Kindness of strangers in unexpected moments

Part of what I do for income includes driving my car all over town and interacting with strangers. I know what you’re thinking, “Oh, he drives for Uber!” Thankfully, no. Drunk strangers will not be vomiting in my car. I really enjoy delivering smiles for Amazon Prime Now. But it’s not always happy times, I’ll tell ya! Traffic can be a bear and a few weeks ago, the weather was quite the menace. Here’s a snippet from my dash cam the night I was delivering in Nashville’s heaviest snow of the year so far.


Even worse than the snow, though, was the ice. Some main roads, and most secondary roads, were layered in it. On top of that, I had 10 deliveries! I felt like David going up against Goliath, with a Nissan Versa as my slingshot.

I left the Amazon warehouse with just an ounce of courage. I slowly crept my way to the first customer and missed the mark with my first stone. Here I am in a bit of a predicament.


I was halfway up the hill and started sliding down. I was able to back into a random driveway and with some help, drive in reverse, through front yards, narrowly missing two cars but getting back onto a flat road without incident.

Nine more deliveries to go.

Already my neck was sore. My shoulders were tight. A few of the next stops were in flat areas of east Nashville, so that was a relief, but Goliath still seemed larger than life.

Towards the end of the route, Goliath snorted as I approached the steepest hill yet. The house I was delivering to was at the top, about 5 houses in from where I decided to park the car. My slingshot wouldn’t win this battle. In fact, I felt pretty defeated at this point; half the deliveries were late and even after this one, I had a few more to go. To walk the delivery to the customer would take at least 3 trips from my car up the hill to the house, but as undesirable as that sounded, it’s all that could be done. So I started up the hill, a few packages under my arms.

As I handed off the first round of items, the most unexpected thing happened. The father of the crew that lived there began bundling up with heavy clothes and boots. My eyes widened. My heart beat faster. My shoulders loosened. He was coming back with me so we could slay this giant together!

We split the items between us and started back up the hill. We both were carrying almost more than we could manage by ourselves. And then another heroic moment happened: his son met us on the way and after giving him some packages, the three of us marched up the hill, up the driveway, up the slippery steps, and to the front door.

As it turns out, it was people that overtook Goliath this cold, snowy night. What does the Bible say? A cord of 3 strands is not easily broken. I’m so thankful for those guys that night. Their act of kindness won’t be in newspapers, it won’t pop up on anyone’s Facebook feed (except maybe for mine!), they won’t be ABC’s persons of the week. But for a stressed out delivery driver, this father certainly made an impression and lived out the Golden Rule. Plus he modeled for his son (and his daughter and wife who were watching from the window) one way to be a good man.

He reminded me a lot of my dad.

And that, my friends, is how Goliath fell that night.

-Out of the Wilderness

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10 signs your church is trendy

Thought I’d post a lighthearted list of signs your church might fall on the side of super trendy, hipstery, and/or cool. Have a laugh, and feel free to add your additions in the comments below – Out of the Wilderness

10 Signs Your Church is Trendy

  • Forget hymns or anything by Hillsong. The worship team is teaching you songs by OneRepublic, Taylor Swift, or Coldplay.

 

  • The pastor calls passing the offering plate, “the original crowd-funding.”

 

  • People there are all pretty much the same age as you… that is, if you’re 25-35 yrs old.

 

  • You overhear someone call a hymnal, “vintage.”
Hymnal46

image via this website

 

  • Ignite. Encounter. Resurrection. The word ‘church’ isn’t actually in the name of the church.

 

  • The Gathering. Oasis. Red Door. Glide. The church sounds like an apartment complex or night club.

 

  • Before church, you stop by a coffeeshop… and it’s in the church.
coffee_LG

image via this website

 

  • At any particular point, you count 47 guitarists on stage.

 

  • You haven’t brought a Bible in years.

 

  • You leave a church service feeling great about yourself.

Thanks for checking out the list! If you have any to add, feel free to comment below 🙂

Driving by the Golden Rule

In church today we discussed the meaning of the parable Jesus uses in Mark 4, which says in part, “By the measure you use, it will be measured and added to you.” To translate, it’s the Golden Rule, “Treat others the way you want to be treated.”

I didn’t feel convicted until I thought about my experience on the road. Not necessarily how I drive, but my attitude while I’m driving. I’m very decisive (totally opposite of how I am normally, which is quirky), and in turn I expect every other driver to be decisive, too.

With that in mind, here’s the catch: I don’t extend much grace or forgiveness to any other drivers, but I expect it in full from them.

Basically I act like I’m right you’re wrong, and if you can’t make a decision just get out of the way. I also get angry, anxious, impatient, perturbed, fed up when motorists think laws don’t apply to them. I’m very legalistic when it comes to obeying the rules of the road. Check out Steve McQueen here…

In the moments following this Hell’s Angel’s disregard for the law, nothing I thought about was very Golden Rulish.

So now I have something to work on while I’m in the car. Extending grace. Forgiving these inferior drivers. Not honking so much. Hitting the brakes to let someone make up for their idiotic decision.

