No Plan B

“The key is that your request be anchored by your single-minded commitment to God. Those who depend only on their own judgment are like those lost on the seas, carried away by any wave or picked up by any wind.  Those adrift on their own wisdom shouldn’t assume the Lord will rescue them or bring them anything. The splinter of divided loyalty shatters your compass and leaves you dizzy and confused” (James 1:6-9, The Voice).

Tonight at the Room in the Inn Bible study, the teacher spoke from James 1 about what it means to be double-minded when it comes to prayer.

It occurred to me that praying in faith with no doubts (see James 1:6) is to pray with no plan B in mind, knowing that God hears your heart more than He hears your words, especially when words won’t come.

Maybe you’ve had a plan B in the past. You pray the words, but you have a backup plan just in case God doesn’t come through. You hedge your bets, so to speak, and don’t fully trust in God.

I wonder how many of our prayers go unanswered because they aren’t really prayers at all. They’re more like wishful thinking while we implement our own plans and rule our own lives — or at least we have the illusion that we do.

Have you ever stepped out in faith and prayed boldly in such a way that if God doesn’t come through, what you’re doing or hoping for will fail spectacularly? It’s a lot like stepping out on a high wire with no safety net below. It’s scary but that kind of faith never goes unrewarded.

Pray big and pray boldly, knowing that it’s not a great faith in God that brings about answers to prayers but faith in a great God who always keeps His promises to His people.



Here’s the Deal

So I found out today that the cost to repair the transmission on my Jeep is $2700. I almost needed the smelling salts as I typed that sentence. I’ll be sans car for up to four weeks. Pass those smelling salts, please.

That’s a lot of money. All for some itty bitty parts that decided on their own without consulting me or anyone else to stop working. All for some unseen mechanical gears that I didn’t even know existed until they decided to break down. Rude.

A lot of life is like that. Things break, people die, situations change. What seemed like a sure thing vanishes like the morning mist and what you thought would last forever ends abruptly without any warning.

It’s easy to let those things make you cynical, believing that only the very worst scenarios will play out and that nothing good can ever happen and that people are only out to get you.

Or it drives you deeper into all the Mystery that is the Abba Father.

As big as my car bill is, God is bigger.

As big as the void that is left by the passing of a loved one is, God is bigger.

As big as the hurt caused by the rejection of a friend or a family member, God is bigger.

As big as the accumulation of scars and wounds from a broken relationship are, God is bigger.

God is bigger than anything you will face today or tomorrow or the next day or any day after that.

God is bigger than any problem that you will ever face.

God is bigger than your fears and your doubts and even your unbelief.

Whatever circumstances, God will prove that He is enough. Everything you could possibly desire or want or hold in your hands without God is less than holding onto nothing but God.

That’s a lesson that all of us learn eventually, whether that means losing everything in a literal sense or in coming to the end of your own schemes and plans.

God is enough. God will be enough.

That is enough.


Lent Update for 2015

I have two more weeks to go for my Lent break from social media. So far, so good. More than having extra free time, the best part has been clearing my head and getting my perspective readjusted (again). As much as I love all things social media, it can mess with your head if you let it.

You know it’s time to step away for a bit when you start valuing your self-worth based on social media. I should know, being a recovering approval-addict. I’ve been there, done that, bought the t-shirt and worn it.

I’ll confess that not everything God has shown me during this season of Lent has been fun or easy. I’ve seen just how much I’m addicted to worry and stress and doubts. My faith is smaller than I thought, but I’m also finding out that God os much bigger than I ever imagined.

It’s been a long journey from that day on May 22. 2012 when I got laid off from my job. It hasn’t gone nearly the way I thought it would. But I have seen God’s provision and felt His nearness more in these past three years than ever before.

Lent is a way of me reminding myself that 1) God owns it all and controls it all, not me; 2) if I have God and nothing else, I’m better off than if I had everything but God; 3) it truly will be fine in the end because God said so, and if it’s not fine, then it’s not the end (to borrow a line from The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

I think that covers it.


Easter Season Liturgy Part V


“O God, Creator of heaven and earth:  Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

So I did the whole downtown Franklin thing again. It always does my heart good to be back there, revisiting my favorite haunts and breathing in the perfect spring night air.

