Only God: A Pastor’s Confession

Photo of Greg Atkinson
Greg Atkinson

God did something amazing in my heart recently (but it’s not about me). God did something amazing in our church (but it’s not about us).

I could share stories and testimonies with you all day (and maybe one day I will), but right now they’re too dear and precious to my heart. They’re too fresh. I know you understand.

What I do want to say today is the following. Only God Can:

  • Save
  • Heal
  • Rescue
  • Deliver
  • Break through a hard heart
  • Open blind eyes
  • Awaken a dead heart
  • Set people free

My brief testimony is God set me free from my past, my hurt, my anger, my pain, my shame, my guilt, my neglect, my being self-absorbed and most of all my pride. He has broken my heart (in a good way), ruined me (in a good way) and set me free! Praise God. My point is: Only God can set someone free.

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You guys know this. I knew it in my head, but I had to experience it so that I would believe it in my heart. I hope I’m making sense. I’m not crazy. I’m just grateful and thankful to my Savior.

Hear me loud and clear:

  1. I’m not bragging.
  2. If I am boasting, it is in Christ alone. I mean that sincerely.
  3. I’m not proud of being humble. (I’m on guard about this. I’ve been warned. Pray for me.)
  4. Get this: I’m not perfect.
  5. I’m a work in progress.
  6. I’m on a spiritual journey just like everyone else.
  7. And finally, God’s not finished with me yet.

Only God. I thank and praise Him for what He’s done in my heart, my family and our church (and what He will continue to do), and I pray He does the same thing for you, my friends.

Note: Our worship pastor, Matt Rector, partnered with “the genius of the Holy Spirit,” as Dave Browning would say, and we had an amazing experience of worship at our church recently. The song "Relentless" by Hillsong United will forever be special to me (for the rest of my life—no matter how old it gets). The bridge ruined me (in a good way).

You’ve got to listen to it! I’m so thankful that our worship pastor allows God, through the Holy Spirit, to choose what songs we sing each week.

Last Thing

Our God is setting people free (not just me)—every day, every hour, every minute, every second—all around the world! That’s our great and good God.

I pray that all this blog post does is lead you to Christ and point you to Jesus and most of all lead you to worship our great and good God.

Amen. Let it be.


For every prideful, rude, arrogant, boastful, harsh or cold statement that I’ve every written on my blog or anywhere else—please forgive me. For the times I bragged or boasted of how many books I had read—please forgive me. For the times that I’ve bragged about our attendance or baptisms or come across like I was putting down a small church—please forgive me. That’s not my heart anymore. I was wrong, and I’m genuinely sorry. Now when I read, I want it to be not just for more knowledge and to get smarter (old Greg), but to know God more (my new heart’s desire).

When God set me free, I feel He spoke to my heart (in that still, small voice) and said, “My child, I love you, and that is enough. That is enough. You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone. You don’t have to self-promote. You don’t have to stress over the church and buildings and budgets and the economy and low offerings." (You guys and gals know what I’m talking about.) He simply spoke over my heart: "I love you." And that, my friends, is enough.

I vow that my writing moving forward (Lord willing) will be Christ honoring, uplifting and encouraging to you and your ministry. Forgive me for ever bragging about what “Greg has done.” May it never be again. It was all Jesus—always has been. Always will be.

Continue to follow along in my writing as I share the journey that God is taking me and our church on. I pray God blesses your ministry.

By the way, I know some are going to be skeptical or confused or wonder if this is genuine. That’s OK. My brother said, “Greg, the proof is in the pudding.” I get that. I know I need to live this out the rest of my life and not just post about it once. Please pray for me. God knows I need it. I’m a work in progress. And if there’s anything I can ever pray for you about, contact me and I will add you to my prayer journal (that my wife just bought for me this week). Friends, I was living a life of destruction. 


I’ll close with two Scriptures God laid on my heart this week (besides Isaiah 6 and the entire book of Romans):

“Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end, But establish the just; For the righteous God tests the hearts and minds. My defense is of God. Who saves the upright in heart” (Ps. 7:9-10).

“Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals ALL your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s." (Ps. 103:1-5).

Amen. Let it be, Lord God, in all of our lives.

Greg Atkinson is the campus pastor at Forest Park Carthage, a multisite church with 5,000 members based in Joplin, Mo. He has started businesses, including the worship resource website WorshipHouse Media (where he served as director), a social media marketing company and his own consulting firm. As a consultant, Greg has worked with some of the largest and fastest-growing churches across the United States.

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