“Young women . . ., I charge you: do not stir up or awaken love until the appropriate time” (Song of Solomon 8:4, Holman Christian Standard Bible).

In my quest to read through the Bible in a year, I recently went though Song of Solomon. I noticed several places where the verse said to not awaken love until the appropriate time.

I have some observations about relationships (from the serial non-dater, so take it for what it’s worth):

Too many are in too much of a hurry to get into a relationship that they’re not considering whether the person they are pursuing may or may not be who God has for them, or even if the person is compatible in terms of sharing faith and life goals.

Too many are so wrapped up in planning every detail of the perfect wedding, yet they have failed to even begin to plan for a godly marriage. No one remembers the beautiful wedding if the marriage tanks. No one.

Too many are staying in relationships because they’ve already invested so much time and effort. As I read recently, don’t cling to a mistake because you spent a lot of time making it.

As much as it sucks to be alone, it’s much worse to be in a bad relationship where you and the other have nothing in common and are pulling in two different directions. To be with someone who mocks and belittles your dreams and only offers you negativity is way worse than being by yourself.

Learn to be alone without being lonely. If you can’t really ever be alone, then you’re not ready to be with someone else. If you’re not comfortable and complete in who God made you to be, then there’s no one who’s going to fix you and make you whole.

Take this with a grain of salt. Or a huge bucketful of salt. But whatever you do, make sure that if you enter into any kind of relationship, pray over it and make certain in your heart it’s what God wants for you instead of asking God to bless what you’ve already decided.


I Hate Goodbyes

I hate goodbyes.

Even though part of me knows that the ending of one thing often brings the beginning of something new and better, I still want to hold on to the old.

Even though part of me realizes that nothing on this side of eternity can last, I still want little pockets of my life to stay the same, for certain people in my life to always stay the same age and never get older. That’s probably the same part of me that still thinks fat ol’ Santa climbs down the chimney to bring me my presents.

Goodbyes are never easy. Tonight was no exception.

We said goodbye to Mike Glenn as Kairos pastor. I understand that it was time for a change. I understand that Kairos needed fresh blood and a new vision. I understand that you can’t keep doing things the same old way year after year and hope for different outcomes.

That doesn’t mean I don’t think it sucks.

People who have been out there in the dating world know how hard it is to say goodbye to relationships. Sometimes even to the dream of a relationship. It’s gut-wrenchingly hard to say goodbye to loved ones who pass away, like aunts and uncles and parents. I can’t begin to imagine what it’s like to say goodbye to your child.

The part that I keep holding on to when unexpected (and sometimes unwanted) change comes is that there is no goodbye in God’s love for me. There is no end to that enless love that won’t let me go. It even holds on to me when I’m doing everything in my power to let go of it.

I can’t envision a scenario in any future where goodbye will ever be an easy word to say. I don’t want to ever get used to saying goodbye.

I know when it comes to my Abba Father and His unconditional extravagent love for me, I never will.



A Good Psalm

I’m sure now I’ll see God’s goodness
    in the exuberant earth.
Stay with God!
    Take heart. Don’t quit.
I’ll say it again:
    Stay with God” (Psalm 27:13-14).

Don’t quit. Stay with God. Take heart.

Those are good words that we’ve all needed at certain times and seasons.

Maybe you were stuck in an endless cycle of job applications and interviews and were beginning to feel like you were unemployable.

Maybe you were in a rocky patch of your marriage and you were beginning to wonder if it was even worth it to stick it out.

Maybe you were wondering if you’d ever find someone who’d think you were worth pursuing (or maybe being pursued by you).

Maybe you’re still there. Maybe you feel like you’ll always be there, seeing your dreams at a distance, always just out of reach.

Stay with God. Take heart. Don’t quit.

Don’t give up on God and especially don’t give up on the you that you’re becoming through this whole process. Don’t give up on the process itself and how it will ultimately be worth it in the end. More than worth it.

One thing I’ve learned and one thing I know is that God is faithful. Always.


Another Letter to Myself

Last year at Kairos, Mike Glenn instructed us to take pen to paper and write ourselves a letter, to be place in a self-addressed envelope and mailed back, to us at some point in the future. The point was that you could see where you were back then and where you are now and how far you’ve come.

Mine came back today. Here’s what I wrote way back in 2014:

“Dear Me,

You probably feel like your life is headed toward a dead end. You feel like everything will always be as it is right now. You feel like you’ll never move out on your own or go on a date, much less ever get married. You feel like you’ll always be behind, trying to catch up.

Remember, God can take anything in your life and turn it to good. What seems impossible to you right now isn’t even remotely difficult for God. One day, you will look back and see God was preparing you for a future only He could see. Remember that you kept putting one foot in front of the other, trusting that God knew what He was doing when you didn’t.

