Kudos to all the Dads Out There

Fathers get a bad rap. Sure, they get one day out of the year where we celebrate them in the aptly named Father’s Day. We buy them greeting cards and lots of neck ties.

The rest of the time, we seem to get the impression (from a lot of the media and culture out there) that they really aren’t all that necessary.

Nothing could be more wrong.

Of course, there are  lots of well-adjusted, normal, and productive people who were raised by single mothers out there. I give a shout-out to all those women out there who are pulling double duty as both mother and father. You deserve every bit of praise that comes your way.

I still believe that the best environment for a child is one where the father is present. There are certain things that are taught best by fathers. A boy can best learn how to be a gentleman from his father. A son best learns how to treat women by watching how the father treats the mother.

I admit that there are lots of bad examples of fathers who are abusive and domineering. I confess that a lot of people are uncomfortable with the idea of God as Father because of their upbringing and all the pain and suffering caused by their own earthly fathers.

Still, I think there’s nothing quite as beautiful as a father speaking affirmation over his children, drawing out the strength in his sons and the beauty in his daughters. Their words have incredible power to build up and create as much as to tear down and destroy.

The best way to be a father is to put your children third. I know it sounds scandalous, but here’s how it should look. The order should be God first, wife second, children third.

Thanks to all the fathers out there who are loving their families sacrificially on a daily basis. None of them are perfect and none of them will ever get it 100% right but they are the ones who keep showing up and never giving up on themselves or their wives or their children. They know they can’t do it without a lot of help so they start out every day on their knees before God in a posture of submission and surrender for the strength to be the best fathers possible.

Kudos to you.


Rare and Priceless

I admit it. I geeked out quite a bit when I read about the recent rare baseball card find.

In case you missed it, a family going through their great-grandfather’s belongings in his run-down house found a wadded-up brown paper bag that looked like trash.

Inside, among other things, they found seven identical Ty Cobb baseball cards, dating from 1909-1911.

Why is this a big deal? Before this find, there were believed to be 15 of these cards in existence. That’s it.

Because of the extreme rarity of these cards, their worth is probably estimated to be anywhere to the high 7-figures to north of $1 million.

If only I could be so lucky.

But think of this. As rare as those baseball cards are, you are rarer still. So am I.

Don’t you realize that there is (and will always be) just one of you. There has never been– and will never be again– another you.

You are a one-of-a-kind work of God, not mass-produced or rolled out on an assembly line but crafted in love, soul-signed, and unique.

You are not only priceless, but twice priceless. God not only made you but also took on human flesh in Jesus and died for you. He paid the ultimate price that forever defines your worth.

Perhaps you’re feeling beat down by another week of work or by family and friends who don’t recognize your true worth. Maybe your soul feels battered by bad choices and unfortunate circumstances.

That doesn’t change your worth. That doesn’t change how God sees you. You are priceless and beloved for as long as God remains faithful and true. And that’s forever.

In case you want to read more about the baseball cards, here’s a link to an article with more information. If it were me, I’d sell six and keep one. But that’s just me. You decide for yourself.


Thanks, Uncle Mike: The Sequel

I heard out of your own mouth tonight that you are stepping down from Kairos soon. I’d heard it from other people recently, but even so, I couldn’t quite believe it even when you were the one saying the words.

I thought I’d say a few words to you, since I most likely won’t get to say them to you in person.

Thank you for being faithfully devoted to the Kairos ministry and to all of us who have attended over the years. We see how biblically wise you are. We also see how honest and vulnerable you are at times, making us feel like it’s okay to struggle and have doubts, even if you’re a senior pastor of a megachurch with several campuses.

I for one am a better person because of you and Kairos. I like myself a lot better than when I first started attending Kairos way back in 2006. I understand more of my Abba Father’s love for me and am learning how to define myself by that love and the voice that calls me His Beloved.

I learned how to take a few minutes in the middle of my hectic day and be still and have a moment or two of prayer. I learned that confession is not beating yourself up, but admitting that I acted out of fear instead of faith, of owning my sin and calling it for what it really is. I learned that I-40 West will take me to Memphis every time (even if I’m only going to Jackson). I learned that Oreos are your kryptonite and that a mostly clean glass of milk is still dirty.

I and many others saw how much you loved your parents, your wife, and your sons. That more than anything has probably helped strengthen many of our marriages and families.

I can’t imagine Kairos without you. I keep saying how much I like change and I’m always ready for it, but when it actually happens, I find I’m not so fond of it. Sometimes, I wish I some things could stay the same.

But I think I’m ready for what God has next for Kairos. I’m excited for you and what God has in store for you next. Plus, I’ll always think of you whenever I pick up a Henri Nouwen book.

Anyway, thanks for allowing God to use you in helping me become more like Jesus. I and the rest of those you’ve touched through Kairos will never be able to repay how much you’ve blessed us all.


Winning the Lottery

So, the lottery is up to something like $1.4 billion. I also read that if every single person in the U.S. had a winning ticket, every person would win $4.3 million. I believe whoever calculated that was off a few decimal places. The actual total would be $4.30 per person, enough for a value meal at Taco Bell.

