My Way

Frank Sinatra My way

“Alexa, play the Frank Sinatra station.”

Alexa’s my Amazon speaker-thingy.  You just tell it what you want to hear, and it provides the soundtrack for your life! This morning, I felt like some old standards.  This is what I got:

And now, the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain

Listening, I thought to myself, “this is such a good song.  An old classic.  Well written, and ole Blue Eyes really knows how to belt it out.”

I planned each charted course
Each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way

The words to the song, I just looked them up, were written by Paul Anka.  But the philosophy of life clearly belongs to that of the Chairman of the Board.

But through it all, when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall
And did it my way

The song is about a man, near the end of his life, looking back with pride. Every time life got tough, he made his own uncompromising decisions.  He did it “My Way”.

For what is a man, what has he got
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way

It was at this point that I decided to write this devotion.  Did you notice that this song is seriously missing something? There’s no leaning on God.  No leaning on others.  There’s no collaboration, no love.  There’s only a man standing tall.

And you know what?  That’s not enough.

I know lots of people who have graduated from the Frank Sinatra school of hard knocks.  They learned to keep their own interests front and center.  They learned not to trust others or accept much help.  They learned to be strong and determined and single-minded.  They aim to be King of the Hill, A-Number One, and they aim to do it “My Way”. But they don’t learn to trust in God’s way, and that means missing out on the greatest experience of life.

It’s a tricky thing, putting your faith in God’s hands, especially when the world keeps telling you to go it alone.  Even long-term Christians can struggle with this.

I went hunting for “my way” quotes from scripture.  Here are 4 that I found from the Psalms:

It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.  –Psalm 18:32

I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes. –Psalm 119:59

You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. –Psalm 139:3

When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who watch over my way.   –Psalm 142:3

Apparently there’s room for both “My Way” and God’s Way.   That balance between God’s sovereignty and Human agency is a mysterious one — humans have been asking about that theological question since day one.  I’m apt to think that we can be strong people of integrity who are guided in our steps, hearts, and minds by a loving God.  We can have it both ways.

When I get to the point in my life when I say, “And now the end is near…” I hope I sing a very different song about my life.  One filled with lots of harmony and inspiration and love, one that reminds me that if I keep God in my life…

I’ll never walk alone.

Have a great week,




Death by GPS

This week, I couldn’t recall the name of one of the streets in town.
It was Main Street.
Thinking about it, I realized that if you were to hand me a blank map of my small city, I would only be able to insert maybe six or seven street names.  If I had to tell someone how to get to my house using only the names of streets signs, I don’t know if I could do it!
What is going on with me?  I used to be really good at street names.  It’s as if my ability to match a name and a place has just shriveled up.  What gives?
And then the three-letter answer came to me:  GPS.
Global Positioning Satellites.  Somewhere up in the atmosphere there are lots of little contraptions orbiting the planet that, through my phone or my car, can tell me with pinpoint accuracy where I am, and where I’m going.  They do all that work for me. GPS has become such a part of my life that I’ve stopped paying attention to my surroundings.  Instead, I pay heed to the slightly British-accented woman’s voice telling me to “proceed to the route”.
Is it dangerous to rely too much on a GPS?  Turns out, it can be deadly.  I found this article from the Sacramento Bee, describing numerous cases of people following a malfunctioned or misread GPS out into Death Valley.  They became lost, didn’t know where to go, and in several cases perished because of it!
What if that’s me, minus the desert?  What if I’ve come to rely on the “eye in the sky” instead of my own vision, so much that my ability to see clearly has suffered from it?
Death by GPS is a real thing.  I wonder, what about death by Faith?  Placing so much faith into someone or something that you lose yourself.  I think it is possible.  I’ve seen people turn a blind eye to their own gifts and uniqueness, throwing their own agency away to the whims of God.
But God doesn’t work that way.
Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path.  –Psalm 119:105
See?  God doesn’t carry us over the finish line.  God helps us see where to go.  I like what C.S. Lewis had to say on the subject:
“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
― C.S. Lewis
God doesn’t require faith at the cost of agency.  Both are meant to go together.  God shines like a lamp, like a light, like the sun, and with faith’s help, we chart a course for our lives.
God illuminates our world, and nudges us to move.
Where do we go?  God may have a few ideas about that.
But it’s up to us to read the (street) signs.
Have a great week,

Life GPS




Your Word for 2018: THEOLOGY


Your Word for 2018: THEOLOGY

Well, it could be.

I know several folks who choose a word as their theme for each year.  I’ve done it myself.  One year my word was “Discipline”.  I know others who’ve chosen words like  “Happiness” or “Deliberateness”.  It’s kind of a nice substitute to the seldom-kept New Year’s Resolution.

May I suggest the word THEOLOGY as your word for this next year?  I think I’m going to make it mine.  It’s probably not the first word that might occur to you as an underlying theme for your life for the next 360+ days, but here’s why I think it should be:


I swear I’m not impugning your Christian IQ!  But as I’ve looked around this year, I’ve seen instance after instance of Christians who either don’t know what they believe, or why they believe it.  People claim deep seeded values and practices based on their faith, but they don’t have the understanding that goes with it!  Theology is the deliberate work of understanding God, God’s people, and God’s creation.


To be effective in ministry, we’ve got to know where we should be going and what we should be doing.  That’s what the Bible is for, right?  Absolutely, but there is so much history, translation, literary criticism, and deep symbolism involved that we need a road map to help us read our road map.  Theology helps us understand the Bible with more clarity, depth and meaning.


Christians, at our worst, spout values and morals with little thought to the ethical system behind them.  Jesus taught an ethic of service, acceptance, obedience, and action that calls for deeper refection than many of us give.  The more we study God, the stronger a foundation we have to launch our work in the world.


I think the worst Christians are know-it-alls.  As if every question has been answered, and every shadow has been illuminated. Not so!  The greatest theologians in history published volumes and volumes of their systematic theologies, but that did not mean they’ve “solved” theology.  There’s always more to understand about God.  There are theological concepts, problems, and approaches that you and I have never pondered.  These mysteries give a robustness to our faith, and challenge us as believers!


After writing these devotions for some fifteen + years, I look back at my writings and see too many of them summed up with a simple “God is Love” punchline.  While I suppose my faith could be summarized in those three words, there is so much more to say.  To that end, I plan to engage a deeper level of theology in my work going forward.  I want to share more study of this learning, direction, ethic, and mystery in my life and my work. 

How about you?  No matter what Word you pick (or don’t pick) for 2018, you can choose to be resolute in your journey to know God, God’s people, and God’s creation. 

Remember, the only qualification for being a Theologian… 

is being a Curious Christian.

Have a great week,


(If you’re interested in a place to start, here’s a bit of United Methodist theology:  A Few Methodist Basics)