Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Good Dog

A plate of food will reveal everything about the character of a dog that you need to know.

A man has a dog in a leash at his side. The dog is hungry – it’s supper time. The man brings out a bowl of food, filled with the dog’s favorite meal, and he sets it on the ground in front of the dog. How does the dog respond?

Some dogs will immediately strain at the collar – lurching forward, maybe barking or whining. They can think about nothing other than their fierce hunger and that enticing dish. That’s a normal dog. That’s his nature – his character.

But there are other dogs who are better trained. They will sit, quietly, obediently, faithfully. They won’t fight or strain. They will wait. But notice the eyes. Where are the dog’s eyes? Their eyes will be fixed on the food.

And then there is the most noble dog of all. The dog who has been well-trained by a loving master. A dog whose character exceeds all the others. A rare dog, indeed. This dog will notice the food immediately (he is hungry after all). He’ll look at the food, he’ll see it, and he’ll wag his tail. But then .. and this is the key to everything… his eyes will return to the face of his master, and there his focus will remain until the master releases him.


Lord, there are many blessings in my life, and many more that you have whispered to me about – blessings that are to come, but have not yet arrived. For all of these I am deeply grateful. But train my eyes, dear Lord. Teach me to fix my eyes on you, the Author and Perfector of my faith. Let me set my mind on things above, not on things of this earth. Let me see you, loving master. Let me see only You.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Looking for Clues (on a "Need to Know" Basis)

In many ways, I am not qualified for the job I have. But don't tell anyone. It turns out, in a crazy way, I am qualified. Let me explain...
I was given a "job description" when I was hired. In my interview, I warned them that I didn't have a whole lot of experience in that particular role, but that I could learn quickly, and that the experience I did have was (in my opinion) something they could use. To be honest, I knew it was a long shot. So I was blown off my seat when they actually called me back with an offer. Now that's a God thing there. (In point of fact, I actually did predict to my son while I was still unemployed that God would give me a job I was not qualified for -- because I knew that was His way of teaching me true dependence upon Him.)

Of course, I immediately started studying as intensively as I could -- and I continue to do so -- but the cavern of what I "do not know" in this field far out-matches the frantic shovel-fulls of knowledge I'm trying to throw into it.

So, I'm not qualified in the "fully prepared for anything that might come up" sort of way. (Or even in the "fairly prepared for the most likely contingencies" sort of way either!) It seems that God has apparently classified the information necessary for such qualifications as "Need to Know", and at the present point of time, I just don't need to know. BUT (and here's the radically cool thing) He knows exactly what I will need to know tomorrow, and He keeps on supplying me with that knowledge just in time! It's uncanny, actually. But I am learning to expect it.

And it is making me more attentive.

I've learned that God loves to pepper my life with important clues. Like a good detective story, there's always hidden details that will become important later on. So I'm learning to be extremely observant, knowing that none of the people I meet, the things I read, the conversations I have, or even the boring meetings I attend are random. God is preparing me for tomorrow. I could list 3 dozen occasions in just the last month where little pieces of information I just "happened" to come across turned out to be just what I needed to know a few days later. And each time it happens I look up to heaven and smile and see my Father winking back at me.

I remember Tony Campolo used to tell this hilarious story about attending a prayer meeting with this long-winded fellow who described to the Lord every trivial detail about some guy in trouble, down to the directions to his house. Tony's consternation intensified by the minute. But later that day Tony just happened to run into this troubled-guy (not knowing it at first, but figuring it out in conversation), and was able to use every detail he had learned in that blustery prayer to radically impact that guy's life and lead him to the Lord.

The Lord has been doing the same thing for me lately, and I can't tell you how invigorating and fun it is! I'm learning that my best qualification is how unqualified I am. I guess what I'm trying to say, is that I am finally learning to enjoy living by faith.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Impact isn’t just a font

“Do you just want to make an impression, or do you want to make an impact?” – Dr. Charles Stanley
After my first few weeks at my new job I realized that I had fallen into a familiar old pattern: I was trying to impress the other guys at work. I was working hard – feverishly in some cases – because I wanted my “first 100 days” to sparkle. I wanted to make a lasting, favorable impression. I wanted to shine.
Then it suddenly occurred to me that this was the wrong goal. It might be a good goal, but it's not the best goal. So I have decided to change my objective: I don’t want to impress them. I want to help them. I want to choose, every minute of the day, to do what I believe will most help the team, both short term and long term. I want to serve  them.
I used to play a little basketball back in college. (Not on the school team, but at lunch hour in the gym.) There were a lot of guys out there who really wanted to make an impression. They’d be dropping threes, doing power drives, impressing people with their one-on-one matchup skills. They were tremendously impressive. But there was one guy that I’ll never forget. His name was Karl. He was an incredibly gifted basketball player. He knew the game and he could do just about anything – big, smart, athletic, skillful. But he had a goal that was distinctly different than anyone else on the court. See, Karl had this surgically precise pass: he could always find the one man that was open, and he could get the ball to that guy at just the perfect time, every time. Laser passes, no-look bounce passes, around-the-back passes -- if you could drive to the basket, Karl could get you the ball just when you needed it. The king of assists: he almost never scored himself, but the team almost always did. It was obvious to everybody that Karl came to serve. He really loved to make other people look good. What a privilege it was to have a guy like that on your team.
That’s the kind of player I want to be on the team. I don’t want to worry about making a sterling impression in my first 100 days. I want to make an impact. I want to be like Karl. Like Jesus. I want to serve.