I know there’s a place for administering justice and correction, so I guess I can be praying for discretion and discernment on which battles to fight, and which to let go.

-Out of the Wilderness

What do you have an appetite for?

From the fruit of his mouth a man’s stomach is satisfied; he is filled with the product of his lips.
Proverbs 18:20

I read this verse recently and to be honest, I didn’t think it made sense. A mouth doesn’t make fruit. Lips don’t produce food. So what is this verse saying? What’s the meaning, assuming there is one. Well, from a biological standpoint, the way to the stomach is through the mouth. And what is the stomach? It’s our appetite. How do we satisfy our appetite? With food, of course. Food that we put in our mouth. So then, the mouth is the conduit we use to satisfy our appetite.

If we have a piece of fruit, we don’t put it on our foot. We don’t rub it on our back. We don’t pick a tomato and squish it in our armpits. That’s silly. Of course, that might confirm what your neighbors already think of you, “Our neighbor, the weirdo,” but it’s just not what we do with fruit, with food. We bite into it, passing it along to our stomach to satisfy our appetite.

Could the verse be helping us to discover and define what we have an appetite for? Not biologically, but spiritually, emotionally, professionally, relationally? Chapter 18 compares the fool and the wise man. The fool does this, the wise man does that. Foolishness is this, wisdom is that. So maybe this verse is advising us to be wise, not foolish, about a few things:

  1. Being aware of our appetite (illustrated by the man’s stomach)
  2. What we use to satisfy that appetite (the fruit/ product)
  3. The conduit we use to get the product where it needs to go (his mouth/ lips)

Let’s say you have an appetite, a hunger, for helping people. One way to satisfy that is to do volunteer work. You sign up with Habitat For Humanity. Do you like being in your car, out on the road? Maybe you sign up to be a driver for Uber or Lyft. What if you have a hunger for wealth? There are many ways to go about that, so you try online trading, flipping a house, or fly to Vegas for a weekend.

In these examples, Habitat for Humanity, driving your car, online trading/Vegas is the fruit. The conduit is volunteering, signing up for Uber or Lyft, and buying stock or going to Vegas.

Clearly there are good and bad ways to go about satisfying your appetite. Just like food, there’s fruit, veggies, healthy things you can eat, but there’s also junk food. The junk food might satisfy you for a second but in the end it does more harm than good. There can be ways to become wealthy, like Vegas for instance. But gambling in general is junk food. Being a getaway driver… not the best way to satisfy your craving for being on the road! Some might say handing out money to panhandlers holding up signs off a highway exit would be the junk food of volunteering.

So what do you have an appetite for? How are you feeding it? Are you looking for healthy, Biblical ways to satisfy your hunger? If so, I’d say you’re being wise…good job! If you’re like me, you’ve found a lot of ways that don’t work and that, my friend, makes us foolish!

Here’s to making wise choices, and eating fruit!

-Out of the Wilderness

Trusting God to sustain

…at times the path way has been steep and rocky, sometimes treacherous even, but by going to Him in prayer, in medication, in reading His word, He has sustained me EVERY TIME.
Grand-daddy Davis

My grandfather wrote those words to me in 1991, not knowing that 26 years later his grandson would be self-employed and learning what “sustain” really means. And I love that he capitalized “EVERY TIME.” It’s like having a best friend that never can’t hang out,  that won’t ever decline to show up. I also love to think about God using this definition from dictionary.com

Screen Shot 2017-09-02 at 11.39.44 AM

That’s what God promises to do for us. Amazing! It’s so much farther beyond just the physical (money, food, etc), too. It’s also emotional, spiritual, sanity, temper, fear, anxiety, worry. This whole interest in God as sustainer and provider really gained traction this year, 2017. But I guess the story dates back to when I was laid off a couple years ago (early 2015). That year flew by as I rode out my severance package. 2016 was an adventurous year as I pursued less traditional forms of income (I wrote a book!). When 2017 rolled around it was a lot like the previous year, until tax season.

You dropped a bomb on me!

I didn’t realize how much I’d owe till I totaled up everything from 2016. And I also tithe around tax season, so my checking account was about to take a hefty hit. Thankfully, I survived… though there’s a water line on the wall of my checking account, much like when a flood recedes. This line here is how much you used to have… now, you’re waaaaaaaaay down here.

So as I was monitoring my accounts more closely, I began praying more earnestly. What does the Bible say about who to trust, who will provide, and all that? Well, the answer is easy: God. But I guess when I was on a salary, I never really thought about that sort of stuff. The checks go in automatically, the health coverage is taken care of, there’s not a scramble to make ends meet.

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Matthew 6:26

This is the year of trusting God to sustain me, like Grand-daddy did. The first real example was tax season, like I mentioned. But then not too long after that, my computer froze up. One Apple computer later, I was actually excited to get to trust God for a way to keep working (I edit videos as part of my income) and at the same time, not losing my mind out of frustration!

