The Garth Brooks Dilemma.

I won’t ever win a humility contest. I don’t know if they have those, giving someone an award for being humble, probably defeats the purpose of humility. If they do though, please do not bet on me, I won’t even get an honorable mention.

I struggle with ego.

I recently realized it was my ego not my discipline driving my decision to blog daily.

So I wrote about the 3 signs your ego is making your decisions and I prayed about it.

I prayed that God would help me not be so entitled. That he would help me be humble. That he would help me learn humility.

And then a tiny voice inside said, “Do I have the freedom to teach you that in any way I deem best?”

I don’t know if that was God. There were no fireworks or tambourines, but I was convicted because I realized the answer was “no.”

I would prefer that God teaches me how to be humble through moments that are not humbling. I want to learn humility but not in ways that are unpleasant at all. I want to learn generosity but without that whole hassle of actually giving anyone anything.

I want growth without discomfort, but that’s not how it works. Growth is always uncomfortable.

So this morning I laughed with God. And admitted my secret desires to him that were not so secret anyway. I remembered Garth Brooks and his song about how some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers. I remembered that God doesn’t answer prayer my way, he answers it his way which turns out is always better.

 

 

 

The world didn’t have to be amazing.

As I write this, it’s snowing outside.

For the first time this winter, Tennessee is getting some big, lazy flakes of snow to fall.

I’m struck by the fact that each snowflake is completely unique, but they didn’t have to be. They could have been boring.

Have you ever thought about that? Snowflakes could have come in one size. Sunsets could have come in one color. Birds could have all been brown.

But they’re not.

Snowflakes are tiny pieces of disposable art.

Sunsets are explosions of color.

Birds come in a crazy array of shapes and sizes.

The world didn’t have to be amazing, but it is. Why? Because we have an amazing God.

And it turns out, he doesn’t do boring.

 

 

The Sunday after Christmas, AKA “Let’s have the youth minister preach today” Sunday.

Today, the youth minister will be preaching at your church.

Or the campus pastor.

Or an executive pastor who everyone loves but is rarely given the opportunity to rock the mic.

Someone who doesn’t speak often will be behind the pulpit today. (Or behind the small table and tiny chair that has absolutely no back support. Or in front of the large flat screen TV. Pulpits are so 2000 and late, which itself is an ancient reference to a Fergie lyric. I’m nothing if not culturally relevant.)

Why will this happen today?

Because as I’ve written about before, it’s the Sunday after a major holiday.

Attendance will be light. The Senior Pastor might be on vacation. Anything goes.

I love this Sunday, in part because some times I get to be the after a major holiday speaker.

You’ve been warned.

When this happens at your church and your mind is blown at my ability to see into the future, please don’t tweet that I’m a prophet. It goes to my head and I got a new hat for Christmas that I want to fit.

Christmas doesn’t make sense. Thank goodness.

Through the power of the Internet, I am often able to look like I have my life all together.

I know the things to tweet and the things to edit.

I know the moments to Instagram and the ones to crop out like they never happened.

I know what to say in conversations with friends to give the appearance of stability.

But the truth is, all too often I kick my own life down a flight of stairs. I make mistakes. I blow opportunities. I chase distractions and hide. I make a mess of things. In those moments, I fear that perfection is the only path out of the chaos. That perhaps if I string together a few perfect days, I can repay the debts I’ve incurred from a life lived with brokenness.

Only I can’t. I know that. I’ve tried that a thousand times before and it doesn’t work. My track record of perfect living is perfectly flawed.

But then there’s Christmas.

It’s not what I expected. It’s not what I deserved. It’s not what I can comprehend most days. Why?

Because what is Christmas?

It is the answer to the question, “Are you loved?”

It is the answer to the question, “Do you matter?”

It is the answer to the question, “Is there more to life than this?”

And it doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t. The gift of grace fails to line up with everything I know about the world. When you make a mistake, you pay for it with an equal consequence. When you have a debt, someone eventually calls you on the loan. You made your bed, now lie in it. That is how life works.

But not Christmas.

Christmas doesn’t work that way.

Christmas is a gift from a sender who sent himself.

Christmas is a raucous world defining expression of love.

Christmas is enough because Christ is enough.

And it’s here.

Sometimes I try to fix myself. I look at my parade of mishaps, the failures bright and loud and think I have to fix it all. But I can’t. I can’t fix me, with me. And the good news of the gospel, the good news of Christmas, is that I don’t have to.

In fact, God knew I’d never be able to. That’s why he sent his son. That’s why he gave us Christmas.

It’s a gift.

Never feel your hands are too dirty to receive it. It was sent because our hands are too dirty.

Christmas doesn’t make sense. Thank goodness.

Three years later, this still surprises me.

Three years ago this week, Jenny and I stood in the jungles of Vietnam. Why?

Because readers of this blog went on an adventure together that changed two villages halfway around the world.

I think about this video and that project whenever I wonder about the power of online communities. I think about the generosity of you and the possibility of us.

Those are two powerful things that I think God loves to throw together. Individuals that might never meet, giving hope to a village that might have never heard of, in a country they might never visit.

Never doubt what our mustard seed growing God can do when we step out in small, brave ways. There’s no such thing as a step that’s too small when you take it with a God who loves big adventures. Watch the video and be reminded and encouraged.

 

The secret circle of people you text funny stuff that you’re afraid to share online.

Halloween

I have a confession.

I have a small group of friends I text funny stuff to that I am afraid to share online. They are like minded, humor friendly, non judgy people I trust not to shame me for laughing at something I probably shouldn’t be laughing at.

It is possible I am the only one who does this.

It is possible that you will have two reactions to this post:

  1. How dare you sir! I never text funny things to a select group of like minded people.
  2. You’re not brave! I tweet, Facebook, and pin whatever I feel like.

But regardless of your reaction, I felt it was time to come clean.

Here’s how it usually happens:

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Group Prayer: The How to’s and The Houdinis

(Today is another great guest post from Gabriel Lytle! Check him out on Twitter too @gaberuski!)

If you’re not already cringing, then you may be what some would call a “sneaky snake.” (words chosen purposefully)

We’ve all been there.

They’ve just finished up weekly home group, the end draws near, the night is almost over and that can only mean one thing:

Time to pray. Out loud.

Your leader peers around the circle, and everyone is already saying a small prayer, “Please God, don’t pick me.”

One to play the Houdini card?

Here are 5 subtle moves to get out of dodge (Unless you’ve got Enoch-level clearance and can literally disappear):

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You broke my burrito! and 2 other moments I stink at giving people grace.

 

Burrito

Sometimes I like to think I’m good at this grace thing.

Mostly this happens after I have listened to the song “Oceans” by Hillsong United. Having been hit with the audio waves of that fantastic chorus 92 times, I take my headphones out and make some strong declarations.

“This is it! I’m going to show other people grace! I am going to walk on water and be bold and brave and yay #TeamGrace!”

I don’t pronounce the word “Hashtag” out loud because I’m not 13 but in that moment, I do get ready to live with so much grace.

Until, I run into these three situations and realize I stink at grace:

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