Thanks, Mike!

It’s been two years, but those two years have really flown by, haven’t they? It seems like only yesterday they were introducing you as the new Kairos Pastor. Now you’ve accepted a new calling and chapter in your life in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

I’m grateful for those two years. I’ve learned so much from you and seen your heart for Kairos from day one. It’s always been about Jesus first and foremost with you.

I’m thankful that I have lots of good memories to keep in the months and years to come. Those Kairos 4th of July celebrations at Crockett Park. Those times we had Kairos at the Factory in Franklin. Those retreats in Willow Pond.

I think you helped to birth in us a vision for reaching the city of Nashville and a heart for college students and young professionals. I love that your last words to us were for us to carry out the Great Commission.

It’s true that none of us are junior varsity when it comes to proclaiming the gospel and sharing our faith. In this game, none of us are supposed to be spectators. We’re the ones Jesus called to go into all the world and make disciples — not just the ones who get paid to preach and teach.

I hope to visit your new digs in South Carolina. I hope you will get to come back once in a while to visit as Kairos enters a new chapter in a story God continues to write on our hearts and lives.

We thank you and your family for your faithfulness to God’s calling on your lives and your willingness to obey, no matter what. We will miss you but we also rejoice and give thanks to God for you all from now until Jesus returns.

Thank you.

Your Will Be Done

Your will be done. It’s the simplest and yet the hardest prayer to pray in all the Bible.

It’s four words, but the ramifications are never-ending.

Your will be done, even if the healing doesn’t come.

Your will be done, even if my marriage can’t be saved.

Your will be done, even if I lose my job and my home.

Your will be done, even if the doctors don’t have good news.

It can go on and on.

And it’s not always bad news. Praying God’s will can also be full of blessings and joy.

The point is that either way, God is good and His will is best. Even if it’s not my will.

Your will be done.

Peace in Stressful Times

I wish that I could say that I was peaceful and calm all the time. I wish I could say that stress never got to me because I always went to God in prayer first and got a proper perspective on my circumstances before freaking out.

Unfortunately, no.

It seems to me that a lot of my anxiety is just me looking at my circumstances with me in the place of God trying to figure out how to make it all work. The problem with that little scenario is that I’m not God — not even close. I don’t have nearly all of the answers. I don’t see every part of the problem. I am nowhere near omniscient or omnipotent or anything omni.

But God is.

The sooner I relinquish my anxiety, the better off I am in the midst of my stressful situation. And many times God doesn’t remove me from the trial but uses the trial to make me more like Jesus. In other words, to borrow the words from a song, He doesn’t always calm the storm but He calms His child in the middle of the storm.

It helps if you are able to see the stress in perspective. It’s not the end of the world. In fact, it’s not probably something you will remember next month. Or possibly even next week. Beyond that valley of trial is a greater joy and a greater hope and a greater vision of a great God who got you through. And beyond that is the ultimate happy ending where God in Jesus makes absolutely everything right and we get to be on winning team when evil and sin finally are defeated forever. Not bad, eh?

Good Finds

Going to Goodwill can be a kind of hit-or-miss thing. Sometimes, you don’t find anything. You wander all through the store and don’t see anything you can’t live without. Sometimes, you hit the proverbial jackpot.

Today, I found five vinyl albums, including this one by Kenny Rogers. The others were by Carly Simon, James Taylor, Gordon Lightfoot, and the Eagles. I’d call that a pretty good score, especially when you consider that each record cost me about $1.

It’s funny how Goodwill and thrifting can echo life sometimes. You never know what you will get from each day, but if you just keep showing up with expectations, you will occasionally find hidden treasures and blessings in places you never would have expected.

I’ve found that God shows up and speaks to me in the most unlikely places. The more I live in gratitude and expectation that God is working, the more I see Him and the more He speaks to me.

So keep showing up, keep praying up, and keep expecting God to do what only God can do. And the rest will surprise you . . . in a good way.

Loving in Truth

It’s June. That means that summer is nigh, although today felt a whole lot like a typical summer day with its heat and humidity. I wasn’t quite ready for that.

