Grace Over Grave

The world will crush your bones,

Dry up your spirit.

It will promise pleasure, but you’re still thirsty.

I’ve got the truth – but you won’t hear it.

Too busy getting stuff done,

That you forgot about the Son.

But hey, me too, so I guess it’s fine.

We can just say “hey, your sin is more than mine.”

Compare our righteousness to others,

“Ha! If you only knew my brothers…” we say.

Brush the judgment day off our shoulders,

Feel abandoned this side of heaven,

Go out looking for attention, getting “bolder.”

Only to learn that this world’s colder.

So we numb the pain with something fake,

If it feels like love, then it must be it,

Besides, the loneliness of this world is too much to take,

So even if I settle, so be it.

And that’s the lie that you believe,

A lie so well-spoken by deception,

That it seems to bring about relief,

But don’t be surprised, then, at pain’s reception.

Because it will arrive.

And choke what you thought was thriving,

Then you’ll look back for hope,

And realizing it’s not there, as your relationship with it is what you were depriving.

Living in “liberty” but a captive,

Free from “the law” but shackled to regrets.

Hope came to set you free.

Hope has a name.

Hope hasn’t given up on you or me.

Hope has no desire to leave you in shame.

So the next fool’s gold that catches your heart’s attention,

Do as my wife (the teacher) would and send it to detention.

And work on your retention of love over hate,

Grace over Grave.

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The Return To Grace

I had ventured away from grace. And begun to believe the lie that I had to earn everything – everything including love. This worldly perspective has clouded my vision and left me hopeless. If I have to earn everything, then I’ll never measure up. And if I believe it necessary to attain perfection, then I’ll never meet the standards I hold for myself.

Unrealistic. Lacking grace’s perspective.

When I began authoring this blog several years ago, I named it Embracing God’s Grace. It was a period in my life where God’s overwhelming grace was very real for me. It felt warm and fuzzy and mystical. I’d interned with the church I grew up with and invested summers in intensive Bible study and outreach. Again and again, I’d witnessed God coming through.

Then, radio static…

What happened? Did I just up and walk away? Did I lose reception on my cell-phone to the Heavens? A cloudy, dark, spiritual funk settled in and I began to pursue the things of this world. Shady dating relationships, boozy times, and stiff-armed accountability and community became the norm.

But I have good news. God has shown me grace and renovated a solid portion of my heart. He’s melted away much of the hardness due to Allie’s gentleness and love toward me, despite many shortcomings. I’ve seen Jesus in and through her in so many ways. An answer to my juvenile cries for companionship and a partner-on-mission, Allie is a gift.

I share this lurking “darkness” with you because I don’t think I’m the only one that occasionally lets themselves sit in the dark rooms of their hearts. In fact, I think I see it every Christmas as friends and family share stories of tense family moments; moments where everyone wants the world around them to see the good side of them, but somehow the ugly comes out. My patience is lacking, while someone else’s humility hasn’t been seen in weeks. And before you know it, we’re at war with each other instead of at war with the Enemy that’s trying to tear us all apart. And doing so quite successfully, unfortunately.

Perhaps related – or perhaps off-topic (but hey, it’s a blog) – is the exhausting expectations of others on us.

I had a friend that said one of the greatest lessons he learned a couple years ago was the ability to say, “No.” I don’t know about you, but I have a super difficult time telling people, “No.” But I think there’s a lot of freedom to be had there. “Naw, I’m good – we’re gonna do our own thing,” could lead to a free evening to write and read and spend some time allowing God to speak to me.

As an American, I have a tendency to fill my schedule with lots of stuff. Engagement will make any man busy. Even the most diligent, time-aware individual. But still – as I look at all the things that take up my time – there are some outings/engagements that I feel absolutely obligated/tied-to that I don’t think I should have to feel that way about. I don’t want my legacy to be “busy.”

“Dad was a great man…he was always doing something.”

“What did he do?”

“We don’t know – we never really saw him.”

Basically my worst nightmare.

There’s more to life than money and accomplishments. My heart believes it but my behaviors do not.

One of the most humbling realities a man has in his life is when he realizes the idea of who he wants to be doesn’t currently match up with the heart he has. Behavior modification doesn’t necessary work because it misses the heart of the issue. And trying to force a heart-change is like trying to get a camel through the eye of a needle.

So yes – you’re not enough. I’m not either. But I have good news – Jesus is.

More and more so, I’ve been just giving it to Jesus. The old “Bible School” answer ironically is the answer. Let the sarcasm and cynicism begin. I understand because I’ve been there and I still live in that mindset some days.

