Saturday, April 15, 2017

For An Hour Or Life?

Day 40 Doxology:  This is my final "Praise To God" entry for this Lenten season.  I've done ok at best!  I've missed a few days, probably more than in years past?  However, I wanted to have meaningful post this year not something scribbled down then posted out of duty.  One dear friend said, "You've gotten more personal this year, and I like it!"  Encouragement goes a long way, and I hope you too have enjoyed what is a powerful, personal Lenten discipline for me.

I think our goal is to be this disciplined the rest of our year.  That this discipline of seeing and praising God would carry over into other parts of my life, and your's.  That when you see a manhole cover that is not "lined" a weird way you think of God.  That you will look for all the ways to "Extend Grace" (This Year's Most Popular Post) more in your life.  Everything is connected and everything builds on the other -Good and Bad!  What are the rituals that lead you to greatness or move you further from the light?

This year, because of a family friend, my wife organized an end of holy week discipline for our family based on Matthew 26.  Remember when Jesus was praying and he went back to check on His disciples and found them asleep?  That is when Jesus said, "Couldn't you even keep watch for me for one hour?"

So, with that in mind, our family would take and hour and stay awake in prayer or journaling...anything spiritual or contemplative lending our part in the drama of Jesus' final days.  It was so cool, in part, because everyone participate!

Each grandchild was given and hour throughout the night, and when their hour had ended they were responsible for calling the next person on the list...your time in prayer affected you, and someone else!  The next person on the list depended on you!  That's two life lessons rolled up in one!

I think we gain by spending designated time with God each day (sure I would say that, I'm a pastor), but it's true!  Back to my points...we would benefit greatly by spending designated time with God each day AND helping others.  What a novel idea?

This might be our first year to exercise this lenten discipline, but what if as our family grows so does the number of participants?  What if we could get to the 24 hours before Easter?  What if when our children become grown, and we've passed on, they continue this act of obedience with their children, then their children do the same for theirs?  It's mind boggling!

Here's what I know...It's my day's doxology even if my day has just begun!  Yesterday was Good Friday...Christ is still in the tomb...but, because of my (our) first hour today, I eagerly look for tomorrow's sunrise!  It's going to be a great year!

Since you've struggled through this year's Lent with me let me leave you with this blessings:

[May] the Lord Bless you and keep you.
[May] the Lord make His face shine upon you,
 and be gracious to you;
[May] the Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
and give you [His] peace.
                                              (Numbers 6:24-26)

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit....Amen!

Personal Indeed!

Day 39 Doxology: What an evening to remember even if we race through life trying to fill our days so that we can overlook the event that changed everything.  We try to stay busy so that we don't have to make that event personal, but how can we?  Last night we hosted and participated in the events that lead us to Easter.  Tenebrae, which literally means "Darkness", is an opportunity for clergy and laity to walk through the last three days of Holy Week.  It does not mirror the joyful celebration of regular has all the feelings of a painful "dark" Good Friday.  Each event is marked with the extinguishing of a candle until all that is left is the Christ Candle only to be taken from the room until Easter Sunrise.

To be honest, for me it was mechanical until I started absorbing all the parts being read then I could feel the weight of Good Friday.  That is what we do in life isn't it?  Before we start school we cover ourselves with a life-proof sealer like we would deck stain or outdoor furniture so that the elements of life bead up and roll off.  It's not until we absorb life that we can realize the personal side that we've been missing.

Tenebrae is very personal, and a very real doxology for the end of Holy Week.  The picture that I've included is picture of the altar after a few candles had been extinguished and other were waiting to be snuffed out.  I think this was taken during the girls singing at which time I could feel God's enormous love being soaked up.  The question is was it the girls singing; was it the Scripture being read; was the visual of slowly Christ light leaving the world?  In short, yes!  It was all of those things, a lot like in life it is the collection of our whole life that makes us feel alive.  It was very personal!

Speaking of life...I have another picture of a personal side of life.  Our church put up their pastors this weekend with a chalet at Guntersville State Park.  They do this every year, and we are humbled! It's received with love and affection for each and every one of them.  Every year they leave a basket of goodies on the table.  This personal touch is not overlooked...someone has to go out of their was to plan, purchase, assemble and deliver this basket of goodies to our gifted chalet, and write a handwritten card...what can be more personal than that?  Here is the tough part...this will be my last Easter with this very personal church family since Shannon and I will be moving to Athens in June.  I'm afraid that it's just starting to sink in for both of us.  Everything is a series of "last"...Last Easter, Last Sunrise Service, Last Easter Eggestravganza...

All I can do is to soak up the personal part of this life....Whether it's a church full of the most loving people I could ever hope to serve, or the sacrifice of a's personal a personal touch don't you think?  This is what I do is worth a very mighty "Praise To God!"

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Yet To Be Determined...

Day 35 Doxology: What would our life be like if we knew the start and the finish like a race or a timed test...Ok, let's use the race, because nobody likes test!

I have witnessed many "Praise To God" moments throughout my day, but my thoughts always return to my morning workout.  This past weekend, The Gym where I train for the 3,010 Olympics hosted a race...Fuzzy something-or-other!  Regardless...the banner from the race was still hanging today when I went in for my 4 hour run and 200 sets of bench press.

If you cannot read the banner it says..."Start / Finish"! (I added the exclamation point)  All day I kept thinking about what if we knew the "Start / Finish" to life?  What if in everything we did we knew the beginning and the end? Would we treat life differently?

You see...I already believe we treat life badly!  We don't start out this way, but at some point we get lazy with life.  We cry when we could laugh.  We complain when we should lift other's up.  We delay when we certainly should act!  We hate instead of love!  The book of James tells us that we don't even know about tomorrow..." which prompted an old hymn:

"I don't know who holds tomorrow;
I just live from day to day.
I don't borrow from it's sunshine;
For it's skies my turn to grey.

I can remember some of my youth helped me peach a message in church by singing this old hymn, and you know seemed like yesterday!  It had to have been almost 10 years ago!  To me it's clear that we don't know what tomorrow may bring, but so many of us live like we have a bazillion tomorrows.  We live like we know the starting-line and the finish-line to life.  

In January 2010, I was appointed to my current appointment, and now this June, I will go serve another church in a county far, far away.  January '10 seems like yesterday! Within the last 7 years, my family has grown leaps and bounds, and I cannot have ever imagined "not" being in ministry with so many that have now become extensions of my family! (Feels like  a double-negative?)  I give God thanks and praise for tomorrow, that I will heal from my leaving and grow with my tomorrows!  Because, I may know where I started, but the finish is yet to be determined.  My promise is simple...I'm going to live like it is tomorrow!  Praise be to God!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Manhole Covers

Day 34 Doxology: Do you know of those people that just skate by?  If you haven't already, you will come in contact in your life with those that do just enough to get by.  They answer only the questions that you ask.  They only ask a scripted question that they are supposed to ask knowing that if they go one more inch they could save someone a lot of trouble.

