Be At Rest

“God is at work. He does not slumber.
Christ intercedes. He does not fail.
The Spirit comforts. He does not forsake.
Be at rest. Be at peace.
Your name at the end of the day is Beloved” (Ann Voskamp).

You and I can be at rest and have peace, even on those Mondays when our devices aren’t working, when our circumstances don’t cooperate with our plans, and when fear and anxiety seem to have the upper hand in our thoughts.

We can rest because we know that our identity is not what we do but who we are. Or whose we are.

All the diplomas and titles and honors and rewards in the world count for nothing apart from Christ, and nothing is lost if you lose everything and still have Jesus.

That is peace. That is rest.


Old Movies

I revisited another old classic movie. This time it was Woman of the Year with Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. I believe it was their first collaboration and the beginning of a lifelong romance between the two in real life.

I can’t entirely explain it, but there’s something special about these old movies set in a bygone era. In some ways, I prefer the old to the new. I think what we’ve gained in terms of technology and communications we’ve lost in terms of interpersonal relationships, ethics, morality, and general quality of life.

I’ve said it before (more than once), but if I could only have one channel for the rest of my life, I think I’d go with Turner Classic Movies. It’s the next best thing to having an actual time machine like the one Rod Taylor used in that H. G. Wells adaptation. I do think I’d like to step into one of those movie sets from the 40’s or 50’s and live there.

I’m definitely not one to say that everything new is crap and everything old is perfect, but I do think movies were much better when the emphasis was more on character and story and less on CGI and blowing stuff up. I like new movies when they are character-driven, usually smaller budget films that qualify more as art films than blockbusters.

I understand that those old movies often created an illusion of the ideal rather than represent the reality, but it’s an illusion I’d escape to any day. I don’t need reality TV because I get enough reality from Nashville traffic and the occasional headlines from the internet.

Everyone needs some black and white cinema in their lives. Everyone needs to experience the classics like Casablanca and To Kill a Mockingbird. Check out TCM from time to time. You won’t regret it.

Thinking of Texas Tonight

 “Do not be afraid—I will save you.
    I have called you by name—you are mine.
When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you;
    your troubles will not overwhelm you.
When you pass through fire, you will not be burned;
    the hard trials that come will not hurt you.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the holy God of Israel, who saves you” (Isaiah 43:1-3, GNT).

I’m seeing pictures and hearing stories out of Texas about the complete devastation from the hurricane and flooding. So many people have lost everything. Some have even lost their lives. I know that the waters are rising and the rain never seems to stop.

It seems that natural disasters and tragedies like this have a way of snapping your priorities back into place. All those trinkets you chase after don’t seem nearly as important as before.

It brings back memories of when Nashville had its own flooding back in 2010. I can’t imagine watching helplessly as all your possessions and heirlooms are lost forever in the waters.

I do know that God Almighty has promised to be present with those in the midst of deep waters. No amount of storms or floods can ever separate any of us from the unfathomable love of Christ.

Lord, be with those who are wading through the deep waters tonight in Texas. Let Your peace that passes all understanding guard their hearts and minds tonight. May Your grace be sufficient for them and Your comforting presence be near to all whose hearts are heavy.

May all find that you are a Shelter in the midst of the storm, and a Strong Tower and Refuge to those in time of need. May all find that underneath are the Everlasting Arms that won’t ever let go.

May Your people be Your tangible presence as they go to where the need is keenest to be with the people who have lost everything. More than any money or material goods we can give, may we be the face of Christ to all those we serve.



A Word from Mr. Bonhoeffer

“Thankfulness works in the Christian community as it usually does in the
Christian life. Only those who give thanks for the little things receive the
great things as well. We prevent God from giving us the great spiritual gifts
prepared for us because we do not give thanks for daily gifts. We think that
we should not be satisfied with the small measure of spiritual knowledge,
experience, and love that has been given to us, and that we must constantly be
seeking the great gifts. Then we complain that we lack the deep certainty, the
strong faith, and the rich experiences that God has given to other Christians,
and we consider these complaints to be pious. We pray for the big things and
forget to give thanks for the small (and yet really not so small!) gifts we
receive daily. How can God entrust great things to those who will not
gratefully receive the little things from God’s hand?” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

To receive the greater gifts and blessings, it’s important for us to give thanks for the seemingly smaller gifts (which in hindsight turn out to be not quite so small after all).

