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Ready for a Better Way?

Even occasional readers of my humble ramblings know that the start of my faith narrative was mired in legalism. My first church believed you could not spell denomination without “no”. Starting from that faulty foundation led me to years of sadness, tiredness and performance bondage. I replayed my long and fragmented journey to grace and freedom as I listened to a song from Hillside United titled, “From the Inside Out”. One thousand times I’ve failed Still your mercy remains Should I stumble again I’m caught in your grace Everlasting your light will shine when all else fades I remembered day after day of agonizing self-loathing because I kept failing. I did not understand His mercy nor did I believe I could fall on His grace. I was taught that such an attitude showed a lack of obedience and a dependence on “cheap grace”. Somehow I missed the message of Jesus to the religious hypocrites as I was influenced by the
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Maggie’s Favorite Chapter

Here is a free preview of Chapter 21 in Waking Up Slowly. You can get an idea of how you can use these short chapters as daily devotionals to connect more fully to God, yourself, and one another. Maggie and I hope you enjoy! SOUNDS OF SILENCE Let us be silent that we may hear the whisper of God. Ralph Waldo Emerson I love to watch Maggie when she is overseeing her backyard domain. Sometimes she goes to the fence and lets out a couple of deep-throated barks to let some perceived threat know that she is on duty. Or she patrols every inch of the yard, sniffing as if it is her first and not her one-thousandth time to do this. Sometimes she stops to growl at a feral cat behind the fence. But the routine I love most is when she lies in the yard with head high, surveying her kingdom in silence. She is completely dialed in,
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Remembering When I “Knew It All”…

OK, I admit it. I like country music. I also like rock, Motown, jazz, pop, folk, gospel, and classical music. I once tried to distance myself from country in an ill-fated attempt to be sophisticated. To quote an old family idiom, that effort was like putting earrings on a hog. I am a small town boy and my roots are in the hills of Kentucky. So I no longer deny that I have a few banjos and some fine squirrel recipes in my genetic pool. In addition to my chromosomal predisposition toward Nashville, I am developing a deep appreciation for the honesty of country music. It is one of the few safe places to discuss God, country, and old-fashioned values without fear of politically correct busybodies getting their undergarments twisted. We all laugh at a few outrageously titled country tunes, but there are many songs that reflect exactly who I am: a proud father, a husband who married way up,
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Freedom is a Gift to be Cherished

I love the Fourth of July. My beloved and I had our first unofficial “date” on an Independence Day celebration in Fort Collins, Colorado many, many years ago. A song from Five for Fighting  called “Freedom Never Cries” is timely for this holiday. Writer/singer John Ondrasik writes personal and powerful songs that resonate with me. “Freedom Never Cries” is a song about how we take freedom for granted. Ondrasik talked about the song in an interview posted at liveDaily. “It was definitely a statement song that has a point of view. I think it kind of speaks to the fact that, I know at least for myself, we tend to only appreciate things when we need them. Growing up here in the bubble of the United States, we are statistically lucky to be born into this country where freedom, to us, seems natural. We couldn’t imagine anything else. I think sometimes we don’t recognize that. Freedom never cries. Freedom doesn’t sit in the corner
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Blessings Sometimes Wear Camouflage

A very dear friend is going through a deep trial. This faithful follower prays for wisdom, guidance, assurance and peace. The result so far is confusing. When they pray to hear the voice of God they hear spiritual crickets. Nothing. The frustration is real. I want to do something to help and all I can offer is prayer and presence. But when we study how God works in our lives should we be surprised with the process? A song by Laura Story resonates with my soul when I face this question. The song is called “Blessings” and the words are profound. We pray for blessings We pray for peace Comfort for family, protection while we sleep We pray for healing, for prosperity There is nothing inherently wrong with praying for those things. But my attempt to maneuver God to grant my wishes is wrong. Laying out my will and praying for God’s Divine notary seal is not how this works. Blessings
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That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard it Should Be

One of my favorite songs from Carly Simon touched an emotional chord recently. That’s the Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be features raw and emotional lyrics detailing the dashed dreams of too many marriages. These couples have everything they were sure would make them happy. A beautiful house, manicured lawns, and an Instagram picture perfect family. Yet the truth of their lives is starkly different. Carly Simon’s lyrics are haunting. Their children hate them for the things they’re not They hate themselves for what they are And yet they drink, they laugh Close the wound, hide the scar My heart hurts that I personally know a lot of people caught in that cycle. They wear a mask and smile bravely through the pain. My heart cries out that there is a better way. There is a different path that ends in a room of grace. But you have to be tired enough and sad enough to quit trying to
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My Hope is Not in Washington

A song by Joe South reflected my teenage disdain for those in power who seemed to not care a whit about the regular folk. I check the comments of Millenials today and I realize that not much, if anything, has changed since this song was recorded in the turbulent late 60’s. “The Games People Play” was recorded by Joe South and here are the first two stanzas. Oh the games people play now Every night and every day now Never meaning what they say now Never saying what they mean And they wile away the hours In their ivory towers Till they’re covered up with flowers In the back of a black limousine I have to admit that a bit of the anger and power of the protest was diminished with this hard-hitting chorus. La-da da da da da da da La-da da da da da de Talking ’bout you and me And the games people play Hard to gin
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