I wish I'd said that.

things I’ve come across that others have said or written that really impacted me

Beer with Jesus!

The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and people say, ‘Look at him! He’s a glutton and a drunk, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ “Yet, wisdom is proved right by its actions.” Matthew 11:19 Gods Word Translation
This verse is the quintessential picture of the unplugged Jesus. We see here no pews, no stained glass, no sound or projection systems, not even any worship sets or sermons. There are people, but they are not dressed in their Sunday best, and they are not quiet and reverent. And yet here, in what appears to be the most non-religious of settings if not even irreligious, Jesus is not only present, but He is an active participant in engaging relationships. In the process He is listening, being moved with compassion and dispensing as only He can, His mercy, wisdom and healing grace.
There is a country music song out right now that has hit the charts entitled “If I Could Have a Beer with Jesus.” I fell in love with the song the first time I heard it. Some people might be surprised to hear that, knowing I am a believer in Jesus and a pastor besides. But I did and here’s is why. And it is related directly with this verse out of Matthew 11:19. For me the lyrics capture in a disarming way the genuine heart cry resonating deeply within the soul of both believer and unbeliever, to relate to a Jesus free from religious and judgmental stereotypes.
I was not surprised to hear Thomas Rhett, who wrote and performs the song, quoted as saying “Every time I play that song live, a lot of people will cry.” And listen to what Rhett reveals next. “I’ve had a preacher come up to me saying, ‘Man, I would love to get you up to Wisconsin and sing that song at our church service.’” My sentiments exactly! Except Thomas, why not just skip the Cheesehead state and come directly to Viking Land?
Why are people crying when they hear a song about a guy wishing he could sit down with Jesus in a quiet corner of a bar, “order up a couple of tall ones,” ask Him about some of life’s persistent questions and “be sure to let Him do the talkin”?

Beer with Jesus! Read More »

Country Music, Theology and Life

Some day, I hope you get the chance to live like you were dyin’ – like tomorrow was a gift and you got eternity to think about what you’d do with it. Live Like You Were Dying (by Tim Nichols and Craig Wiseman)

As a late blooming convert to American Country Music I have come to appreciate the occasional undercurrents of theology woven into the fabric of its lyrics. One of the credos I have noticed that often surfaces is the belief in the value of slowing down and enjoying the simpler things of life.

In contrast to that, I don’t know if I ever recall hearing so many people comment on how fast the summer is racing by. Having already crossed the midpoint of July and now finding ourselves striding into the second half of summer has a way of awakening our sensibilities to the fleeting nature of life.

I was driving in the car several days ago thinking about this very thing and happened to have my radio dial tuned to a country station. Two songs came on in quick succession that really caught my attention. The central theme of each song’s lyrics was about the virtue of trying to slow down the pace of life.

First I heard Toby Keith singing a song entitled “My List.” In the song we learn he’s put his “to do list” for the day “under an old brass paperweight” because it’s time to “start livin’ – that’s the next thing on my list.” He explains “Cuttin’ the grass just had to wait, ‘cause I’ve got more important things, like pushin’ my kid on the backyard swing.” You get the gist of the song. “Go for a walk, say a little prayer, take a deep breath of the mountain air. Put on my glove, play some catch, it’s time I make time for that.” Amen, preach it brother! It’s a new millennium version of the 1970’s “Cat’s in the Cradle” song except this time the old man gets it right before it’s too late.

Next I heard Trace Atkins come on singing the ballad “You’re Gonna Miss This.” The song’s point of view is that of an older parent trying to give the same “slow down and enjoy life” advice to a grown daughter. Her problem, like so many of us, is that she is so busy planning and living for the future that she is not enjoying the present. First she’s a teenager wanting to get out on her own. Then she’s a bride living in a small apartment and wanting children and a house. Then five years later she’s a mother with two crying, screaming kids, a broken water heater, barking dog and the phones ringing. At each juncture Trace croons “Baby, just slow down. Cuz you’re gonna miss this. You’re gonna want this back. You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast.”

And then, as a final theological caveat, Trace leaves her with a Romans 8:28 perspective. “These are the good times, so take a good look around, you may not know it now, but you’re gonna miss this.” Yes, Virginia, there is a God! And He causes “all things do work together for good” so enjoy the season you are in now!

That’s good preachin’ if I ever heard it, Country Gospel if you will, delivered with both love and truth. It touches the heart and puts just enough of a sappy smile on your face that when the truth socks you in the mouth it doesn’t cut your lip.

