Have you ever wondered why we are promised peace that “surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7 NKJV)? Why aren’t we just promised peace? Wouldn’t that be enough?

I was driving home from Atlanta yesterday and was really raging on the inside over some issues. As I was driving, I received an email note on my BlackBerry from a friend that said that for some reason the Holy Spirit had laid me on his heart and he was praying for me right then. (Side note – isn’t technology wonderful! I can be on the interstate in Georgia and instantly receive an encouraging word from a friend! I love it!). My friend was praying for peace. He didn’t know if I was even going through anything, but God told him to pray for peace for me and he obeyed.

I got off the interstate, sent a response, and after a short break I got going again. You know what? The rest of my drive was, yep, peaceful. The great thing was that I didn’t even realize it until I was almost home. I hadn’t thought about my situation much, and I certainly wasn’t raging anymore. God had answered his prayer.

So, how does that relate to Philippians 4:7? We love to quote that verse and tell people that are going through tough times that God is there and will grant us peace. But what about that second part. Let’s look into it…

First, we have to go back to verse 6. Simply put, in order to receive the peace we have to be praying. Even more we have to pray thankfully (see previous post). Once we are doing that, then we are promised peace. But not just any peace. It is 1) the peace of God, and 2) this peace will surpass all understanding.

So what is the “peace of God”? The Greek word peace here is eirene. The verb form of that word means “to join”. The peace part is certainly the traditional form of peace – no war, tranquility, etc. However, there is a deeper meaning to this word. To quote Strong it means “the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is.” Wow. Read that again. Whatsoever sort of your earthly lot. That pretty much covers all the bases, and we are quick to point out how this relates to our physical well-being, but don’t gloss over that first part! You must first be assured of your salvation. That’s where the joining part comes in. You can never have the peace of God if you aren’t first joined with God through Christ. When you are joined with God, through Christ, you have nothing to fear because Christ already paid the price for you. So why would you be worried about stuff here on earth? You can only have peace if your eyes are fixed on God!

And what about the “surpasses all understanding” part? This Greek word nous refers to the ability to sense spiritual and divine things. It’s a “sixth sense” perception that allows one to recognize good and hate evil, and have the discernment to avoid the evil. We obtain the peace of God, first, by having a relationship with Him thorough Christ, and, second, by being in tune with everything that is good and right in this world and not focused on the bad.

So, if we are to focus on good things, what does that look like? Continue on to verse 8. We tend to separate these groups of verses, but they are all related. Paul gives us the formula by telling us how to hone this “sixth sense” by thinking on things that are noble, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. We won’t break those down here, but you get the idea. Paul goes on to tell the Philippians that if they think on these things, and model themselves after him, inferring that he thinks on these things, then he once again promises the peace of God.

What does that mean for us? My situation above is a perfect example. My peaceful rest of the ride home wasn’t necessarily divine intervention in the sense that God reached down into my brain and re-wired my thoughts (not that I’m limiting God!). What really happened was that I, with God’s help for sure, changed the focus of my thoughts. I no longer dwelled on what was bothering me, but I thought about other things, good things, and that brought me peace. What we have to do is make that a natural habit. We have to be so joined with God that we are only in tune to the good in our lives and not the bad. It has to become second nature, involuntary. Referring back to Strong, it has to be a function of our soul.

One final note. Nowhere in this passage does God say that He will supernaturally remove you from your circumstances, or will remove the circumstance from you. He doesn’t promise a solution, He promises peace. Why? How will we ever learn to rely on Him if we know that He will simply bail us out of our predicament? You see, we tend to run to these verses when things go wrong. What we forget is that this isn’t a balm, this is lifestyle! If we don’t allow this type of behavior to control us, we will always be a victim of our circumstances and we will never have relief from our misery. Paul even tells us in verse 7 that what happens when this becomes a lifestyle is that this peace of God will guard our hearts and minds. In other words, we will never have to fear discouragement again! This deep spiritual perception about things will take over and we will always think on the good things. My peaceful drive didn’t come because my situation changed. I still don’t have hope in that sense. But what I do have is the ability to remember what God has done for me, what good there is my life, and simply focus all of my attention on those things. Then, and only then, will I have the “peace of God which surpasses all understanding”.

P.S. – Thank you to Wayne Kinde for listening to the Holy Spirit and acting on it. You were the inspiration for this post, my friend.


There are varying degrees of disappointment.

You go to the ice cream shop and they are all out of Rocky Road and you have to settle for Turtle Tracks. Disappointed? Of course you are.

On the other extreme, you are expecting something big and get next to nothing. It’s the classic ending to Christmas Vacation. Clark Griswold is expecting a huge Christmas bonus. He’s been planning on it, and has even started spending it. What did he get? Enrolled in the Jelly-of-the-Month Club. What follows can’t be repeated here, but suffice it to say after blowing his top, all Clark can lament is “Where’s the Tylenol?” Disappointed? Understatement of the century.

