Pastor and author Paul Gray is on Grace for Single Parents podcast to share his message about grace and unconditional love and action for all people.
Jen: Hi, this is Jen from Grace for Single Parents where your parenting and God’s grace collide. I’m doing something different day on the podcast.
I have a special guest with a special message. I have Paul Gray on today and he’s a pastor and an author with a message that changed my life.
Paul’s message is grace and unconditional love and action for all people. Paul focuses on helping people experience and enjoy God’s love without conditions for all people. He found that knowing God personally leads to enjoying and experiencing life at a much higher level and the author of multiple books we talk about today. He is also a podcast host and I’ll have the links to his books and his podcasts in the show notes. So make sure you check those out so you can find out more about Paul and his ministry. Keep listening to the end so you can win a copy of one of Paul’s signed books and the Bible he recommends.
Welcome Paul, I’m so excited to have you on today.
Paul: Well thank you. It’s my privilege. I appreciate you inviting me to be here.
Jen: Yes. So, Paul, I was introduced to you after reading your book “Convertible Conversations” and your book challenged some crucial beliefs I’d held about God for almost 40 years.
Although I thought I understood what grace was, I think deep in my heart I wasn’t truly living as though God really had unconditional love for me. I thought that yes, he had grace for me, but the things I did, he really didn’t have. I still had to work, earn my way, and work my way towards many things.
So that also meant that I didn’t really give grace to other people very free freely. So can you talk a little bit about what God’s grace means for us and then from that, how we can extend it to other people because of his unconditional love for us?
Paul: Sure. Well, grace means everything once you start to understand it. And like you, I had no concept of what grace was. You know, I sang amazing grace and I would say grace at meals and I could give you a standard answer that it was God’s riches at Christ expense.
But I really didn’t know what that meant. And about 10 years ago, God just started revealing things to me through other people, writers and teachers, and speakers. And I don’t think we’ll ever grasp it fully Jen, but I started to get a better revelation at literally every day of another facet of God. It’s like a diamond, you know, you’re looking at the different ways and different lighting effects and you see something different to what grace is like.
It’s multifaceted and basically, it means that it is God’s unconditional love in us and for us perpetually working in us and perpetually enabling us to be all God has created us to be.
And once we understand that, we understand that it’s not our trying to do things or earning grace or measuring up to it, but it is literally God’s unconditional love that’s just always there and always pouring out on us and in us and through us.
And I’ve come to understand that until we realize that it’s free that it’s for us that we haven’t done anything to earn it. And that no matter what we do, God’s unconditional love.
It’s why it’s called unconditional is always there and always for us until we come to realize that it’s really impossible for us to give other people grace and to give them unconditional love.
But once we understand that God loves us unconditional unconditionally, not because we earned it or, or did something to merit it or anything, but just because of who he is, how much is his love is.
Well, then we can look at other people and go, well, you know, maybe they said something I didn’t like, or maybe their lifestyle is not what I would necessarily approve of or whatever. God loves them as much as he loves me. His grace covers everything with them. He sees them as just as with a love of a child just as he does me. And it’s not because I did something better than they did. We’re all his children. Then I can start to realize, Oh, we’re all in the same boat. He loves them. He loves me. I can give them grace. Hopefully, they will give me grace and we do. The world was a much better place, you know.
Jen: Yes. Thank you for that. Your book, “Convertible Conversations”, it follows a man and his wife and his grandson who loses his parents from hurricane Harvey and they bring him in. And through that, living with his grandparents, he experiences God and his grace through some different trials. Is that all fictional or does any of that follow your life at all?
Paul: It all follows my life. When I first wrote it Hurricane Harvey hadn’t happened, but I hadn’t published it yet. And my publisher and I had the same idea at the same time. It was about ready to go to press when hurricane Harvey happened. We thought, okay, let’s rewrite the beginning and of course that meant rewriting all the references to it later on. But I think it was a good way to do it. And it was set where this man and his wife as you mentioned, lost their son and daughter-in-law. And then her grandson, of course, lost his parents in hurricane Harvey.
Well, what happened in our life was my son in law, and actually you’ll be familiar with this, but because of the Roundball Jayhawk basketball Classic, the first one of those was done for my son in law.
He was 29 years old 10 years ago. He had cancer before it came back with a vengeance.
And Brian Hanni came to us and wanted to do something to help him. That started the first Roundball Classic and my son in law died. He went through just a horrific one year experience of having his leg amputated and then succumbing to cancer.
And as a result, my daughter and her then three-year-old son came to live with us and they’ve been with us ever since for the last 10 years. What has been a great blessing for both of us, but I’ve helped raise him in the end.
He was very, even though it was only three years old, he was very close to his dad. And so I’ve helped raise him and a lot of the things that I write about it in “Convertible Conversations” are just expansions of our time together and helping him understand that God loves him and going through the grieving process and all of that, losing his dad while I lost my son in law and our daughter lost her husband and all of that.
So it’s, it’s very much my story. It’s just set in a fictional setting.
Jen: Also in the book you recommend the Mirror Bible. I think the main character gives that book to someone at some point. And then also, I know that you’ve recommended it before. Can you tell me more about the mirror Bible and how it’s different from other translations?
Paul: The Mirror Bible it’s not, it hasn’t been completed yet. Probably two thirds or more of the New Testament have been completed.
The guy who is translating it, his name is Francois du Toit. He’s from South Africa. And he’s a wonderful guy, I met him and spent some time with him. He’s just a wonderful guy. He really has a gift of languages. He speaks several languages.
