Mad at you…

 bossSo what’s the problem?

Next week someone will frustrate me. I can count on it.

Next week I will frustrate somebody.  If it’s not you, just wait your turn.  It’s going to happen.

If you frustrate me, it’s what happens next that matters.

I was pondering an intense meeting with an employee. I’ve had a few and I’ll have a few more.

If I’m mad at him…that means I think he is the problem

In my eyes he has become a set of bad behaviors or disappointing results.  BUT in God’s eyes he is a son with a broken past and the possibility of an amazing future.  He will never be just a problem to the Father who created him.  He cannot be just a problem to me either.  Love doesn’t do that.

If I’m jealous for him … that means I think the problem is the problem.

When I see through the Father’s eyes I may still see behaviors or results that have to change.  BUT my perspective and my solutions include a fierce commitment to the best the Father is doing for this son

AND the best the Father wants to do for this business full of His sons and daughters.  I don’t just want to fix or get rid of this problem person;  I want the problem to stop getting in the way of the greatness the Father has in mind for him. That’s what love does.

If I’m only jealous for him when I’m mad at him, that means I’m the problem.

When I only give attention to the person if he gets in the way, I fail to notice that at least for a little slice of eternity, the Father has entrusted me with favored sons and daughters.   I fail to appreciate that he has allowed me to partner with Him while He is redeeming, restoring, and completing these sons and daughters.  Love people not just behaviors and results.

Don’t let problems interrupt love.

So who ticked me off?    I don’t remember.   I wrote the outline for this blog a long time ago and didn’t get to complete it until this peaceful morning watching the sunrise over the bay.  Inspired by praise from Isaiah 12.

Who ticked you off this week?

It’s a pain



When pain remains…

“And even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, even if against our will, comes wisdom to us from the awful grace of God above.”    Aeschylus

Pain falls drop by drop even in our sleep.

Pain brings with it the opportunity to focus attention and to be stilled, even stopped dead, to listen to what God has always been saying.

Aeschylus was wise to see the possibility, but quite wrong that wisdom could come to us against our will.  We will always have ears that have the ability to refuse to hear.  We will always have hearts that have the ability to refuse to receive.

Isaiah 6  “ever hearing, but never understanding; ever seeing, but never perceiving.

Determine not to waste a drop of pain today.

Consider the connection between the pain of this moment and the potential connection to what you have done

Consider the connection between the pain of this moment and the potential connection to what God is preparing you to do.

Living to the Max

Life to the Max

2017-max-first-dayI considered my youngest grandson Max, just beginning his second week of life. I considered my oldest grandson Max, just beginning the turbulent and often distressing days of adolescence. I considered my father-in-law Max, nearing his 90th birthday.
max-billingsleyEven at three very different stages of life, their futures are equally important. Each minute of this day is valuable beyond comprehension.
And perhaps most surprising; max-k-howardevery single day ahead of them is more profound than anything behind. There isn’t a day that is too early or too late or too hard to be blessed by Jesus or to be pronounced unimportant.
These treasured people in my life are a reminder to me that I want to live this day to the max. I want the same for them, and for you.

A whole lot of normal…

mary                Luke 2:19  Mary treasured these things and pondered them in her heart.

A lot of normal was discretely filled with the extraordinarily supernatural that would only be fully realized decades later.

The census and the tax, the trip, the place to camp, the sheep to be watched, even the trip to the temple were just normal.

What would distinguish this day from so many others?  The appearance of an angel to a young girl, the dream, the surprise birth to the elderly couple, the angels, the pronouncements of two well-meaning elderly people; that’s about all she had to go on.  And there was the unexplainable pregnancy but only she would know that with absolute certainty.

For almost everyone, virtually everything could have been explained away or could easily faded away with a little time.  It could have all been buried under a whole lot more normal.

Only two years later would there be another hint with the arrival of a caravan from the east. That set off more tangible changes with the sudden move to a foreign country.

But from the beginning there was a mother who practiced the discipline of pondering. What the heart ponders, the heart can protect for the years it takes the work of God to become fully revealed.

Pondering carried her from the supernatural moment of Jesus’ birth when she was perhaps only 16 to the next hint when she was 18 to the bigger hint when she was 30 to the fulfillment as she was approaching 50.  A lot of normal happens between ages 16 and 50.  Pondering kept her in step with the supernatural that was always at work through more than three decades.

So what could God be doing today among a whole lot of normal?  What could He be saying or doing to distinguish the supernatural of this day from the normal?  How will I hold and ponder the supernatural work of God in a world full of normal?

What is going on in my world that is more than normal?  How do I remember and hold it long enough to see the supernatural hand of God.

I’ll write about my world soon.  I thought it would be better to ask about your world first.  I suspect there is something supernatural happening in the middle of all of the normal.

John and Valerie got married

The wedding message by the father of the bride ~ 

before-the-walkValerie Joy Howard and John Caleb Sizemore you are here to get married.  Who saw that glacier coming?

Late 2007: Step Brothers was a new movie.  The IPhone didn’t exist yet Hunter Hayes had just gotten his drivers license, Nashville was a small village in Indian territory …and Valerie Howard met John Sizemore.

ladies-getting-readyIt took less than a week for Valerie to know enough about John to tell her Memaw that John was the man she was going to marry.  It took God a little less than a week to create the entire universe.  But it took God, Valerie, and John seven years plus one to get ready for this moment.

God can move at the speed of light but He most often moves at the speed of life. As the father of the bride I had the opportunity to watch this amazing slow work.  It is such a privilege to share with you what I saw.

bridgeJohn, I watched you grow in faith to launch out.  Valerie, I watched you grow into security to be still.  Some might say John is becoming your anchor and you are becoming his sail.   That would be sweet but only if there is also a boat.

John and Valerie you have chosen to do life together in Jesus.  He isn’t a church. He isn’t a religion. He isn’t merely a collection of inspiring ideals.  You know Him as the very real person who invited you into partnership with Himself.
He offered you the chance to get into His life. He promised to daddy-daughter-dancetrain and direct you through a crazy adventure of His choosing for His purpose.  You said, “Yes” and you keep saying, “Yes.”  Not everybody does that.

groomsmen-on-porchAnchors and sails are great…when you’re in a great boat. You keep choosing Jesus as your boat.  Good choice.
John, you could have stayed in Virginia in a stable job working for the executives of one of the world’s
largest ship builders or you could launch out and come to Nashville without a settled job.  It took faith to launch out. Then in Nashville you img_1497had a decent job with a good company.  You could have settled there but again you
launched out into work that was as stable as your next commission.  You will always love stability and settledness but you have grown a faith that finds stability in what Jesus says about tomorrow, instead of what you found in yesterday.

Valerie, you have never had a problem with launching out and taking risks.  I remember when you were a little girl and I was going to give you a ride on a jet ski.  Someone carefully set you in front of me on the ski so I could hold on to you. You grabbed the throttle and took off at full speed. I don’t think I ever rode a jet ski with you again.

Launching out was never a problem. You launch fearlessly into relationships, challenges, and opportunities.  But the security to just be still; that’s another matter.   There’s always the next thing you don’t want to miss, the next people you want to meet, and the fear that you might miss out.

walking-down-the-laneOver the past seven years plus one, you’ve been growing the security to be still.  Even if there are three more people you need to have coffee with, and Jamie & Brandon just got back in town, and you could call the people you met in L.A. because it’s only 10:00 pm there; you are learning to be still.  Someday you might even stop texting in your sleep. You are becoming secure that you won’t miss out. You have been growing in the security that Jesus has personally arranged for you to do everything that will matter and He has assigned you time to be still.

The best evidence that you’ve grown secure enough to be planted without fear of being trapped?  You came to the wedding.

Since some of your friends here might be stuck at anchor and others might be sailing in the dark toward the rocks, could I share with them how you grew faith enough to launch out and security enough to be still?

John and Valerie have learned to treasure a Word from God.

And they have learned to face the worst that can happen.

walking-down-the-laneGod speaks and nothing is worth more than a Word from Him.  Jesus made it clear that when you embrace the Word God speaks, nothing can stop it.  Mountains, storms, diseases, disasters, powerful people, even powerful crazy people cannot stand in the way.  When He said, you can throw mountains into the sea with a word…he meant a word of agreement with God.

Some of you really need a Word from God about something right now.  It might be about something that is threatening you.  It might be about something you want more than anything.  It might be about how your story ends up. It might even be about who you should marry or whether that person has been born yet.

If you want a Word from God, you have to want to hear whatever He wants to say.  Then you have to want to act on what He says.  The Bible says a double-minded person shouldn’t expect anything from God.

I learned a long time ago when Valerie was a little girl that I could speak whenever I wanted but she would hear when she was ready to hear.  My job was to help her get ready to hear.  God is really good at that.

When you are ready to hear a word from Jesus, He will make the Bible come alive. He will put people in your path.  He will whisper in your ear.  He can even write stuff across the sky. He might even ambush you at a wedding.

Over the past eight years John has learned that when he gets a Word from God…don’t wait.  Act right away.   It takes faith to launch out just because Jesus spoke. If you wait to act, the Word might just fade away.

first-danceOver the past eight years Valerie has learned to wait until she gets a Word from God…before she acts.    It takes security be still until Jesus speaks.

John & Valerie have learned to treasure a Word from God and they have learned to face the worst that could happen.

So what is the worst that could happen?  For some, the worst that could happen might be no food in the frig or no place to go.  For others, the worst that could happen would be that they never make it big or they lose their place on the charts.

But even if the worst that could happen were to be dying young or being left alone, it’s still not even close to the worst that could happen.

What’s really the worst?   kissing-boothYou were created to fulfill a purpose.  It took hundreds of generations to set you up for your purpose.  If you get it right, thousands of generations will be blessed forever.

Some of you heard a Word from God just now.  You know that what I said was for you.  Do you want to imitate John and act on it right now? Breathe this prayer, “Jesus I need you.  I need to hear from you. And I want to do whatever you say to do next.”

Now what?  Keep listening.  He will say more. And you keep saying, ‘Yes.’  You will live the most amazing adventure knowing that you will never have to experience the worst that could happen.

hunter-libbyJohn & Valerie, you have come to know that the worst, the very worst, would be to miss that purpose and to miss the partnership with Jesus that makes it possible.  He never made a human with a purpose so small that they could fulfill it alone. That’s why he gave you to each other. He never gave you a purpose that you could fulfill with just each other. That’s why he said, “I will be with you.”

John, you may be the anchor.  Valerie, you may be the sail. Jesus said, “follow me” and you said, “Yes.”  He became your boat.  A long time ago Jesus proved that he could walk on water, stop the headwinds,  and flatten the waves.  And he always got to the other side.
John and Valerie, I have a Word from God for you. “Connection”  Together, you will get-awayconnect the most unlikely people in the most unlikely places in the most unlikely ways.  More than a few people in this room have already gotten a hint of that.

They, along with you will find out that what Jesus said is true, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no human mind has ever conceived the things God has prepared for those who love Him.”  And because of you they will get in the boat.

I don’t want to be weaned!

2016 Hartley in heels 1

It’s all good now but it wasn’t that great a few weeks ago.

Our granddaughter was getting weaned.  She didn’t sign up for this process. She wasn’t at all interested in all of the wonderful opportunities on the other side.  She didn’t have any idea about sleepovers with cousins, going to school, or getting to drive, even though pretty much everybody who gets to do these things has been weaned first.  She just knew what she wanted and she knew she wasn’t getting it.

One night not long ago she sat angrily in her crib refusing to be held because she couldn’t nurse.  She had to work through it by herself because she wouldn’t accept anyone unless she got what she wanted.

Sometimes we go through hard things alone because God won’t give us what we think we need the most.  It’s not that He isn’t there, we just aren’t ready to receive Him while we aren’t getting IT.

What is IT that you’re not getting?  An achievement? A solution? Help?  Meeting of a deep need that you’ve felt for a long long time?
Even just  a little relief?

Do you draw close to Him while you are enduring IT?

Do you deeply enjoy Him when you are not getting IT?

2016 Hartley big ballIf you are mad about IT, are you still at peace with HIM?

Weaning: “Becoming at peace with who you need even when you can’t get what you want.”

Those who want Him will become free to receive more and better and bigger than they could ever have imagined.

Learned from a five-year-old

For the rest of my life I will carry with me a lesson I learned about rest.  My five-year-old grandson Elliot teamed up with God to make the point.2016 Elliot working Nathan watching

I have a father who is always watching.   He cares deeply about my work but only because He cares deeply about me.

2016 Elliot Nathan at work


We will carry the heavy stuff together.  I’m not big enough to carry big stuff alone.


You know how I know he always watches and carries the heavy stuff with me? 2016 Elliot and Nathan

I know because of the times we just walk together.  That’s when I know it’s not just about the work, it’s about us.

One day out of seven God invites me to rest with Him. It’s not just an invitation; it is a command. Rest with Him is the exercise that trains my soul to live the other six days with Him, to know He is watching, and to be confident that He is carrying the heavy stuff.

            A few practical questions: 

Over the past week did I protect a day for rest with Him?  I have a Father who expects one day out of seven to be set aside for rest with Him. Did I push past that seventh day?

If so, did I push past because I felt like I had to or because I just wanted to?  Either way I will have drawn some disturbing conclusions about the Father.  I think it’s more about the work than about us together.  More disturbing, I’m less suited to remember that He cares, that He is watching, and that He intends to carry the heavy stuff with me.

The one day out of seven is where I learn that it’s all about the walk, not about the work.

The earth will spin around seven more times in the coming week.  I get to try again. What am I going to do to make sure one spin of the earth is just for walking with Him and not for working?  How do I arrange to take that wonderful spin with Him?