Country Music, Theology and Life Read More »

The Greatest Commencement Address Ever Given

As the school year comes to an end, another annual round of commencement addresses is being given. Sadly, most of them are forgettable. Curiously, I do not even remember my own high school or college commencement addresses. Having raised five children, I have sat through my share. Of all the graduation speeches that I have heard I remember only one. It was a message given at the college graduation of my eldest daughter. The speaker was the late John Osteen, founder of Houston’s Lakewood Church and father of Joel Osteen. Rev Osteen exhorted the graduates to make it their goal to always depend upon and be filled with the Holy Spirit. That message for some reason stuck with me.

The purpose of a graduation speech hopefully is that it will strike a chord of truth deep within the soul that will continue to resonate at critical junctures throughout a person’s life.

When Winston Churchill, speaking at the Harrow graduation in 1941, said “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never …” he struck a chord that reverberated way beyond the ear shot of those in attendance. It galvanized a nation caught in the grip of the Second World War and throughout the decades since has continued to inspire embattled souls whenever it is read or recalled.

This year, a high school English teacher named David McCollough Jr gave one of those rare memorable commencement addresses. When he told the graduates at Wellesley High School (Massachusetts) the following it went viral. “None of you are special. You are not special. You are not exceptional.” In an age when children have grown up being “pampered, cosseted, doted upon, helmeted, bubble-wrapped . . . feted and fawned over” it needed to be said. The ultimate point that he was making is that exulting in being special is a self-indulgent deceit. “The great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself. The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you’re not special.” That is a message which may discomfit the soul but can motivate those who hear it to noble action.

Graduation ceremonies as a rite of passage are fraught with both emotion and expectation. There is the celebration of accomplishment with all the accompanying memories, bitter and sweet, sacrificial and gratuitous that will be left behind. And there is the anticipation of the future burgeoning with hopes and dreams yet waiting, albeit with trepidation, to be fulfilled.

The Greatest Commencement Address Ever Given Read More »

6 Questions for Lenten Reflection

Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. (2 Corinthians 13:5)

The season of Lent, the forty days of spiritual preparation leading up to Easter, began last week with the observance of Ash Wednesday. In the Christian tradition, Lent is a time for the believer to commemorate the great price Jesus Christ paid for humankind’s redemption through His passion, death, burial and resurrection. Typically the observance of Lent is expressed by individual believers through prayer and repentance, fasting and other acts of self-denial, and almsgiving.

No matter what denominational or liturgical background, Lent is a season in which every believer is called to reflect upon the meaning and depth of one’s own faith relationship with God. It is a time as the apostle Paul says to “examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine.” (2 Corinthians 13:5)

This examination process, as one can imagine, can take a myriad of forms. Discoveries of new approaches to spiritual self assessment are particularly helpful because they can enable the believer to probe here unto uncharted depths of the soul. This Lent I have been blessed to make such a find.

6 Questions for Lenten Reflection Read More »

5 Ways to Revive Your Prayer Life

“When was the last time you found yourself flat on your face before the Almighty? When was the last time you cut off circulation kneeling before the Lord? When was the last time you pulled an all-nighter in prayer?” Mark Batterson
When a guy asks questions like these you know he is taking prayer pretty seriously. And if you can’t answer these questions with recent occurrences you know you aren’t. The questions are from Mark Batterson’s recent book The Circle Maker. This book on prayer is the best I’ve read in years.
If your prayer life is missing a beat, on life support or has given up the ghost, this book, like an AED, is guaranteed to shock it back to life. Covering nearly every facet of prayer while using many faith-building stories it will inspire and revitalize prayer in your life once again.
The book’s title and guiding illustration for effective prayer is based on the true story of a first Century BC praying Jew who lived in the generation preceding Jesus’ birth. At that time a devastating drought threatened Israel. This eccentric sage by the name Honi with a six foot staff in his hand drew a circle around himself and kneeling inside that circle prayed “Lord of the universe, I swear before Your great name that I will not move from this circle until You have shown mercy upon Your children.” And immediately rain began to fall.
Launching forth from this story the author does a masterful job of awakening faith in the reader as he unfolds what it means for us today to pray Circle Making prayers. He divides the book into three key topical challenges to true circle-making prayer: Dream Big, Pray Hard and Think Long.

5 Ways to Revive Your Prayer Life Read More »

Scroll to Top