But friends, Jesus is the answer. His healing grace has saved my life, my relationship, and my eternal citizenship. American now, Christian forever. And even better news – when you give in to Grace, you allow yourself the freedom of accepting love from God and others, and eventually even allow your heart to start loving yourself again. That’s freedom.

It’s time to go back to my writing roots and where things started. Tonight, I’m Embracing God’s Grace. Tomorrow, I will too. This week, you should as well.

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Expectations: A Call To Love Gently

Remember being a kid and playing tackle football in someone’s backyard? The Van Kirks had the perfect house in Persimmon Hills because their backyard led out into this expansive green-way that was essentially the length of a football field. Virtually every day in the Fall, I’d come home and finish practicing my Spelling Words, and then sprint on down to their house to join up with other kids from our baseball team. In the “off-season” we’d spend our free-time racking up numerous hours playing Halo and Madden in their basement. But most importantly, we’d play football in their ‘backyard’.

As hard to believe as it is, there were kids bigger than me  – at the time I was tall but skinny, and I had recently been diagnosed with Scoliosis which required me to wear a Milwaukee style back-brace that rung up around my neck and gave me “abs of steel” as my neighbor Luke would joke as he “fake-punched” me a few times at the bus-stop on our street. Due to this, I was limited to just 4 hours of time out of the back-brace, during which I was supposed to be active – playing sports and running around playing other games to strengthen the muscles in my back and hopefully prevent surgery.

Football was our favorite. I remember one particular time when I caught a screen pass from Joey and went sprinting down the “sidelines” – a much larger kid at the time came charging at my blind-side and tackled me into the ground, nearly sitting on my chest at the end. I couldn’t breathe because of his sheer mass and strength over me and Joseph reamed the kid for destroying me like that since everyone knew I had back issues and was physically more “fragile” than others.

I’m thinking back to that particular moment in my childhood history because I’ve had moments lately where I’ve had that same earth-shattering pressure on my chest that’s kept me from breathing. Except for this time, it’s not physical – it’s emotional, mental, and spiritual as the expectations of those I love weigh heavily upon me. (This isn’t singling any one person or group or family out – this is encapsulating just about everyone I care about. So read this with patience and a desire to understand – not with a defensive eye, wondering if I’m slandering anyone; I’m not.)

Love does some absolutely amazing things and then it also does some weird and painful things. Love has wrecked me in such a way that I’ll never be the same man ever again and I’m grateful for that pain (because now I see why and then I did not – God is, was, and will forever be faithful). Love has melted me. There are aspects of my heart and character that have been so hard and chiseled into stubborn mindsets (that are still there sometimes), but true love was worth the wait – it’s taken my immovable pride and shipwrecked it in a cove full of grace and forgiving and the opportunity for gradual changes that lead to further life.

Love always desires what’s best for the other person. It’s an excellent trait – to be filled with love. But as instigators of love, I feel we often forget the one we’re loving. Obviously you haven’t outright forgotten about them, because you’re loving them – you’re offering counsel and advice, and you are trying to bring aid in their time of apparent need – and the one being loved is grateful. But sometimes in our attempts to be the lover – the rescuer – the redeemer – their Savior (catching my drift?) – we totally forget that we’re loving someone with a heart just like ours and that no man or woman can mold or shape that heart aside from God and them. To assume that you, yourself, are going to be the sole agent of change in someone’s life is too great a burden to bear. You’ll fail every time and then you’ll wonder why – “I raised them better than that,” or “I told them so” might be our knee-jerk reactions to their naivety. And yet, it was not the healthy that Jesus sought the company of, but the sick. He loved them anyways and sometimes that was just being present until His counsel was requested.

When you get engaged, there’s something in our culture that dictates everyone feels they have to give you their golden-nugget of counsel – things to do and not do – all the way from sex-life before (NA) and during marriage to everyday objectives like figuring out how to steward and domesticate the resources each of you have. They’re all doing this out of love, but when you’re someone that already has extremely high and critical opinions of yourself and desires for your performance and then others add theirs to the piles, unsolicited, it becomes a suffocating burden.

I’ve learned a couple of things while dealing with this insurmountable burden of other’s expectations for me and for my future family – I have a pride problem and I need to pray more. I find myself frantically annoyed with people that possess similarly strong and dynamic personalities like myself. It’s ironic that what annoys us about other people is often something we need to adjust in our own lives as well. I think it’s one of the many ways God humbles us.

