More Than You Can Handle

The old saying goes like this: God will never give you more than you can handle.

It sounds good. It sounds biblical. The only problem is that it’s not.

1 Corinthians 10:13 says that God will not let you be tempted beyond what you are able to bear, but will provide a way out, so that you may be able to endure.

The key difference, as Chris Brooks explained tonight in Kairos, is that we are often given more than we can handle by ourselves. Our strength lies in community and our ability to endure rests in fellowship.

If God never gave me as an individual more than I could handle, I’d more than likely slip into self-righteousness and be completely lacking in grace toward others who are struggling. I wouldn’t know the sweet communion that comes from prayers of desperation and surrender. As it is, God often allows me to go through circumstances and situations that force me to rely on God’s sustaining strength and the combined power of community.

The problem with God never giving me more than I can handle is that if I’m struggling, then the fault must lie with me. I must not have enough faith. I must be doing it wrong.

Even the apostle Paul and his companions went through situations that were beyond their ability to bear. Paul himself was given a thorn in his flesh that he begged God to remove, but God declared that His strength would be made perfect in Paul’s very weakness he felt he could not endure.

I love what Chris said. He said that yes, God will give you more than you can bear. He will give you more grace, more love, and more mercy than you can handle. Not only that, but His mercies and grace will be new every morning.

I confess that God Himself is more than I can handle sometimes. If I could completely comprehend and grasp all that is the Eternal Mystery with my finite understanding, then what I am beholding isn’t the Infinite God but a god of my own creation.

God is so much more than anything I could dream up or imagine on my own. He’s big enough for whatever is too much for me to handle and strong enough to get me through what I cannot bear and tender enough to surround me with those who will be able to bear with me through seasons of trial and temptation.


Reaching Out with Joy

“Father, our source of life,
You know our weakness.
May we reach out with joy to grasp your hand
and walk more readily in your ways.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever” (from The Liturgy of the Hours).

I posted this prayer exactly three years ago today on Facebook and it still echoes the longings of my heart. Too often we’ve felt weak and afraid and unsure. Too often we listen to the wrong voices that lead us into isolation and loneliness rather than into community and fellowship.

Reaching out with joy to God is admitting that we can’t overcome our weaknesses. It’s confessing our great need for God to guide us through this life.

The joy part comes in knowing that God never turns away anyone who seeks Him in earnest and will not fail to come to those who seek Him in faith.

May we reach out with joy to the God who reaches out to us in our weakest and most shameful moments.

The Walking Greg

For my exciting Saturday evening, I binge-watched season 5 of The Walking Dead. Not all of it, just most of it.

It is interesting to me how the core group of the show has been scattered many times over the course of the series, yet they always find a way to reconnect.

That’s a great picture of the Church. We meet corporately on Sunday to remember and celebrate what God has done during the week and then each go our separate ways on Monday through Saturday, to reconnect the next Sunday.

I’ve learned that that by itself isn’t enough. You need more than once a week togetherness to pull through. You need brothers and sisters in Christ who will encourage and support, as well as hold you accountable at least once or twice during the week (other than Sunday).

There it is. Not exactly earth-shattering or new. The secret is community.

Yet how many times are we tempted and drawn to the whole “you have to fight your battles alone and trust no one but yourself” thing? It seems that the first instinct when any struggle arises is to retreat into isolation.

That’s where most temptations are fought . . . and lost.

Most of us aren’t strong enough to face demons alone. We do really need each other.

So that’s my not exactly original message to you. It’s been said before (and probably better), but it does bear repeating that community is vital to survival in a world increasingly hostile to those who proclaim and actually follow Jesus.

It’s probably only going to get worse from here on out, so take heart and reach out to connect with fellow believers.

That’s all I have on this Saturday night at 10:29 pm.

Good night.


Better Together


So many of the famous musical groups were better than the sum of their parts.

Take Simon and Garfunkel, for instance. To me, what they did together is better than what Paul Simon or Art Garfunkel have done since.

Don’t get me wrong. I love me some Kodachrome or Still Crazy After All These Years, but it’s just not up to the level of Sound of Silence or The Boxer.

I truly believe that the old Chicago lineup was way better than what Peter Cetera and the remaining members of Chicago have done since.

So many groups have either split up or seen their lead singer move on to a solo career. Sometimes it works out for the best,  but most of the time, the end result is that what each does separately can never compare to what they did together.

