Things Lost and Found


Recently, a few of my things have gone missing (including quite possibly my mind). Here they are:

1) My very purple Camelbak water bottle
2) My Lowepro camera case that serves as an iPhone 5 case
3) My sanity
4) Until recently, my little book on the Biltmore Estates

I don’t know if you’ve ever lost anything or had it go missing. If so, congratulations! You’re now part of a select few who know how frustrating it can be to look everywhere you know to look and not be able to find it. It can be almost maddening.

I’m thinking about the stories Jesus told about people who lost things and who went to great lengths to find them. He spoke about a lost sheep, lost coin, and lost son.

Those of us who have known loss can relate to the shepherd leaving his 99 sheep to find the one, to the woman tearing her house apart to locate that coin, and especially to the father anxiously peering down that dusty road in hopes of seeing his wayward son returning home.

The point of each story is how God the Father went to such great lengths to search us out and find us when we were lost. Not that He for one moment lost sight of us or where we were. But we had.

I’m glad that God didn’t give up on finding me like I have a few times. There were a couple of times when I found the missing object when I was looking for something else. But that’s another story for another day.

My point is to not give up on those missing people in your life or even those AWOL objects. Heck, I’ve even prayed about a few of my lost possessions.

Sometimes, I’ve even known what it’s like to lose my way or even lose myself for a while. You’ve done the same. But God is far more eager for us to find ourselves and get back to our true calling than even we are.

I love that about God.

So, if you got anything out of this rambling narrative, it’s this: don’t give up on what’s lost, even if it’s you. That’s all.

A Little Sunday Perspective


“Look carefully at your call, brothers and sisters. By human standards, not many of you are deemed to be wise. Not many are considered powerful. Not many of you come from royalty, right? But celebrate this: God selected the world’s foolish to bring shame upon those who think they are wise; likewise, He selected the world’s weak to bring disgrace upon those who think they are strong. God selected the common and the castoff, whatever lacks status, so He could invalidate the claims of those who think those things are significant. So it makes no sense for any person to boast in God’s presence. Instead, credit God with your new situation: you are united with Jesus the Anointed. He is God’s wisdom for us and more. He is our righteousness and holiness and redemption. As the Scripture says: “If someone wants to boast, he should boast in the Lord” (1 Cor. 1:26-31).

Hi. My name is Greg and I used to be a nobody with no hope, no purpose, and no future. I was hopelessly lost and about as far from God as humanly possible.

Then Jesus found me.

Those of you who know my story might be scratching your heads right now and asking, “Weren’t you 7 when you got saved? What bad things could you possibly have done at age 7?”

Well, according to the Bible, anyone without Christ is dead in sins and alienated from God. That was me.

I look back at when Jesus found me. I don’t remember the exact day or feelings I had. I do know Jesus changed me and has been transforming me ever since. I do know I got a direction, a purpose, a new name, and a future.

According to Forbes or GQ or Entertainment Weekly, I am a nobody. But Jesus knows my name. That more than makes up for looking like a fool and an idiot in the eyes of the world for what I believe and how I live my life.

Jesus knows my name.

I can’t get over that.

At least when I’m not caught up in mind games about how this person may or may not like me. Or how I might have offended this or that person.

If I have everything the world has to offer and don’t have Jesus, I really have nothing. I lose. If I have Jesus and absolutely nothing else, I have everything. I win.

I am so forgetful about what really matters. The best things in life aren’t free; they’re not even things. They are the people God brings into your life, whether for one hour, one day, one month, or a lifetime. They are the ones who remind you of who you really are and Whose you really are.

You can replace things. You can never replace people once they’re gone from your life.

So that’s why I can say I’m blessed. I’m rich in the currency of love. I am living my miracle every day, the miracle of seeing blessings everywhere, of finding joy in every place and circumstance, of always finding God right where I am if I only know where and how to look.

It truly doesn’t matter if people remember my name after I’m gone. It won’t matter if no one ever finds me attractive or desirable. My Abba is very fond of me, has chosen me, made me His child, and forever called me His Beloved.

That’s enough for me to last a lifetime. That’s enough for a lifetime of lifetimes. I’m good.

Hello, My Name Is . . . : What Jesus Wants to Say to Every Woman


This is inspired by something I heard tonight from Amy Jo Girardier, guest speaker at Kairos tonight. I think if Jesus could talk face to face with any one of His daughters, He’d say something like this:

“My Precious Daughter,

I see the way you look at yourself in the mirror and sigh. I see the way you look at your life and see only chores and tasks left undone, goals unreached, dreams dashed.

