Grace

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VDay

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know today is Valentine’s Day. If you couldn’t tell by the stores, you have to be blind. I’m thinking VD cards were out the day after Christmas. 🙂  Seriously, it is a day which has new meaning to me.

I’m not sure how many of you reading this knows of the significance of this week for me. This coming Friday will be the one year (dubious) anniversary of my bike wreck in which I broke my collarbone, broke 3 ribs (I hope you never have to experience that), did a face plant, split my helmet in three places, ruined several pieces of cycling clothing when it had to be cut off by the paramedics, and almost checked out and met the Father.

It happened on a Friday.  The first Sunday back in the pulpit (two weeks later) I talked to the people about my spiritual state at the time of the accident. To borrow Paul David Tripp’s words: I was a spiritual amnesiac.  I was not in a good place. My marriage was limping along. Not because of any affair, unless you consider my affair with my job as legitimate.  The wreck was the best thing that happened to me. God got my attention. Sure, I wish He had used a softer means but, would I have heard? I don’t think so. After all, getting hit by the car in November should have been a warning sign.

I can honestly say I love Jo more today than many yesterdays. We no longer take each other for granted. We are more open and honest with each other than we have probably ever been. Neither one of us wants our relationship to go back to where it was one year ago. Today is Valentine’s Day. And I love my better half, and will forever how much longer we have together on this earth.

 

Covered

Sunday, February 4th, 2018

I am, if the truth be known, an eclectic listener of music. I can jump from Tommy James and Frankie Valli to rock to melodic metal to worship music to classical. There are certain kinds I won’t listen to (country, rap, R&B, and opera to name a few).  Personal preference I know. That is why there are so many genres I suppose.

Last week during our worship music set we sang the following song. I heard it about a year ago sung by a high school student who was worshiping with us before she shipped out to the military.  We have since sung it with our worship team.  I LOVE this song!  If it wasn’t for Good, Good Father, it just may be my favorite.

This is my song of the week. My prayer is it will be meaningful start to your week.  It is a little long in this version but we have shortened it.

 

Tested

Thursday, February 1st, 2018

In last week’s sermon I talked about True Love. You can read more about it here. But you know as well as I do talking about love, defining love, does not a lover make. The real test of love is when love is put to the test.

Despite all our learning or lack of it; despite all our high-falootin’ talk or lack of it; despite our rhetoric or lack of it; everyone one of us knows we will not get along with everyone. Wishful thinking. Dream thinking. “Not possible” thinking actually. “Ain’t going to happen” thinking.  Yeah…I hate to be the one to burst the bubble, but we will not be able to get along with everyone.

So…how do we keep the peace?

So…what do we do with enemies? With those who want to make our life miserable? In fact, that seems to be their mission in life. How are we supposed to act and react to our enemies?

My sermon this weekend will get down to that nitty-gritty. When you have been abused, walked on, used as a doormat or a ladder, had lies told about you, or have been stolen from…what to do? How would love respond?

Romans 12: 14-21 is not an easy passage to deal with but it can’t be skipped over either. I’d appreciate your prayers for this weekend.

I’m posting this early because Jo and I will be heading to Evansville, IN to see one our young men play one of his last two games in Indiana (Saturday is the other). He graduates from Maryville College in St. Louis this year. So we will be out and about and I will be away from a computer. I’ll have my phone to approve comments, but I despise typing anything of length on my phone. Have a great weekend!

Father

Sunday, January 28th, 2018

A lot has been written about our earthly father and his influence upon our lives. You know…

“I am who I am today because of my father.” (Positive)

“I am who I am today because of my father.” (Negative)

“My father’s example was one I wanted to emulate.”

“My father’s example was not one I wanted to emulate.”

“I desire to raise my children the same way my father raised me.”

“I desire to raise my children differently than my father raised me.”

I could go on and on. Many people who are much smarter and wiser than me have said, “Your view of God is very often tied to your view of your earthly father.” In my case, I concur. Conditional love and acceptance. AWOL at times. Preoccupied with other things. I could go on but this is not a body slam on my late father.

I know some, many who have come to see me in my office or at a meal, who have screamed for a father who loved them. “What was wrong with me?” “Why couldn’t he just love me the way I was?” “Why did he try to live his life through me?” The litany goes on. Little girls especially need their father to be more than a biological necessity.

