Things I Love 16: The Number of Candles on Molly Ringwald’s Cake in That 80’s Movie

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There’s my not-so-subtle reference to the classic 80’s flick, Sixteen Candles. I had to do something with the number 16, right? And who didn’t love Molly Ringwald in that movie? Seriously.

Which brings us to #381 (and yes, I had to look up the last entry to get the number right).

381) Getting that unexpected 10 cent discount on gas at Kroger’s.

382) Not getting gas from that really tasty burger from The Pharmacy.

383) Jokes involving cannibals, dinosaurs, or people named Juan (ask me if you want an explanation).

384) It’s never too late to blossom into the person God always meant you to be.

385) The anticipation of getting coffee with a friend at The Frothy Monkey in downtown Franklin.

386) Air conditioning on days like today when I seriously thought I was going to die from sweating so much.

387) That my prayers actually change things– or more accurately, they change me and I change things.

388) When a team I root for actually wins.

389) God has my name written on the palms of his hands and on his heart.

390) Southern Sweet tea, i.e. tea sweetened to almost diabetes-inducing levels.

391) The way my cat looks at me like, “Dude, seriously?”

392) Knowing that my family and friends are around the world, making a difference, crazy enough to believe they can do what people say can’t be done and change the world for the better.

393) That stone house with the red door in downtown Franklin.

394) Beagles.

395) Not having to worry about being counted off for incomplete sentences.

396) Writing these lists– if possible, more now than when I started.

397) Hope fulfilled.

398) Singing along to Bon Jovi at the top of my lungs with the windows rolled down in my car and not even caring what other people around me think.

399) The occasional karaoke.

400) The peace of Christ which surpasses understanding guarding my heart and mind.

401) My very awesome collection of music that I’ve compiled on my iPhone.

402) Jesus choosing to go through hell for me rather than go to heaven without me.

403) It will be 14 months of no carbonated drinks as of tomorrow.

404) Speaking into the back of a box fan and sounding like a robotic Darth Vader.

405) Chamber music.

406) Bluegrass music.

407) Pretty much every type of music.

408) Those times when there were only one set of footprints in the sand.

409) That the word “booger” still strikes me as completely hilarious.

410) Testimonies of God’s ability to save anyone from anything at anytime.

411) That girl who was Joey’s girlfriend and then Chandler’s girlfriend (on the TV show friends), then later ended up on Criminal Minds.

My 1000th Blog!!!

It’s true. I’ve written 1,000 blogs since I started this 2 1/2 years ago (it will be 3 years in July). I never thought I’d be mega-popular or successful, although I occasionally had moments of delusions where I was hoping to see massive readership. But that’s just not my style.

It’s mostly a way for me to get my feelings and thoughts out there. It’s been very therapeutic for me and, hopefully, for you as well. I stand by my statement that if I were the only one who read my own blogs, I’d still write them. It would still be worth it.

Who knows? One day I might get Jon Acuff-like numbers. I doubt it, but in this crazy world, just about anything’s possible.

My process is still usually to take a topic or a phrase that grabs my attention and run with it. I could hear a song or a speech or watch a movie and be inspired that way. Sometimes I sit down at my laptop and have no idea what’s going to come out.

I still do very little revisions or rewrites. It’s still basically a one-take deal. That might not work for everybody and it’s probably not the way professionals do it, but it’s what I’m comfortable with and it works for me.

I’m still so grateful for anyone who reads these things. I’ve been astounded and amazed by the people who tell me that what I write means so much to them. I usually have no idea. But I’m so blessed to have so many who faithfully keep up with me.

I hope you will continue to read these and pass them along to others you think might benefit from them. I will continue to write them as long as God allows. It’s not about numbers, it’s about putting what’s on my heart on these blogs. That’s all.

Here’s hoping there’s 1,000 more.

 

Why Fairy Tales Last

I saw Snow White and the Huntsman, based on the fairy tale, tonight in the theatre. I think for me there’s still something about a fairy tale well told that still tugs at my heart strings.

It’s more than just a damsel in distress. Or at least I think so.

We’ve all at some point pricked our fingers on a spindle or taken a bite of that apple. Suddenly, we find ourselves dead inside and out.

You and I need to be rescued. We need Someone strong and brave enough to fight for us. Someone who’s not afraid to die for us.

That’s the Gospel in a nutshell.

I love the story where Tolkien finally wins C.S. Lewis over when he tells him that the Gospel is a myth, but at the same time, a true myth.

I read a book recently that spoke of the Gospel as a tragedy, a comedy, and a fairy tale. The last third of the book made my heart come alive inside my chest. The idea of the Gospel being a fairy tale come true is something most of us have never thought or dreamed of, but that’s what it is.

We get the Rescuer. We get to be Princes and Princesses, royal children of the King of the Universe. And we get the happily ever after (read the last chapter of Revelations if you need proof).

That’s why fairy tales will never, ever go out of style.

A Daily Prayer of Mother Teresa

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I found this in the booklet that came with a Natalie Grant CD I bought today.

“Dear Lord, help me to spread your fragrance wherever I go.

Flood my soul with your spirit and life. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may only be a radiance of yours.

