One of Us

 The Voice took on flesh and became human and chose to live alongside us. We have seen Him, enveloped in undeniable splendor—the one true Son of the Father—evidenced in the perfect balance of grace and truth” (John 1:14, The Voice).

That’s the Christmas story in a nutshell. Since God knew we could never get to Him, He came down to us. Since He also knew we could never become like Him on our own, He became one of us, frail flesh and all.

That’s a good something to remember on a Monday when computers run slow and printers run out of ink and people have brain-fails.

No matter what you buy or receive this Christmas, you can never match the greatest gift that has ever been given. That gift wasn’t wrapped with any pretty ribbons or bows, but came in the most unusual of places– a smelly barn in a backwoods town to a peasant carpenter and his teenage bride.

That’s the gift that really keeps on giving. In fact, that gift makes every other gift possible. Without Jesus, there’d be no reason to give, no reason to celebrate, no reason to live.

Since we are all prone to forgetfulness, Advent is a way to remember the night when Love was born and the world changed forever.

The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” That’s what Christmas is really and truly all about.


A Grain of Salt


I don’t know what in particular inspired it, but I was reminded of an old phrase that’s become quite the cliche: “with a grain of salt.” As it “take what she says with a grain of salt” or “take him with a grain of salt.”

It means that appearance isn’t always everything and sometimes what people say and what they mean are two very different things.

I’ve learned to take people and relationships with a grain of salt. I’ve learned that first impressions aren’t always the most accurate, regardless of what all those business books have told you. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at some of the people I’d initially written off as being snobbish or stand-offish or unfriendly. In fact, some of the best people who’ve been the most influential in my life weren’t my favorites when I first met them.

I’ve learned that some people are blessings and some are lessons. It doesn’t make them bad or good people, either way. God puts some people in your life for a lifetime and some for a season. You can’t expect to make a lifelong bosom companionship with someone God only meant to be in your life for a short amount of time.

I’ve learned to take my own self with a grain of salt. I know now to almost never say never. As in “I’ll never be that way” or “I’ll never  do that.” You never know where you’ll be or who you’ll be tomorrow or next week or next month. Sometimes, you’re best intentions go wrong and your best plans fail. Sometimes you do need to give up on certain people and plans and move on.

I’d probably be highly embarrassed if some of my old journal entries got published. I was so certain of life and God and people. I’ve come to the point where I realize that wisdom isn’t how much you know, but more the realization that there is so much you don’t know and possibly never will. Wisdom means the ability not only to learn, but to adapt and change and– sometimes– unlearn.

So these days, I take everything– especially myself– with a large helping of salt. It sure does make life a lot easier.


A Beautiful Borrowed Lenten Prayer



I found this Lenten prayer from Henri Nouwen when checking my email. I’m subscribed to a site that sends me a daily quote of his because I am a huge fan of his writing. This one spoke powerfully to me and echoed my own thoughts better than I could ever express them. It seems very appropriate for this Ash Wednesday.

“The Lenten season begins. It is a time to be with you, Lord, in a special way, a time to pray, to fast, and thus to follow you on your way to Jerusalem, to Golgotha, and to the final victory over death.

I am still so divided. I truly want to follow you, but I also want to follow my own desires and lend an ear to the voices that speak about prestige, success, pleasure, power, and influence. Help me to become deaf to these voices and more attentive to your voice, which calls me to choose the narrow road to life.

I know that Lent is going to be a very hard time for me. The choice for your way has to be made every moment of my life. I have to choose thoughts that are your thoughts, words that are your words, and actions that are your actions. There are not times or places without choices. And I know how deeply I resist choosing you.

Please, Lord, be with me at every moment and in every place. Give me the strength and the courage to live this season faithfully, so that, when Easter comes, I will be able to taste with joy the new life that you have prepared for me. Amen.”

I could only add that God would give me the discipline to take the time I normally spend on social media and use it to delve into His Word and not just read words but to have my mind and heart transformed by what I read.


A Christmas Prayer

Lord, the time approaches yet again when we celebrate your arrival in human skin to make your home among us as one of us. We celebrate that you became Immanuel, “God with us,” and took your place among us, sharing our joys and sorrows, weaknesses and pains.

We confess that we have so often lost sight of why we celebrate this day. We have made it into the giving and receiving of gifts and of excessive shopping and spending. We have forgotten that at the heart of Christmas, it is your birthday.