Don’t get me wrong, I have a long way to go. It’s a daily thing, and often I’m like:

But I love Proverbs 23 and 30 that have two great advices…

“Don’t wear yourself out to get rich; stop giving your attention to it.” Then in chapter 30, “Give me neither poverty nor wealth; feed me with the food I need. Otherwise, I might have too much and deny You, saying, ‘Who is the LORD?’; or I might have nothing and steal, profaning the name of my God.”

I think we all have an opportunity each day to trust God to sustain us. And it’s amazing, SO AMAZING, when we recognize Him doing it.

-Out of the Wilderness

 

Being punished by God

Do you ever feel like you’re being punished by God? I had one of those experiences recently, and I’m so glad it didn’t last long. In those couple of days one thing I found interesting is that I had anger towards God. And that, my friends, is me admitting I’m not very spiritually mature. To think about it another way, try remembering when one of your parents grounded you. More times that not, we were instantly mad at our parents, right? Forget whatever we did wrong, that was totally beside the point! How dare mom or dad discipline us and RUIN OUR LIVES!!!!!!!
rain

“I turned my back on everything that was true.”

That’s the same way I acted when I felt like I was being punished by God. I was all like, “Wassup with that, God?” “Why me?” “Why don’t you care?” And God was all like, “Read the Bible!” “Isaiah 58.” “Chump!” OK, OK, not in those exact words but I opened up to Isaiah 58 and yowza, a scolding. A brief recap: God’s people were wondering why He didn’t seem to care about them (this happened quite a bit with them). They did this or that thinking it’s what God wanted. But He called them out on it, with beautiful clarity and insight. That’s the first half of the chapter, anyway. It goes on to offer what God desired from them, and for them. It’s sweet, actually, and very encouraging. After reading that chapter, I saw my attitude for what it really was: sour, unjustified, and immature.

“Left to myself I realize / I am the maker of my own demise.”

I was upset with God when I should’ve been upset with myself. What I blamed Him for was actually just a consequence of my own shortcoming. And while He may have allowed it to happen, feeling like punishment to me, it might have simply been Him using the consequences as discipline. Like if you’re a parent, maybe you did’t save your child from getting suspended when they got caught skipping school or whatever. Know what I mean? They reaped (rept? rooped?) what they had sown. It’s a chance for them to learn something, even if it’s the hard way.

Father-and-Son-Holding-Hands

“Some people gotta learn the hardway.”

This experience was a low moment, but I hope I never forget it because man, God is so good. He hung with me through it and even had a blessing for me on the other side. Totally unfair. A blessing. I was all like, “Really?” and God was all like, “Really.”

Not in those exact words. 🙂

-Out of the Wilderness

So you’re a newlywed, huh?

Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 11.22.49 AMI was chatting with a friend recently about someone she knows who’s getting married. We covered some of the details most people love knowing about when it comes to weddings: location, the couple, the excitement of the families. It’s great when two people love each other, and side note, if you’re a girl wondering if a guy might be interested in you, check out another post of mine: 10 Signs He’s Into You.

My friend mentioned that the two people getting married aren’t Christians and neither go to church, which is why their wedding is taking place somewhere other than a church and not officiated by a pastor. We sort of left it as hoping for the best for the couple and that their marriage will last. I enjoyed the conversation but always wonder why I come up with my best comments well after any particular topic is over.

In this case, I didn’t have much to say in the moment about the folks getting married not being Christians. But if I could do it over, I’d say something about all of us, no matter where we are now, started somewhere. We all have a story and sometimes a relationship with God starts at a young age, sometimes not. Sometimes it never starts at all. My hope for these soon-to-be newlyweds is that in the process of getting married, and being married, that God reveals Himself to them. After all, marriage is spoken about a lot in the Bible and I believe God holds it in very high regard.

Another hope: just don’t screw it up! I say that playfully, yet reflecting on how mankind has pretty much screwed up everything at some point or another. God has given us so many good things, marriage included, and we’ve managed to pervert all of it. And that goes for Christ-followers, too. Here’s the thing about that, by the way. At the end of the day, we’re all in the same boat. People who call themselves Christians aren’t any better than anyone else. Like it says in the Old Testament, “We all like sheep have gone astray.” We’re all looking for an answer. We’re all seeking peace, happiness, and something to worship.

Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 11.23.01 AMSo I still definitely hope for the best for my friend’s friends who are getting married. I hope it’ll last, that they positively wreck the statistics of divorce. And especially, I hope somehow they’re willing and able to understand a little more about God through their marriage. And if/when they have kids, they get another glimpse into the character of God, as it’s revealed through a parent’s love for their children.

Maybe you can’t exactly relate to getting married, being a newlywed or even becoming a parent. Hey, I certainly can’t! But we can all relate to one key take-away:

Whatever you’re doing, just don’t screw it up. 🙂
Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 11.22.36 AM-Out of the Wilderness

PS. All of these stunning photos were taken by amazing photographer Joe Hendricks. More incredible wedding photos can be seen on his website, along with breathtaking landscape photos (available for purchase)! Click here, you won’t be sorry!