In the city that I live there is a road.  In the center of this road are two manhole covers.  If you are a member of my know where this is headed.  These manhole covers provide a huge function.  They prevent cars and people from falling in the hole that has been created for the city sewer system.

In the center of this road are two solid yellow lines.  These lines provide a huge function.  They tell automobile drivers that it is unlawful to pass another car.  My doxology is where two huge function collide and excellence is achieved.  My doxology is a praise to God for all the people that seek to do things with excellence.

As stated earlier, it is obvious that some of us seek to take pride in our jobs.  Teachers teach just as hard on their 25th year as they did on their 1st year.  A lawyer works just as hard to uphold the law even if he, or she, have been tainted by the system for years.  A law enforcement officer still believes that a person is innocent until proving guilty.  There are people that still seek excellence in all that they do and each day that they do it.

However, some over time, have been broken down.  They feel the system is broken, nobody cares, or no one is watching.  Well, regardless if the system is broken we can control how we respond and fulfill our responsibilities.  I care, and I am watching.

In our city, on this road, under those lines are the manhole covers.  They both prevent people and cars from having a bad day, but excellence is not always achieve.  Where is that person that stops and picks up an empty cup, or that stray piece of paper?  I believe they are out there!  Where is that person that straightens those misaligned manhole covers...I question if they are out there?

I talk to my leadership at church, and I try to tell them everything has been given to us.  Why wouldn't we want to give everything of ourselves in return?  Live life with excellence!  It only takes a small amount of time to do things right THE FIRST TIME, than to have to redo something later.  Look for the manhole covers in your life and seek to straighten them up so that all the pieces of your life fit together.  If not for yourself, then for others?

Friday, April 7, 2017

Plucked From The Butt

Day 32 Doxology: Tonight is a memory of bitter-sweet!  This time of year, my late father-n-law would watch The Masters from beginning to end.  I had a chance to attend this year's event and decline, not because I wouldn't enjoy it, but mainly because I wanted to partner with my old friend just one more year in the comfort of the living room.

My wife and daughters continually to remind that..."I have been plucked from the butt" of her dad, and their grand-dad.  In a sick short way, she married her dad!  After years with the man...I resolve, she could have done worse.

During the Masters (we called it Master's Weekend), we would watch the replay 'til it concluded -Approximately 10-10:30pm.  It was the only time he stayed up late.  We always watched it, and I was amazed that he knew so much about each golfer.  He knew their college, their previous year's ranking, their family situation, and whether or not they played with Shay (his son) in college.  He would have absolutely loved the coverage that we have today.  On Direct TV, I have this Mosaic of coverage that he would have absolutely been consumed with.  I can take a 70inch TV divide into quarters because of the Mosaic coverage and still have more coverage than he had all weekend.

So, like I said, this time of year is somewhat of a memorial.  As I watched the Masters I watched and listened.  All I could hear is my father-n-law root for the seasoned veterans.  This year Freddie Couples is doing well at age 56.  Which means Ol' Shelly is pulling for the ol' man.  If Freddie falters on the back-nine, then he will simple pull for anyone American.  I catch myself doing the same thing.

Here is the deal...If I have been plucked from the butt of someone that I catch myself admiring so much...then pluck away.  I could do way worse. I think this time of year will always be special...For me...I will have to decide is it because of what I've lost or what I've gained?  Either way...I have this uncontrollable desire to spend the final round of the Masters in my recliner in nothing but my underwear!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Apple Tree

Day 30 Doxology:  I can still hear my dad say, "The apple doesn't fall too far from the tree!" But, usually that phrase was quickly used after I hit a home run; or after I had completed a job that seemed to huge for me to complete at whatever age.  I heard it when I made a game-saving tackle, or "that" block.  I thought I was going to hear it the night he came to the only wrestling match he ever attended when I pinned my opponent in about 30 seconds, to which all he said was, "I can't watch that!"  In truth, I spent most of my youth trying to get my dad to say, "I guess the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree!"

Today was one of those weather days.  The old saying is, "If you don't like the weather in Alabama...just wait a day."  Meaning...our weather changes on a dime from one extreme to the other. You just never know what to expect.  Like my dad's "apple tree" statement I always heard that we live tornado alley.  That is not entirely true.  As it turns out there are a lot of "Tornado Alleys" across the United States.  We do fall within the boundaries of what is referred to the "Dixie Alley", and Alabama is 9th on the list for tornados per 10,000 square miles -worthless info that only Big Mac will appreciate.  The relevance Alabama we pay attention to the weather growing up.

My dad use to watch the weather none stop.  It was like his responsibility to know what the weather was going to be for tomorrow.  "You are going to need a coat in then morning," he would say.  "You'll want to put the top back on the jeep tonight," he would suggest.  My dad was James Spann before James Spann was James Spann.  I'm embarrassed to say that he even had a James Spann bobble-head.

So, I digress!  This evening I watched hours of coverage on the moving cells of hailstorms and potential wind damage moving across our state.  My dad, if off work, would have been glued to the coverage.  I believe he would like the technological advancements that have been made for storm prediction.  In the end, after I was glued to the T.V., like the years I mocked my dad for being glued to the T.V., all I could hear is "I guess the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree!" -a phrase that never get's old!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Extended Life

My mom's Rt. Carotid Artery
Day 28 Doxology: I have what will seem like a boring and usual doxology for a son.  My mom had an arteriogram today of her carotid arteries.  The carotid arteries carry blood to the brain, and when they become occluded all kinds of complications ensue.  In the past, an arteriogram made it possible for her to get in line for what is called CABG -Coronary Artery Bypass Graph -pronounced "cabbage".  So you can imaging our anxiety while we waited. Now that you're nodding off and thinking Blah, Blah, gets better.

My mom's mother (my grandmother) died when I was just a year old from an aneurism.  Although an aneurism is different than my mom's current condition...the risk is great.  In addition, still different is that my mom had the opportunity today to prevent something devastating.  So, like a good Christina, I pause and in prayer over mom my and give thanks.  Then I was reminded that mom had something else in mind.

