Tag Archives: grace

The Palms of His Hands

I tend to be a bit forgetful at times. I’ll walk upstairs to get something but forget what it was when I arrive. I’m only 37 but I swear my short-term memory is fading!  The obvious solution for this affliction is to write things down, make lists, or plug it into my iPhone calendar.

Before iCalendars, I went through the post-it note phase. A sea of yellow notes covered my work desk, laptop cover, car dash, kitchen counter and refrigerator. I even flirted briefly with the idea of using different colored notes to organize my life.

Yet, far pre-dating post-it notes is the equally “handy” method: jotting reminders on the inside of the palm of your hand! Ever done this? I know you have.

Don’t be embarrassed. Even God Himself isn’t above this timeless tactic. But what do you think could possibly be so important that even the Creator himself writes it on his hand as a constant reminder? Continue reading The Palms of His Hands

Prayer: No Longer a Slave

No Longer A Slave

(Author Unknown)

You unravel me with a melody

You surround me with a song

Of deliverance from my enemies

‘Til all my fears are gone 

I’m no longer a slave to fear

I am a child of God

From my mother’s womb

You have chosen me

Love has called my name

I’ve been born again

Into your family

Your blood flows through my veins 

I’m no longer a slave to fear

I am a child of God

Cabin 13: The Potting Shed

Screen shot 2014-08-01 at 5.07.52 PMLater that morning Jesus told me to get my work boots on and meet him at the potting shed. The rustic shed sat cropped up on a hill with a wood chipped path leading down to the cabin.

As I approached the shed, I saw Jesus come out the little red door in his grubs and mud boots. His hands were soiled and sweat on his brow. Above the door frame was a sign with the verse

THE GRASS WITHERS AND THE FLOWERS FALL, BUT THE WORD OF OUR GOD ENDURES FOREVER. -Isaiah 40:8

Before I could say anything, Jesus reached back into the shed and picked up a big bag of grass seed and dropped it into my arms.

“Are you ready for some mud-busting?” he asked.

“Mud busting? What’s that?” I asked.

“Come and see.”

We walked down behind the cabin to a shady area where the grass was spotty with large barren muddy areas. I noticed most of the spotty black areas were nicely tilled and ready to receive the seed.

“Who did all the tilling, Jesus?” I asked. Continue reading Cabin 13: The Potting Shed

Cabin 8: Cabin Bash

I took in the beautiful landscape as we approached the cabin door. “Everybody’s waiting to meet you,” Jesus said.

Gulp. Now what? I was anticipating a private weekend alone with Jesus. I was hardly in the mood for a party.

As the door opened on the small cabin a rush of joyous noise greeted me. Laughter. Hilarity. Music and dancing. Conversations in multiple languages.

“We’re just in time for the Father’s weekly bash,” Jesus informed me with a wink. I was completely caught off guard and unprepared. It was by no means a small gathering of friends playing a quiet board game over drinks. It was an all out bash!

“You’ll have to excuse the raucus,” Jesus warned, “the Father invites EVERYBODY to the party — and keeps company with some…well…let’s just say questionable characters.” Continue reading Cabin 8: Cabin Bash

Why Fear a God of Love? (1 Peter 1:17-19)

Join us as we continue our journey through 1 Peter verse by verse!

Last post we explored 1:13-16 where Peter helps us set our hopes not on any earthly hope but on the salvation realities found in Christ. In a world driven about by knee-jerk emotionalism and untamed desires, we are called to be driven instead by minds that are actively engaging the truths of God and not intoxicated by fuzzy ideas or common deceptions. We are surrounded by people every day who are, according to Peter, “conformed to the passions” based on “ignorance.” Here’s the passage again:

13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance….

We are called to be different, set apart, odd and strange in this world as we conform our thinking and behaving to the Way of God revealed in Jesus:  15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

Now, before we get haughty and begin looking down our noses at others who are still “ignorant” of God’s Ways (Peter’s words, not mine), we are warned that we are all individually accountable to God and he will not play favorites and cut us slack because we’re on the “inside.” The God we are privileged to call Father is also a holy judge.