This blog is getting lengthy and I’m getting distracted by all of the reading I wanted to do as well today (and by the occasional customer as well, since I’ve been out of the office all weekend – a once-a-month occurrence), so here’s my overall call-to-action.

Be gentle.

We absolutely have to learn to be gentle with those we love. You can’t keep lobbying for your position and throwing truth-grenades at people without considering their impact. You have to be kinder, more timely, and more emotionally intelligent and aware of their feelings. You don’t get to tell me – or anyone else for that matter – how to live. But you can and you should LOVE us.

Love is patient. That means “long-suffering” – willing to wait patiently – able to accept the burden of seeing someone make the wrong decision(s) so they, themselves, can learn from them.

I was humbled this weekend when I was helping Allie move. I had worked a 12-hour day at CarMax the day before and we were nearing another 12-hour day – this time lifting heavy furniture and boxes up-and-down stairs. Fatigued and selfishly wishing for the hard labor to be over, I found myself impatiently making a remark about how one aspect of Allie’s decor from her room was “weird and ugly.” (Two peoples lives coming together is absolutely beautiful and powerful but it’s really hard sometimes, too. There’s no denying that we love each other deeply and will persevere to the finish line – ’til death do us part. But we’re two different people. And in that moment, I only cared about myself and thought that decoration was weird and lame. And I made the costly mistake of voicing that opinion.) My words hurt her. The item landed itself in the donate-pile.

I found myself humbled and saddened by my selfishness in that moment – having not taken the time to consider her feelings in that scenario before inflicting my point of view on her. There were so many better ways to have handled that. If only I had been gentle. If only I had set my own pride and expectations to the side and taken the time to understand why she liked it and it meant so much to her. Instead, I found myself apologizing more than necessary and being granted kind and expedient forgiveness, because she loves me. Because she is gentle.

I want to be more like her. You should too. Love courageously, but do so gently.

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Quarter-Life Crisis: Grace’s Direction

I graduated from K-State a year ago. Yes, it’s really been an entire year. Do you remember when you were younger and you thought “Once I graduate high-school, I’ll have life figured out. Before you know it, I’ll have a bachelors-degree, be married, have [insert number of children – to be determined by wife here] kids, have a successful career, and everything will just sort of fall into place.” Well, things have fallen into place – just not what I would have originally planned or dreamed up for myself. That’s okay – it takes some flowers longer to bloom than others – thankfully, it does not negate for their own splendid value, or beauty.

A friend of mine recently asked how I was doing, and I replied something along the lines of, “Well, things are good. It’s difficult to remain on the straight-and-narrow. Some days, the flesh wins. Others, I remain faithful. Still fighting the fight.”

For some reason, I’ve always had this idea of myself. Perhaps I’m an idealist – in reality, it’s most likely that I’m a perfectionist, optimistic-realist. A bunch of fancy words that basically mean I’d like very much to credit my goodness to myself and to believe that I am, indeed, capable of said, ‘goodness’ (whatever that is). 

The humbling reality, is that I am, indeed, not capable (on my own). I’m not quite sure how many times God will need to patiently, graciously remind me, but I’m grateful that He does – even more grateful that afterwards, the gentle, amplified reminder of His grace follows.

Back to my incredibly frustrating ideal. It’d be wonderful if I could once and for all learn all that there is to know – to be perpetually blessed with wisdom and insight, then also to be blessed with the will, self-restraint, discipline, and prayer-life to move those mountainous obstacles. That’s my ideal. Turns out, it’s really not possible on your own. If it were, I’d be doing it, and selling you my “Five Steps to Success” book, but I’m not Joel Olsteen or Oprah.

But I know Grace.

Do you know Grace? Oh Grace, sweet Grace. Jesus. I know Him.

It’s easy to get caught up in the future. There is nothing wrong with visionaries. If there were, then there would be something immensely wrong with my genetic makeup. I’m a planner. There is, however, something wrong with letting your aspirations for the future, or assessment of the past, take precedence over the right-here-right-now. Why? Because Jesus, is right here, right now. In the heights, in the depths, Jesus is here. The source of your utmost joy and holding your hand throughout the depths of this fallen world’s agony – Jesus will “never leave, nor forsake you.”

Do you and I believe that? If we do, it changes our lives entirely.

If we believe that He will never leave, nor forsake us; if we believe that He has good plans for us; if we have tasted and know that He is good, then we can rest. Rest is an immensely precious gift in a restless world. And God desires to be that place of rest for you and I.

Will we rest in His arms? Will I rest in His arms?