And he really has a great grasp of Hebrew and Greek, which the Bible was originally written in along with Aramaic but also has this understanding of God’s unconditional love and God’s inclusion of everyone and of grace. And so he translates it from that perspective.
Now, translators have a tremendous amount of leeway. For instance, a Greek word may have 15 or 20 different meanings and so in some of them are not really compatible with some of the other meanings.
So when a translator looks at the original Greek, they literally have the leeway, if you will, to take which one of those meanings they want and translate that into English.
Well when the King James Bible was compiled in the early 1600s, there was a group of people then who had a specific mindset. And their tradition and their theological background was that God was an angry God and he was always keeping a list of what we were doing.
And it’s sort of like Santa Claus. He’s always watching. He knows when you’ve been naughty and when you’ve been nice. And if you haven’t been nice, you know, there’s going to be hell to pay, well, that’s the background they have.
So when they translated that, they took a lot of words that could be translated much differently and may turn them into words like “wrath” different things like that.
And the guy who has the Mirror Translation doesn’t do that. He comes at it from what I believe is the historically more correct way of what the early church believes. So it’s a great translation and it helps me understand the heart of God much better than any other translation.
Jen: Yeah, that’s, that’s helpful. And also so interesting as well. The more I read the Bible and dig in about how the different translations came to be,
Paul: Yeah, and there there’s no perfect translation. And there are good things from all of them. There are some that I encourage people to stay away from. Because there are some intentionally bad.
I’ll just give you a real quick one. The word that we translate, “repent” that the original word there means to change your mind literally to change your mind.
And the way it was used in the New Testament was to change your mind about the fact that God is distant and aloof and keeping a record of your wrongs and it’s impossible to please change your mind into believing that God is good and loving and full of grace.
That that was the initial original use of it.
Well in some of the first translations of the Bible back in around 325 years after Christ was born the church then the Catholic church was the only church and they were in this big huge building project and they were building these great cathedrals, you know, all over Europe and stuff, which took a lot of money to do that.
So they, there’s a guy by the name of Jerome who did a lot of good things, but he did some intentional wrong things too. He translated one of the first versions it was translated into Latin and he used the word “penance“.
And they said, you know, when you sin, you need to go to the priest and confess and the priest will determine how much penance, money you need to give to the church, which was what supported all of these building projects, provided the tremendous amount of wealth that the church now has in the Vatican and paid the priest salaries and all that.
Well, that went pretty well for a while, but then they needed more money for more buildings and he changed the word to “repent”. As in give even more penance.
And we have, we have many many English people have continued to translate that word.
The word Greek word is “metanoia” which means to have a radical change in mind that continued to change that, to repent, which has nothing to do with the original meaning.
And that’s caused a lot of people, a lot of trauma and false teaching. And so it’s really good to learn about those things and know about them and see where the translations came from and that kind of stuff.
Jen: Very interesting. Do you have any last words that you’d like to say to encourage anyone who feels like maybe God’s grace is for everyone else, but, but for them?
Paul: Repent, change your mind about that.
Have a radical mind change and come to realize that God’s unconditional love and grace is for everyone.
And you know what I asked? This is what I did and I encourage people to do is just get in a quiet place, you know no social media and TV on anything like that. Get in a quiet place and be still and just say, God, tell me, is this the truth?
Do you, do you really love me? Is your love really for me?
And then just to be still and to listen.
And I’ve found that there’s sometimes we’ve got such false beliefs in our minds that it takes a while for us to really hear God’s voice.
But when we do, you’ll hear that still sweet voice saying, yeah, I love you. My grace is for you. You’re my child, you’re my beloved child. And no matter what you think you’ve done that’s disqualified you or whatever it hasn’t, my love is unconditional and always will be.
Jen: That’s great. Thank you. Where can listeners find you and find more information about just if they want to hear more about God’s grace?
Paul: I have a Facebook group called Grace to All with Paul Gray. I have a website called Grace With Paul Gray. And on my website, I have all my blogs and videos and posts. And I do a twice-weekly podcast called Grace To All with Pray Gray. We’re on Tuesdays I do teaching and then on Thursdays, I interview different people and so I’d love to have you all check it out and I’m so glad that you invited me to be a part of this today.
Jen: Yes. Thank you for coming so much and I’ll have links to all of that. I appreciate you coming on. Thank you.
Paul: Thank you Jen.
Jen: I hope you enjoyed listening to Paul Gray on the podcast today just as much as I enjoyed having him.
If you’re anything like me, learning about this thing of grace with God is a little confusing and there’s so much to learn. Just like Paul said, looking and learning about God’s grace is like looking at a diamond. There are so many different ways you can look at grace and so much to learn. We’re never going to learn everything there is about God, but that’s no reason not to keep learning. It’s amazing everything we can learn about Him.
I’ve got an awesome giveaway for you. That one is Paul Gray’s devotional, it’s called Grace Is and it’s even signed by him, and the other is a copy of the Mirror Bible. I have a copy at home and I’d like to give you a copy as well.
This is the Bible that Paul was talking about during the podcast, so I’d like to give both of these, both the devotion Grace Is by Paul Gray and a copy of the Mirror Bible to one of my listeners. All you have to do is rate and review this podcast and then take a screenshot of it and send it to me at email@example.com I’ll choose a winner within the next week. Good luck and thanks so much for listening!