17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile…

The same God who Jesus taught us to address intimately as Abba, or “daddy”, is also the holy God to whom every knee shall bow and every tongue confess as Lord. We are to live securely in his grace, knowing he is merciful and loving; but also live with an appropriate measure of “fear” during our time on earth. Paul likewise urges: “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling…” (Phil 2:12).

What does it mean to fear a God of love?

Continue reading Why Fear a God of Love? (1 Peter 1:17-19)

Brennan Manning & Scandalous Grace

I’ve recently rediscovered the powerful grace-centered ministry of the late Brennan Manning who passed away a couple years ago. What a life, what a story, what a message he brought to so many people in need of an accurate image of the true God revealed in Jesus, and to the many in need of an accurate image of themselves as the object of God’s ferocious love.

The internet has brought into our homes so much useless, trivial, and crude content for sure. But I was reminded this week how fortunate we are to have at our finger tips access to so many great messages by some of God’s greatest prophets and preachers from the past century. I have spent many hours the past couple weeks feasting on the tear-jerking, gut-wrenching, hope-giving, image-healing messages of Brennan Manning.

I was privileged to go hear Brennan speak in person once or twice in high school and college. He is part of the tapestry of my faith formation and he sowed seeds in me as a young man that are bearing fruit in the kind of grace-filled church of ragamuffins I now get to lead at MainStreet. I had a blast sharing a video of one of his messages this past Sunday in place of my sermon…because once I heard his message on the topic I was preparing…how could I deprive my flock from the opportunity to hear from this gentle giant? (I’m tempted to show an encore this Sunday. Why not?)

His books Abba’s Child and Ragamuffin Gospel are classics now, but I believe Brennan’s gift of communication flows through his story telling and passionate preaching.

I’ve decided to spend the next 2 or 3 Lifegroup gatherings watching and discussing some of these videos. I encourage you to check them out too this week. You’ll be blessed. But a warning: Grab some tissue before you begin watching. I broke down in tears at least twice each message.)


GOLF & GOD (9): Mulligans & Scorecards

“What did you get on that hole?”  the scorecard keeper asks.  Your answer may not be as simple as just counting up your strokes.  For many, this question immediately forces an ethical dilemma or sparks an internal wrestling match with one’s conscience.  Do I tell him the truth– that I got “a snowman” on the short par 3 — to keep a clean conscience?  Or is it better to save face and protect my ego with the guys, give a dishonest score and deal with the guilt later (when no one’s looking)?  Or, better, why don’t I just try harder, screw up less and always be sure to get a respectable score every time?  Like that’s possible.

Have you ever quit keeping score in the middle of a round?  What’s up with that?  Certainly that, too, is a defense mechanism to avoid the shame and humiliation that would come at the end of the round when you actually had to own up to your embarrassing score.

One spiritual mind exercise I occasionally engage in is to imagine Jesus along with me, taking part in a typical 21st century activity and seeing how he would act (e.g., Jesus in rush hour traffic, etc.).  Play along with me for a second.  What do you think it would be like golfing 18 holes at your favorite country club with Jesus (assume Jesus can get you free passes to any private dream course!)?  If you’re like me, you’re already wondering if Jesus would use his divine powers and ace every hole with 500+ yard drives, whether he would walk across the water to retrieve your water ball, etc.

Yet, the issue I want to focus on in this imaginative exercise has nothing to do with Jesus’ divine swing, putting perfection and the like.  Instead, I want you to ask yourself this question: What kind of scorecard keeper would Jesus be?  Would Jesus be a stickler for the rules, allowing no gimmes and keeping close record of every single penalty?  Remember, you’re probably not going to sneak anything by Jesus — like that secret “foot wedge” to get your ball away from that tree on # 12. Or, the classic litmus test to determine the gracious scorekeepers from the uptight, legalists:

Would Jesus allow mulligans?   Continue reading GOLF & GOD (9): Mulligans & Scorecards