all caps so when the message flashed on my phone I immediately knew who sent it.

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For the past few days, I’ve been following the news out of Israel closely. Rockets from Gaza (a Palestinian controlled area) striking Israeli areas have garnered a brutal response from Israel that has necessitated more rockets from Gaza and more bombs from Israel. Innocent civilians on both sides have been injured. Children have been killed.

When people wring their hands about the middle east and ask “When will they ever learn?” I quietly wonder, “When will we ever learn?” You see, what the nations do is only reflective of what we do individually. They do on a grand scale what we do to one another.

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Last week was a wild ride and my best intentions to continue the relate series were overcome by . . . well life. So, we’ll pick back up this week! Remember if you want email alerts when I post, just click the button to the right.

When I first got married, I just knew I could convert my wonderful new bride into a world-class house-keeper. This wasn’t because I had a patriarchal sense of expectations (wife: clean, husband: hunt). I wanted Audra to appreciate the joy of a clean house as much as I did. Cleaning the house was something we could enjoy doing together. I thought that surely with a little work on my part I could make her into the person I thought she would want to be.

Turns out I was wrong. Horribly. Terribly. Miserably wrong.

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Let me start by saying that I have nothing against typewriters. Nothing. In fact, in 1986, I won the Ackerman High School Typing award for having the fastest fingers at AHS (95 wpm). If you want to see the award, let me know. I have it proudly stored in a shoebox somewhere in the house.

However, no matter how much click-clack/carriage-return/correction tape/QWERTY-fun we had with our IBM Selectric II, there came a time when you had to set it aside and move on. You had a moment when you finally realized that the typewriter was no longer a viable communications alternative. All of us did that, right? Well, maybe not all of us. . . .

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When I was 9 years old I thought Erin Gray was the most beautiful thing that graced television. She played Col. Wilma Deering on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. The show was campy, silly, and all-around terribly written and produced (even to a 9-year-old’s sensibilities), but Col. Deering made the show worth watching. You can check it out on Netflix if you dare.

Until last Friday she was simply a random piece of memory floating around the gray matter between my ears.

Then, Friday afternoon, she called me.

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Seven years ago tomorrow (August 29), we spent my daughter’s second birthday cowering in the laundry room as Hurricane Katrina blew through and uprooted trees, destroyed homes, and flooded the coast.

This year, we’ll spend my daughter’s 9th birthday riding out Hurricane Isaac—hopefully not in the laundry room.

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This is Part 2 of a series about discovering Pivot Points in life. Every journey comes to a place where you must turn. There are habits of the heart and soul that help us make the necessary turns. I call them Pivot Points. God, through the moments and experiences of life, gives us clues we need to discover and understand those Pivot Points. We simply have to pay attention. 

My family’s first trip to the beach was in the summer of 1984. I was 13 and Madonna, Van Halen, Prince, and the movie Footloose provided the summer soundtrack. Three families rented two homes on the beach in Gulf Shores (back when there were actually houses to rent on the beach in Gulf Shores) and we spent the week swimming, eating, and telling ghost stories on the beach at night.

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