Shine through me, and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with my feel your presence in my soul. Let them look up and see no longer me, but only you, O Lord!

Stay with me, then I shall begin to shine as you do; so to shine as to be light to others. The light, O Lord, will be all from you; none of it will be mine; it will be you shining on others through me. Let me thus praise you in every way you love best, by shining on those around me.

Let me preach you without preaching, not by words but by my example, by the catching force, the sympathetic influence of what I do, the evident fullness of the love my heart bears to you.

Amen.”

I would only add that while it is great to show God’s love by example, it will always be necessary at some point to use words, for how can anyone believe who has not heard? I think the point that Mother Teresa and Saint Francis of Assisi made was that you need both. Not just words without a loving example and not just a loving example without words. Lord, help me to be both today!

Amen and amen.

A prayer for my future wife

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Here I am, thinking about you again and wondering if you’re thinking about me. I have come to the point where I am finally starting to give up striving and trying to make my own plans and my own timing work. I am starting to learn to rest my mind and my heart in God’s plan and His timing. As the name of the book I just got in the mail says, I Gave God Time. That’s all He needs to pull off the biggest miracles– time.

So I pray that your heart is at rest. That you are comfortable where you are and not striving like I have been most of my life. I pray your heart is captured and captivated by Jesus and that you are so enamored and enraptured by His love for you that He becomes everything to you and every other thing in your life falls back into its proper place.

I pray that you are fully coming alive to all that God made you to be. That you know where your beauty comes from and that you treasure your femininity as a gift from God. I pray that your loveliness comes from a Christ-filled countenance and a heart full of compassion and kindness.

I pray that your heart is being set free to love. That all your fears and insecurites are driven away in the face of the Prince of peace, and that peace will rule your heart and mind. I pray you look at every heartache and heartbreak as a means of molding you into the woman who will completely dazzle me.

Waiting is hard, but the longer the wait, the more we will treasure finding each other. I can’t wait to be your husband and do all I can to be a part of  unveiling your true beauty for the world to see. I am waiting for that day, letting God transform me into the man you deserve.

Until then, take courage, dear heart. The night seems long but dawn is just around the corner. Hold on.

What I look for in a future wife

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Hello. It’s 2:49 on January 1, 2011, and I can’t sleep, so I blog. I was thinking about what I would want in a mate. Here are some things I want.

She has to have a great smile. Physical beauty would be nice, but the best kind of beauty is that which radiates from the inside and shows itself in acts of compassion and kindness. I want who I marry to be caring and generous and kind and compassionate.

I hope she would be totally in love with me as I will be with her. Someone who looked at me and saw something that every other girl didn’t see. Maybe even something I didn’t see. She will see me through eyes of grace.

I want a woman whose heart is totally enthralled and captivated by Jesus. Not someone who professes Christianity but whose lifestyle is no different than anybody else who doesn’t profess anything. She has to love Jesus way more than she loves me.

I want a woman who is at rest in who she is and where she is, not eternally stuck on being and acting like she’s forever 21. Someone who loves quiet nights and good conversation over hitting night clubs and staying out all night. Someone who loves people and going places, but isn’t constantly seeking the next rush or thrill.

In short, I want a woman whose heart beats with the heartbeat of God. Who is laying down her life everyday for the cause of Christ.

If I want that, I have to be that. I have to be a man of God with character who seeks after Jesus instead of striving after success and popularity. I have to learn to give my life away daily for Christ.

One of the best parts of 2010 was that my hopes for a wife have revived again and I think there really is someone out there for me who will love me for me not who I will become. Someone to whom I won’t be a substitute for someone else or way down on their list, but first on their list.

I know God is faithful and He can do way better than anything I could ever have hoped or dreamed.

Amen and amen!

A Christmas letter to my future wife

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I’m still waiting for you. And did I mention the whole “not good at waiting” part? More accurately, how badly I suck at waiting? I’m getting better, but I am still very impatient 95% of the time. But I know that this waiting will not have been in vain when I meet you.

I keep thinking of our firsts– first kiss (obviously), first snow to hold hands and walk together through, first night in front of a roaring fireplace, first time we’re both snuggled under the same blanket. . . . so many firsts that are yet to come. The best part will be that we didn’t give up and settle, but held out and found out that miracles do still come true.

I am leaning to stop looking for you with my eyes, and look for you with my heart. I will look for you not through my own eyes, but more and more through God’s eyes. I want to fall in love with your compassionate heart and your tender spirit. Your beauty will be Jesus inside you shining through for the world to see. Or at least for those who have eyes to see.

Remember no matter what anyone tells you you are, you are a daughter of the King. You are royalty– a princess. Don’t let anyone ever treat you as less. You were worth every drop of Jesus’ blood not because of anything in you, but because Jesus set His heart on you and declared you worthy.

I think I am slowly but surely becoming the man who will capture your heart and be worthy of your love. I have bad days when I strive and fail and I have days full of grace when I am finally weak enough to let Jesus do it all. That’s all I can do.

I am thanking Jesus for you in advance and thanking you in advance for being faithful to Jesus and never giving up on me. I’ll be thinking of you a lot this Christmas.

