Delight & Vindication

I hope your morning went fantastically well and you're coasting toward the end of a productive day. I'm wrapping up a few hours of work at my desk at Richmond Prep. The weekend was busy! I played a concert  in New York last night. I had a blast! As always, you can check out a couple of snapshots from my travels via my Instagram account. 

In my own prayer time on the train this weekend I found myself at Psalm 37:

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.   

- Psalm 37:3-6


I found comfort in this scripture this weekend. It's true: if we are following Jesus, we will at one point or another find ourselves hard pressed between our faith walk and popular opinions or ideas. The comfort that is offered here in these verses is a promise that if we delightfully commit to following our Lord, we  will be vindicated! 

The scriptures are full of evidence that God vindicates those who are committed to following his way. From Genesis to Revelation we find examples of people who stood in faith - even while folks around them mocked them. We find people who were dismissed as "crazy," we find people who were tortured and abused. We find them all in the scriptures and we also find that God never failed to vindicate them! That vindication came to them and will come to us righteous rewards for delighting in him!  

If we delight in him,  we can rest assured that we are always on solid ground. We should note here that David is paying attention to the attitude that we have in our obedience: delight. God does not honor begrudging obedience. This is fundamental to understanding him. God is more concern with our internal state than our external action. An insincere act of obedience is no act of obedience to him at all. We must delight in him! We must delight in his instruction! 

This week's note is rather short but please don't let it's gravity escape in it's brevity. If we delight ourselves in God - if we learn to love him and his ways - then he promises us that he will vindicate us. He promises that he will give us our hearts' desires - the only thing that will satisfy us completely: more and more of him!  

As we set out into this week, let's look to find more ways to delight ourselves in him. Let's do our best to do what David said: commit our ways to him. It doesn't have to be a grandiose undertaking. We don't have to be overwhelmed by the thought. We can start simply by relishing him in small moments. We can start by looking for his movements in the situations we face, today! We don't have to try to be hyper spiritual or over the top. We can start to delight in him more in simple ways that have big results! We can start right now to take pleasure in our almighty, absolutely delightful God.

Critical Questions:

  • What does it mean to "Delight" in God? 
  • Is my obedience to God paired with an obedient atitude toward his direction and instruction?
  • Have I stood in my faith before to see vindication come to full fruition? If yes, how does that experience shaped my faith? Am I stronger or no?
  • How do I adjust my atitude to a delightful posture when I don't necessarily like what I've been instructed to do?

Trust the Process

I’m a bit late with today’s inbox note. I’ll skip the prologue and get right into this week’s thoughts.

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel. - Genesis 3:15

Most theologians agree that in this passage we find the first promise of the coming Christ. The seed of woman (usually regarded as a reference to Jesus,) will crush the head of the serpent. Though the serpent will strike at his heel, woman’s offspring will ultimately crush the tempter. This sentiment is echoed in many of Paul’s writings. He repeated says that “God has placed all things under his [Jesus] feet.” (Eph 1:22, 1 Cor 15:27, Heb 2:8).

This is the first time God shows us a glimpse of his plan for the redemption of mankind. This was the first indication of his glorious plan to pour out grace to all of mankind. After the promise, it would be another 77 generations (4,000 years) before God’s plan of redemption was manifested in the flesh on earth. Another 77 generations before mankind would see any tangible proof of God’s plan coming to fruition.

Why did God take so long to do his thing, here? What was going on across those 4,000 years? What was he doing and why was he taking so long?

While God’s ways aren’t like ours, he has been gracious enough to reveal some of his ways to us through his word. And, I think he’s revealed some of his purposes for this 4 millenium gap between his promise and the proof of it through the narrative of his word. Not only that, but I think this revelation about this 4 thousand year gap is instructive to us in our lives:

As elaborate and intricate as his designs are, I think God’s timing in the coming of Jesus boils down to one word: process.

We live on earth. Space and time define our physical realities. We race against the clock in just about every aspects of our lives - our jobs, our families, even our liesure is set against the backdrop of time. This isn’t God’s reality, though. God is the author of time. Just like the author of a book, he lives outside the time oriented reality he has created for us.

If God lives outside our time oriented reality, it makes perfect sense that he is never in what we would consider a “rush”. God doesn’t have a clock to punch. He knows everything. He has everything well in hand. He has set everything into motion. He has no uncertainty. Because he is all knowing and all powerful, he is obliged to take his time in working out his plans. He is obliged to take his time to reveal himself. He is obliged to work every meticulous detail without skipping a step. He is obliged to delight himself in his processes!

