Where have you been? Where are you going? And why?
Why are we here? Is there a God and if so, what is his relationship to the world? Where is history going? The narrative we embrace (or at least assume), along with its attendant doctrines and practices, determines how we can know it. Whether we are explicitly aware of it or not, all of us think, experience, and live within the ambit of a particular story and its dogmas that answer those big questions. -Michael S. Horton, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way
Satan’s masterpiece is not the crack addict. Satan’s masterpiece is not the prostitute. Satan’s masterpiece is the person who is satisfied with this world. Satan’s masterpiece is the person who is untroubled by all that is in his or her interior world that’s opposed to God. He (the masterpiece) is content with all the resources that he has to make his life work and he’s enjoying respect and recognition and affection and he’s never broken before God to the point where he lives for no one but God. -Larry Crabb
I rummaged through the leftovers at Borders last weekend. Why buy a book at 60% off when that’s still more expensive than an ebook? Well, as a writer that dreamed of seeing my name on a hardbound cover one day, I see now my dreams may need to evolve. My trip to Borders was not completely fruitless, though. I scanned a Tony Dungy book called The Mentor Leader and stumbled upon some great quotations. I applaud Tony Dungy, leaving the NFL to a follow a calling second only to coaching at the University of Tennessee. Here’s what I wrote down:
You stand where no one else stands. Open your eyes and heart and look for opportunities.
Don’t worry about your platform; focus on your impact.
In times of crisis, people gravitate toward the person of highest character.
By focusing on persuasion instead of position or authority, you will begin to capture the hearts of the people you lead.
As a leader, you are always working to understand the people who are following you.
The culture you create permeates everything you touch.
Two of the most fascinating days of my life included a tour of Auschwitz concentration camp and an American highlights tour of the Normandy beaches. Shannon and I haven’t been on a trip like that one since having children. Safe to say our sense and use of time has changed. Free time in the summer shrank from the months of June and July to the hours between 1:30 and 4:00 every day (on good days). Generally, we spend the girls’ nap time working on house projects and making phone calls. Until this week when Unbroken transported us back to World War II, this time in the Pacific Theater. If you haven’t read Laura Hillenbrand’s book, move it to the top of your summer reading list. Neither of us could put it down. We burnt the candle at both ends and then in the middle. It consumed us. The account follows a bombardier, from his youth as an Olympic runner to his days floating in a raft in shark filled waters and beyond.
I recommend reading the one and a half page preface on Amazon. Go here and then click on the picture of the book cover.
A couple quotations from the book:
Without dignity, identity is erased. In its absence, men are defined not by themselves, but by their captors and the circumstances in which they are forced to live.
Dignity is as essential to human life as water, food, and oxygen. The stubborn retention of it, even in the face of extreme physical hardship, can hold a man’s soul in his body long past the point at which the body could have surrendered it. The loss of it can carry a man off as surely as thirst, hunger, exposure, and asphyxiation, and with greater cruelty.
The Pacific POWs who went home in 1945 were torn-down men. They had an intimate understanding of man’s vast capacity to experience suffering, as well as his equally vast capacity, and hungry willingness, to inflict it. They carried unspeakable memories of torture and humiliation, and an acute sense of vulnerability that attended the knowledge of how readily they could be disarmed and dehumanized. Many felt lonely and isolated, having endured abuses that ordinary people couldn’t understand. Their dignity had been obliterated, replaced with a pervasive sense of shame and worthlessness. And they had the caustic knowledge that no one had come between them and tragedy. Coming home was an experience of profound, perilous aloneness.
The paradox of vengefulness is that it makes men dependent upon those who have harmed them, believing that their release from pain will come only when they make their tormenters suffer.
Without suffering, our work would just be social work, very good and helpful, but it would not be the work of Jesus Christ, not part of the Redemption. All the desolation of the poor people, not only their material poverty, but their spiritual destitution, must be redeemed. And we must share it, for only by being one with them can we redeem them by bringing God into their lives and bringing them to God.
The great tale of wonder, like the great novel, is not a preoccupation of children…the adult mind has, if anything, greater need of fantasy than that of the child.
Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring–it was peace.