The Art of Letting Go

5-19-19 Sunday Slides.008

Not too long ago, a small Japanese woman took the world by storm, all due to a book she had written “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.”

What is the art of tidying up?  In a nutshell, it’s de-cluttering your home and living a more minimal lifestyle.  It’s a way of organizing, sorting, cleaning, and discarding things in your home. 

She has very simple rules of “tidying” up. The most important one – Ask yourself if it sparks joy.

This idea has moved people to start cleaning out their closets, drawers, garages, attics – and getting rid of things in their lives that no longer spark joy.

However, Marie Kondo isn’t the first person to suggest we let go of things and move on.  In essence, she’s telling you what God has been trying to tell us for generations – and that is to let go.

I think there’s a vast spiritual connection here. If our body is the temple of the Lord, what kind of environment have we created for Him inside of us?

I think a lot of us may be good at keeping house, looking like we have it all together on the outside – but what about the inside? Is it full of clutter and mess?  Or is it a home that allows God to have space to work, create, and thrive inside of us?

The bible teaches us that if we want to be followers of Christ, that we have to repent, be baptized, and live our lives for Him. 

When we repent – we decide that we no longer want to live the way we are living in sin, and we are going to turn away from the lifestyle of the world.  Or, we’re going to get rid of things that clutter our lives.

When we are baptized – we start over, with a clean slate. We’ve allowed Jesus to cleanse us, to get rid of all the mess inside. It’s a new start.

Problem is – over a lifetime, we accumulate things we just aren’t sure we can get rid of.

When we did our own version of Marie Kondo’s Tidying Up, I found myself staring at 50+ items of clothing in my closet.  I pulled it all out and went through each item.  After I went through everything, I realized my “let go” pile was still awfully small

But why?  Why are we so hesitant to let go of things?  Maybe you spent a lot of money on something.  Maybe it holds sentimental value.  Maybe you just really like it.  Whatever the case may be, we have a hard time letting go.  We almost need someone to come in and say “It’s just stuff. It’s okay to let it go.”

We struggle the same way with the clutter in our lives.  This is where our relationship with God comes in.  We need HIS help to let go.  We need HIS help to come in and make us clean.  We can’t purge all the sin in our life without Him.

What ends up happening a lot of times when we de-clutter our homes, is that we get rid of some things, and then we end up going out and replacing all those things we just got rid of with more things

We do that with our spiritual lives as well.   We tend to go out and replace our sin with more sin.  But, with God’s help – we can keep this temple holy and clean.

Have you ever watched an episode of Hoarders on television?  This show often depicts a very serious psychological problem of people who cling to stuff for some reason or another.  And I’m not just talking about too many books for their shelves or too many clothes for their drawers.  They have so many possessions, they don’t have anywhere for them.  They end up stacking boxes on top of boxes, on top of trash, on top of clothes, and so on.

We look at these things with disgust – and we can’t imagine living in such filth, such disrepair, such chaos.

But I wonder,
if the Holy Spirit living inside of you could show you what your mind looks likewould it represent a heart that had been tidied up like a Marie Kondo home, or a spirit filled with possessions like an episode of Hoarders?

The bible tells us over and over again to take our burdens, our worries, our struggles, our sins – and place them at the feet of Jesus.  To allow Jesus to take control of this body, heart, soul, mind – and purify us as only He can.

Psalm 55:22 tells us to “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you.”

Matthew 11:28 tells us to “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and he will give us rest.”

Isaiah 41:13 says “For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you ‘Fear not, I will help you.”

I Peter 5:6-7 says “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care on Him, for He cares for you.”

Isaiah 46:4 says “Even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry and will deliver you.”

For some reason, we like to hold on to as much as we can, instead of letting our Almighty Creator bear our burdens for us.  We cram all of this junk into our hearts, we let it clutter our spirit, and before long, we can’t make sense of any of it.  But it’s time to let it go.

It’s time to start tidying up. It’s time to make room for Christ to work in your heart, instead of letting your fears, anxieties, worries, struggles, troubles – take up all the room and occupy a place in your head.

