“Neighborliness is not a quality in other people; it is simply their claim on ourselves. Every moment and every situation challenges us to action and to obedience. We have literally no time to sit down and ask ourselves whether so-and-so is our neighbor or not” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship).

Who is my neighbor? That’s the question that the expert in Jewish law asked Jesus. In other words, who am I required to love?

Jesus turned the question around from “Who is my neighbor?” to “How am I being a good neighbor to those around me?”

So, a neighbor is anyone who is in need and who is within my power to help. I can’t help every single one in need, but I can meet the needs of those who are in front of me, and those by Jesus’ definition are my neighbors.

Ultimately, the Good Samaritan is a picture of Jesus Himself. I’m the one who foolishly took the dangerous road alone and ended up beaten up and robbed. I’m the one lying half-dead on the road whom the Neighbor spotted and had pity on.

That changes the parable quite a bit, doesn’t it? It means just as the Good Samaritan wasn’t the kind of hero the Jewish audience was expecting, Jesus wasn’t (and isn’t) the kind of Messiah we were expecting.

We prize physical strength and virility. We prize magazine-cover good looks. We love take-charge, grab-the-bull-by-the-horns people.

I wonder sometimes if we’d know Jesus as Messiah if He showed up today as He did almost two millennia ago. People were expecting someone to rally the people against Rome, but instead got a man who insisted that we turn the other cheek and go the extra mile.

Sure, Jesus overturned those tables in the Temple, but He also said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

I’m thankful most of all that in Jesus, I got not the kind of Savior I might have wanted, but the kind I so desperately needed. He loved ( and still loves) me just like I am but refuses to let me stay that way.

PS Credit for all of this goes to Mike Glenn, courtesy of tonight’s Kairos message. Check it out some Tuesday evening if you’re ever in the Brentwood/Greater Nashville area.


Takeaways From Another Immersion Conference

I attended an Immersion: Going Deeper conference at Brentwood Baptist Church over the last two days, featuring Union University professor Dr. George Guthrie.

It was as good as billed and more.

God’s Unfolding Story was the theme and Dr. Guthrie spoke about how grace always has a face and a space in which to work. To me, that says that grace works best not as a theoretical proposition, but as a concrete reality lived out in the midst of where we live, work, and play.

Grace says that I have a standing invitation into the throneroom of the God of the Universe that never expires and never gets rescinded. As a student at Union University back in the day, I’d never have dreamed of barging into University President Dr. Hyram Barefoot’s office and telling him fears and dreams.

But God invites me to do just that. It is His desire that I come to Him at any moment with whatever’s on my mind. He is a good, good, Father, as the current worship song says.

Sometimes, it’s good to simply sit in God’s lap and bask in His presence. Other times, only two words will do for my prayer: thank you.

There have been times when the hurt and pain go too deep for words, yet God hears the sighs and groans that go deeper than any words can ever express.

It was great seeing Dr. Guthrie again, as well as Chuck Maxwell. It was also fantastic getting to hear Michael Card perform a couple of songs on Friday night. That alone was worth the price of admission.

Sometimes, it’s good to go deeper into God and to find out that He’s way more amazing than you had ever imagined in your wildest dreams. He never disappoints those who seek Him with pure and willing hearts.

That’s a fact.

The end.


A Good Place to Start

It was another good night at Kairos, a young(ish) adult worship event that takes place at 7pm every Tuesday night at Brentwood Baptist Church (shameless plug). It’s located off I-65 exit 71 if you’re ever in the area (another shameless plug).

Tonight, Mike Glenn spoke about how Jesus, who defined how we measure history, came into the world in an inauspicious way. He didn’t come with pomp and circumstance to Jerusalem or Rome. He was born to peasant parents in backwater Bethlehem and the first eyewitnesses to the event were some smelly shepherds keeping their flocks in a nearby field.

The takeaway from tonight? Jesus is looking for a good place to start.

If I can offer up even the most hesitant agreements and the most tentative yes to God, He can completely transform my world and then use me to transform the world around me. I still believe that because I’ve seen it too many times not to believe.

That’s why I love the Christmas story. Jesus didn’t ask us to get our acts together and get cleaned up so we could make our way to Him. While we was still mired in sin, Jesus came down to where we were and became one of us. Not as a high and mighty ruler or a holier-than-thou mystic, but as the son of a carpenter. A regular joe.

By the way, if you come to Kairos, they have free coffee and Cheez-Its. For me, that’s an irresistible draw, but I understand that not everyone has come to truly experience the awesomeness of the little snack crackers known as Cheez-Its. I pray they one day will.

And if you’re stuck in a rut or don’t like where you are, remember that God is always looking for a good place to start. Maybe that next place is in you?


Tuesdays Are Good Again

As you know, I’m a greeter for Kairos, a contemporary worship event on Tuesdays at 7 pm. I realized tonight that this fall will mark nine years that I have volunteered by offering a smile and a hello as people make their way into Hudson Hall on the Brentwood Baptist Church campus.