When you go for a similar procedure you are forbidden food and drink after midnight.  The medical world calls it NPO which is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase that means "nothing by mouth".  To my mom, the moment the nurse gave her Diet Coke, Graham Crackers, and a cup of ice was the moment she offered praise.  In our world we forget the sting of hunger until we are forced to do without.
Lent continues, and will not end until sundown the Saturday before Easter.  Until that time, many of our friends and family have exercise the discipline of fasting to remind them of their hunger for a savior.  All over the world, people will be praising God for many different things -someone will be healed of cancer; someone will have a relationship restored; someone will catch carotid stenosis before it causes great damage, but yet there will be one that will get to eat.  In each is extended and God is praised!

Thursday, March 30, 2017


Day 26 Doxology: What is it about barriers?  We erect them everywhere in our life.  Where are your's?  I do know that, thankfully, they are not forever.  Either they come crashing down because they are poorly placed, or they are eliminated with the help of others.  Hopefully, as we seek guidance, maturity, strength, (or you fill in the blank) we are relieved from the barriers that we think protect us.

At the limits of my very back yard, Shannon and I decided barriers would be appropriate.  I dug the holes, I coaxed others to dig holes, I fertilized, and I watered for the new Leyland Cyprus that we wanted to use to obstruct the view from our neighbors.  Careful attention was made in their placement and need.  Barriers they would be!

As it turns out, it wouldn't last.  What once obscured the view of the neighbors is now inevitably going to be removed because of...its death.  Maybe it wasn't meant to be?  Oh sure, we rationalized its need.  I think we mentioned that it would give them (our neighbors) more privacy for their pool.  He works in his backyard on his hunting stuff so it would offer him more freedom to work later at night since he is retired.  It just seemed appropriate.  In truth, they are very good neighbors.  We talk, but not enough.  Maybe the tree's passing is needed?  Maybe I'll replace it with a gate?

What if instead of more barriers in our life we left room for more gates.  Gates are used for entering and exiting, then neither neighbor would be confined.  For the barriers that we erect in our own life...we too would never be confined.  We could heal, we could grow, we could move beyond the pains that caused us to add the barrier for protection in the first place.  That's right...the main reason we implement barriers is for protection?  I think that the greatest question would be...if we created a barrier for temporary protect; wouldn't a gate be better?  We might want to not stay in that world that we want so much to evade.

I think it was Robert Frost that said, "Good fences make good neighbors" However, how can we become good neighbors if we are divided by a fence?  I think God thinks differently.  I think God believes the world could be better, and more could be accomplished with more gates.   Hmmm, food for thought...I think Shannon will want one more Leyland Cyprus.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Parenting For The Parents

Day 25 Doxology:  I hope you don't think that I am giving you anything less than a Doxology for today, because if you are patient, and if you read it until the too will be just as inspired I was when my friend posted it.  It is a huge reminder to all...please read:

I found this saved in my documents as I was looking for something else today. I found it online and printed it out for Davis when he first got a phone. We don't always stick to each of these, but should (myself included) ... I teared up on the last one. This is good ... re-implementing.

1. It is my phone. I bought it. I pay for it. I am loaning it to you. Aren't I the greatest?
2. I will always know the password.
3. If it rings, answer it. It is a phone. Say hello, use your manners. Do not ever ignore a phone call if the screen reads "Mom" or "Dad". Not ever.
4. Hand the phone to one of your parents promptly at 9:00 pm every school night & every weekend night at 10:00pm. It will be shut off for the night and turned on again at 7:30am. If you would not make a call to someone's land line, wherein their parents may answer first, then do not call or text. Listen to those instincts and respect other families like we would like to be respected.
5. It does not go to school with you. Have a conversation with the people you text in person. It's a life skill. 
6. If it falls into the toilet, smashes on the ground, or vanishes into thin air, you are responsible for the replacement costs or repairs. 
7. Do not use this technology to lie, fool, or deceive another human being. Do not involve yourself in conversations that are hurtful to others. Be a good friend first or stay the hell out of the crossfire.
8-9. Do not text, email, or say anything through this device you would not say in person.
10. No porn. 
11. Turn it off, silence it, put it away in public. Especially in a restaurant, at the movies, or while speaking with another human being. You are not a rude person; do not allow the iPhone to change that.
12. Do not send or receive pictures of your private parts or anyone else's private parts. Don't laugh. Someday you will be tempted to do this despite your high intelligence. It is risky and could ruin your teenage/college/adult life. It is always a bad idea. Cyberspace is vast and more powerful than you. And it is hard to make anything of this magnitude disappear -- including a bad reputation.
13. Don't take a zillion pictures and videos. There is no need to document everything. Live your experiences. They will be stored in your memory for eternity.
14. Leave your phone home sometimes and feel safe and secure in that decision. It is not alive or an extension of you. Learn to live without it. Be bigger and more powerful than FOMO -- fear of missing out.
15. Download music that is new or classic or different than the millions of your peers that listen to the same exact stuff. Your generation has access to music like never before in history. Take advantage of that gift. Expand your horizons.
16. Play a game with words or puzzles or brain teasers every now and then.
17. Keep your eyes up. See the world happening around you. Stare out a window. Listen to the birds. Take a walk. Talk to a stranger. Wonder without googling.
18. You will mess up. I will take away your phone. We will sit down and talk about it. We will start over again. You & and; I, we are always learning. I am on your team. We are in this together.

I hope you stayed to the end?  If you did, then like me, you were relieved that it felt like humanity has a chance.  That we might remember that personal relationships are what matters most, and that we are emitted nothing except to treat others with respect...only then can honor be felt.  Thanks to my friend for reminding me that parenting means that we are to be involved, and that sometimes it is the parents that need parenting the most!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Thankful, Peaceful, Driven, and Confident

Day 24 Doxology: It's been a tough couple of Lenten days.  I was talking with a friend this morning and she asked, "Have you quit doing your blog?"  I laughed (or more like grunted), because I've wanted to never miss a day sharing with each of you, but life in the wilderness gets tough.  I'm back today for God only long!  Thanks for allowing rich honesty on a personal level.

Speaking of's doxology is probably more personal than I'm comfortable sharing. Today I am taking you on my closet tour.

My closet, like most, is a personal space. I have the obvious...clothes, but scattered throughout are items that keep me on track.  Today's doxology is my boldness to share a few personal items that remind me to be thankful, peaceful, driven, and confident.  Here we go!

This first item that I'm willing to share is a picture of my oldest.  This picture is a special picture of her cuteness that will likely get me a disturbing call tonight, but it's not as much her as it is a time in my life that I deem the "perfect age" or "my favorite age!"  Jackie was the oldest and the mother hen of her younger sisters...but in truth, each daughter was so different that their personalities complimented each other, and also, their parents who were just trying to be parents.  They always made us look like we knew what we were doing.  We were young and had so much energy then.  All I can remember are the good times!  Her picture reminds me to be Thankful!

