I Believe, I Believe. It’s Silly, But I Believe


I love the little girl in Miracle on 34th Street. She’s like me and so many others who really and truly want to believe but seem to be running low on faith.

Sometimes, faith IS believing in things when common sense tells you not to. Faith really is the art of believing still even after circumstances and life events haven’t gone your way.

Maybe you’re single with no hope of a spouse in sight, yet you cling tenaciously to a slender thread of faith.

Maybe you’re married to an unbelieving spouse and it’s all you can do to mouth the words ” All things are possible” when it comes to your mate’s salvation.

Maybe it’s a wayward prodigal child or an illness that lingerd. Maybe it’s a dead end job that makes you feel like you’re living a dead end life. Maybe it’s just a general sense of hopelessness and despair.

There’s wisdom in that little girl’s mantra. Good things come to those who keep waiting and hoping. God’s best comes to those who refuse to quit despite everyone else telling them to give up.

I don’t know your specifics or your situation, but I do know God. He hasn’t broken a promise yet or failed to keep His Word. Ever.

Faith isn’t so much holding on to God, but being firmly convinced that He’s holding on to you with everything He’s got and He won’t let go.

We believe, Lord. Help our unbelief.


A Tough Question

Usually when I’m thinking of what to write about, it’s not the main topic of the sermon or speech. It’s a side comment or a throwaway statement that catches me off guard. Tonight, it was a question that a guy asked that convicted me in a big way.

If God took away your family, friends, possessions, job, money, and all those other props and crutches you lean on, would you still be able to say, “God, I trust in you for my future” or would your mind immediately start churning away with ideas of how you could manage your own life?

The reason the question broad-sided me so much was the underlying question: who are what are you really trusting in at the end of the day? Where does your hope lie?

I think that for me at times my trust has been in a set routine. I have trusted in the fact that I had a comfortable and familiar set of friends who would always be around. I have trusted in income from a job or the security of employment that I thought was guaranteed.

When your props get knocked out, when friends move away or get married or disappear, you find out how much your trust was really in people and not in God. When out of the blue, you get called into the office at work to be told, “Your position is being eliminated,” you find out how much faith you placed in your career instead of Christ.

I truly believe in my mind that if all God did was save me from my sins and never gave me another blessing or did one more thing for me, that would be more than I deserved. But the way I live sometimes gives the impression that I feel entitled to God’s blessings. It shows that I am worshiping the gifts more than the Giver.

I heard a friend say that sometimes you don’t even have to have perfect trust. Even if you have the weakest kind of faith and say, “God, I trust you in this moment and I give this into your hands,” God will honor that. Like a pastor said, “All God needs is a place to start,” a halting, stammering statement of belief that is mixed with fear and doubt and says, “I believe. Help my unbelief.”

It’s not how strong your faith is, but how strong the object of your faith is. Or to put it this way, it’s not about giant-sized faith, but one that;s the size of a mustard seed placed in a great God who is bigger than your circumstances and problems.



Lord, I Believe; Help My Unbelief

First of all, you should go to Kairos on Tuesday night if you’ve never been. It’s at 7 pm and it’s in the Connection Center of Brentwood Baptist Church off I-65 exit  71 in Brentwood, TN and it’s awesome. Now that I’ve got my shameless plug out of the way, here’s my takeaway from tonight’s service.

While the scribes and disciples were arguing about who was right and who was wrong, a man was pleading with Jesus to heal his son from a demonic possession. He ended his plea with the words, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.”

How many times have I felt that way? How many times has it seemed that my faith was so small that it barely qualified as belief at all? That I was holding on to a minuscule-sized hope?

I’ve heard that faith always comes with an element of doubt, because if I was 100% certain of something, I wouldn’t need faith. I think that’s true. If I needed perfect faith to get my prayers answered, I might as well stop praying because my faith is always tempered with doubts and fears.

Many times, I need to pray, “Lord, I believe. In whatever way You choose, whether it’s the way I want, show up and have Your way.”

I heard a song tonight that basically said, “Lord, help me to believe what I already know.” Sometimes, I don’t need more knowledge about God or about my circumstances. I need the ability to believe what I already know to be true about God. I need to believe what God has already shown me countless times before.

It doesn’t take great faith in God for change to happen; it just takes faith in a great God. Even if that faith is a minuscule-sized, mustard-seed faith that barely registers a blip on the scale of belief.

Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.

The Gospel according to Greg

The story of the gospel is that God is in the business of making masterpieces out of messes, beauty out of chaos, life out of death, and wholeness out of your broken and shattered pieces. No matter how high into the heavens you go, or how deep into hell, Jesus can still find you. And the good news is that Jesus is not out to get you or against you, but that He is with you and He is for you. He took your ruin upon Himself and gave you robes of righteousness.