That’s a lot like being a part of the Church. We’re better together. In fact, we’re much more than the sum of our parts when we’re living in fellowship, sharing a common life together.

In Acts, the Holy Spirit came upon the believers and anointed the body of believers to go out and spread the Kingdom message. The results of them being better together are evident in Acts 2 where many thousands of people believed in their message and were added to the Church.

The present age tells you that you don’t need anybody and that you are best on your own. You are actually more vulnerable and prone to temptation when you’re alone, apart from other believers.

That’s why the local church is so important. Not because they’re the perfect group of people. Definitely not because your salvation depends on going to church.

It’s because we can do life together way better than we ever could apart. It’s where you are strong in areas where I am weak, and visa versa.

We are truly better together.

Forgiveness and Grace in January


“Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all people love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour increasingly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family” Henri J.M. Nouwen).

Have you royally messed up with a friend (or at least felt like you have)? Have you ever had someone “let you have it,” verbally blasting you with a post or a text?

Maybe you deserved it. Maybe not.


Or maybe you’re the one who did the telling off. Maybe you got way upset with someone and spoke in pure anger and frustration. Maybe that person deserved it.

I have some questions for you and me.

1) Since when is the life of a believer about giving people what they deserve? Isn’t it supposed to be about giving those in your life the benefit of the doubt and extending grace?

Which leads to my second question:

2) Would I want Jesus treating me as I deserve? Would I even stand a chance?

I know the answers to the second question are: no, not long, and a snowball’s chance in hell.

Maybe I need to drop that stone in my hand and look in the mirror. I may look just like that person I intend to cast that proverbial first stone at. I may not struggle with the same sins, but my sins would make me just as guilty in the eyes of a holy God if not for grace and Jesus.

It’s one thing to call out a person in love when their actions don’t match their professed beliefs. It’s another to blast someone and assume sinful motives, which I’ve done too many times. And in this case, once is one time too many.

You will lose friendships through misundestandings. You will have “friends” who show their true colors when you act in the slightest unloving way or slip in the least. You will have those who will stick with you even when you yourself would have bailed on you.

I’m glad God doesn’t ever give me what I have coming to me or treat me as my sins deserve. Even on my best days, I’d still be in trouble. Because of my favorite word– grace– God looks at my filthy rags of good intentions and best efforts and sees the perfection of Jesus.


Gosh, I do so love grace!

PS You will need to forgive yourself at some point. All of the above still applies if it’s you needing the forgiveness from yourself.

Joy on a Rainy, Yucky Sunday


I had an amazing time dining at Chuy’s with some friends old and new. And by that I mean friends that I’ve known for a while and friends I met today. Compared to me, they were all young whippersnappers.

I had my standard taco salad with both chicken and steak. I had my water with both lemon and lime. I figure why should you be an either/or person when you can be a both/and person? Life’s much more fun that way.

Life’s also more fun when you see the sun behind all those grey clouds and joy in the midst of difficulties and hardships. It’s not like the sun went AWOL during all this rain. It’s still there, behind the clouds and waiting to be unveiled at just the right moment.

Joy’s like that. It’s always there. There’s never a moment without a blessing or a place with no joy to be found. You just have to see with eyes of thanksgiving and gratitude to find the blessings and the joy. Even in the darkest of times, you can always find light if you know where to look.

Later on, I’m celebrating Thanksgiving with some more friends. This year, it’s more than a lot of turkey and dressing. It’s about being truly alive and counting all my gifts that I once took for granted. It’s about celebrating the people in my life who are helping me find and love out my miracle.

Truly, life is good, God is great, and I am still blessed.

Friends, Frothy Monkey, and Franklin


A lady I work with remarked that the only good cats were dead ones. Obviously, she’s not a fan of cats. Lord, forgive them for they know not what they’re missin’.

I had another great night in downtown Franklin. I had a spectacular roast beef and provolone sandwich at my very favorite place to eat on Earth, which as you should know by now is McCreary’s Irish Pub. Seeing as I chose to eat at the optimal senior citizen dining time of 4:30 pm, I got prime seating on the patio on a picturesque Autumn afternoon.

Later, I ran into one of my favorite friends who always makes my heart happy when I see her and never fails to encourage me and make me smile. She and her dad were headed over to Sweet CeCe’s for some fro-yo (that is frozen yogurt for the novices out there). I recommended the pumpkin pie flavor, which is exceedingly delightful.


