Tom Brady and the Gospel

“So never forget how you used to be. Those of you born as outsiders to Israel were outcasts, branded “the uncircumcised” by those who bore the sign of the covenant in their flesh, a sign made with human hands. 12 You had absolutely no connection to the Anointed; you were strangers, separated from God’s people. You were aliens to the covenant they had with God; you were hopelessly stranded without God in a fracturedworld. 13 But now, because of Jesus the Anointed and His sacrifice, all of that has changed. God gathered you who were so far away and brought you near to Him by the royal blood of the Anointed, our Liberating King” (Ephesians 2:11-14, The Voice).

I should probably preface this by making this disclaimer: I am not now nor have I ever been a New England Patriots fan.

That said, I am amazed at how people who profess faith in Jesus and will loudly sing about His grace are so quick to post hateful and unChristlike comments and statuses about Tom Brady and the Patriots.

I’m not defending whether or not they cheated. I don’t know. I don’t know Tom Brady personally, so I can’t say anything about his character or behavior.

I do know this. I’d hate to be scrutinized and judged the way he’s been judged. The Bible I read seems to tell us not to judge and condemn, yet I see believers rushing to cast judgmental and condemning posts his way.

I also read that Jesus defended a woman caught in the very act of adultery. He told her accusers that he who is without sin should be the one to cast the first stone. Apparently, there are a lot of sinless people out there casting stones at Mr. Brady.

I don’t know the condition of Tom Brady’s soul. I can’t vouch either way on his salvation. No one but Tom Brady and God can.

I can say that I’d hate for someone who professes to be a follower of Jesus to be a stumbling block to Mr. Brady finding that salvation through comments that serve no other purpose but to judge and condemn.

My God is a God of grace. My God is a God who reaches out to the least of these, to those who deserve anything but a second chance.

I know that I’d hate people to dredge up my past failures and use them against me. I know some of you really wouldn’t want that.

I’m not by any means saying to root for the Patriots. I’m not saying to go out and buy a Tom Brady jersey. I’m merely suggesting that we show him the same mercy that we’ve been shown by God though Christ Jesus.

No one really wants what they deserve. If we got that, we’d all be in a lot of trouble. An eternity’s worth of trouble.

So maybe instead of bashing Mr. Brady, try praying for him instead. Maybe extend a little grace. Remember that you once needed someone to extend grace to you and you will more than likely need it again at some point in your life.

If your love of sports can allow you to be mean and hateful to the opposing teams and players, perhaps it has become an idol in your heart. Perhaps it has come to be something more than the entertainment it was always meant to be.

These are just the thoughts of one ragamuffin who knows what he deserves and is forever thankful and grateful that through the grace of God he will never get it.


A Small Sign


I went to downtown Franklin for the Main Street Festival. I visited all my usual haunts: McCreary’s Irish Pub, Frothy Monkey, and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

While in my favorite church, I prayed that God would lead me to the person or people I needed to see that night. Or something like that. I don’t remember exactly. I prayed I would see at least one familiar face that night.

I did. Toward the end, I ran into a friend I haven’t seen in a while. It was a short conversation, but it was a good reminder: God hasn’t forgotten me yet.

It’s funny how God sends little signs like that all the time. I confess that most of the time I miss these little signs in my quest to find the ultimate sign from God.

But God is always patient with me, more so than I deserve. There’s a verse in 1 Timothy, I think, that says that if we are faithless, God will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.

I’ve claimed that verse many times for myself when I felt faithless or just full of doubts and fear. And never once has God proved to be anything less than 100% faithful to His promises to me. Oh, and to me, too.

Why I Call Myself Blessed

“One word, Ma’am,” he said, coming back from the fire; limping, because of the pain. “One word. All you’ve been saying is quite right, I shouldn’t wonder. I’m a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won’t deny any of what you said. But there’s one more thing to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things-trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we’re leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that’s a small loss if the world’s as dull a place as you say” (C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair).

Good ol’ Puddleglum. For those not familiar with Narnia, that’s the character speaking these words. And I like them.

I am currently jobless. Again. But I still consider myself blessed.

I’d rather be where I am right now with God than in my dream job, making ridiculous amounts of money, without Him.

I’ve found out this simple equation:

Me + God > Me + Everything Else – God

I don’t know if that’s grammatically or mathematically correct, but it’s right as far as I’m concerned.

I’m blessed because I have God. I’m blessed because this God promises not to give me what I need or lead me to it, but because He’s promised that HE HIMSELF will be my provision.

