Monday, January 30, 2012

Grace to the broken-hearted

So as I was on my way into work today, I thought of a couple of people in my world or sphere of influence who are desperately broken.  From what I can see, in both of their lives, it happened before they had full control of anything.  So, basically, as a child or young adult.  Let me give you the two, what I'll call, case studies.

Case Study #1:
The first person, who is a male, works as a travel agent in a US city.  I came about knowing him through a work relationship.  He is homosexual and from several discussions maintained via email - he has revealed the hurt that has driven him to that place.  That is no excuse, on my part, for my sin or his, just a knowledge of where he is at. 

He told me that he was abused as a young boy by, what I'll call a 'supposed', minister of the gospel.  He was 12 y/o and had been invited into this man's home and to go with him as they would travel on evangelistic missions.  This 'boy' would preach and minister in the name of Jesus and then behind the scenes would be abused by the man.  Really, I'll point out here that this isn't to say that all pastors are, at the core of them, grubby - power hungry - control freaks who can only operate in that frame of reference.  Many are beautiful examples of faithful obedience to God's word.

But, imagine for a moment that you were the 'boy' in this scenario.  How would you feel about the church?  About ministers in general?  About God?  This is the power of these things that these abusers hold toward those who are under their care.  Don't think that for a moment Jesus would just pass it off like, it was nothing, in fact, the opposite is true, think of Luke 17:2, that isn't a pretty picture meant to conjure up fuzzy feelings.  The combination of religious pride and power abuse sickened the Son of Man and it should sicken us!

Case Study #2:
The second person, is a female, I won't go into detail about my relationship with her, seriously, nothing inappropriate, it would be just in case she would read this.  Her father was a pastor, again, role of authority and abusive. 

He was not a sexual abuser but would kick, discipline with an electrical cord, slap, punch and generally would emotionally manipulate her.  She, being one of the older in the family, would take most of the abuse for the younger kids, literally standing in his way so he couldn't get to the other kids.  Yes, I know, where was the mom?  Well she was there, but, too afraid to say anything against the rage that would seethe from this man. 

This woman has now been divorced 3 times, had one affair, 3 abortions, you don't think there is some power exercising authority over her?  Again, I'm not saying that there is any excuse for her sin or mine for that matter.  Many conversations have revealed more abuse and continued reminders, in her own mind, about the nature of what she went through. 

Okay, here is my main point, what ministry opportunities are we wasting away because we're not looking past the surface level disobedience.  Passing them off as nominal Christians, not extending grace or a smile because, hey, they aren't being obedient.  What God needs is obedient followers, he is "purifying" his church.  I would say, "Yes and Amen", but he does it through humility and love.  Asked by a brother recently, "Unity, at what cost?", well, it cost the Son of God his life, have we really given that much?

Do we love our brother or sister to the point of sticking with them in, "steadfast love", like in Psalm 42: 5, 11 remember, he was still in the same position in v. 11 as in v. 5.  These are both still professing Christians and I feel they are because of the misery of their lives.  I've asked both, point blank, "Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and Saviour of the world, especially you?"  They both have answered in the affirmative, working that out is the question, "how does that faith inform your actions?".  They don't need the stiff arm and walk away with our platitudes about how only if they would know God the way we do they wouldn't be there.  Are you willing to stick with them so that they see that in living color?

You may be thinking of someone right now who you need to reach out to even right now.  Maybe you are the living extension of the grace of God that will lead them back to see the Cross of Christ.  Isn't that what we all need?  Desiring to meet you, "At the foot of the Cross".

Boasting in what Jesus does, His Cross -


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Jesus + nothing = EVERYTHING

Listening today to some sermons that were given by Tullian Tchvidian at Wheaton College.

This guy is becoming a favorite for sure.  Pray that it blesses you.

The title of the post is the title of his new book.

Here is the link to watch the videos.

Boasting in the work of the Gospel that brought me and keeps me,


Monday, January 9, 2012

God's grace to Abraham

I love reading through the Word and seeing the grace of God.  Today it was Abrams turn, I guess this is always his "time of the year".  You know, I wonder if they're in heaven somewhere, some corner, albeit self absorbed one, I know - contradiction in terms - but go with me, where Abraham...BTW that is his name now...but you know they get together and start jazzing each other?  "Hey, check it out 'Abram', I mean 'Abraham', they're reading about you now, but don't get too happy, they'll be through soon enough, where's Joseph - get out here man!"

