Looking for the Pause Button

Sometimes, I wish life had a remote control, like in that Adam Sandler movie where he fast-forwards through the boring parts of his life.

Only I wouldn’t be looking for the fast-forward button. I’d want to pause my life.

Today, I went to the funeral of a friend’s dad. I hadn’t seen or talked to him in a long time, but I remember him as being a quiet, gentle man who loved his God and his family and who also happened to own the first PC that I had ever seen.

I saw him lying in the coffin, looking like a perfect wax replica of a person. Then I remembered that I was looking not at the man, but at the shell. The moment he breathed his last he was instantly in the presence of Jesus, fully alive and healthy and happy.

I heard where two Briarcrest students who were set to embark on their senior year of high school died Friday at the hands of a drunk driver who had four DUIs in the last five years.

There’s too much sadness and loss in the world. Too many people had to say goodbye to the ones they loved, while more than that never got the chance.

I sense more than ever how precious and fleeting this life is. I understand more how important it is never to take anyone in your life for granted.

I’m thinking about the quote from the movie The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel– “There’s no present like the time.”

I recall a pastor who said that at best this life is like a clean bus station. You don’t set up a bedroom suite and move all your belongings into a Greyhound terminal, because it’s only a stop along the way toward your final destination.

This life is so brief because this is not our final destination. Heaven is. As much as I keep forgetting, as much as I want that pause button to work, I know that I can’t stop that second hand from racing clockwise toward another tomorrow.

I can only choose to live each moment fully and to be fully present to every person in every place at every moment that I’m given. I can know that in God’s economy nothing is ever wasted and the good a person does follows after them. Your legacy will far outlive you and in the end, it won’t be what you did for a living or who you knew, but who you were and what you did with what God gave you.


Hymns in the Dark

“Along about midnight, Paul and Silas were at prayer and singing a robust hymn to God. The other prisoners couldn’t believe their ears. Then, without warning, a huge earthquake! The jailhouse tottered, every door flew open, all the prisoners were loose.

 Startled from sleep, the jailer saw all the doors swinging loose on their hinges. Assuming that all the prisoners had escaped, he pulled out his sword and was about to do himself in, figuring he was as good as dead anyway, when Paul stopped him: “Don’t do that! We’re all still here! Nobody’s run away!”

The jailer got a torch and ran inside. Badly shaken, he collapsed in front of Paul and Silas. He led them out of the jail and asked, ‘Sirs, what do I have to do to be saved, to really live?’ They said, ‘Put your entire trust in the Master Jesus. Then you’ll live as you were meant to live—and everyone in your house included!'” (Acts 16:25-35).

Today at The Church at Avenue South, Matthew Page preached on the passage where Paul and Silas sang hymns in prison. I wonder if I could do that, especially if I were behind bars for something I didn’t do.

Matthew spoke about how they lived a questionable life, as in a life that led people to ask questions about what kind of men they were and why they lived the way they did.

The most powerful part of their witness was being able to sing praise songs in a prison cell. That more than anything captured the attention of not only the fellow prisoners but of the prison guard as well.

I wonder if the earthquake would have happened if Paul and Silas has remained silent. Or if they had chosen instead to make a laundry list of all the wrongs and injustices inflicted upon them. Maybe. Maybe not.

The result was that a prison guard and his entire family came to faith in the Jesus that Paul and Silas sang about. Some scholars think that the other prisoners converted to Christianity as well.

Matthew went on to talk about being in the ER with a family whose daughter was near death. The prognosis was grim but some of those there with the family broke out singing hymns.

Do you sing as loud during the dark as well as during daylight? Do you praise God during the hard times when life doesn’t make sense? Does your speech reflect gratitude and thanksgiving in the midst of extreme trials and tribulations?

There was a doctor in that ER that eventually chose to follow Jesus because he saw what he couldn’t understand. He had probably seen people rage and curse at God but he had most likely never seen people worshipping through tears in the midst of tragedy.

By the way, the girl miraculously survived.

I won’t say that every time you praise Jesus, everything will automatically turn out the way you want it to, but I will say worship will change the way you see your circumstances.

It was convicting. Maybe I need a little more praise and a little less anxious analysing.

As always, I believe. Help my unbelief.


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.

Henri Nouwen and Lent in 2015

“O Lord, this holy season of Lent is passing quickly. I entered into it with fear, but also with great expectations. I hoped for a great breakthrough, a powerful conversion, a real change of heart; I wanted Easter to be a day so full of light that not even a trace of darkness would be left in my soul.