Here’s what you do.  Get into the routine of praying this prayer:  “Lord, anything that comes near me that can harm me, hurt me, cause anxiety, and the like – I’m just going to lay it at your feet and let you deal with it instead of bringing it into the house and letting it take up unnecessary space.”

How to Lose Weight Without Even Trying


Okay, so I’ll admit – that title is a “reel them in” type headline.  For years, I’ve looked for the solution.  Pills, shakes, fads, etc, and would you believe that NONE of them worked?

People put stickers on the arm, people spend thousands on specially formulated shakes, people spend even more on devices that make it all easy.  And the sad reality is that some truly believe that if they just pop a pill, put a sticker on their arm, or drink a special shake, that the weight will come off without any effort, and it will stay off forever.

I know, because I have been there, and bought the XXXL t-shirt.

When I got out of college and took my first job as a teacher and coach, I survived off eating Doritos and Totinos pizzas.  I ballooned up to some awful weight, and then discovered ephedrine.  It was in ALL the diet pills.  And you know what?  It worked, and it worked well.  At that time, I weighed around 265, and dropped down to 190, which was my high school weight.

But the more I read about ephedrine, the more I realized it was a simply awful pill.  So I stopped taking it.  And with that, all the weight slowly crept back on.  No, it wasn’t overnight, it took about the same amount of time it took for it to come off.  But it came back, and then some.

And for the past 17 years, I’ve tried to replicate that success with varying degrees – all without victory.  Arbonne, Advocare, drinking shakes, exercise only, the list goes on and on.  But nothing worked.  I even tried joining a very expensive weight loss support group, but found the support highly lacking, and they really just cared about getting my money.

Part of that was my attitude toward food.  I simply LOVE to eat.  Pizza? Yes.  Cheeseburgers? Yes.  Chicken tenders? Yes.  French Fries?  Yes please! Mexican food of all types?  OH YES!  I could down baskets of chips, then eat everything on my plate.

But you know what else I had?  Stomach and digestive issues.  I’d fill myself up, and feel awful, bloated, sick to my stomach.  Me and Mr. Toilet were best friends.  And I began to creep up and up in my weight.

It wasn’t just that either?  My confidence was completely shot.  My self esteem was at an all time low.  My mental clarity was non-existent.  And when I checked the scales and I had climbed up to 315 big ones – I wept at what I had become, and knew something had to be done.

So here’s what I did.  I started off with prayer.  WHAT?  Prayer can’t help you lose weight can it?  But here’s the catch – I didn’t pray for me to lose 100 pounds.  I prayed for my mindset to change.  I prayed for willpower to say no.  And I did this for a few weeks before I even started.

On August 7, I began my transformation.  After many weeks of prayer and prep, I decided to do the Keto based diet.  In essence, it is highly restrictive in the amount of carbs you can have, and dependent on healthy fats and protein to fill you up.  I had seen some lasting success in others who had done it, and from what I read, seemed like it was something I could do.

That Wednesday, I actually had a speaking engagement in Winterhaven, FL.  I was successful during the day, and left Tampa around 4pm to make it to the church in Winterhaven.  Typically when I speak somewhere, i’ll grab something to eat in the car on the way home.  So this was my first test.

I remember thinking – “Oh well, Lane.  You gave it your best shot, but it’s just not practical to stop eating fast food burgers and fries, because you’re just in the car too much and traveling too much.”  I drove for about 25 minutes fighting that conversation.  And then it hit me – this is what I had been praying for!  I change of heart.  Willpower.

I went home, and at 9pm or so, sat down to a Keto approved meal.  And the rest is history.

I’ve not cheated once since then.

At first, I was doing Keto and strict calorie counting.  As I have moved on, I have swapped calorie counting for full satiation.  I’m not going nuts on the calories, but I walk away feeling full.

If we do fast food – burger without a bun, no fries.  Steak places are easy, with broccoli, salad, and a big steak.  Chicken for days, so long as it’s not breaded.  Cheese and more cheese please.  I’ve eaten more salads, more cruciferous veggies, and more pieces of meat than I ever thought possible.

