Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Limits of Love

I was part of  a state leadership meeting with my brother Dwight a week or so ago. He shook his head about a situation that concerned the group and said, "I always remember what Brenda told me when I was getting my heartbroken as a young guy involved with the wrong girl. She said, 'Dwight--your problem is you think that if you love people enough, you can change them'."

He's right. I said that. But I forgot it. I have forgotten it many times in practical life. Love has its limits. Even God can't change us, no matter how much he loves us, if we choose to remain unteachable, stuck in our ruts.
I have loved people deeply, tried to help them avoid disaster, and make their lives better. But, one person can never make that choice for another. Jesus showed that. When he talked to the rich young ruler, he left the ball in the young man's court. He could follow Jesus to life and blessing, or he could stick with life the way he had always known it. The Bible says Jesus looked at him and LOVED him, and He directly presented the options. But the young man chose to walk away. He chose to reject love--to retain his pride, and hold onto the life that had already disappointed him.

And Jesus let him go. Tough. Didn't feel like love, I am sure. More like watching the makings of a train wreck in slow motion. But Jesus loved him enough to let him retain his right to make foolish, unwise choices.
Love is limited. It doesn't conquer all. Sometimes love lets people walk.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Earning Trust

Stories of outrageous and indulgent demands surround celebrities,  and many are actually true. Some of the most amazing (e.g. bottles of the priciest spring water to wash dogs) swirl around musical artists and their contracts with concert promoters. A notorious story came from the wildly popular band Van Halen. Each concert promoter had to sign a contract,  specifying  a bowl of M&M's be provided backstage for the band, with every single brown M and M removed. If the band arrived for a concert and there was even one brown candy there, they were alowed by contract to cancel the gig and receive full payment. Diva behavior, right?

In the words of the commercial ads, BUT WAIT. THERE'S MORE.

There actually was a method in the madness. To the band, the absence or presence of the brown M&M's was a matter of life or death. Atul Gawande in his book, The Checklist Manifesto,quotes lead singer David Lee Roth's memoir:

"...Van Halen was the first band to take huge productions into tertiary, third-level markets. We'd pull up with nine 18 wheelers, full of gear, where the standrad was three trucks, max. And there were many, many technical errors---whether it was the girders couldn't support the weight, or the flooring would sink in, or the doors weren't big enough to drive the gear through. The contract read like a... Yellow Pages because there was so much equipment, and so many human beings needed to make it function." So, just as a little test, buried somewhere in the rider, would be Article 126, the no-brown-M&M clause. "When I would walk backstage, if I saw a brown M&M in that bowl, well, we'd line-check the entire production. Guaranteed you'd run into a problem." The mistakes could be fatal. In one Colorado concert, the band discovered the promoters had failed to read even the weight requirements, and the staging would have fallen through the arena floor.

Hmmm. There may be more to what you and I consider a ridiculous demand more often than one might think. In this case, it sounds as if Van Halen was actually on page with Jesus: "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much." Luke 16:10

Friday, March 19, 2010


March 22, 2010
Did you know that millions of people are struggling today without access to what you and I just took for granted? Yes, you and I got up, showered, brushed our teeth, made coffee--all without a thought of how precious the commodity of water is or how blessed we are to have clean, safe, water at our fingertips. We often waste more water in a day than an entire family has to drink daily in many desperate locations.

Monday, March 22, is a day the entire world has taken to remember this and make a difference. The Clear Blue Global Water Project thinks about it year-round. We realize that, truly, we with resources hold the rest of the world in our hands.

What can you do? Pray. Conserve. Share the need. Give. Get others involved. Visit Clear Blue water Project and get educated on the need and current projects. Then start collecting change, giving part of your tax refund, getting friends to help at work or school. This is a small world. We ARE our brother's keeper. Do SOMETHING.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Crocus People

I love crocuses. These beautiful, brave little guys are right outside my front door. Today's warm sunshine and soft breezes made them seem right at home in northeastern Ohio before spring has officially arrived. But earlier in March they seemed strangely out of place. Their little green stubborn stems were straining out of white drifts of snow, very much the underdog in the struggle between spring and winter. These bulbs have been here for years, and they never let me down. I know that before winter has finally given up and gone, well before anyone would have a right to expect spring flowers, these bold blooms will be the first to stick their necks out. Every single year they are the first to bring warmth and beauty back, and before long, other blooms join the bouquet in the flower garden.

I want to be a crocus person. No matter how hard and cold the surroundings are, I want to consistently be the first to stick my neck out and announce a new season of joy. It's a sure thing--when I do, others will be encouraged to bloom, too.

"Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land." Song of Solomon 2:12