During Pastor Appreciation Month (which is also my birthday month) our worship leaders had this wood hanging made for me. I treasure it. I have it displayed on a table in my office. It just might be the first thing people see when they walk by or enter.

The song I’m highlighting today is one of my favorites from which this plague comes. Hope you enjoy it.

 

Shameless

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

It is called Shameless Promotion.

And so it is. I have another post coming out tomorrow morning for the weekend and wanted to fill in today so I thought, “Why not?”

Theology without love is simply bad theology.

To read the rest of this devotion, please head over to my other blog based on New Morning Mercies called Be Transformed.

I’d love to see you over there and hear your thoughts.

Religion

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

One of the values of my new blog, Be Transformed,  is the emphasis it places on grace. Actually, since it focuses on the daily devotions found in New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp, it is really only fair to say NMM places an emphasis on grace. I do invite you to join me there-not only in the discussion but also in the daily reading.

But this post is not a plug for Be Transformed.  It may appear that way, but it really isn’t. However…  🙂  Back in October I read a devotion by Derwin Gray called A Never-Ending Climb. I thought it was really good so I clipped it for future use. I saw it again today and decided it was a good one to use today:

Religion, or works-based righteousness, paints a picture of a god sitting atop a high peak, waiting for us to scale the mountain through our good behavior or adherence to religious principles. The more “good” we do the closer we come to approaching our god. If we do something bad, however, the god on top of the mountain turns Zeus-like and throws a lightning bolt to strike us and knock us back down the mountain. After the electric shock wears off and our singed hair stops smoking, we dust ourselves off, pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, and start the long trek all over again.

Long story short: the trek of works-based righteousness is a never-ending hill climb. One step up and two back. That to me is what religion is like. To give another picture it is like the hamster in the wheel. “‘Round and ’round it goes, where it stop nobody knows.”

Get off the treadmill. Be done with works-based religion. Get on the GRACE track.

Sea

Sunday, January 21st, 2018

It is easy to feel somewhat insignificant. I believe it is often at the root of much of what ails people, even to the point of taking their own lives. It is sad so many have gotten to the point of not caring. I ache each time I hear of someone who finds their life so overwhelming or so trivial or so uninspiring that they decide it isn’t worth living. Frankly, we haven’t helped that out very much. We idolize people who shouldn’t (like no one should be). We cast aside those who appear to be “less than worthy” of our attention. We lose sight of people being important, no matter who they are. We use people and then wonder why in the world they end up lost and in a world of hurt.

The Christ-follower has the greatest message in the world…the message of a loving God who gave His only Son to give meaning and purpose to life-to lives deemed insignificant. Sometimes I want to shout it from the housetops or take someone by the collar (in love of course… 🙂 ) or look someone straight in the face and say, “You don’t have to do this. You don’t have to feel this way. I know Someone who loves your brokenness and has a way to make you whole.”

For my song this week I want to share an old one from around 2003. I’m on a Kutless kick right now and if I was to choose my favorite song by them it would be the one I’m asking you to listen to. I hope you will take a moment to listen to and read the lyrics. YOU MATTER! YOU ARE IMPORTANT! BUT SO ARE ALL THOSE OTHERS IN THE SEA OF FACES.

NEW!

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

January 1, 2018. As Doc Brown says, “Amazing! Simply amazing!” I’ve been writing this blog since 2/20/08. That is a lot of blogs (2654 to this point) and a lot of years. Some things have never changed though.

My love for Jesus.

My love for my family.

My love for the church I pastor.

My desire to stay true to the message of the gospel.

And my every January 1 post with this song. And you gotta love the hair in this one.

But I have a new thing in mind for this year.  This time of the year we hear a lot about a new slate before us. A new year ahead of us. A new path to walk on. New life. New hope. New direction. Ad infinitum.

So I thought I’d get on the bandwagon and create a new blog. A NEW BLOG???? Seriously? Yes that is exactly what I am saying.  Its purpose is totally different from this one.  It is called BE TRANSFORMED and you can find it at this address. If you want to know what it is all about then please take a look.

