Grace

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Unfiltered

Friday, December 7th, 2018

Don’t you just love genealogies? Aaaaah no. “As a matter of fact I usually just skip over them and go to the end. Sort of like I do when I’m reading all about the clans and offspring in Numbers.”

But there is one genealogy you just don’t want to skip over. I’m sure you know I’m speaking of Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew 1. I used to. I was lost at the first “begat.” You know…the old KJV version of “father of.” And honestly, when people want to talk about Christmas they want to talk about the baby in the manger, the shepherds, the wise men, Bethlehem, no room in the manger, or some other well known part of the story. But the genealogy? Surely you have got to be kidding!

But there it is in black and white and as glorious as it can be! There is the requisite “father of” found in all genealogies. But, as you may know, there are some women included in His. The culture of that day excluded women from any place of prominence, especially in the genealogy. But not Jesus’. I’m sure you have heard it before but here is what we find with the woman:

Tamar– disguised herself as a prostitute and seduced Judah. Find her story in Genesis 38

Rahab– anyone who has read the story of Jericho knows her profession.  She was an idolatrous, an outcast Gentile woman, and a professional prostitute. She became the mother of Boaz who married our next woman.

Ruth– a Moabitess, a lineage that came as a result of incest. (Genesis 19). She married Boaz (Read the book of Ruth) and became David’s great grandmother.

Bathsheba– Is the anyone who does not know who she is? Just say “David.”

Mary- the mother of Jesus. A sinner like you and me. A virgin but still a sinner.  Definitely not perfect and definitely not deserving to be elevated to the heights with Jesus. She was in need of a Savior like all of us.

The genealogy of Jesus speaks of grace. It shows that God accepts outsiders. Like me. Like you.  The genealogy shows people with warts. It is unfiltered.

Grace is my main topic for this Sunday. The Unfiltered Light of Christmas. Your prayers would be appreciated.

Hope

Thursday, November 15th, 2018

God placed his unshakable love on me.

Let that sink in for a minute or two. That sounds so inviting. So settling. So solid. Especially in today’s world when everything seem so unsettled, so much in an upheaval, it is good to know there is a constant. That constant is Jesus. That constant is the solid hope He gives.

I like what Tripp says: “Hope is a Person and His name is Jesus.”

For the rest of my post on HOPE see my post here on my other blog.

Tips#4

Thursday, October 4th, 2018

I apologize. I haven’t been as energetic posting this week as I had planned. I wanted to give a few days for the RoadID video of me and Jo to hopefully find some traction but then life hit and has a way of interrupting. I’m sure you know what I mean so I won’t belabor that point. I’d like to continue my series on “Whatever You Do, Don’t Do These Things.” You can read the previous 3 “Tips” posts here, here, and here.

#8- Don’t Play the Avoidance Game.  One of the most common reasons people don’t respond to a friend or person in need is fear. That’s right. Fear. Fear of saying the wrong thing. Fear of not knowing what to say. So they say nothing. Not only do they not say anything but they also avoid the whole situation.  They ignore the person’s pain completely. And in all honesty, that is sometimes more hurtful than truly trying to be a caring friend and saying the wrong thing or being tongue-tied. Not saying or doing anything or staying away can cut deeply.  Don’t stay away!

#9- Don’t Pledge General Help. “If there is anything I can do let me know.” “If you need me give me a call.” I don’t know how many times I have heard this said by some well-wisher at a funeral. I know they mean well but I have yet to find someone calling someone and saying, “You know. It’s been a hectic two weeks with mom being sick and then having her funeral last week. I really could stand to have my house cleaned. You said I could call you for anything. I’d like to ask for your help.” So be careful of pledging general help. Now…offering specific things like maybe babysitting or taking food or “running interference” is more like it.

#10- Don’t Condemn Them. The last time I looked we were not God. To pronounce God’s judgment on someone or to maybe toss out a false and helpful tidbit is uncalled for. I’m thinking of Job’s so-called friends right now: “What secret sin are you hiding?” “What are you doing that God is trying to get you to stop?” “Maybe He is trying to get you to stop smoking or (fill in the blank).” Do you remember the time in Jesus’ ministry when the disciples asked, “Who sinned? Him or his parents”? The truth is we have no idea what God is doing so why pretend to? Worse yet, why accuse? We do live in a broken world so death and suffering is part and parcel of it. But don’t condemn.

I hope these posts have been helpful to you. I was mindful of them as I visited in the hospital yesterday, especially since I was shy of details. May they help you be a better “minister” to hurting people.

RoadID

Monday, October 1st, 2018

I have been using RoadID for a lot of years…so many I can’t even remember. I hoped it would never be needed. I never worried dreamed I would someday be hit by a car.  Seriously, I never worried about it. I can’t even say I thought about it that much. To think about it would be paralyzing. I don’t ever want to be a slave to fear so I just would not allow myself to think about it.