I also began doing intermittent fasting – a method of restrictive eating based on time.  My last meal is dinner, and I’ll not eat breakfast, with usually at least a 15 or 16 hour break of not eating until lunch.

All of these things have worked.  Since August of 2019, I am down from 315 pounds to a still not so great but much better 274 pounds.  41 pounds of weight loss.

But I don’t give the credit to keto or intermittent fasting.  I give the credit to God giving me the willpower that I prayed for and believed I would receive.

For those of you who know me well, or at least knew me well before I did this – I did NOT eat well at all.  Especially on my veggies.  But here’s a plate of food that I ate the other night, and I devoured it:

If you’re struggling with your weight – please, STOP looking for the easy fix.  And also PLEASE understand that this is your life you’re dealing with.  You have one body, and that’s it.  My goal weight now is 225.  Who knows?  Maybe I can even beat that.

But even if I don’t — I FEEL SO MUCH BETTER ALREADY!  No more bloat, no more stomach issues, and no more 30 minute trips to restroom.

I hope you find what you’re looking for.  Listen – will this end in demise or success?  I know what I want, but I also know it will only be as successful as the effort I put into it.  I hope you find your motivation, and I hope I maintain mine.

One of the Only Guaranteed Things in Life…


Changes.  They happen.  I guarantee it.  Changes happen, regardless of whether we want them to or not.

Recently, I’ve gone through some changes.

First – my family and I made a move from Tampa, FL to Huntsville, AL.

Second – I got out of full time preaching ministry, and took a job as a Discipling and Associate minister.

Third – I went off some major medication.

Fourth – I lost something.

Now, let’s discuss these changes real quick.  Back in March of 2015, we moved to Tampa, FL from Nashville, TN to preach for the Northwest Tampa Church of Christ.  My time there was both a blessing and a hardship.  I will admit, I had a hard time there.  It was far from my family.  It was not the “Bible Belt” that I was used to.  It didn’t have the traditional southern charm we grew up with in my family.  But for 4.5 years, I worked with some great families in my church, and we miss our small group terribly.  There were some great folks in there, even though one of them did ruin my birthday cake by putting turnip greens into some cupcakes…but that’s for another time.

We were not looking to move – but an opportunity landed in my life that I felt was directly from God.  I was invited to work with the Mayfair Church of Christ and to serve on their leadership team as their discipleship minister.  I began that job in October, and it has been the greatest blessing of my life to work alongside the best ministry staff in the world.

At the same time, my wife was able to secure a teaching job at Madison Academy.

When we started to make this transition, I decided to go off some medication.  I hesitate to write about this, because it is deeply personal, but I feel like it could help someone in the future.  In August of 2017, due to some situations that had occurred in my life, my doctor thought it was best, after visiting with a counselor, to go on some anxiety medication.

I remember when I took the first pill, I didn’t know what to expect.  From my time in teaching and youth ministry, I was expecting to zone out – but what happened was exactly the opposite.  The things I worried about, struggled with, things I couldn’t let go of – I was now able to deal with them.  Things that got shut me down didn’t anymore.  Situations I didn’t want to face were no longer a problem.

Lack of encouragement was a real motivator behind going on the medication.  A person can only go so far without it, and was really struggling.  While the medication did not provide “encouragement” it did provide the ability to see beyond it, to compartmentalize things, to move forward.

On Sunday, December 15, I took my last pill.  I no longer need it.  I have been encouraged and uplifted here and that was a MAJOR factor in being able to move past the pills.

Another major change has been something I’ve lost.  Since August 7, 2019, I have been on the Keto Diet.  I used to laugh at folks who did the diet.  I couldn’t understand why people would want to restrict themselves.  How can you give up potatoes and rice and chips?

Earlier this summer before all the changes began – I ballooned up to 315 pounds.  It was officially the heaviest I’ve ever been.  I was miserable.  I was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea.  I was in a bad place.  When my wife and daughter moved to Huntsville ahead of me to start school, I began doing the Keto diet.  No more than 30 carbs a day, try to keep under 1600 calories a day, and lo and behold, the weight started to come off.

