Bah Humbug: An Advent Letter to West Franklin

West Franklin Family, “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long will I store up anxious concerns within me, agony in my mind every day?” (Psalm 13:1-2) It’s getting to where I am afraid to answer my phone, check a text, or open my email. It happens every year around the holidays, but this year seems different. . .heavier. You feel it too? It seems as if everyone is battling, struggling, grieving, and/or in some sort of pain. More and more of our own are contracting the virus. Some...

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Advent Season Recommendations

This Sunday (November 29th) is the first Sunday of Advent 2020. If you’re anything like me (who grew up Southern Baptist), you are still learning a lot about Advent, it’s meaning and uniqueness. I am discovering there are many very good and solid resources available to help the believer worship through the Christmas season. Here are several recommendations: Devotionals Come, Let Us Adore Him: A Daily Advent Devotional by Paul David Tripp Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ by Tim Keller Waiting Here for You: An Advent Journey of Hope by Louie Giglio The Advent of...

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I Left My Phone in My Pocket

A weird thing happened last night. I saw beauty at a middle school girls’ soccer game. [Note: I wrote this several weeks ago. The following is a reminder to me to leave my phone in my pocket.] Yes. You read that right. And I don’t just mean there was a beautiful sunset (though there was). And I don’t just mean I could see the top of a church steeple off in the distance (though I could). I intentionally left my phone in my pocket and paid attention to what was happening around me, in the moment. For a brief period of...

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Is Jesus a Genie?

“. . . ask Me whatever you wish and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7) Does this phrase from Jesus seem too good to be true? It does to me. I’ve heard it said: “If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.” For 99.9% of advertising in the world, that saying has proved to be about right. When I read Jesus saying things like this, my mind shifts to movies like Aladdin. A lucky guy stumbles upon a bottle, rubs it, and a genie pops out promising to grant anything the lucky guy desires....

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Too Early For Christmas? A Letter to West Franklin

West Franklin Family, If you are anything like me, Christmas can’t get here fast enough. Not so much because I think time with friends and family will be normal (they won’t). And not so much because I think I will open tons of presents (I can only hope). I am eager for Christmas because the thought of it just puts a smile on my face. I am eager for Christmas because it’s arrival will mean 2020 is coming to an end. I am eager for Christmas because, as one with kids still in the house, I believe there will still...

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Before. During. After.

“Lord,” Peter asked, “why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus replied, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly I tell you, a rooster will not crow until you have denied me three times. (John 13:37-38) It’s breathtaking if you think about it. Jesus knew Peter was going to betray Him BEFORE he actually did. In Peter’s arrogant declaration, Jesus predicted failure. In Peter’s ignorant commitment, Jesus guaranteed denial. And He went to the cross anyway. Not only did Jesus know beforehand what Peter would do, Jesus was crucified DURING Peter’s betrayal. Everyone...

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Feet. Gross.

Why is it that we don’t want Jesus to do what He came to do? Remember the story in John 13? The one where Jesus washes the disciples’ feet? Do you recall what Peter said when it was his turn to have his nasty feet scrubbed? John recorded the conversation this way: “He came to Simon Peter who said to him, ‘Lord are you going to wash my feet?’ Jesus replied, ‘You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ ‘No,” said Peter, ‘You shall never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you,...

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What’s Next? A Letter to West Franklin

West Franklin Family, It is so good to type these words again. Believe it or not, one of the most difficult things about sabbatical is not communicating with you. I longed to write. I so wanted to call and get updates. I wanted to text and ask how you were doing. But I intentionally went off the grid. It was hard. But it was best. It’s what needed to happen for it to be successful. And successful it was. (You can hear an extended update about the sabbatical here.) I’m not sure what you are expecting from me moving forward....

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And Grace Will Lead Me Home

The pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced this week the tremendous news that they are close to having a COVID-19 vaccine available. They are 90% confident of its effectiveness to cure and (perhaps even) prevent this dreaded virus. Think about that for just a moment. Seriously. Go ahead. I’ve got all day.   First of all, who would have imagined in January that we would even need a vaccine for a pandemic? I certainly didn’t.    Second, consider the fact that this thing didn’t really “take over the world” (or at least North America) until March. Here we are in November –...

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One: A Prayer for West Franklin

Father, This morning, I read an explosive statement from John’s Gospel. It was if John mentioned it in passing. The implications of it, however, are massive. In what is an almost parenthetical statement, John comments on something Caiaphas said about Jesus. John wrote that something Caiaphas said was actually a prophecy about Jesus. And the prophecy was that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one (John 11:51-52). This is mind-blowing, Father. Jesus died, not just for the Jews,...

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