It’s also Pride month, a month in which we’re supposed to celebrate all things LGBTQIA+. We’re supposed to embrace all kinds of diversity unquestioningly. To do otherwise would be unloving, wouldn’t it? But what does it mean to be loving?

I think you can love a person without accepting everything about them. You can love someone while disagreeing with their lifestyle choices and habits. You can love someone and tell them the truth in a loving and compassionate way, as Jesus did many times during His ministry.

The mistake the Church in general has made in the past is to demonize homosexuality and other lifestyles and make them the unforgivable sin while giving ourselves a pass on things like pride (a different kind where you think more highly of yourself than you should) and gluttony and sloth and those other struggles that we have that we minimize. It’s all sin. We’re all sinners. We all need the grace of God.

I’m perfectly willing to lose followers. Jesus said that if they hated Him, they will hate you. If they rejected His message, they will reject yours. But I’d rather be on the side of Jesus than be popular or liked by a majority.

Jesus did say to the woman caught in adultery that He didn’t condemn her, but he also said, “Go and sin no more.” He didn’t justify her lifestyle to love her. He spoke the truth but in the most loving way possible.

It’s not loving to compromise your convictions and beliefs to be approved and accepted. It is loving to see each person, no matter their lifestyle or choices, as one for whom Jesus died and one who bears the image of God.

The goal is not to get them into a traditional marriage relationship. The goal is not so much to get them straight. The goal is to get them set free in Jesus. Their brokenness (and ours as well) isn’t just limited to the area of sexuality. We’re fallen in every area of our lives and need to be completely and wholly redeemed. All of us.

The Bible says there is no one apart from Jesus who has not sinned. No one who doesn’t need a Savior. No one who can get to heaven apart from Jesus. And especially no one whom Jesus does not love and whom Jesus will not save if that person calls to Him in faith.

So if the worst case scenario happens and I have two readers after this, then I can be okay with that. To gain the world by throwing away everything you held dear in the way of convictions and beliefs and faith is to gain nothing, but if all you have to hold on to is Jesus and nothing else, you have everything.

Hello June

And just like that, it’s June.

Every year, the days and weeks and months go by a little faster. In less than three weeks, we’ll hit the summer solstice and the days will start getting shorter. But it already feels like they race by.

Back in the day, June meant total freedom. It mean no school, no classes, no homework, no tests. It meant not a lot to do and a whole lot of time to do it. I remember thinking summer would never get here, but when it finally did, it didn’t last long enough.

Now June means I still go to work. I still do all the boring grownup things I did in January and February. The only thing that changes is the temperatures start getting hotter and I sweat more. I do love the longer days, especially when it’s 8 pm and still light outside.

But I know that if I blink, it’ll be July. I close my eyes for a moment, and it’s August. Before you know it, schools will be back in session and summer will be over. But then comes my absolute favorite season of all, autumn.

But until then, happy summer and happy June!

A Good Mid-Week Prayer

“Dear God,

Speak gently in my silence.
When the loud outer noises of my surroundings
and the loud inner noises of my fears
keep pulling me away from you,
help me to trust that you are still there
even when I am unable to hear you.
Give me ears to listen to your small, soft voice saying:
‘Come to me, you who are overburdened, and I will give you rest . . .
for I am gentle and humble of heart.’ Let that loving voice be my guide.
Amen.” (Henri Nouwen).

It’s easy to let the chaos drown out the calm, and the noise to cancel out the still small voice that speaks your true name. I know that I can get caught up in the stress of the moment and forget the big picture. I still believe that 99% of what brings out my anxiety won’t matter a month from now . . . or a week from now. So why does it matter so much now?

Lord, help me to be in every moment but also not lose sight of the end — Your victory and my overcoming. Help me to remember that you have already overcome and defeated all that I will ever face in this life by Your blood and Your cross.