I had a sweet potato pie latte at Frothy Monkey and sat on the patio while I sipped my little cup of heaven and reveled in just how very blessed I am. If I counted all my blessings, I’d easily surpass the 1,500 I came up with in my Things I Love series. I’d lose count before I ran out of blessings.

I got treated to an organ concert at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Well, it was more like the organ dude practicing and me showing up at the right time. I prayed a bit, sat still and silent for a bit, and just tried to be in the moment. A girl sat directly across from me, deep in prayer. I still don’t know who she was or what burdens she carried, but I did my best to intercede for her and agree with her in prayer for whatever she was asking from God. It felt like genuine New Testament Church.


I had ol’ Hank Williams (Sr., not Jr.) providing the soundtrack to my ride home. With the windows down and the volume cranked up. It was magical.

Now I’m sitting here typing this on my iPad while my cat reposes in my lap. To many people’s great and lasting disappointment, she’s not dead. Only very sleepy. Probably dreaming of tuna again.


All Things Cornhole


Tonight, KSA ( that is Kairos Sports Adventure for the uninitiated) had a Cornhole tournament and chili cook off. What is cornhole, you say?

First off, it is not this.


Or this.


Cornhole is “a serious toss game played in leauges on the West Side of Cincinnati Ohio. The game and targets are very similar to Bag’O, a commercial game from the East Coast U.S..” All that to say it involves tossing a bean bag at a rectangular board with a hole cut out in it.


Mostly, it’s about getting together with friends and having fun. It’s about sharing life.

I met some people tonight that I hope I’ll become friends with over time.

And FYI, if you want to know what cornhole really is, didn’t look it up on google. Ask someone who’s played before. Let’s just say there are some things you can never unsee (or unread).

I am learning to find joy in the minutiae of life, in the small moments and conversations. I am learning that gratitude and thanksgiving unlock the ability to see God more in these moments and find His joy everywhere.

Life is the miracle of breathing grace in and out, of being present to the present, of experiencing fully every second you get from God.

Thank you to Stephanie and Emily and everyone else who made tonight possible. It was indeed a good night.


A Good Non-Gaming Game Night


The Green Hills Community Group scheduled a game night for tonight. Sounds like fun, right?

It was. The only minor complication was that it wasn’t really a game night. Only four people showed up, so we attempted Catch Phrase, but ended up doing something much better.

We had a bit of church.

I don’t mean we broke out the hymnals or burst into song. No one got up and preached and no one testified. Well, at least not in a Pentecostal way.

We had meaningful conversations and got to know each other a little bit better. To me, that’s church, where we figure out life together.

I couldn’t have asked for three better people to spend a rainy Friday night with. Even if I was tired and a bit dizzy, I still had a blast.

Life is like that. You show up expecting one thing, but get something else entirely. You make plans based on where you think you’ll be in ten years, but ten years later, all those plans and expectations are moot.

God rarely meets my expectations. He rarely does anything according to my timetable.

What He does always exceeds my expectations and His timing may not be mine, but it is always perfect. He gives me what I need exactly when I need it and not a moment too soon or a second too late.

I think if I have any expectations going forward, it’s that God will continue to astound and amaze me at how He turns setbacks and quiet nights into blessings.

He’s so very good at that.

On a Night Like This 3


My friends and I played sand volleyball again tonight. For the record, no one confused any of us with professional athletes, but we had fun. And that was the point of the evening.

I’ve noticed all of us have improved over time. We each have grown more confident in our own abilities and brought out the best in those around us. We’ve learned to trust each other and we know what any given person’s strengths and weaknesses are. We’ve learned to play as a team.


I really believe that’s Church. We figure out life together. We offer encouragement in the face of failure and mistakes and we cheer for successes and victories. We know that in order to win, we need all of us together, on the same page with the same endgame in mind.

We learn to work together, knowing that we can be strong for others in areas where they’re weak. We learn to admit where we need help and to humble ourselves enough to ask for that help.

And as simplistic as it sounds, the most important part of living is showing up. It’s being present in your own life and not just a spectator watching and biding your time until you get to that next phase. It’s about intentionally choosing to engage with those around you and breathe in the night air and find joy in the details and to see God at work right where you are right when you’re there.


Plus, it helps if you can laugh at yourself. I think my shining moment was tripping over my own two feet in a frantic effort to get to the ball. Did I mention I’m not Olympic material?

No one will remember next week which teams won or lost. No one will remember whose teams thry were on. But we will remember a perfect night with good friends and laughter and good memories. And best of all, joy.