Above all, I think it’s important to give thanks for each day God wakes us up and not take for granted another 24 hours that we got to see and touch and taste and smell and live.

No matter what happened today, good or bad or ugly, the fact that you survived is an indication that God’s not done with you and that He still has a purpose for you being here.

I believe those who are the happiest and most joyful are the ones who are grateful for everything, not just the obvious blessings. I know those are the people I want to get to know and to be like. May we all be those kinds of thankful people.




I have to confess that sometimes I get caught up in fantasizing about what might happen in the imminent future. Right now, I’m find myself thinking about the day when I say my final goodbyes to my cat Lucy and it’s heart-wrenching even to think about.

But that’s not a healthy place to go. I need to be here now, while Lucy is still alive so that I can truly appreciate every moment I have left with her.

I can imagine all sorts of different scenarios for the future, but it does no good for me now. And news flash to me, most of those scenarios never come close to becoming reality.

I think the saying goes that worry doesn’t add anything to tomorrow but robs today of its strength. You don’t gain any new wisdom or insight about anxious obsessing over what might happen tomorrow. You simply forget how to live in the present.

So once again, I’m writing myself a note reminding me to be present to the present and leave the future to the God who’s already there. I have no more power to change the future that’s coming than to add inches to my height (which might be a useful skill if it actually existed).

Thank you, God, for this moment and everything in it. Help me to appreciate it and live in it and give thanks for it and just be. Amen.


The Allman Brothers Band for the Road

One of the joys of having over 100 people a day move to Nashville is the most enjoyable and fun commutes I’ve been having [said with copious amounts of sarcasm].

I really enjoy creeping along I-40, then for a brief moment to speed up, only to run into more traffic and slow down again. I really have nothing better to do than idle in traffic for an eternity. [sarcasm continued].

The one glimmer of goodness in all the gridlock is that I have ample time to listen to quality music. It’s not like I have anywhere else I can go during that time, so I might as well put it to good use.

Today, I spent a lot of time with The Allman Brothers Band, specifically the deluxe edition of their second album, Idlewild South. There’s a 45-minute version of the song Mountain Jam that’s not for the musically faint of heart.

Their music is ideal for cruising down the highway with the windows rolled down and the summer breezes blowing in. It still works for windows rolled up and inching along the interstate, but really it makes me want to find a deserted two-lane road, throw the map out the window, and just drive wherever the road takes me. One day I just might do that very thing.

I do think good music is good for the soul. There’s something healing about hearing the right song at the right time that goes along way toward detoxing from the stresses of the work week. I recommend old-school country, southern rock, jazz, blues, or just about anything from the 70’s.

PS It helps a lot if you crank up the volume and roll down the windows (but not so much when it’s sweltering and humid outside). Then maybe just crank up the A/C.



That’s What He Said


“How are we to think about Jesus’s presence today? No doubt volumes could be written on that question, and have been. But the simple fact is that Jesus Christ is present in this world, the only world we have, and in many ways. His teachings, even mangled and broken, have an incredible power to disrupt human systems, including the ones that claim to own him. He is the misfit and thus is available to all who would seek him. His crucifixion and resurrection announce the end of human systems and stand in judgment over them. He is the man on the cross calling us to join him there. He makes himself available to individuals who hear of him and seek him. In many forms both inside and outside the church, with its traditions, symbolisms, and literature, he is simply here among us. He is in his people, but he does not allow himself to be boxed in by them. He calls to us by just being here in our midst. There is nothing like him. The people in the churches also have the option of finding him and following him into his kingdom, though that may rarely be what they are doing.

