I Did It My Way (And it didn’t work)


10 The Lord overrules what the nations plan;
    he frustrates what the peoples intend to do.
11 But the Lord’s plan stands forever;
    what he intends to do lasts from one generation to the next.

Psalm 33: 10-11

I am a trained religious expert.  So when it comes to what congregations should do, what course they should take, I sometimes think I have the best answer.  I’ve studied about it, I’ve thought about it, I’ve re-thought it, surely this is the best course of action and best plan I tell myself.  And yet, I’ve seen some of my favorite plans and what I thought were my best ideas fail.   Experience is a great teacher.  What I’ve learned from those experiences, I don’t have the best ideas and plans, God does.  It’s true not only in our congregations but our homes as well.  I’ve learned before making big decisions, that I/we need the Lord’s guidance.  Sounds simple, and it is, but it means letting go of my pride and letting God go to work leading us and guiding us.

The Psalmist has figured this out.  The One who breathed life into creation knows better.  It’s that simple.  And while Psalm 33 is praising The Lord for all that God has made and all that God has done, the verses above also serve as convicting reminder of what happens when I live by Ed’s plan vs. living under God’s direction.

What major decisions are you facing?  Have you prayed about them yet?  I hope so, but if not, now’s your chance.  Consider this the loving, grace-filled reminder that it has been for me today.

Prayer:  Lord, lead me, guide me, grace me, love me.  Give me the wisdom to follow you instead of myself.  Amen.

Judgement Day

poor by daniel-pascoa-253357

photo credit: Daniel Pascoa – Unsplash.com

“Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged. You’ll receive the same judgment you give. Whatever you deal out will be dealt out to you.”  – Matthew 7: 1-2

Somethings are easier said than done.  We formulate opinions quickly.  That’s why first impressions are so important.  When we meet someone, our brains seem wired to size them up and judge them.

Being born and raised in Nashville, TN, people tell me I have a Southern accent.  Because of my accent, some folks assume I’m not too bright, country, and simple.  And while all that may or may not be true, that’s the assumption.

We are wired to make assumptions and our brains carry forward learned stereotypes.  It is what we do with those stereotypes and assumptions that matter.  I assume these words from Jesus were useful 2000 years ago, but I’m certain they are needed today.  “Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged.”

We judge people based on gender, sexual orientation, income level, education, political affiliation, age, where they are from, religion, and a host of other criteria.

Jesus words challenge us and invite us to do the hard work of getting to know folks who are different from us – to judge less and care more.

Prayer:  Lord, I’m guilty of judging others, and I assume that others are guilty of judging me.  Forgive me of my sins, as I forgive those who have sinned against me.  Amen.


Simple Integrity. Yes or No.


Image result for Yes and no meme


33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those who lived long ago: Don’t make a false solemn pledge, but you should follow through on what you have pledged to the Lord. 34 But I say to you that you must not pledge at all. You must not pledge by heaven, because it’s God’s throne. 35 You must not pledge by the earth, because it’s God’s footstool. You must not pledge by Jerusalem, because it’s the city of the great king. 36 And you must not pledge by your head, because you can’t turn one hair white or black. 37 Let your yes mean yes, and your no mean no. Anything more than this comes from the evil one.   – Matthew 5: 33-37

I give you my word.   Is that enough?  Do I do what I say I’m going to do?  It’s an issue of integrity.  Am I true to my word?  With my family?  With friends?  At work?  With strangers?  Short of making a covenant, like getting married, why would I need to make an oath of some sort for you to rely on my word?  If you can’t rely on what someone says, do you trust them more when they “promise” to do something?

Today’s challenge from Jesus from Matthew 5 has me looking inward.

Where am I true to my word?  Is there anywhere in my life I need to do better at keeping my word.  It’s an issue of integrity.  Is my simple “yes” or “no” so trustworthy that it could be taken as a promise without making a pledge?

Prayer:  Lord, you call us to be honest and trustworthy.  Help me to simply let my “yes” mean “yes” and my “no” mean “no” without having to make an kind of extra pledge to follow through.  Amen.




Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down,
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    Lord, you know it completely.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is so high that I cannot attain it.

Psalm 139: 1-6

After my mom died in 1991, I remember one of the things I grieved the most was losing the person who knew me the best.  She could see when I was hurting on the inside, even when the rest of the world saw a smile.   She always knew when I was lying.  It’s like she knew me inside and out.  She knew my shortcomings, she didn’t gloss over them, and she loved me anyway.
There is someone out there who knows us even better than our parents and loves us anyway.  Beyond our lies and our closeted pains, God’s knows us and still loves us.
The psalmist, presumed to be King David, says that experience this love from God, who knows us inside and out, and yet loves us anyway is “too wonderful”.  So wonderful that feels overwhelming and “unattainable”.   That’s because it is, we will never fully comprehend The Lord’s love for us.
Today, may you live in the light of that love – The same love that we celebrate coming into our world every Christmas – The same love that is revealed in Jesus’ willingness to die for us on the cross – The same love overpowers even death by resurrection.  That love, God’s love, is extended to you and me today.
To be known and loved by God, what an amazing thing.
Prayer:  Lord, you have searched me and know me, you know me better than I know myself, and you love me anyway.  Thank you would never be enough, but thank you.  I love you too.  Amen

A Different Way

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear expects punishment. The person who is afraid has not been made perfect in love. We love because God first loved us.”

‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:18-19‬ ‭CEB‬‬

What do you fear? Foreigners? (Other) Religions? We live in culture that seems to be driven by fear. We learned on the school playground, that “might makes right”, even if we don’t want to admit it.

This may be the way of the world, where even our politicians get by with sexual harassment and still get elected and re-elected (both parties in America, even Presidents). Those who abuse power seem more empowered. How much of our day-to-day life is driven by fear and hate, that we would vote for folks we know abuse power and authority? There is a better way, and those of who know Jesus and his teachings, and read our bibles should know better. There is different and better way as 1 John (see above) and Rev. king remind us:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness;

only light can do that.

Hate cannot drive out hate;

only love can do that.

Hate multiplies hate,

violence multiplies violence,

and toughness multiplies toughness

in a descending spiral of destruction….

The chain reaction of evil —

hate begetting hate,

wars producing more wars —

must be broken,

or we shall be plunged

into the dark abyss of annihilation.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – Strength to Love 1963

Today is another opportunity to chose love over fear, to chose the way of the cross, to love our neighbor, to move beyond our fears. We have the chance to live a different way.

Prayer: Lord, you are love. Teach me your ways. Move me beyond my fears. Amen.

God Wants You to Get More Sleep



It is pointless that you get up early and stay up late,
    eating the bread of hard labor
    because God gives sleep to those he loves.

Psalm 127:2 (Common English Bible)

Life on the go seems to be a modern culture expectation – Always one more thing with work, one more thing to get to around the house, one more activity for the Dad Taxi to get the kiddos where they need to be, one more quick trip to the store, one more phone call to make, text to make, group reminder to send out, and when was the last time I checked my e-mail and social media accounts?  I’m not sure when I’ll get to the bank or get my hair cut or get the yard mowed.

Not enough hours in the day?  The bible is quick to remind us then that the problem is you (and me).  Remember the Sabbath.  Check the above verse.  “God gives sleep to those he loves.”  I don’t get enough sleep, and as I age, that’s becoming more apparent.  I do believe God loves me, so why am I not blessed with sleep?  I can only assume it’s because I haven’t accepted it.  Due to my busy-ness, I have turned away God’s blessing.   That’s without considering all of the health concerns from not getting enough sleep.

I do believe God loves me, so why am I not blessed with sleep?  I can only assume it’s because I haven’t accepted it.  Due to my busy-ness, I have turned away God’s blessing. 

I doubt I’m alone in the cramming too much into each day category.   The challenge comes from the conviction that God wants to bless you and me, and many of us have turned it away.  I’m pondering today, what changes do I need to make so that I’m in a position to receive the blessings God is dishing out.  God has already poured out the blessing, I’ve just spurned it so far.

Prayer:  Lord, help me to organize my days and live in such a way as to receive the blessings you have already poured out in love.

When God Seems Distant

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Photo by Karl Fredrickson on Unsplash


I was ready to respond to those who didn’t ask.
    I was ready to be found by those who didn’t look for me.
I said, “I’m here! I’m here!” to a nation
    that didn’t call on my name.
I extended my hands all day
    to a rebellious people
        walking in a way that isn’t good,
        following their own plans;

Isaiah 65: 1-2

As a pastor, folks tend to be spiritually open and honest when they come to my office or when I visit with them.  It’s not unusual to hear words like, “God seems distant.”, or even “God couldn’t still love me after what I’ve done.”

The Bible is full of reassurances like this one from Isaiah.  Isaiah spoke these words to people who felt like God had abandoned them.  These are meant to be words of comfort and hope that God has not abandoned us.  The prophet’s words remind us that God never left, and God’s hope and love for us never waned – it’s the people who moved away from God.  As a friend of mine likes to say, “If you feel far off from God, guess who moved?”

Sometimes we just need to reminded that God still loves us in spite of who we are and what we have done.

Fred needed to hear these words when I visited him in the local jail.  Justin needed to hear these words when I met with him in the hospital.  Scott needed to hear these words when he came into my office:  “God still loves you.”

Maybe you’re the one who needs to hear these words today.  God still loves you!, Always has and always will, no matter what you’ve done.

We all have times in our lives where we need the reassurance, after what we heinous things we have done, that God still loves us.  (That doesn’t mean we won’t suffer consequences for our actions, but that nothing can stop God from loving you.)

Maybe you need to hear it again.  God still loves you.

Prayer:  Lord, after all that I’ve done, I’m amazed that you could still love me.  I know I don’t deserve it, but thanks.  I guess that’s why it’s called amazing grace.  I pray today for all those who feel far off from you or don’t believe that you still love them.  May they hear your voice when you say, “Here I am!  I’m here.”

Following the Rules or Living Love?

  • For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.” – ‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:4-6‬ ‭MSG‬‬

For me, Christianity and my faith is not about all of the rules or a set of “right” beliefs, it’s about how God’s love and grace transforms and shapes us for living.  These words above were penned by Paul, the guy who was an ultimate rule follower and killer of Christians, but became a missionary for The Way, teaching others about faith as a way of life and Jesus commandment to love.

If the Church would love more and judge less, the world will be a much different place.  I think we, the Church, the disciples of Jesus, are being led to way of life that is far less concerned with right beliefs and far more concerned about living love.

I’m not saying rules and understanding don’t matter or are not important; I believe they are, but I think the recurring theme of God’s love and grace throughout the Bible is  more important.

Prayer: “Show me how you work, GOD; School me in your ways.”  Psalm‬ ‭25:4‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Today’s blog was inspired by recent reading of Richard Rohr and Brian McLaren

Why Work Hard?

father's outlook


I also observed that people work hard and become good at what they do only out of mutual envy. This too is pointless, just wind chasing. – Ecclesiastes 4:4


It’s almost Father’s Day, which has me wondering two things.  One, because I’m a dad, I feel the joy and the weight of that responsibility, and two, I wonder what gift my family will get me to celebrate the occasion.

Work hard, have more.  Seems to be a mantra of our culture.  Advertisers depend on it.  But really, where does it get us?  And yet, as a dad, I have everything I need and more.  And yet, as a father, I still get excited about the thought of adding to my treasure store.

Today’s verse from Ecclesiastes might as well be from Proverbs.  There’s a backhanded wisdom here.  Wisdom from what is foolish.  Chasing after more always leads to emptiness, yet we chase it all the more.  It’s a stark reminder that I need to hear from time to time.  Maybe you do too?

In a positive light, this verse, because it reminds me of the emptiness of hard work for wealth’s sake, it also reminds me of hard work for God’s sake, for the world’s sake, and for my family’s sake.

In reverse wisdom way, Ecclesiastes 4:4 reminds me of my “why”. Why I do what I do, and where the drive comes from to work hard at it.

Let me encourage you to once again consider your “why”.  “Why” do you do what you do?  Yes to make a living.  Yes for provisions.  Yes, because you can, and by doing what you do well, you can make the world and your neighborhood a better place.

That’s why.

Prayer:  Lord, your love inspires us to work hard to make the world around us better for others.  Help me to remember this when my heart again strays to chasing more material things or wealth.  Amen.


photo credit:  Abdeel Zavala Lopez, available @ unsplash.com

In Pursuit of Wisdom

“My child, if your heart is wise, then my heart too will be happy.”‭‭ – Proverbs‬ ‭23:15‬ ‭CEB‬‬

We all make bad choices, myself included.  That’s why wisdom is so important.  The Bible even personifies God as wisdom.  (It should be noted that wisdom is a feminine noun in ancient Greek.)

In a sense then, it occurs to me that striving for Wisdom is like chasing after God.  I like to think I’m getting wiser every day.  The pursuit of being more like Jesus, is in part, pursuing wisdom.  

Solomon didn’t wish for more wealth or more power as king, he asked the Lord for wisdom.  

I appreciate today’s verse from Proverbs 23 even more from a parental perspective.  

I don’t just want wisdom for myself.  Because I see it’s value, I want it even more for our children.  

Lord knows they’ll need it.  Look at the global problems and issues we are handing them.  

Maybe we could all do little more in pursuing God and live a little more like Jesus by chasing wisdom.  And maybe, just maybe, the world around us will be better for it. 

Prayer:  Lord, grant me wisdom.  Amen.