But I know that you do not come to your people with thunder and lightning. Even St. Paul and St. Francis journeyed through much darkness before they could see your light. Let me be thankful for your gentle way. I know you are at work. I know you will not leave me alone. I know you are quickening me for Easter – but in a way fitting to my own history and my own temperament.

I pray that these last three weeks, in which you invite me to enter more fully into the mystery of your passion, will bring me a greater desire to follow you on the way that you create for me and to accept the cross that you give to me. Let me die to the desire to choose my own way and select my own desire. You do not want to make me a hero but a servant who loves you.

Be with me tomorrow and in the days to come, and let me experience your gentle presence. Amen” (Henri Nouwen).

I think that says everything that’s in my heart in this season of Lent leading up to Easter Sunday on April 5, especially the part of dying to choosing my own way and selecting my own desire. That’s me. I have my own dreams and ideas of how my life should play out. God has different dreams and ideas for me. Seeing as how God’s ways are so much higher and better than mine, I would do well to yield to His ways over mine.

Lord, I lay my life at your feet. Make it shine brightly for You and for others to see You, regardless of the cost to me. Amen.

Lessons from Van Gogh


Tonight at Kairos, Michael Boggs did a bit of art history. I have to share what he said because it really does have implications for 21st century American Christianity.

Van Gogh started as a missionary living in a mining community. He totally immersed himself in their world tried to be Jesus to them. The result was that the church who put him there fired him because they felt his behavior wasn’t becoming of their standards.

He painted his famous church painting much later. The painting is beautiful, but also telling in what it leaves out. First, there are no lights coming from within the church. There’s not a path leading to the church. Finally, there are no doors anywhere on this church.

It was as if Van Gogh was communicating how he felt church leaders shut him out and how he couldn’t get back in. He felt like they put up barriers between him and God.

A question my friend posed (and one I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is, ” What would Jesus undo?” He even wrote a book by that title with just that question in mind.

I believe Jesus would undo the walls we put up to keep people out. Not the boundaries we put up to protect ourselves, but walls we use to ostracize those who think and act different than us.

Most of all, I think Jesus would undo the holy huddle mentality that has kept the lost people around it at arm’s length and shut its eyes to the dire need around it.

Jesus would undo the religious hyper-activity that keeps us too busy going to church throughout the week to be able to take Jesus to those around us who really need Him.

Jesus would definitely undo my smug superiority over those who sin differently than I do, reminding me that my sin is just as offensive as theirs. I need Jesus as much as anyone and it took just as much grace to save me as it took for any felon or drug addict.

I plan on buying the book, What Would Jesus Undo by Michael Boggs, and I hope you will, too. Shameless plug.

Patience and Kindness


I think I finally figured out what won these dogs over that I’m dog-sitting. It wasn’t my oh-so-charming personality. It wasn’t giving them a little extra food in their bowls. It wasn’t my hypnotic and soothing voice. What was it?

It was patience and kindness.

That’s how God won me over. Probably that’s how God captured your heart, too.

That’s what will win the world, I think. Just plain simple patience and kindness. No one wants to listen to a message of love from someone who’s impatient and rude. No one wants to be yelled at.

It is so true. People don’t care what you know (or even Who you know) until they know you care about them. Not just as souls to be saved but as people who really and truly matter to God. People created in the image of God who have worth and value simply because God made them.

I know I personally need quite a bit of patience and kindness both from God and from other people. That’s why I try to give it out whenever I can.

By the way, this is a milestone. My 1,500th blog post. Yay me.



The writer of Ecclesiastes talked about there being a season for everything in life– a time to be born and a time to die, a time to laugh and a time to mourn, etc.

I’ve found that to be very true. Especially in my social life.

There have been times when I have constantly been around people and there are times when I’ve felt alone. There have been times when I felt very popular and times when it seemed like I was the only one not invited to all the social activities I was seeing plastered all over social media.

I’ve come to terms with that.

I am who I am, regardless of whether that makes me popular or not. I have friends who I still see on a regular basis and some that I don’t see nearly as much as I used to. Again, that’s okay.

It doesn’t matter who else knows me and knows where I am when God does. While it  would be nice to occasionally hang out with celebrities (and who hasn’t daydreamed about that?) and have some of them know your name, the best part of all is that the God of the universe not only knows your name but has it engraved on the palms of His hands.

That’s worth celebrating.

So maybe I spend a night or two alone while people I know are off having a grand time at places I wasn’t invited to. I’ll live. Things like that don’t bother me anymore.

It took a very long time for me to get to this point. I don’t claim to have fully arrived or to be 100% mature about all this, but I am so much further along than I was two years ago.

That’s the key– not so much looking at how far you have to go but seeing how far you’ve already come and the progress, no matter how small it seems, that you’ve made. That’s what really matters.


New Beginnings


It happens in two weeks. Three at the most.

What am I talking about?

It’s a new satellite campus of Brentwood Baptist Church, called The Church at Avenue South.

Two weeks from now (hopefully), the church meets at its new location on Franklin Pike in the old Acuff-Rose building. It’s gonna be awesome.

I’ve been a part of this new congregation for a few months, not as long as some, but long enough to sense that something great is about to happen.

I’ve always wanted to be a part of the ground-floor movement of a church plant. Now I get to. I believe the neighborhood around this new church location will be different and better because we’ve been there. Or better yet, because Jesus will have been there.

I imagine it feels like when Paul went to a new city and started a church there. I realize that Nashville is the buckle of the Bible belt, but there are plenty of unchurched people living in this city. In fact, the vast majority of people don’t attend church at all.

Our job isn’t to fill seats with seats. Our job is to love these people around us, whether they respond favorably to our gospel or not. Our job is to love them the same way God once loved us– and still does– unconditionally.

I’m still not sure what my part will be in all this, but I feel very fortunate and blessed to even be a miniscule part of what is obviously a work of God. I know one day I’ll look back and say, “I was there when it all started.”

I still remember what I learned from Experiencing God, a Henry Blackaby Bible study. He said the key is to find out where God is already at work and join Him there. That’s what I’m doing.

Pray for this new church. Pray for the leadership for protection from moral failings and for wisdom and discernment. Pray that people will be irresistibly compelled to come through the doors at 2510 Franklin Pike to see what it’s all about. Pray that we as members will live in such a way that people ask about the difference in our lives.

More to come later.


Friends and Pins and Stuff


I have a Pinterest account. I think I’ve established that fact.

I will go a while without pinning anything and then I will pin for 30 minutes straight. Or something like that. I’ve never actually timed my pinning sessions.

Lately, I’ve been pinning a lot of Friends- themed pins. It’s still hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that the last episode of that show aired 10 years ago. 10 years.

In my mind, 1994 was 10 years ago, not 2004. It’s like I have a 10-year block in my brain. And I am really not ready for 1984 to be 30 years in the past.

I don’t feel 40-something. Most of the time I feel 30-something (or even 20-something on really good days). The joke is that you feel like you’re in your 20’s until you hang out with actual 20-somethings, then you feel your own age again.

So back to Friends. I still love watching the re-runs. All those characters were so perfectly cast and each one had his or her own quirks and faults and strong points. Like me. I’m sure I have my strengths and weaknesses like anybody else.

I think we all have to realize that as imperfect as we are, so is everybody else around us. If I can give myself grace for not being perfect and for committing the occasional blunder or two, I can do the same for others.

It’s easy to nurse the wounds and play the martyr and hold grudges. Somehow, it feels better. But it’s not the better way. Jesus showed that the better way is forgiveness. The better way is turning the other cheek. The better way is loving your enemies.

Notice I didn’t say the easier way. Usually, the better way is the harder way because it goes against my natural inclinations. I’d rather treat others like they treat me and not give those who don’t treat me right the time of day.

But ultimately, it’s not about how others treat me. It’s about how Jesus treated me when I was a stranger and an alien and an enemy. That’s my new standard now.

And no, I didn’t expect to go from 90’s TV sitcoms to heavy theology in one blog. That’s just how I roll sometimes.

Driving While Intoxicated on Life


I don’t mind slow traffic these days. If I have good music playing. Otherwise, my ADD kicks in and that’s never pretty.

This afternoon on my way to my small group, I got into a bit of traffic. Thankfully, I had good tunes to keep me company.

As it turns out, I went to the wrong location. Because I a) didn’t read my email closely enough or b) deleted it by mistake or c) an unfortunate combination of both a and b, I went to the place where we last had our small group.

I ended up being just a tad late. If half an hour counts as a tad. But I got there.

I think sometimes God does that. He takes you on the longer, more scenic route sometimes. At the time, it’s easy to get impatient and to wonder why He didn’t take you through the short cut.

But when you get to your destination, you arrive prepared to face what God has planned for you there. Plus, you have extra experiences and relationships that you wouldn’t otherwise have had.

Life IS a journey. It’s about not just biding time until you reach your destination, but rolling down your windows to take in the scenery and breathe deep the night air.

So enjoy the ride and keep your eyes open. You might be pleasantly surprised at what you find.