Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

1000? Really?

I guess this is a milestone of sorts. This is my 1000th post on this blog. When I began this back in December of 2007, I had no idea I would still be writing a little over four years later. Some of you may be wondering why I'm still sharing the sometimes random stuff that rolls around in my brain. Probably because I can? Actually, I keep on because I hope that something I put on here will help, encourage, or challenge someone.

Since that winter day in 2007, the path of my life has taken a few twists and turns. Jan and I left one church, became involved in a couple of church plants (one fizzled and one blew up). I was done with the whole idea of church for a while. Then three years ago, God brought us to a church community that we have grown to love and see as family.

The journey has gone through wide open, sunny spaces and deep dark woods. I have been in a cave and come out again. I have learned over and over to trust the loving heart of my Father, and I have become more amazed at his unfathomable love for me. In the past couple of years, we have added two members to our family with the marriages of our two children.

In June, I lost a job and immediately gained a gig helping to take care of my father-in-law. That continues to this day, but I will have to be getting a regular job in the near future. I am trusting God to provide in his timing, as he always has.

Where this road takes me in the next four years is one of those unknowns. I am sure it will wind through forests, wide open spaces, and valleys. Maybe I'll crank out another thousand posts. We'll see. Thank you to all of you who have been with me on part of this trip. I hope that y'all (as we say here in the sunny South) will continue to travel along with me. It should be interesting.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Weekend Wanderings

It has turned colder here in the sunny South. Of course, we don't have it close to as bad as other parts of the country. Evidently, just about the entire country is supposed to be much colder than usual this weekend. Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. Are you giving up anything? I'm looking for something positive to add for the season, so if anyone has any ideas, I would love to hear them.

On to the good stuff:

Good reminder for all of us.
Good point.
Yoga pants.
Zack Hunt calls for some humility.
Untamed Christianity.

Three questions.
So it turns out Charles Manson isn't getting married after all.
Those North Koreans sure know how to celebrate!
Wrecked expectations.
Stress and spiritual life.

Zach LaVine has some hops! If you’re a basketball fan, you understand.
This is not good.
Chaplain Mike on being countercultural.
Like a child.
Two good questions.

Pam Hogeweide is killing with kindness.
Community of contrast.
Coping with fear.
Waiting.
Good reminder from Michael Spencer.

Have a blessed week!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Too Much Grace?

"You're encouraging people to sin." "Folks are just going to use that as an excuse to live any way they please." These are just some of the complaints aimed at those who teach grace. If you have been a reader here for any length of time you can guess that I am going to disagree with those who say we should ease up on all this grace talk. I agree with what Robert Ferrar Capon once wrote.

“The Reformation was a time when men went blind, staggering drunk because they had discovered, in the dusty basement of late medievalism, a whole cellar full of fifteen-hundred-year-old, two-hundred proof Grace–bottle after bottle of pure distilate of Scripture, one sip of which would convince anyone that God saves us single-handedly. The word of the Gospel–after all those centuries of trying to lift yourself into heaven by worrying about the perfection of your bootstraps–suddenly turned out to be a flat announcement that the saved were home before they started…Grace has to be drunk straight: no water, no ice, and certainly no ginger ale; neither goodness, nor badness, not the flowers that bloom in the spring of super spirituality could be allowed to enter into the case.”

I believe that when we look at the whole of Scripture, we will see that the message of pure grace is the message of Jesus. During Jesus' time on this earth, he made it clear that there is no way we could ever be right with God by keeping the Law. The letters written by Paul and the other apostles also are insistent that it is God's grace and mercy that brings us to him and makes us his children. 

Now, there are some who preach what they call a message of grace, but which is really a message of license. They say that because of God's grace a Christian is completely free of all sinning and is never convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit. It is true that the Spirit doesn't pound us down and burden us down with condemnation, but it is also true that we do sin. The conviction is not a judgmental thing but is more a reminder that we are not living as a child of God, but it is still there. When we are called on what we do, whether it is the Spirit or another person, it is not necessarily an accusation from satan.

I believe that an individual who truly has been captured by God's amazing grace, and who truly understands it, will agree with what Paul wrote in Romans 6. We don't sin so that there will be more grace. Grace does not mean that we can just do anything we want and God will just let it slide. God's grace is so powerful that it leads us to want to do whatever our Father wants us to do. The desire of our new heart is to love God with every fiber of our being, and to love others as Christ loved us. Sin is still present in us, and though it is not our nature any longer, we still sometimes choose to do those things that are wrong.

Folks who get grace are not against the Law. Rather, they appreciate the Law because it shows us how desperately we need someone else to do what is necessary to make us right with God. Jesus has fulfilled that Law, therefore it is not an external rule in our lives. Instead, by God's grace, we have an inward law of love that works in us so we can live like the children of God that we are.

The grace of God is amazing, wondrous, and powerful. It saves us and makes us children of God. It causes God's love to fill us and overflow onto those around us. As we are filled more and more with that love, we become more and more like Christ. 

That's pure two-hundred proof grace. Drink deeply.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Weekend Wanderings: Long Weekend Edition

One of the nice things about being semiretired is the ability to extend any weekend to three days. Springlike weather has made an appearance here in the sunny South, proof that the groundhog is no better than anyone else at predicting the weather. Of course, winter is liable to come roaring back in at any time.

On to the real reason you're here.

Michael Spencer on poets.
Coldest town on earth.
Good post from Arthur Sido.
On being incomplete.
Hope for North Korea.

California and water.
Keith Giles on love.
Outcast? Possibly.
The H-Bomb.
Matt Appling on frustration.

Anyone want to take up Norse religion?
Drawing a line?
Eric Carpenter on war.
Opposite extremes?
Scot McKnight disagrees.

Have a blessed week!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Blast From the Past: Love, Love, Love

This was first posted on Feb. 7, 2011.

The Beatles sang, "All You Need is Love". What the Fab Four didn't realize was that what they were singing was somewhat Biblical. Jesus said that the two greatest commandments were to love God with every thing we have and to love those around us as we love ourselves. I am disturbed by the lack of love I see in many who claim to be followers of the One who said that all of the commandments hang on our relationship to God and our relationship to other human beings. We claim to love God yet don't do what He commands. Jesus said that if we love Him, we would keep His commandments. We tend to do a pretty good job, sometimes, of keeping the commands that have to with praying, reading the Bible, worshipping (to some extent), or other things that deal directly with God Himself.

Where we fail is in the commands to love each other, which is where the second commandment comes in. How often do we look down on those we deem less "spiritual" than we? How many times do we pass along the latest bit of juicy gossip (although we "sanctify" it by couching it as a "prayer request")? How many in our circle have physical needs that we could meet but don't? How often do we withholdfellowship from those who don't dot their I's and cross their T's the same way we do? How many times do we show love to those within our circle yet ignore the needs of those who don't know Jesus? Why hasn't the Church taken care of the poor and needy and made the idea of a welfare state redundant?

Jesus said that everyone would know that we are His followers because of our love!

Not our Bible version,our systematic theology, our music, preaching style, or dress! Does the world know us for Who we are for, or for what we are against? Paul gives us a warning in First Corinthians 13 when he tells us that anything we might think we do for the Kingdom of God is absolutely a waste of time if we don't do it out of love.

May God give us a love for Him that overrides everything else and leads us to love those we come in contact with.

Weekend Wanderings

I hope you enjoyed your Fourth of July. Mine was good. I worked on Monday and then went with Jan to a celebration that our fair city holds e...