Time, Talents, and Treasures

“Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me, I wish none of this had happened. Gandalf:  So do all who live to see such times but that is not for them to decide, All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you” (The Lord of the Rings)

“Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God” (Leo Buscaglia).

Tonight’s topic for the Bible study at Room in the Inn was the parable of the talents. The gist of the story is how one man was given five talents, one two, and the other one. The first two immediately invested the treasure while the third one unwisely buried it.

The first two earned the praise of the master while the third one showed his true colors and saw the fruits of his dishonesty.

I wonder if that third man, instead of thinking of ways to use what talents he had, spent his time bemoaning how the others had more than he and how unfair that was. His envy warped the way he saw the master and his motives.

I wondered tonight why the talents were distributed unequally. Why not give each one five talents? Or two?

I think there’s something to learn from that. Some people have more gifts and talents than others. The question isn’t how much you have but what you do with what you have.

You can waste your talents by comparing them to others, which leads to either pride when you have more and self-pity when you have less. The end result is never fruitful or good.

Or you can use what you have where you are to bless and serve those in your path. You may not have the more showy talents, but God has uniquely gifted you and molded you to play a role that only you can play.

You can compare or you can contribute. The choice is yours.

A Little Glen Frey for the Night Ride Home

Note: I inadvertently took the night off from blogging last night after getting home a bit late. I supposed I was more tired than I had originally though.

My Wednesday adventure started off after work with dinner at The Smiling Elephant. For those not from Nashville or not familiar with this place, it is an amazingly fantastic Thai restaurant a little over a mile down the road from my church, The Church at Avenue South.

I had some Pad Kra Pao on a dare (to myself). It was super spicy. I was quoting Paris Hilton non-stop– “That’s hot.” It’s probably the hottest, spiciest thing I’ve eaten on purpose (not counting that wasabi that I thought was guacamole).

From there, I went to Ave South for a Summer Series Bible Study, led by my friend Parker Bradley on 1 Timothy 3. It could have been very dry and academic, but he did a great job of making it interesting and relevant.

After, some of us headed over to The Sutler, where I had maybe the best dessert known to man. I don’t remember the name, but I remember that it had chocolate and peanut brittle and about 50,000 calories. It was Christmas and Easter combined and made edible. It was that good.

On the way home, I had the music of one Mr. Glenn Frey to keep me company. It was one of the rare moments when the music matched my mood and perfectly fit the nighttime setting.

More people are familiar with his work with the Eagles, but not as many know about his solo projects. He was as good a musician, singer, and songwriter as just about anyone in the business. He was the real deal.

I got home and had some quality therapy time with one very sleepy and very geriatric cat (you probably know her as Lucy the Wonder Cat a.k.a. Lucy Furr).

It was one of those days filled with a multitude of small blessings and graces that I hope I’ll always remember for as long as I live.


Keep On Walking

For it’s by God’s grace that you have been saved. You receive it through faith. It was not our plan or our effort. It is God’s gift, pure and simple. You didn’t earn it, not one of us did, so don’t go around bragging that you must have done something amazing10 For we are the product of His hand, heaven’s poetry etched on lives, created in the Anointed, Jesus, to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago” (Ephesians 2:8-10, The Voice).

At Room in the Inn, some guys from The Church at Station Hill led a Bible study for the homeless men on Ephesians 2. What caught my attention was the part in verse 10 where Paul states that we are God’s poem, created by God for good works, which He prepared ahead of time that we should walk in them.

The guy leading the study pointed out that walking denotes remaining steady and grounded. It means you aren’t flashy and don’t garner a lot of attention, but you are faithful in the little things and the daily chores. It’s a day-by-day thing, more of a marathon than a sprint.

Plus, it’s more than lip-service. It does no good to know all about the Bible if you live contrary to what it says. It does no good when you profess faith with your lips then deny it with your lifestyle (to borrow from the original Ragamuffin, Brennan Manning.

Walking in good works means that you make a habit of doing what God says to do, not in your own way, but in God’s way. It doesn’t mean that you don’t occasionally falter and fail, but that you never stop striving for obedience and faithfulness to Jesus.

Rather than hearing us quote verses and spout doctrine, what those around us really need to see is a quiet life of committed faithfulness and staying true to the path of walking in what God commands. That in itself is the greatest witness a believer can have.

All that from one Bible study.


God of Wonders: Thoughts on Community

It’s amazing what true community will do for the weary and heavy-laden. Or just those who are in need of a nap.

My community group met again, and it was good. We started our study of Philippians, focusing on the first twelve verses.

For me, the best part was afterwards. I can’t really point to any one moment as extra magical, but it was really just the five of us sharing life together. One of the bright moments that I do recall is one of the girls breaking out the guitar and leading us in the oldie but goodie, God of Wonders.