I do now. Well, I think about it; say a prayer; then head out for a ride. How was I supposed to know a hit-n-run driver wanted to play bumper cars with me? Only it was his passenger-side rear view mirror and I was his bumper. More accurately, my left cheek was his bumper.

That happened back in November of 2016. Lots has happened since then.

In this post I talked about meeting a camera crew from RoadID.  That meeting happened and after two fun hours it was done. The finished product is now on YouTube and you can link from it here.  I’d like to ask you to listen and comment if you care to.

Tips#2

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

As promised (I know you were waiting with baited breath), I want to continue my posts on basically what to say and what not to say to a person who is hurting or grieving. These are adapted from the book by Dave Furman called Being There. The first three were in this post and while I’m going to list them here, you can check out a further explanation by checking out the post.

#1. Don’t Be the Fix-It Person.

#2. Don’t Play the Comparison Game.

#3. Don’t Make it Their Identity.

#4. Don’t Promise Deliverance Now. This is really huge right now in the religious world. False teachers/cult leaders/prosperity teachers and other heretical personalities are promising deliverance. You know how it works. They come to you saying, “I just know you are going to be healed. God has told me He will do that.” They might even tell you to think positive. Think good thoughts, happy thoughts. Get rid of all negativity. Kum-ba-yah and all that other rot.  IMHO you are not there to be their personal faith guru or their guarantor of God’s healing power. I get so sick of heretics making false claims of healing, getting peoples’ hopes up only to watch them and their faith come crashing down because “God didn’t come through.” I do like what the author says is key to this thought: “Instead of promising deliverance in this life, point them to God’s presence and a future hope that will never let them down.” (p.119)

#5. Don’t Encourage Them to Just “Move On.” You find this in the more “I’m going to take you to the good side by constantly telling you to leave all your troubles behind” kind of person.  That approach seems so calloused if you ask me.  This person is literally telling the hurting person his/her life has been on hold for way too long and it is time get over it.  Now…granted there is a fine line between wallowing in your pity and grieving appropriately. Grieving is so essential, but so is adequate grieving. When we, by our words or actions, tell people it is high time they got over their grieving, we are essentially saying, “I’m tired of dealing with this issue with you.”  One of the things I keep telling myself is people grieve differently and at different speeds. Do I think some people “milk” it? Sure. But, at the same time, who am I to think someone “ought to be over it by now”?

Well, I’m sorry this has gotten so long. I didn’t think I had this much in me. 🙂 Anyway, I’ll post some more tips in another day or two. I invite you back for another visit. And feel free to share this if you think it will help someone.

 

Nostalgia#4

Sunday, September 23rd, 2018

It all started with this song.  I had heard it sung on the very first worship CD I ever bought- The Passion Band’s second recording. Christy Nockels actually sang it. In 1999 I went through a revolution in my faith. After spending so many years in legalism, I had started getting out of that around 1995. I had read a book called Wisdom Hunter by Randall Arthur which rocked my world.  By 1999 I was enjoying the freedom from legalism, but there were some dark clouds on the horizon.

They had actually been there. In July of 1998 my father-in-law went to be with Jesus after dying on the operating table for open heart surgery. We were living 6 hours from Jo’s mom who was showing signs of “not being with it.” With a fear of dementia creeping in, I told her it was time to move and I would try to move closer to Sandusky, OH. Some dark clouds were forming in my ministry which I was aware of but never felt them threatening. In August of ’99 Tami visited another church in town (Maryland Community Church) and totally loved it. I asked her if she minded if I went the following Sunday night with her. That is when it all started. I heard the opening song for the first time and heard worship music which rocked. No fog or lights. No hymns. Just worship songs to a beat I liked.  And some good Bible teaching (which I desperately needed). One Sunday led to another to another until Sunday night’s at Maryland were a staple for father & daughter. ‘Course she liked that I bought her something to eat afterwards. 🙂

The clouds became a gathering storm and in June I found myself moving to Sandusky. There is so much more to say about that time but this is not the time or the place. What I can say is that from August of ’99 through June of 2000 the communion I had with God had never been sweeter and I am hard-pressed to find a time since (except following my accidents and the renewal of my love for God and Jo).

Since that first song, many worship songs have gone under the bridge of my “favorites.” I have two which make my list of favorites which I never tire of hearing. One is here by Chris Tomlin. The newest one is this one by Planetshakers (which I featured awhile back).

As I grow more mature in my faith, I’ll find others I like but this is where I am right now. Hope you enjoy it.

Listen

Monday, July 30th, 2018

Just listen.

https://youtu.be/sIaT8Jl2zpI

I failed to post a song yesterday. Got busy. Watched Incredibles 2 with Jo (great movie. Laughed a lot).  Prayed for what to write or say.

N.O.T.H.I.N.G.

