The Love of God

“Because of this, the love of God is a reality among us: God sent His only Son into the world so that we could find true life through Him” (1 John 4:9 VOICE).

It’s really easy to take it all for granted, especially if you’ve heard it so many times like I have. I’ve been hearing it since I was very little.

But if you can take it for granted, it means you’ve taken it in vain. You’ve assigned it less value that its inherent worth. By the way, that’s what taking God’s name in vain really means– to treat it as less than it’s truly worth.

To take the love of God in vain means that you  stop being awed and amazed by it. You stop being overwhelmed by the notion that an infinite and holy God should shower His love on undeserving people not just once, but time and time again.

To truly appreciate the love of God means that you understand that you will never get to the bottom of it or ever really fully comprehend its vastness and breadth and scope.

May you always wake up every morning flabbergasted that God still loves you. May you open your arms wide to receive it, knowing that trying to contain it is like trying to contain the oceans in a thimble.

May you know that this love–all of it– is for you.


A Very Long But Very Good Day

I had a very long day. It was also a very good day.

It started off with a 6:40 appointment to get my teeth cleaned at the dentist. Yes, that’s 6:40 AM (as in way too early for this guy). That went well and look ma, no cavities!

From there, it was off to work, where I ended up being an hour late from the dentist. I made up half of my missed time by staying 30 minutes extra. That made for a longer day, but it was still all good.

I ended up the day with worship, Kairos-style. I got to greet the good folks at my usual Door H and then experience some good worship music and teaching.

I’m home now and my cat is ever so grateful. She probably wishes I could stay home and attend to her every whim, but alas, I must go forth and earn the bacon for her to feast upon.

I’ve decided that just about every day is a good day because every day I’m alive is a gift. Every day I’m alive has God in it and God has proven way more than once that He is enough for those who truly learn to rest in Him.

So that’s where I am at 9:22 pm on a Tuesday night. Tired but happy. Exhausted but filled with joy. Ready for bed but knowing that I am blessed.

It’s all about perspective. You have to train yourself to look for the good in every day, then you will see God in every day. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth the effort.

Once again, I’m blessed by the people God has in my life. My family, of course, is awesome, but I also have some good friends (especially the ones I greet with at Kairos). I even have a few furry friends.

Best of all, knowing that nothing I have ever done can lessen God’s love for me or cause Him to turn away from me is priceless.

PS Brennan Manning’s memoir, All is Grace, is available FOR FREE from the Amazon Kindle store (if you have either a Kindle or the Kindle app on your mobile device of choice). Go get it now.


Summer Nights in Franklin

“My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19, The Message).

I love those summer nights, partly because of that song from the movie Grease and partly because that’s when the humidity becomes slightly more bearable. Plus, there’s something about the nocturnal breezes that stirs up a multitude of memories for me.

I visited all my usual Franklin places– McCreary’s Irish Pub, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, and the Frothy Monkey. I walked up and down Main Street and noted that there were three houses for sale, though one has a contract pending.

It was about being in the moment, not anxiously obsessing over an unknown future and possible scenarios that may or may not come to pass. I remembered that God’s love, while it is omnipresent, can only be experienced in the present. I can’t plumb its depths or rise to its heights if I am dwelling on the past or focused on the future. Especially not if my head is buried nonstop in my smart phone.

God knows the future, because He’s already there. It’s not like anything that happens to me is going to take Him by surprise. Jeremiah 29:11 says that God knows the plans He has for me, and that they are good plans. I can trust not only those plans but also the Planner with full confidence.

I still prefer autumn. With the way I sweat in all this humidity, I’m sure everybody around me prefers it, too.


That Mr. Irrelevant Again

I watched some of the NFL draft today. It’s interesting to see who gets picked where and when and by whom. Plus, you get the joy of seeing the experts’ predictions blown up. You see people who stay up late at night worrying about these kinds of things prognosticating on how these players will either be a great pick or a bust.

As always, the very last pick, around number 256, of the very last round of the draft is called Mr. Irrelevant. Usually, players who don’t get picked up until that point don’t make the final roster of the NFL team that picked them.

I love the fact that no one is Mr. (or Mrs.) Irrelevant to God. God loves each person as if he or she were the only person in the whole world to love. And yet He loves every single person that way. I can’t fathom that, yet I’m nowhere close to being infinite. I can’t even love the very few (in comparison) people in my life with anything close to complete and unconditional love.

At times, other people may make you feel irrelevant. It may or may not be intentional, but the hurt is the same either way. You may feel that what you do and who you are don’t matter to anyone and that maybe the world would be better off without you in it. The feelings may not be true, but that doesn’t stop them from feeling real.

Try this. Read John 3:16. Where it says “the world,” insert your name. For me, it would go something like this, “For God so loved Greg, that He gave His one and only Son, that if Greg believes in Him, He shall not perish.”

Remember that Jesus thought you were to die for. You matter to Him immensely. That’s something to remember on those nights when you feel alone and unwanted.



I saw a church sign yesterday that read: “Change in inevitable, progress is optional.” That’s true.

You can’t avoid change. It will come whether you look for it or not, whether you want it or not, and usually when you least expect it.

That job you counted on ends and you get laid off.

The marriage you thought was such a sure thing hits a rough patch and suddenly, the future looks very uncertain.

That friend you thought was for life suddenly vanishes from your life and you’re left wondering what you did wrong.