The straight-and-narrow path is worth the daily fight. It leads to Life. Our victory, it turns out, lies within our surrender. If we can surrender our pride and submit to the Holy Spirit’s leading, then the LORD will go before us, and we become heirs to the Promised Land. The thing about the Promised Land – you’re walking on it – right here – right now. His Kingdom is already invading – it’s already here. For the sake of many’s salvation, He is graciously patient, waiting yet another day to pour out His wrath on darkness.

In the days, months, and years to come I want to learn more about abiding – about being present in the here and now, and about trusting the LORD in the moment, rather than impatiently grasping and fighting for my future. Would you join me? Would you pray that in my struggle with LORD – in my wrestling – that He would bless me, taking away my old identity and giving me an entirely new one?

So yes, I’ve been wrestling through a quarter-life crisis of sorts. And yes, I’ve let the flesh win a time or two (or three). But Jesus is still with me, and I refuse to leave the Church’s side. I will fight for the Lord’s Bride, just as I will one day fight for mine.

Rather than plan out my course and choosing “North”, “South”, “East”, or “West”, I’m learning to trust Grace’s direction.

Preach it and teach it,

but you’ll never reach it.

Perfectly imperfect.

Immoral moralists.

Purity died, then resurrected.

Now dressed in His perfection,

yet merely a reflection –

I’m learning Grace’s direction.

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13 Lessons From 2013

1) Grace is free; discipleship is not. Grace is an undeserved, unmerited, non-refundable, priceless GIFT. It’s that moment when you’ve wronged a friend, and they never mention it again. More importantly, it’s Jesus dying on a cross, so you could have a relationship with His Father when He conquered death three days later. It is your sins being washed white as snow. Guys, snow is the whitest white I’ve ever seen, so God has really washed us clean! Get excited about that. Think back to the first time you found salvation, or encountered the love of God in a Christ-like community. Discipleship – following Jesus – will cost you everything. Therefore, consider for yourself the cost, and ask yourself, is it worth it?

2) The heart is the center, but your private-life and actions taken are truly a reflection of it. This last point may be a tad wordy, so allow me to elaborate slightly. The heart is the center. It is what God cares about most. He would rather have your heart, than have you read your Bible at the same time everyday. He would rather have your heart – your whole heart – than just a week on that mission’s trip to Mexico. Your heart matters. We cannot, for one second, though, think that our actions (as we walk in ‘freedom’ – and don’t get me wrong, we are free) are separate from our hearts. When we choose to skip church, it is because our heart is not all there – we do not want to go. When we choose sin – to give into lustful desires, for example – we are choosing that over obedient worship and protection of our hearts. You never “just do” anything – whether we want to consider it or not, we make purposeful decisions to either live obediently, or to not. You and me are not excused from the consequences of our actions. Our lack of due-diligence WILL catch up to us.

3) Homosexuality is not worse than any other sin, but it is not to be ‘accepted’. Please do not just breeze over this one, or stop reading because this sort of point makes your stomach churn with its controversial nature. Phil Robertson made some coarse remarks regarding homosexuality and the world went ablaze with their own viewpoint on the issue. Here’s the bottom-line. Homosexuality is sin. BUT, so is alcoholism, the love of money, not caring for the widows and orphans, slander, jealousy/envy, premarital sex of any kind, and much more. Remember the Bible story where they want to stone a woman for committing adultery? “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her,” is what Jesus said. (John 8:7) Which of you, my friends, is without sin? Shall we then cast stones at one another? We cannot accept the sin in our own lives, just as we cannot accept/endorse the sin of homosexuality in others. Regardless of what it is, repent of your sins, and find life.

4) Humility, while difficult, is fruitful. Learning to own up to your mistakes and shortcomings is a new kind of freedom. You are who you are, so you learn how to work with what you have, and what you have is not perfect. That’s okay, because you (hopefully) serve a God that is, and that will redeem your heart, soul, mind, and body, one step at a time. You will fail, but with His help, you will also succeed. Setting aside your pride, arrogance, and American “I got this on my own” mentality will lead to a much greater peace than you thought possible.

5) Praying with faith moves mountains. The stubborn nature of your heart is a mountain that can be moved. Your coworkers that refuse to believe in God are mountains that can be moved. That sin-habit you cannot seem to conquer on your own is a mountain that can be moved. Your prayers move mountains, so why are we not praying? More importantly, where is our faith? I’m there with you. This is something I definitely need to work on.

