What Playing Guitar Taught Me about the Spiritual Life

An interest in my stepdad’s guitar at age 15 sparked an interest God has used to guide my life. I’m sure God works in a similar way with you. In fact, I know He does.

What Playing Guitar Taught Me about the Spiritual Life

(Photo: By Pisethinfo. Own work. CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

More than 30 years ago, I started playing songs on the guitar by John Denver, Jim Croce, Don Francisco, Gordon Lightfoot, and Dan Fogelberg.

I was hooked. I lived and breathed with the instrument. In a few years, I had written more than 100 of my own songs. It seemed this is what God wanted me to do with my life. I decided to pursue the dream of becoming a Christian artist.

  • I majored in music (classical guitar) from North Texas State University (now UNT).
  • I attended Dallas Theological Seminary so that I could learn to write theologically sound songs.
  • I had an influential person with connections in Nashville who promised to introduce me to the right people.

I was ready. Cue the lights. Then God uplugged my guitar.

Playing guitar for all these years has taught me more than music. It has taught me these 3 lessons.

If We Knew What God Knows

If we knew what God knows, we would choose to wait for His timing rather than push Him to act now. God made His creatures to live in dependence on the Creator. As such, we wait for the provision.

If We Knew What God Knows

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As much as we hate it, dependence demands waiting. Refusing to wait amounts to independence and even rebellion from the one who created us.

Insisting on instant gratification (even for good things) minimizes and overlooks the infinite worth of God’s sovereignty—a wisdom that sees beyond the next five minutes. Or the next five years.

Are you waiting for God to do something in your life?

If you knew what God knows, here’s what you would do.

The Blessing of Being Average

You’ve probably noticed, but very few people attain stardom status in life. That’s probably a good thing. Solomon’s words, “money is the answer to everything,” come from an earthly perspective (Ecc. 10:19).

The Blessing of Being Average

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Among the rich and famous, so few find satisfaction—even in their success.

For some reason, it seems uncommon for exceptional lives to handle success well. Perhaps because success ranks just as much a test of character as does poverty. Maybe more.

True success is not a result of giftedness, but of character. (Tweet that.)

Have you ever considered the blessing of being average?

It may surprise you.

2 Questions to Help You Live Intentionally for God

It’s always easier to react to life rather than to shape it. To go with the flow rather than to dig a new trench. Obviously, we want to respond well to what life throws at us. It’s assumed we should do that.

Two Questions to Help You Live Intentionally for God

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But I believe God gives us help to choose the direction of our lives. To live intentionally for Him. I don’t mean we choose what happens to us, but rather, that God has given us the freedom to make significant choices in spite of our circumstances.

Jesus’ example shows us what choices to make to live intentionally for God.

Two questions can help us do that.

Lincoln postcard on preparation.

Years ago as a little boy, I found this old framed postcard in an abandoned box in my grandmother’s garage. I keep the frame on my desk and look at it often.

Lincoln’s birthday always reminds me of Lincoln’s statement about the importance of preparation:

I’ll study and be ready and maybe the chance will come.

Question: How are you preparing for a future potential, should God will it? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

When Finding Favor with God Makes Life Tough

Sometimes finding favor with God makes life much harder. You know the story. Gabriel informed Mary she would give birth to the Son of God. Many thoughts ran through her mind, not the least of which was how she, a virgin, could conceive.

When Finding Favor with God Makes Life Tough

(Photo: by Jolanta Dyr. Own work. CC-BY-SA-3.0-pl, via Wikimedia Commons)

What’s more, Mary knew the social and biblical fallout that occurs for a pregnant woman without a husband. How could she possibly explain that her pregnancy was an of God and not an act of passion?

Finding favor with God meant that she faced disfavor from people. Maybe finding favor with God isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?

Christmas usually causes us to marvel at the virgin conception—and at the love of our God who would become Man so that He could die for our sins. But there’s another part of the Christmas story that amazes me just as much.

It comes from this amazing young woman.

Disarming Your Short Fuse of Impatience

Dawdling service at restaurants gets under my skin. (The only thing worse is fast food at a slow drive through.) At lunch not long ago we got dawdling service from our server. Here’s what happened.

Disarming Your Short Fuse of Impatience

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I never let on to the waiter that I was miffed, yet inside my fuse was burning. Here’s why:

  • The table next to us ate and left before we did, though we arrived at the same time.
  • Our water glasses were often empty and the food order came out wrong.
  • The waiter fouled up the bill.
  • I was late getting back to work.

But then, just before we left, I felt like a complete idiot. The waiter made mention that it was his first day. You see, the problem wasn’t his incompetence.

It was my impatience.

Life hands us a line of slow servers. God shows us the best way to disarm our short fuse.

How to Turn Your Life Around 360 Degrees

I had to smile when I read what Jason Kidd said after the Dallas Mavericks drafted him years ago: “We’re going to turn this team around 360 degrees!” Life often feels like that, doesn’t it? A lot of effort with nothing gained.

How to Turn Your Life Around 360 Degrees

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At times, the Bible seems like a history book in which God makes and fulfills promises to the ancients, but the words somehow lack immediacy to our struggling lives. And yet, it’s funny how the anxieties that overwhelm our lives seem identical to those that biblical people struggled against.

Even though Scripture provides assurance of God’s promises, assurance doesn’t negate the stressful circumstances that force us to trust God.

Truth doesn’t make the hard parts of life go away. We still have to trust God with that truth.

What I’ve Learned Since I Became Omniscient

As a teenager, I knew everything. You could even say I was omniscient. I marveled at the incompetence of adults on the simplest issues. They just didn’t get it.

And then I grew up, and something strange happened. I discovered that as an omniscient person, I still had a lot to learn.

What I’ve Learned Since I Became Omniscient

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So many times I stood so sure of myself only to discover how woefully ignorant I was.

  • I knew a lot about the Bible until I went to seminary. It turns out, the more I learned, the less I knew.
  • I knew everything about marriage until I got married. But matrimony is course in art, not science. I’ll be learning for the rest of my life.
  • I was an expert on parenting until I had kids. Parenting offers a long course of study on your own selfishness.

I’ve learned a lot since I became omniscient. But you know where that omniscient teenager resurfaces the most in my life? The same place it shows itself in your life.

When we’re talking to God.

God Has Plans for You—Including Preparation and Waiting

Whenever I have a doctor’s appointment, I always request the first appointment of the day. I figure the earlier my appointment, the less time I sit in the waiting room counting fish in the aquarium.

But it isn’t so. I may have a time scheduled, but it’s entirely the doctor’s discretion when I see him. I find the same true with Dr. God.

God’s Plan for You Includes Preparation & Waiting

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Dr. God fills our lives with waiting rooms:

  • Your car in a traffic jam.
  • Your office when five o’clock is slow to come.
  • The grocery store when the line is long, it’s the cashier’s first day, and she’s out of receipt tape. (Ask me how I know.)

Inconveniences cause delays and frustrations. But there are other moments of waiting far more difficult and confusing.

You have plans. This appointment should be over by now. You’re ready to move on the next event, the next step in the grand plan.

But you wait because God has plans for you.