I have ideas with what I’d do if I won the lottery. I’d buy one of those old houses on Fair Street in Franklin. I’d finally get my red Mini-Cooper. I’d travel a lot and go to all those places I’ve always wanted to go.

I’d be very generous. I’d give to charities and pay off people’s debts and buy really nice stuff for my friends and family. Or would I?

I believe wholeheartedly that people that aren’t generous with $1 won’t be with $1 million. If you’re not a charitable person now, the chances are that sudden wealth won’t change that.

Maybe the answer is to start looking for ways to be generous now. It doesn’t necessarily have to involve spending lots of money on others. It could mean spending time with people. It could also mean donating your talents.

The best way of all to learn generosity is to remember how generous God has been to you all this time. He saved you, didn’t He? He rescued you from your own mess and gave you everything you needed in Jesus, right?

That kind of generosity should inspire us to a kind of generosity that is most needed yet most rarely given– a generosity of loving people not because they deserve it or earn it but because God loves the unloveable and calls us to do the same.

In fact, when we tangibly love those who can never return that love, we are most like the God who loved us when we were at our worst.

But I’d still like the opportunity to prove that all those millions wouldn’t change who I am fundamentally as a person. I’m just saying.

PS If you’re a millionaire and you don’t have a bookshelf that spins into a secret room you’re spending it wrong. Give me your money.


To All the George Baileys in the World

Recently, I was the recipient of some unexpected and overwhelming generosity. I didn’t seek it out nor did I even have a hint that it was coming.

I felt like George Bailey at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life when all the people he’s tried to help all those year come back and pay it forward back to him in droves.

I’ve decided that I won’t ever be able to match that kind of generosity, but I can do a few things:

  1. Pay it forward whenever is in my power to do so.
  2. To always have my eyes open to the need around me and to pray for a heart that yearns to meet those needs
  3. To live in continual gratitude and thanksgiving, because life all by itself is a gift and salvation even without any blessings attached to it is the greatest gift.
  4. To never forget that many are still living the part of George Bailey’s story where things aren’t quite so hunky-dory and who are feeling like they’re at the end of their rope.
  5. To be a better version of me than I was yesterday, or more accurately, to be a little more like Jesus every single day that He allows me to wake up.

I echo the words of Clarence, George’s guardian angel, when I say, “No man is a failure who has friends.”

If that’s  the case, then I am one of the most blessed individuals to ever live, due to the amazing family and friends God has placed in my life.

Thank you. You rock.

The end.

Capturing a Moment

“Come and gather ’round at the table
In the spirit of family and friends
And we’ll all join hands and remember this moment
’til the season comes ’round again
So let us smile for the picture
And we’ll hold it as long as we can
May it carry us through should we ever get lonely
’til the season comes ’round again”(Vince Gill – Til The Season Comes Round Again).

Whenever I’m gathered together with family and friends to celebrate a special occasion, I always try to take a mental photograph. I try to remember every detail, every person, everything about the moment.

Try as I might, I will never be able to recreate just that exact moment. It will be gone forever.

I don’t mean to be morbid, but people grow older and change. Places change. Even I will be different the next time than I am right now.

There are two options:

  1. You can take an actual photograph which may capture some of the magic and trigger memories, but photographs themselves fade.
  2. Learn to give thanks in the moment for the moment as a unique gift that will never be repeated.

I’m probably sounding like a broken record by now, but I really am stuck on this whole gratitude thing. It really does change the way you see things.

Gratitude truly does make what you have enough. It keeps you from missing the now from obsessing over what might have been or what might be missing or what may or may never be.

So, at 12:19 am, I’m saying this: I’m thankful for my family. I’m thankful for another Christmas. I’m thankful for the God who became Jesus who became my Substitute.

I’m thankful for every day that I get to live and for every person God places in my life for however long they’re in my life.

I’m even thankful for 15-year old cats who suddenly have the energy of a kitten, if only for a little while.

I’m thankful for Ann Voskamp, the vessel through whom God has spoken to me most loudly (other than the Bible, of course). She’s taught me more about that thanksgiving and gratitude lifestyle than anyone else.

I’d be amiss if I didn’t say thanks to you for reading this little blog of mine. It may be 200 or 20 or even just two, but I’m thankful for anybody who makes time in a hectic schedule to read what I write.

So do what the song says tonight and count your blessings instead of sheep. You’ll find yourself seeing Christmas from a different set of eyes tomorrow.

If/Then Vs. No Matter What

A lot of people have an if/then kind of faith. It goes something like this:

If God allows me to experience the fullness of the American dream, then I’ll keep believing.

If God grants me a spouse and children, then I’ll keep believing.

If God sees to it that my children follow in my footsteps and my faith and never disappoint me, then I’ll keep believing.

If God blesses me financially and lets me live comfortably, then I’ll keep believing.

That’s probably what most American Christians believe, although few would be brave enough to confess it.

This is biblical faith:

I will keep believing, no matter what.

If I never get married and have children, I’ll keep believing.

If I never get to where I can live comfortably, I’ll keep believing.