6) Slander is not profitable. It does, however, produce grief. Speaking poorly of others may seem like the thing to do. Trust me, I know. It is super easy to get caught up in the day-to-day gossip with coworkers and friends, and to find yourself pointing out the negative, or frustrating traits of your confidants. It is simply never profitable. There is no good that can come from that. There is only grief, as you may very well hurt another, or find yourself being hurt. Because trust me, if they’re talking ill of others around you, then they’re probably talking poorly of you, too.

7) Hard work is required. I mentioned earlier that prayer is important, and that we should be spending more time doing it, as it moves mountains. That is true. It is also true that we cannot simply sit around and do nothing. It takes diligent effort – to the point of sweating it out sometimes. If you want to lose weight, save more, or get that promotion, you have to work for it. The sooner you’re willing to work, the sooner you can reap the rewards.

8) Apathy spreads rapidly. “I don’t care” and “whatever” come to mind as phrases that are overused by myself and our culture. When we fail to care about one thing, it usually leads to not caring about other things quickly. If I am careless with my prayer life, then it is likely that my time in the Word will decline as well. Look at your own life. What is it that you have decided to “not care” about anymore, or to be apathetic towards. It is almost guaranteed to have spread elsewhere. Rid yourself of this mindset. It’s poisonous. Godly men and women are not apathetic and cowardly, but courageous conquerors.

9) Beautiful women are everywhere; Godly women are diamonds. I’m just speaking from the perspective of a Christian bachelor (for lack of better terminology), but no matter where you are, there will always be beautiful women. Starbucks has them. McDonalds has them. Walmart has them. They’re everywhere, I tell ya – everywhere. A Christ-like woman (that you obviously, also find attractive) is a diamond in the rough. Cherish her, pursue her, and marry her. One per Godly man. And “no funny business” as an old, wise man might say.

10) Your qualifications are not always what qualify you. I’ve yet to be offered a job because of my qualifications, or credentials. The jobs I’ve been offered professionally, and the positions of leaderships I’ve had within collegiate-ministries/churches were not given to me based on my qualifications, but because someone saw that potential I had, and wanted to develop it further. When I was hired at La Quinta, my boss told me the reason she hired me was because of how I interacted with the guests that were waiting in line ahead of me the day I came to pick up an application. It was my willingness to put myself out there that led to the job-offer, not my pursuit of a degree in Communications (or Hospitality Management, if that had been the case).

11) A loving community is something to be cherished and sought after. Ichthus and Rev79 were gems in Manhattan, Kansas. So many loving people with the spirit, and it was something I took for granted before moving home to Olathe, and having to find another spirit-filled, Bible believing church where I could plug myself into. And when I began to become lazy about it (not attend service, or sign up for classes/bible-studies), I found myself miserably lonely, depressed, and my faith drier than a saltine-cracker without soup. Seriously people, we need each other. If you have a friend that is a Christian, but that is isolating themselves from the church – go beat down their doors and drag them in with ya. May sound extreme, but it’s what Jake had to do a few times in college, and I’m grateful for it. And if you’re that person, then stop it. Stop being silly, and go to church. You’re fooling yourself if you think you can do it on your own.

12) We need to read our Bibles more. Guys, it’s God’s WORD. It’s HIS WORD! Seriously, it’s His Word. And we believe in Him, so shouldn’t we want to know Him? I cannot tell you the number of times that someone has outwitted me with Scripture (that was outside of the Christian circle). It’s pretty ridiculous when an outspoken guy like me that has grown up in the church for years, knows less about the Bible than someone outside of the faith. Other books are good, but the Bible is best. Trust me, I love the other books. I read as many of them as you probably do, or more. But we never graduate from the basics. We must constantly remind ourselves of the Gospel, and eat of the wisdom found in His Word. Everything else comes second to that. (P.S. This is something I also need to work on. Notice my use of the pronoun “we”.)

13) Giving is far more rewarding than receiving. You can waste your life away building up your own personal kingdom, or you can give it all away for the sake of the Gospel. The latter option provides you with unspeakable joy, peace, and purpose. The other option leaves you thirsty for more, more, and more – always anxious, and always uncertain. Every time I try to build up riches for myself, I find myself unsatisfied. Every time I give to others, I find myself very content. It goes against everything in us (at first), but when we lead our hearts with our deliberate, purposeful, obedient actions of sacrifice, our hearts begin to enjoy it. It’s almost addicting. You’ll be surprised.

Grace’s Rhythm

Here’s the reality

Of my mentality.

Distracted and distraught,

Forgetting I’ve been bought.

Rarely ever convinced

That Christ is my defense.