For many today who think of themselves as educated, historical studies and ‘higher criticism’—perhaps something they call a ‘scientific’ outlook—have made the person and teachings of Jesus problematic. From where they start, he seems a questionable resource for actually living their lives. He may become for them a scholarly football to kick around or to ignore. But he does not go away. In spite of all, he himself is still available in this world, and beyond all historical issues and confusions there stands a strong if somewhat hazy impression of what he stood for. To come to know him and to clarify who he really is, people have only to stand for what he stood for, as best they can, and to do so by inviting him to take their life into his life and walk with them. If they do just this with humility and openness—which everyone knows to be his manner of life—they will know him more and more as they take his life to be their life. In this way they do not have to ‘know’ at the start. It is enough to venture in the kingdom of God and its King. ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved’ (Acts 2:21)” (Dallas Willard, Knowing Christ Today: Why We Can Trust Spiritual Knowledge).

Wow. I do believe that says it all.



“Hope is one of my favorite emotions because of its humility.
It’s not like gladness or joy, which stick around just for the good stuff.
Hope is my heart’s missionary. It humbly seeks fear and shame and hurt and befriends them.
Hope enters the very dustiest parts of my heart, cleans out the cobwebs,
and whispers of the promise of eternal perfection . . .” (Maggie Lindley)

“Do not forget to rejoice, for hope is always just around the corner. Hold up through the hard times that are coming, and devote yourselves to prayer” (Romans 12:12, The Voice).

Don’t lose hope. God is at work. The best is yet to come.



I love driving my Jeep. I’m sure you know that by now. I still really like driving my red 1997 Jeep Cherokee Country, especially after it got a much-needed, long-overdue tune up.

I previously drove a 1995 Jeep Cherokee Sport, which I also really liked to drive. I miss that car but not the manual locks and windows or the crappy drink holder which fell over if you so much as looked at it wrong.

Sensing a trend? It honestly wasn’t planned out that way. I’ve been paying more attention since I started driving one and I see Jeeps all the time now, partly due to that incredible in-line V6 engine which is practically indestructible.

I’m thinking my next car might be a Jeep. Maybe a Wrangler (or possibly even one of those old CJ7s). It’d be fun to drive a car where I could take off the top and ride around with the sun and breeze in my hair.

The secret to happiness isn’t having the best of everything but seeing the best in what you already have. It’s being content with who you are, where you are, with what you have. Being satisfied and content is still the most radically counter-cultural mindset you can have in this current age of overspending to keep up with those proverbial Joneses.

I personally have never really lusted after one of those really expensive luxury sports cars like the Ferraris and the Lamborghinis. I don’t fancy spending more money on a car than most houses cost.

I’ve also never really had a strong desire for a muscle car. I really just want something that suits my personality and that doesn’t look like every other car on the road.

If I go with the better gas mileage, I still think I’d like to have a Mini Cooper. Those look like they’d be fun to drive.

For now, I’m feeling thankful and blessed to still be driving my vintage Jeep with over 315,000 miles on it that still looks and runs great.

I’ll stick with that one for now.


Grace Given Vs. Grace Received

“I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us” (Anne Lamott).

During the homeward commute, I thought I’d play the Good Samaritan and let the car beside me merge in front of me. Little did I know that the next three cars behind that car would take advantage of my generosity.

For a brief moment, I was upset. I was livid. I mean, how dare they? All of us good and faithful drivers have been patiently waiting in line while these others felt they could rush past us and force their way in at the last possible moment.

There’s no way they deserve to merge in front of me.

Then it was like God spoke to me. I don’t claim to hear the audible voice of God and I’m not claiming I had a prophetic word, but I had the strongest impression that God said, “You know that you’ve deserved far less and received far more than these people have.”

The heart of the Gospel is that Jesus came for the undeserving– the hell-deserving– and instead of giving them what they (and I ) deserved, He lavished them (and me) with exactly what they didn’t deserve but needed most. Grace. Mercy. Forgiveness.

That’s why I don’t buy into karma. I don’t go around bragging about other people getting what’s coming to them because I know where I’d be if I ever got what I truly had coming to me. It wouldn’t be pretty.

That’s why I’m such a huge fan of mercy and grace. I don’t get what I really deserve and I get what I don’t deserve.

I believe that if we’ve received so much grace, we should be the first to show it not to those who deserve it, but those like we once were (and still are at times) who deserve it least but need it most.

That means those with different political ideology than yours. It means people that irritate you and get on your nerves. It means bad drivers who don’t know how to merge.

Ultimately, it means forgiving yourself when you let yourself down, remembering that God has already forgiven you.