And The Star Stopped


“And so they left, and on their way they saw the same star they had seen in the east. When they saw it, how happy they were, what joy was theirs! It went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was” Matthew 2:9, 10 GNB).

I never thought about that part of the story. I’ve heard all my life about those wise men who travelled so far to see this baby Jesus. I knew they had a star to guide them.

But I never thought about how they knew when to stop looking and start worshipping.

Most people chased hopes like the cartoon of the rabbit chasing a carrot that is always dangling in front of him, just out of reach. Yet that silly old rabbit keeps chasing.

I’ve chased after my share of hopes, did a lot of running, and never got any closer to realizing them than when I started. Sometimes, I got to a place where I could see my hopes but couldn’t find a way to actually get there.

But the beautiful part of the story of Christmas is that true hope and true joy are always accessible to the ones searching for them. They can not only be found, but embraced and cherished and celebrated every single day.

Hope is not wishful thinking. It is a reality so certain that it is as good as done. In other words, it is a future event so guaranteed that it can be spoken of in past tense.

May you rediscover hope this Advent season. Or may you find it for the first time.

Not only is it available, Jesus Himself offers it to whomever will simply reach out and take it.

Will you? Will I?

I hope so.

Following a Star and a Promise


I’m prefacing this by stating that I don’t know a whole lot about these wise men of biblical fame. I mean, where did they come from? Were there just three or were there more who accidentally happened to bring the same gifts? (I’m sure that would have been awkward even then).

I do know they came from a great distance based solely on a single star in the sky and the promise of a Messiah, an Anointed One.

I do know it probably took them a few years to make the journey from home to Bethlehem. I also know they didn’t arrive at the location of Jesus’ birth, but probably a year or two later when the family was settled in a home.

I wonder what it was like for them to travel out into a foreign country with nothing concrete to go on except that solitary star and an ancient promise.

I feel like that sometimes. Maybe you do, too.

You’ve stepped outside of everything that’s familiar with only the promises and the presence of Jesus to guide you. You don’t know exactly where you are going or what you will find when you get there, other than that Jesus will be there.

I imagine it would have been so very easy for the wise men to get sidetracked and tempted to settle for a  comfortable oasis along the way. Or maybe a small village where the locals are friendly and the food is good.

I’m certain that the daily ritual of camping for the night, packing it all up, and setting out again got old quick. I get bored on a car trip that lasts more than 5 hours. I can’t imagine 2 or 3 years of constant travelling.

History shows that they were faithful to the journey’s end. They were faithful to the promise, faithful to keep it sacred and safe from men like Herod who wanted to destroy it.

I’m hoping that you and I will be just as diligent and faithful on our own journeys. May you and I find the Christ not only awaiting us at the end of the road, but feel His presence along the way as well.


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.

A Beautiful Puritan Prayer


“O God of Grace,
Thou hast imputed my sin to my substitute,
and hast imputed his righteousness to my soul,
clothing me with bridegroom’s robe,
decking me with jewels of holiness.
But in my Christian walk I am still in rags;
my best prayers are stained with sin;
my penitential tears are so much impurity;
my confessions of wrong are so many aggravations of sin;
my receiving the Spirit is tinctured with selfishness.
I need to repent of my repentance;
I need my tears to be washed;
I have no robe to bring to cover my sins,
no loom to weave my own righteousness;
I am always standing clothed in filthy garments,
and by grace am always receiving change of raiment,
for thou dost always justify the ungodly;
I am always going into the far country,
and always returning home as a prodigal,
always saying, Father, forgive me,
and thou art always bringing forth the best robe.
Every morning let me wear it,
every evening return in it,
go out to the day’s work in it,
be married in it,
be wound in death in it,
stand before the great white throne in it,
enter heaven in it shining as the sun.
Grant me never to lose sight of
the exceeding sinfulness of sin,
the exceeding righteousness of salvation,
the exceeding glory of Christ,
the exceeding beauty of holiness,
the exceeding wonder of grace.”

From The Valley of Vision – A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions
Edited by Arthur Bennett

Baseball After an 11-Hour Shift? Sounds Good to Me


What does a normal person do after putting in an 11-hour shift on a Friday before a holiday weekend?
A. Go home and crash into a 48-hour coma.
B. Go eat my weight 1) chocolate and/or 2) fried foods.
C. Both A and B.

If you answered A, B, or C, you’d be wrong. I opted for
D. Drive to a Nashville Sounds game to hang out with my amazing community group.

Ok. I cheated. But then again, no one has ever accused me of being normal. I’m crazy and I go normal from time to time. It’s usually the worst 5 minutes of my day. Normal is not something I’ve ever been good at. Being unique is something I’m starting to excel at.

It was hot. And muggy. I sweated like a pig visiting a bacon factory. It was not pretty. For me or anyone within smelling distance of me.

The game was good. My team won and there was much rejoicing. Yay.

More than anything, I remember good conversations with good friends, good funnel cake (fried), and good memories made. Throw in some cold lemonade and an encouraging text or two and I call it a perfect night.

I am seeing God in the tiny details these days. And He’s everywhere. Like in the unexpectedly cool breeze on a humid day, grace from friends, the freedom to finally forgive myself for not being all things to all people, and good funnel cake. You just have to know where to look and how to see with eyes of faith.

I am still learning to live in the moment and love God there. No more dwelling on past regrets or future maybes. God is here now and I can only hear Him speaking if I am fully present in the present. Right here, right now.

Lord, I am here now hearing now. Speak, for Your servant is listening.

Falling Leaves

I love autumn. I especially love the keen bite of the crisp October air and the leaves changing colors and the smell of bonfires. I am a fall kind of guy.