You’ve once again allowed the world around you to define you and name you. You’ve believed that insidious lie that you in and of yourself are not enough, that you need something more to be complete. A man, a marriage, children, a career, a title, a reputation.

You look back with regret and despair at your past and take on names for yourself such as Useless, Damaged Goods, Unwanted, Ugly, Invisible.

Do you not know that you are the apple of My eye? Do you not know that you have ravished My heart with one look of your eye? Do you not understand that I look at you, the pinnacle of My creation, and say, “She is very good. She is exactly what I dreamed her to be. She is beautiful”?

I saw you at your worst moment, in the grip of fear, insecurity, and doubt. I saw you when you were unable to trust anything or anyone, even Me, and I fell in love with you.

I would rather go through hell for you than go back to heaven without you. For you and you alone, I’d gladly endure all the torture and pain of the cross. You were (and are) to die for.

Let me name you. Hear Me calling you


My Lovely Bride

Fair Daughter of Zion

My Beloved in whom I am well pleased

Princess of the King of Kings


Lily of the Valley.

I love you passionately, perfectly, and permanently all the days of your life. I am in you, with you, beside you, and for you. Always.

Believe My love is just as real in the dark, in the pain, in the quiet moments when you can’t feel me near. Believe I don’t just have what you need. I Myself am what you need.

And I don’t give you strength or wisdom or grace. I give you Me and all of My strength, My wisdom, My grace, My perfection.

I can’t wait to unveil the finished you before creation and see you dazzling and radiant and perfect. In other words, just like Me.”

On a Night Like This 2

Guess where I am? No really . . . take a wild guess.

Downtown Franklin, you said? How ever did you guess that? It’s not like I go there at least once a week, right?

Oh wait. I do.

I had the new Court Yard Hounds album as the soundtrack to my trek from the Brenthood all the way to my favorite place on earth. And it’s not Disney World.

I had my favorite meal, corned beef and cabbage, at my favorite place to eat, McCreary’s Irish Pub. Just about everybody knows my name there, and I love it.

I detoured from my usual next step. Instead of shlepping over to Frothy Monkey, I hoofed it over to Sweet CeCe’s, where they did not, as usual, have my very favorite flavor– Southern Sweet Velvet a.k.a. Red Velvet. I nearly cried.

Not really. I just got Hershey’s Chocolate instead and managed to not fall over dead from extreme disappointment. Life goes on.

I got in my Quality Frothy Monkey Time, don’t you worry. I sipped on fruit tea and got caught up on my annual Bible reading plan.

This year, I’m reading through the New American Bible, a Catholic translation complete with all the deuterocanonical books. Or apocryphal, if you please. I read through most of Job, quite a bit of The Book of Wisdom, and a few chapters from Luke.

My lesson from Job? It’s better to keep quiet and make your friends wonder if you’re an idiot than to open up your mouth and prove it.

The Perfect Weather continues. It really feels like a sneak preview of fall, soon to arrive after another stint of hot stinky humid weather. And more rain. I’m eagerly anticipating the changing colors of leaves, crisp morning air, bon-fires, hayrides, corn mazes, good conversations with friends old and new, and– best of all– for Jesus to once again dazzle me with His love for me.

I may check out my favorite house to make sure the current tenants are taking good care of it for me. I may suddenly burst into a Dave Barnes song. You just never know with me.

I think the reason that I’m not filthy rich is that I’m already quite attractive, extremely witty, and brilliant. I would be most unfair for me to add immense wealth to that. So I stay broke as a kind of public service to all of you out there who would otherwise either die of mortal envy or perish from lusting after my hot bod.

God is whispering sweet nothings to me in the night air. I can feel His love and pleasure over me like a sort of comfy old blanket that keeps my heart warm. May you feel the same.

My you know fully the love your Abba has for you this and every night to come.

A Glimpse into Me Pre-WordPress

I found some old notes I wrote waaaaaay back in 2011, before I started blogging through WordPress.

I present some samples to you in their completely original, unedited, and uncensored form. In other words, I copied and pasted them because I was too lazy to retype anything.

Note that I have grown wiser and more optimistic since then. I am not who I was then. At least not as neurotic and obsessive and unsure.

So without further ado:

This is something I wrote, probably when I was feeling particularly unwanted and insecure.

” One day I will like a girl who will like me back. She will truly like me back and it won’t just be her being nice and me reading it wrong.