God is good. His promises are always true, in sunshine and rain, joy and pain, good and bad, in daytime and nighttime, as long as forever lasts.

Don’t let your past define you. Don’t let failure define you. Don’t let other people (or even you) define you. Let the Abba Father who calls you His Beloved be the one who defines you both now and forevermore.

A slightly wiser version of you”


A Prayer for the Weak


Maybe this is your prayer tonight:

Lord, I feel like giving up tonght. It’s just not worth it anymore.

Whatever I’m desiring most seems always just out of my reach. Right now, it feels easier to quit holding on to that dream of mine.

I want to pray “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief” but I don’t even have enough faith for that. I’m bankrupt when it comes to believing.

I’ve just about quit believing that I’ll ever get married. Or have children. Or that the children I do have will ever turn out right. Or that anyone will hire me. Or that I’ll ever be able to work in a place where I come alive instead of counting the hours and minutes until the weekend.

I feel like I’m completely screwing everything up. I don’t feel like anything I do matters or makes the tiniest bit of difference.

I do know that You’re still God. I do know that my impossibles aren’t impossible to You. In fact, they’re not even difficult for You.

I know You are truer than my feelings and though You seem so far away, You’re nearer to me than my next breath.

I don’t know how any of this will work out, but I know You will take care of me. Even if You deny my dreams, it’s only because they weren’t big enough for You.

I declare all these things with a faith that’s barely a blip on the radar screen. A faith that’s as small as a mustard seed. But still I declare.

So here’s me offering all I know of me to all I know of You. Take me and use me in whatever way You want. Let me know You’re near and let me feel in this moment how much You love me.

I surrender.

A prayer for My Future Wife in 2014



You know how tired I am from waiting. You know how weak my faith is and how unstable my belief can be.

I’m still holding onto that mustard seed-sized faith, clutching it with everything I’ve got, with all my heart and strength and soul and mind. I want to rest tonight not in Your promises or provisions, but in Your person, Your character, in You.

Lord, I’m still believing in the miracle that some woman will fall in love with me and want to spend the rest of her life with me. It seems impossible sometimes, but then I remember the words of a pastor: what seems impossible to me isn’t even remotely difficult for you.

I’m praying you will be with her tonight and envelop her with your peace and surround her with your everlasting arms. May her joy be full as she rests in you, completely comfortable in who You’ve made her to be and in Whose she is– Yours.

May she cast aside every hindrance, every distraction, every clamoring voice, and run only after You, her true heart’s desire. May she keep a single-minded focus on Your Son, Jesus, and not fall into the lies and deceptions that tell her she is not enough.

May you bring her into my life, but not until the time that both she and I are ready– and not a moment sooner. Help her faith not to falter and her trust to remain stedfast and secure in You only.

Help me to be the man who can win her heart and guard it until the day you ask for it back. Help me to become the man who will help her to unveil all the beauty and wisdom and lovingkindness you have placed in her so she will become all that you created her to be.

As always, I believe. Help my unbelief. And hers, too.


For When You’re Feeling Anxious


It’s February. And unless you’re living in Hawaii with all those palm trees and beaches, it’s cold.

My feelings on cold weather go something like this: if it’s gonna be this cold, it might as well snow, or what’s the point?

Maybe you’re feeling more than just cold. Maybe you’re feeling anxious or stressed.

Perhaps you’re out of a job and wondering how that big stack of bills is going to get paid. Or where they money is going to come from to put gas in the car. Or food on the table.

Maybe you’re still single and wondering when (or even if) that special someone will ever come along.

Maybe you’re children don’t want to have anything to do with you anymore and you don’t know how to get through to them anymore.

Maybe it’s just a combination of a million little things all rolled up into one big case of anxiety.

Don’t you know that Jesus didn’t come to bring your peace?

He came to be your peace. He is after all the Prince of Peace.

That’s what all of us who are overwhelmed with worry and stress need to remember. Jesus may not take away all those things that cause anxiety, but He promises to walk with us through every trial, every tribulation, and every dark valley.

Jesus has already overcome whatever you’re afraid of. Nothing can touch you apart from God’s permission. And absolutely nothing can come between you and the love of your Abba Father.

Sometimes, you need medicine to make those anxieties go away. That doesn’t make you less spiritual. It just means your brain needs a little help to function normally.

I love the line from that movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: Everything will be fine in the end. If it’s not fine, it’s not the end.

American Idols


I suspect that we’re all guilty of idolatry at some point. I wish I could remember the definition of idolatry I heard earlier today, but I didn’t take very good notes so I’ve forgotten most of it.

It had something to do with us valuing anything more than God, of seeking our identity and purpose in anything other than God.

In biblical times, idolatry often meant bowing down to little tin or bronze statues. But in our time, it is much more subtle. Sometimes it’s harder to detect because it looks like normal devotion.

