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.


It’s Monday Eve Again

My cat Lucy is purring, so I’m thinking she’s unaware that tomorrow is Monday. Either that or she’s in complete denial.

I’m leaning toward the latter.

Of course, her schedule for tomorrow is a little less complicated than mine. Her to-do list goes something like 1) eat, 2) take a nap, 3) poop 4) take a nap, 5) dash crazily around the house for 45 seconds, 6) take a nap, etc.

Monday’s not my favorite way to start off the week.

Then again, Monday means I’m alive and made it to another day.

I can choose to complain or I can choose to give thanks. Gratitude is a much better way to live than grumbling. You can see every day as a burden or as a miracle. It’s your  choice.

So to that end, I say that God is great, life is good, and I am still very much blessed.

The end.

This Blood’s for You: An Easter Toast for 2017

“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song” (Pope John Paul II).

Once again, I raise my glass and drink to all of you outcasts and loners out there.

Here’s to all of you with perpetually plastered smiles on your faces whose cheery dispositions hide a world of pain that few know about. You may project eternal optimism, but inwardly you feel you’re in the middle of the deepest darkest valley.

Here’s to you who know all too well the meaning of being alone in a crowd. You’re always the one feeling left out in all the conversations and the one who never gets invited to group activities.

Here’s to you who never quite fit in anywhere and who always feel unwanted. Maybe you feel closer than ever to simply giving up on everything.

Here’s to you who feel invisible, rejected, undesirable, outcast, and alone. Jesus died for you. Jesus saw you in your darkest and at your worst and loved you enough to die for you, then and there.

You are no longer unworthy because Jesus considered you worth not a little or even a lot but all of His precious blood shed on that cross.

Here’s to all those nobodies whom God has called to turn the world upside down. You who were once far off and strangers to hope and desperately awkward and ashamed are now sons and daughters of the King and joint-heirs with Jesus to the Kingdom and– best of all– the beloved of your Abba.

Here’s to those who finally belong and who finally fit in and who finally are learning how to embrace all of who God made them to be and to find that in comforting to the image of Christ they become their very best and truest selves.

Here’s to you.

At the Right Time

“When the right time arrived, God sent His Son into this world (born of a woman, subject to the law) to free those who, just like Him, were subject to the law. Ultimately He wanted us all to be adopted as sons and daughters” (Galatians 4:4-5 VOICE).

For some reason, the image that immediately popped into my mind upon reading this verse was that line from The Lord of the Rings when Gandalf announces, “A wizard is never late, nor is he early, he arrives precisely when he means to.”

I don’t by any means intend to suggest that God is Gandalf, but I do think that Gandalf is many ways is a picture of the Christ. More importantly, this speak a very important truth about God.

God is never early. God is never late. God’s timing is always perfect. Always.

Often in my own life, I’ve found that what seemed like delays weren’t because God wasn’t ready to give but because I wasn’t ready to receive. I had some growing up and maturing to do before I could fully appreciate what God had in store for me.

I do think that often when God doesn’t work according to my timetable, it isn’t because God is thwarting my plans but because God is seeing a much bigger picture and His vision for my life is so much grander than mine.

I heard a very good definition of anxiety as a state of feeling like everything has to happen immediately. The fear sets in when delays begin to seem like denials.

Fear, as I heard it put once, is False Evidence Appearing Real. In this case, faith calls me to trust the heart of God for me in the face of overwhelming yet ultimately false evidence that He will not work out all things together for my good.

Tonight I trust God’s heart as true and God’s timing as perfect. This season of Advent proves to me yet again that God always fulfills His promises to His people.

That’s good enough for me.


Only One Thing Matters

“Jesus continued from there toward Jerusalem and came to another village. Martha, a resident of that village, welcomed Jesus into her home. Her sister, Mary, went and sat at Jesus’ feet, listening to Him teach. Meanwhile Martha was anxious about all the hospitality arrangements.

Martha (interrupting Jesus): Lord, why don’t You care that my sister is leaving me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to get over here and help me.

Jesus: Oh Martha, Martha, you are so anxious and concerned about a million details, but really, only one thing matters. Mary has chosen that one thing, and I won’t take it away from her” (Luke 10:38-42, The Voice).

This Advent season may find you stretched too thin. You might feel like you’re being pulled in a hundred different directions toward a hundred different destinations, each one seemingly as important as the rest.

I believe the word from God for this season is this: the best place to be is at the feet of Jesus. Only one thing matters as we approach Christmas– creating margins and spaces in your life and heart to be able to hear the voice of your Good Shepherd.

Only one thing matters– seeing the Christ in Christmas an adoring the infant King, wrapped snugly and laying in a manger. As the worship song says, everything else can wait. Some of those to-do list tasks can even be left undone.

If you achieve all your holiday goals and purchase every last present and miss Jesus, you’ve missed Advent.

The best witness you can give this Advent season is to say no to the excess spending and the tyranny of the urgent while being still before the presence of God, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing.

You don’t have to be idle to be still. You can go about your daily life with a sense of urgent expectancy and waiting with hope. You can adore the Christ by your Christlike attitude in the midst of all the hustle and bustle, by your kindness and patience toward others, remembering that the one thing that matters most is not in your wallet or in your shopping bags or in your day planner but rather in the middle of your Nativity scene, laying in that manger.

More Quotes I Love

“But God will look to every soul like its first love because He is its first love. Your place in heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, because you were made for it—made for it stitch by stitch as a glove is made for a hand” (C. S. Lewis).

“What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could ‘be like gods’—could set up on their own as if they had created themselves—be their own masters—invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.