Help us also to remember those for whom Christmas isn’t such a happy time. So many mourn the loss of loved ones and live in the midst of family strife and turmoil. So many are facing tough days ahead as many are without jobs, some without homes and even the basic necessities.

Help us to walk along side those who are hurting in this Christmas season. May they find you, O God, to be their burden bearer, their refuge, their safe dwelling, and their peace in the midst of storms. Comfort them, bring healing to their strife, and be in the midst of them as the Prince of Peace.

Help us to remember those less fortunate than we and to be generous to those around us who have needs, both physical and spiritual. May we serve you by serving one of the least of these.

May we remember Christmas every day by being living incarnations of your presence everywhere we go, for you are not only God with us, but you are God in us, too. May we never forget that what started out in a manger ended on a cross, and that we are alive and free because of that terrible price you paid.

So as we get into the days of celebration and merriment, help us to remember that you are the reason for it all. May the best gift we give anyone be to show them your love and point them to you this holiday season.

‘Tis The Season . . . For the Common Cold

I may or may not be coming down with something. I’m not trying to catch a cold; I’m trying to avoid it if at all possible. I really don’t want to deal with being sick right now.

I had the flu last year, and I think once every five years is enough. I’d rather it be once every 10 years. Or never. That would be best.

But here I am, feeling blah, with a scratchy throat and an increasingly annoying cough. I won’t be running any marathons this weekend.

My usual course of action is to overdose on Vitamin C and drink lots of liquids. That has seemed to work in the past. It’s not 100% effective, but it sure is better than a cold.

That’s what happens when you live in Tennessee. It goes from spring-like to winter in less than a week. It’s rainy one day and sunny the next. All that adds up to colds and flus and general feelings of ickyness (that’s the scientific term for when there’s nothing actually wrong, but from the way you feel, there should be).

So forgive me if this feels mailed in. Creativity and blah don’t really mix that well. Hopefully in a couple of days I will be back to 100%. Then I will have no excuse for bad writing.

So be sure to keep hand sanitizer handy at all times and don’t drink after anyone who’s sick. Oh, and take two C’s and call me in the morning.

My two cents on spiritual warfare

A group of guys and I have been watching a DVD series on spiritual warfare by Chip Ingram called The Invisible War (and yes, that was a shameless plug). It got me thinking about the mindset of so many American believers (including me) regarding the whole topic of spiritual warfare. Plainly put, either most of us don’t believe there is an war going on with an enemy that is constantly seeking our destruction. If we believe, we sure don’t live like it much of the time. Again, me included.

The war is real. The enemy is real. In this world, we are not tourists on vacation, or passengers on some kind of luxury cruise, but soldiers engaged in battle. Our ignorance of the battle and our enemy can only do us harm. We need to wake up to realize that we are under attack. But here’s the best part.

The battle is already won. Chip Ingram said, “As believers in Christ, we don’t fight FOR victory. We fight FROM victory.” That’s the good news (which is why it’s called the gospel!). But there is still a battle.

We fight back by putting on the armor of God as described in Ephesians 6: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit. We should pray these on every morning and pray these for each other on a daily basis. We should pray with eyes wide open to the spiritual realm, asking God to give us eyes to see the battle around us like the Elijah prayed for his servant when they were surrounded by the Syrian army. We should pray for discernment and wisdom. Most of all, we should pray at all times to be Spirit-filled and Spirit-controlled, taking every thought captive and submitting them to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

We must fight together. If you are fighting the enemy on your own, apart from other believers, you may succeed for a season, but you will ultimately grow weary and faint. You will stumble and fall. You need other believers praying God’s protection over you, encouraging you and keeping you honest.

We fight ultimately with one weapon– LOVE. Not as a feeling, but as a decisive act of the will. We fight by showing that Calvary’s love is stronger than hate and that love overcomes anything. Chip Ingram said, “Love is giving to another person what they need the most when they deserve it least.” Love is doing whatever you can, even to your own detriment, for the good of the beloved. It means dying to yourself and your rights and own ideas about how the world should work.

So live with eyes wide open, hands raised, side by side with your brothers and sisters in Christ. And remember that the battle is already won and that we have overcome!

As always, I believe. Help my unbelief.