More Lessons from Lent

It’s been a week since I gave up social media for Lent and so far, I’ve managed to stay away. I’m also trying not to be super-legalistic about it, but I’ve done well so far.

I do miss seeing what everyone’s up to and what their kids and pets are doing. I do feel quite a bit out of the loop when I’m away from social media. I also feel like I’m actually participating in my own life again.

I got to see a good friend of mine in what looks to me like the beginning stages of a dating relationship. I’m to the point now where I can be completely happy and supportive of both of them.

I also was blessed to celebrate the transition of Kairos  leadership from Mike Glenn to Chris Brooks. Even though I’m not the biggest fan of change (as I may have mentioned in passing in a few other blogs), I know that better things are in store for Kairos.

Maybe I’ll actually get back to that novel I started back in December but haven’t been able to get around to in 2016. Imagine that. Reading actual books. It boggles the mind.

I still hope to have more face-to-face conversations and do more of that real life stuff that I’ve been hearing so much about. From what little I’ve seen, I really think I’m going to like it.

In three days, my teenaged geriatric cat turns 16. I almost feel like a parent, wondering where the time has gone from when she was a wee little kitten barely bigger than my hand.

I think at some point in the future, I’d like to take a week or so where I go off the grid completely. No electronics, no phones, TV. Just me getting back to nature and (hopefully) getting my internal clock reset.

I also want to get back to living out of a sense of wonderment. I want to enjoy the moments and give thanks to the Creator not only of the grand universe but also of the smallest details.

There will be more updates as Lent progresses. If you’re pining away without me on social media, you can always reach me at (because I get so few actual emails from actual people these days).


Righteous Anger?

“Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life” (James 1:21).

I have a question for you (and for myself, too). Why is it that we as believers get upset when nonbelievers act like . . . well, nonbelievers? Why are we so surprised?

Salvation is more than a new morality code. It’s more than a different kind of behavior.

It’s a total transformation. The Bible uses the word regeneration when speaking of someone getting saved. Paul talks about becoming a new creation. Not a better version of the old creation, but a completely new one.

The question isn’t why nonbelievers act like nonbelievers, but why believers don’t act more like the faith they profess so loudly.

I love what my pastor Mike Glenn says: the world doesn’t hate Christians because they’re too different but because they’re not different enough.

If I really believe what I profess about how Jesus can take anyone at any point and rescue him or her from who they used to be and make them into something completely new, then my life should show it. I should be different.

I should talk differently for sure, but I should act in a way that lines up with all my verbiage.

That verse in 2 Chronicles 7 about God healing our land? That’s not directed at nonbelievers getting their act right. It’s about those who are called by God’s name, i.e. Christians, who turn and repent and seek God like never before. That’s when the healing happens.

. . .[If] my people, my God-defined people, respond by humbling themselves, praying, seeking my presence, and turning their backs on their wicked lives, I’ll be there ready for you: I’ll listen from heaven, forgive their sins, and restore their land to health” (2 Chronicles 7:14, The Message).

Maybe it’s time to stop the finger-pointing and blame-assessing and maybe start praying.


More of My Mind Blown at Kairos

Tonight, Uncle Mike (or Mike Glenn, as he is known to those outside of Kairos) spoke on the passage in Matthew where Pilate offers up a choice to the people.

“Whom do you want me to release today? Jesus or Barabbas?”

He does this hoping the crowd will want to release Jesus, but to his dismay, they ask for Barabbas instead.

“Don’t you know what kind of man this is? Are you sure you want this man over your Messiah?”

I’m sure Pilate thought but never spoke these words. Instead, he washed his hands of the whole business. Literally.

I wonder if you could have been close enough, would you have heard Jesus saying, “Release Barabbas”?

The truth of the matter is that Jesus chose Barabbas. Jesus chose to go to His death so that Barabbas could go free.

I would not have picked Barabbas. He was not a nice guy in the most extreme sense. But Jesus did.

Don’t forget that Jesus also chose you and me. He chose to die for you and me so that we could go free.

You might say that you’re not as bad as a Barabbas, but the Bible says you have sinned. I have sinned. We have all fallen short of who God made us to be. We had the choice and chose the other side over God.

But when God had a choice, He chose us. Jesus chose us over His own life.

My mind is once again officially blown.

That Ol’ I-40 West

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I’ve heard this one illustration from Pastor Mike Glenn quite a few times, but the impact is always the same.

If you get on I-40 West, you’ll end up in Memphis every single time. Unless of course you stop off at Jackson. But the point is that you can’t get on that particular interstate and hope to get to Chicago or New York. You’ll end up in Memphis (or end up passing through Memphis)– eventually. Ok, it’s not a perfect analogy, but here’s the point.

Uncle Mike says that some people will get on I-40 West and wonder how they ended up in Memphis. In much the same way, people will make poor life choices and wonder how their life ended up as such a hot mess.