I don’t really know what to do with the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter. It seems so low-key compared to the tragic drama of Friday and the joyful triumphant victory of Sunday.

But I know what’s coming. I wonder what those disciples were thinking and feeling. Or the Marys. It must have seemed like the lowest point of their lives. All of their hopes and dreams and been awakened and they had only just begun to hope, then it was dashed and broken to pieces beyond recognition.

The one they thought would save them was dead in a tomb. They had seem the bloodied body, seen the moment when the spear went into Jesus’ side and both blood and water poured out. There was no doubt.

I’m glad I’m on this side of history and I know what’s coming. I know with the next sunrise comes Sunday and the empty tomb and a risen Christ. That’s where my hope lies.

I can’t imagine people whose faith won’t allow for miracles or resurrections. Would that even be faith at all? What if Jesus’ death were only an example and the only way He lived was in the memories of His followers? What kind of hope would that be?

Only a literal resurrection can give true hope. Only a Jesus who’s really and truly alive, with the wounds in His hands, feet, and side, could inspire the joy of Easter. That’s why I can’t wait for tomorrow and the celebration that comes with it.


Being a Barnabas

hand up

Do you have any Barnabas-type people in your life?

Barnabas was one of the first missionaries sent out by the early Church, commissioned by the Apostles themselves. His name meant “son of encouragement” and he was the one who believed in people when others couldn’t or wouldn’t. First it was Paul then later John-Mark.

When people were still afraid of Paul and wouldn’t touch him with a 10-foot pole after his murderous past, Barnabas was the one who stood up for him and helped him get his start. When that same Paul wanted to give up on John-Mark after he had a meltdown on the mission field and deserted them, Barnabas stood by the young believer, even though it meant the end of Paul and Barnabas as a missions team.

Barnabas was the one guy you wanted in your corner who wouldn’t give up on you. Although I’m fairly certain he preferred not to be called Barney, although that is strictly my own speculation.

How many times has someone been a Barnabas to you?

Maybe when you’d messed up and felt like no one should give you a second chance, someone did. Maybe that someone believed in you even when you doubted yourself and believed for you when you couldn’t find the faith to believe. Someone who encouraged and inspired and challenged you to do more than you ever thought you could.

Have you ever been Barnabas to someone else?

Maybe someone needs your encouragement right now. Maybe someone has run out of faith and doesn’t see how their circumstances will ever improve or how they will ever be useful to the Kingdom. It could be your words to inspire that person and it could be your faith that gets them through.

All I know is that no one gets through this life alone. All of us will be in need at some point and all of us will be in a position to fill a need at some point. Just remember it’s just as wrong to refuse someone’s help as it is to see someone else in need and do nothing. Either way, your robbing someone of the blessing of giving– either yourself or the other.

Remember Who stood up for you when no one else would. Remember Who took your place when you least deserved it.

More Pre-WordPress Nuggets (Containing No Actual Chicken)


June 24, 2010

I was thinking today about Job’s situation and how it relates to mine (and possibly yours, too). In Job 42, God tells Job’s friends that they have slandered Job and misrepresented God. He tells them that Job will pray for them, and He will hear him and not deal with them as they deserve. Job prays for his friends, then God gives him back what he lost, doubled.

Job had to pray for those who wronged him before God restored him. Job had to forgive the ones who slandered him and his God. Is there some area of your life that needs healing and/or restoration? It could be that God is waiting for you to pray for the ones who hurt you in that area before he restores to you what you lost or heals you.

As much as I pray for God to forgive those who hurt me, that much will God forgive me (see the Lord’s prayer). As much as I pray for God to bless those who slander me, God will bless me. As much as I pray for the restoration and healing of those whose wounds I carry, God will restore and heal me.

This is me thinking out loud again. So take it for what it’s worth.


May 3, 2010

My greatest fear is that if people ever really find out who I am and what I am like, they will leave me and want nothing else to do with me. That I am not good enough. That I do not have what it takes.

So I live to please others. I become whoever I think they want me to be. I strive constantly to prove myself to others, so they can tell me who I am. That I do have what it takes. I feel that if I can make them like me, then I am worthy and not a cosmic *$#-up.

