“You’re something between a dream and a miracle.” ~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning

She unexpectedly entered my life ten years ago and nothing has been the same since. Grace is always a surprise; a dream you could not have imagined, a miracle you would never have dreamed could come true. I need not remind myself of what I would not have if I received what I deserve–I can see her from here. For reasons I will never fully fathom, a God of grace placed her heart in mine, and ten years later I am more the man He created me to be than I was before we met.

“Earth’s crammed with heaven… But only he who sees, takes off his shoes.”

I detect something of divine pleasure when staggered by the thought of all life is with her, and the sad depths of what it would be without her. I am left with breathless gratitude; an endless debt. To describe this tenth anniversary as merely “happy” would undercut the profound current of joy that colors us with hues of mercy and satisfaction. God is highly exalted, yet my wife is his hand sweeping low to lift me beyond myself. 

Follow Me

“I have seen the light in the wilderness and I must follow it.”~ Seth Adam Smith

We played a familiar game, even though it had been some time since I had tried it. It came at the tail end of the nature walk my wife invented as a way of occupying our three year old granddaughter while her mother took her sister for a horseback riding lesson. We enjoy being with this dynamite in dimples, but she does keep us on our toes, hence the outdoor adventure. First, we marveled at the magic flurry of a myriad yellow green butterflies gorging themselves on Turk’s Cap near our carport. Onward we trudged and a short distance down our caliche path I began to skip and broke into an off key rendition of, “We’re off to see the wizard…” Neither wife nor granddaughter were impressed. We held hands, laughed and mimicked cow sounds, and shooed away the Great Pyrenees from next door while winding back the way we had come. In front of a stately old home that peers down on all passers by with historic indifference, my wife introduced the game. She stepped onto the fairly narrow cement edging of the park like lawn and said, “Follow me.” Hannah spread arms like an airplane and did her best in little girl cowboy boots to balance herself while staying close behind Jo Jo. I drew up the rear, so no one could see my clumsy efforts to imitate our leader. We successfully navigated the concrete balance beam and moved on to try our feet on the circular brick ledge that defines the transition from lawn to driveway in front of our bungalow. At the close of our grand adventure, Hannah declared, “Following is hard.” I agreed.

As Jesus traveled throughout Israel urging people to repent and believe the gospel, “Follow me” was his constant refrain. He began public ministry by calling his first disciples with the terse command, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” As his ministry progressed, he warned the crowds, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” At the end of his earthly ministry, Jesus commissioned the repentant Peter, “Follow me.” This simple two word directive should lead to profound, transforming change in how we think about and practice the Christian life. Following Jesus begins when we respond to his call to repent and believe the Good News that God loves us and has taken initiative to reconcile us to the Father. He awakens us to God’s grace and motivates us to want to live well. When we turn our attention to what it means to follow Jesus in ordinary living, two things immediately stand out: allegiance and identification. Following Jesus demands ultimate allegiance, expressed through obedience and priority. Hearing and obeying Jesus’ teachings are fundamental to following him, and doing so forces us to reorder priorities, removing from our vocabulary an oath of intermittent allegiance, “Yes Lord, but…” Discipleship also requires imitating Jesus. After washing the disciples’ feet in the Upper a Room, Jesus instructed, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet, for I have given you an example, that you should also do just as I have done to you” (Jn 13:14-15). A concrete example makes a deeper impact than statements of principle. 

Following Jesus, then, entails both obeying his teachings and identifying with his example, but obeying and imitating are not ends in themselves; they are the means to an even greater end. Following Jesus results in deeper intimacy. We more clearly resemble Jesus the more frequently we walk with him. Make no mistake about it, the goal of discipleship is nothing short of becoming like Jesus–to think as he thought, to feel as he felt, to act as he acted, and to desire what he desired. “Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (1 Jn 2:6). Because Jesus is the image of God in human form (Col 1:15; He 1:3), the more we reflect Jesus, the image of God is increasingly restored in us. Following is hard, but it is everything. 


“How did it get so late so soon?” ~ Dr. Seuss

“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.” ~ Winston Churchill

I am not sure that I’m ever not behind at something, but I am close to being caught-up enough to turn the majority of my attention to next week’s wedding anniversary trip. I promised my wife yesterday that I will ‘unplug’ during our time together so as not to be tempted to distraction and divert my attention away from her. She doubts that I can do it, but I will. Giving full attention to her will enhance the beauty of every moment spent together. 

The same option is open to each of us everyday. When I place my life at Christ’s disposal and practice his presence, the Godward attention brings every other aspect into divine focus; I see more clearly when I look through my Father’s eyes. Undistracted by the tyranny of the trivial, I am free to lavish my attention on the One who defines every experience and replaces the inconsequential with the beauty of eternity.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” 

Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV


“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.” 

~Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might.” Micah 3:8 NIV

On the surface it appears Micah is boasting about the contrast between himself and false prophets “who lead my people astray.” Perhaps he felt the rise of righteous indignation, but his outburst is far afield from gloating. The ancient prophet recognizes injustice in the land as affront to Almighty God, and likens spiritual power with reclamation of justice. There is nothing hooey-gooey about spirituality to Micah. Spirit fullness is never self-serving. God rails against injustice and champions the downtrodden. Spiritual power always results in shalom–life becomes whole again for those broken by conspiracy and circumstance.


“Dear God, I am so afraid to open my clenched fists! Who will I be when I have nothing left to hold on to? Who will I be when I stand before you with empty hands? Please help me to gradually open my hands and to discover that I am not what I own, but what you want to give me.” ~ Henri Nouwen

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood… (God’s) own purchased, special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9 AMP

Awakening is solely the work of the Spirit. I can no more hasten this transformation than a raccoon can become a mountain lion. What I am charged with is far more excruciating–surrender is solely my responsibility. While I cannot quicken my spirit to the Spirit of God, I can and must relinquish all control to Sovereign Father. I dare not trust my emotions–they are far too fickle than to instill confidence. Instead, I fling myself at the feet of One who knows me as well as tomorrow. He alone is in position to shape and use me for purposes higher than my own inclination. ‘Father, do not give me the desires of my heart unless they have been filtered and rerouted by grace.’

The King is Dead; Long Live the King

Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there. It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.

~ Ray Bradbury

Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.

 ~ Shannon L. Alder

We learned last night that golfer Arnold Palmer had died earlier in the day at age eight seven. The king is dead; long live the king. I viewed a video tribute and was amazed at the impact of one man on the world of sport and beyond. Call it narcissistic to a degree, but I could not help taking stock of my own life and questioning my influence. I preach the necessity of detecting the weight of glory in the ordinary, and in the end believe that it will prove to yield the greater legacy. But I cannot help but ask, why and how will it matter that I was here? Who will be the better for it? What might I have done differently that would have yielded a greater return on the investment of my life? Is it too late to set my feet in cement for future generations to remember and learn from?

“O Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You and praise Your name, for in perfect faithfulness You have done marvelous things, things planned long ago.” 

Isaiah 25:1 NIV


If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you. ~ A. A. Milne

Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and wept aloud.(Genesis 29:11 | NRSV)

Side-by-side they reclined, distinct yet coupled by choice. This was not the beginning of time but still another in a stream of days enlightened by understanding and shaded by the comfort of knowing and being known. He had worked for her; she had waited for him. This was life the way God intended–not Edenic perfection, but tiptoeing to the edge of it and peeking over hand-in-hand. She completed him; not in the sense of losing track of where she ended and he began, but a far deeper vein of filling what was absent before her. To say a higher power brought them together would be gross understatement–neither stars aligning nor happenstance, this was the handiwork of God. What led her to him and him to her were choices forged on the harsh anvil of unyielding existence and resilience born of a hard journey, but like the Star of Bethlehem that blooms despite the onslaught of summer, the desert did not extinguish the flame.

They could not know what lay in store–ceaseless wandering, prosperity and poverty, peace and war, childbirth and life ending labor, but here they were, together. Oneness is sacred trust. “When it’s gone, you’ll know what a gift love was. You’ll suffer like this. So go back and fight to keep it” (Ian McEwen). He squeezed her hand but said nothing; what passed between them was eloquence enough. He loved her, and that was all there was to it and all there would ever be.

So Rachel died, and she was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem), and Jacob set up a pillar at her grave; it is the pillar of Rachel’s tomb, which is there to this day. (Genesis 35:19-20 | NRSV)