One of my favorite places on earth is a grove that sits on the Guadalupe River.  It’s a peaceful place.  And trees, oh the trees.  They weather the winters and celebrate the summers.  And they are all bent.  There is no perfect tree.  Even so, they provide the perfect place to find peace. Humanity is like that grove of trees.  Though we attempt to stand tall, none of us succeed.  We all twist and turn.  We are a collection of bent timber.  And that’s okay. There is beauty in our bent-ness.  So enjoy the Society of the Bent Timber.  Cut … Listen Now

D. L. Moody was one of the most influential Christians of his generation.  He led thousands of people to faith and established many institutions of education and training.  He was famous for saying, “Right now I’m having so much trouble with D. L. Moody that I don’t have time to find fault with the other fellow.” There is a time to speak up.  But before you do, check your motives.  The goal is to help, never to hurt. Look at yourself before you look down on others.  Rather than put them in their place, put yourself in their place.  The … Listen Now

“Why do you notice the little piece of dust in your friend’s eye, but you don’t notice the big piece of wood in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3). Anyone who thinks Jesus never cracked a joke hasn’t read these words from the Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus envisioned a fellow who has a two-by-four sticking out of his eye.  He doesn’t see the log in his own eye but can’t help but notice a man who stands across the street dabbing his eye with a tissue.  He declares, “Don’t you know that if you get something in your eye, it … Listen Now

There is a way the world should be run.  And when others behave in ways we don’t like, we call that a pet peeve.  Not a colossal divide or a  legal violation…just a pet peeve.  You know, joy is such a precious commodity.  Why squander it on a quibble? The phrases we use regarding our pet peeves reveal the person who actually suffers.  He “gets under my skin” or “gets on my nerves,” or she is such a “pain in my neck.”  Whose skin, nerves, and neck?  Ours!  Who suffers?  We do!  Every pet peeve writes a check on our joy … Listen Now

Every person needs to hear a “wonderful.”  Here is why.  Companies spend billions of dollars to convince us that we are chubby, smelly, ugly and out-of-date.  Inadequacy indwells a billion hearts. Would you distribute encouragement?  Will you make some happiness happen?  Will you remind humanity that we are made in God’s image?  That we are chosen, destined, and loved? Start by listening intently.  Ask someone to tell you his, or her, story.  Give the rarest of gifts— your full attention. Praise abundantly.  Biblical encouragement is no casual, kind word but rather a premeditated resolve to lift the spirit of another … Listen Now

Three years into my role as senior minister of our church, a former senior minister returned to live in our city and serve on our staff.  Charles Prince was thirty years my senior, Harvard educated, and a member of the Mensa society.  I was in my thirties, a rookie, and a charter member of the Dense Society.  Charles said, “There will be no tension in our relationship.  I’m going to be your biggest cheerleader.”  And he was— for twenty-five years, until the day he died! Intentional encouragement has a Michelangelo impact on people. The sculptor saw the figure of David … Listen Now

Encouragement occurs when we “come alongside and call out.”  Jesus modeled this.  Peter was prone to speak too soon and boast too much.  Yet Jesus saw something in the heart of this crusty fisherman worth calling forth.  Jesus asked his followers, “Who do you say that I am?”  I hear silence.  Finally Peter spoke up.  He looked at the penniless rabbi from Galilee and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Jesus all but jumped for joy at the confession.  He even changed the apostle’s name.  Simon would now be called Peter, a name … Listen Now

God is “the God who gives endurance and encouragement” (Romans 15:5).  God encourages us.  So does Jesus.  Jesus called the Holy Spirit paraklétos, the noun form of the very word for encouragement. Scripture encourages us.  “The Scriptures, according to Romans 15:4, were written to teach and encourage us by giving us hope.”  The saints in heaven encourage us.  Hebrews 12:1 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.  And let us run … Listen Now

My big brother used to pick on me.  For Dee no day was complete unless he had made mine miserable.  He stole my allowance.  He called me a sissy. But all his cruel antics were offset by one great act of grace on a summer day in the park. He picked me to play on his baseball team.  Everyone else was a middle-schooler.  I was a third-grader.  I went from the back of the pack to the front of line, all because he picked me.  Dee didn’t pick me because I was good.  He called my name for one reason only.  … Listen Now

Jesus wants to bring joy to the people of this generation, and he has enlisted some special agents of happiness to do the job.  You and me!  It’s not an easy task.  The people in our world can be moody, fickle, and stubborn.  And that just describes my wife’s husband. If we are going to find the joy that comes through giving joy away, we need instruction.  No wonder the Bible has so much to say about finding joy in the act of sharing.  The New Testament contains more than fifty “one another” statements. You and I indwell a lonely … Listen Now