But I can’t make anyone like me or be interested in me. I can only let God love me and let that Love define me. If I let people tell me who I am and define me, they will get it wrong. If I make pleasing people my purpose, they will fail me every single time.

Lord, you are telling me that I am someone beautiful who has meaning and is worthy. I am good enough and I do have what it takes because I have you. I believe what You say about me. Lord, I do believe. Help my unbelief.


April 26, 2010

I am Jacob, for I try to manipulate and deceive every person I meet.
I am Gomer, for I whore myself after other gods and do not seek the One True God.
I am Abraham, for I lie when it suits me.
I am Esau, for I am willing to trade things of eternal worth for worthless things.
I am Cain, for my anger gets the best of me at times.
I am Moses, for I do not believe God when He says He can speak through me.
I am Judas, for I am so often ready to betray my Savior for so little.
I am David, for I sin and try to cover it up, rather than confess and be made whole.
I am Forgiven, because Jesus died for me.
I am Beloved, for God has declared me so.


April 11, 2010

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me (2 Corinthians 12:9).

When was the last time I boasted in my weaknesses? I seldom even acknowledge that I have any weaknesses. Usually I try to sell myself on what I consider my best qualities. But weaknesses? I try to hide them or pretend they don’t exist.

I truly believe that there is a power that comes only through weakness and brokenness that will never come through self-reliance or self-sufficiency. Only when I am weak, when I admit to the world that I am weak, then I am strong. And Christ in me is so much stronger than I could ever be.

What if I boasted in the fact that my social skills are slightly better than nonexistant? That I back down when I should stand up? What if I shout to the rooftops that I am weak, helpless, afraid and utterly broken? Maybe then I am at my strongest and the power that raised Christ from the dead is unleashed in me.

This is so very against the culture that it is unthinkable. But aren’t I supposed to be counter-culture? What if we are too busy fitting in and so much like the world that we have completely lost the power that can save the world? Maybe that’s why Christians are so despised. Not because we are different, but because we are not different enough.

A broken world can’t relate to perfect, holier-than-thou Christians who have it all together. They respond when they see what our brokenness looks like and when God’s grace is able to transform our weakness into His strength. Grace is what the world needs, not our perfection.


A Good Night for a Homecoming


It was a good night for a high school homecoming game. It seemed more than a bit surreal to be at Beech High School on their homecoming night, but you couldn’t ask for better weather.

The home team won. Barely. The game was probably more suspenseful than it needed to be, as the Beech Buccaneers kept letting Gallatin back in the game. All that matters in the end is that the home team won and lots of good memories got made.


I was purely a spectator. I didn’t know anyone at the game save for the handful of folks from my community group. I was feeling a bit weary and disconnected, so I did my fair share of wandering alone through the masses there to celebrate one of the truly great and time-honored rites of passage still left sacred in our society.

I was a bit saddened by the regret of one blog I wrote about a friend some months ago that caused a strain on our friendship. I’ve since deleted the post, but it’s still not the same as it was (and may never again be). If I could go back in time, I’d tell myself not to write that blog. It’s one thing I wish everyday that I could go back and undo.

But enough of that. I got over it. I saw a very strange but creative halftime show by the Beech High School marching band. Apparently, it was themed around the M. Night Shyamalan movie Signs, but all I saw were little green men and women scurrying around a fake cornfield and playing eerie movie music. Kudos for creativity, but not so much for making sense.

I made a new friend (Rachel), had some very salty Powerade, witnessed a great game, and hung out with some amazing people called the Green Hills Community Group.


It’s funny how at times I remembered exactly how I felt as a 17-year old during my high school homecoming game. All the uncertainty, fear, doubts, insecurities, and joys came rushing back. But I saw it all through (hopefully) wiser 41-year old eyes.

I hope to do the high school homecoming game thing again, but hopefully not after putting in 40 hours of work in 4 days and hopefully more rested.

God is just as good to me at 41 as He was when I was 17. It’s nice to know some things never change. Even when I’m 64, that same God will be with me and for me and love me just the same He did when I was in high school and like He does now.