He will never stop pleading your case, cheering you on, or fighting for you. He will never stop giving and blessing and loving you, no matter what you do. No matter how you screw up or walk away from Him. He will never give up on you until you are exactly the person He made you to be. Until you are exactly like Him.

What can you and I do in response? The greatest response, our very best act of worship, is to show Jesus gratitude– to never stop saying “Thank You”– and to show compassion–to declare with our lips and our lives tha absolutely no one is too low or too messed up or too far gone for God to reach down and redeem, which is another way of saying God can turn something worthless into something priceless, my trash into His treasure.

We worship by living with open hands, open hearts and open homes. We say to Jesus, “All that I am and all that I have and all that I do is Yours.” We become fully awake and alive and aware of God at work all around us. We see how precious and beautiful is this life He has given us, and that time is too short to not stop every once in a while and smell a rose or watch a child play and breath a prayer of thanksgiving.

We worship by giving ourselves away to the lost, broken, and hurting, expecting nothing in return because we know that God will give us back a thousand times whatever we gave up or lost for His sake. We worship by looking at people and not seeing their circumstances, but seeing through their circumstances to Jesus and what He in His resurrection power can do through those circumstances (thank you, Brian Ball, for that!) We worship when we seek and hope and believe the best about every one we meet.

Christ is in you. He is your hope. He is your glory. Always and forever from the very beginning to the very end and every moment in between, Jesus not only loves you but is in love with you. And nothing has or can or ever will change that.

Believe and live and love and sing and dance in the grace of God. May the love of God penetrate every part of you and fill you so that you become transparent vessels that show forth the awesome wonder of God to the world around you.

As always, I believe. Help my unbelief.

My prayer for this Wednesday

O Great Lover of my soul, so captivate my senses that all I see is You, all I hear is Your voice and all I long to do is Your will. Make every breath a prayer, every thought a praise and every action an offering. Speak, O God, through my daily life so that everyone may know how You can turn ashes into beauty, dross into gold and something worthless into something priceless.  Remind me that there is no such thing as a lost cause or a hopeless case with You, because NOTHING is impossible for You!

Help me to see with your eyes, feel with your heart, reach out with your hands, and run with your feet toward the broken, outcast, and hopeless ones. Break my heart like your heart was broken over what sin does to Your people. Give me Your passion to see Your people unified, singing with one voice the praises that are due You, lifting up holy hands in prayer and laying down their lives for Your kingdom.

Forgive me the times I have slandered Your name by professing Your name with my lips and denying the same with my lifestyle. Forgive me for seeking to curry favor with the popular when You have always sought after the widows and orphans and outcasts of the world. Forgive me for making so much of myself and so little of You. Forgive me the times when I was silent out of fear instead of being Your voice to the lost and hurting. Forgive me my weakness and unbelief.

Send your Spirit in a mighty outpouring over this land. Let your revival sweep over your Church and let it begin in me. Awake your peoples to be glad and shout for joy at the Eternal Song that is You. May the buildings were Your people meet be shaken to the core, and the people inside broken and mended into new creations. Let us never quit until we have testified of Your goodness to every tongue, tribe, and nation on the planet.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Some thoughts about worship

Jesus didn’t die for our good works or good intentions. He didn’t die to make good people better. Or for that matter to make bad people good. He died to make dead people come alive. He died for our dark places, our wicked deeds. He came to take our blame and our shame and give us His perfection. Jesus died to make us worshippers.

John Piper says in effect, Worship, not missions, is the purpose of His people. The reason that missions exists is because for so many peoples, worship does not. People can’t worship a God they don’t know. People can’t worship a god made in their image that is too small to save or love or rescue anybody. Redeemed people worship a real God. Really when you look at it, missions and evangelism are both forms of worship– declaring the great worth and works of God to all peoples.

Worship is Romans 12:1-2, offering our bodies as living sacrifices. In the Old Testament, part of worship was offering sacrifices like bulls and goats. Since Jesus did away with the old sacrificial system, what we bring as our offering of worship is ourselves. Worship is giving to God our bodies, our souls, our true selves. Worship is giving back to God what was already His and acknowledging that He owns it all, including us.

Worship is James 1:27. When we give to the widow and the orphan, we give to Jesus. Whatever we do for the least of these, we do for Jesus. Jesus didn’t choose the popular or strong or wise; He chose the throwaways of the world, the lepers, the outcasts and the abandoned to be His worshippers. Worship also means keeping yourself unstained by the world, to be set apart and different. Worship is either a 24/7 lifestyle or it’s nothing at all.

Worship is taking your two loaves and five fishes and watching Jesus turn it into a meal for thousands. When we give what little we call our own to Jesus, He takes it and not only blesses the multitudes, but gives back to us more than we can contain.

Worship means to kiss, to adore and to sacrifice. It is saying that God is supremely worthy of all of me. It means I will give my life away on a daily basis for the Kingdom of God. It means that every breath is a praise and every thought a prayer.

