A Blessing Prayer

I’m in the middle of reading Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully Through the Hours of the Day by Macrina Wiederkehr. I found this beautiful prayer that echoes my prayer for all you who are reading this right now:

“What is a blessing but a rain of grace falling generously into the lives of those in need; and who among us is without need?
May the Spirit touch your spirit in this midmorning pause.
May this day be a pathway strewn with blessings.
May your work this day be your love made visible.
May you breathe upon the wounds of those with whom you work.
May you open yourself to God’s breathing.
May you honor the flame of love that burns inside you.
May your voice this day be a voice of encouragement.
May your life be an answer to someone’s prayer.
May you own a grateful heart.
May you have enough joy to give you hope, enough pain to make you wise.
May there be no room in your heart for hatred.
May you be free from violent thoughts.
When you look into the window of your soul may you see the face of God.
May the lamp of your life shine upon all you meet this day” (Macrina Wiedekehr).

I can only add one more sentiment– may you be so filled with Jesus that you are able to serve out of the overflow of a joyful heart, so that those who cross your path will know they have been in the presence of the risen Christ.



Still B-L-E-S-S-E-D

If you read the first chapter of Ephesians, you will notice how often the Apostle Paul makes use of the word blessed.

Blessed. It’s a word that people use in any number of ways with any number of different meanings.

The idea Paul wants to convey when he speaks of blessing and being blessed is one of having God’s favor over you.

That doesn’t necessarily mean instant and immense wealth. Sometimes it means walking through some dark valleys and difficult pathways through circumstances that are hard to understand but in the end yield a reward and ultimate glory for God.

I’m blessed.

I have God. I have Jesus. I have salvation that I can’t lose and a love that I don’t deserve. I have family and friends who continue to love me day in and day out and so many who model Jesus for me.

I woke up this morning. That’s a huge blessing that so many (including me) will take for granted until someone they love is snatched away in death.

I’m blessed even if tomorrow I lose my job and I end up on the streets. I’m blessed even if I don’t have anything to eat tomorrow. I’m blessed even if I end up alone.

I’m blessed because God in Jesus is my blesser and my blessing. He’s both my giver and gift. He’s the journey and the destination. He’s the race that I run and the prize at the end.

Once you realize how blessed you are, it changes everything. It changes how you see, how you speak, how you live, how you love.

Blessings aren’t for hoarding. You and I are blessed in order that we might be a blessing to someone else. That’s where the greatest blessings come– in the very act of giving away blessings.

So, on this Tuesday, March 29, I say once again that I’m blessed.


The Comfort of a Rod and Staff

Even when I go through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger,
for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff—they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).

I was inspired to read the 23rd Psalm again. I’ve read it and heard it read too many times to count. It’s the go-to passage at just about every funeral. Just about anybody who has even an inkling of familiarity with the Bible knows that chapter.

Something I read struck me in a new way. The part that speaks of the rod and staff comforting me. When I think of a shepherd’s rod and staff, comfort is not the first word that comes to mind. Those are more for correction and discipline.

But maybe our greatest gifts come in those times of God’s correction and discipline. Maybe we learn the most and lean the most on God in those seasons where God allows trials and tribulations to come into our cushioned lives. Maybe the comfort is one of knowing God’s presence in the times of the dark valleys rather than counting my own victories in the sunshine.

When you go through a test, you come out with a stronger faith and a enlarged confidence in God. You go from a self-reliance to a God-reliance that is so much more secure and safe.

I read a book called A Severe Mercy in which God’s greatest blessings often come gift wrapped in the most painful of circumstances. There are lessons that we learn best in the darkest and stormiest places.

As I’ve learned and re-learned, the best place to be is not in a place where all my material needs are met and I am most at east, but rather where I am in a place where I am forced to rely on, trust in, and cling to Jesus as my only anchor of hope.

That is still a good place to be.


Get to Vs. Have to

Something my pastor said today in his sermon at The Church at Avenue South made me think of something another pastor from Fellowship Bible Church said.

Most of us, including me, have from time to time looked on the different aspects of Christianity as a drudgery– as in I have to read my Bible, I have to pray, I have to share my faith with others.

That’s the wrong perspective.

Maybe instead you should see your life of faith as a delight– you get to read your Bible, you get to pray, you get to share your faith with others.