I had a disappointment last week. Our pastor is very fond of reminding us that when things go awry you will always speak out of the abundance of your heart (Luke 6:45). When you are faced with disappointment how you react shows a lot about your inward character. I must say I wasn’t very proud of myself this week.

It just seems that you can only take so much. Clark Griswold didn’t fly off the handle because this was his first disappointment. After a series of let-downs you just come to the tipping point, to borrow a marketing phrase. It’s the proverbial pressure cooker. It builds and builds and builds, and the whole time you are keeping your composure because you want to maintain the image that you have everything under control, but eventually it’s too much and the top blows right off and all that you had pent up inside you comes spewing out. Not a pretty picture.

Now, I’m not sure that in situations like this you are really showing your true colors. I mean, let’s face it, you did keep your composure all the other times you were disappointed. My question is how do you strike the balance? How do you express frustration without becoming a raving lunatic? Proverbs 29:11 says that “A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back (NKJV)”. So what is the answer?

The Hebrew word for “feelings” in the above verse is ruwach and has the connotation of spirit or, better, wind. Even more specifically, air or gas. It also has the connotation of vain or empty. You guessed it. The fool here is a windbag, or as we would say “full of hot air”. The other key word in the verse is “all”. Another inference we can make from the word ruwach is an uncontrollable impulse. Therefore, the fool is one who, without thinking it through or being careful, opens his mouth and lets everything uncontrollably come out of his mouth. It’s the action, not the attitude. A fool can have the most sincere motivation, but no discernment, so they say the first thing that comes to mind and keeps going without thinking.

For the answer we have to take a look at the second part of the verse. The proverb doesn’t just tell us who not to model, but tells who we should model. It tells us that the wise man holds back his feelings. Isn’t that contrary to everything we have ever learned though? Doesn’t modern psychology tell us that we need that venting in order to keep from blowing our top like Clark Griswold at the end of the movie? That we need a confidant that we can share all these feelings with? I don’t think that is what the proverb is saying at all.

Shabach is the Hebrew word used for the phrase “holds them back”. This is the only time that it is translated this way. It is translated more times as “praise”. Other words it is translated into that are similar are “glory” and “triumph”. What can we learn from this? I believe it’s all about PMA – Positive Mental Attitude. Not in the look-in-the-mirror-and-tell-yourself-that-you-believe-in-yourself attitude. If that is what you are doing, you are looking the wrong direction. The praise, glory, and triumph the word shabach implies is directed toward God. One other way the word is translated is “still” (where the connotation for “keep it in” comes into play). What does that mean? I think it means that our hearts need to be directed to God in quiet praise. We soothe our hearts by constant thankfulness to God for everything we have.

Why do we blow our top? Because we are focused too much on what we didn’t get instead of what we have. I didn’t get what I wanted this week, but I got something. Thank God. I didn’t get anything, but I already have enough. Thank God. I was wronged for no reason, but I’m alive and healthy. Thank God. I’ve had the carpet under my life ripped from underneath me, but I have people around me to help me. Thank God. No matter what is happening we have to constantly remind ourselves that in Christ we have something.

If you have never been to a Seder Feast you need to go to one. The Passover Seder is a Jewish ritual that commemorates the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt. During the Seder there is a section where praise is given to God for the favor He has shown us. There is a Hebrew word used in this section – dayenu. Dayenu means “it is sufficient”, or “it is enough”. Over and over again we are reminded that if God had only done one thing during the Exodus, it would have been enough. If God had only parted the sea, it would have been enough. If God only allowed the Jews to cross on dry land, it would have been enough. If God had only fed them manna, it would have been enough. All of these blessings are recounted as a way to show how God did abundantly more. But it’s the attitude to take notice of here. If God had only done one of these things, it would have been enough! Can you share that attitude? If God only gave you shelter, would it be enough? If God only gave you food for today, would it be enough? If God gave you a portion of what you were expecting (or thought you deserved), would it be enough? That is our problem – we constantly doubt our Heavenly Father who provides us everything, but somehow it’s still not enough for us!

If you want to know why you are constantly disappointed, and why every expectation you have is not met, look at your heart. Are you in constant quiet praise for what God has done for you, or are you constantly grumbling in your heart that you don’t have enough so that it eventually comes to a head and you erupt like a volcano? It is this kind of positive mental attitude that will keep you from disappointment. In this life, God has given you something. Rest in the fact that no matter what it is, it is enough.

Shameless Promotion

I don’t want to turn anyone off with a bunch of promotion about upcoming Thomas Nelson product, however this time I just can’t help it.