One day I won’t read so much into everything and won’t get my hopes up for absolutely nothing. One day I will be able to guard my heart better.

One day I will meet a girl who is ready, and not in an “I’m not into dating right now” mode.

One day, a girl will truly see me and what’s underneath all the awkward and goofy.

One day, on a day when I am totally not expecting it, when I have my attention elsewhere (preferably on Jesus), she will come and my world will never be the same. Hopefully before I’m 90.

This is a song from Hillsong Live that really touched my heart.

I am desperate for Your touch
a glimpse of heaven
for the glory of Your Son.
In a moment You can
turn a life around
forever to be found in You.

I am reaching out to find
theres nothing greater than
Your love that holds my life.
Your grace and mercy that
have saved me by Your blood,
and swept away my shame Oh Lord.

Your love is like fire
that burns for all to see.
My only desire
to worship at Your feet.
So let this fire
consume my life.
Let Your love take me deeper
pull me closer to where You are,
’cause all I want is more of You.

and I’m surrender to Your love
forever humbled by the
message of the cross.
I stand abandoned in
Your presence and Your embrace,
and I’ll never be the same Oh God.

Your love is like fire,
that burns for all to see.
My only desire,
to worship at Your feet.
So let this fire
consume my life.
Let Your love take me deeper,
pull me closer to where You are,
’cause all I want is more of You.

When You call I will follow.
At the cross I surrender all,
Jesus I belong to You.

I belong to You Lord

Your love is like fire,
that burns for all to see.
My only desire,
to worship at Your feet.

Your love is like fire,
that burns for all to see.
My only desire,
to worship at Your feet.

So let this fire
consume my life.
Let Your love take me deeper,
pull me closer to where You are,
’cause all I want is more of You.

When You call I will follow,
at the cross I surrender all,
Jesus I belong to You.

Let Your love take me deeper,
pull me closer to where You are,
cause all I want is more of You

When You call I will follow,
at the cross I surrender all,
Jesus I belong to You. (Hillsong)

This is from a book I was reading at the time called (oddly enough) I Gave God Time.

“I have always believed in dreams, I thought I was strong . . . invincible. I resented weakness . . . denied it. Have worked all my life to prove it was not a part of me.

This last year, I have realized how imperfect I am. Along with the entire human race, I am weak. Jesus is my only Hope. . . .

I know what it is to be scared.

Tonight, I am no longer the self-assured, brave person I once was. . . but I am running my race to the end.

I am not getting off. . . not qutting.

I am living out all I committed myself to in my YES book. . . to hurt, pain, loss, death.

Tonight, I still know YES pays, it leads me to the finish line.

I am running straight to the end, even if I have had to crawl part way.” (Ann Kiemel Anderson)

Blessed Are the Ignored

“Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty” (Mother Teresa).

Have you ever felt like you were being ignored?

Have you ever worked in an office where a co-worker made the point of chatting with everyone else but never with you?

Have you ever sent out a friend request on Facebook and not even gotten the dignity of a response?

Have you ever texted or messaged someone and it seemed like that person didn’t even feel you were worth bothering to respond to?

Have you ever felt that no guy or girl ever even saw you as a romantic possibility or even thought about you as anything other than a friend?

I read this week that to feel ignored is the worst feeling of all. I agree. It hits at one of our most vulnerable spots– the need to feel valued and appreciated as a human being.

When someone ignores you, that person is essentially saying to you, “You don’t matter. You have no value.” It’s demeaning not only to that individual, but also to the God who created them (see Psalm 139).

Jesus knows exactly what that feels like. He stood before Jerusalem, weeping because they refused to turn to Him so that they could have true and eternal life.

Do you know something? There is never a moment that goes by where you are not on God’s mind. There is never a second where you are not on God’s heart and His eye is not on you.

Jesus would rather go through the hell of crucifixion and death for you than go to heaven without you. If you had been the only one, He still would have gone through all of the torture and pain because He thought you were worth it. And He still does. He still thinks you’re to die for.

Jesus’ love for you proves once and for all that you have worth and value. You matter. Whatever anyone else ever says or does to you will never negate the fact that your Abba loves you and is very fond of you. He has forever set His affection on you and nothing and no one can ever take it away.

Maybe you’re reading this and realize you’ve been guilty of ignoring someone, either consciously or otherwise. Maybe you’re feeling a tug at your heart compelling you to go to that person and make it right. Don’t let another day go by until you repent before God and restore that relationship.