Honestly, after all this, I still don’t really know what worship is. I’m not very good at it. Or I should say I am not very good at worshipping the right thing, i.e. Jesus of Nazareth who died on the cross and rose triumphantly from the grave and has all authority in heaven and on earth, including authority over my life.

In the New Testament, when people worshipped, they fell on their faces. In the book of Revelation, the apostle John fell on his face before Jesus as a dead man. That’s what I pray for: to die to everything else, to fall on Jesus, and live to Him, with Him and for Him only.

As always, I believe. Help my unbelief.

Redemption (It’s Never Too Late to Come Home)

For my 50th blog, I wanted to talk about something close to my heart. That something is the subject of redemption. Especially since I and all those who trust in Christ have been redeemed.

Some definitions I found of the word redeem are: “1) to recover ownership of by paying a specified sum, 2) to pay off (a promissory note, for example), 3) to turn in (coupons, for example) and receive something in exchange, 4) to fulfill (a pledge, for example), 5). to convert into cash: redeem stocks, 6) to set free; rescue or ransom, 7) to save from a state of sinfulness and its consequences. 7)  to make up for: the low price of the clothes dryer redeems its lack of special features.8)  to restore the honor, worth, or reputation of.”

But it’s one thing to know about redemption in an academic sense and an entirely different notion to know experientially what it means to be redeemed. To know that Jesus can take something worthless and turn it into something priceless is cause by itself for worship. To know that no one is beyond His reach is cause for eternal devotion.

The thief on the cross proves that no one is ever a lost cause or a hopeless case. Not even in his dying moments was he too far gone to be saved. Such is the case for anyone in my life (or your life). No one is too depraved to be forgiven. There is no one who has left the path who can never come back.

If you are the one who has crossed every line and blown every chance, there”s still hope. You can never stray so far away that there is no way to get Home again. If you aren’t the one who has lost his or her way, but know someone who has, know that there is never a time to quit praying and reaching out and believing in faith for that person.

I love this quote from John Newton, who himself was a slave trader who was redeemed and became a great hymn writer and leader in the abolition movement in England. As he lay on his death bed, he said to a minister friend, ‎”True, I’m going on before you, but you’ll soon come after me. When you arrive, our friendship will no doubt cause you to inquire for me. But I can tell you already where you’ll most likely find me–I’ll be sitting at the feet of the thief whom Jesus saved in His dying moments on the cross!”

Remember it’s never too late to come Home. Even if you’ve lost your way, Jesus knows how to get you Home. After all, He is the Way. Don’t lose hope for that loved one. Even in his or her last breath, there’s still a chance for redemption.

As always, I believe. Help my unbelief.

And when I am afraid . . .

We talked  about Elijah tonight at Kairos Roots. Here is a man who was just like any of us. He prayed and it did not rain for 3 1/2 years. He prayed again and it rained. He went up against all the prophets of Baal and prayed down the fire of God not only on his sacrifice, but theirs as well. Yet when a woman named Jezebel threatened him, he ran for his life.

“Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers” (1 Kings 19:3-4).

It’s funny what will make us afraid. Even after an awesome spiritual conquest like Elijah experienced over the prophets of Baal, he let one person rule his life with fear. When I have seen God show up and move mightily, why is it that I am so very prone to fear a day or two later? Why am I so forgetful of all He’s done when a little thing comes up that I don’t think He can handle?

God asks a very important question to Elijah, “What are you doing here?” The question is not for God to gain information, but for Elijah to admit to God what God already knows. Elijah never directly answers the question. He says to the effect, “I am the only one left. There is no one on my side, no one who understands.” That is one of the great lies, that we are alone in what we face and that no one else will understand. God always has a remnant He has kept for Himself.

God provides Elijah three things: 1) something to eat, 2) something to drink, and 3) a friend. He sent someone who could speak into Elijah’s fear with understanding and compassion. When we are facing our fears, God will always send friends to walk with us through our trial.

Then Elijah waits in the cave for God to speak. God speaks not in the great strong wind, not in the earthquake, not in the fire, but in the sound of a low whisper, or “The Sound of Silence”, to borrow an old Simon and Garfunkel song title. It reminds me of when Tracy Chapman sang, “Don’t you know talkin’ bout a revolution sounds like a whisper?” We should not expect God to speak to us like He has in the past, because God almost never speaks to a person the same way twice. In a culture that prizes noise and speed, we have to be silent and still. Where the motto of the majority is to “live loud and live fast”, we have to slow down, to stop even, and to be quiet and listen.

In the Old Testament, God often reminded His people of their slavery in Egypt. Not to shame them, but to remind them of this. In the midst of your bondage, God showed up and instead of miraculously delivering you instantly from it, walked with You through it so you would never have to fear it again. God gives us the ability to endure in tough times, which leads us to character growth, which leads to hope. And hope does not disappoint.