Losing Your Way

I went to downtown Franklin like so many other times before. In fact, I’ve made the drive so much I can go into autopilot and be thinking about other things while I navigate those familiar roads.

This time, apparently I got too wrapped up in my own thoughts and made one of my turns a block too early. I looked up and for a second I thought, “Where the heck am I? What have they done with my downtown Franklin?”

I figured out what I had done and had to do a bit of a scenic detour to get to my destination, but I got there.

At some point or another, we all get lost. Sometimes we get lost in our thoughts. Sometimes we get lost in a web of anxiety and irrational thinking and find ourselves saying things and acting in ways that aren’t true to who we really are.

But no matter how far out of the way you’ve gone, it’s always possible to get back.

Sometimes it takes being a part of something greater than yourself, volunteering for a cause that is way bigger than your own problems.

Sometimes it takes a friend gently but firmly speaking the truth to you in love to set you straight.

Sometimes it takes going to a favorite place on a perfect night and being in the moment with cool spring breezes and familiar sights and sounds.

Everyone gets lost. Even in the healing process, you will have bad days where you fall back to old habits and fears. I had one of those last Tuesday, but I’ve since owned it and moved forward. It’s okay to admit what you’re feeling, to be okay with the bad days because you know they are as equal a part of the healing process as the good days.

Most of all, there is never a time when Jesus doesn’t know where you are. He knows because he’s right there with you, often walking beside you unnoticed as you’re too enveloped in the fog of your pain and doubt to see him.

For those who know what it’s like to be lost and then found, you truly know what a sweet sound amazing grace is.


How Fit Is Your Faith?

If I had my way, everyone would like me. Everything would always go my way and my teams would always win every game. All those teams I didn’t like would cease to exist. Everything I owned would work properly and every road I drove down would be sunny and traffic jam-free.

I’d also have the weakest faith ever.

Most of the things that have strengthened my faith have been unwanted, uncomfortable and (sometimes painful). Given a choice, I probably would have said no to most of them. But my faith wouldn’t be nearly what it is now.

So here’s some questions to gauge how fit your faith is:

1) What do you do when your “dream mate” falls in love with someone else?

2) What happens when someone at work doesn’t like you, no matter how nice and friendly you are or how you go out of your way to treat him or her with kindness?

3) What happens when your circumstances never seem to get any better and hope gets harder and harder to find?

4) What happens when your children act out or continuously behave in ways that run contrary to how you taught them to act or behave?

5) What happens when you run out of answers?

I think that faith grows in the dark. It’s in those times when you can’t see God and can’t find any answers that you find a stronger faith than ever before. It’s when you come to the end of your self-reliance and have no other choice but to fall on the grace of God that you really find out how strong it is to save.

It’s not about great faith in God, but faith in a great God that counts. That’s what I cling to in the dark days when not much makes sense. I hope you do, too.


A Good Reminder to Myself

I talk to myself sometimes. Out loud. I tend to use a British accent so it’s more fun and less creepy.

Sometimes, I have to remind myself of certain things. Repeatedly.

1) You are not your job (or lack of one). You are not your salary. You are not a title or a profession. You are exactly who God made you to be. And He said you were good.

2) God’s in the past where you messed up and where you got hurt, healing your wounds so they no longer bleed into your present (thanks to Mike Glenn for that one. He’s right there with you in your present. And He’s already in your future, waiting on you with plans that will blow your mind.

3) It’s okay to feel scared and unsure. It’s okay to have doubts because faith by its very nature comes with doubting. If we knew with 100% certainty, we wouldn’t need faith.

4) If you are loved and if you have friends, you are not a failure. If God loves you and calls you friend, then you have already won.

5) Whatever happened today, be it good, bad, or ugly, tomorrow is a new day filled with fresh possibilities and a clean slate. You can start over.

Maybe you’re having a great day and you’re loving life and everything is going your way. That’s wonderful. Maybe not. But everybody will at times go through storms. Everyone will go through deserts where your faith seems dead. Everyone will go through dark nights where God seems impossible to find.

No matter what your feelings or senses tell you, no matter what your circumstances tell you, God is there. He has not left you. He has not forgotten you. And He never will.

By the way, this blog is best read with a British accent. It sounds so much more sophisticated that way.