I think it’s gotten into the mid-40’s in Nashville and that means a few traditions for me:

1) It’s time for me to start watching my scary movies in anticipation of Halloween, such as the Halloween movies and Rosemary’s Baby. I throw in the Halloween Charlie Brown special, not because it’s scary, but because it’s tradition and required by law to watch every October (or it should be).

2) It’s getting close to time for pumpkin carving and that yearly debate about what costume I will wear on October 31 (and yes, I still do wear costumes, though they tend to be last minute, Goodwill-bought variety).

3) Hopefully, it means hay rides and corn mazes and bonfires and roasted marsh mellows (I like mine blackened just a bit on the outside).

4) It means that Thanksgiving and the mad rush to Christmas will be just around the proverbial corner and that all the festive holiday decor will start showing up in your local Walgreens and other retail outlets in the next couple of weeks, if they aren’t already pulling out the ornaments and tinsel as I write this.

5) I don’t know why, but fall tends to bring back all my happy childhood memories. Maybe it’s the smell of fall that triggers these memories. I’m not sure.

6) I almost forgot. Fall means the return of the seasonal Starbucks drinks, including caramel apple spice, pumpkin spice and– my favorite– chegnogg, which for the uninitiated is chai egg nog late. I very highly recommend it.

I thought about posting a pretty picture of falling leaves or something very autumn-y, but I am feeling lazy and sleepy at the moment, so just use your imagination. It’s more fun that way.

A Good Lesson from A Lost Key

I went walking on the beach today in my ever-so-stylish swimming trunks. Imagine the polar opposite of speedos and you have an idea of what they looked like.

I headed out to the beach and went about waist-deep into the ocean. I waded like that for a while before I remembered to reach down and see if my key to the condo was still in my pocket. It was not.

I had a moment of panic. Or more accurately, a minor heart attack. I was thinking of how my keys were probably halfway to the Bahamas, or wherever the next destination is across from the ocean in South Carolina. I was figuring out in my head how much the fee for a lost key would be.

When I got back to my beach chair and looked through my backpack, there my key was where I left it when I took it out of my pocket. Apparently, I outsmarted myself again.

Sadly, this was not the first time I was too smart for my own good. On a college and career retreat to Panama City, I was convinced that I had lost my watch on the beach, only to find it in my bed. After much panicking and searching and fretting.

I was reminded tonight of the prodigal on his way back home to see his father. He was thinking, “I have lost everything. How am I going to explain that? What excuse could I possibly use to keep from getting unceremoniously thrown out the door?”

Little did he know that his father was already running down the road to meet him, not caring about all the money he wasted. All the father cared about was that his son had come home.

God doesn’t care about your wasted days and years. He doesn’t care about how you misused all those gifts he gave you. All he cares about is seeing you come home.

I worried for nothing. I made a big deal out of nothing. All my fears turned out to be groundless lies.

Whatever is keeping you from coming back to God is a lie. As big as your sin or mistake or failure, God’s grace is bigger. A past of shame and scars and waste is no barrier to the great love of God. There is nothing to heinous or scandalous that he won’t forgive. Nothing.

Your Father God is calling you. Will you come home?

Starry Beach Nights

Tonight, I took a short walk on the beach. It was great.

I had a t-shirt and shorts and a flashlight, so I could avoid stepping on anything sharp or living. At least that was my plan and it worked well for the most part.

It was a beautiful night. There were more stars out than I have seen in a long time and a cool ocean breeze was blowing in my direction. The sand and ocean water felt good on my feet.

I was alone on the beach and I felt currents of peace wash over me. I didn’t walk very far or stay out there long, but I stayed long enough.

Sometimes, you just need to get away from all the noise and the distractions and the hurry and find a place where you can be still and quiet and breathe. It doesn’t have to be the beach, but a place where you feel peaceful and at rest. A place where you can hear the still small voice of God.

When I get back home, I will find mine. I know I need to hear from God on a daily basis to keep my sanity and to know what to do next. Sometimes, I need to be able to still the other voices that clamor and contradict each other and tell me every way to go but the right way.

My prayer is that both you and I find those places where God speaks. My prayer is that we have open ears to hear and willing hearts to obey what we hear.

I think I’ll sleep good tonight.


My Take on Charleston (So Far)


Yeah, I could see myself living in Charleston, South Carolina. Probably sitting in a rocker or in a swing on a front porch with a glass of diabetic coma-inducing sweet tea.

I didn’t love it at first, but it’s grown on me. All the historic buildings and really old homes (as in as far back as the early 1700’s kind of old) have a charm all their own that gets into your blood after a while.

I particularly loved walking on Tradd Street and thinking it looked this way over 200 years ago. That boggled the mind. At least my mind, anyway.

There’s too much to see and do and experience for just one trip, so I will be going back. Soon, I hope. I hope I don’t sound crazy or in need of further medication when I say I love the smell of the place. Kind of a smell of a long history mixed with the sweet decay of old buildings.

Definitely take a good camera with you if you go and keep your eyes open at all times for those photographic moments. I took probably close to 200 pics while I was down there.

I love the fact that a lot of the front doors lead to the front porch (or I guess it would be the side porch if you think about it). I love all the brick walls with iron gates and wooden doors. I felt like I was peeking into Lothlorien or into Narnia when I squinted through the iron bars.

If you go, definitely go to Jestine’s Kitchen. It is worth whatever time you spend waiting in line. Check out the old church buildings, especially the St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, where George Washington attended when he visited the city. It is like stepping into Revolutionary War-era history.

Thanks to my friends who suggested all the dining places and sight-seeing places. I owe you one someday.