Those who serve best are the ones who love best, and the ones who love best are the ones who know more fully than anyone else that they are loved best.

Once you begin to grasp the infinite love of Abba Father for you (and it’s something that not even in eternity will you ever fully get to the bottom of), then what He asks of you is no longer a chore and a drudgery, but a blessing and a delight.

It’s not a time issue. You always make time for what you love. It’s a heart issue. What truly matters to you and where does God end up on that list?

I write from the perspective of someone who’s not nearly there yet. I also speak as someone who is daily being transformed into that kind of person who can fully live out of the knowledge of being the Beloved.

Fear is a poor motivator. Eventually, you get tired of being afraid. Love, however, is the fuel that never runs out. As much as you are loved, you can love others, and the more you love others, you find yourself receiving even more love in return.

Those who live loved will live to serve. Those who live blessed will live to look for opportunities to bless and be a blessing.

The end.



Happy New Year’s Adam Again!

Happy New Year Quote - Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Happy New Year Quote – Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Once again, it’s New Year’s Adam, which precedes New Year’s Eve, which itself precedes 2016.

For better or worse, 2015 is coming to an end.

For some of you, it’s a year to remember and you wish it could go on a little longer.

For some, it’s a year to forget and it can end quickly enough.

For most of us, it’s been a mixed bag of blessings and hardships, of joys and sorrow, of good days and bad days.

My boss where I worked previously used to say that any day without a toe tag is a good day. I take it to mean that any day that you wake up is already a good one. Any day you get a chance to be alive is better than all those yet to come that you may or may not get.

As a believer, I do believe that death is only a gateway to greater joy than I can possibly imagine. To be absent from the body, wrote the Apostle Paul, is to be present with Jesus. I believe that.

I also believe that life here and now is too precious to be wasted on fretting about what might have been or what could be. As one of my new favorite movie quotes says, “There’s no present like the time.”

“And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been” (Rainer Maria Rilke).

“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, ‘It will be happier'” (Alfred Lord Tennyson).

Best of all, with Jesus every moment and every breath is a second chance to start over and be the person you always wanted to be, the person God made you to be.

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To All the George Baileys in the World

Recently, I was the recipient of some unexpected and overwhelming generosity. I didn’t seek it out nor did I even have a hint that it was coming.

I felt like George Bailey at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life when all the people he’s tried to help all those year come back and pay it forward back to him in droves.

I’ve decided that I won’t ever be able to match that kind of generosity, but I can do a few things:

  1. Pay it forward whenever is in my power to do so.
  2. To always have my eyes open to the need around me and to pray for a heart that yearns to meet those needs
  3. To live in continual gratitude and thanksgiving, because life all by itself is a gift and salvation even without any blessings attached to it is the greatest gift.
  4. To never forget that many are still living the part of George Bailey’s story where things aren’t quite so hunky-dory and who are feeling like they’re at the end of their rope.
  5. To be a better version of me than I was yesterday, or more accurately, to be a little more like Jesus every single day that He allows me to wake up.

I echo the words of Clarence, George’s guardian angel, when I say, “No man is a failure who has friends.”

If that’s  the case, then I am one of the most blessed individuals to ever live, due to the amazing family and friends God has placed in my life.

Thank you. You rock.

The end.

Gratitude Kairos-Style

“A devout life does bring wealth, but it’s the rich simplicity of being yourself before God. Since we entered the world penniless and will leave it penniless, if we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that’s enough” (1 Timothy 6:6-8).

Gratitude makes all the difference. That was one of tonight’s themes from Rachel Cruze, daughter of Dave Ramsey and speaker extraordinaire. Comparison is the thief of joy, according to Theodore Roosevelt, but gratitude makes what you have enough (so said Ann Voskamp in her book, 1000 Gifts).

So here’s what I’m supremely thankful for tonight.

I’m so very grateful for the many people I’ve crossed paths with at Kairos over the nine years I’ve attended and served as a greeter.

You may not know this, but I’m a different person because of you. You will never know how you’ve encouraged, blessed, challenged, rebuked, and lifted me up during all these years.

I see a generation of godly women whose true beauty comes from within. If God chooses to bless me with a wife, I hope she will be half as pretty and tender and sweet and loving and generous and godly as these women.

