Looking for the Pause Button

Sometimes, I wish life had a remote control, like in that Adam Sandler movie where he fast-forwards through the boring parts of his life.

Only I wouldn’t be looking for the fast-forward button. I’d want to pause my life.

Today, I went to the funeral of a friend’s dad. I hadn’t seen or talked to him in a long time, but I remember him as being a quiet, gentle man who loved his God and his family and who also happened to own the first PC that I had ever seen.

I saw him lying in the coffin, looking like a perfect wax replica of a person. Then I remembered that I was looking not at the man, but at the shell. The moment he breathed his last he was instantly in the presence of Jesus, fully alive and healthy and happy.

I heard where two Briarcrest students who were set to embark on their senior year of high school died Friday at the hands of a drunk driver who had four DUIs in the last five years.

There’s too much sadness and loss in the world. Too many people had to say goodbye to the ones they loved, while more than that never got the chance.

I sense more than ever how precious and fleeting this life is. I understand more how important it is never to take anyone in your life for granted.

I’m thinking about the quote from the movie The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel– “There’s no present like the time.”

I recall a pastor who said that at best this life is like a clean bus station. You don’t set up a bedroom suite and move all your belongings into a Greyhound terminal, because it’s only a stop along the way toward your final destination.

This life is so brief because this is not our final destination. Heaven is. As much as I keep forgetting, as much as I want that pause button to work, I know that I can’t stop that second hand from racing clockwise toward another tomorrow.

I can only choose to live each moment fully and to be fully present to every person in every place at every moment that I’m given. I can know that in God’s economy nothing is ever wasted and the good a person does follows after them. Your legacy will far outlive you and in the end, it won’t be what you did for a living or who you knew, but who you were and what you did with what God gave you.


Some 4th of July Thoughts


I did my patriotic duty and witnessed a good fireworks display, courtesy of the town of Nolensville. That part was great. The drive home in the ridiculous traffic was not. Fortunately, I had some old-school Rod Stewart to keep me motivated.

I had some thoughts while I was staring at the taillights from the car in front of me that had little or nothing to do with being stuck in traffic (except for the abundance of time provided):

It doesn’t matter that you’re making really good time if you’re headed in the wrong direction. There’s no prize for getting to the wrong place early.

If you’re climbing that proverbial ladder of success, make sure it’s leaning against the right building. True failure is succeeding at things that don’t really matter while neglecting those that do matter. Like neglecting your family for the almighty dollar.

Cherish the moments you’re given, knowing that there will be more moments later, but none will be exactly like this one. Ditto for cherishing relationships.

I think that covers the extent of my enlightenment. Mostly, I was wondering how long it would take me to drive the distance that normally takes 15 minutes. And trying not to cuss. Just keeping it real, folks.

I’m thinking next year I may camp out at the fireworks site and drive home in the morning. Who’s with me?

I Wonder as I Wander


I came home from a Christmas Eve service a little bummed. Not for any specific reason. Just that I was tired and thinking once again about all I didn’t have instead of what I do.

Then I saw it. I saw the setting sun reflected off the still waters of a shallow pond. It was almost as if God gave me that moment to remind me that what I DO have matters so much more than what I DON’T.

I started wondering a few things:

I wonder if Mary mourned the loss of all she gave up when God called her. I know it seems strange, almost sacreligious, to think such a thing.

But Mary was a teenager who must have had her own dreams and her own fantasies of how her life would turn out. None of them involved an unexplainable (in human terms) pregnancy or giving birth to a Son whom she would witness being unfairly tried, tortured, and publicly executed.

God’s dreams often require that we give up not just bad things, but even some good and even very good things if they’re not God’s best for us. Letting go of those things can feel like a death knell to our hearts even if we know something better is coming.

Mary could have had a normal marriage with normal children and been well-respected in her community and taken no flack. But no one would ever have remembered her name.

God has a dream for you in His heart that sometimes won’t make sense. At times, it will feel too much like a letting go and giving up of much that we hold dear. It will be painful at times, like losing a part of your heart.

The payoff is so much more than worth it. Mary got to see the Messiah, hold Him in her arms, see Him grow up, and watch Him prove that not even that horrific death could hold Him down.

She got to see with her own eyes the salvation of the world. Her own salvation.

I call that more than worth it.

Random Thoughts on a December Friday


I think I mentioned a few posts back that I was tired. I still am. That’s what working 10+ hour days will do to a person. Especially when you’re talking six days a week of those long hours.

The good news is I have a job and I have money. I’m no Donald Trump about to go buy another island, but I can pay my bills and not have to worry about the next meal. That’s what I call blessed.

I haven’t forgotten that half the world’s population lives on $2 a day or less. Most of them will go to bed hungry, malnourished, and sick from water-b0rn illnesses caused by drinking unsafe water. Half the world’s population has never made or received a phone call, something I take for granted on a daily basis. Who am I to complain about working a few extra hours here and there?

When I get tired, I get cranky. Sometimes, I get sarcastic, although I very rarely let those kinds of comments out into the open air. I’d probably have way less friends and even less of a chance of dating than I do now.

I also get way self-absorbed and a little paranoid. I don’t think so much that people are out to get me, but rather they’re out to abandon me at the first opportunity. Fears that seem irrational during the day can seem very real at night. In the same way, thoughts that I would never entertain for a second when I’m well-rested seem to take root when I am exhausted to think clearly.

It’s a good thing God loves me in all my moods and in all my phases of life and through all my ups and downs. His grace covers it all. That same God that meets me where I am and loves me where I am won’t let me stay there. I’m thankful I’m a lot less self-centered and fearful than I used to be.

I get to sleep in tomorrow. It may not seem like such a big deal to you and normally it wouldn’t to me, but when you’ve had to be at work at 6 am for the past three Saturdays, being able to sleep past 8 am is a welcome change.