I’m not here to judge people who are in a rough patch in their lives. I am saying that you can’t continually make bad and ill-informed choices and not have consequences from those choices. You reap what you sow every time. As another pastor said, you can’t sow wild oats from Monday through Saturday and pray for crop failure on Sunday.

The good news is that there is forgiveness from bad decisions. The bad news is that there are also consequences. Some of you (with me included) have found that out the hard way.

But some of you have found out that you don’t have to keep making the same bad decisions. You can choose differently. No matter how much of a train wreck your past has been, your future is still an unwritten page with unlimited possibilities.

And yes, God can take anybody’s mess and turn that into their message. He can take what was meant for evil and turn it into something good (just ask Joseph). He can work all things together for good.

I wanted to end this on a positive note. I echo the words of the old knight in the movie Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade: “You must choose wisely.”


Your Identity

Tonight, Mike Glenn spoke from Matthew 22:34-40. Those wacky Pharisees were at it again, trying to trap Jesus through one of their questions.

“Teacher,” they asked. “Which  commandment in the law is the greatest?”

As usual, Jesus saw through their smokescreen and gave a brilliant answer. Love God with everything that’s in you and love your neighbor as yourself.

For years, I never really thought about the “as yourself” part of the command. But for you to truly love others as God would have you to, you have to love yourself. It goes against a lot of what we’ve been taught about how loving yourself is wrong and prideful.

Loving yourself is simply seeing yourself the way God does.

Mike talked about how when God created you, He said, “It is very good.” Imagine a world-class chef tasting his own masterpiece and declaring, ‘Ahhhh, it is verrrry gooood” and you have an idea of what this means.

God looked at you and was pleased. He didn’t shrug His shoulders and say something like “Eh, close enough.” He said you were very good.”

Mike went on to say that when you find your identity not in what your enemies or friends or even you say about you but what God truly says about you, it changes the way you live. It changes the way you love yourself, others, and– ultimately– God.

That’s something that I’m still learning, but I’m to the point where I have days where I see myself as the Beloved of God and let that be what defines me. And those days are becoming more and more frequent.

So let me remind you once again. You are not your spotty resume. You are not your latest failed marriage. You are not the guy who’s still trying to find himself and still not having a clue about who he is. You are not whatever failures or  fiascos you’ve had in the past.

You have worth because you were created in the image of God and then prized highly enough for God to send Jesus to die on your behalf. You are the Beloved.


Holding It All Together

I had another epiphany of sorts as I was driving home from my life group tonight. It was one of those perfect Spring nights before the sticky humidity descends and decides to stay until October. I had Willie Nelson singing me home and I was meditating on what we had just talked about in our Bible study earlier. Then this thought hit me:

When you’re barely able to hold it together, remember Who is holding you together. Maybe it’s not so much about holding yourself together as it is holding on to God who can hold you together so much better than you ever could.

I thought back to what Mike Glenn said about the glory of God. Glory comes from a Hebrew word that carries the idea of gravity or weight. He said that in essence, God is the only One worthy of worship because He is the only One capable of keeping all the bits and pieces of your life from flying apart.

Idolatry is expecting anything or anyone to hold your world in orbit other than God. Sooner or later (hopefully sooner), you will find out the hard way that nothing and no one else can.

Some of you are finding out how true this is right now. It’s one thing to know about something intellectually and quite another to know from having lived through it. As much as I hate to say it, all of us will probably at some point find out in experience how true this is. Thankfully, God’s promises and words to us always hold up even under the most trying of times.

If you’re there, my advice is don’t try to be a Lone Ranger. Let other people in and then when your world gets better, look for people who might need your encouragement and support.

That’s all I have for tonight. As always, I believe. Help my unbelief.





Tuesdays Are Good Again

As you know, I’m a greeter for Kairos, a contemporary worship event on Tuesdays at 7 pm. I realized tonight that this fall will mark nine years that I have volunteered by offering a smile and a hello as people make their way into Hudson Hall on the Brentwood Baptist Church campus.

I love what I do and I love that people know me as the greeter guy from Kairos. I truly think that my worship experience is all the greater for me having invested, however small, my time and my somewhat limited people skills. I’m not the world’s biggest extrovert who can walk up to any stranger at any time and start a conversation, but I can offer a friendly greeting to the person in front of me.

On some days, it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. I mean how hard is it really to wave at someone and say, “Hi”?

But then I think that maybe the person I’m greeting has had a rotten day or even a horrible week. I may be the first face that person has seen that isn’t cursing at them or sneering at them. Maybe that person will look at me and see Jesus smiling at them. Who knows?

I’ve been on the other end, barely making it through the week and badly in need of something– anything– positive. I know the power of a smile and a friendly greeting. I know the power of encouraging words, whether spoken or texted or posted. In fact, when I missed Kairos a couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine posted on my wall that she missed seeing me there. That meant the world to me.