So many times in our lives, our time oriented mentalities cause us to be impetuous. We make irrational moves and countermoves to beat the clock. We skip steps - often times, thwarting our own attempts to get to point A or point B in our lives. God doesn’t do that. God values processes far too much to skip steps!

Last week, I wrote to you about the great privilege of prayer and the unique invite we have through Jesus to pray persistently. Many of us have been praying about people, places and things for long periods of time. Sometimes we think God isn’t answering. Sometimes we think he isn’t moving quickly enough. Sometimes, much like Mary the sister to Lazarus, we think “if God would only move on this, NOW!” 

Whatever it is that you may be seeking God about these days, I want to encourage you to continue to engage him in prayer. Don’t give up. Keep going back to the throne of grace with your request. However as you approach God with faith and trust to answer you, I want to encourage you to also trust his processes.

Over and over again throughout the scriptures we see God answering people’s prayers. However, he doesn’t usually go about it in conventional ways. He doesn’t come on the schedule we prescribe. He doesn’t come in the ways we expect. He has his way of doing things. 

These days, I’m praying for more grace to be appreciative of God's methods - not just the outcomes. I’m praying that God will create in me a heart that is joyful in patience. I’m praying that God will give me a heart and mind that looks to him in all things, trusting steadfastly in the efficacy of his processes.

Critical Questions:

  • How does time effect my decision making?
  • How would my decision making be different if I had all the time in the world?
  • Can I think of ways that God has answered my prayers, but through unforeseen means?
  • When I ask God to do things, do I also subconsciously think he should do them a specific way or at a specific time?
  • Have I missed God moving in an area of my life or in response to my prayers because I was caught off guard by his process?

The Plan

I hope your weekend provided great opportunities for rest and relaxation and that you are having a fantastic Monday! I’ll dispose with my usual pleasantries and jump right into this week’s note.

Here we go.

I cannot possibly tell you how far reaching my mom’s influence is in my life. I often find myself quoting her maxims. If you look closely, you’ll find my mom’s influence on the way I do business, the way I see the world and other people, how I take on projects and so much more. My mom was and is a pretty tough cookie, but the lessons she taught me as I grew up stuck.

Probably the most influential thing my mom taught me was to have a plan. She would always tell me “Have a plan - and not just one plan. Have a plan A, B and C!” That’s how she always does things. She always has an idea of the direction she wants to go and how to get there. My mom has really impressed upon me a penchant for planning. Because of her, planning has become something that is very important to me.

As I’ve gotten closer to God and gotten more intentional about reading and thinking about his word, I’ve discovered that plans aren’t just important to me. They are important to God! The more I read the Bible, the more clearly I see that God has an intricate plan for each one of us.

Reading the book of Jeremiah, I was really struck by how often God talks to Jeremiah about his plan. Jeremiah starts off his writing telling us that God had a plan for him - an intimate and amazing plan. Jeremiah says God spoke these words to him:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

- Jeremiah 1:5

Not only does God reveal that he has an individual plan for Jeremiah, he also tells Jeremiah that he has a plan for his people. Later on in the book he tells Jeremiah to pass this word along to the nation of Israel:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord , “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

- Jeremiah 29:11

Reading this book has been really interesting to me. What I’ve found is that God’s plan is often hard to swallow. His ways are so much higher than ours. While we often find ourselves wondering why he does things the way he does, we can’t possibly hope to understand all of the intricacies of his designs. His plans are bigger (and sometimes much more tiny in detail) than we can conceive.

Maybe this is why he so badly desires and pleasures in our complete trust in him. Maybe this is why he is so offended by our impetuous actions - our planning and moving without him. Maybe this is why he warns:

Woe to the obstinate children," declares the LORD, "to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit, heaping sin upon sin

- Isaiah 30:1

What I’ve learned from my time with God over the past weekend and the reading of Jeremiah is that God’s plan is infinitely important. In fact - it is the ultimate in importance. Because of that, my planning should always consist primarily of consulting God’s plans. This require an ever deepening humbleness to come under the directorship of God and subordinate what I want to what he wants. His plan is bigger and ultimately important. My plan better fall in line or the results of my planning will be ultimate failure.

