Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Wisdom’

Books that Gave Me Nightmares

Over the last couple of months I did something that literally gave me nightmares. I read Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas while listening to The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany by William L. Shirer.

If you’re not familiar with Bonhoeffer, it’s an award-winning book about the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It tells the story of this courageous resistance leader in Nazi Germany, who also happen to be a brilliant theologian, compassionate pastor, and committed follower of Jesus Christ. The story is inspiring and challenging.

On the other hand, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich‘s considered one of the best histories of Hitler and Nazi Germany. It’s a fascinating story, filled with details, about one of the darkest times in the history of the world. Even after listening to the book, it’s still impossible for me to grasp the true evil perpetrated by Hitler and the Nazis.

But it’s where these two books intersect that I had my nightmares. I would dream on the nights after a day of listening to and reading both books. And my dreams were always the same – I stood by while people were mercilessly being killed and, by doing so, I shared the guilt of the murderers.

So I’ve become convinced that the source of these nightmares lay in the challenge of Bonhoeffer’s life, and in my doubts about my own convictions and courage – would I see evil around me and stand up to it, even it meant death? It’s a question that’s haunted my dreams, and my waking hours, over the past few months. And every morning I found myself praying “Lord, if I ever need it, please give me just an ounce of Bonhoeffer’s courage, so I too can stand against evil in this world.”

More than a Photography Lesson

This week I spent some time with one of my favorite photographers and, more importantly, favorite leaders in the world – Mark Beeson. Mark is the Senior Pastor at Granger Community Church (GCC), one of our key local church allies. Mark, the GCC staff, and their middle school students are spending the week at SpringHill experiencing their annual Granger middle school summer camp.

I snagged some time with Mark with the promises we would do a little exploring in the “backlands” so I could glean some wisdom and practical help in taking better photographs. Mark loves photography, takes incredible photos, and in particular, because he loves the outdoors, does incredible wildlife and landscape photography. So getting him out into the woods for a couple of hours wasn’t hard. And I learned a lot, most of which was basic stuff to him, but for me like gold.

Such things as:

    “Always have a firm foundation for your camera.”

    “What’s a few extra seconds to get the right shot?”

    “Perspective is what makes a photo interesting.”

    “When photographing a person’s face, capture the eyes, because everyone’s drawn to the eyes.”

    “Nobody wants their picture taken, but everyone likes to look at a photo they’re in.”

    “Capturing a moment in a person’s life blesses them more than we know.”

As you can see from these morsels of wisdom, my impromptu photography lesson was more than just a lesson in taking better pictures. It was a lesson on leadership because it gave me a glimpse into the perspective and the heart of this passionate and effective leader.

Click here to read Mark’s blog and see some of his photography.

Some Non-Fishing Insight from A River Runs Through It

As I said in my earlier post, A River Runs Through It is one of my favorite stories, much of my love for it has to do with its observations about life not just its insight on fishing. So below I’ve pulled some of my favorite “non fishing” quotes. After your done reading them, even if you’re not a fisherman, you may want to read the entire story for yourself. It may stir your heart as it does mine.

“My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him, all good things – trout as well as eternal salvation – come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy.”

“Sunrise is the time to feel that you will be able to find out how to help somebody close to you who you think needs help even if he doesn’t think so. At sunrise everything is luminous but not clear.”

“Even the anatomy of a river was laid bare. Not far downstream was a dry channel where the river had run once, and part of the way to come to know a thing is through its death. But years ago I had known the river when it flowed through this now dry channel, so I could enliven its stony remains with the waters of memory.”

“As the heat mirages on the river in front of me danced with and through each other. I could feel the patterns from my own life joining with them. It was here, while waiting for my brother, that I started this story, although, of course, at the time I did not know that stories of life are often more like rivers than books.”

“For all of us, though, it is much easier to read the waters of tragedy.”

“‘Help’, he said, ‘is giving part of yourself to somebody who comes to accept it willingly and needs it badly. So it is,’ he said, using an old homiletic transition, ‘that we can seldom help anybody. Either we don’t know what part to give or maybe we don’t like to give any part of ourselves. Then, more often than not, the part that is needed is not wanted. And even more often, we do not have the part that is needed. It is like the auto-supply shop over town where they always say, ‘Sorry, we are just out of that part.’

A River Runs Through It – Some Thoughful Quotes

In honor of it being spring and the beginning of fishing season I’ve re-read some of my favorite fishing passages from one of my favorite books – A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean. See if these words don’t get you ready to wet a line and land the big one.

“Poets talk about ‘spots of time,’ but it is really fishermen who experience eternity compressed into a moment. No one can tell what a spot is until suddenly the whole world is a fish and the fish is gone.”

“‘Brother,’ he said ‘you can’t catch trout in a bathtub. You like to fish in sunny, open water because you are a Scot and afraid to lose a fly if you cast into the bushes. But fish are not taking sunbaths. They are under the bushes where it is cool and safe from fishermen like you.”

“One reason Paul caught more fish than anyone else was that he had his flies in the water more than anyone else. ‘Brother,’ he would say, ‘there are no flying fish in Montana. Out here, you can’t catch fish with your flies in the air.'”

“Something within fishermen tries to make fishing into a world perfect and apart – I don’t know what it is or where, because sometimes it is in my arms and sometimes in my throat and sometimes nowhere in particular except somewhere deep. Many of us probably would be better fishermen if we did not spend so much time watching and waiting for the world to become perfect.”

“Every fine fisherman has a few stunts that work for him and for almost no one else.”

If you aren’t going to go out and fish soon, read The River Runs Through It, there’s more to it than some wisdom for fishermen.


The Wise, the Foolish, and the Evil

Every Thursday at lunch a number of SpringHill staff view one session of the 2011 Willow Creek Leadership Summit videos. This past Thursday we listened to Dr. Henry Cloud teach on the three different types of people in the world – the wise, the foolish and the evil, and the strategies leaders need to use for dealing with each. His talk comes directly from one of the chapters in his most recent and insightful book – “Necessary Endings“.

After finishing the video we had a short debrief about what we learned, what new thoughts we each had and what challenged us. Ironically, the one challenge we all shared was that, as we watched, we all asked ourselves “which person have I been or am I now?” For each of us, it was a challenging moment of personal evaluation that cut right to the heart of many issues and relationships in our lives.

So in the spirit of seeking the light, below are the characteristics of each type of person. Take a moment and do your own self-reflection and ask “what kind of person have I been or am I now?”

Wise Person: When the light (truth) comes to them, they adjust themselves to the light, so who they are a person matches reality. In other words they seek and receive feedback and change themselves as a result.

Foolish Person: When the light (truth) comes their way, they try to adjust the light (deflect the truth) instead of changing themselves. When receiving feedback they deflect, blame and do not take responsibility for their own actions and performance.

Evil Person: When the light shines on them they want to destroy both the light and those that shine it. They have destruction in the hearts and want to retaliate against truth and those who share it.

Wisdom from The Lord of the Rings

As I read The Lord of the Rings for something like the 10th time I was once again reminded of the great wisdom Tolkien shares as part of the story. Below are some of my favorite quotes, many of which I’ve looked to and shared with others when they’ve seemed most applicable.

“I wish it had not happened in my time.” Said Frodo. “So do I” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live in such times. But that is not for them to decide. All
we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

“He deserves death.” Deserves it! I dare say he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

“Handsome is as handsome does.”

“You have come and here met, in this very nick of time, by chance as it may seem. Yet it is not so. Believe rather that it is so ordered that we, who sit here, and none others, must now find counsel for the peril of the world.”

“All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wonder are lost; the old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, a light from the shadows shall spring; Renewed shall be blade that was broken: The crownless again shall be king.”

“He that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom.”

“It is perilous to study too deeply the arts of the Enemy, for good or for ill.”

“Despair or folly?” said Gandalf “It is not despair, for despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not. It is wisdom to recognize necessity, when all other courses have been weighed, though as folly it may appear to those who cling to false hope.”

“The road must be trod, but it will be very hard. And neither strength nor wisdom will carry us far upon it. This quest may be attempted by the weak with as much hope as the strong. Yes such is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere.”

“You have come and here met, in this very nick of time, by chance as it may seem. Yet it is not so. Believe rather that it is so ordered that we, who sit here, and none others, must now find counsel for the peril of the world.”

“To cast aside regret and fear. To do the deed at hand.”

“The treacherous are ever distrustful.”

“Perilous to us all are the devices of an art deeper than we possess ourselves.”

“The houses of the dead are no places for the living…Authority is not given you to order the hour of your death,” answered Gandalf.

“Despair had not left him, but the weakness had passed. He even smiled grimly, feeling now as clearly as a moment before he had felt the opposite, that what he had to do, he had to do, if he could, and what whether anyone
ever knew about it was beside the purpose.”

“The houses of the dead are no places for the living…Authority is not given you to order the hour of your death,” answered Gandalf.

“For it is said in old lore: ‘The hands of the king are the hands of a healer.’

The Valley of Vision

Over the years I’ve benefited from reading some of the classic devotionals. But I discovered one a couple of years ago that’s become my favorite. It’s a compilation of Puritan writings rewritten as a book of prayers call The Valley of Vision.

Each prayer is Scripture filled, poetically written and maintains a sense of transcendence of both the truth of the prayer and the God to whom the prayer’s directed to. I read one each night before going to bed. The one below is I read a couple of days ago and share it with you as an example of prayers found in The Valley of Vision. May the prayer bless you as it did me on this particular night.

A Minister’s Prayer

O My Lord,

Let not my ministry be approved only by men,

or merely win the esteem and affections

of people;

But do the work of grace in their hearts,

call in thy elect,

seal and edify the regenerate ones,

and command eternal blessings on their souls.

Save me from self-opinion and self-seeking;

Water the hearts of those who hear thy Word,

that seed sown in weakness may be raised

in power;

Cause me and those that hear me

to behold thee here in the light of special faith,

and hereafter in the blaze of endless glory;

Make my every sermon a means of grace to myself,

and help me to experience the power

of thy dying love,

for thy blood is balm,

thy presence bliss,

thy smile heaven,

thy cross the place where truth

and mercy meet.

Look upon the doubts and discouragements

of my ministry

and keep me from self – importance;

I beg pardon for my many sins, omissions,


as a man, as a minister;

Command thy blessing on my weak,

unworthy labours,

and on the message of salvation given;

Stay with thy people,

and may thy presence be their portion

and mine.

when I preach to others let not my words

be merely elegant and masterly,

my reasoning polished and refined,

my performance powerless and tasteless,

but may I exalt thee and humble sinners,

O Lord of power and grace,

all hearts are in thy hands,

all events at thy disposal,

Set the seal of thy almighty will

upon my ministry.


%d bloggers like this: