Category Archives: discipleship

living in Mayberry

We took our kids to Mayberry last week. Actually, we spent a day in Mt. Airy, NC, Andy Griffith’s hometown. The town has capitalized on his fame and the show’s popularity, modeling shops and eateries in the tradition of Mayberry. Floyd’s Barbershop still offers haircuts, and pork chop sandwiches are available at Snappy’s Lunch. We had a great time, stepping back in time and imagining what life must have been like in Mayberry—a simpler time.

Or so it seems.

A simpler time. A sweeter place. A lesson. A laugh. A father and a son.

Could it be? Is there a Mayberry calling our names, wooing our spirits to its borders with promises of a simpler, sweeter life? A life filled with lessons, laughter, and sacred fellowship between a father and a son?

I know my heart cries out for it. Not just in the sweet by-and-by when I make it home to heaven, but now. I want a simpler life on this side of eternity. One that includes casual strolls down Main Street, leisurely lunches with favorite friends, and an unhurried pace so that I might learn a lesson or two from my Father along the way.

I’m off to a good start. There’s a spirit of Mayberry in this place I now call home. Really, it has little to do with my new address. Yes, the town’s population numbers less than my previous location. There are fewer stoplights and less traffic. Fewer stores and less bargains. Quieter living and less accumulation. Certainly, these “lessers” add to the calm in my spirit. But I don’t think the spirit of Mayberry is fully contingent on these lessers. Perhaps living in Mayberry has less to do with the location of our bodies and more to do with the location of our souls.

Mayberry lives next to Jesus. Find him, and you’ll find a simpler, sweeter place. A lesson or two for your soul. Some laughter and a Father who calls you son. Daughter. Child. Beloved.

This is good news for all of us, whether you’re currently living at a slower pace in a small town or running in the fast lane of a fast life in a fast city. Regardless of your physical address, I imagine there are times when your spirit, like mine, cries out for Mayberry.

Might I offer you a few tips for the journey?

Find your map. My hunch is that it is probably sitting next to your bed or housed on a shelf close by. If you want to live in Mayberry, the shortest route between where you are today and where you want to be is through the Word of God. Find this map, and you’ve found your starting point.

Read your map. Don’t just hold it in your hands; don’t just carry it with you to work or church to pretty up your exterior. Owning the map to Mayberry won’t land you safely home. You must be willing to study it, plot your course, choosing your route and your exits with holy consideration.

Take the map with you as you take your trip. On your way to Mayberry, you will (more than likely) weed out and leave behind the non-essentials. In fact, I encourage you to do so. There comes a time when we should travel lighter, ridding our lives of the clutter and chaos that weigh us down and stymie our forward progression. But along the way and as we go, keep hold of your map. Refer to it on a regular basis, less you take that wayward, wandering road in the wrong direction. Getting home to Mayberry is far easier with map in hand.

Commit to the map. Believe in it, and by God’s empowering spirit and grace, walk it. Through valleys, over mountains, along the highways, by the streams, and in the desert. The map isn’t flawed and will never lead you to a place where the Father hasn’t first placed his foot. Commit to the map, and you’ll find Mayberry. You’ll put down roots and call it home.

A simpler time. A sweeter place. A lesson. A laugh. A father and a son.

Mayberry lives next to Jesus. He is where you’ll find me today, and I’ve put in an order for two pork chop sandwiches. Won’t you join me at the table? I’d love some company. As always . . .

Peace for the journey,

walk on . . .

“As long as you move, everything’s good.”

I welcome her encouragement, this guru of walking-at-home. Leslie Sansone has been a part of my life for many years now. And while I’m not completely convinced about her claims to Walk Away the Pounds or Walk Slim, I am convinced regarding her encouragement:

“As long as you move, everything’s good.”

I put this encouragement to the test a few weeks ago. With the onset of a new year, I decided to move in a new direction. High hopes accompanied me as I launched into a one-on-one session with Jillian Michaels and her 30 Day Shred. My hopes were summarily dashed within a couple of workouts. The only shredding that took place was inside my left knee; I’ve spent the last two weeks in a Futuro knee brace, nursing my pain along with my (uhh-hmm) . . . pride. Jillian and I have parted company, and Leslie has welcomed me back with open arms. At least with her, I’m able to keep moving forward rather than staying immobilized by a plan that will never move me farther than my couch.

Don’t misunderstand me. Not all pain is bad. Pain can be a strong motivator toward good. But when pain cripples the hope—when pain stops forward progression—it’s time to re-evaluate the plan. Time to dial it back a notch, look at the overall goal, and keep in stride with a battle strategy that makes good sense and that reinstates hope.

“As long as you move, everything’s good.”

I want to keep moving forward, and I desperately long for the good attached to that movement. Unfortunately, there are times in my life when my visioning jumps in front of reasonable capabilities. Times when I ignore my limitations and forge ahead of good sense. Instead of relying on proven, trustworthy methods for gaining optimal heart-health, I rely on lofty notions that (in the end) prove to me what I already know to be true . . .

Some plans aren’t meant for me. Some of them cripple me instead of developing me. Too much jumping and bending and straining in the wrong direction will limit me rather than improve me. Sometimes, the healthiest thing I can do for my body and, ultimately for my soul, is to anchor my will and my “want to” in what I know to be true.

“As long as you move, everything’s good.”

And so it goes. I walk on. One step at a time, one day at a time, keeping my pace steady and certain, knowing that movement wins and believing that as long as I’m giving my body, soul, and sweat to the task of heart-health, everything’s good, even when I can’t measure it.

Maybe today you’re jumping in the wrong direction; maybe your straining has landed you on the couch—an unexpected detour in your plans for a better you. You meant well, thought it was the right move, but instead of tangible gain, you’re left holding the shreds of disappointment. What you had hoped to accomplish is, instead, simmering as failure in and around your spirit. You’ve lost your “want to”, and the funny thing is you can’t even pinpoint where it all went wrong, especially because you meant for it all to finish very right.

I’m sorry, friend. Truly I am. I know this present pain of body, soul, and spirit. And so today, might I offer you (even as I am offering myself) a tender hug as well as a gentle encouragement?

“As long as you move, everything’s good.” Ditch what’s crippling you and, as an alternative, walk back to what’s reliable. Walk back to what’s proven in order to walk forward with what’s true. Don’t be sidelined by your pain; instead, keep moving. Move with the One who brought you, and surely his goodness and mercy will follow you–carry and strengthen you–all the days your life. And we’ll all dwell in the house of the Lord forever!

Movement wins. I promise. Keep to it. As always . . .

Peace for the journey,

Anchor Verse 2013 ~ Reconciliation


I read his words in the early morning hours of 2013, beginning words about new things, new hopes, new desires (especially as it pertains to those who busy themselves with resolution list-making):

“They believe that a good intention already means a new beginning; they believe that on their own they can make a new start whenever they want. But that is an evil illusion; only God can make a new beginning with people whenever God pleases, but not people with God. Therefore, people cannot make a new beginning at all; they can only pray for one.” (Bonhoeffer, God is in the Manger, pg. 80)

And so, I bow my head and heart and pray for one . . . a new beginning, knowing that anything I might conjure up impulsively will ultimately fail if God is not in it. I ask for a new heart, a new approach to living with the older history that resides inside my aging flesh. And I pray for eyes to see this new beginning as it arrives, to lay hold of it, and to fully live it, even when it’s uncomfortable . . . especially then. To receive a new beginning from God only to reject it in the end is to squander the blessing—ultimately, to make a mockery of the gift so earnestly sought after, so divinely given.

Don’t ask for a new beginning from God if you don’t want one, because to receive one and to waste it is irreverence at the highest level.

Accordingly, I tread humbly, yet willingly toward the Father on this first day of 2013 as I ask for my “new.” I cannot perceive it, not yet. I can only believe that it awaits me, knowing that as I ask for this bread, my Father will not respond with a stone. He will answer me with his “much more”—good gifts from his God-heart (see Mt. 7:7-11).

Along these lines, and for the past several years, I’ve made it my practice to choose an anchor verse that would serve as a foundational guideline for my comings and goings throughout the year—a “go to” word from the Word when other words fail . . . when my heart and soul lose focus. Last year’s anchor was rooted in Phil. 3:12-14 and the phrase “movement wins.” I cannot begin to chronicle for you the many ways these verses and that phrase have pushed me, fortified me, and encouraged me in 2012. Movement wins stands as forever strength for me going forward. I pray the same power to be present in and through the anchor verses that I’ve selected for the New Year. For the past few months, I’ve known that these would be God’s watchwords for my 2013.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” (2 Cor. 5:17-20)

The ministry and message of reconciliation—the Greek word katallage meaning “exchange, adjustment of a difference, restoration of the favor of God to sinners that repent and put their trust in the atoning death of Christ.”

God has placed me, placed all Christians, in the middle of a sacred exchange between himself and his created, between his holiness and man’s sinfulness. He has commissioned us to stand as a bridge linking the dying, fear-filled soul to the living, faithful God. What trust! What responsibility! What privilege!

Accordingly, I tread humbly toward the Father on this first day of 2013. To be a reconciler in the kingdom of God—to no longer regard anyone from a worldly point of view—is to ratchet up faith’s commitment. With the responsibility comes accountability, of this I am certain. And so, I cannot ask for this “new” with only good intentions to fuel my well-doing. God must be the energy behind this undertaking. He is the author and finisher of my faith; it all begins and ends with him. So must my bridge-building. Bridges built by good intentions will ultimately collapse. Bridges built by God’s intentions will stand forever, eternally upheld by the heart and hands of his love.

This is where I am this morning, kneeling on a bridge, and praying for strength enough to be one of God’s. He, alone, knows where these verses and this prayer will take me in the next twelve months.

What about you? What is the prayer of your heart on this first day of 2013? What leading from God is leading you to ask for your new beginning? What strength do you find in his Word? What anchor will be your “go to” word in coming days? I pray one finds you—a verse or an entire chapter of holy writ that will work its way into your soul and serve as a strong foundation for your faith in coming days. Think on it; pray on it, and as it arrives, inscribe it upon your heart.

Don’t waste your new beginning; live it like you mean it. I’ll meet you on the road, and I’ll link arms with you in prayer for the steps ahead.

God will see to it all.

when candy isn’t enough . . .


It all comes back around to people, at least it should. When we speak of ministry outreach and harvesting the fields, we’re talking about people—men, women, and children created in the image of God and deserving of the good news of the kingdom. When we put our focus elsewhere . . . on growing our numbers, our influence, and our bank accounts, then we’ve missed the mark.

Yes, we need the bean counters and the fiscally gifted to take us forward in our efforts to fulfill our responsibilities to the kingdom of God, but without a vision to anchor our well-intentioned purposes, people perish. They die never knowing that they could have had a share in the kingdom inheritance . . . that eternal peace, certain hope, good grace, and unconditional love were meant for them.

We are the bringers of God’s eternity to this world, the carriers of an extraordinary kingdom. Because of Jesus Christ, we are his righteous reconcilers, the blood-bought bounty of Calvary. Accordingly, we cannot allow the vision to perish. We must press on and push forward with the message of priceless redemption. Without the message, then all of our efforts at reaching the lost vanish; they remain hidden and buried beneath the left-over scraps of a really good program or a well-planned event.

I don’t want God’s message to be lost on the people who gather around me; I want the message to be evident within me. I don’t want to get so tangled up in the planning and the particulars of ministry that I miss the pulse of Jesus pounding loudly through his people. If I cannot see him there, in their faces and through their eyes, then I’ve missed an eternal opportunity. I leave the fields empty-handed with nothing more to show for a day’s hard laboring than a pocket full of lint and a head full of confusion.

How could it have been more? Why doesn’t good programming always result in great ministry? How do we bridge the gap, sew it altogether so that one leads to the other . . . so that both—good programming and great ministry—are the norm, not the exception?

This is where I am today after a wonderfully, successful, on-paper ministry event that took place at our church this past weekend. By all accounts, it was a win. Everyone had fun, and everyone went home with enough candy to last until Valentine’s Day. And while there is some satisfaction in my spirit for a job well-done, there is also an ache that cannot be tempered by chocolate or left-over cupcakes.

There is pain inside of me that wells over into tears. They drop into my lap, because I don’t know if it was enough, this sharing of candy and cupcakes. Yes, I am certain that seeds were planted and that I’m not always given the benefit of holding fruitfulness first-hand; time will bear out the witness of this ministry event, and I am certain there is more to the story than meets the eye.

But in this moment, I feel the heaviness of the greater good and of wanting to do more for Jesus. I want to love more and extend the reach of eternity to the hearts of the people I meet. No more games; no more fluff; no more pretending it’s all enough. My all will never be enough if it stops short of realizing that people are not the means to an end but, rather, that they are the end. People are the final product and sum total of God’s creative genius, and he never intended for them to miss out on his eternity.