As we go into this week, let’s pray together for God to outpour more of his grace into our lives. In that outpouring, let’s pray that we find grace to be more trusting and submissive to God’s plans. Let’s pray that we can learn to create our own plans in such ways that they always advance his plan. 

My mom's right - planning is very important. I'm just starting to understand just how important it is! 


  • How do I construct my plans?
  • Do I ever consider God’s plan when I am constructing my own?
  • Have there been times when my plans have ultimately failed? What was I planning toward? Did I consult God’s plan in those instances?
  • How do I go about synchronizing my plans with God’s?
  • What is the role of humility in my planning?

What are You Laughing At?

I hope your day is going fantastically well! The week’s off to a great start here in Richmond. This weekend was incredibly busy. As I noted last week, I spent time in Norfolk at studio with my band, recording over the weekend. I’m really excited about the music that’s come as a result of the work. 

This week is super slammed as well. Tonight, I’ll be singing at the National Anthem for the Flying Squirrels baseball game. If you’re in the RVA area and able to come out, please do! (Tickets for tonight’s game are here if you’re interested: Friday night, I'll be doing a concert tribute to Motown in Richmond as well. It's a benefit concert for Little League baseball fields in RVA. Tickets for that are here: 

This week’s email is all about an important question that has to do with our faith. When it comes to faith, there’s no greater case-study than the life of Abraham and that is exactly where today’s email finds root.

I’m pretty sure you already know about Abraham’s adventure with God. There’s a part of the story that is I find rather bizarre, though. A year ahead of Isaac’s birth, the Bible says that God made a personal visit to Abraham and his wife, Sarah. During the visit, something strange happened:

The men said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?”He said, “In the tent.” One of them said, “I’m coming back about this time next year. When I arrive, your wife Sarah will have a son.” Sarah was listening at the tent opening, just behind the man. Abraham and Sarah were old by this time, very old. Sarah was far past the age for having babies. Sarah laughed within herself, “An old woman like me? Get pregnant? With this old man of a husband?” God said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh saying, ‘Me? Have a baby? An old woman like me?’ Is anything too hard for God? I’ll be back about this time next year and Sarah will have a baby.” Sarah lied. She said, “I didn’t laugh,” because she was afraid. But he said, “Yes you did; you laughed.”

-Genesis 18:9-15

Bizarre, right? Sarah laughed at God’s promise! We have to take it easy on Sarah, though. She may not have known with whom she was speaking at the time. Then too, we have to bear in mind that Sarah and Abraham had been praying and following God’s instructions for a long time, with hopes of seeing the promise of a son come to fruition. They’d even tried to take matters into their own hands. Sarah had encouraged Abraham to father a child with her handmaiden, and he did. This wasn’t the promised son, God had committed to giving Abraham, though.

By this time, after all those years of trying to be obedient and sometimes trying to wrest control of the situation, themselves, things must have seemed hopeless - especially since the Bible says that both Abraham and Sarah were well past child-bearing years. Under normal circumstances Sarah’s laughter would seem perfectly reasonable. But, these weren’t normal circumstances. This wasn’t just some guy saying this to her. It was God!

So many times we find ourselves in Sarah-like situations. We know that there are promises that God has given us. So, we enthusiastically wait… at first. Then, we think “maybe God needs my help,” and we try to bring his promises into fruition on our own terms. Then, when we fail in our own attempts, we often find ourselves giving up hope. We often find ourselves throwing up our hands and letting the promises God has made fade to memory, or we start to question them. Was it him? Did he say that? That couldn’t have been his promise. If it were, it wouldn’t be taking so LONG!

We all have these Sarah moments from time to time. We all have these spaces in our lives where we’d just rather not hear about the promises anymore because hoping hurts too much! Deep down in our hearts, we feel hunger-like pangs every time we think about those promises. Sometimes we try to insulate ourselves against the discomfort of waiting and hoping by maintaining “healthy” doses of skepticism. Maybe that’s what Sarah did. Maybe that’s why she laughed.

Surely, we can relate to Sarah. How long had she waited for this promised son? How much had she and Abraham tried to conceive? How many years did she keep her hopes high that this would be the year when she would know the joy of conception and birth? How long had she waited? Now, when things seemed just about impossible, here was God bringing up that painfully hopeful promise again - this time with a timeline: one year. Maybe Sarah was all “hoped out” at this point. Maybe that’s why she laughed. Whatever the reason, she did. 