Change will come, and not always for the better. You can’t control what happens to you, but you CAN control how you respond. You can choose to become a victim or circumstance and let that define your life, or you can choose to learn and grow from that experience. The old cliche is true: you can either become bitter or better.

Every moment is a choice. Every second is a chance to either do things the way you’ve always done them or to step out in faith. For me, most of the time I play it safe, but those moments when I choose to take that step, whether I succeed or fail, are always the moments that I remember where God changed me.

The only certainties in life are death, taxes, and change. And the love of God. That above all will never change.



A Clear Command

If someone claims, ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother or sister, then he is a liar. Anyone who does not love a brother or sister, whom he has seen, cannot possibly love God, whom he has never seen. He gave us a clear command, that all who love God must also love their brothers and sisters” (1 John 4:20-21).

That’s one of those verses that most of us wishes wasn’t in the Bible. Maybe if John had said “anyone who does not try to love a brother or sister,” then it would have been a lot easier to swallow.

But as my pastor says, Jesus never gives us an out when it comes to obedience. We’re never given the okay to be disobedient.

Even when the other person is hard to get along with? Yes.

Even when the other person does and says hateful things? Yes.

Even when it seems beyond our capacity to love that person? Yes.

If it seems too hard, remember that God loved you while you were His enemy and set against everything He stood for. Plus, it’s not really your love that you love these people with anyway.

It goes like this. Jesus fills you up with so much love that you can’t contain it all and it splashes onto those around you. Even those people who aren’t your favorites.

The key isn’t to grit your teeth, eat your Wheaties, and try harder when it comes to loving these people. The secret is spending more time with Jesus, enough time for His love to really soak in. And while you’re with Jesus, you could pray for these people, because it’s hard to keep hating someone after you’ve been fervently praying for them.

Oh, and by praying for them, I don’t mean praying for the earth to swallow them up or for them to get hit by a bus. You pray for them like you pray for those you love– that they will know and understand the love God has for them, that they find healing from the people who wounded them in the past, and that they prosper and succeed.


Patience and Kindness


I think I finally figured out what won these dogs over that I’m dog-sitting. It wasn’t my oh-so-charming personality. It wasn’t giving them a little extra food in their bowls. It wasn’t my hypnotic and soothing voice. What was it?

It was patience and kindness.

That’s how God won me over. Probably that’s how God captured your heart, too.

That’s what will win the world, I think. Just plain simple patience and kindness. No one wants to listen to a message of love from someone who’s impatient and rude. No one wants to be yelled at.

It is so true. People don’t care what you know (or even Who you know) until they know you care about them. Not just as souls to be saved but as people who really and truly matter to God. People created in the image of God who have worth and value simply because God made them.

I know I personally need quite a bit of patience and kindness both from God and from other people. That’s why I try to give it out whenever I can.

By the way, this is a milestone. My 1,500th blog post. Yay me.

Another Night of Worship


Kairos is always good. But every now and then, it gets taken up a notch to an epic level known as a Night of Worship. Usually, that means more worship songs. Hence the name.

Tonight’s theme was the love of God from 1 John 4:10. The question was this: “Do you see yourself the way God sees you?”

Often, it’s easy to look in the mirror and see failure, broken promises, and unfulfilled potential. It’s easy to focus on the might-have-beens and on what you lack instead of what you have and who you are.

It becomes infinitely easier to love yourself once you begin to grasp how deep the Father’s love for you truly is. How deep and wide and high and long. How unfathomable. Once you realize you did nothing to earn it and can do nothing to lose it.

It’s easy to worship when the emotions are running high and the crowd is hyped, but what about when you’re stuck in that morning traffic or slogging through emails at work? Or pouring that all-important first cup of coffee while it’s still dark outside?

Music and singing are a part of worship, but not all of it. Not even close. Worship is how you make much of Jesus in everything you do wherever you are whenever you are. Even taking out the trash or scrubbing toilets can be an act of worship when done in gratitude.

Still, the music part is nice.

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.


A Lenten Prayer by Brennan Manning


I just found this and it reminded me why Brennan Manning is one of my favorite writers of faith.

“In my first-ever experience of being loved for nothing I had done or could do, I moved back and forth between mild ecstasy, silent wonder, and hushed trembling. The aura might be best described as ‘bright darkness.’ The moment lingered on in a timeless now, until without warning I felt a hand grip my heart. It was abrupt and startling.

The awareness of being loved was no longer tender and comforting. The love of Christ, the crucified Son of God, took on the wild fury of a sudden spring storm. Like a dam bursting, a spasm of convulsive crying erupted from the depths of my soul. Jesus died on the cross for me.

Dear Abba,

Ten thousand things are already vying for my attention. Wait, actually make that ten thousand and one. Some of them are shallow — like what shoes I will wear today — but some of them are legitimate: lunch with a friend, a doctor’s appointment, responding to a letter. Still, they are all earthly things. So startle me, I pray. Burst into the compound of my senses and steal me away from the urgent tyrannies already seeking to keep my eyes fixed on things below. You died for me. For me. That is the one thing; nothing else compares.”

Two thoughts: 1) I must find out where  I can get this book and 2) I hope Easter Sunday doesn’t arrive to find me comfortable or complacent, taking God’s love for me for granted. I want it to shake me to my very core and radically disrupt my life. I want to be stirred out of comfortable ruts and compelled into a deeper, wilder, more passionate love for Jesus who didn’t not negotiate percentages on the cross, but gave absolutely 100% of Himself for me.