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Power In Times Of Weakness

Published on October 25, 2015 in Reflections

 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. — 2 Corinthians 12:9

greg_gracie cropped

This picture holds a special meaning for me.  I will carry this picture with me for the rest of my life.  Only a few people know the significance of this picture, but suffice it to say that this picture is a reminder that God is good and gracious.  Today is this sweet girl’s birthday.  Her family has gone through a whole lot this past year, and I am very proud of the strength, faith, and (yes) grace that this young lady has shown.

This picture was taken on a day when all the pain and sadness of the past year was really hitting home for her.  It was a day on which she needed the love and encouragement of her youth group.  It was a day on which no one would have blamed her for being selfish, and thinking only of her own situation.  It was a day on which she chose gratitude.

This picture is a reminder that no matter what we experience or what we see in ourselves, God sees infinitely more.  When I was her age, I never imagined that I would be used by God in the ways that I have been since.  I felt like I had no voice.  I felt as if no one listened to, or even cared about anything I had to say.  I felt like I could fade away like a vapor, and the world would go on unchanged by my presence, or lack thereof.

This picture tells me that I was wrong.  I have had the privilege to council with her as her youth pastor and encourage her in her struggles.  I am thankful, not for the pain that her family has endured, but that she believes me trustworthy to share her pain.  If you are a young person reading this, you may think that when you go to talk to an adult that you are saying, “I need help.”  What we (adults) hear, though, is, “You have worked hard to gain my trust, and I am giving it to you now.”

This picture commemorates the day that with three words of gratitude, this girl forever changed my perspective.  On her day of pain and struggle, God used this girl to encourage me in a way that I had needed for a long, long time.  Every year on the anniversary of the taking of this picture, I will look at it, and I will celebrate the voice of hope and encouragement that God has allowed me to be in the lives of teenagers.


gracie bday crop THIS picture shows us today after church.  We are still laughing and sometimes even weeping together.  Soon this girl will graduate high school, go off to college, start a career, get married, and all the other things that young ladies do.  There may come a time when we rarely see or even talk to each other anymore, but the encouragement she has given me will last a lifetime.  If you are reading this, I would like to remind you of the same thing that I have reminded her in our talks.  No matter what we are facing or what struggles we may endure, God is still in control.  Even in our times of weakness (sometimes BECAUSE of them), He still uses us.  I encourage you to encourage others.  Sometimes the strongest influence we have on others comes in our time of weakness, but that should come as no surprise because we know that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. — Romans 12:15

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Hold On To The Promises

Published on February 26, 2013 in Me, Reflections

Promises — Sanctus Real

Sometimes it’s hard to keep believing
In what you can’t see
That everything happens for a reason
Even the worst life brings
If you’re reaching for an answer
And you don’t know what to pray
Just open up the pages
Let His word be your strength

And hold on to the promises
Hold on to the promises
Jesus is alive so hold tight
Hold on to the promises

All things work for the good
Of those who love God
He holds back nothing that will heal you
Not even His own Son
His love is everlasting
His faithfulness unending
Oh, if God is for us who can be against us
So if you feel weak


Neither life, nor death
Could Separate us
From the eternal love
Of our God who saves us


I’ve never struggled with believing or having faith in God, but I know all too well the feeling of clinging desperately to His promises.  The feeling that His promises HAVE to be true, because otherwise I could not stand to go on in this painful, cruel world.  Of clinging to His promises when there seems to be absolutely no hope.  The promise that He has a plan for me.  The promise that He is working for my good, even when the road ahead seems too dark and bleak.  The promise that I MUST be worth SOMEthing if Jesus was willing to die for me.  The feeling of not knowing what to pray but, “God, help…PLEASE!”

From as far back as I can remember, four truths (or promises) were taught to me over and over:  God created you, Jesus loves you, He has a plan for you, and He is ALWAYS faithful.  As I grew older, I found these truths not only in the things that I read and the things that I learned, I found them to be true over and over in my personal experiences as well.  Each time I found myself in that dark place, I could look back and see how He had always been there for me before, even when the way forward seemed impossible.

