Grace .. for His glory!

He extended grace to us – not for our own sake – but for his glory! His unmerited favor was meant to send us on a passionate quest for the lost among every nation, introducing them to the truth of the gospel and leading them to become disciples of Christ – not replicas of us!

His grace is amazing indeed – so spread the word! The nations live all around you – tell someone who doesn’t know so that they too might believe and walk in obedient faith and abundant life!

“through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake” Romans 1:5

Weeping for Lost Souls

hearttearsReading the account of Lazarus death and resurrection in John, I was struck by the grief of our Savior.  The onlookers remarked about his love for Lazarus.  I re-read the account and it occurred to me that because He is God – what He grieved for was probably not what we might think he  grieved for.  Yes – He loved Lazarus; but it seems unusual to me that our Lord who knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead would be weeping over the loss of life; so I re-read the passage several more times and then it occurred to me that the humanity of our Christ came face to face with the reality of the wages of sin and what it means for a fallen humanity.  He was fully human – Yes! – but he was without sin!  He loved these people deeply and what was happening here brought our Lord face to face with the effects that sin would have not only on the sinner, but on those whom the sinner loves. I believe that He grieved for their sinfulness. He grieved the effects of their unbelief.  Continue reading

Seasoned with Grace

colossians4_5_6I live with a purpose — to live and speak in a way that reflects the one thing in my life that truly matters – Jesus Christ.  My belief that God loved me so much that He sent His Son, in spite of my willful rebellion, to die as a perfect sacrifice for me to once again enjoy right relationship with Him.  This belief is what should mark my words at all times.  I don’t always succeed – but it is my goal everyday.  This too is with purpose — that the world will be reconciled to God.

I live among Mormons, Hindus, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims, Atheists, Agnostics and many more.  I have friends among all of them.  I have been told by my friends that what they appreciate is that I don’t spend my days brow beating them into submission to what I hold to be true.  Rather, I spend my time treating my friends who are outside of the household of faith with the love and grace that has so generously been lavished upon me.  Further, I spend my private time – my alone time – studying the Word of God and the life of my Savior, Jesus Christ, so that when matter of faith come up my words will be His words and not my own – colored in dogma or arrogance.  I don’t degrade or denounce what anyone else believes — but I speak and live in such a way that the people around me know that I am certain that what I believe about Jesus is the absolute truth! Are you getting this?

There’s a lot of hateful behavior and talk going around in our nation right now.  We would rather kill them all and hold them in disdain than do what God in Christ asked us to do;  love them back to the truth.  I don’t care what they believe or how they are living; the truth is that God loves them and desires that they should not perish.  He didn’t place us on this earth to hate people.  He didn’t place us here to exchange the love of Christ for a gun and hateful words! It is our role to be the gospel to the world.

When we open our mouths, our words should drip with the sweet aroma of the Holy Spirit; offering a positive testimony to this world of the love and light of Christ.  When we are with people our actions should be drenched in grace, truth and love  so that people are attracted to what is within us.  Our words and lives should be exciting, attractive, winsome, lovely, grace filled, marked by patience – they should reflect what is inside of us!

Our words and our lives should be making such an indelible imprint on the world around us that there should be no mistake as to who is King of Kings; the Prince of Peace; the Great I Am.  Our presence in the world should make us unforgettable to everyone we come in contact with.  Do they know that they’ve been with a Christ follower when they’ve been with you?

I am so hopeful that I will never forget that my life is not about me being seen, nor is about me being right.  It is not about me having freedom and liberty on this earth. My life is about the ministry of reconciliation.  I’ve gotta live and speak what I say my heart believes!  As the old folk used to say – you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar!

“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:5-6

Life Happens and sometimes you step in S***!

life-happensIt is much easier to recognize what is going wrong in our lives that it is to rejoice for the good.  I don’t know why that is, but it seems that our natural bent is to complain about what is happening to us rather than recognize what God is doing in the difficulty.  I’m sure that I have been guilty of that in my own life.  As we come out of the Christmas season and I have seen people returning those precious Christmas gifts complaining that the gift didn’t work; was the wrong size; didn’t meet with their liking; etc. — I could only think about how dissatisfied we are most of the time!  Just like we forgot that someone sacrificed something in order that we might have that gift; we forget that He sacrificed all so that we might have eternal life.