Yesterday we released a new audio project called The Word of Promise. Here is the description of the product:

A 20-hour, 20-CD, diverse star-studded audio Bible production of The New Testament. This multi-voiced faithful rendering of the NKJV New Testament is presented in a compelling, dramatic audio theater format.

The arresting world-class audio production immerses listeners in the dramatic reality of the Scriptures as never before. Complete with an original music score by prolific Italian composer Stefano Mainetti ( Abba Pater ), Contributions by Dove Award winners Michael W. Smith and Rebecca St. James, and ambient sound effects that are woven together with compelling narration by Michael York, the Bible comes to life for a new generation. The post-production, sound design and Foley (sound effects) are produced, engineered and mixed at Cerny American Creative in Chicago-an award-winning post-production facility ranked in the Top 3 in the nation for sound design.

Cast includes:

  • Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ, Déjà vu) – Jesus
  • Michael York (Romeo & Juliet, Austin Powers) – Narrator
  • Academy Award winner Richard Dreyfuss (Mr. Holland’s Opus, The Goodbye Girl) – Quotes from Moses
  • Academy Award winner Marisa Tomei (My Cousin Vinny, What Women Want) – Mary Magdalene
  • Golden Globe winner Stacy Keach (Prison Break, Hemingway) – Paul
  • Academy Award and Golden Globe winner Lou Gossett, Jr (An Officer and a Gentleman, Roots) – John
  • Terence Stamp (Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Superman II) – Voice of God
  • Kimberly Williams-Paisley (According to Jim, Father of the Bride) – Mary, Mother of Jesus
  • Golden Globe and Tony Award nominee, Lou Diamond Phillips (La Bamba, Young Guns) – Mark
  • John Heard (Prison Break, Home Alone) – Matthew
  • Ernie Hudson (Miss Congeniality, Ghostbusters) – Peter
  • TV Guide’s TV’s 25 Greatest Teen Idols honoree Luke Perry (Beverly Hills 90210, Jeremiah) – Judas & Stephen
  • John Schneider (Smallville, Dukes of Hazzard) – James
  • Chris McDonald (Happy Gilmore, Quiz Show) – Luke

To give you a better idea, here is a video from GodTube:

I have heard a lot of this project and it is truly powerful. It is virtually word-for-word the New King James Bible (there are some “scripting” elements to it to make the text flow better, like eliminating phrases “and he said”, etc.), so it really lends itself to us for memorization. Or, just sit back and experience the Scripture like never before. If you have surround sound, even better! It’s like listening to a movie!

I hope you don’t mind the pitch, but I just had to share! Let me know if you any of you want to know more.


Life and Whitewater Rafting

So, my friend Randy not so subtly pointed out that Spring has sprung and we are now into summer and there have been no updates to the blog. First of all, YEA! Someone actually does check our blog! 🙂 Second, whew! Here is a quick rundown of the last 6-8 weeks:

  • I started my new job (which has kept me busy)
  • Melinda has quit her job (which, believe it or not, has kept her busy)
  • Melinda has been taking some early education classes
  • The girls finished up school
  • Melinda’s gandmother passed away
  • We went on vacation to Colorado

These are just the highlights of what has been robbing our time lately. We will post details and pictures of our Colorado trip, but one of the activities we were able to enjoy was a whitewater rafting trip on the Colorado River.

It’s interesting the parallels between the instructions we were given in case we fall in and our life lately. When we hit the water there were several Class IV rapids at the beginning. We were told that if we fall out the only thing you can do is put your feet out in front of you (like you are sitting in a recliner), hold your head up high, and float to calmer water where the boat would come get you and pull you in. Oh, and try and aviod the rocks! That pretty much sums up our life lately! We have been holding our head high, letting the river take its course, and avoiding the rocks. But, calmer water is ahead and we are waiting for the boat to come pick us up.

Thank you for being patient. Look for a vacation update soon. We are waiting for our pictures to be developed (our digital camera broke, so we took film cameras on our trip) and will post a slide show.

Keep checking back or, better yet, sign up to receive an email whenever we post something. Sign up is on the left!

Spring Fever

The dogwoods are blooming, the grass is green, the oak tree in the front yard is bursting with leaves. Ah! Spring time! I never understood why you made new year resolutions in the month of January. You are entering the darkest, coldest part of the year. There is nothing environmentally that even remotely evokes a spirit of change. Spring, however, is the complete opposite. Birds sing loudest. Bugs buzz with vigor. People clean house. It’s all about freshness and newness.

Which brings me to the subject of today’s post: I have a new job. Like the proverbial 800 pound gorilla in the room, it looks/sounds funny just seeing it there out in the open, but it’s true.