The second picture tucked away behind J-1's cute face is an old check given to me for my birthday from my amazing mother-n-law.  When I see it I get that lump that reminds me how much they have always given to us to make sure Shannon and I could succeed.  When I went to seminary she and Bill gave me a car to make the trip to Atlanta...and back!  When we brought home our newly born daughters she would stay weeks at a time cooking and cleaning.  Both she and Bill allowed Shannon and I to learn on the job.  Every day I see this un-cashed check from a year ago, and I am reminded of her love and support...and in turn, I remember to be Confident because I always know that I am loved!

The third item that I am willing to show is tucked away in the top right corner of my mirror.  Years ago, we had aggravated one of our kids, and they couldn't wait for the moment to pay us back. A rough day at the beach is exhausting...sitting there watching people, eating too much, enjoying the best friends ever, soaking up the sun and surf.  So, as soon as our eyes were shut the camera came out.  Yep, we are some real party animals!  Welcome to middle-age.  I make sure I look at this picture ever day.  Mainly, because it makes me smile.  But also, it reminds me the importance of being still and resting.  Taking time to fill my cup is the only way I can pour into others.  It is in the greatest of these moments that I can have peace!  This picture reminds me to be Peaceful!

My final picture to share is a picture that a growing young man drew for me one Christmas 2 years ago.  The weight of this picture reminds me that I have been this young man's pastor for over half his life.  We have a unique relationship -I buy gum, and he goes into my office and steals it.  This one Christmas, I had been working an Emmaus Walk and the binder from the "Walk" was on a shelf in my office.  The edge of the binder had a label that had the saying that is on the cross that pilgrims receive while on their Emmaus Walk -Christ Is Counting On You!  This 9 or 10 year boy took the time to draw and color this picture that he left for me on my desk.  Every morning I glance at his offering, and it gives me energy for my day.  It is a perfect symbol of praise to God and reminds us all that our little brothers and sisters are watching.  They are like sponges soaking up everything they see and hear.  His drawing prompts me to be more Driven in all the areas of my life!

Thankful, Peaceful, Driven, and Confident...shouldn't we all start our day that way?

Friday, March 24, 2017

BEST Among Us!

Day 21 Doxology: Sometimes the hardest things we do as pastors is visit with people that are in transition from this world to the next. Today, I had one of those visits. Afterwards, I sat in my truck and prayed for our time.  I prayed that it might have been a blessing...for everyone!  I also found myself thinking of a class I had in seminary that focused on pastoral care and ministry with the dying. In particular a book entitled, "On Death and Dying," by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. 

"On Death and Dying" dealt primarily with What The Dying Have To Teach, Doctors, Nurses, Clergy and Their Families.  Dr. Kubler-Ross' book, was born out of her life experiences, and reveals the human side to dealing with death. As I sat, prayed, and recapped parts of the book that were committed to memory, I thought about how much I praise God that there are some that have committed so much of their life to make the remaining days of other's so comfortable and peaceful.

We have a very good...NO, great ministry in our community called Shepherd's Cove, Hospice.  I have visited this place many times, and every time I visit I am reminded that they are some of the most thoughtful and important ministers I know.  Like Dr. Kubler-Ross, they roll their sleeves up and tackle the most difficult task among us...they minister to those that dying. Although, they admit their ministry is not about the dying as much as it is about the living! The depths of their love is unfathomable while they do not ignore the social and emotional experience of those dying or their loved ones.  They remind us all that we can still have dignity even in death.  They are some of the BEST among us!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Camper Life

Day 19 Doxology:  Today's Doxology is long overdue!  This evening I drove the 2 hours north to take Shannon to dinner then back to the camper for some "camper life!"

As I type, Shannon is huddled over the heater waiting for me to finish. It's amazing how blessed I am that she would get over the initial excitement of camper life to live an extended time away from home with her new job. What a life partner.

Today's picture is sitting outside in the chilly evening watching the sunset together -I think that is what we dreamed of while we were dating. What we didn't plan on was the great "camper life!"

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Wonder Dog

Day 18 Doxology: It's been hard to hear God speak lately.  I am embarrassed to share that the world has been louder than my attention has been for God's voice.  So allow me a moment of unconsciousness, and metaphorically climb back up on that doxology horse.

Shannon and I have some amazing friends...our closest have a dog named Fudge.  Fudge is a Chocolate Lab around 11 years old (That's 77 in human years).  Fudge is remarkable.  Over the years Fudge has become blind, he has loss all kinds of weight, has a nervous skin issue that at times causes him to lose patches of hair.  His appetite is incredible, but even still, his weight slowly has continued to decreased over the years.  For me Fudge has become a mascot for life.

I wished you could see him get around on deck or in the garage. Over the years,  I watched him bump his head more times than I care to imagine.  His resiliency is a model for all who want to guide him around the chairs, tables and over the steps.  He is a wonder dog!

I think about Fudge's owners (If you are comfortable calling them that?), and I think about their love for their friend.  I haven't even begin to mention all the Christmases, New Year's or Easter's they've shared together. They have walked through the difficult task of life as one family.  Think about this...when the older son went away to college for the first time, Fudge was there.  When the daughter drove out of the driveway for the first time, Fudge was there.  When the family gathered for Easter pictures as most families do...Fudge was there.  Dog and owner have journeyed together.  Which makes me think about God's love for us.

Like me, Fudge is less than perfect, yet my friends do not discard him.  In our imperfection God doesn't discard us.  We may become blind, we may lose our hair, we may begin to bump into chairs, but God still sees the perfection in us all.  I am so thankful that God overlooks the frailties, or when we are less than perfect just like Fudge, the original Wonder Dog!

Friday, March 17, 2017

The NEW Greatest Generation

Day 15 Doxology: There must be a "family theme" for my Praise to God moments for this week.  I had the blessing and honor to officiate a wedding this evening for a very special couple.  I won't share their name, because I didn't ask their permission. Needless to say, I think the world of them both.

Officiating a wedding is one of the blessings for a minister.  We are often called to the bedside after a loss, or to the emergency room after a tragedy, but a wedding is one of those instances that breathes life.  I can't tell you the number of weddings that I have officiated -Shannon has them all listed in a book somewhere.  However, they all hold a very special place in my heart. Maybe we will start calling that book...the book of life?

It qualifies as the book of life because I believe weddings are life-giving.  For me it was a testimony to a promise that Shannon would love me to the end...I've taken advantage of that pledge.  Each wedding, although different, was similar - two people entering into a marriage covenant with God.  The typical wedding goes like this: The couple voices their intentions, symbols of that covenant are shared, promises are made, then blessing from God is received, and an announcement ensues.  It really is simple!  What appears difficult nowadays is keeping that covenant.