I wasn’t able to weigh myself over the past few months since we’ve been staying with my in-laws with all of our possessions in storage.  So this past weekend, when we finally closed on our new house and moved in, I was able to find the scales.

I’m down to 275.  40 pounds gone.  And it feels wonderful.  I still have a long way to go.  But I feel so good.  I’m not bloated, no upset stomach, food is no longer a major motivator in my life.  I can bend over and tie my shoes without struggling.  I’ve struggled with weight most of my adult life.  I know that dieting is not a fleeting moment, but rather, a lifestyle change.

I say these things to motivate you.  To encourage you.  If you think you may need medications for anxiety, depression, etc. – don’t wait.  Go see a doctor today.  If you need to lose weight, don’t put it off.  There’s no time like the present.  I know, I know, the holidays are coming up, so you’ll “start it in the new year.”  No, you probably won’t.  Sure you may go and buy what you need and plan on it, but if you wait, there’s always an event coming up that you don’t want to miss.  I did TWO THANKSGIVING MEALS and DID NOT CHEAT!  Christmas is coming, and I’ll again do the same.

Finally – I’ve moved my blog to this new site – – with hopes of having a more regular presence once again.

I Hate Cancer, Yes I Do, I Hate Cancer, How About You?


David Cotham started visiting our church in Houston, the West University Church of Christ, because his son, Jeremy was at MD Anderson being treated for cancer.  David was a preacher, a great guy, and was there every time he could be there.  His wife, Sharon, stayed with Jeremy pretty much all the time.  I witnessed the cancer attack Jeremy’s body.  He started off looking like someone who was just in for treatment, but we all know what chemo does.  It takes your hair, it weakens your body, it leaves you scarred.

He wore a mask when he was able to get out.  He’d sit on the back row.  You could tell he wanted to reach out and talk to people, but he just wasn’t allowed to do so.  Eventually, when I left West U, I found that he had his legs amputated, and the cancer just couldn’t be beaten.  Yesterday, after a long and hard fought battle, he went home to be with God.

I haven’t seen David or Sharon or Jeremy in months.  But I kept up with him.  Each week I’d get several updates from David or Sharon about his condition.  Thousands of people were praying for Jeremy.  I praise God for Jeremy and his influence on so many.  As I read through comments on his Facebook wall last night and this morning, you could tell he had a tremendous impact on many.  The last email that came through today said this:

Many of you have probably heard by now, but it is with great sadness that I have to tell you that our sweet, beloved son Jeremy passed away this afternoon.
Recently as ESPN commentator, Stewart Scott, also passed away due to cancer; but before his death, last July, at the ESPY awards show, he received an award named after Jim Valvano, a former NC state coach who died of cancer in 1993 at age 47.  In accepting the award, Scott is quoted as saying, “When you die from cancer, that does not mean that you lose to cancer.  You beat cancer by HOW you live, WHY you live, and in the MANNER in which you live.  So, live!  Fight like heck (but he used another word); and when you get too tired to fight, then lay down and rest, and let someone else fight for you!”  So now someone else is fighting for Jeremy, and now then Jeremy really did NOT lose then his battle to cancer this afternoon; but he beat cancer by “how” that he lived his life in the last 6 years since he was diagnosed with leukemia.  He was an inspiration to all of us in “how” that he battled cancer!  He was strong until the end!  Never complained about his lot that life had dealt to him!  He was the best son that any parents could have ever asked for, but he was taken from us way too young!  
Your immediate family will miss you (mom, dad, and Amber) (Bear too!)

And your large, huge extended family (relatives, friends, church members, doctors, nurses, medical staff, etc.) will also greatly miss you too!

Cancer stinks.  I hate it.

When I first moved to Houston with my family to work with the church there, just a few days after we arrived I found out that my sister, in her mid thirties, had been diagnosed with breast cancer.  She had the treatment, and the surgeries, and now, she is cancer free.

When my wife and I moved to Nashville, after about 10 months, we found out that Nathan, the boy of the family my wife helped so much as their nanny, was diagnosed with cancer.  A hard fought battle, and several years, later, he’s cancer free.  His parents informed us that if he had been diagnosed with the cancer he had just a year or so earlier, he would not have made it.  That’s how far some cancer fighting technologies have come.  Praise God.

