Jackson Five Friday: Prayers and Prophets

Hey Friends,

I skipped last week because I was getting ready to go on the women’s retreat for my church.  I snapped the above pictures while I was there.  Any guesses where that is?  It’s actually at a state park in Guntersville, Alabama.  It’s the second time I’ve been there and both times I’ve thought that Alabama is kind of the Rodney Dangerfield of states.  It gets no respect.  I mean it gets a lot of respect for its college football teams, but people don’t much go around talking about how beautiful it is. Anyway it was a lovely time!

Today my mom would be seventy-eight years old.  I was thinking about her not just because it’s her birthday but because I read these words this morning: “a prophet speaks words of comfort and encouragement as prompted by the Holy Spirit.”  Using words of comfort and encouragement was one of my mom’s many gifts.  Sometimes I’d tell her about some situation in my life, or even some decision Will was facing at work.  Hours, or sometimes days later she’d call back: “You know I’ve been thinking about it,” she’d say.  Then she’d offer thoughtful and wise words of encouragement and comfort.

The devotional I was reading this morning also said that insight is the byproduct of intercessory prayer; “the more we pray, the more prophetic we will become.” (Mark Batterson)

Do you believe that?  I do.  In fact, for me 2019 has been a year of answered prayer.  I am humbled and awed by the ways my prayers have been answered this year, but I am also convicted.  When my prayers for others have been answered so definitively, so incredibly specifically, how can I not devote more time to praying?  What exactly would be a better use of my time?

I hope you too know the joy of answered prayer.

Come and hear, all you who fear God;
    let me tell you what he has done for me.
I cried out to him with my mouth;
    his praise was on my tongue.
If I had cherished sin in my heart,
    the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened
    and has heard my prayer.
Praise be to God,
    who has not rejected my prayer
    or withheld his love from me!  Psalm 66:16-20

Even with modern technology, the best way to capture life’s best moments is to write them down, and this certainly applies to answered prayers.  If you haven’t done so recently, why not sit down and journal about how God has answered your prayers in 2019.  I did that this past week and it was time well-spent.

With Love,



Jackson Five Friday: Less is More

Hey Friends,

I snapped this shot as I was walking in late to Bible study on Wednesday. The contrast between the flowers and the courtyard full of fog just stopped me in my tracks. And the church steeple is right there, but you can’t see it — surely a metaphor for the Holy Spirit Himself. I think it’s wise, living on a mountain, to try to appreciate a foggy day, but some days it’s easier than others. Thankfully, on occasions like this, fog’s claim on beauty is pretty convincing.

And honestly I’m glad I stopped to behold this scene, because like I said I was already running late. Hurry exacerbates our propensity to scurry past blessings but somehow I knew I should stop anyway. I’m trying hard to not pack in too much and to listen to the gentle guidance of the still small Voice. Still though, planning and effort do not always yield the intended result.

This morning I ended up taking Nate and Sam to school because Nate’s car was dead. Round trip is about forty minutes, and I had planned to park myself on the couch with my coffee and my new prayer journal. I had actually been looking forward to a blissfully free Friday morning, starting a new month with gratitude and quiet. Instead I threw on clothes and jumped in the car, but I hope I was cheerful and grace-filled about it. My stay-in-jammies morning was thwarted, but really, so what? Life is full of interruptions, and I’m slowly learning to be less wedded to my own agenda.

Have you ever noticed that there’s pretty much no tidbit of wisdom that you’ll ever hear that can’t be found in the Bible. Think about the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given, and then go try to find it in Proverbs. Boom, it’s there. Or maybe it’s in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount or somewhere else. But you can’t find “eliminate hurry” in a verse, as timeless as that advice is. In fact, Jesus tells Zacchaeus, “hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” Still, hurry isn’t a major theme, right? Pshaw!

“Do not hurry” is not a verse in the Bible because it was part of Creation itself. God rested on the seventh day. His nature and first earthly act — breathing the created order into existence — incorporated savoring and not hurrying. And observing the Sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments. So, in a sense, not hurrying is one of the most fundamental tenets of biblical Christianity. How are you doing? Are you savoring and resting and giving thanks, or are you spinning your wheels to the point of exhaustion?

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning — the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. Genesis 1:31-2:3

The Sabbath itself is the very epitome of “less is more.” May we live it out, this weekend and always.



Jackson Five Friday: Divine Appointments and Obedience

Hey Friends,

Do you believe in divine appointments? I do. In fact, if we have eyes to see and ears to hear, divine appointments and messages are all around us.

Last month I went on a hike with a friend. It was one of those “we finally did it” kind of things. I first met this friend before I moved to Tennessee at the end of 2015. She made a huge impression on me from the first meeting, and one time probably more than three years ago she said, “we should go for a hike sometime.” We share a mutual love for a nearby park with lots of trails, but when we finally followed through on our hike, she took me to a new place that she frequents. We took two of her sweet dogs along, one lead the way for her and the other followed right behind her. The dog that followed hardly knew what to do with me. It looked up at me like, “Okay this is awkward. Are you right on her heels or am I?”