Community doesn’t have to be earth-shattering or ground-breaking (or any of those other tried and true cliches). It can mean sharing the small moments of life together. It can be me saying to you, “I see you and I’m a witness to the fact that you’re not in this alone. I’m with you.”

Sometimes, that’s all we need– just a voice that says, “No, you’re not the only one who struggles with fear and doubt. No, you’re not weird or crazy. Yes, you will get through this. Yes, we will be with you.”

If you find a group of people who will let you be yourself, warts and all, you have truly found a blessing. It may not always look pretty, but then again, those healing moments never are. What we need most is quite honestly a lot less pleasant that what we’d like. But you’re never broken, you can never be truly whole.

My goal is to lead my own group soon. Hopefully sooner than later. But for now I’m enjoying being a part of a group where the leader sets the example of authenticity and honesty better than just about anybody I’ve seen. Thanks, David. Also, thanks to Jeff, Abbey, and Paige for making me feel so welcome.

The end.



Lessons from Lent


This may be old hat for you or not. I’m not sure. But stop me if you’ve heard some or all of this before: last year, I gave up only Facebook for Lent. This year, I decided to give up all social media. It turned out to be one of my best decisions ever. Although if I’m honest, I was being obedient to what I felt God was calling me to do. It really wasn’t my decision at all.

I don’t regret for one single second going without social media for those 46 days. I got in more prayer time, I read my Bible more, I read more books in general. Plus, I had a greater sense of peace from not being tied down to Facebook or Twitter.

I think sometimes in order to appreciate something more, you need to step away from it for a while. That was the case for me. I did sometimes feel out of the loop after missing all the news from Facebook. But I can always catch up on that.

Lent is more than just giving up. It’s replacing it with something better. It’s no good to give up social media if you’re going to fill up the time with television. Hopefully, you spend your extra free time in learning to hear God’s voice and hear His heartbeat and feel His love for you. Obviously, the best way to do that is through His Word.

I don’t claim that I was anywhere near perfect in that regard. I wasted too much of the time I had away from social media. But I’m not beating myself up about it. Instead I choose to focus on the fact that I was more discipline in regard to prayer and Bible reading than I’ve been in a long time.

I hope to be able to participate in Lent again next year. I hope that I can be free enough to walk away from anything that enslaves me and takes my eyes off Jesus, whether that be social media or TV or anything else.

Like I said before, it’s really not about giving up stuff or sacrificing what you love. More than that, it’s about prioritizing your life and making sure that Jesus and His Kingdom really and truly are first. Then everything else will line up and fall into proper place.

This Is The Voice!


First of all, I bet you just sang those words. Especially if you’ve watched NBC’s The Voice, a reality singing competition. But this blog has nothing to do with that.

Here, The Voice refers to a new translation of the Bible that I’ve chosen for my annual read through the Bible campaign. So far, I’m up to Leviticus. Not bad for me getting a late start this year.

So far, I’m vividly reminded that those pesky Israelites never quite got it right. Even from the start, they were bowing down to idols, sleeping around, and whining like my cat.

Then I’m reminded that I’m a LOT like that. I may not bow down to little wooden statues, but I do have mixed-up priorities where other things and people get put ahead of God. I may not sleep around, but I’ve harbored a few lustful thoughts in my head from time to time.

And I do complain. Maybe not always out loud, but I do get grumpy occasionally and have bad attitudes every now and then (as in every other day).

I’m also reminded that God stuck with His people through all their growing pains and bad choices and outright rebellion. He kept His word, not because they were so faithful but because He was– and still is.

Side note: I’m extremely thankful I’m not bound to offer sacrifices every time I sin. For one, I don’t keep a flock of sheep, goats, and bulls in my backyard. Also, it’s a very messy affair. All that slaughtering and sprinkling blood and burning organs grosses me out a bit.

That reminds me that 1) the cost of my sin is never cheap and 2) the price Jesus paid for my sin was way too high, more than I deserved by a long shot. I should never ever ever take my sin lightly.

I recommend that if you read through the Bible every year that you vary it up and read different translations and different styles of translations. Maybe read a word-for-word version like the NASB one year then read a looser version like the NIV the next. Or possibly even The Message.

More to come on my Bible reading progress. . .

A Kairos Greeter Prayer


“I want the last face you see in this world to be the face of love, so you look at me when they do this thing. I’ll be the face of love for you” (Sister Helen Prejean, Dead Man Walking).


I’m just one person. There are so many hurting and lost people who feel like nobody sees them. There are so many crying out for someone to notice them in their pain and anguish. Some will be here tonight for Kairos. Some will bring their profound brokenness, their wrist scars, their needle marks, their shattered dreams, their dashed hopes.

Help the first face they see in mine to be the face of Love. For some, it could be the last face they see, and may they leave this world knowing they saw at least one face filled with Your lovingkindness.

Help them to not see Greg Johnson, but Jesus Christ. May it be His smile they see and His words they hear and His hope they receive.