I love what I do and I love that people know me as the greeter guy from Kairos. I truly think that my worship experience is all the greater for me having invested, however small, my time and my somewhat limited people skills. I’m not the world’s biggest extrovert who can walk up to any stranger at any time and start a conversation, but I can offer a friendly greeting to the person in front of me.

On some days, it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. I mean how hard is it really to wave at someone and say, “Hi”?

But then I think that maybe the person I’m greeting has had a rotten day or even a horrible week. I may be the first face that person has seen that isn’t cursing at them or sneering at them. Maybe that person will look at me and see Jesus smiling at them. Who knows?

I’ve been on the other end, barely making it through the week and badly in need of something– anything– positive. I know the power of a smile and a friendly greeting. I know the power of encouraging words, whether spoken or texted or posted. In fact, when I missed Kairos a couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine posted on my wall that she missed seeing me there. That meant the world to me.

You don’t have to have the Bible memorized or have your theology down pat to be able to serve. All you need are open hands and a willing heart. Sometimes, all you need is simply to show up and get out of the way so that Jesus can take over.


A Legacy of Love That Includes YOU

 Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” (Hebrews 12:1-3)

I attend The Church at Avenue South. Somewhere in the neighborhood of two years ago, some members of Brentwood Baptist Church had a dream about reaching out to the residents of the Melrose and Berry Hill area for Jesus and set out to make that dream a reality. They were told that it was impossible to find a place in the area for a church to meet. God proved them wrong.

45 years ago, Brentwood Baptist Church was the dream in the minds of some people from Woodmont Baptist Church. People told them that to plant a church in Brentwood was a pipe dream– there would never be enough people to warrant a church in the area. God again proved them wrong.

In 1941, someone had the vision to start Woodmont Baptist Church itself. 74 years later, who knows how many people have been affected by that one simple act of obedience? Who knows how far the ripples will reach from that one stone’s throw?

You are part of a legacy of love. Even if you don’t know it, you have a crowd cheering you on and rooting for you. Whether that’s your physical family or your spiritual family or even those who have gone on and are watching from heaven, you have people who are on your side. Even Jesus Himself roots for you and intercedes for you.

It’s easy on the dark days to feel alone, that you don’t matter, that nothing you do makes any difference. It’s easy to think that nothing will ever change for the better, that this is as good as it will ever get.

Don’t let that be the final word. Let what Jesus has declared be the final word. What did He declare? That He would finish what He started in you, that He had plans for you not for barm but for hope and a future for you, that eye has not seen nor ear heard what God has prepared for those who love Him (and those He loves).

Let this Monday be the day that you run your race faithfully, knowing you have a legacy both behind and ahead of you, cheering you on and being inspired by you to run their own race.


Being on the Ground Floor


Today at my church, there were few–if any– empty chairs. That might not sound like much until you consider that this church has only officially been in existence since July of last year (with the official launch in September).

I’ve always said that I wanted to be on the ground floor of a church plant and here I am.

My role may not be a big one, but I am playing a small part. I am a greeter on most Sunday mornings and once every month or so I run the graphics, which includes song lyrics and other slides related to the Sunday morning service.

I enjoy it. I really love the fact that we as the local body of Christ are making an impact on the neighborhood in which God has placed us. People driving by can’t help but notice the sign that reads “The Church at Avenue South– a regional campus of Brentwood Baptist Church.” Jesus has moved into the neighborhood and we are His visible body here on earth.

I can’t wait to see what happens in the year ahead. I pray that we won’t be content to maintain status quo but instead seek ways to think outside that proverbial box and truly become all things to all people, just as Paul talked about in 1 Corinthians 9:22.

In fact, my prayer is for all the churches in Nashville to do the same. I really do hope that we can get away from the competitive spirit and learn to work together as the Church. After all, Jesus prayed that we would be one as He and His Father are one.

More than that, I pray the churches in Nashville will stick to the Gospel that Paul preached, no matter what. That’s what saves people and that’s what people are dying to hear, both figuratively and literally.


No More TNT?

It was weird not having my usual TNT discipleship class tonight at Brentwood Baptist Church. I’d gotten so used to these Wednesday nights as part of my routine and now, once again, my routine has been changed.

I’d willingly go through all of it again if I could. Even the public speaking part, which is definitely NOT my forte.

It’s also funny how something I was a part of for only a year became so ingrained into my life that it almost feels like withdrawal not going anymore. Relationships are the same way. When people move off, it seems strange not to see them around anymore, even if they weren’t in your life for very long.

I used to say how much I liked change and how exciting it all was. Now I’ve experienced quite a few changes and it doesn’t seem so exciting anymore. Scary? Yes. Thrilling? Not so much. Unpredictable? Absolutely.

What I love now more than anything is the God who stays the same amidst all the constant changes. It’s true that the only constant is change. Well, it’s mostly true. The only constants are that God remains God and that everything else changes. Except His Word and His promises.