Are you in that dark place?  Are you questioning your faith?  Are you searching for something, anything, that would make sense out of this senseless world?  If so, I want you to know that God created you, Jesus loves you, He has a plan for you, and He is ALWAYS faithful.  Cling to His promises!  Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you (James 4:8).  There is so much Biblical truth in this song!  Listen to it over and over and be comforted in knowing that almost every line is a promise to you straight from God.

To find out more about how promises affect your life and your relationship with God, check out this series from Buckhead Church in Atlanta, Georgia:  Promises Promises

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I Hate The Gays!

Published on August 2, 2012 in Current Events

There, I said it.  Are you happy now?  Evidently I do, since I was told that by going to Chick-fil-a on “Chick-fil-a Appreciation Day” I was being “anti-gay”.  I mean, think about it.  It’s absolutely absurd that I would be FOR someone standing up for Biblical truth.  I must be against SOMEthing.  Isn’t that what Christians do?

Unfortunately, that is the message that has been passed around even by other Christians – that we’re just a bunch of haters who need to stop hating so much.  We need to just all get along and LOVE them.  An example on one blog states:  “They need to hear our love and feel our protection from the stones before we say, ‘Go and sin no more.'”  Obviously this was referring to the woman caught in adultery.  The problem with this example as it relates to this subject, however, is that whether or not the woman’s actions were a sin was not in question.  She knew she had sinned.  The question was what is the appropriate response to her sin?

Now for those of you who don’t know me, or haven’t figured it out yet, I DO NOT HATE GAY PEOPLE.  The title was tongue-in-cheek, and meant to prove a point.  Jesus always confronted people with their sin, and to those who refused to turn away from it, He was often not what we might call “loving” in this day and age.  (Pharisees, I’m looking at you.)  However, even among the Pharisees, we know that there was at least one who became a follower of Christ.

Tough love is love, too.  Sinners need to know and accept that they are sinners before they can receive salvation.  ALL sinners.  If we love them up so much that we refuse to confront their sin, how are we being Christ for them?

Here are some things Christ said to those who follow Him:

  1. The world will hate you (Matt 10:22)
  2. The world will call you evil/Sons of the devil (Matt 10:25)
  3. Boldly proclaim truth (Matt 10:27)
  4. Sin originates in our hearts (Matt 15:19-20)
  5. People will know you belong to Jesus by how you treat other believers (Jn 13:34-35)

He also said that He did not come to bring peace on earth, but a sword (Matt 10:34).  The Bible describes God’s word (truth) as “living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb 4:12).  In other words, when truth is spoken, someone is gonna get hurt.  Maybe they’ll reject truth and their feelings will get hurt, or maybe they will be convicted of their sinful lifestyle, but they will be hurt nonetheless.

Having said all that, I am not rejecting Jesus’ teaching to love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:39).  Jesus showed time and time again that He hated the sin, but loved the person.  He also recognized those who refused to turn from their sin and told his followers to leave them alone (Matt 15:14).  (Maybe this is the part that we, as Christians need to learn more thoroughly?)  Jesus accepted many that society had rejected, but it was because they repented of their sins and followed Him.  The apostles angered many with the message they spoke, but just as Peter and John told the Sanhedrin, I can only speak of the things that I have seen and heard.  If the world does not hate me, should I not reevaluate my message?

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Unsure Of The Past

Published on February 22, 2012 in Reflections

A student recently asked me a question about what to say to someone who doesn’t believe (in God) because of things that have happened in their past.  It made me think again about something that happened when I was in the 11th grade.  We were given some free time in class and one student made the statement that she didn’t believe in God.  This statement came as a shock to most of the class…not because everyone thought she was a believer, but because is was unusual for someone to make that sort of proclamation in my school.  The religious discussions that normally took place in my school were between believers and were about religious issues.  Non-believers generally didn’t enter such discussions.