I wonder how many parents idolize their children. Or how many children idolize their parents. Or maybe it’s men (and women, too, I suppose) who make idols out of their careers or their spouses.

I think anytime you say that your child is your world, you’ve created an idol out of him or her. The same goes for spouses or boyfriends or girlfriends.

You can even make religion into an idol if you get caught up in following rules and rituals for their own sake rather than because it pleases Jesus.

It can be wealth or the desire for wealth. It can be sex or the desire for sex. It can be a relationship or the overwhelming desire for one. Idols are tricky like that. It’s not about an object as much as the desire in your heart.

You can make idols out of genuinely good things, like your children, your marriage, your job, your bank account . . . just about anything and anyone can be an idol if you place it above God in your heart.

How do I know so much about idolatry? Because I’ve had more than my fair share of idols. I can always tell when a relationship has become idolatrous in my life because my peace of mind gets tied to my perception of how well that relationship is going.

It’s easy to point the finger at the Israelites in the Old Testament for their propensity for idolatry. Heck, they were barely out of Egypt before they were bowing down to golden calfs. But that tendency is just as much in me as it was in them. I suspect it’s in you, too.

I think we have idols because we haven’t fully grasped how good God is, how much He’s really for us, and how much He really does love us. Or maybe we’ve just forgotten like those old Israelites did back in the day.

The best way to combat idolatry is to remember. To go back and recall how it felt when you first grasped the love of God for you. Or as the Bible puts it, “to remember your first love.”

God Loves Even Hot Messes, Right?


I confess. I am a mess.

Ooo, I was just a poet and didn’t know it.

But I am a mess.

Sometimes, I frighten people with my friendliness. It comes across too strong a little too early. I am an acquired taste, a bit odd and unusual. And sometimes I confuse someone who is friendly and nice to everybody with someone who genuinely wants to be my friend.

In other words, I’m unique.

So are you.

Maybe you’ve tried way too hard to make someone like you or be your friend.

Maybe you’ve wondered why all the people in your life seem gradually withdraw from you and go away after a while. Maybe even family members. Or spouses. The ones closest to you who you thought would always be there.

Here’s the thing. To God, you’re beautiful. To God, you’re a priceless work of art. To God, your worth is more than the very lifeblood of His only Son, all the agony and torture of a painful death on a cross. You matter.

I’ve come to believe the right people will see your mess and stick around anyway.

The right people will call out the good they see in you and help you to see it in yourself. They will help you remember that song in your heart when you’ve forgotten the words.

Even a Van Gogh painting probably looked like a mess when it was still in progress. And that’s what you are, dear friend.

A work in progress. A masterpiece in the making. Heaven’s poetry etched onto lives, as one translation of Ephesians 2:10 puts it.

Don’t despair. Don’t give up or give in to the pressure to be someone else or (perish the very idea) try to be normal.

Take courage, dear heart. God made you to be you. He delights in you being you. He’s even helping you find your truest self, the “youest” you.

Christmas is all about messes. Do you think the manger scene was pristine? Do you think the place where Jesus arrived was a 5-star hotel? It was not.

If Jesus arrived in the middle of a messy manger, then He above anyone understands what messes look like and how to make them clean. Not better, not improved, but new.

Celebrate that you’re you and no one else. One day, you’ll find out that your part in God’s Story might not have been the leading role, but it was vital to the Story and you made a difference in the outcome.

These are just the thoughts of one hot mess directed to all the other hot messes out there.

Advent Is For You

Maybe you know the feeling.

Maybe a certain someone at work is friendly to everyone else but you.

Maybe you’ve set your heart on someone only to have that feeling go unreturned and maybe even unackowledged.

Maybe you feel alone in a crowd, unwanted and invisible.

Maybe you’ve even felt that the world would be better off without you in it.

Maybe you feel like no one will ever choose you, that no one will ever desire you, that no one will love you in the way you’ve always dreamed of being loved.

Advent says differently.

Advent says God saw you at your worst and thought you were worth saving.

Advent says God loved you so much and couldn’t bear to be without you to the point that He put on human skin to be born in the lowliest way to the lowliest people to show that no one is beneath His grace.

Advent says that God’s love for you is more than academic and theoretical. That love led Him from a manger to a cross, where His death once and for all gave your life meaning and purpose and value. He really did think you were to die for.

In the next 13 days, it’s always good to remember those we love and choose gifts that represent how much the people in our lives mean to us.

But don’t forget the best gift is already given. The best gift came wrapped in cloth, delivered in a dirty animal feeding trough, born to die so that you who are dead may know what it means to come alive to God and everything good.

What is my gift in return? Me. What is your gift? You.

Not your good works. Not your best intentions. Not your trophies and awards.

You. Right where you are, just as you are, warts and scars and all.

Like 2,000 years ago in a little barn, all God is looking for is a place to start.