 

Courtroom situated,

The jury debated

My verdict; I waited.

 

Surprised they arrested

Jesus, who invested

All of Him into me.

He empowered and freed;

Redeeming my envy,

Destroying my greed.

O how gracious He is;

My penalty now His.

Righteousness that’s not mine,

Clothing me, how divine!

 

His Spirit now my guide,

There’s nowhere left to hide.

My sins brought into light

Used to fill me with fright,

But King Jesus is Love;

Lifts me up like a dove.

 

Adopted; He’s Father.

Righteousness, He fosters

Life into what was dead.

 

You heard right, I was dead…

You may be…that I dread.

A sobering thought; Walking Dead,

Never tasted His Bread.

 

Many question purpose,

Can’t find it on purpose.

The answer, I can give.

Only reason to live

Is to give up your hold

To the King and be bold.

 

New life resurrected,

Conductor directed,

Delightful symphony,

Led to epiphany.

Death is life, “life” is death.

Die to self, breathe his breath.

Live for Him, courageous.

As they turn the pages,

Your story validates,

His glory vindicates!

 

That’s it, I’m done. Praise Him!

Grace fills lives to the brim.

Grace: The Real Deal

Christmas is rapidly approaching! Now, I’ll be honest, I’m one of those scrooges that prefers people would save all of their jolly music for AFTER Thanksgiving and the other fall holidays have been granted their adequate time of appreciation and festivity, however Christmas is certainly my favorite time of year! There is so much…joy. What a beautiful thing joy is. First off, we get to celebrate Jesus Christ’s birth! The Savior has come! Then, we return from our family church-services and witness the bright-eyed delight that is associated with children (and young adults of course, if you count me) ripping open the gifts their parents give them…I mean…Santa (whoops!). What is it that makes gifts so special? Well, for one, we’re unwrapping something that we’ve wanted! Perhaps the latest gadget from Apple, or if you’re me, then you’ll likely be receiving Starbucks gift-cards and book gift-cards, because I’m a nerd and love reading, and because coffee goes great with reading, right? (Yeah, yeah, okay, I’m addicted…haha) Secondly, the reason that we’re so excited is that we literally had to do NOTHING in order to receive the gift. It was simply GIVEN to us.

Christmas gifts are certainly undeserved blessings. However, today I find myself reflective of a far more gracious gift. The “real deal” of grace, so to speak. Jesus Christ of Nazareth was willing to bleed upon a splintery, wooden, cross so that we may be washed clean by His blood and clothed in HIS righteousness. We, undeserving sinners, the ones that had Him nailed to the cross in the first place, are given HIS righteousness.

“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel…” (Colossians 1:21-23)

Do you realize the gravity of this passage? The grace that Christ offered us at Calvary is the greatest, most loving, most powerful, thing that has ever been done! God, coming down and taking the form of man, walking the earth, living without sin, suffering a brutal and sacrificial death, then, by His own raw power, rising from the grave three days later! All of this done to simply redeem His children. And yet, we like to think that we’re not loved…Well, we need to take those thoughts captive and send them straight back to hell where they came from, because you, [insert your name here], are ridiculously loved!

In conclusion, God’s unadulterated grace is the real deal. You and I have literally done and will never do ANYTHING that warrants such a gift! The sooner we come to this humbling realization, the sooner God will be able to work in our lives. Want to see the LORD truly work? Get on your knees, humble yourselves, confess your lack of faith, and admit your desperate need for His saving grace! You’ll be absolutely awestruck at what God is capable of doing with a humbled heart that is ready to LISTEN. Then, led by the Spirit and the clothed in the Son’s righteousness, we can carry out, with confidence, the work that the Father has set before us. Then, and only then, will we begin to see what God is truly capable of within His Church.

Here’s what I sent out as a text to the house-church that I’m a part of:

“Here’s what [God says] to us: Confess. Repent. Live Renewed. His Words bring LIFE. If life is found in His Word, then living obediently, under His Lordship, should and will bring about life to the fullest, where we can bear much fruit! Rejoice, for God knows the plans that He has for us!”

Confess. Repent. Live Renewed.

I share this with you, because I believe this same message is to be spoken over each of you that read this. Quite simply, if we will humble ourselves before the LORD, ask for His redeeming love, and admit that we cannot go on without Him; all of this stemming from an authentic heart, of course; God will surely begin to work wonders before us. I’ll let 1 Peter 2:23-25 do the rest of the talking…be blessed, dear reader. I’m praying for you. 

“When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”