I think back to my grandparents, and they said they never had time to argue...they said,  they were trying too hard to survive.  If you think about it..they went through The Depression, 2 World Wars, The Korean War, Vietnam, a house fire, three kids, 2 open-heart surgeries, and Alzheimer's.  They were a blessing of hope for all generations that want to talk about a marriage covenant.

One day my daughters will want to discuss the covenant of marriage.  It kinda freaks me out a bit!  However, I think I will tell them the simple rules that have worked for their mom and dad...
1. Develop your priorities: A. God  B. Spouse C. Children (If these are in the right order, everything else works itself out!)
2. Never let the sun set on an argument!
3. Always have Adult alone-time: For Shannon and I it was the hot tub where we could have adult conversation.
4. Give part of your earnings away.
5. Never Keep Score!
6. Leave your mother and father and cling to your spouse.
7. Try, with all your might, to out-love each'll both be winner!
8. Over communicate!
9. Put down your technology when your spouse walks into the room.
10. Best to have one checking account!

Simple rules that can easily get away from us...if we let them.  It is worth our best effort.  I can't think where I would be without the marriage covenant and a wife that believes strongly in its relevance. What if the husbands and wives took back the families?  So, today's doxology is the potential that all new married couples offer the this one.  I think we could be the NEW greatest generation.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Help From Our Father

Day 14 Doxology: I had an amazing father.  He was really amazing in more ways than I can remember.  What I can remember is that I miss him daily.  He went to sleep one night in July of 2007 and unexpectedly never woke up.  But, before you stop reading, I promise today's doxology will hopefully flesh itself out and will be less about him and probably more about me -you're still probably wanting to bail on today's doxology?

My dad taught me so much.  He taught me to drink coffee black whether it was 10 degrees or 110 degrees -"It cools down the body," he would say.  He taught me that you should never make decision about taking a sick-day until you've gotten out of bed and taken your shower -and you get a shower and shave every day.  He taught me that if you didn't have time to exercise you just woke up earlier -4:15am every morning for him. He amazed me how he would stay dressed all day until bed-time, and wore a t-shirt under every shirt that he kept tucked in.  I thought it odd that it was ok to watch news all day...but only if all your work was done...because you needed to know what the weather was for the next day.  He taught me to never write, "If I'm not here this year, remember that I love you!" on the boxes of Christmas decorations you store for the following year -My mom still won't decorate for Christmas.  He taught me to be respectful...his words were, "I didn't bring a son into this world to be a burden on anyone!"  He taught me that it was honorable to work for the same company for 40 years, and to be married to the same women for the same length of time.  He also taught me to deal with pain...I can remember him taking me to the funeral of my younger brother while my mom was still in the hospital -Rodney Eugene Jones only lived 5 days after birth.

So, my dad also taught me to work with my hands.  He use to say, "Jack of all trades, master of none!"  I'm pretty sure that he stole that quote.  While trying to teach me, we would work together.  We built garages, roofed houses, cut trees, built fences, and we worked on our cars.  I hated working on cars!  One day I remember telling him, "When I get old, I'm going to pay someone to work on my cars."  At which time deddy pointed a wrench an inch from my nose and said in a voice I'm pretty sure I heard on The Exorcist, "I hope to %$#@ you can!"  You ever wished you could have a do over?

Finally, my doxology....So you might can tell, I've thought a lot about my dad today.  For the 2nd time this year, I've had water problems.  I hate water problems like I hate working on cars!  The line that feeds my house had to be replaced in January.  However, today it was leaking again, and I had to redo the work that I had paid someone else to do.  The reason "I could" is because, my dad taught me.  In fact, he would have fixed it the first time instead of paying someone else.  I can remember patching and patching the same washing machine over and over.  We had a concrete picnic table beside the in-ground swimming pool that HE BUILT that he would never throw away because it was where we worked on the (you guessed it) washing machine. I am so thankful that my dad invested in my future by painfully working with me on the little things in life.  But...I have a not-so-doxology that won't leave my thoughts.

One thing that I feel like I didn't get from my dad...was his amazing patience.  I look back at the times in my life that I needed my lip puffed...he knew just what to do and with the right timing.  One time I had done something wrong (Not sure what), but deddy wrote on a piece of paper, "I Owe Tony One!" in huge letters and slid it behind the phone that hung on the kitchen wall.  He never delivered, but his action was payment enough.

Lately, I feel like although I might be able to fix a water line, build a cabinet, cut up a tree, build a deck, or wire in some receptacles; where I fail is exercising the kind of patience like he had. About a month before my dad passed away he and I were talking.  I remember feeling so convicted about the selfishness I exhibited while growing up, so I asked him if he could ever forgive me.  He said, He already had...In fact, he said that he was proud of me.  I want to be the whole man that my dad worked so hard to shape.  I don't think we are released to be that man or woman unless we learn to forgive.  I guess I have to admit...we all need a little help from our Father.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017


Day 13 Doxology:  Today's doxology may seem a bit odd, and at first a little contradictory.  Our church's daycare director is leaving after 6 years of emptying herself into the families of our daycare.  My "Praise To God" (Doxology) moment is not watching her pack the remainder of her items (including several Diet Mountain Dews) and drive away, but that God blessed me and this church with a mom, friend, and grandmother that truly cares about the children that God saw fit to loan her during working hours.  My doxology is because she is my friend.

John 15:15 reminds us, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends."  This person has done just that.  She has worked late, come in early, spent hours on the phone, in prayer, in conversation, in maintenance, and with tears to help the families that came through our doors.  At the heart of her mantra...our daycare is a ministry.

She had a crazy funny side to the time I locked my keys up in my office.  She took a vent off and climbed through the smallest hole ever to use a stapler to unlock my door.

So, here is my real doxology as she walked to her car with cases of gifted Diet Mountain Dew, she is not gone forever.  She led our daycare for a season of our life, created a foundation of hope and love so that we can trust in our next new season with new ideas and new excitement for the children in our care. My friend, our daycare director, our mom, wife, grandmother whatever relationship she is to you...gave us a great start in life and now it is up to us!  I like our odds, but the best way we can honor her work is to build on what she started.  Thank you buddy for everything and all of the relationships!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Living In Two Worlds

Day 12 Doxology: Living in two worlds is really taxing.  I've always known it, but this morning the words finally came to me.  I started stirring earlier than usual and went to the hot tub. In the piece and cold of the morning I noticed it started to sprinkle.  There was a slight breeze, so the tiny drops of rain were blowing in on me although our hot tub is under cover.