I see young men who are learning how to be masculine without being macho. I’m encouraged that it’s still possible to be a man of God in this day and age when such a thing is about as politically incorrect as you can get.

I see people every single Tuesday who never fail to make me smile and feel better about myself. I see people who make me want to be more like Jesus.

I serve with some of the greatest people on the planet whom I am privileged to call friends. Yes, I am shamelessly plugging the Kairos Greeting team if you’re looking for a safe place to serve and meet people and show the love of Jesus to people.

I’m grateful most of all that I came to serve and bless and I have found that I’ve been served and been blessed a thousand times more than anything I’ve ever done for anybody. And that’s the Gospel Truth.


Five Years Later

It all started on July 25, 2010. That was the day I wrote my first blog for WordPress. It all started as a sort of tribute to one of my favorite writers, Brennan Manning.

Since then, I’ve amassed 1,831 posts (counting this one). That’s one a day if you’re keeping score.

Back then, I had a full-time job at Affinion Group that I liked some days and didn’t like on others. There were days I daydreamed about what it would be like to give my two week notice and other days when I was counting my blessings (mostly those were the Fridays on which I got paid).

Now, after three years of temp jobs and no stability, I look back and see that I really had a good thing there. Of course, hindsight is 20/20. But these days, having a job– any job– is a blessing.

I imagine that there are some blogs that get as many readers on one of their posts as I’ve gotten in all my posts combined. I’m okay with that. It was truly never about the numbers. It was about me finding an outlet for what I’m discovering about myself, life, and God.

I’d keep writing these if I only had two devout readers– my mother and me. Heck, even if it were just me reading these I’d keep writing them.

I hope I have at least five more years of these blogs. My next goal is 2,000 posts, which I should hit by early 2016.

So even though I’ve said it already many times, I’ll say it again. Thank you for reading what I write. Thank you for sticking with me when I got off track occasionally and when I wrote 300 words about nothing in particular. Thanks for your likes and your comments and your shares.

50,000 views is a big accomplishment for me and all the credit goes to you.

PS I would have written this on the actual anniversary of my blog, but it slipped on me like a stealthy ninja. In other words, I forgot.


A Prayer for the Longsuffering

The Eternal will finish what He started in me.
    Your faithful love, O Eternal One, lasts forever;
    do not give up on what Your hands have made” (Psalm 138:8, The Voice).

Lord, don’t give up on us. And don’t let us give up on us.

Sometimes, it seems like day comes after day with no change and no hope for tomorrow. It seems like a weather forecast for more of the same for the foreseeable future.

Help us to remember Your works in days past.

Help us to recall how many times You have delivered us when we have forgotten.

Remind us that Your promises are truer than what our eyes can see, what our hands can touch, what our minds can comprehend.

Your faithful love will last forever. Longer than our doubts. Longer than our fears. Longer than situations we feel will never get better.

Even when we feel like giving up on You, You still hold onto us and keep us safe.

You will finish what You started in me. And it will have been worth the wait.



A Good Word from Micah

Quick question: when was the last time you heard a sermon from the little book of Micah? Or from any of the minor prophets? Just wondering.

I was reading Micah this afternoon in my quest to read through the Bible in a year (this year, I’m reading from the New English Bible). I’ll admit that most of what I read today wasn’t the most happy-go-lucky sort. After all, God was speaking through these prophets to a wayward and rebellious nation who refused to repent and come back to the God who had brought them out of Egypt and through the wilderness to their promised land (not that there are any parallels to this country, right?) But not all of it was dark and gloomy.

Here’s one section I read that I hope will uplift and encourage you as it did me.

Where is the god who can compare with you—
    wiping the slate clean of guilt,
Turning a blind eye, a deaf ear,
    to the past sins of your purged and precious people?
You don’t nurse your anger and don’t stay angry long,
    for mercy is your specialty. That’s what you love most.
And compassion is on its way to us.
    You’ll stamp out our wrongdoing.
You’ll sink our sins
    to the bottom of the ocean.
You’ll stay true to your word to Father Jacob
    and continue the compassion you showed Grandfather Abraham—
Everything you promised our ancestors
    from a long time ago” (Micah 7:18-20).

Note: I quoted from The Message a) because Bible Gateway doesn’t have the New English Bible as a translation and I was too lazy to type the whole thing and b) because Eugene Peterson’s rendering is pretty powerful in and of itself.