Remember, God’s heart is still for the widow and the orphan, the outcast and the forgotten, those that society ignores. He still blesses those who bless them. In the Kingdom of God, everyone has a place. In God’s call, everyone is to hear the Good News; no one is ever to be left out.

I now understand that sometimes people are too overwhelmed by circumstances to see me. Sometimes, it’s all they can do to hold themselves together and not fall apart completely. The best thing you can do for someone who doesn’t acknowledge you is to pray God’s peace and healing over them. To pray they know in that very moment that God sees them in their pain and knows where they are.

God, you see us when no one else does and You’re with us when we feel most alone. Be with the ones feeling alone and may they feel You near in the moment of their greatest need. Amen.

An Invitation

Imagine you go to the mailbox. It’s a crisp autumn day and the leaves are just starting to fall off the trees.

Inside the mailbox, you see the usual assortment of bills, ads, junk mail, and more bills. But one stands out. It’s a very ornate envelope with your name handwritten in calligraphy.

Inside you find a golden ticket with your name engraved, inviting you to a special banquet. Imagine the fanciest restaurant you’ve ever eaten at times ten and this is where you’re invited.

Jesus has invited you to dine with Him.

Some will decline. Some will make excuses and find reasons not to come. Some will put careers or possessions or relationships ahead of this invitation.

Maybe you feel like declining for different reasons.

You say, “How can I possibly afford this?”

There’s a slip inside the envelope that reads, “Paid in Full.”

You think, “Does this person know who he’s inviting? I’m nobody. I don’t matter to anyone. If I died tomorrow, nothing would be different and no one would notice my absence.”

Or you think, “Does he know what I’ve done. How I’ve lied and cheated and stolen and broken promises? How I’ve left a train-wreck of destroyed lives and broken people?”

You know you don’t deserve an invitation. I didn’t. I offered up every excuse I could think of. “No one wants me there.” “I ruin everything I touch.” “People are better off without me in their lives, or better yet, would have been better off if they’d never met me.”

The invitations kept coming.

“I know who you are and what you’ve done. You matter enough to me for me to purchase your place at My table with My own life and My own blood.”

Do you know Jesus wants you? Do you believe it? Do you understand He thought you were to die for? Do you fully grasp that Jesus loves you in this moment, just as you are and not as you should be or could be?

All you have to do is say YES to His invitation and He steps into Your life, into the messiest, most broken parts you’ve been too ashamed to show to anyone. He starts bringing healing and wholeness and purpose and direction to your life.

Will you say YES? It’s up to you. No one will force you to go. But this offer won’t last forever. Trust me. Whatever you think is more important doesn’t begin to compare with this feast, with Who’s offering it to you.

Just you think about that for a while.

Revisiting the Old Fears


All fear is but the notion that God’s love ends” (Ann Voskamp).

Sometimes they do come back.

I’m talking about fears. Every so often, you will run into one of those along your path, usually when you least expect it and thought you had dealt with it.

Here’s a few examples.

Someone stops responding to your texts. The fear says, “See? You’ve offended that person in some way. You’ve ruined the relationship and it will never again be the same.”

A good friend moves to another town. “The fear moved in and whispers, “She won’t tell you to your face, but the real reason she moved was to get away from you.”

The one that dogged me for years was this: “Every one will eventually abandon you. Once they’ve seen what you’re really like, they won’t want to have anything more to do with you. They’ll start by growing distant with you and then disappear altogether. Nothing you do matters. No one notices anything you say. You might as well never have been born.”

Or maybe your fear goes like this: “You’re not worth someone’s love. No one could ever be attracted to you. You are repulsive to the opposite sex. You will always be alone.”


Fear lies. That’s its nature.

Fear doesn’t come from God. Ever. Fear comes from the father of lies and means to keep you from God, imprisoned in your anxieties and phobias

Remember, perfect love casts out fear. And you are perfectly loved, just as you are, not as you should be or could be.

Name the fear. Expose it. Demons die in the light. Rebuke that fear OUT LOUD in the name of Jesus.

You in and of yourself will never defeat fear, but the power of Christ in you has already beaten it once and for all. That power is yours now to claim.

If you’ve allowed yourself to be mastered again to that fear, repent and move forward. Shame is a close relative of fear and is just as bent on keeping you away from God. Shame is also a defeated foe.

You as a child of God fight not for victory but FROM it. Keep that in mind and have a blessed Monday!