When Lloyd and I moved to Ghana in 2004 we didn’t speak the language; we couldn’t eat the food; we didn’t know the rules; we didn’t understand the culture.  People stole from us; people told us that they did work that they didn’t actually do; the car kept breaking down; pipes kept bursting (once so badly that we had to fetch water and bring large barrels into and around the house for use); bugs were getting into everything; the ceiling fell in; malaria happened; dysentery happened; etc.   When all of these things happened – we were careful to encourage one another to rejoice at how God was going to fix it for us; how He was going to use us to be Him to the people we were trusting to fix the problems; how our headaches would bring Him glory.  Lloyd and I would go into our room and inspect one another – miraculously we found that neither of us had scars from a thorny crown; holes from nails in our wrists or feet; and not even a spear in our sides!  Incredible isn’t it!  None of it was Calvary! We believed every time that He would give us the strength to bear it – and He did!!  Time and time again – He brought us through all of it.

My dear friend Mike Pickett wrote a song that serves to remind me daily of what it means to count all of it as joy.  The lyrics say,

“You are the salt of the earth, a preservative for some.  You may be the ONLY reason destruction hasn’t come.  If while following God you find yourself in the midst of circumstance; you may have been sent there to let someone know that today may be the last chance to walk in righteousness; holiness; love; peace; and joy in the Holy Spirit of God”

So, yeah — you may be driving a car that is a little older than you like, and it may require a lot of repair; but are you taking that opportunity to be salt and light to the person who will repair the car?  You might be facing a different trial everyday in your health (thanks for this lesson, Lorenita!); but are you being salt and light to all who visit you and to the doctors and nurses that serve you?

This life on this earth is temporal!  Don’t lose sight of that!  Our home is in heaven – a place where all will be well!  As for the “momentary light afflictions” you WILL face down here — count it as joy AND count it as an opportunity for you to be His glory in this fallen world.  Know that as you face each hardship with joy – you will have more patience and endurance to face the next thing.  Being used for His glory in the midst of it all is just the icing on the cake!  I like icing and the thought of being icing on His cake is an incredible gift to my heart!  May the Father move me to trust Him in the midst of it all and may He bend my heart toward full joy and the hope of my eternal hope.  Remind yourself in the midst of difficulties and hardships  — It Ain’t Calvary!

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. (James 1:2,3)

OK – so the guy…

OK – so the guy is gay – why all this hatoration!! Are you afraid that the gay juice will rub off on you or something. I didn’t see all this uproar when Madoff ran off with people’s life savings or when our own nation destroyed another nation based on false reports of weapons of mass destruction.

Jesus has commanded that we love one another, that we bear one anothers burdens, that we remember that we are not without sin, that we judge in the manner that we wish to be judged, that we be merciful. When we learn that the best way to be — is like Jesus! Yes! Our hearts should cry when any person is caught up in any sin (homosexuality is not any bigger than lying about the support you give to missions and don’t!) but it is not ours to judge! It is ours to pray, to love, and ultimately to reconcile a fallen world back to its God and Savior. It is ours to forgive. And might I add that the world’s God and Savior is not called by my name or YOURS!! We are agents of love on this earth and just as Jesus loved us back to the truth and loved us right back into his bosom. We must pray for the lost, pray for ALL sinners (should I list the sins here or would that cause some of you angst as you would see your name on the sin!) — and ultimately we must allow the Holy Spirit to do His work. I choose to love! and so should you!! When the woman was caught in adultery – Jesus did not bash her or hate her or sentence her to eternal damnation – he forgave her and pointed out to her that those who were accusing her had their own sin to deal with. Let you who are without sin cast the first stone!!! I am choosing to love – to pray – and to seek God’s best for Jason Collins. May God have mercy on him — and on ALL of us. Except, of course, for all of you who are without sin!!!

Jan