You don’t have to have the Bible memorized or have your theology down pat to be able to serve. All you need are open hands and a willing heart. Sometimes, all you need is simply to show up and get out of the way so that Jesus can take over.


My 1,700th Blog (Ta-da!)

I hit another milestone today with blog #1,700. It all started on July 25, 2010, almost five years ago, and has been a fun ride ever since then. I’m still surprised that people actually read these things. And I still don’t like the word “blog.” Here’s my very first blog if you want to see where it all started way back when.

I also figured out today that it’s been 1,059 days since my last carbonated beverage. I googled that bit of information, in case you’re wondering. And no, it’s not out of any kind of religious or moral beliefs. It’s mostly a health-conscious decision. No, I don’t miss them (even though I still dream about them from time to time).

I can look back and see a trajectory of grace in my life. I have done and said more than my share of really stupid stuff. I’ve gone through whole days and weeks of being in a not-so-healthy place, head-wise. Yet God still loves me as if I’d been perfect the whole time. That still amazes me.

I’m trying to be more health-conscious in my diet as well, cutting out breads and sugar (for the most part) and drinking more water. I’m down nine pounds so far and I feel better.

I’ve decided that not every one of these blogs will be Pulitzer-prize material. That’s okay. My aim isn’t perfect prose and I’m not trying to reach a million people. I just want to put me out there for someone to read and be able to relate to. Maybe even someone will find hope and healing in these (web)pages.

So for the 1,000th time, I say thanks to all of you both past and present who have read my posts. Although if you’ve quit reading them, you’re most likely not going to see this. Still I thank you anyway.

I hope to still be writing and blogging and posting my unique brand of zaniness five years from now.

God bless,

Still a ragamuffin trying to tell other ragamuffins where to find the Bread of Life


Two Thoughts on a Tuesday

I’m at my laptop, typing away. For the record, I’m still using my old Sony Vaio, so this blog is only 85% as cool as it could have been were I typing on a Mac Book Pro. But seeing as that is neither here nor there, I digress.

Sitting in Kairos tonight, I had a couple of thoughts unrelated to the sermon Mike Glenn was preaching. I do that often. But that’s also another blog for another day.

I had two distinct thoughts:

1) It really is never too late to start over and become who God created and designed you to be. Even if you’re a Grandma Moses at age 70, you can still start over. And there’s no shame in admitting that what you’ve been doing all this time isn’t what God has called you to. It may have been at some point, but now God is calling you to start again.

2) You don’t have to wait until you get where God is calling you to use your job as a mission field. You can start right now with where you are, even if that’s bagging groceries at Publix or sweeping floors in an office. After all, the Bible DOES tell us to do EVERYTHING to the glory of God, even mopping floors and cleaning public toilets.

The more you see your life not as something you’re entitled to but as an adventure you choose each day to participate in, a journey that God leads you through, the more you see that life truly is a gift and a blessing.

Yes, I’m thankful even for this old, slow laptop, even as it hinders my cool factor. I remember older desktops that were much slower (and even had dial-up internet connections!) So it’s all about perspective and being grateful for what you DO have (my Sony Vaio) as opposed to wishing and pining after what you don’t (a Mac Book Pro).


What’s In Your Hands, Kairos-Style

Mike Glenn spoke about a boy with some bread and fish. Actually, he spoke about the parable of the feeding of the 5,000 from Mark 6, but that story wouldn’t have been possible without that boy who had the five loaves of bread and two fishes. Ok, Jesus probably could have conjured up a feast out of nothing, but he chose to use the obedience of this one little boy to bless a hungry multitude.

In the end, the too few with the too little had fed the too many with too much left at the end (as Dr. Glenn put it). What started out as as the dollar menu special from Captain D’s ended up with twelve baskets of leftovers, one for each disciple.

That said, I have to ask myself one question. Maybe this question is for you: what do you have in your hands?

Maybe to us it doesn’t seem like much. Maybe it seems like practically nothing. When you’re dealing with anywhere from 17,000-20,000 people (including the 5,000 men that Mark mentions in the story), two fish and five loaves of bread aren’t going to go very far.

Maybe what you have in terms of talents, gifts, passions, and desires seems very inadequate for God to use. But then, God’s not interested in your abilities and talents and much as your availabilities and willingness to serve.

Jesus took those twelve uneducated disciples and poured His life into them. In the end, they were twelve who went out and turned the world upside down (or more accurately, turned an already upside down world right-side up again).

Who knows what God can do with that paltry offering you hold in your two hands? Who knows the far-reaching impact of your small sacrifices, far beyond anything you can imagine or will probably ever know, to reach people you never dreamed of reaching and touch far more lives than you ever thought possible.

So when God comes calling, and He will, open up your hands and give Him what you have. Then be prepared to be amazed at what He does with it.