I had some big things happening in my life that week and I felt like I talked her ear right off. I hate that regrettable over-sharing feeling. But anyway, we had a lovely time and thankfully I didn’t do all of the talking.

Because she ended up telling me about how powerfully God had answered her prayers when she read and prayed through the book, Draw the Circle, with her husband. Right then I told her, “Oh I’m going to order that book.” I just knew it was a divine message for me. But, did I order the book? No, I didn’t.

Days slipped by, then weeks. I didn’t order the book. But God sometimes sends reminders. Last week the author of the book, Mark Batterson, was interviewed on That Sounds Fun, which is the podcast of Annie F. Downs. I promptly ordered the book. In fact, I’ve ordered it for a couple of friends as well.

Here’s a quote I’ve already come across, “We can’t plan God-ordained opportunities. All we can do is seize them.” So true, and I can testify that you feel a lot more content when you seize them.

Do you have something you know you are supposed to do because the still small voice of God told you to? Maybe it’s as easy as ordering a book, or maybe it’s something a lot heavier.

“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” James‬ ‭4:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

May we make obedience to doing the next right thing a priority this weekend and always!

With Love,


Jackson Five Friday: “I See You”

Hey Friends,

I’ve been thinking about the many pitfalls of social media. It can fuel envy and comparison. It can lead to an identity rooted in the approval of others. It can falsely reduce the complexity of life, and make it appear like some people have it all together. They don’t. Social media can also flat out lie to you.

A lie I’ve seen a lot recently is “I see you.” The thrust of the statement is that the forgotten or lonely or oppressed or struggling are recognized by some influencer. It’s one thing to say, “Newborn Mamas, I feel you. Getting up to feed and change baby every two hours is exhausting. Trust me it’s going to get better!” No matter the severity of the struggle, sincere sentiments like “I’ve been there” and “I get it” and “You are not alone” are comforting. But “I see you” is different. I realize it’s an expression, but the fact is the person doesn’t “see” you at all. They are on a device somewhere and your personal crisis is wholly unknown to them. I don’t think we were designed to offer theoretical comfort, to be burdened for others in such a detached, impersonal way. Nor do I think we can be satisfied with such comfort.

The more loving thing to say, is the truth: “God sees you.” He knows all about it. He loves you no matter what and He cares about your situation and your feelings. He not only literally sees you, He will never leave you nor forsake you.

The “I see you” bloggers could also offer the wisdom that is actually needed: “I wish I could help, but you need a face-to-face encourager. Get involved in a local church. Don’t just anonymously attend a Sunday service. Join a small group or a Bible study. Go to Sunday School. Go to Wednesday night dinners. No matter how hard it is at first, continue to seek real biblical community where you can be seen, loved, and understood. It is not always easy, but it’s always worth it. Find a church that is serious about loving its people and plant yourself there.”

The corollary is that if we truly desire to “see” hurting people, we’ll stop posting about it and go see them. Be the shoulder to cry on, the attentive listener, the speaker of truth that the hurting actually need. Being there for someone in their hour of need, or more likely in their intermittently needy life, is not always easy but it’s always worth it. Find a church that is serious about loving people and serve there.

Technology can be used for good. I’ve been writing this blog for more than eleven years and through it I hope I’ve spurred others on. I’ve certainly been spurred on by readers and commenters, and my posts are mostly reminders directed at me. But relationships based in technology cannot be primary. We need in-the-flesh relationships. We grow closer to Jesus in the midst of the body, the physical body, of believers.

“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.”” ‭‭2 Chronicles‬ ‭16:9a‬ ‭

His loving eyes go to and fro, He stands at the door of your heart and knocks. But I hope you also have Christian friends who will see you and love you this weekend and always.


Jackson Five Friday: Weigh-In Culture

Hey Friends,

Have you had a good week? My Monday started with a green smoothie spill in the passenger seat, which is really not how you want to kick things off, but things trended more positively after that. But I will admit many aspects of our culture bring me down more than cleaning up a smoothie.

For example, I find the incessant weighing in on everything exhausting. And I don’t mean weighing in like at Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers. I mean how many people compulsively weigh in on daily events. I imagine it stems in part from social media, and all the liking and hearting. But what does it say about us that endorsing or condemning is now the norm on every little thing?

In a viral obsessed society, if a public figure says something worthwhile, there’s a rush to re-post. Oh yes I am for that. Yessiree, I am for that.

Granted this is undoubtedly preferable to the converse: someone somewhere says something objectionable and it’s like hungry horses racing for the barn. Everybody and their brother needs to weigh in. I am anti that. Oh my gosh, so offensive, so misguided, so uneducated. I condemn that, believe you me!

Forgive the irony, as I sit here using words to weigh in on the rabid weighing in, but I think our lives should speak for themselves. Unless I’m talking to you face-to-face about some issue in the public domain, I hope I am unlikely to condemn or condone much of anything. I condone Jesus and anything that points to Him. But I hope and pray my life reflects that without using a single syllable, verbal or written.