My bucket list

First of all, I’d like to know who came up with the expression “kick the bucket” and who first associated it with dying. I’m not losing any sleep over it, but it would be nice to know just in case I’m ever on Jeopardy or a caller on a morning radio show with a chance to win a fabulous prize. I’m just sayin’.

But for real, I do have a bucket list of sorts. It’s not written down, but I have one item on my bucket list. Only one. My one bucket list wish is to hear Jesus say to me at the end of my road, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” That’s all. To please Jesus is not only on my bucket list, it is my bucket list. That being said, I pretty much suck at it. Most of the time, I try to please just about anyone and everyone else before I even attempt to please Jesus.

Still, that’s what I want. More than anything else. Sure, I’d like to see Scotland or meet Bono. And for the record, I would try skydiving, but I have a burning desire to NOT DIE! Plus, I’m not really keen on heights, which is pretty much a prerequisite for jumping out of a plane at 1 gazillion feet in the air.

I want to make Jesus proud of  me. I want to be His hands and feet and serve Him every chance I get, whether He be the person at the cash register at Publix or the homeless man on the corner looking for spare change. I want my whole life to be one big THANK YOU note to Him.

I think I’ll get there. In fact, I know I will, because Jesus told me that He would never leave me or forsake me. He said He would finish the good work He started in me. When He sees a heart that yearns to please Him, He honors that.

So I probably have the shortest bucket list on the planet. Just hopefully not the shortest bucket.

Stream-of-consciousness thoughts on spirituality

As believers in Christ, we don’t fight for victory; we fight from victory. The battle is the Lord’s and He has overcome. The battle is won!

The moment we choose to rebel against what we know to be true is the very moment we open the door to demonic activity in our lives. Peter is a good example of this when he opposed Jesus’ going to Jerusalem and to the cross. If we are under attack, maybe the question to ask is, “What am I believing that is a lie?” or “What am I not believing and acting on that I know to be true?”

God doesn’t want all your activities and programs and to-do lists as much as He wants your heart. And that does not mean a still-beating heart on a silver platter. It means that God wants your heart surrendered to Him. He wants your affection, your emotions, your devotion. In essence, He wants you to fall in love with Him all over again like you did at the first. God is not mad at you or disappointed in you. He knows you better than anyone. He knew who you were and who you’d turn out to be when He created you. Nothing you do is a surprise to Him. But what He’s about to do in your life will be a great surprise to you (and better than anything you could have dreamed of). As I heard someone say, God will use you unless you choose not to be used.

Some of Satan’s modes of attack is accusation and condemnation. That you are not good enough. That you are not nearly up to the task He has called you to. Remember that God doesn’t call the equipped, but equips the called. He wants your availability, not your ability. Another mode of demonic attack is to divide and conquer, to get you isolated and vulnerable. If you are cutting yourself off from fellowship with other believers, beware. You are walking straight into the devil’s trap. But every story of deliverance starts with admitting that I am helpless and that I need Someone to come to my rescue. And God is in the business of rescuing.

God wants your heart. God wants your availability. Believe it or not, God wants you. God still wants me, after all I’ve done wrong and how I’ve often been a walking billboard of reasons not to believe. Rest in your Abba’s love for you. Wherever you are and wherever you’re headed, you can always turn around and come Home.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6)

When I think of hungering and thirsting for righteousness, I don’t think of when I would like dessert after a good meal. I don’t even think about when I am late for a meal and how “hungry” I feel. I think of someone who is starving to death and the lengths they will go to get food. To hunger and thirst for righteousness means more than simply wanting to in right standing with God and to please Him; it means that everything in me longs and yearns to see God glorified by my life.

The Message puts it this way: “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.”

The question is: How badly do you want God? Not how badly do you want your prayers answered or how badly do you want gifts and blessings from God, but how badly do you long for God Himself? Honestly, I seek after many other things more than I seek after God, including but not limited to approval, attention, a dating life, and spiritual experiences. Is it any wonder that these things, whether I obtain them or not, will leave me empty and hollow? Only God can fill a God-shaped hole in my heart.

The hard part is that if you love and long for God, you will love and long for fellowship and community with His people. If you don’t love and long for His people, you don’t really long for God. Jesus says, If you love me, you will love my church (and that doesn’t mean you will love a building or a campus, it means you will love God’s people). If you are pulling away from God’s people, how can you say you are drawing near to God? I know there are seasons of solitude that God calls us to, but if we have no desire to pray for and support and encourage our brothers and sisters, we really are saying we have no desire for God.

Sometimes, when someone isn’t in a place where they can seek God and God’s people, we can rally around that person and pray God’s healing and restoration for him or her. A friend of mine said sometimes when you can only give 40%, I must be the one to give the 160% to make up the difference.

What does it mean to be filled? It means overflowing beyond your capacity to receive. It means God gives you so much that it runs over in you and spills into the lives of those around you. To be filled means to have life abundantly, or life to the full, that God will give beyond anything we could ever ask or expect or hope. As John Piper says, “God will not give up the glory of being the Giver.”

As always, I believe. Help my unbelief.