A teenager at the church my parents attend, Whit, had some discouraging news today.  He was diagnosed with cancer a few months back.  His family wrote today – “For those who don’t already know, we got bad news yesterday. The cancer has spread to his brain and spine. He will start chemo today and will be on the original schedule but higher doses plus a chemo pill. The doc says he stands a good chance of the chemo getting it all but won’t know until the next MRI in 6 weeks. Thank you all for your love and support.”

Cancer stinks.  I hate it.

My closest and dearest friend that I grew up with, Jason, lost both of his parents to cancer.

In fact, I’m pretty sure that all of us know someone who has gone through this.  Some defeat it.  Some do not.  I don’t understand why.

Today, i’ve shed a few tears thinking about Jeremy.  His parents loved him so much.  They spent so much time away from home, traveling back and forth to Houston, but I consider them heroes.  Kerry and Melinda Lackey, are heroes.  Jason and his sister Tara, heroes.  Tammy and Neal Robertson, heroes.  All of you who fight the fight alongside those who have the disease are heroes for helping them, being there for them, loving them, being selfless.

If you know someone struggling with cancer today – send them a text, write them a note, give them a call, go and give them a visit, and let them know you’re there for them.  May God strike down this horrible disease.

A Prayer – for Hurting Ministers


When I was a child, my father was usually the preacher wherever we went.  While it was not his full time profession, he was always preaching.  I always assumed that churches were perfect, never had problems, and that ministers like my daddy were the greatest people in the world.

I never fully understood about how churches can really be a painful place until I got into full time ministry.  I can’t even begin to count the number of ministers I know who have been let go, fired, asked to leave, left out of frustration….the list goes on and on.  I never knew this happened.  It made it all the more real to me when I saw that it did.

Churches are full of people, and people mess up.  People struggle.

I write this today, because I learned today of a college friend of mine who was let go from a church this past week.  In the past 2 months, I know of 10 ministers who have been let go or fired, or have had to move on.  While I don’t know the specific details of every situation, I know one thing – they are hurting.

Ministers are human.

Ministers have feelings.

Ministers love their churches.

Ministers give their heart and soul for the congregation.

The church family IS the minister’s family.  Your minister prays for you, and does so often.  So tonight will you do me a favor?  Pray for your minister, your pastor, your rabbi, your reverend…whatever title you give the guy that serves your congregation.  Pray for them.

It breaks my heart to hear of a minster being let go, especially in the middle of the school year.

Encourage your minister.  Lift your minister up.  Send them notes of encouragement.  Tell your elders how much you care for them.

Are they perfect?  Nope, not even close.  But, they are human.

Tonight, my prayer is for all ministers, both those who have lost their jobs, and those who will wake up to their job tomorrow morning – to be blessed.

To All Who Have Been Bullied (The One Where I Talk About How to Deal With Bullies)


I grew up being picked on.

The first bully I ran into was in Kindergarten.  The very first day of school I ever had, he stepped on my hand while I was playing with blocks.  He continued to bully me all through elementary school and junior high.

As I got older, I got fat.  And then, I got acne…bad.  And then, I got glasses.  In fact, in sixth grade, I looked like a kid from “The Far Side” comic strip.  I was mocked and made fun of, daily.

I tried out for the basketball team in 7th grade, and didn’t make it.  I got made fun of.

I was still fat.  I was still covered in acne.  I had greasy hair.  Fortunately, I had gotten contacts.  That helped a bit.

Since I wasn’t the most athletic of folks, I ventured into the fine arts.  I was in the chorus and was in all the drama productions.  That ended up being a blessing.  I found an outlet where I could pour myself into, and found friends who cared about the same thing.

To be honest with you – from about 3rd grade till 9th grade, I was miserable.  I went to a private school, but only was able to go because my father worked there.  We didn’t have money like a lot of others did in my class, so I never had “designer” clothes, or the latest and greatest gadget.

The sad thing is – bullying is one of those things that never stops.  Even now, as a 37 year old, I get made fun of.  My weight, my bald head, they draw a lot of critiques.  Granted, the bullying is different these days, but it still is a shame that adults make fun of other adults.