Things I Love 31: That Black Horse and Those Cherry Trees

island hammock

Going through some boxes, I found my old merit badge requirement book from when I was a Boy Scout. I didn’t realize it at the time, but life was so much more simple then. Relationships were definitely less complicated. I had a lot less to worry about, thanks to loving family who took care of my needs and left me free to enjoy my childhood. And cartoons were better back then. Just saying. On that note, I move on to #906.

906) Homemade bread with homemade jam.

907) Finishing a game of gin rummy with a positive score.

908) A sense of belonging and being wanted.

909) Those people who care enough about me to actually make time for me in their lives.

910) Grape jelly.

911) When someone sees you at your worst and chooses to stick around and love you in spite of the darkness.

912) My vintage California Raisins beach towel.

913) Peach and/or blackberry cobbler with vanilla ice cream.

914) Really old hymnals.

915) All the Cosby Show episodes before Denise left the show.

916) Resting in the greatness of my Savior’s loving heart.

917) The peace that comes with true surrender.

918) Letting go so that my open hands are ready to receive something better.

919) Embracing the mystery of God in all His love and holiness and not just the parts I understand or that make me feel warm and fuzzy.

920) Another good night of fellowship with the Green Hills Community Group.

921) Making Thursdays my designated downtown Franklin night.

922) Being okay with unresolved tension and the cliffhangers in life.

923) Laying in my bed in the dark late at night listening to good music.

924) Taking my shoes off and wading through the creek at Crockett Park.

925) The relief of Aloe Vera on sunburn.

926) Taking a spoonful of local honey to help with my allergies.

927) Cake batter.

928) Being alone but not lonely.

929) Movies like Gladiator and Braveheart.

930) Taking naps on the couch.

931) When it’s there’s still daylight after 8 pm.

932) The way my grandfather told the best stories.

933) When pants that used to be too tight are now too loose.

934) Not having to write in cursive anymore if I don’t want to.

935) That I’m not fighting for victory but fighting from the victory Jesus has already won.

936) That moment when I’m hopelessly lost and I see a familiar landmark and realize I know where I am.

937) Trying to wrap my brain around the concept of eternity.

938) The prayer I learned from Brennan Manning that I repeat daily– “Abba Father, I belong to You.”

939) Sighing the deep sigh of contentment at close of day.

940) That face.


Things I Love 22: I Have Lots of These Because I’m Old

island hammock

It’s sobering to realize that that girl I thought was really cute was born around the same time I graduated from high school. That’s when the reality set in that I’m not a twentysomething (or even a thirtysomething) any more. But I can still be immature as long as I want.

There’s no graceful way to segueway into my list, so I’ll pretend that the first part of this blog doesn’t exist. On to #586.

586) Last minute invitations to birthday (or other social) gatherings, especially if they’re anywhere near downtown Franklin.

587) The coolness of  the night air after an unexpected rain.

588) In God’s economy, nothing is ever wasted– no bad choices, no mistakes, nothing.

589) In heaven, love and not gold is the standard of currency.

590) That I’m still adding songs to my iPhone’s growing playlist.

591) Getting to sleep in tomorrow because it’s a holiday.

592) Not being afraid of the loud firework noises anymore.

593) Casablanca on blu ray.

594) My newly discovered social skills.

595) Having the privilege to pray for family and friends and knowing that prayer will avail much.

596) Both the 1974 and the 2013 versions of The Great Gatsby (though I prefer the older version slightly).

597) True redheads.

598) Having to show my driver’s license to prove my age.

599) Real accountability and transparency.

600) Getting handwritten letters in the mail.

601) All the Lord of the Rings movies (though the books are still better).

602) Taking pictures at Radner Lake.

603) Seeing what everybody else posts on pinterest and instagram.

604) Making people feel welcome and a part of the group.

605) California seedless raisins.

606) Peanut butter and banana sandwiches.

607) Doing my small part in recycling.

608) Being on the ultimate winning side.

609) Knowing that one day there will be no more politics and no more need of anything political.

610) The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

611) Walking in the rain.

612) Watching a beautiful girl who doesn’t know she’s beautiful.

613) Being able to appreciate beauty without feeling the need to possess it.

614) A good neck and back massage.

615) The way my grandmother’s nails felt when she used to scratch my itchy back when I was little.

616) The smell of eggs and bacon in the morning.

617) Seeing a sunset from above the clouds.

618) My Starbucks friend who may not be the tallest person but who has the biggest heart of anyone I know.

619) Every time faith wins out over fear.

620) Only having 380 more to go.