I love that when I wake up in the morning, God’s mercies will be new and His faithfulness will be just as fresh as that dew on those flowers in the spring. God is good like that.

Untitled Blog #1,239


Yeah, it was a Monday. A 12-hour workday Monday.

Normally, that recipe makes for one grumpy Greg. But not today.

God reminded me that joy is a choice that I must make every single day, even on a cold winter Monday at 6 am.

Thanksgiving means not seeing a long work day ahead but me having a job, not me having an annoying cough that sounds like a car that won’t start but me being awake and alive.

I still have those people I don’t get. One won’t ever speak to me unless I speak to her first and even then she sometimes doesn’t respond. One I’ve pretty much learned to leave alone and pray for from a distance.

But God still can teach me something in every circumstance and use every person I meet as a blessing, a lesson, or a caution.

I’m learning to slow down and appreciate the small moments, the short conversations, the texts, these moments of quiet grace.

I lost my joy for a little while. I took my eyes off of Jesus and got swamped by worry, fear, and lack. I bemoaned all that I didn’t have instead of practicing the art of thanksgiving for all that I do have.

Right now, I’m thankful for friends who still want to know me after I’ve gone a little nutty on them, white chocolate covered oreos, my Jeep, a faithful 13-year old feline, a warm soft bed, and for Jesus. Most of all, for Jesus.

And The Star Stopped


“And so they left, and on their way they saw the same star they had seen in the east. When they saw it, how happy they were, what joy was theirs! It went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was” Matthew 2:9, 10 GNB).

I never thought about that part of the story. I’ve heard all my life about those wise men who travelled so far to see this baby Jesus. I knew they had a star to guide them.

But I never thought about how they knew when to stop looking and start worshipping.

Most people chased hopes like the cartoon of the rabbit chasing a carrot that is always dangling in front of him, just out of reach. Yet that silly old rabbit keeps chasing.

I’ve chased after my share of hopes, did a lot of running, and never got any closer to realizing them than when I started. Sometimes, I got to a place where I could see my hopes but couldn’t find a way to actually get there.

But the beautiful part of the story of Christmas is that true hope and true joy are always accessible to the ones searching for them. They can not only be found, but embraced and cherished and celebrated every single day.

Hope is not wishful thinking. It is a reality so certain that it is as good as done. In other words, it is a future event so guaranteed that it can be spoken of in past tense.

May you rediscover hope this Advent season. Or may you find it for the first time.

Not only is it available, Jesus Himself offers it to whomever will simply reach out and take it.

Will you? Will I?

I hope so.

Another Beautiful Advent Prayer

“Lord Jesus,

Master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.

We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day.

We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us.

We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom.

We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence.

We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light.

To you we say, ‘Come Lord Jesus!’


PS We who have felt abandonment, rejection, alienation, loneliness, and being forgotten yearn for Immanuel, God with us, to come among us and remind us of our worth in the eyes of our Abba and Heavenly Father.


Advent Is For You

Maybe you know the feeling.

Maybe a certain someone at work is friendly to everyone else but you.

Maybe you’ve set your heart on someone only to have that feeling go unreturned and maybe even unackowledged.

Maybe you feel alone in a crowd, unwanted and invisible.

Maybe you’ve even felt that the world would be better off without you in it.

Maybe you feel like no one will ever choose you, that no one will ever desire you, that no one will love you in the way you’ve always dreamed of being loved.

Advent says differently.

Advent says God saw you at your worst and thought you were worth saving.

Advent says God loved you so much and couldn’t bear to be without you to the point that He put on human skin to be born in the lowliest way to the lowliest people to show that no one is beneath His grace.

Advent says that God’s love for you is more than academic and theoretical. That love led Him from a manger to a cross, where His death once and for all gave your life meaning and purpose and value. He really did think you were to die for.

In the next 13 days, it’s always good to remember those we love and choose gifts that represent how much the people in our lives mean to us.

But don’t forget the best gift is already given. The best gift came wrapped in cloth, delivered in a dirty animal feeding trough, born to die so that you who are dead may know what it means to come alive to God and everything good.

What is my gift in return? Me. What is your gift? You.

Not your good works. Not your best intentions. Not your trophies and awards.

You. Right where you are, just as you are, warts and scars and all.

Like 2,000 years ago in a little barn, all God is looking for is a place to start.

Being Still and Silent This Season


I love the part of Kairos where Uncle Mike (or Mike Glenn to the rest of you) tells us to get comfortable, to put both feet on the floor, and to take a couple of deep breaths. What follows is always some of the best prayer time I have all week.

Those physical postures like folding your hands, bowing your head, and closing your eyes may seem like meaningless religious rituals, but for me they have great benefit.

I shut out the rest of the world for the next few moments and don’t have to worry about my ADD getting kicked into high gear by the incidental activity and noise all around me. I can be still and silent.

To be still and silent during this Advent season seems odd and almost wrong. This is the time of year when you have parties to attend, gifts to buy, decorations to put up, and 1,001 church-related activities on the calendar.

But I think it’s more than a good idea. It’s necessary. You need to periodically reorient yourself so that you can once again find the Child in the manger amidst all the other gaudy ornaments beckoning for your attention. Like the Shepherds and Wise Men, it’s good to have that moment of silent worship and reverent awe.

So far, I’ve broken every promise I made to myself to really emphasize celebrating this Advent season. I’ve let so many other tasks and causes and distractions, some selfish and some good, get in the way. I haven’t been still and silent with the intention of letting God speak to me.

Maybe even with two weeks left until Christmas, it’s still not too late to start again on that path to Bethlehem and the lowly manger. I’m planning on it. I hope you are, too.