God, in all his glorious omniscience, saw right through Sarah. I find it interesting how he chose to deal with her unbelief. He didn't rebuke her. He simply asked why she was thinking the way she was. Then, he asked a more poignant question: “Is anything too hard for God?”

If we believe God has made us promises, we have to develop trust that he is faithful to see his word come to fruition. We will all have those moments when we slip into despondency and feel like the promises we’ve received are figments of our imaginations. We’ll have those moments, for sure. In those moments, the great challenge for us is to repeat the question that God posed to Abraham and Sarah: “is anything too hard for God?”

The answer of course is, no. The answer will always be no. In those spaces where our faith starts to sag under the weight of our perceived realities, we may have to rehearse this question over and over and over and over again. Every single time, the answer will be the same. Nothing is too hard for God! When we find ourselves chuckling internally in the face of seemingly absurd promises from God, this question should stop us in our tracks. It’s an eye-opening question that leads to another, in the context of this particular scriptural story

Simple Questions

Is anything too hard for God? No? Then what are you laughing at?

Destruction and Restoration

Happy Monday!

I hope you’re enjoying the start to your week, already. The sun is absolutely gorgeous here in RVA. I’m looking forward to getting out there and enjoying all of this glorious beauty!

Today’s inbox note is all about restoration.

In the 2nd chapter of John’s gospel, we find Jesus in the middle of a confrontation with some of his fellow Jews. Jesus had just completely disrupted the commerce that was taking place in the temple, and told the financiers and merchants who were doing business there to move out and not come back. The Jewish folks who were at the temple looked on with disdain and consternation. They demanded that Jesus prove his authority to take such radical action: “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” they asked him (2:18). Jesus replied:

“Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”

John 2:19

As I was reading this, initially, I found it rather weird that Jesus would make this statement in this context. I asked out loud “what are you talking about, Jesus!?” The scripture makes it clear that the Jews had no idea what Jesus was talking about, either. Not only that, but his disciples also were puzzled about what he said all the way up to his resurrection. Why did Jesus choose this temple analogy?

He starts off with an astonishing supposition - “destroy this temple.” What is astonishing to us, was probably out-right offensive to Jewish sensibility. They thought Jesus was speaking of the physical temple where they worshipped. You can imagine how taken aback they must have been. “Destroy this temple and I will raise it again in three days.” Why would Jesus say this?

The second time I read it over, I found some more clarity. Jesus’ analogy is actually assertion his authority based on his restorative power. Jesus restores!

There’s a connection between what was taking place in the temple and what Jesus was saying. The Jewish people were defaming the temple by turning it into a marketplace. They were desecrating the purpose of the temple. In casting out the vendors, Jesus restored the temple to it’s rightful place as a house of worship.

After he has restored proper order in the house of worship, Jesus makes his “Destroy this temple,” remark. Of course he isn’t talking about the building they’re all standing in. He’s talking about his body - the new tabernacle; the dwelling place of God. “Destroy this temple and I will raise it again in three days.”

If we look at what Jesus was doing and then pair it with what he was saying here, I think there’s a beautiful message for us about who Jesus is, and what he does in our lives. The fact is, our human nature is destructive. Sin is a part of who we are and it distorts, strains and ultimately annihilates our connection and right relationship to each other and God, too. Our natural human tendency is to destroy. Look around. You’ll see the proof all around!

After I read over this passage a few times I found myself truly overjoyed! What I see in this passage is Jesus saying: “your degenerative, destructive nature is no match for my restorative power!” Jesus restores - even in the most hopeless circumstances.

We’re human, full to the brim with inconsistencies and faults and doubt and meanness and self-centeredness and so much more ugliness than I could ever hope to put into words. All of this ugliness is constantly tearing away at the fabric of our lives. We do things to ourselves and to each other that are straight up wrong - even when we mean them not to be. We resist God and his direction. We go hard after our own interests without regard for others. Our intentions are often off center. 

We are terribly destructive creatures! But Jesus stood in the temple that day, after restoring it to proper order and proclaimed that he is the ultimate restoration! “Destroy this temple and I will raise it again in three days.” Jesus asserts that he can restore even those things that seem beyond repair.

What an amazing truth is this, that in him all things can be restored! Praise God for THAT!