Today, I pray that God will awaken all of us from our spiritual slumber, burn his message of redemption into our awareness, and enflame our spirits for the greater, most excellent work of kingdom building. It begins and ends with people. They are his agenda for us.

Look around you, friends. Who’s near? Who’s close? Who’s waiting for the reach of grace? Reach forward, reach further, reach always in the mighty name and love of Jesus Christ. It’s the best you can do. As always . . .

Peace for the journey,

on getting noticed in a noisy world {a book review and give-away}…

I’m currently reading Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt. I also follow Michael’s blog. He’s a ball of energy, a no-nonsense, straight-forward, genuine leader. He’s figured out how to make all this work… this blogging, branding, getting noticed in a noisy world thing. And so, I’m reading his book. What he’s doing is working (case in point, I bought the book), which begs the question, is what I’m doing working? Am I getting noticed in a noisy world? Further still, should I even be asking the question?


Do you know what I like best about Michael’s book? All the helpful tips for getting noticed.


Do you know what makes me the most uncomfortable about Michael’s book? All the helpful tips for getting noticed.


I struggle with this… this whole “look at me.” Truly, that’s not the pulse behind Michael’s book. Michael is trying to equip his readers with the necessary tools that better enable them to get their message out. I get it. I’m grateful for it. After all, I believe I have a message—a story of grace and witness to share with others. I believe you have one as well. As Christians, we are charged with the “story.” The Great Commission belongs to believers and is Christ’s benediction to his earthly tenure, his parting words intended for us (see Matthew 28:16-20). Going into all the world (your little corner of the world) and making disciples isn’t an optional requirement of our faith. It’s a necessary component to cultivating our faith.


In light of this, Michael’s question becomes a question I’m willing to wrestle with as I seek to put parameters around what I’m doing here at my blogging address, peace for the journey. Am I getting noticed in a noisy world? Is my message getting through? How can I best maximize the witness of my heart so that the hearts of others might be drawn closer to the heart of the Father?


It’s a tricky endeavor, merging sacred witness with social media platforms (Michael devotes a lot of chapters to talking about this area, probably because so many of us are focused there). Blogging, facebooking, twittering, pinterest, it’s a lot to take on. And I might get blasted for saying this, but I’ve come to believe that there is always a “me” attached to these forums. Think about it… even if we’re typing out scriptures for one another, we’re still the mouthpiece—the hands and heart behind our tweets. And that’s not always a bad something; most of the time, it’s a really good something, but we can’t deny that there’s not a “me” that comes with each and every one of our posts, our status updates, our tweets, our pins. We’re just a huge part of the process. We want to be heard; accordingly, we speak our minds.


And therein lies the rub—our minds. My mind. Oh the places it goes, the explorations it undertakes! My mind is a traveling gypsy. Left unregulated by the Holy Spirit’s guidance, I could easily steer off course and make this place about something else, something other than my journey with Jesus.


I guess I just want to do this right. I don’t want to get so tangled up in all the particulars—the strategies, methods, and latest trends—that I lose my focus. I want to keep writing about my journey with Jesus and then let go of the rest. Let what happens happen and let that be enough. But underneath, there’s still this push for more, this pulsing notion that I should be doing more to get my story out there and to keep up with this ever-changing beast named social media. Indeed, a tough wrestling, this idea of platform and my feelings about getting noticed, about getting God noticed.


How about you and your platform? Do you ever feel the strain? What stage has God allowed to serve as a venue for your faith’s witness? Are you getting noticed in a noisy world? Is God getting noticed because of you? How has social media shaped the way you share your story? What’s going right with it? What’s going wrong with it? And why has it become so desperately important to most of us?


I’m not knocking Michael’s book. I love his book; it’s chock-full of practical advice for anyone with “something to say or sell.” But I just don’t know how to take all of his advice and incorporate it into what I’m trying to do here in my little corner of the blogosphere. It just feels too big and too hard some days. Maybe I’m just too tired.


I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the above questions. Obviously, my heart’s working them through, and I’d like nothing better than to work them through with you, faithful readers. Let’s keep the conversation positive, and as an added bonus, I’m giving away a copy of Michael’s book. Just mention your interest in your discussion of these questions. As always…


Peace for the journey
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