Holding on to Hope in an Off Kilter World

“Lord, yeah, the world may tilt off kilter tonight,

but it should have known better than to try to rattle the likes of us because we know that

though we’re broken, we’re not crushed,

though we’re battered, we’re never destroyed,

though we’re we’re not sure what to do, we absolutely know it like a burning inferno in our bones, that our God knows what to do,

though pressures keep coming from right & left, we can feel how God hasn’t left our side,

‘So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, *not a day goes by without His unfolding grace.* These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us.’ 2Cor4MSG

And all the weary people smiled and said their brave Amen, the celebration beginning even right now.

#RealHonestPrayer#StrengtheningEachOtherWithPrayer” (Ann Voskamp).

I love that. All the hardships in this world are small potatoes compared to what’s coming. They’re all a light and momentary affliction compared to the eternal joy that awaits.

Right now, the small potatoes look a lot bigger. Like they’re all we can see. But when we shift our perspective from the immediate to the forever, then we see things in their proper place. Everything we’ve been stressing over will seem so small looking back. In fact, I’d guess that a year from now we won’t remember what was giving us so much anxiety in a lot of cases. We will remember that God was faithful.

And when we look ahead, we can even now see glimpses of the coming glory. The closer we get, the bigger it gets, and the more glorious God appears to our senses, failing as they are in one sense yet becoming sharper and clearer on the eternity side.

So remember that. Small potatoes versus eternal joy.

Even When I Don’t Feel It, You’re Working

“It is quite right that you should feel that ‘something terrific’ has happened to you (It has) and be ‘all glowy.’ Accept these sensations with thankfulness as birthday cards from God, but remember that they are only greetings, not the real gift. I mean, it is not the sensations that are the real thing. The real thing is the gift of the Holy Spirit which can’t usually be—perhaps not ever—experienced as a sensation or emotion. The sensations are merely the response of your nervous system. Don’t depend on them. Otherwise when they go and you are once more emotionally flat (as you certainly will be quite soon), you might think that the real thing had gone too. But it won’t. It will be there when you can’t feel it. May even be most operative when you can feel it least” (C. S. Lewis).

I think feelings are great, especially when they’re connected to worship. But it’s dangerous to make feelings a barometer of my worship experience. Worship that comes without feelings can be just as genuine and real because you’re still declaring the worth of God from a place of one who has experienced the goodness of God, even if you’re not currently feeling it.

On the converse, it’s just as dangerous to make the abundance of feelings equate with good worship. Feelings are good, but they’re not God. Feelings can and will mislead you because they are influenced by so many factors outside of yourself and God — how hungry you are, how tired you are, how stressed you are . . . . Feelings can lead to wrong beliefs about God if those feelings aren’t subjected to the Word of God, rather than the other way around.

Jesus told us that true worship happens in spirit and in truth, with the heart and with the mind. Sometimes, that means feelings and sometimes not. But it is still worship if it focuses on God and not what you feel.

Something Borrowed, Something True

I found this posted on Facebook and thought it was too good not to share:

“It’s too easy to let pain dictate your response. When people strike you, literal or otherwise, the cry for Justice wells up within you.

We look at the world and find injustice on every corner, both real or imagined. A literal flood of darkness provoking people to anger and offense.

The cause of the offense does not matter, only that you are offended. They don’t call the devil the accuser for nothing.

I find myself sinking into those dark waters from time to time. It threatens to sweep me away.

Yet the cross stands before me. An immovable anchor in the midst of raging tides.

The sound louder than thunder shouting from pierced hands and feet is not one of contempt, bitterness or anger.

Outrageous injustice is met with unfathomnable mercy, grace, and forgiveness.

What is this power that overcomes all sin, death, and darkness?

The Son of God has shown us the way to calm every storm.

The voice of accusation howls and rages, but the voice of peace outshines these shadows with radiance, glory, and resurrection power.

The mighty do not rage, they walk in peace.

Blessed are the peacemakers they shall be called the sons of God” (Glen Datugan).

May the Prince of Peace grant you perfect peace today and every day as you strive with all that is within your power to make peace in the places and people around you.