Then I remembered a song while returning from a chiropractor appointment that Jo played for me while we were coming back from Ohio this past Saturday. I couldn’t remember what it was…the name…the words. All I remember is the tears that formed in my eyes as I listened.

So I found it. And I want to share it. Profound. Insightful. Probing. Truth.

So listen…just listen…with an open mind and heart. I did.  (I’m not really this singer’s biggest fan. I like my music rockier). May this song be a light for you today and for you this week.

GRACE

Sunday, July 22nd, 2018

I recently shared this on my other blog, Be Transformed, and decided it needed to be “heard” by more. It had so much power, so much oomph, that I could not pass it by. I wrote it in my journal so I would have it, then used it in my post on Be Transformed.

My worst days are never so bad that I am beyond the reach of His grace. And my best days are never so good that I am beyond the need of God’s grace. Every day should be a day of relating to God on the basis of His grace alone. Jerry Bridges

WOW! Is that good or what?

I’m ashamed to admit this but there are times I take grace for granted. Not the “I can sin because I know God will forgive me” taking for granted. I just forget it is there for me. Days are tough and I forget because I am preoccupied. Days are good and I forget because I’m not hurting.

So…let’s make a vow together to live each day in grace. Up or down…Grace.

My song this week is from a man who knows grace…big time.  It is very upbeat and is a great way to start and then continue your week. Here’s your song for the week.

Blind

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018

I was just listening to a song by Styx called “Snowblind,” about the dangers of cocaine. One of the refrains says, “Mirror, mirror on the wall/The face you show me scares me so…” That describes my morning look into the mirror!

Reality has set in for me. Well, it has for quite awhile but there are some things I cannot deny. Long hair to no hair. Dark beard/goatee to gray. Joints which creak. 🙂 Joints that don’t want to work anymore, or at least very crankily. There is other visible evidence which I cannot deny. The mirror just does not lie.

While reading Caleb’s new book (I talk about it here) I ran across a great story! It comes from the movie Creed, where Rocky is training Adonis, Apollo Creed’s son. (Watch the first 100 Rocky’s to know who he is. Actually the first 4).

During one scene, Rocky and Adonis are standing in front of a mirror in the gym during their training session. Rocky teaches Adonis a brilliant lesson about self-perception. Pointing at Adonis in the mirror,  Rocky says, “You see this guy here staring back at you?”

“Yeah,” Adonis answers.

“That’s your toughest opponent. Every time you get into the ring, that’s who you’re going against. I believe that in boxing, and I do believe that in life.”

Who knew? Rocky the boxing philosopher! I agree with him actually.  I have tough times, seemingly on a daily basis (although that would be an exaggeration), but no battle I face is bigger than the one I have with the dude looking back at me in the mirror.  It is not a physical battle (although it is looking like 65), but an inside job. Who am I? Do I have what it takes to serve Jesus? Am I His or just playing a game? Am I ready for today’s battle?

P.S. My heart breaks as I watch pictures of the video and know there are thousands prisoner to a “false paradise.”

Think

Sunday, July 8th, 2018

Paul says in Philippians 4:8- “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on these things.”

Over the past week or so I have been reading God of Tomorrow, Caleb Kaltenbach’s new book.  A normal review will give the pros and cons , good points and bad points, and whether it is worth your while to read it.  I’m going to take a different approach in this post. I want to highlight several of his included quotes and thoughts. Then let you decide at the end if it is a book you want to invest your time in.

God of Tomorrow: How to Overcome the Fears of Today and Renew Your Hope for the Future

First, an explanation. Caleb’s book’s premise is focused around hope for tomorrow being the solution to the fears of today. He analyzes the culture pretty well and what should be the Christ-follower’s approach to the people who are the culture. Change is inevitable. It is how we react to that change which gives us our approach to people.  (My comments appear after)

“Combativeness without compassion is always going to be counterproductive.”  We need to have our beliefs but we don’t have to cram them down someone’s throat nor do we need to be militant.

“Our differences with people should drive us to them, not from them.” This is sure opposite of our “hunker down” attitude.

“Our fear is no match for the unlimited power and uncontested reign of God.  When will we learn this? Instead of fearing change, let’s hold to our beliefs but not shy away in fear.

“Hope reminds us that our best days are ahead, not behind us.”  And I might add not right now either. No apologies to Joel for that.

“Out-of-place people always have a place with God.”  I seem to remember someone telling a story about going to the highways and bi-ways to bring people into a meal. Hmmmm.  Maybe this would change our approach toward “unlovely” and “unacceptable, despicable” people we often have.

There are plenty more and I plan to use them during the next week as I post some thoughts. But the coup de grace for me was this one:

When people look at your (my) life, it should be so easy for them to see Jesus in how you (I) treat them, love them, and share truth with them. (p.201)

What do you think of those quotes? Think you might get this book?