Why? Because I am convinced followers of Christ need to be serious about a daily walk with Jesus. Some of us (myself included) need help doing that. We need guidance. We need focus. We need a “lift” to start our day. Every morning I have found myself doing that with more regularity and missing it when my schedule gets all whacked.  If you go to that new site and read the About section you will see what it is all about. Or you can read the Purpose post. I do hope you will join me.

And for your new year here is a song I heard in 2016 and recently while working out and listening to my playlist on Spotify, it came up. I thought it would be an excellent challenge/reminder for this coming year. I KNOW it is not the cup of tea for many of you…okay most of you. Silence the music and at least read the lyrics.

Here is the song.

So…do you have a song or a Scripture which will guide your new year’s thoughts?

 

 

Progression?

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017

I’ve been using Whiter Than Snow by Paul David Tripp during my morning Quiet Time in addition to my Bible reading and New Morning Mercies. I read one devotion per week, rereading it each day, looking for something new to ponder.

This week’s is entitled “Sinners and Unafraid.”  I’m not exactly sure why that title but it is the first line that I read which gave me the thought for this post.

The older you get the more you move from being an astronaut to an archaeologist. (p.53)

Hmmmm. What exactly does that mean? Maybe this will help. “When you’re young, you’re excitedly launching to worlds unknown…But as you get older, you begin to look back at least as much as you look forward.” (p.53)

That makes sense to me. Like most ventures, the life of being a follower of Jesus is initially something exciting. Like putting on clothes just purchased, or a new car with that “smell,” or finding ourselves heading out for a first-time foray, there is something exciting which happens inside us. We are like an astronaut seeing things for the first time.

But then life hits. We get older and life is no longer like a box of chocolates. (I wish). As life hits, we begin digging into our past, sometimes looking for that missing piece of puzzle. That one thing which will help explain why we are as we are. Why we react the way we do. Why we are making the choices and decisions we are making. Why does this make me happy or sad?

I confess to having done some archaeological digging in my own life.  It’s almost a necessity these days to figure out how we perk. But it definitely reminds me I share something with every other person on this planet. It is called a sinful nature and no matter how I try, I cannot become perfect or sinless. I have also learned something else, something much more important: I must rely on God’s grace to accept me, that it is not based on my performance, my past (no matter how good or bad), my upbringing, or my “religious efforts.”

Progression comes when I become more steeped in God’s magnificent grace.

Milestones

Friday, September 1st, 2017

We all like milestones in our lives. We all have them. They “mark” us.

I am relishing several of them right now.

Milestone #1: I went for a 10 mile bike ride yesterday. First one in about two months. It has been almost 6 weeks since my back surgery. I quit a few weeks before that because it simply hurt too much. I hit one bump too many which convinced me that getting off and staying off the bike for awhile was the best thing. So even though 10 miles doesn’t seem like a lot…my legs tell me differently. 🙂

Milestone #2: I looked before I started this post. I have hit the 2600 mark of blogs published. My first one was 2/20/08. Little did I realize I would be at it this long. I have seen so many come and go. I’m glad for each and everyone who “graced” my comments page with their response.

Milestone #3: I preach my last sermon in the current series on Grace this Sunday. I started the series on June 25th and with the exception of one week (last week) preached a sermon on Grace. We talked about anger, grace, bitterness, grace, forgiveness, grace, pain, grace, and a whole host of other topics, all with the focus on grace. This week I close the series with a sermon from Romans 8: 26-39 and John 11 entitled God is Still Good. We have all had those crushing times when we have wondered about God’s goodness. We’ve struggled with our faith. We’ve struggled with seeing the purpose behind what is happening. God’s Word gives us the truth that in spite of all that happens…and is happening…God is still good. Romans 8 reaffirms that. John 11 shows Jesus taking an ugly situation and making it good.

Given the current Harvey situation in Houston it is hard to understand. It is hard to see. I have a friend who is dying of cancer and will probably pass any day. I have someone else close who has been diagnosed with cancer.  As a pastor, I see heartbreaking events almost every day. Sometimes I honestly don’t know how to answer the questions which come. But I have to lean on the promise given in the two Scriptures I sighted.

Prayers are appreciated for this weekend. And, of course, pray for all those affected by Harvey.