I sat chest-deep in the 105 degree bubbling water while the 30 plus degree morning air offered a huge contrast for my shoulders and head.  The tiny drops of rainy sort of stung my skin as steam rises from the water surface.  It was at this moment that I thought about the difficultly of many people living in contrasting worlds.

Even in the church, faithful-hopefuls experiment with partial love.  There seems to be a part of their life that welcomes the contrast, but usually out of fear.  The world continues to sting them a little at a time while areas of their life feel the warmth that could optionally consume them.  For them there could be a life without the tip of their nose cold to touch, our their shoulders feeling chapped form the  cool air, but part of them acknowledges that they know the depth of that pain.  It is the unknowing that their afraid of.

My advice is go all the way under; wet your head; warm your nose and shoulders.  Life is meant to be live and lived abundantly. Start the process of losing the numbness that is brought on by living in two worlds.

Monday, March 13, 2017


Day 11 Doxology: Many of you will think today's doxology is a little cheesy. I've spent my whole day looking for a potential doxology moment to share.  As a result, I saw many things that I could lay on the altar to point to God, but none really spoke to me like past doxology moments have.  It was until the day was over, and I gave up trying that I was healed from my blindness.

This is spring break for my wife, and since she has been working away from home...having her home for a week-long spring break really came with a huge blessing.  My day's "praise to God" is just being with the woman of my dreams.

This weekend the text for my sermon was John 9.  It was the story of Jesus healing the blind man.  So the blind man could see, and the Pharisees (although with sight) was blind Spiritually.  There was a verse at the end of that chapter where Jesus said, "For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind." Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, "What? Are we blind too?" Jesus said, "If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains."  I think today I was guilty of a little Spiritual blindness. 

I wonder if sometimes we try too hard.  We have all the answers figured out before we've heard the questions.  In a way, we become blind to the potential of God's miracles that take place before our eyes.  For me sight came only until I quit looking.  Then what I saw that was worthy of praise was my wife and all our time together.  What better way to honor God than to find ways to honor the marriage covenant that I hold with my wife.  It's not cheesy, it's just love!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Without The Son

Day 9 Doxology: Like most Americans I enjoy Fridays.  I am a pastor, so really my Fridays are my Saturdays.  After the gym, I love coming home to coffee on our back deck for some wordless time alone on Friday mornings.  Occasionally, I'll turn on the TV to beat myself up by listening to what's going on in the world, but mostly I sit quietly.

Over the years the gifts that we've received are hanging around the parameter of our deck.  Some are making noise, some sway with the wind, others just hang still, but only one spins.  The wind spinning hangy-down thing on the corner of our deck is ingenious really.  I sit and stare at this wind-vane as if I'm hypnotized.  In the center is the cut out of a cross.  And every time it makes a revolution the light reflects off the layers of cut metal as if it's working toward the center highlighting the cross.

This is my thought as I watch this wind-vane spin...that would be nice by itself, but it's really is made spectacular because of the sun.  This morning the wind was blowing, and I noticed it there generically doing its normal stuff-spinning.  However, this evening, the suns was shining bright and the wind really made it spin.  You couldn't help but to watch the cross flash at you with every rotation.   The Sun made all the difference.

To carry that thought even further. The cross is just a cross without the Son.  It was Jesus that made the cross the Christian symbol for the centuries that followed.  It was the Son that made people instantly reflect on what happened on the cross for their own lives.  Without the Son, the cross is just pieces of wood that intersect in the center.  Like the cross, my life would be without purpose...Without The Son.

Thursday, March 9, 2017


Day 8 Doxology: Today's doxology has a taste of contradiction.  On one hand God's greatness permeates everything and anything we experience in this world, but on the other, we revel in our brilliance to adapt.

Have you ever heard of the story of a tower named Babel?  The story is told in Genesis chapter 11, and is used to explain the origin of different languages.  What happened was clear and simple...humanity could speak one language which meant we could communicate and work together.  We thought, in great communication, Hey...let's build a city and a tower all the way to the heavens.  Here's the contradiction...The Lord came down and said, The people are one, I'd better stop this right now.  Bamm!  Different languages!

Abel Grimmer (1570-1619).
I feel like humanity is always eagerly pushing forward and achieving. The majority of the world pushes the envelope scientifically without any thoughts or comfort that science and God can coexist. I believe one doesn't disprove the other but compliment the findings in each respective field.

This evening a tree service came and cut down a tree that had died and posed a danger to the power lines, a power pole, and anyone passing by in front of my house.  Just like a kid that played with dump trucks, tractors, bulldozers and loaders, I marveled at what felt like a new toy-a bucket truck in my driveway!

I was hypnotized as the bucket reached to the heavens and wondered if I could be bold enough to take it to the top.  I couldn't help but to think...humanity is resilient.  Someone at some time thought...I could cut this tree down easier and safer if I had a long arm with a basket on the end.  Bamm!  A Bucket Truck!

The great inventions of our life, and the lives of all the generations before us are not a test or challenge for God.  It is an inherent quality that separates us from other species.  In my really speaks to God's brilliance.  Bamm!  God Made Us!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Can A Dad Boast?

Day 7 Doxology: Can A Dad Boast?  Today's doxology is really...everyday's doxology for me.  Yesterday, I was amazed at the 2nd graders under Shannon's care, and I couldn't help but to think of how proud their parents must be. It made me  start to think about my own children, and then today I ran across this bookmark that they made for me one Father's Day years ago.  They have grown up so much since then.

I have a favorite age that I think back to often, and it makes me want to just wrap my arms around them and wrestle with them throughout the house like we use to.  Back then they would try and team up on me as soon as I walked in the door, sometimes hiding from me until..."SUPRISE!"  J-1 would act like she was reading to her sisters for hours.  J-2 would be falling and breaking things or need stitches.  J-3 would hide from us until we begged for her to come out.  Come to think of it J-2 and J-3 swopped those roles a lot.  All three were responsible for making it snow with a huge family size container of baby powder.  Each are special and unique in their own way.

One year for Christmas Santa Clause made a doll house.  After the season settled down, I made a beautiful 6 panel front door out of cedar for their new doll house.  After hours of detailed work, complete with brass hinges and door knocker, I said Jackie look at your new door.  She grabbed it, ran to her room, and it was never seen again.

A year or so later, J-2 was playing hide and seek, but she must have meant that it was hide and sleep, because she hide and fell asleep on top of the trundle under her bed.  Two parents and a grandmother franticly searched for the missing girl for way too long. And, just before I was ready to call for an Amber Alert, she was found...Bless her heart!