Okay, so now you know what goes on in my mind, don't ask too many questions.  But, here is Abram in the Ur of the Chaldees with his father Terah.  God is moving all of history into place as he calls to Abram, out of the middle of nowhere, "Abram", "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house..."  Wow, just think about it, here is an idol worshipping-polygamist-slave owner, just to give perspective and God calls him.  Well, let me correct myself, the Bible doesn't say anything about him being a polygamist just yet, that happens later in Chapter 16.  I know, he was progressively working it out. :)

But that God called and spoke, again, into history and moved hearts to hear him.  Then, the kicker is, before Abram did anything, God says, "I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."  Again, just imagine this, God says, "this is what I'm going to do" and He does it, he doesn't make Abraham a perfectly moral being, we know that because of Chapter 16.  We do have v. 4, "So Abram went...", yes he did, aside from the obvious Word that we have and God's directing of all things, he obeyed.  Imagine, you have a voice, from God, say, "Abram, I'm going to bless you and bless those that bless you and anyone who fools with you fools with me."  How would you react?  Okay, lets do this thing but what do I do?

What would you do?  I don't think that Abram knew completely what he was doing but that it was a gracious God that he was listening to.  Think about it, here is a God who is going to bless and defend him and ultimately make of him a nation that would be more that the sand of the seashore.  That is incredible and if you think about it, completely crazy, and something that if God would reveal it to Abram, just a little chunk of that he did reveal in Gen. 15:12-16, all at once would've blown his mind.  Think about Romans 11:33-36, "how unfathomable his ways..."  If God revealed to us everything that is happening or will happen it would blow our minds.

This is my point, where were you when God called you?  You had nothing, c'mon, admit it, you might have the pedigree, born in a Christian family, first Sunday - in the nursery, grown up all your life under the teachings of Christianity but you're no better than where Abraham was at.  God calls each of us out of the desert of our lives to invest it in the One who has revealed the Grace of God in the most amazing way possible, the Cross.  God calls each of us from that place of reliance's on what we can see to a grace that He calls us to daily, I will bless you, I love you, you are mine...look to My Son, BELIEVE!

Do you believe like Abram did?  Do you hear him calling?  That is Him and if you hear him, do not harden your heart, believe!

Boasting in His grace,


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Gospel is Grace

Following Tullian Tchividian on Twitter he had a tweet, that I think was a retweet of Trevin Wax, it went, "Too many times, we think, "I know we're saved by grace, but..." that "but" is deadly."

Why is it that we can understand the grace of God in the context of raising dead, lifeless sinners from death to life by the faith that the Spirit gives but when it comes to living the Christian life, all of the sudden we make it about what you do?  Of course there is life change, of course there is a depth that salvation brings that does not belong to us but instead of exploring that depth we step out of the ocean of God's grace into the desert of legalism.  It is as if we're saying, "Hey God, thanks for that, obviously you saved me because you saw something real special in me and so I'll get to it from here." 

Isn't that about what you feel like at times about this Christian life?  I mean, God saves you but you better get to work as soon as that happens.  So instead of enjoying the Savior, King Jesus, we stray back to the life of trying to impress someone who is already impressed but not with what you can do.  This is something that has perplexed me since I've been learning the doctrines of Grace, I mean you could be talking with someone about salvation and how great it is that God brought you to Himself and how he awakened a dead man and how I could do nothing for that, wretched, blind, pitiful...etc...

Then in the same conversation talking about the walking out that grace they become rabid Arminians. :)  It is again perplexing and I've heard it explained as "degrees" of Law, under grace, and how this is a matter of realizing where we are and working it out from there.  This is a problem because there would be oppostion to those who would try, like in the holiness movement, to say that there is a fuller fullness of the Holy Spirit that has to happen.  So there is grace, yes but that grace enables you and it becomes a type of comparison, "Oh, so you haven't gotten as far as I down the 'grace road', let me show you."  Again, the problem is that I'm comparing myself to someone else, not to God, not to the perfect example of grace.

Legalism so easily herds us in to categories and definitions that are outside of God's grace, the Gospel that he called us with is the Gospel that keeps us.  It defines Jesus as the worthy One and that he has all authority in the life of that individual whom he calls.  But just because he has that authority and some of us, in the eyes of others, do great things "for" God, leaving out Eph. 2:10, we develop patterns that will make it depend on us.  It goes back to my first point, God sees someting special in me and so I need to "git er done". :)  Actually, God sees something special in His Son and so our sacrifice is for naught outside of his working in us or not acknowledging that he has "before ordained" those works.

Here is the final, I'll call it "kicker" in this argument and that would be, "What sin or sins do you struggle with right now, just as much or moreso than you did as a new Christian?"  So, if we are truly seeing the grace of God we realize that there is nothing we could do to earn it, before or after coming to Christ.  The fact that we struggle with the same things is testimony to the hopelessness of trying to "work this thing out" by looking at our progress, rather than Christs' work on behalf of His children.  So I encourge an outward look to the Savior and it will surprise you how much joy will come from that, then our boasting in the Gospel becomes, not a grind but a grace filled walk.

Boasting with you in the work that Christ has done,