I have been with Thomas Nelson for almost five years now. I started off as a freelancer and four titles later I am currently a Senior Acquisitions Editor. All of this time I have been in the area of digital publishing – turning the books Thomas Nelson creates (specifically Bibles and Bible Reference products) into electronic versions. I have served passionately in this area the entire time. While here I have managed (and created) many top-selling software titles, and brought new strategies and relationships to Thomas Nelson. My heart, however, has always been in the relationship business. I love to be in front of people and talking with them and helping them see how what we have can help them. Hence the change…

Starting Monday the 16th I will be a Regional Sales Manager for Nelson Ministry Services. This division handles all of the sales to our author and large church partners. I will be covering the southeast helping authors such as Charles Stanley, Hank Hanegraaff, and John Maxwell just to name a few. I will be working with churches and ministries of all sizes, to help match Thomas Nelson product with their strategies to grow their ministries.

It’s an exciting new venture, and I am most pleased that I can do it while still working for the largest Christian publisher in the US. Please pray for me as I transition. There is a lot to finish in my current position, and a lot to learn in my new one. Pray that I finish well here, and can start off running over there. More importantly pray I never forget that even though I am in sales, that my primary job is putting tools in the hands of people so that they can better understand God’s Word. That, above all, is my purpose.


Spam Blog

The last entry about my sprain took a few days to actually post. I could write it as a draft, but when I attempted to publish it I got a message that our blog had been blocked by a spam-prevention tool because it appeared to be a “spam blog”. What in the world is a spam blog? They had a handy link that explained it all:

The ease of creating and updating webpages with Blogger has made it particularly prone to a form of behavior known as link spamming. Blogs engaged in this behavior are called spam blogs, and can be recognized by their irrelevant, repetitive, or nonsensical text…

If that last statement doesn’t accurately describe this blog, I have no idea what does! 🙂


Off Balance

O.k. – this settles it. Scott must lean to the left. Literally, not politically.

This past Saturday we watched our pastor’s kids at our house. It was a beautiful spring day. Kids, a beautiful day, and Scott trying to keep up all spells disaster! While playing hide-and-seek, and chasing a much faster eight year-old to base, Scott rolled his foot over and sprained his ankle. Time to go inside!

He sat on the couch for a while and called to Melinda to check on whatever was beeping in the kitchen. She called him a wimp and asked why he couldn’t check it himself. He called her over and showed her why. At this point his ankle was swollen and the pain was increasing. It was off to the emeregency room.

Final prognosis was a sprain (thankfully, it wasn’t broken). When Scott asked what exactly that meant he was given this quote – “If anyone ever tells you they sprained their ankle and are back playing basketball the next day, they didn’t really sprain their ankle. “Real” sprains involve torn ligaments”. Although only an MRI would tell how bad the damage was, the doctor figured this was the case here. He was fitted with a large “boot” to walk around in and has to follow up with our regualr doctor this week.

The irony is that it is his left foot. You may remember he broke his left collar bone almost a year and a half ago (also trying to capture some long lost glory of his youth) so, he must have a tendancy to fall to his left.

The moral of this story? Same as last time – leave the running to the eight year olds. From now on Scott can referee from the sidelines!

15 Seconds

Scott isn’t the only one in the limelight these days! Jessica is enjoying some fame via an article in the newspaper about her class at school. It wasn’t on the web, so below is a scan of the actual article (to read it, just click for a larger image):

Today the class went on their “special field trip surprise”. They went to Chick-fil-A for lunch, then they were off to meet the Mayor of Murfreesboro, go to the top of the AmSouth Bank building (the tallest building in Murfreesboro), and then to the park to play (although with the high expected to only be 41 today (and it’s only 30 now!) I’m not sure how long that will last!).

Almost Famous

Recently I had two opportunities to represent my job, and my company, in two high profile situations. I’m excited to finally begin to establish myself as an expert in the arena of digital publishing.

First, in November I was a guest on a nationally syndicated radio program called Point of View talking about Bible study software, and specifically our brand, eBible. It was a two hour radio program and I was the guest the whole time! Unfortunately, the link is gone on their website, but here is a link to listen for anyone interested. A few technical notes: The first 5 people can click and do nothing. After that, you have to sign up for a free XDrive account. If you do, you get 5GB of online storage for free. If you don’t, I understand. Also, the file is 22MB and the interview is long. I will NOT be offended if you don’t listen! 🙂

Second, The Tennessean, our local newspaper, ran an article today about the future of e-books. This article was prompted by a press release from our company about a new partnership I made with a software company. The newspaper called me and I spent a lot of time on the phone educating the writer about the world of e-books. In the end, we weren’t the feature of the article, but I was quoted in it and the partnership was mentioned. Here it is, for your reading pleasure!

I just thought I would share with you a couple of successes for me lately. It’s great to have a job you love, and have the opportunity to communicate that to others.