Then there was the time that J-3 was sitting on the 4 footboard of our bed hypnotized by the TV.  I came in the bedroom and told her not to sit on footboard or she could fall off and break her arm.  She climb down, I walk in the living room, and I heard...plump! She fell off the footboard and broke her arm.  Her jersey cow cast looked so cute for her birthday pictures as she was videoed making an impatient chicken sound -Baooooock!

Now they're all grown, and I am more proud of them than ever.  They've managed to grow into some of the most beautiful, funny, hard-working, heartfelt young Christian ladies that a dad could hope for.  Because of them, I have a hint of the depths of a Father's love?  It is the single best joy of my adult life...and it makes me to always strive to be and do better.  Can A Dad Boast?

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Buddy Bench

Day 6 Doxology: I think every generation feels that the world is becoming so fractured that surely their's is the last to have dominion over this world.  In fact, just a limited amount of time in front of the television or catching up on the headlines could drive us into a depressed state.  I think it is the "lemonade out of lemons" that separates many of us and keeps us climbing the hill of life.

My wife is an assistant principal here in Alabama.  Two classes in her 2nd grade read a book about a new kid at school and looked for a way to create some old fashion lemonade.  You can imagine the outsider moving into a new place where relationships are already formed, everyone knows who's the best at math, the best at English, or the best athlete.  For a new kid to break into all-ready-established groups is as difficult as climbing the hill of life.

As it turns out, this fictional book did not have as happy an ending as one would least for the characters in the book.  However, for a 2nd grade class in North Alabama the ending was made perfect because of their ability to create change.

The two classes read the book, felt the passion for change, wrote a petition to make change possible with some help of a few adults.  Now, for me, this makes the story even better.  Have you ever noticed the ideas and potential hope that a child can have only to be extinguish by a few realistic adults.  They smother their dreams by telling them "That won't make a difference;" or "You're just too young to understand!"  As adults, shouldn't we want to fan the dreams of the next generation to help make the hill..less hilly?

These kids proposed to the school system the need for a "Buddy Bench" to give a place where kids could meet and talk with one another in a safe place.  This bench could act like a Home Base for the game of life.  The bench could be and insult-free zone where dreams could flourish.  The 2nd graders handed my wife their petition with the simplest idea for change they could imagine, and change was already happening.

She called all the right people.  They found an old park bench that was in storage.  They had it painted, they let the kids paint it.  They met with architects and created plans for a 15 X 20 concrete slab so more kids than originally thought could land safely on base.  While they were finishing the concrete they called the kids to make their mark and cement their dreams forever. Meanwhile, She talked to a friend in our church and asked him to laser cut a plaque with the date a names of those responsible.  A different friend from our church drove 2 plus hours to deliver the plaque for it to be added to the freshly poured concrete.  These 2nd graders had all of the adults running around promoting their idea for change, and for a while adults didn't worry about their own "Hill of Life".

Tomorrow will be the ribbon cutting.  The newspapers, the local television news stations will be there to write and film this historical day.  The county administration and elected public officials will all be there because 50-60 2nd graders found a way to make tomorrow better.  Maybe we are looking for ideas of change in all the wrong places...maybe all we need is a "Buddy Bench!"

Monday, March 6, 2017

Grace Extended!

Day 5 Doxology:  Today my family said goodbye to a vehicle that has been more than a safe mode of transportation for several years.  You might be scratching your head thinking how on earth can this be  a doxology moment, and why did he write so much...he must be hurting for something to blog about?  Maybe, but it doesn't change the sense of loss that I felt watching her pull away.

I can't remember when we bought our 2002 Yukon XL from a close friend.  The Yukon had been a blessing to their family for several years before it gave so much to ours.  Our friend sold it to us after she had taken amazing care of it for a very, very discounted price at a time when the favor was greatly needed -grace extended!

At the time, we had 3 small children, and we needed something big, dependable, and safe.  We were able to take many trips and the DVD player would keep them content for hours while we drove in style.  Not to mention the time Shannon claims to have met two San Destin angels that changed her tire after running over a piece of metal in the road -you have to get her to tell you that story!

Even when it acted up Grace flowed thru her.  One day when I was in seminary and serving in a student appointment position at my home church, Shannon, the girls, and our best friends and their children drove the Yukon home from Six Flags.  In our friends drive way the transmission went out.  It was like she limped home with everything she had before collapsing just to get our families home safe. The only thing to do was to call a wrecker.

The Yukon was sidelined while the local dealership replaced the transmission.  Soon, I was called to pick up our baby.  When I arrived at the dealership to see what the price of the new transmission, plus labor, would be...with my credit card in bill had been paid.  I still get a lump in my throat and watery eyes thinking about the love someone else showed our family through this Yukon-grace extended!

Ironically, yesterday I shared in a sermon that Shannon and I have defined roles in our relationship that may seem, to some, unusual.  She buys and sells the vehicles, and I cook and clean.  Well, yesterday evening she sold our beloved Yukon XL, and today while I was cooking bacon, I watch it drive away.  In her "negotiations" she saw ourselves in a young couple with young children seeking to buy the Yukon to reduce their debt.  They were working toward "Financial Peace," like the program that we've taught at our church in the past.   The same program Shannon and I used years ago to reduce our debt.

During the negotiations, Shannon really discounted our pre-agreed price.  She told them the Yukon has been a blessing for our family, and she wanted it to be a blessing for theirs.  Also, we are now in a point in our life that we can be the ones that can be that blessing to other.  And so...the blessing of the Yukon lives on!

Now here 's my can read this and think well that was kind of pious -to do it then talk about it.  It might be, but in truth to be extenders of grace really felt good.  It was awesome to help others like my family had been helped time and again.  In a small way, I wanted to praise God and honor them for their love shared to my family over the years and somehow address how it all was connected to this vehicle! What could this world be if we did actually pay it forward?  How could the world change if we tried to out-extend grace to our neighbor?  In truth, when you think you are blessing someone, you are actually blessing yourself -Grace Extended yet again!

Go forth, extend grace to someone today, and let that be your new Lenten discipline!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Bread of Life

Day 4 Doxology:  I debated on the title for today's doxology moment or moments.  I thought assigning it 3 in 1, Caloric Mystery, or the last one standing...The Bread of Life.

