Going Freestyle

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So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?” Exodus 15:24

Let me tell you. Olive Garden will refill your iced tea quicker than you can drink it.  Carlos O’Kelly’s has gigantic 32oz tumblers that they’re more than happy to fill with Diet Mountain Dew.  A Route 44 Arnold Palmer from Sonic never fails to hit the spot.

Good stuff, one and all, but these can’t compare to Freestyle.  It’s been around for about a decade, I’d guess, so there’s a good chance you’ve seen it.

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It is, as I like to call it, an amusement park for thirsty people.   And I am a thirsty person.

Freestyle boasts 100+ drink options, and I’ve likely tried them all. The possibilities are only limited by the room my internal organs can set aside for liquid.  Let’s see…

I’ll start with something fruity and exotic, maybe Dasani sparkling cherry&Minute Maid lemonade&Fuze unsweet tea.  Ahhh.  Then something a little more traditional:  Coke Zero&Barq’s crème soda.  Nice. And then, something in the flavored ginger ale oeuvre.  Freestyle is a marvel of the modern world.

I should mention, however, that there is no Living Water button on the Freestyle.  So if you’re looking to meet a spiritual thirst, you may be out of luck.

Where today can somebody get their hands on Living Water?  The Hebrews complained about it enough so Moses gushed some out of a rock.  Jesus offered some to the woman at the well.  And whoever wrote the 23rd Psalm sounds like they got good and quenched.

What about us?  It’s funny, but when I think about Living Water, a spiritual experience of the Holy Spirit, Freestyle seems just too….Freestyle to me.  Too much flexibility, and sugar and aspartame and caffeine and weird stuff I can’t pronounce.

When I think about whetting my whistle with Living Water, interesting places spring up in my mind:  1)  Drinking from a Garden Hose, as a kid.  2) That 1-in-a-thousand drinking fountain with the perfect combination of temperature, pressure, and arc.  3) Cool water from a mountain stream, drunk right from my cupped hands. None of those places were labeled “Living Water”…but I just knew.

What about you?  Where have you found Living Water?  I suppose it doesn’t have to be water, we’re really talking about the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but my thirstiness ties the two notions together for me much like the scriptures do.  So where you do you drink of the Spirit?

I realize that what my life needs is to be Structured, more than Freestyled.  That doesn’t mean I’ll give up the occasional Lemonade&Raspberry PowerAde&Mello Yellow concoction.  It just means that, deep down, I’ll pay attention to my thirst for the singular, elemental, spiritual guidance of God most of all.

It comes in just one flavor:


Have a great week,


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What’s Your Sanctuary?

At a recent meeting, our church staff was asked to share a place that was a sanctuary to them.

The answers were so lovely, I asked the staff if I could share them.

Here’s my paraphrase of what they said.

Now, don’t just read these.  Take a deep breath, and put yourself in these places:

What’s Your Sanctuary?



“When I was just starting out, training to be a teacher, there was this little chapel I’d go to.  And I told myself, I’m starting out simple, like this chapel. Who knows where this journey will take me.  Sure enough, 8 years later, I found myself back in that chapel, but heading on to new parts of my life.”

What’s Your Sanctuary?


“On Christmas Eve we’d go from our church, playing bells, to my grandparent’s house, where we sang hymns, and then to my grandparent’s church, where we’d all sit together.  There were so many family members, we filled up an entire row.”

What’s Your Sanctuary?


“The church where I grew up had a loud, booming preacher.  He would really get everybody’s attention.  I still remember him, when I get stressed out, passionately hollering, ‘SURELY GOODNESS AND MERCY SHALL FOLLOW ME ALL THE DAYS OF MY LIFE!”

What’s Your Sanctuary?


“I think about the Garden of the Gods in Colorado. It makes me remember my days of rock climbing.  I think of rock climbing as so spiritual.  You get part of the way up there, and there’s no going back.  You just have to overcome the fear and keep moving.”

What’s Your Sanctuary?


“Here, at this church, the first time I ever went to a Taize service.  It was so calm and peaceful.”

What’s Your Sanctuary?


“On my college campus there was a door at the library that I’d never been through.  One day I opened the door and discovered this tiny little chapel.  Just a tiny narrow room with a high ceiling and half-pews.  There was a small window cut into the front wall, and light drifted down onto the altar.  It was this little place of awe in the midst of all the business going on around.”

What’s Your Sanctuary?


“For me, it’s a campground.  Spot #5 at Melvern lake.  Sometimes I’ll go there and do some work, and then take a break, and maybe swim, and just relax.  Lots of times there’s no one else around.  I’ve already told my kids that’s where I want my ashes sprinkled.”

What’s Your Sanctuary?

110 “As a teenager, I was playing music for a Maundy Thursday service at my church.  I was up in the choir loft, playing, looking down as groups of 12 people at a time came into the sanctuary to experience the last supper.  I played these wonderful hymns, and cried as I watched.”

What’s Your Sanctuary?


“My grandparents had an old grove on their land.  It was where, for some reason, all of our old cars went to die.  There were 57 Chevy’s, T-Birds, all kinds of cool cars.  Me and my cousins would go out there and play hide and seek.  Other times, though, I’d go out there by myself, and read my Bible, and pray.”

What’s Your Sanctuary?


“Listening to all of these, I feel like someone can worship God anywhere.  For me, I think of a time I was at a Promise Keeper’s rally at Arrowhead.  50,000 men all singing in the pouring rain.  I also think of this path down by the creek on my land, by myself.  And I think of a room full of people going through recovery together.”

Every one of these evoked in me a sense of awe.  Just like it says in Psalm 96:6

Honor and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary

So that’s how a roomful of people at my church answered the question.

How about you?

What’s Your Sanctuary?

And have you made plans to spend some time there?

Have a great week,