Sometimes I think it’d be nice to have a heads-up on some of the upcoming changes so I could prepare physically, emotionally, spiritually. You know, bring an extra pair of underwear along for the special occasions where it gets really exciting.

But only God knows. I may not trust what tomorrow will bring but I can trust that God will orchestrate it for my good. There’s nothing so bad that God can’t use for good and eventually turn it to the best possible outcome.

God knows the future because He’s already there. God knows my past because He’s there now, healing those wounds of mine so that they no longer bleed into my present (stolen from my pastor). He’s also right with me right now. That’s the best part.


New Beginnings


It happens in two weeks. Three at the most.

What am I talking about?

It’s a new satellite campus of Brentwood Baptist Church, called The Church at Avenue South.

Two weeks from now (hopefully), the church meets at its new location on Franklin Pike in the old Acuff-Rose building. It’s gonna be awesome.

I’ve been a part of this new congregation for a few months, not as long as some, but long enough to sense that something great is about to happen.

I’ve always wanted to be a part of the ground-floor movement of a church plant. Now I get to. I believe the neighborhood around this new church location will be different and better because we’ve been there. Or better yet, because Jesus will have been there.

I imagine it feels like when Paul went to a new city and started a church there. I realize that Nashville is the buckle of the Bible belt, but there are plenty of unchurched people living in this city. In fact, the vast majority of people don’t attend church at all.

Our job isn’t to fill seats with seats. Our job is to love these people around us, whether they respond favorably to our gospel or not. Our job is to love them the same way God once loved us– and still does– unconditionally.

I’m still not sure what my part will be in all this, but I feel very fortunate and blessed to even be a miniscule part of what is obviously a work of God. I know one day I’ll look back and say, “I was there when it all started.”

I still remember what I learned from Experiencing God, a Henry Blackaby Bible study. He said the key is to find out where God is already at work and join Him there. That’s what I’m doing.

Pray for this new church. Pray for the leadership for protection from moral failings and for wisdom and discernment. Pray that people will be irresistibly compelled to come through the doors at 2510 Franklin Pike to see what it’s all about. Pray that we as members will live in such a way that people ask about the difference in our lives.

More to come later.


Tuesdays Are Still Good


Tuesdays are awkward. They’re those misfit days between the dreaded Mondays and the (I think) vastly overrated Hump Days known as Wednesday.

But for me, Tuesdays are my favorite. That’s because Kairos is on Tuesday.

I’ve been involved with Kairos for 8 years. I’ve volunteered as a greeter for almost as long. I’ve seen lots of people come and go and been through quite a lot in that timespan.

The attendance numbers have soared way up, plummeted back to earth, then achieved a sort of happy medium. The teaching and music have remained consistently good.

The latest series was Letters to Me. It was based on the idea of what you might tell your younger self if you could somehow get hold of pen, paper, and a time machine. Or a 1985 DeLorean.

Probably, you’d tell yourself to avoid some people. You’d tell yourself not to do some things and not to go certain places.

I love the idea that there’s nothing in your past that is irredeemable. There’s nothing God can’t use and nothing God can’t turn into something good. Just ask Joseph. Or Jacob. Or Abraham.

My favorite line from Kairos is the one that says that God can take that worst moment of your life, the one you swore up and down that you would never tell ANYBODY about, and make it the very first line of your testimony.

If you’re ever in the Nashville area on a Tuesday night, check out Kairos. It’s at 7 pm in Hudson Hall at Brentwood Baptist Church, located off I-65 exit 71. It’s kinda hard to miss.

God willing, I plan to be there for at least the next 8 years.



At my church, we’ve been talking a lot about oikis. No, it’s not a brand of yogurt. No, it’s not what the Greek family kept yelling in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding (that’s opa).

Oikos is the Greek word for household. Or family. It can mean the people in your life, the people with whom you live and work and play. Those people God has put into your life so that they can see Jesus in you.

I have two questions for you: 1) who is in your life right now that needs to know Jesus? and 2) what are you doing about it?

I have to confess that I’m asking the question to myself more than to anyone else. I also have to confess that it doesn’t bother me very much most of the time that I know people who don’t know Jesus. I can go long periods of time without praying for them.

I don’t say that to beat myself up or so that you can feel sorry for me. I say that to let you know that if you feel that way, you’re not alone. I say that to let you know there’s hope even for slackers like us.

I know that one thing I can do better is to pray for the people around me that I see on a regular basis. That’s a start. And maybe I could pray for opportunities to share my faith with others.

I was reminded again of something I learned a while ago. God doesn’t call any of us to be lawyers and prove Christianity. He calls us to be witnesses, to share what we’ve seen and heard, of what Jesus has done in our lives. And you can argue theology and politics all day long, but you can’t argue with what God has done in someone’s life, especially if it results in a life thats visibly transformed.

As always, I believe, Lord. Help my unbelief.