  • Are there things in my life that I’ve destroyed and believe are beyond repair?
  • What does trusting Jesus for restoration look like? Am I looking for restoration on my terms or his?
  • Are there examples of restoration in my life? Have I seen Jesus fix relationships or circumstances? If so, how does that experience help my faith, now?
  • What am I trusting Jesus to restore in my life right now? Have I given the matter to him completely, or am I still trying to make it happen on my own?

Jesus Couldn't Do It

Did the subject line give you pause? I know it made me look twice when I initially read it. In my personal study and prayer time, I’ve been reading the Gospel according to Mark. As I read the first section of the 6th chapter, I found myself reading the words Jesus “could not.” I thought to myself… “Wait. That can’t be right. Jesus could not?” So I read it again…

Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.’ He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.”  - Mark 6:4-6

Astonishing, right? The Bible actually says Jesus wasn’t able to do miracles that He apparently wanted to do in His hometown. The Bible says the people didn’t believe in His authority or what He was saying to them. So, Jesus couldn’t.

When I read this I found myself wondering, how could it this be? How could Jesus’ ability to work be limited by anything? Is this a question of his power? That can’t be so. Jesus is the physical manifestation of God on earth - that means His power was limitless. So, no. This couldn’t be a revelation of Jesus (read God,) somehow not having ability or power to do something. Jesus is omnipotent - all powerful. 

So what is this? Why is it that Jesus couldn’t?

To put this in perspective, we take a look back into Mark 5 and the story of a sick woman who snuck into a crowd to touch Jesus and be healed of a sickness she’d had for over a decade. This is clearly an instance where Jesus could because the Bible says the woman was made whole. So, why is it that Jesus could for this lady, but He couldn’t  for the people back in Nazareth? If I’m reading this the right way, it’s because of a key word in both of these passages - in the story of the sick lady and in the story of His visit to His hometown. That word is faith.   

Jesus tells the sick woman “your faith has made you well.” (Mark 5:34). In other words, “I was able to heal you because of your faith.” In the story of His visit to his hometown, the Bible says there was a lack of faith. In fact, there was such an absence of faith that Jesus was “astonished.” (Mark 6:6). This is the difference between instances where Jesus could do miraculous things and instances where Jesus couldn’t do the miraculous things He wanted to do for people. 

Okay. So, this leads to another question, right? If your brain is like mine, then the next question is this: does faith make Jesus able? I prayed about this and this is what I got from my prayers…

Think about these three things: an electrical power station, a power line and a house. The power station is fully functional and it generating copious amounts of power. The power line connects the power station to the house; it provides a causeway for the power to move through. The house receives the power from the station through the power line, and enjoys the benefits of the electricity. If the house is not connected through the line, it doesn’t mean that the power station is somehow deficient! It means the owner of the house needs to tap into the power source!

To use Jesus’ own language: such is the kingdom of God!

God is the source of all power. When the Bible said Jesus “could not,” it isn’t because of a lack of His capacity. He was and is infinitely powerful! The issue was a lack of connection. In His hometown, there was no connection to the power source. Jesus “could not” because they would not connect with Him. Faith is the power line and they had no faith; no connection. So, much like the house who’s owner refuses to connect to the power supply, the people is Jesus’ hometown remained in the dark about who He was and what He could do for them. For the sick woman in the crowd, the opposite was true. Jesus could act on her behalf because she made a decision to connect to His capacity and power through faith.

Now, you and I may not be as disconnected as the people in Jesus’ hometown were, but I’ll speak for myself and say there are certain areas of my life that are disconnected. To continue with the power supply analogy, my house is connected but I haven’t plugged in all of my appliances! 

As we move through this week, let’s take a look around our lives. If we pay attention, I think we can find some stuff that needs to be plugged in. Maybe we need to plug in our financial appliance. Maybe we need to plug in our relationship appliances. Maybe we need to plug in our professional appliances.

Our God is a limitless supply of power. He is infinitely able. The question regarding what God can do in our lives is not at all a question of His capacity to do. It is a question of our willingness to connect to Him through faith. 

Here are some questions to help with our considerations this week: 

  • Is my proverbial “house” really connected to the source - God’s power - through faith?
  • If my “house” is connected to the power source, are all of my appliances plugged in? Are there areas of my life where I am operating without faith? 
  • Am I working harder to do things and make things happen in my life because I won't connect my life appliances to God's power supply? 
  • If all of the "appliances" in my life aren't plugged in, what might my life look like if I was to connect some of them to God's power through faith?