Long Journey Home

“We cannot find God without God. We cannot reach God without God. We cannot satisfy God without God- which is another way of saying that all our seeking will fall short unless God starts and finishes the search. The decisive part of our seeking is not our human ascent to God, but His descent to us. Without God’s descent there is no human ascent. The secret of the quest lies not in our brilliance but in His grace” (Os Guinness, Long Journey Home).

That’s it.

It’s not that I found Jesus. As one pastor I know always puts it, it’s not Jesus who was lost. I was. Jesus found me.

It may sound like semantics to you, but I think it’s important to know the difference.

Salvation is all God. It’s not like I was smart enough to figure it out or brave enough to seek it out. If God hadn’t sought me out first, I never would have sought Him in the first place.

That’s humbling. I can take no credit whatsoever for my being saved. It is all of grace.

That’s also good news. It means that if it’s not up to human efforts or human goodness, then anyone can find it (or better yet, anyone can be found). There’s no such thing as too lost, too far gone, too out of reach for God.

That helps when you’re praying for a son or a daughter, a brother or sister, a mother or father who seems hopelessly unreachable. It helps when you have a friend who seems bent on self-destructing and won’t let you help.

There are countless stories of those whom the world had basically given up on that God saved. The best example is the Apostle Paul. Maybe the next one will be someone you love. Maybe the next one will be you.


A Beautiful Moment


I saw one example of Eucharisteo paying off today.  My mother and  were on the way back from picking up my grandmother from her assisted living apartment. We had Hank Williams playing in the car, hoping my grandmother would recognize the old music.

We got to the song “Hey Good Lookin'”, a song pretty much EVERYBODY has heard of at some point in their lives. My mom started singing and, lo and behold, my grandmother chimed in. I don’t know why that moment blessed me so much, but it did.

Out of all the great things that happened today– seeing my niece Lizzie’s joy in opening her birthday presents, being with family, driving home at night with the windows rolled down– that moment topped them all. In fact, I’d say it has hit the charts with a bullet for one of my favorite moments of 2013.

I guess I love that moment because I was able to slow down to catch that fleeting moment and savor it. I didn’t miss it like I’ve missed so many others because I was too busy looking back in regret or looking ahead with anxiety. I was squarely in that moment and seeing God at work right then and there.

My grandmother is 89 and her memory’s not what it used to be. I know she won’t live forever, as much as the 10-year old part of me thinks otherwise. I know no one I love lives forever. At some point, I will have to say goodbye to everything and everyone I love this side of heaven. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t relish in every moment I’m given. It doesn’t mean that I can’t build memories of moments that will carry me through the grief back to the joy.

I love my friends, whether they’re in my life for 15 minutes, 6 months, 2 years, or a lifetime. I know better than to assume every friend will always be my friend and will always be around. I also know that each person, whether family or friend, has left footprints in my heart and residue of their spirit in my soul, so that I am forever changed, more like Jesus, because of knowing them.

My prayer isn’t that people will look back and remember me as a really swell guy, but that they will look on the times they spent with me and reflect on how much closer to Jesus they are now because of my small part in their lives.

That’s all.

Things I Love 38: Pilates? Heck No! I Thought You Said Pie and Lattes!

island hammock

“Remembering with thanks is what causes us to trust – to really believe” (Ann Voskamp).

“God reveals Himself in rearview mirrors. And I’ve an inkling that there are times when we need to drive a long, long distance, before we can look back and see God’s back in the rearview mirror. Maybe sometimes about as far as heaven — that kind of distance” (Ann VoskampOne Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are).

“We’re called to do more than believe in God, we’re called to live in God” (Ann Voskamp).

Thanksgiving really does alter your perspective. During those times when you’re in between jobs and your bank account wouldn’t cover a Starbucks latte, it’s easy to focus on what’s lacking. But eucharisteo reminds you that really even in those times you’re truly blessed if you can only see with the eyes of your heart instead of your physical eyes. Blessings are always ready to be found by those with grateful hearts and God-centered minds. So with that, I pick up at #1,141.

1,141) Finding stray money in the pockets of my jeans and shorts.

1,142) Funny cat videos.

1,143) That there really is a fountain filled with blood where all my sins are washed away.

1,144) Being completely comfortable with interstate driving.

1,145) No humidity in the fall.

1,146) People who still practice common courtesy and good manners.

1,147) A dentist visit with no cavities.

1,148) Reading the books my favorite writers read (like reading Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton because he was one of C.S. Lewis’ favorite authors).

1,149) Watching and reading about the new birth in the British royal family.

1,150) When I wake up and roll over to see that it’s only 2 am and I have 5 more hours of sleep.

1,151) Knowing that my best day this side of heaven won’t even touch my worst day in heaven. And yes, I know in heaven they’ll all be good days.

1,152) Eating and shopping locally at non-chain establishments.

1,153) The occasional Taco Bell meal.

1,154) The way my friend Sara has faithfully greeted at Kairos and is now transitioning to being an 11:11 greeter.

1,155) Having a short-haired cat who always looks well-groomed.

1,156) That my mother finally got her new car.

1,157) Hugs from friends and family.

1,158) Those rare times when I mention something I love twice in these lists (which must mean I really love it).

1,159) Setting out on a road trip with good books and good music.

1,160)  My old teddy bear that I’ve had since I was 10.

1,161) Really comfy oversized couches.

1,162) Seeing my friend from Orlando (who always makes me smile) at Kairos tonight.

1,163) Amy Winehouse’s amazing voice.

1,164) Wireless broadband internet.

1,165) The way my GPS pronounces Briley Parkway as “Brilley.”

1,166) Seeing photos of my friends and family on vacation via Facebook and Instagram.

1,167) Remembering the way the breeze off the ocean feels at twilight.

1,168) Finding books I’ve always wanted to read in the clearance section of a bookstore.

1,169) That I’ve had 21 views on my blogs today (and while that’s nowhere near a record, it means people are still reading what I write).

1,170) Making it to level 51 on Candy Crush Saga.

1,171) Remembering when technology was much bigger and heavier and slower and more expensive (and how it’s now smaller and lighter and faster and . . . well, not as expensive).

1,172) Night lights.

1,173) Not stubbing my toe on furniture in the dark at night.

1,174) Knowing that I’m not the most directionally-challenged person in the world.

1,175) People who have the gift of hospitality and practice it often.