I guess this hit a nerve with me the other day.  My sweet little girl honestly has one of the kindest, gentlest, sweetest spirits of any little girl I’ve ever known.  There are two young girls in her class that make fun of her.  They won’t play with her.  Its sad that even in the first grade, there’s already “popular” kids.  I hate that word – “popular.”

She has come home several times, saying these two girls made fun of her on the playground, at lunch, etc.  Of course, my wife and I try to tell her – “Just don’t pay any attention to them…”  But, I know better.  Its hard.  Its hard when you long to be accepted, and you’re not.  Its hard when you just want to be nice to everyone, but they don’t want to be nice back.

The thing that scares me is that this is only the beginning.  She is only 6.  If she’s only 6 and she’s already being put in this awkward position, I know we’re going to be holding her many times over the next 20 years, listening to her cry about how mean someone has been to her.

Some people say “that’s just how they are…”, or “their heart is in the right place…” but I’m don’t buy it.  A bully is a bully.  Whether its physically bullying someone, or verbally bullying someone, or just an attitude of overconfidence – its not fun to be around those people.  How a bully becomes the most popular person in their circle of friends is beyond me.

The bible tells me that I’m supposed to love my enemies.  Some of the hardest people in the world to love are bullies – the ones who hurt us.   I often don’t want to forgive them, much less love them.

But Matthew 5:38-41 (NLT) says “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles.”

And when I feel like getting revenge, I need to remember this, from Romans 12:19-20 (NLT) “Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back,‘ says the Lord.  Instead, ‘If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.”

Its one of those lessons that’s a lot easier to say than do.

Remember, you will always have bullies in your life.  Oftentimes, the bullies in your life don’t even realize they are bullies.  Continue living for God.  Continue to remember the golden rule – to treat others like you want to be treated.  If someone is mean to you, treat them with kindness.  And above all else, remember that according to Matthew 7:2, Jesus says “For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.”

How Your Saturday Can Affect Your Sunday


When I was in high school, and then even into college, I lived for the weekends.  “What are you doing Friday and Saturday night?” was a common question.  Often, those nights were spent hanging with friends, playing ball, watching movies, or various other activities.  I was never one to go out and “party” or do anything stupid, but I was one that loved to stay out late.

I would most often find myself, especially in college, staying out till curfew, and then going back to my room, hanging out with my roommate, playing video games, talking, or playing cards till the wee hours of the morning.  It was okay though – I didn’t have class the next day.  On Saturday night, we’d do it all over again.  It was okay though – I didn’t have class the next day.

I ended up sleeping through Bible class, waking up about 10 minutes before worship, and we would run over to the church that met right next door, sneak in, and get settled right before worship began.  I have to tell you – I don’t think I could have told you one thing that happened during any of those services.

I wasn’t encouraged.  I wasn’t uplifted.  I wasn’t happy.  I didn’t feel like I had worshipped.  I knew I had not given it my all.  Sure, I was there.  At least, physically I was there.  But mentally, I was still fast asleep, my mind was not awake, and I really didn’t care about what I was doing.

Fast forward 15 years.  Are things any different?

I’m not suggesting you cease all your Saturday activities, and stay at home meditating with your legs crossed and humming the Old Rugged Cross all day.  I AM suggesting that maybe you make sure that you get home at a decent hour, with time to calm down before bed, and spend some time Saturday evening focusing on the cross.

When you have a big presentation at work, or have a major test at school, or anything else similar – you usually spend the night before preparing.  I don’t think we spend enough time preparing to go and be with our church family on Sunday morning.  For so many of us, we wake up just in time to throw an outfit on, rush the family out, and show up 10 minutes late.  While its great you’re there, and its better you’re there than not there, ask yourself – are you ready to worship?  Are you ready to learn about God’s love and grace and mercy?

On Sunday morning, how prepared will you be to sit in the presence of God surrounded by brothers and sisters while singing and listening and encouraging?  Tonight, make sure you plan your evening around your Sunday morning plans.  It may just make your Sunday morning awesome.