Please Lord let my life –my calendar, my prayer journal, my bank accounts, my choices, my values–reflect You. Help my life to speak so clearly and loudly that I don’t need to use words. Well, except here on my weekly blog. But even then Lord let my words be authentic, let them to somehow reflect You, even though I am the worst of sinners.

May all of us use words to bless others in real life relationships and not to rely on the impersonal means available to us through modern technology. This weekend pat someone on the back or hug them tight instead of liking a post or pic. Let your investment of time, money and talent illustrate your views, knowing that actions not only speak louder than words, actions accomplish a heck of a lot more.

“When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” Proverbs‬ ‭10:19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” ‭‭1 John‬ ‭3:18‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Let’s cherish deeds over words, and truth and love always,


Jackson Five Friday: Treadmill Worship

Hey Friends,

Do you listen to a lot of Christian radio? I tend to go in cycles. I love all kinds of music, but if I’m in a rut then listening to Christian music always helps. Yesterday I spent very little time in the car, but heard the song Symphony twice. It’s impossible to listen to that truth without it impacting you.

In the last week I’ve implemented a different kind of encouragement. In September we got DirecTV, which for the first year includes Sunday Ticket (every NFL game that is played is available for my four fans to watch). There has been an outpouring of praise and adoration over this. From the boys’ perspective it sounds like calling DirecTV was my most shining moment. And I don’t even watch TV. I hardly know how to turn it on, and cannot tell you the number of a single channel. I did try it pay attention when the install guy was here so I could pass on some tips to the boys. As the guy was scrolling through the guide screen something popped out at me: The Hillsong Channel. I did not know such a channel existed but last week I found it, blared it and watched it from the treadmill. It was a worship service for which I did not know a single song, which I found pretty odd because I know a ton of Hillsong songs.

But how cool to combine exercise and praise — two of life’s surest mood boosters! Technology is insane. I can be in the privacy of my own home, running and belting out tunes with sold-out Aussie believers. The lyrics are right there on the screen and I can measure my heart rate while wearing the dumbest looking get-up in history. I have no excuse for not carving out time to exercise every day.

After all, if my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, and it is, then taking time to care for it is imperative. Plus caring for your body shows how God’s design and commands intertwine. You do something for one reason: take care of your body because it literally houses the Holy Spirit, but the benefits are far reaching. For starters you physically feel better, you physically look better, your brain is clearer, and you have more energy. Similarly, you may look at the Ten Commandments as restrictive but if you live them you quickly see that it’s the same thing as exercise: obedience brings a whole host of benefits. God wants what’s best for us. Treating our bodies as temples is what is best.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭6:19-20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Please God help me to do a better job of living out Your will for my life. Help me to remember I was bought at a price. Help me to glorify you in all I do.

Hope your weekend includes some calorie-burning praise!

With Love,


P.S. The picture of the green smoothie above was consumed while writing this post. It was as delicious as the view is beautiful. Come see me and I’ll blend you one.

Jackson Five Friday: Your Continuous Loop

Hey Friends,

Hope you’ve had a wonderful week. I snapped the picture above on a trial called The Western Rim. It loops around the western side of a canyon with various overlooks along the way. It was stunningly beautiful on Monday and will only get prettier in the weeks ahead; it’s tempting to hike it almost on a continuous loop.

Do you ever feel like some issue in your life is on a continuous loop in your head? Maybe it’s something someone said that crushed your spirit, maybe it’s some injustice that was done to someone you love, maybe it’s worry about a health issue, or a longing that is yet unfulfilled. Bitterness, worry and disappointment all seem to have the Disney FastPass on the Continuous Loop thrill ride that runs in our heads. But it’s not exactly magical, is it? On the contrary, it’s a foolproof recipe for misery.

But you know what we sometimes forget? We forget that we are the gatekeepers of the ride. We get to decide what thoughts get on that continuous loop. Imagine yourself standing at the entrance and turning away everything toxic.

“Excuse me, Worrywart, I’m afraid you aren’t an approved rider. Bitterness, sorry, try the Teacups. You can’t ride…Attention all guests, attention all guests, please read the requirements for this ride found in Philippians 4:8. If you are not specifically mentioned, please promptly proceed to the exit.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians‬ ‭4:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Really what we can and should have on continuous loop is thankfulness. The happiest place on earth, from a mental and spiritual perspective, is invariably full of gratitude. May we be full of gratitude for all that is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent or worthy of praise. May we give thanks without ceasing.

This past week I have had various things that have been embarrassing, discouraging, and worrisome, and I’ve let the wrong kind of thoughts replay in my mind. But a friend’s text set me straight.

“You can’t do this in your own strength but you know the One who can! Stay close to Jesus and He will comfort and heal your heart.”

I hope you too have a sweet friend who will guide you back to the truth. Romans 12:2 is an apt reminder that we are the gatekeepers of our minds.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:2 NIV‬‬

Praying that you’ll be discerning about what thoughts get airtime in your mind. Remember Gratitude isn’t ever in the FastPass lane, you’ll have to go and grab her. Strap her in tight and enjoy the ride!