Of course, being the good baptists, church of christs, assembly of Gods, lutherans, etc. that we were, we took the opportunity to attempt to change her unbelief.  This discussion took up the rest of the class period, and probably went on for 20 or 30 minutes.  This student was an active participant in the discussion, and while I don’t believe her opinion was in any way swayed by the discussion, I also didn’t get the feeling that she felt set-upon or derided for her position on God.  In the course of the discussion, she revealed that her unbelief stemmed from the fact that even though she had prayed for healing for her sick grandmother, she did not recover and died.

After the class period was over, one girl came up to me red-faced and with tear-filled eyes and choked voice asked how anyone could say they don’t believe in God.  To this day I still don’t know what prompted this question from a classmate I had rarely spoken with our entire time in school together, and I’d like to be able to say that I had a very profound answer for her query.  The best answer I could muster was a sad, “I don’t know,” along with some comment on how everyone has to come to God in their own time and that we should pray for her.

You see, for this girl, God was “the big suggestion box in the sky,” and when her suggestion (prayer) was not answered in a manner suitable to her, she assumed there must be no one listening.  Some people may not believe in God because of how they have been treated by churches/Christians in the past.  Others may feel that the things they’ve done in the past make them unworthy or unable to be loved.  Sometimes the only way to reach people with hangups about the past is to show them God in the present.  No amount of reasoning or convincing will change their mind.  We must be the living examples of Christ’s love in their lives.  We must strive to live so that when they look at us they see a reflection of Christ.

“Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” — 1 Corinthians 11:1

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By This All Will Know

Published on August 9, 2011 in Reflections

I attended an event this evening called “Sons of Thunder”.  It’s basically a time for Christian men to gather in fellowship, praise, and testimony.  While I enjoyed the food, fellowship, praise, and testimonies, what really stuck out to me about the evening was what happened afterward.  As I was sitting in my car waiting to pull into the line heading for the exit, many cars passed by before one finally flashed their lights to tell  me to pull in ahead of them.  Now, I had plenty of time to get home, and I wasn’t experiencing a case of road-rage.  It did make me reflect, though, on how we treat our brothers and sisters in Christ.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” — John 13:34-35

Can people really tell that we are disciples of Jesus by the way we treat other Christians?  By the way we talk about other Christians?  Jesus loved us so much that He put us before Himself.  He died on the cross to save us from our sins while we were still actively opposed to Him. (Romans 5:8)  When was the last time we put another Christian before our own wants and desires?

There’s even a difference between being generous and putting someone before myself.  I can be generous and share my meal with a hungry man, but when was the last time I used my last $4 to buy a hungry person a meal rather than myself?  Do I truly think of other Christians as my brothers?  Do I treat them as such?

It’s time we stopped paying lip-service to the commandments of Christ, and started putting them into practice.  Jesus didn’t call us to be Christians.  He didn’t call us to be believers.  He called us to be disciples.  He called us to follow Him.  (Matthew 4:19)  Believing in Jesus won’t get you anywhere.  Even the demons believe.  (James 2:19)  We have to deny ourselves and love each other…even when it isn’t easy.  (Luke 9:23-26)

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Introduction / Purpose

Published on July 12, 2011 in Me

I’ve been building websites since 1998.  Most of them were just diversions and playthings.  A few years ago I decided to try my hand at blogging.  I enjoy it, but of the three blogs I have previously started, none of them have been able to capture my time and attention for longer than about a week at a time.  It’s not that I didn’t have anything to talk about.  I just didn’t seem to have the time to sit down and form them into coherent posts.

You might be wondering about that whole “end of the Internet” thing.  My intended purpose for this new blog is to be a sounding board to allow me to work out things that are going through my mind at the time.  It’s a reference to the fact that if you’re reading this, you have probably already read everything worth reading on the Internet.

I don’t know what direction this new experiment will take, but if you want to read about youth ministry, foster-parenting, and whatever else strikes my fancy, you are welcome to check back here.

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