I have two questions from God for you. The first is, “If I has been faithful to you and blessed you all these years, what makes you think I will stop now?” That leads to the second question from God: “Will you trust Me for the next 24 hours?” Not a year or a month or even a week. 24 hours. God will not fail to keep His promises toward you. And remember, the purpose of everything that happens to you is to conform you into the image of Christ. Not your happiness or contentment, but joy and holiness.

As always, I believe. Help my unbelief.

Lies I have believed

Even now I still buy into the lie that says, “No one knows you or wants to know you. No one cares about you. You are not welcome or wanted. You are nothing but a shadow that will pass away and nothing will be different when you’re gone.” Even in the midst of those thoughts, when I am almost completely given over to despair and self-pity, Jesus still speaks freedom and truth into my life and against that lie. He illuminates the darkness and exposes what I have believed for the deception it really is.

When the lie says, “No one really knows you,” Jesus, You say, “I know you down to your innermost parts and I know the plans I have for you.”When the lie says, “No one cares about you,” You say, “I care. I loved you so much that while you were a sinner and hostile to me, I died for you. When the lie says, “You are not wanted,” You say, “Come and drink, you who are thirsty for love and come and eat, you who hunger for acceptance. Come to me and I will never cast you out.”

Jesus,  You say, “If you seek Me and not popularity or acceptance, you will not only find that I am your heart’s greatest desire, but you will also find yourself next to those whose hearts are also tuned in to Me. When you can no longer walk, you will findI have placed other in your path to be My hands to carry you. When you can no longer speak, they will be My voice to speak to you and for you. They will share your burdens, sorrows and joys.”

Jesus, take every lie that I have believed and show it to me through Your eyes as the deception it really is. Bind and rebuke the enemy from my mind and so fill my thoughts with You that there is no room for any other voices. Help me to believe the best about my family and friends and loved ones and never to give up on anyone because You never gave up on me– and never will!

Love Your people through me. May I never take it upon myself to determine who is or is not worthy of receiving Your love, but to remember that no one is worthy of Your love, but Your love made us worthy. Thank You for Your reckless, wild, unrestrained, passionate crazy love for me. Break my heart for what breaks Yours. Heal the dark and scarred and shameful places in me.

Captivate me so that I will only chase after You alone and not make idols out of the people or things or places You put in my path. You know that I am by nature prone to idolatry at times and practical atheism (living as though You didn’t exist). Capture my heart so that nothing else will ever matter next to knowing You and making You known.

Help me to remember that I am broken and part of a community of broken people. I belong to a body of believers who don’t have the future mapped out, but know the One who is the Way; who don’t have life figured out, but know the One who is the Life; and who don’t have the answers, but know the One who is the Truth. You are 100% completely in control and we are 100% completely dependent on You at all times for every single thing. You and you plus nothing else make a great Church. Only You are worth living for and only You are worthy of all the honor and glory and praise I can ever bring and a whole lot more. No one or nothing else. Only You.

As always, I believe. Help my unbelief.

Blessed are you when people insult you

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12).

In all honesty, I don’t really like these two verses. I would much rather Jesus have said something like, “Blessed are you when people compliment you, flatter you, and tell you what great blogs you write and how spiritual you are.” I am not much for being insulted or persecuted or slandered. Probably not many people are. In fact, I would go so far as to say no one apart from the indwelling Spirit of God would count being insulted as a blessing. No one.

But if I am not ashamed of the gospel and proclaim it as the very power of God unleashed in the world, then I will face all these things. If I stand up and say that Jesus is the ONLY way, the ONLY truth and the ONLY life, I will be mocked, ridiculed, called all sorts of names, and ostracized. The sad part is that if I truly am radical about my faith, I will be insulted and persecuted and slandered by those in the Church who go by the name Christian.

I love the Message version: “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.”

When the truth is too close for comfort, people get uncomfortable. They react. Whether they are openly opposed to God or just those who want heaven, but not Jesus, they will lash out when someone threatens their pseudo-security. God also responds; God knows what you have done and will reward you. I’ve said this before, but the best possible reward is not anything God gives you, but God Himself. He is our great Reward, our great Inheritance. I think Francis Chan said that the great news of the Gospel is that you get God. All of God.

Lord, I don’t want to be a Christian who gets along with everyone and never causes trouble or stirs up dissention. I want to be a fork in the road, so that when people come up to me, they must choose to go one way or another to get by me– either toward or away from Christ. Hide me behind the cross, so that if there be anything offensive about me, it would be what the Greeks saw as foolishness and the Jews saw as a stumbling block– namely, Christ crucified. Jesus, get me out of the way so that You can get in the way of every single person I meet.

As always, I believe. Help my unbelief.