I'm begging you pray tell may be asking? (No one says that anymore!)  Well, "3 in 1" was my first thought because I could mention J-1, J-2, and J-3 in one blog.  Which means not one of my beautiful daughters would be ahead in their secret pool as to which one of them would be mentioned the most this season of Lent.  Also, it could have been a Holy reference to the Trinity..Not really!  Maybe "3 in 1" was used because this is a "Praise to God" blog with Lenten implications.  But really... it would have been because Shannon, and I, had the pleasure of having all three girls home this weekend.  We played games together, we ate together, and we laughed together.  What could make me praise God more than that?

Second on the list of potential titles was Caloric Mystery.  I think this was because I wondered why Biscuits are so dang fattening!  I'll move along.

Finally, The Bread of Life...I chose this title because of the blessings that is shared at the table.  Think about all of the laughter, the tears, and the interventions that take place at the table.  I have great friends that have this amazing table that will sit both our families, but when we are together for our weekly gala, our table of choice is in the kitchen at their island table.  I can't tell you how many of the hi-lights of my life have been seated at their island table. Everything that I mentioned that could take place at the table has taken place in their kitchen at their island table with both of our families. I truly believe it is the nutrition needed for life!

The picture for today is a headless Jones bearing the joy of a father sharing and the daughter receiving a morning's breakfast.  The aroma of bacon, eggs, coffee and biscuits fills the house and immediately joy is shared when a dad can cook breakfast for his girls.  It's a parents dream to have their children growing and returning for their seat at the table.

So, you probably noticed that I didn't mention the obvious Holy Communion that is served at the table.  It is also a place where we receive food for life, and where we remember what was done, and is being done, today in each of our lives.  It is not limited to a certain person; all is welcome.

I will attend a service tonight, and at a point during that service I will serve Holy Communion.  At which point I will say within the consecration of the elements, " this in Remembrance of me." It will be at that point that images of all the times that I've receive God's grace at all the tables in my life will race through my mind, and I will remind myself how blessed I am.  It truly is the Bread of Life!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Step Into The Light!

Day 3 Doxology: Yesterday you learned that part of my morning ritual included time at The Gym.  This morning's drive offered a doxology of sorts.

I've always heard it said, "If you don't like the weather in Alabama then just wait a day."  The obvious implication is that the weather changes rather quickly quite often.  This morning supported the ol' cliche.  The first thing I noticed was I was going to need a coat.

Then I noticed this....

As I left my neighborhood and headed south on 75, I saw more and more signs of frost covering the roofs of each home that I passed.  However, not every roofline was completely blanketed with frost like the picture I took for you.  There was, on almost every home, a contrast of frost covered sections of the roof.  That is when I felt the breath of God mention the power of light.

Throughout scripture God is described as light, and darkness reflects the absence of God.  John 1:4 says, "In Him was Life, and that life was light to all mankind."  I associate light with growth and health.  The obvious image reflects the absence of frost due to the warmth of the sun only on the section of roof in the light.  In the shade the frost still exist even though it is close to life-altering light.

I see this everyday in the church.  There are many people that refuse to allow the light to consume their life.  If they could just be bold and trusting the warmth of the Father would bring healing and safety to their upside world.  It's not enough to be attached to a roof that is in the only reap the benefits promised to you if you trust enough to step into the light!

If your world feels cold, dark, and unfulfilled, and you go to church, you're busy serving, and you try to do "good" stop it, please!  Stop trying to be what you think the world needs, and start allowing the light to consume every shingle, every gutter, and every downspout of your life!  Step into the light!

May the light of God warm your world as you discover more and more during this season of Lent!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Lonely Leaves

Day 2 Doxology:  I received great response from yesterday's introduction to this year Lenten season.  I pray that I can keep up with the expectations!  Today's post is truly an image that I have seen over and over, but today was the first day I really saw it.  God is already changing my vision to see the hidden treasures all around.

It's no secret that some of mine and Shannon's favorite time through the years are the times when we collect our day's thoughts submerged in our hot tub. In addition to bringing closure for our day, I spend early morning time at The Gym then relax with a cup of coffee and a little water-jet massage.  It was at this moment that I happened upon today's doxology.

The definition of massage is the rubbing and kneading of muscles and joints of the body, esp. to relieve tension - exactly what I often need.  However, today my doxology moment came in the simplest of images and massage my mind and soul while releasing me from the tension of the world.

Pretty plain, isn't it?  Nothing fancy...Nothing flashy.  Just a limb of leaves.  Grouped together without the protection of other leaves to block the wind.  This lonely cluster reminded me of the prophet Jeremiah.  Maybe it reminded me of the Jeremiah and all the ways that it can be proven that he was in fact a Bullfrog, or maybe it reminded me of Jeremiah because the scripture that this weekend's Emmaus Lay Leader is using is Jeremiah 17:7-8.   That scripture is "But Blessed is the one who trust in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.  They will be like a tree planted by the water that send out its roots by the stream.  It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.  It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."  The image you see is not leaves on a limb, on a tree, near the water, with roots by the stream.  In fact, what really made me think of the prophet was the way God blessed him to be strong enough to stand alone.

This is where you start thinking I expected a little more from him, but let me try a little harder.  We are called at times to, in boldness, stand alone.  The difficult balance for us, as Christ followers, is to live in the world without being of the world.  Without raising a crude voice; without accepting the criteria set by society; by loving our neighbor.  When we do these things then we can heed the words of our amphibian prophet and never fail to bear fruit!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017


Day 1 Doxology:  Wow!  It's been a whole year since I last participated in my annual Lenten Devotional discipline, and I've missed it!  I pray you have been looking forward to my returning doxology moments each day of Lent (excluding Sundays).

If you're new to my Lenten Blog then allow me a moment to give a brief explanation...during Lent, I take a moment of my day that I want to give praise to God (A Doxology Moment), take a picture or video of that moment and tell you why it is a moment of praise.  Part of me loves to hear each day the feedback I get "never thought of it like that," or "I loved that reflection!"  Mostly, I love that it conditions my soul to see God in places that I normally overlook.  It is like a River that transports me from one place to another, and through it all, I am cleansed of the world.  In a way it is a narrative of my Lenten journey of transformation.

Today, I begin our Lenten journey with a video.  I hope the links works, but if it doesn't work for you the url address will be at the end of this post.

I am moved by music!  I have an eclectic taste of all kinds of music regardless of the genre.  I am, however, extremely drawn to anything soulful and passionate, sincere and raw!  I think those songs that move us down a spiritual river are a Means of Grace for our life.  Today, I stumbled across such a song -"River" by Leon Bridges.

This video is one that merges the Spirit of the song with raw untamed and brilliance of nature.  The words are powerful but simple...a lot like the imagery.  I hope you enjoy the song, and I pray that your reflection of this doxology moment will be enough to start your Lenten journey with me today!

This is the video link if you are unable to view in this post: