What am I thankful for?



Medical experts.


A functioning government.

Public servants. Police, fire, and government officials.

Global connectivity.

The internet.

Family, my network of friends, and brothers and sisters in faith.

A God who brings order to chaos, is no stranger to suffering, and who descends with us into the valley of the shadow.

We’re in the early days of a crisis, and thus far the positive waves, creative spirit, and general neighborliness have been encouraging and inspiring. Here is another source of uplift:


The past few weeks have been chaotic, exhausting, and anxiety inducing. There are legitimate reasons for concern. There will be tremendous challenges ahead.

But as I’ve reflected on this pandemic, I have felt more amazement than fear, more gratitude than dread, more wonderment than despair. We live in a moment in time in which the earliest outbreaks of this disease could be noticed, diagnosed, and reported upon. Information about COVID-19 could then be disseminated across the globe.

Television and other media could provide imagery indicating to us the seriousness with which we should consider this disease.  Radio, the web, social media feeds, newspapers, and television could be used to get the word out. Institutions–government, educational, religious–could be mobilized.

Some, but not all, jobs could shift to remote work. For jobs that could not be done remotely, businesses have been making hard decisions about how best to care for their employees, and government officials have been working diligently to enact measures that would help those most deeply affected by the outbreak.

Consider, for a moment, being alive during  a previous moment in time when a global pandemic occured. Imagine, for a moment, seeing your neighbors become ill. A few appear to have nothing more than the common cold. But many are devastated by a hidden, invisible disease. Communities continue to function as normal, cities and towns carry on with the normal rhythms of commerce, religious communities continue to gather unabated. Neighbors become sick and die, funerals go on as normal. Trade continues, travel continues. As death counts increase, information moves from place to place and country to country, but more slowly than the disease. By the time immunity has been built, the disease has run its course, and the majority of those most vulnerable to such a disease have died. Only in retrospect can the human race assess the severity of the disease.

Granted, in a previous age, the globe was not as connected; movement was not near as fluid as it is today, and diseases were not as quickly spread. But they did spread, and information about those diseases did not move nearly as quick, nor were the  treatments available nearly as effective.

The American economy will suffer a setback due to this disease, as will countless other global ventures. People have lost their jobs, or will see a decrease in work (there are individuals in my family who are facing this reality). There are people who have already died due to this disease.

School have been disrupted. Some states have halted instruction for the year. My children are receiving online instruction; the courses I teach at Truett have moved online.

Churches may not get to celebrate Easter together in their sacred spaces. Our congregation is considering a return to terrestrial radio to remain connected to those who are home bound and without connection to the internet. We’ve mourned the death of wonderful people who have been pillars in our congregation, and then been further saddened in observing the recommendation for restricting funeral gatherings to ten people or less.

Psalm 144:4 says, “Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.” James 4:14 compares our life to a mist. Isaiah observes our flesh is like grass, springing up, then withering, a metaphor that is picked up again in 1 Peter. Life’s brevity has long been sobering for any who would consider it. Our days pass, and they pass quickly.

Psalm 90:12 reminds us, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom,” and 2 Timothy 1:7 states, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

In these days, I’m reminded that life has always been fragile and our reality has always been contingent. It doesn’t take much to disrupt us. But as a person of faith, I have resources. I have reminders of my own mortality and the promise of eternal life. There are resources for wisdom and courage and admonitions to extend compassion, care, and love. I am reminded that God will never leave nor forsake us.

In Jesus, I encounter a man who was (and is) well acquainted with grief. I am reminded that Jesus led and leads our way as a servant, as a person who put the needs of others before his own, and who calls us to abandon all–even our very lives–for his sake and the sake of the gospel.

The question, then, that I now face concerns the work that is mine to do, and the ways that I am to serve.

To whom is God calling me, and how am I to faithfully answer the call? How am I to yield myself to the Spirit of God and to the divine leading, so that during days in which uncertainty prevails and chaos abounds, I might be a person in whom the peace of Christ dwells richly, and the Word of Christ abounds?

I do not yet know the answers to those questions, at least not in full. I am willing to find out. The finding out will be in the crisis.

Knowing this, in the days to come, I’ll seek to be faithful to God, concerned for my neighbor, steadfast in faith, casting out all fear, relying on grace, remaining in hope, diligent in love, trusting in spirit, bold in witness, and calm in chaos.

I began in thankfulness. Psalm 18:2 offers one more thing for which I can be thankful: “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

Thanks be to God. Lord, deliver us.

Football: Know Your Terms

Photo by Bank Phrom on Unsplash

I’ve made another appearance in the Waco Tribune-Herald’s Letters section, this time talking football terminology. Click and read my letter.

The Trib printed this article from the AP, which I read on Saturday. I wrote my letter that afternoon, and it appeared locally in print on Tuesday. Here’s the play, and the term, that came to mind:

I never knew this play inspired an ice sculpture.

A few years later similar action occured in a game I cared about.

Sports are great. People are, too, especially in their inventive use of words.

Letters Page: The Waco Trib

Image via Wikipedia

I made a third appearance in the Letters section of the local paper today. You can read my thoughts here, composed in response to this opinion piece by Bruce Wells on the Ten Commandments, first appearing in the print edition of the Waco Tribune-Herald on February 1, 2019. I disagreed with Wells, believing he skirted the key issues, namely religious freedom and free exercise and expression, and misrepresented the Bible and the convictions of the religious communities who include the Ten Commandments in their sacred texts.

Facebook Friend, I Need a Favor

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

Hello there, Facebook Friend.

I’m writing to ask a favor. It’s a strange favor. So, please, hang in there with me.

I’ve been writing online for many years. You may have read something I have published, and if so I thank you for your kindness. Reading requires time and attention. When a person tells me I have written something they found helpful or insightful I am both grateful and amazed. Just the fact they told me they read leaves me floored. I wrote something. They read it. Wow!

You may not have read anything I’ve written. Maybe this silly appeal is your first foray into my prose. For that, I am sorry. But we’re connected. And because we’re connected, I have a request for you too.

I’d like you to invite you to subscribe to my website.

You’re probably saying, “That’s it? That’s the favor? But that’s an invitation!”

I know. That’s a problem. But I’ll level with you. This is an invitation, but if you grant me permission to drop something in your inbox every time I publish an essay, you’re doing me a favor. Let me tell you how.

If my memory is correct I’ve been using Facebook since the fall of 2004. I’ve been on Twitter since April of 2008. Those services have changed. The news feed used to be chronological. It is not anymore. It also used to be algorithm free. Now, the items we see first, at the top of our feed, are curated by a complex formula based on our past likes, comments, and scroll rates, or the likes and comments of friends in our network.

The goal of services like Facebook and Twitter is not, foremost, to connect us to one another, but to connect us to their service, and then to convert our likes, profile information, commentary, and other contributions into data that can be crunched, analyzed, packaged, and sold to marketers, sales teams, and product developers. Signing up is free of charge, but there is a cost. The extraction is found elsewhere, and it  is covert.

As social media services have changed their algorithms and redesigned their news feeds, they’ve made things more difficult for people like me. I’m a writer. I focus on theology and church related concerns. I’ve written devotional material, and I’ve also composed serious essays on pastoral ethics and spiritual formation. I don’t enjoy yelling about it. I have a strong dislike for click-bait and controversy. I’m more dove than hawk. That’s a problem on social media, which rewards the bombastic, confrontational, and flashy types.

I once read a quote from Arnold Schwarzenegger who said that every industry, every endeavor, requires a bit of salesmanship. So, in a way, this is my bit of salesmanship, despite the fact I’m not much of a salesman. I’d like you to do me the favor of subscribing to my blog in order to decrease our shared reliance on social media algorithms to ensure we remain connected. I’d also like to invite you to engage with me and my writing in web space other than that provided by the major social media services.

For all their promise and wonder, and for the many fantastic ways these services do keep us connected (there is some benefit), I think we can all admit that there is a downside to the medium. Most of us are still here because if we weren’t continuously scrolling, we fear we’d be missing out.

Question: What are three things you’ve seen on social media in the past three days that drastically impacted the course of your day which you wouldn’t have heard about through another channel? Question: How many items did you scroll by that occupied mental space which you didn’t need to know and could have done without? If we all logged off for good, we wouldn’t miss too much.

The rise of social media created a scene of sorts, a place to see people and a place to be seen. It is still a scene, as we all know, that people occupy in many different ways. But I’d like our minds to meet elsewhere, preferably in a quieter space that I curate online. If social media is the rave, I’d like to invite you over to the coffee house, a place to clear your mind, think, sober up, detoxify, and maybe learn, exchange ideas, and strengthen a tie with someone you have shared history with. I write this assuming it is more likely than not that we’ve hung out, played a game, been on a trip, or sat in the same room together.

I’m hoping you’ll come over to my website, click follow, and submit your email.

You can still catch me on Facebook. I have a Facebook Page you can like. Make sure you click on the settings wheel and opt to follow or receive updates. Links will also be posted to my Twitter feed. I can’t promise a lot of interaction on those services—I post most of my content through Buffer. I don’t have social media apps on my phone. But if you come by the website I’ll try to interact in the comments, especially if you are someone I know.

Finally, Facebook Friend, most of you are people I have known through school, camps, or church stops. A few I know through writing and publishing. I thank God for you all. Community is a gift, both the strong and the loose ties, and I have no doubt (even if you do) that the God of heaven has bound us together in eternity and time for some good purpose, however mysterious and elusive that purpose may be.

Thank you for your readership.

As Always, I am,

Sincerely Yours,


New Beginnings. New Look.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash


I’m long overdue for a fresh start online, and after dragging my feet for months I finally pulled the plug on my old site and moved to WordPress. Thanks for visiting the new space, taking a look around, following along, and supporting my work.

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