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One More from Leslie Odom, Jr.

Hear that click?

“When you leave, make sure you don’t forget anything. The door will lock behind you.” That’s what Angelo, the late-night doorman told Leslie Odom, Jr., as he was packing up his dressing room.

“The door will lock behind you.” Wow…that applies to so many situations in our lives.

“I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.” — St. Paul, Philippians 3:13,14 in The Message version.

Hear that click?



Leslie Odum, Jr.

“I’d love to see you try before you quit,” Stuart Robinson told Leslie Odom, Jr.

The latter did not quit.

He later appeared on Broadway as Aaron Burr in Hamilton, for which he won both a Tony Award and a Grammy Award. He also has a number one jazz album and numerous television appearances to his credit.

So what worthwhile endeavor have you tried, or even been tempted to try, but then quit?

Leslie Odom, Jr.’s recent book is Failing Up: How to Take Risks, Aim Higher, and Never Stop Learning. 

That sub-title has three significant steps for us to learn and not forget to apply: Take Risks, Aim Higher, and Never Stop Learning.

See that guy over in the corner? He’s the one wrote, “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13,14) He’s St. Paul.

And he likes those three things —

Take Risks

Aim Higher

Never Stop Learning

— Quick self-inventory: how are you doing in those three areas today, this week, this month, this year? So what will you do differently today?



Retire TO, part 2

I find it easier to blame others than to take responsibility for my own actions. Today I am going to take charge of my life, wrote real life friend and retired colleague Ron Dickinson. He’s graciously letting me share those two sentences with you here.

I find Ron’s two lines to be like a Declaration of  Responsibility.

Retirees don’t just stop whatever it is we’re leaving behind at our  jobs, but we’re also starting something new.

Such a strange new chapter of life can actually be kinda scary. We may wonder things like

+Who am I without a job title?

+Where do I go every day?

+What do I do when I get there?

I actually had business cards printed with just my name when I retired. Actually nothing but JOE centered on the card.


It seemed funny at first.

I know someone who sold their business and retired relatively young. This person kept the same office as before, but “just for a little while” to “tie up some loose ends during transition.” The first two weeks, coffee with friends in the morning before they went to work while this new retiree was off to play golf every day was a dream come true. Then the realization hit: the friends were all still working, and the retiree’s golf days were growing lonely. Two years later, the office space was at least still a place to go everyday.

Diana Ross sang one of my favorite questions: “Do you know where you’re going to?”

We don’t just retire from something; we also retire to something.

Let’s pick up right there next time.

Meanwhile, if I could assign homework it’d be the consideration and application of what Ron wrote: Today I am going to take charge of my life.

By the grace of God, let’s.




Beyond Talking

Do not merely listen to the Word.

Do what it says.

James 1:22

“There are talkers, and there are doers,” says a Timberland ad.

I know both kinds of Christians, don’t you?

And then we have some of whom James warns us: happy to just listen,

We even have talkers who don’t listen.

But thankfully we have some doers.

Which are you and I gonna be today?

Winning or Losing Today?

NFL Coach Tony Dungy: “If we only win on the field, then we’ve lost.”

Christ Jesus: “What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you?” (Luke 9:25)

In light of what those two say, what do our lives say today…are we winning or losing?

Tired of Church Fundraisers?

Talbot Davis is a friend and colleague I’ve only met through his writings, but I think we’d enjoy sitting down for coffee together. Maybe we’d hop up after about 2 minutes because we were both in Zoom Mode that day. More probably we’d be there at least the rest of the afternoon because we couldn’t shut up and both of us have a lot to say.

Here’s a recent example from him of why I think our coffee would take us up to dinner and  into the evening —


Several years ago, a District Superintendent in the United Methodist Church (if you are unfamiliar with that position, it is sort of an Executive Vice President who supervises the pastors and reports to the Bishop) shared these words:

“If churches would advertise the worship of God half as much as they advertise their barbeques and chicken pie suppers, a lot more people would know about Jesus. I have been amazed at how many churches don’t have signs up about when worship services are, but, when it is time for a fundraiser, they advertise to beat the band.”

Yet another reason why we don’t have Consignment Sales, Craft Fairs, or Spaghetti Suppers to raise money at Good Shepherd.

We don’t need fund raisers in church because God already gave us one that works just fine, thank you: giggling generosity when it comes to the giving basket & Sunday morning offering.

Teach that, live that, celebrate that, and your church can have freedom from the tyranny of next month’s effort to raise the money that people should be giving.

And that, my friends, is why I practice and preach tithing.

Side Note: I’ve been amazed that some of the same people who are in favor of a simple Flat Tax with the government come to church and strain at the gnat of “should I tithe on my net or my gross?”

As you might have heard me say, it’s a credit card commercial that asks  what’s in your wallet….God asks what’s in your heart.

See you back here tomorrow.

Beyond Listening — part 2

Do not merely listen to the Word.
Do what it says.
James 1:22

Kim and Jim Thomas are real life friends and colleagues. Our paths crossed repeatedly when we were in youth ministry at the national level; lotta good stories from those days.

One of their songs says  —

I will not a hearer only be

I will be a doer then they’ll see

— but how can that happen?

Here’s how: the next line of their song is —

I’m walking in His shoes

— By both the grace of God and our own feeble efforts, today and beyond may you and I not “hearer(s) only be.”

Let’s be “doer(s)” of the Word as well.

Why? So that “then they’ll see” and even experience the difference Christ is making in our daily lives, and can make in theirs, too.

How? By “walking in His shoes.”

So what’s your first step gonna be?

I’d love to hear from you as always, and I hope to see you back here tomorrow.