God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing” (C. S. Lewis).

“Now the whole offer which Christianity makes is this: that we can, if we let God have His way, come to share in the life of Christ. If we do, we shall then be sharing a life which was begotten, not made, which always has existed and always will exist. Christ is the Son of God. If we share in this kind of life we also shall be sons of God. We shall love the Father as He does and the Holy Ghost will arise in us. He came to this world and became a man in order to spread to other men the kind of life He has—by what I call ‘good infection’. Every Christian is to become a little Christ. The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else” (C. S. Lewis).

I started out to write something original, but I decided I didn’t like what I had written so I borrowed a little from some writing I did like. You can’t go far wrong with Mr. Lewis.

I promise tomorrow that I will be back with my own words.


Busted Brackets

I did my civic duty tonight. No, I didn’t vote. I filled out my NCAA basketball tournament brackets (nine in all).

Some of them I played straight. I picked all the #1 seeds to win. On some others, I just went plain crazy. I picked just about every game to be an upset.

It hit me as I was filling in these brackets. As you know, no 16 seed has ever beaten a 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Ever.

There have been a few #15 seeds upset the #2 seeds and a few more #14 seeds pull a shocker over their 3 seed counterpart, but no 16 seed has ever beaten a 1 seed since the tournament expanded to 64 teams back in the 80’s.

What hit me was this: what God did for me in saving me was the equivalent of a #16 seed winning the whole enchilada. Or if you will, the 64th best team (think Austin Peay) winning the national championship.

I’m definitely not saying that God’s the underdog in this story. I am. On my own, I had absolutely no shot of making it out of the first round. I was the equivalent of a team of corpses.

But God made me alive in Christ. He raised me up with supernatural power. in Jesus, I have become more than a conqueror. My salvation story is akin to that Austin Peay team reaching the finals and beating those mighty Kansas Jayhawks in the national championship game.

A pipe dream? Maybe. But I know that in God what seems impossible to me and you is possible for God. In fact, it’s not even remotely difficult for God (thanks again to Pete Wilson for that one).

I have a feeling that most of my brackets will be busted and broken by the Sweet Sixteen. I know that spiritually speaking, my life in God will never ever be busted and broken because I serve a God who knows the way out of hell and the grave.

The end.



But you, Bethlehem of Ephrathah,
        of the clans of Judah, are no poor relation—
    From your people will come a Ruler
        who will be the shepherd of My people, Israel,[b]
    Whose origins date back to the distant past,
        to the ancient days” (Micah 5:2, The Voice).

For some of you, this time of year is the time when you feel the most insignificant of all. You just happen to be scrolling through your Facebook feed and you see all the exciting events and parties that your friends are having that you weren’t invited to.

Maybe you end up sitting alone on your couch on Fridays and Saturdays because no one thought to ask if you had any plans for the weekend.

It’s easy to feel like you don’t matter to anyone. You are not alone. But you matter to Someone.

You’ve been invited to celebrate a birthday. Not just any birthday. This is the birthday of God-turned-fetus-turned-newborn wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.

The first evangelists of the blessed event were smelly shepherds. If anyone could feel like unwanted outsiders, it would have been them. Their occupation didn’t lend itself to a lot of socializing.

This year, Jesus invites you to celebrate His birthday. You don’t even have to bring anything– just you. It doesn’t even matter if you cleaned up and straightened up. All He’s asking is that you show up.

There’s not a single person in the Bible who found significance before God called them. Your significance ultimately isn’t in where you live, what you do for a living, or who you know. It’s Who knows you. It’s Who chose you.

At The Church at Avenue South, Aaron Bryant said that God is drawn to the insignificant, off-the-radar people.

Look at where God chose to introduce Himself to humanity. It wasn’t Rome or Jerusalem, but backwater Bethlehem via a peasant couple surrounded by barn animals and some of those aforementioned stinky shepherds.

God was (and still is) saying that all lives matter. Every life has significance. Simply being created in the image of God gives you incredible significance.

Just remember that when you’re sitting in the dark staring at your cat. You matter.


Christmas and Cold Weather

I confess. I’d really like to see a white Christmas. I mean I’d REALLY, REALLY like to see a WHITE CHRISTMAS. But I live in Tennessee, so the chances of that happening are about the same as those Tennessee Titans of mine actually making a run at the playoffs. In other words, not quite nil but very close.

It doesn’t seem like Christmas when it’s short-sleeves weather. It’s hard for me to get into the spirit of the season when I’m turning on the AC in my car on the way home from work.

Ultimately, what makes Christmas Christmas isn’t snow or freezing temps. It’s Christ. If it ends up being north of 80 degrees this Christmas Day and Jesus is present, I’ll be so much more than okay with that.

Unfortunately, it’s easy to take my eyes off even that during these frantic, fast-paced days. I lose sight of what I’m celebrating and get bogged down in slow traffic and bad drivers (obviously not me– no sarcasm there). Too many will only see the darker side of humanity and miss the fact that that’s why Jesus came– to rescue us from ourselves. If we were such kind and generous people all the time, we probably wouldn’t need rescuing.

I know I still need rescuing from time to time. That’s why I love Christmas. It reminds me that when I couldn’t get to God, He came to me. He became my Savior. My Redeemer. My Rescuer.

So I’m still holding out hope for snow on Christmas Eve. Even if it only flurries for a bit and doesn’t stick, I’d be good. At this point, it’d take a miracle.

The good news is that Christmas is all about miracles and the impossible becoming reality. It’s God doing what people said could never be done. Just look at Jesus.