Even if God never did another blessed thing for me, if God never gave me another sign or another visible reminder of His prescence, He would still have been better to me that I deserve for saving my soul.

So if I wake up tomorrow and draw breath, if I get out of bed and live through the next 24 hours, I’m blessed because God is with me. If I don’t wake up tomorrow, I’m still blessed because then I’ll be with God.

I call that a win-win.

The Love of God Revisited

“Take your human feelings, multiply them exponentially into infinity, and you will have a hint of the love of God revealed by and in Jesus Christ.  With a strong affirmation of our goodness and a gentle understanding of our weakness, God is loving us – you and me – this very moment, just as we are and not as we should be.  There is nothing any of us can do to increase his love for us and nothing we can do to diminish it” (Brennan Manning).

Tonight at Kairos, I got a much-needed reminder about the unconditional love of God for me.

It’s easy for me (and I’m sure you as well) to get caught up in the trap of a performance-based view of love and then transfer it to God. It goes like this:

If I live right, God will love me more.

If I read my Bible more, God will love me more.

If I tithe more, attend church services more, treat people better, and so on and on. . . .

The truth is that if I never read my Bible one more time, God’s love for me would remain undiminished (thanks to Michael Boggs for that gem of a reminder).

The truth is that the nature of God as love means that He cannot love any less than perfectly anymore than He can be anything less than 100% holy or 100% righteous. So He is 100% loving toward you and me.

The catch is that He chooses to love me when He doesn’t have to. He chooses to love you simply because it is His pleasure and His delight. It’s nothing that you and I bring to the table or anything about us that makes us lovable. Only the love of God in us and for us can make us lovable.

A dangerous prayer to pray (that may not seem dangerous) is to ask God to show you just how much He loves you. Your mind won’t be able to contain the answer. After all, it is beyond human comprehension or understanding.

As always, let that love be what defines you, not what your friends say or think, what your annual job performance review tells you, what your level of success and influence tells you, or anything like that. You are not defined by marital status, career, finances, popularity, or even religious standing.

Only God’s love has the power to define (or redefine) you, heal you, save you, and transform you into something worth loving.

Oh, and one more thing. I’m not loved this much to hoard it all. I’m loved so that I can receive it and turn around and love those around me the same way. In fact, the true measure of how I’ve really received the love of God is how well I share it with those around me who need it most but deserve it least.

Just think about that for a while and see if it doesn’t blow your mind.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, and The Weird (A Celebration of Life)

First of all, the good news. I FOUND MY PHONE! WOOHOO!

Can you tell I’m a tad excited? I think so (said in my best Joey Tribbiani voice).


Apparently, the lady at the Connection Cafe found it after I left it on one of the tables and took it back behind the counter, turning it off to save the battery. Thank you, nice Cafe lady whose name I don’t know but to whom I and Steve Jobs are eternally grateful.

Also, I had a marvelous time in downtown Franklin with a Facebook friend and her daughter, with whom I am also now Facebook friends. They are two of the best people ever. Seriously. Thank you, Carol and Hannah for making this Wednesday one of my best ever.

The bad? It was rainy and I had a sinus headache. The rain passed and so did my headache. End of story.


The ugly? I may have found my phone but I’m still looking for my mind. If you see it, make sure and put it someplace safe and comfortable and make sure it gets fed twice a day. Preferably cheese and chocolate.

The weird? Me on a daily basis. But I’ve come to love my own particular brand of weird that I prefer to call eccentricity.

I still love that God knows where I am at all times. It’s even better than that Find my iPhone app.  He knows the secret thoughts I carry and the secret scars hidden so deep no one has ever found them.

Hannah, keep writing. Keep telling your story and keep singing the song God has put in your heart. Someone out there needs to hear it.



To celebrate, I am posting pictures of animals and people celebrating. I am also sitting on the couch with one very non-celebratory cat sleeping in my lap. Yay.

I celebrate being alive and redeemed. I celebrate drawing another breath and breathing in the grace of God in every moment. I celebrate God’s amazing goodness to me who never deserved one iota of it.

Life is good, God is great, I am blessed. The end.


That Old One-Note Symphony of Grace


I’ll be honest. I sat here staring at my laptop trying to come up with something else. I even scanned the headlines on in a vain attempt to find some noteworthy news to comment on. Nothing exciting happened today, so I guess I’ll fall back on a familiar topic. Grace.

Grace never gets old for me. It may get old for you reading about me writing about it yet again, but it truly never gets old for me.


If I lived to be 1,000 years old, I think I’d still be amazed by grace. You’d still catch me dumbfounded, mouth wide open in awe of grace working in my life.

Grace is why I’m not still mired in my own sins and phobias, trapped by my own sense of worthlessness, doomed to stay inside a prison of my own making.

Grace is the smile of God over me and the Everlasting Arms underneath me that keep me going on the good days and gets me through on the bad days.



Grace sees past the awkward conversations, the good intentions once again executed poorly, the regrets of words not spoken, and all the failures to the perfect end result.

Grace sees the best in me and allows me to see the best in the other and helps bring it out of both of us.

Grace revives dashed hopes, broken dreams, crushed spirits, ruined relationships, and forsaken lives.


Grace is me not getting what I deserve and getting what I do not deserve– life more abundant and full and satisfying than anything else out there.

Grace means I woke up today with a thousand blessings waiting to be seen through a heart filled with thanksgiving and gratitude and joy.

Grace is my family and my friends loving me, rooting for me, calling out the God-colors in me, and helping me remember the song in my heart when I’ve forgotten the words.

Grace is the setting sun, the autumn breeze, the laughter of children, the old couple still holding hands, the leaves changing colors, and the applause of heaven over one  wayward sinner who comes home.

And grace is mine, all mine.


Some Things I Found While Randomly Surfing the Net

“Keep a clear eye toward life’s end. Do not forget your purpose and destiny as God’s Creature. What you are in His sight is what you are and nothing more. Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take nothing you have received . . . but only what you have given; a full heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage” (St Francis of Assisi).

I still can’t help thinking about the Ash Wednesday Mass at St Philip’s that I attended Wednesday. I’d like to say that I was brave enough to go down front and receive the ashes and the sacraments, but I wasn’t. I stayed in the very back and observed everyone else going forward, but I couldn’t make myself go. Even though I didn’t know another living soul there, I could have gone, but I chickened out.
It was still a beautiful service. To have the visible reminder of just how serious sin and its consequences are on your forehead is to remember the terrible price it took to pay for that sin. To receive the sacraments is to remember that it took a broken body and shed blood for that sin to be paid for.
I know I’ve sinned in the area of things left undone. I’ve sinned by listening more to my fear than to my faith. I’ve been more concerned about pleasing those around me than pleasing God. I’ve sat down when I should have stood up and walked.
But I also know that I’m forgiven. What I deserved, death and hell, fell on Jesus, and what I didn’t deserve, life to the fullest and grace overflowing, came to me and those like me. All I can do is be thankful and show that same grace to others who need it, too.
Since this is Valentines Day, a.k.a Single Awareness Day, I’m throwing in some wise words from a woman who epitomized grace and style. These are wise words to live by:

“For attractive lips, speak words of kindness. For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry. For beautiful hair, let a child run her fingers through it once a day. For poise, know that you never walk alone” (Audrey Hepburn)

Blessed are the merciful

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7)

In the Bible, grace and mercy are many times used together. I’ve heard it put this way that grace is getting what you don’t deserve, and mercy is not getting what you do deserve. Mercy is withholding the right to revenge and giving grace instead. One of God’s characteristics is that He is merciful. If anyone had the right to exact judgment on what we’ve done wrong and how we’ve screwed up and when we’ve outright rebelled against Him, it’s God. But He in HIs grace gives us what we don’t deserve– forgiveness– and in His mercy withholds from us what we do deserve– everlasting punishment in hell.

To be merciful is to be like God. To forgive, even when forgiveness is not sought, is to be like God. Mercy is loving the unloveable. It’s easy to love someone who loves you back, but God calls us to love those who are so caught up in and trapped by fear and addictions that they are unable to love us back.

I like the Message version. It says, “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.”

If you show mercy, you get mercy. I also like to think that one of the characteristics of those who have experienced God’s grace and mercy is that they live out that grace and mercy toward others. You forgive much because you have been forgiven much. You don’t worry about the $100 worth of wrong someone did to you when God just forgave the $1 million worth of wrong you did against Him.

Brennan Manning says it best: “Our encounter with Mercy profoundly affects our interaction with others . . . . We look beyond appearances, beneath surfaces, to recognize others as companions in woundedness. Human flesh is heir to the assaults, within and without, of negative, judgmental thoughts, but we will not consent to them because God is merciful to us. We will not allow these attacks to lead us into the sins of self-preoccupation and self-defense. Swimming in the merciful love of Christ, we are free to laugh at the tendency to assume spiritual superiority– in ourselves. We are free to extend to others the mercy we have received.”

As always, I believe. Help my unbelief.