The Case against Vanilla

I cannot imagine anything more boring and less desirable than being poured into the mold of predictability as I grow older. Few things interest me less than the routine, the norm, the expected, the status quo. Call it the rebel in me, but I simply cannot bear plain vanilla when life offers so many other colorful and stimulating flavors. A fresh run at life by an untried route will get my vote every time—in spite of the risk.

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Surprises

The feelings are familiar. Mouth open. Eyes like saucers. Chill up the spine. Heart pounding in the throat. Momentary disbelief. We frown and attempt to piece the story together without a script or narrator. Sometimes alone, occasionally with others . . . then boom! “The flash of a mighty surprise” boggles the mind, leaving us somewhere between stunned and dumb with wonder. “Am I dreaming or is a miracle happening?” So it is with surprises.

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The Dark Side of Greatness

“There lies the most perfect ruler of men the world has ever seen . . . [and] now he belongs to the ages.” Of whom was this said? One of the Caesars? No. Napoleon? No. Alexander the Great? No. Eisenhower? Patton? MacArthur . . . or some earlier military strategist like Grant or Lee or Pershing? No, none of the above. How about Rockne or Lombardi? No. Or Luther? Calvin? Knox? Wesley? Spurgeon? Again, the answer is no.

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A Willingness to Go with God

WHEN GOD CALLS A SERVANT, there is little room for negotiation. The most striking example of this is when God spoke to Abram, lifting him from obscurity and setting him on a course that would change human history. The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous. GENESIS 12:1–2

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The Origin of Self

TO FULLY UNDERSTAND the battle against “self” we must go back, way back, to that ancient scene pictured for us in the second and third chapters of Genesis: the Garden of Eden. What a splendid setting! Beautiful beyond description, a perfect, pollution-free atmosphere, luxurious foliage, fragrant flowers, crystal-clear water—that Garden would make Tahiti look like a pigsty by comparison.

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Letting Loose

ARE YOU BETTER AT smothering than loving? That’s why you are blown away with the thought of relaxing your gargantuan grip on the things and people you love the most. Letting something precious go is, on occasion, unbearable. The parting cannot happen without inward bleeding. It’s hard to let go. Turning loose heightens our stress.

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Finishing Well

DON’T CRY for Abraham. Don’t mourn his death. Don’t grieve his departure. Rejoice! Celebrate him. Look at what he made of his life and his final years on earth.

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Giving While You’re Living

BEFORE ABRAHAM DIED, he took good care of all his children, establishing each of his sons financially as they left the nest and started families of their own.

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Never Too Late

EVER THOUGHT about how you hope to die? I’m not necessarily talking about your literal death; I’m really asking about how you intend to live until you die.

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Willing to Go

IN RESPONSE to Eliezer’s prayer, the Lord directed Abraham’s servant to a woman from Abraham’s family clan—a woman of uncommon character who worshiped the one true Creator. And in addition to all that, she was pretty!

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