Let Your joy be in me and let it overflow to those who walk by. May your peace radiate outward from me in tangible waves to those who are in bondage to fear and doubt and anxiety. May You be everything in that moment and may I be nothing but a vessel for You to love Your people through.

I can’t touch every single hurting person, but I can be Jesus to just one. I can love the person in front of me. I can show grace to the next person who walks by my door.

Most of all, may they not remember me or Michael Boggs and the worship team or Mike Glenn (or whoever else happens to be teaching that night). If they don’t remember any of the lyrics to any of the songs or anything of the message, may they walk away knowing they have met with You, the Almighty Creator and King of the Universe as well as the Abba Father and Counter of the Lowliest Sparrow.

And may they never be the same again.


Metro Memphis Memories


This morning as I was getting dressed, I pulled out an old t-shirt I hadn’t worn in a while. It was my Metro Memphis greeter shirt that I wore as a part of that undenominational Bible study in Germantown, Tennessee. It’s been at least 6 years, but the memories of those days are still fresh in my mind.

It’s funny how random little things can trigger memories of people you haven’t thought about in a long time or places you haven’t been to in years. Maybe it’s a t-shirt or a bracelet. Maybe it’s something that used to belong to someone else, like my grandfather’s old tube radio.

As I wear this shirt, I am reminded of some good times and good friendships I had during those years. It’s highly doubtful that I will ever see any of those people again, but I’m glad to have known them and have them in my life.

I’m also reminded that life really is fleeting and transitory. A truer word was never spoken than when someone once said that the only constant you can expect in life is that change will come.

Of course, God is the same always. But so often people come and go, places change, and it seems that you’re standing in one spot while the rest of the world is rushing around you. At least I feel that way sometimes.

I’ve learned not to try to hold on to what’s passing or to want to go back to what was, but to be thankful for what is and appreciate the people and things in my life as the gifts (and not entitlements) that they are.

If any of you who went to Metro Memphis are reading this, I’m thankful for you and how you made that time in my life so special. If you’re ever in Nashville, look me up and we can meet up at a Starbucks and reminisce about the old days or even talk about the new ones.

There Be Dragons in the Book of Revelation

I started attending a new Bible study led by Mike Glenn, pastor of Brentwood Baptist Church and lead teacher at Kairos on Tuesday nights. It’s all about the mysterious book of Revelation. Yeah, that scary book at the end of the Bible before you get to the maps.

It’s really not about how things are eventually going to turn out one day. It’s about how they already are. It’s not about how one day Jesus will ascend to the throne, but how He’s already there.

I confess I’ve missed the point of the book in the past. It’s not about who the anti-Christ will be or what day the end will come. The reason John wrote the book was to encourage believers who were facing intense persecution by a very hostile and anti-Christian government.

It’s about how evil forces in the world will try to rise up against God and His people, but how God in Christ has already overcome the enemy. The outcome is not in doubt. Jesus has already won the battle at Calvary.

The best takeaway from tonight’s study was that this book was written in worship to communities of worship about whom to worship. Not Caesar, but Christ.

Revelation is a reminder that the ending to my story is already written and it is a happy ending. No matter what I’m currently facing or how hopeless my situation seems sometimes, the best really is yet to come.

So I suppose I really will be spending a lot of time in that last book of the Bible. I could read all the commentaries and bible study guides and Tim LaHaye books in the world, but I’d be much better off just reading the book itself. Only God’s Word is living and active. Only God’s Word is God-breathed.

There will be more about those dragons and seven-horned beasts and other special guest appearances from the Book of Revelation in blogs to follow. I’m looking forward to it.


Thursdays are Good Again

Thursdays usually don’t get much respect. They’re always the day before Friday, which gets all the credit for being for being the start of the weekend.

But for me, Thursdays are good again.

I particupate in Kairos Roots, a Thursday Bible Study for those who want to go deeper into God’s Word and God’s community. I am a table leader, which means I facilitate discussion. In simple terms, I ask a question or two and sit back and watch and learn.

Mike Glenn, the main speaker at Kairos, a related Bible Study on Tuesdays, always says that as a believer you need three things– worship, service, and community. I need community because the first person I lie to is me.

I’ve found that sitting at the table, someone next to me or across from me may have a different way of looking at a verse or a doctrine or an application. They may have an insight I’d never thought of before. Something I say may have an impact on someone else, although it seems I am usually the one who gets impacted the most.

I never leave quite the same person. I walk away wiser and more aware of how inter-connected we as believers all are. We all need each other. Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto. No one makes it through alone. No one who wants to stay sane, anyway.

Also, if you spend the week ministering and serving others, you will eventually be drained. You need a place to recharge and revitalize. You need a place where you can grow and mature and learn how to serve better.

If you’re in the Nashville area on Thursday nights, drop by the Connection Center at Brentwood Baptist Church at 7 pm. There’s always good worship to start things off, good teaching, and good table discussion afterward. You will be blessed.