• Open Hands

    I had a friend tell me once about a problem he had with one of his kids when they visited the beach for summer vacation. He shared that the entire way spent driving to the coast, all his little boy could talk about was the one thing he wanted to accomplish while at the beach: finding a sand dollar. That was it! The first day there, he said they spent hours scouring the beach for sand dollars but to no avail. Instead, the little boy settled for various shells of different colors with which he quickly filled up both hands. Then, it happened. The little boy spotted a sand dollar…

  • 10,000 Year Clock

    I was reading a story recently about a computer engineer and inventor named Danny Hillis who thinks all types of leaders should care more about the long term future. So what did he do about it? He invented a 10,000-year clock. He explains why: “I wanted to build a clock that ticks once a year. The century hand advances once every 100 years, and the cuckoo comes out on the millennium. I want the cuckoo to come out every millennium for the next 10,000 years.” Now. I will be honest. I’m not sure how successful these clocks are going to be, but I certainly commend him for the effort. His…

  • Resolutions

    In 1738, at the beginning of a new year, literary giant Samuel Johnson wrote the following in his diary: “Oh Lord, enable me to redeem the time which I have spent in sloth.” Nineteen years later, Johnson would record the following: “Oh mighty God, enable me to shake off sloth and redeem the time misspent in idleness and sin by diligent application of the days yet remaining.” What’s interesting is that, every year following, he would write some variation of this prayer. Finally, 38 years after writing the first resolution, he would record the following: “When I look back upon the resolution of improvement and amendments which have, year after…

  • The Captain’s Face

    There’s a story attributed to author and poet Robert Louis Stevenson who was traveling once on a ship that found itself in a severe storm and in imminent danger of sinking. According to Stevenson, many of the passengers began to whisper to one another, “Are we going down? Are we safe?” After a few moments of conversation among the passengers, one brave soul volunteered to travel up to the pilothouse and see the captain. As the passenger made his way through the rain and wind and stepped in to see the captain, it’s said that the pilot have the ship had his hands firmly on the wheel. He turned and…

  • Name Them One by One

    Did you know that there was a recent study on “gratitude” called the “Count Your Blessings” study? It’s funny. When I read about this particular study, the lyrics of the old gospel hymn came flooding back to mind. In case you need a refresher, here’s the first verse and chorus: When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,When you are discouraged thinking all is lost,Count your many blessings, name them one by one,And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.Count your blessings, name them one by one,Count your blessings, see what God has done!Count your blessings, name them one by one,Count your many blessings, see what God has done.…

  • The Call Button

    Sandra McCracken, an author, songwriter and modern day hymn writer, was recently interviewed by Christianity Today magazine and made an observation about a simple little button that I had never considered before. She shared the following: There’s a call button above every seat on commercial airplanes. In all my travels, I don’t think I have ever used it. I am not sure if it’s due to shyness or pride, as there have certainly been times when I acutely needed help while seated. While traveling recently, for example, I endured some delays and was thirsty. Yet, I waited to ask for anything until the plane reached 10,000 feet, when the flight…

  • the 50 Year Marathon

    The year was 1911 when Japanese marathon runner Shizo Kanakuri competed in the domestic qualifying trials for the 1912 Stockholm Olympics. Kanakuri set a marathon world record and, as a result, was selected as one of only two athletes that Japan could afford to send to the event that year. Imagine the surprise then when Kanakuri started the race, but he never finished. Why? He disappeared during the Olympic marathon race. What he started, he was never seen as finishing. It was a rough trip for Kanakuri as it started with an 18-day-long trip to Stockholm – first by ship, then by train, and he needed five days to recover…

  • Big Steps, Bigger God.

    And it begins. I’ve always loved the story of Simon Peter walking on the water. It certainly wasn’t in his plans, but on that early morning, amidst that storm that was rocking the boat, He saw Jesus walking on the water and Simon Peter’s ADHD took over. “Lord if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water!” And Jesus simply responds, “Come.” I’m not convinced that Simon Peter really thought through his request. But when Jesus said, “Come”, he had a decision to make: choose the safety of where he was, or risk missing the greater miracle of where Jesus was calling him to go. Peter chose…

  • Shut the Gates

    Nehemiah’s story is one of my favorites in the Old Testament. It’s an incredible story of leadership and what happens when you take God-sized steps towards a task that comes out of God-given convictions. In Nehemiah, you find God’s people returning to Jerusalem from captivity in Babylon and, under his leadership, they rebuilt the city walls, reestablished their homes, and started gathering again for public worship. Slowly, life began to return to normal. However, as normalcy returned, the discipline of Sabbath and taking a weekly rest slowly diminished. So much so that, when Nehemiah returns from a trip to Babylon, he discovers that the Sabbath day is no longer a…

  • Something To Look Forward To

    Late one Friday afternoon, as a local church pastor was preparing his Sunday message in his home study, his little girl crept into the room and said, “Daddy, can we play?” On a deadline and deep in the “Sunday’s coming” process, he told his daughter, “I’m so sorry, sweetheart, but I’m busy right now. Tell you what, in an hour, I would love to play with you. Deal?” With a smile, the little girl told her father, “Ok, when you’re finished, Daddy, I am going to give you a great big hug.” She turned, went to the door to leave, but before doing so, she turned back around, ran over…

  • Vantage Point

    A friend was telling me recently about a trip he once made to see Niagara Falls, and an observation he made on that trip several years back really struck me. He said that his first glimpse of the falls occurred when he first arrived to his hotel and, looking out, he was amazed at its size and the sound of its power. Later that day, he went down into a park that was closer to the falls. From that vantage point, he said, “not only could we see the water going over the side, but we could hear the thundering sound of it hitting the basin below!” However, what made…

  • Integrity

    A minister, late for a meeting located in a busy downtown office complex, parked his car in a no-parking zone because he was short on time and couldn’t find any available places to park. Before he rushed into his meeting, he put a note under the windshield wiper that read, “I have circled the block 10 times. If I don’t park here, I will miss my appointment. Forgive us our trespasses.” After the minister’s meeting was finished, he came back to his car to see that his note was gone and, instead, replaced with a citation given by a police officer. On the citation, the following was written: “I’ve circled…

  • Self-LESS

    I said to myself, “Just look at this great city of Babylon that I have created! I, by my own mighty power, have built this beautiful city for my glory. I built it to show my power, my might, my majesty, and my glory!” – Daniel 4:30 Pride is a sneaky little snake, isn’t it? God gave ol’ King Nebuchadnezzar a dream, an interpretation, even a Daniel to give out some warning and some hope in the midst of the warning. Yet, he missed it all because his eyes were focused on “I”, and God eventually humbled him because of it. That’s the danger of pride. Have you ever thought…

  • Pop Tart Faith

    It’s funny the way displays at grocery stores can catch your eye. I ran into the store to grab a few items needed for our dinner a few days ago and, much to my surprise, I was stopped in my tracks by the largest display of Pop-Tarts that I had ever seen. It took me back to my childhood. Growing up, I loved Pop-Tarts. More than I care to admit, honestly. If memory serves me correctly, they weren’t much for filling you up but, when toasted properly, they were absolute perfection. But that was the key: they needed to be in that toaster just long enough that the inside was…

  • The 23,000.

    Then Daniel praised the God of heaven and said, “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons’ he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him. I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors: You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you, you have made known to us the dream of the king.” – Daniel 2:19-23 23,000. That’s the estimated…