Even if I watch as each of my dreams die, even if God never does one solitary thing more for me beside saving me and granting me this life abundant, I’ll keep believing for as long as He grants me life.

The prophet Habakkuk put it this way:

Though the cherry trees don’t blossom
    and the strawberries don’t ripen,
Though the apples are worm-eaten
    and the wheat fields stunted,
Though the sheep pens are sheepless
    and the cattle barns empty,
I’m singing joyful praise to God.
    I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God” (Hab. 3:17-18).

If/then faith says that you need more than God, that He isn’t sufficient in and of Himself. It might work for a while, but it eventually falters when the hard times come.

No matter what faith says that God alone is, has been, and will always be enough. It keeps believing, keeps hoping, keeps trusting through any and every circumstance (much like what Paul talked about in 1 Corinthians 13). That kind of faith not only lasts, but it keeps you going.

I choose to believe no matter what.

The end.




So My Niece Turned Four

I still can’t believe that my niece Lizzie is now a 4-year old. It feels like yesterday when I was holding her for the first time as a one-day old. It really and truly does.

It also seems surreal and weird that my nephews are now 8 and 10.

On days like these, I wish I still had my two uncles on my dad’s side. I’d love to get some of their advice on how to be a better uncle. I’d like to know how they felt when I was a 4-year old having birthday parties.

I miss them whenever I hear really good music I think they would like. I also wish I could have appreciated them as much when they were living.

I also think that right now God is pleased with me. Because of Jesus and what He’s done, I am enough and I have enough. I don’t have to perform to earn God’s favor. I don’t have to constantly strive for perfection in hopes that God will grant me His love.

I have it.

That’s the best feeling in the world. Knowing that I am already forgiven and loved and chosen and blessed makes me want to forgive and love and choose and bless better. It makes me want to live better.

So this day continues to be a gift. So is every day that I wake up to. So is every single moment where I’m breathing in and out, basking in the grace of God that forever holds me together and keeps me sane.

I really enjoyed being a part of Lizzie’s 4th birthday party. My sister is a fantastic mother and wife, and my brother-in-law is a great father and husband. Their kids aren’t perfect, but they have the two best role models I know to emulate.

Oh, and God is still God. That’s the best part.



“True intercession involves bringing the person, or the circumstance that seems to be crashing in on you, before God, until you are changed by His attitude toward that person or circumstance. People describe intercession by saying, ‘It is putting yourself in someone else’s place.’ That is not true! Intercession is putting yourself in God’s place; it is having His mind and His perspective” (Oswald Chambers).

I heard someone say recently that intercession is being with God for someone else. I have to give credit where credit is due, so most of what follows is based on what I heard from Mary Lou Redding in a prayer talk she gave recently.

It’s not necessarily me praying what I think that person needs. It’s not even sometimes me praying for that person for what they need.

Sometimes the best kind of intercession is the kind where I am silent before God as I visualize bringing that person into the light of God’s presence and letting God decide how best to meet that person’s need.

I do believe we are to pray specifically for others and their needs and we should always pray for people for what they ask us to pray for. I also think that sometimes the best kinds of prayers for others don’t involve words at all.

It’s not like God will do less than what we ask. Oftentimes, He will do more. If you look at the four friends who brought in their paralyzed friend for physical healing, what they got was not only the physical healing but salvation for their friend as well.

I’ve mentioned before that sometimes the way I pray for family and friends is to visualize a chapel with Jesus standing at the front. I see myself bringing that person to Jesus and I see Jesus enveloping that person in a big bear hug. I envision healing washing over that person I am praying for as Jesus wraps His arms around them.

That said, I think all of us who claim the name of Jesus need to do better at praying for others. Not so much in saying, “I”ll pray for you,” and never following through but actually praying for people and letting them know we are praying for them. I know I need to do better.

Maybe today’s a good day to start.


Be Encouraged. B-E Encouraged.

“God didn’t set us up for an angry rejection but for salvation by our Master, Jesus Christ. He died for us, a death that triggered life. Whether we’re awake with the living or asleep with the dead, we’re alive with him! So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, The Message).

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to read this verse aloud at least once a day for the next five days. Unless you feel really weird reading it aloud, in which case you may read it in your “inside-your-head” voice. You have my permission.

Remember, Jesus didn’t die to give us a get out of hell free card. It isn’t about something that’s waiting in the bye and bye.

It’s here and now. It’s life– abundant and full and overflowing life– right now.

Some of us are having a hard time remembering that right now. Some feel so weighed down by grief or stress or despair that it’s hard to feel alive. It’s hard to live abundantly when you feel as if all you’ve been doing is treading water to stay afloat in the flood.

That’s why Paul tells us to encourage each other. He didn’t say think good thoughts toward each other and have the best intentions to let them know that their in your prayers. No. He said to actively encourage them through any and all means at your disposal, whether that be pen and paper, face-to-face affirmation, smoke signals, social media, or morse code.

Who needs your encouragement most? Who is God putting on your heart? Your real mission is to encourage that person in a real and tangible way in the next 24 hours. Go!