Tag Archives: Grace

Priorities

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When God is quiet, it forces me to recognize that I so often value:

1. His voice above His promised victory

2. His gifts above His endless grace

3. His safety above His sure salvation

4. His presence above His perfect peace

5. His Provision above His constant presence

6. His marvels above His ceaseless mercy

Is it just me, or have we become a church that prefers the gifts above the Giver? Have we forgotten our first Love and been drawn away by a lust for signs and wonders instead of the steady and wonderful person of Jesus Christ?

May we never tire of who God is. May what He can do for us never be the soul substance of our faith.

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Waiting on the Kingdom

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I used to be a waitress.

I can honestly say that I not only enjoyed it, but I miss it from time to time.  It’s one of the few things I have come across in my life that came very naturally and easily to me; I did it well. 

Waitressing, for me, was never really a job, it was an outlet.

Talking and listening to people feeds something in me that I can’t quiet describe. I jump at opportunities to serve people because I like to feel needed.  I like to do for people what they can not do for themselves and waitressing seemed to supply that environment for me.

I couldn’t have asked for a better setting either. Whitefish, Montana is one of the most breathtaking places in the United States.  Something about that place beckons people to come and be a part of it. It invites and then transcends every expectation.  And tens of thousands of people from all over the world flock there every summer to witness it for themselves. 

Rumors of its beauty, tales of its grandeur, and pictures that attempt to capture its essence compel people to go and see if such a place exists.  It demands, and rightfully deserves, to be experienced personally.

Waiting on tables of visitors that had just come from Glacier National Park always brought a smile to my face. They were exuberant.  The views there will do that to you.  The air will leave you feeling exhilarated. The breeze will woo you and the fragrance of wildflowers will intoxicate you.

Back to waitressing.

Tourist and locals alike seemed to always come into the restaurant after their adventures famished. Exposure to that much beauty is exhausting.  Many weren’t prepared for the altitude adjustment.  Others didn’t hydrate properly to compensate for the dry climate.  Still others didn’t prepare for the hiking to be quite as exhaustive and so they didn’t eat enough.

They all came looking for sustenance. They needed to be replenished.  They needed nourishment. They needed rest. It’s not that they couldn’t have gone home to cook for themselves, it’s that they didn’t have the energy.

Being a waitress reminded me a whole lot of church.

Isn’t that what people come looking for? A promise of God that will quench their need for assurance? A truth that will satisfy their hunger for hope?  A bench to sit and rest on with others who are travelling the same road?  And a waitress (or waiter) that will be happy to accept them, serve them, and bring them love enough for the next day’s journey?

We’re all waiters. We are all called to serve what we know: Grace. Freedom. Forgiveness. Joy. Hope. Peace. Life. Love.

Some of us are openers. We meet people before they have ever even heard of this place called church. We give them directions.

Some of us are scheduled for the mid-afternoon lull. We have the opportunity to pay careful attention to the customers who come in alone and stay long.

And some of us are closers. We’re there for the evening time rush.  We have seven tables instead of three.  We get to serve the customers with complicated orders.  And we’ll stay there as long as they haven’t paid their bill.

All shifts are equally important, all serve a necessary purpose.

So whether you open, close, or keep the old company in the corner booth after the lunch hour, never forget you were scheduled for your shift for a reason.

It’s Too Simple: Evangelism at 35,000 Feet

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I recently returned from a quick trip to Florida. What took me to Florida, you ask?  THE MAN THAT I AM DATING. (This is my first attempt at subliminal messaging… how’d I do?)

*ahem*

But this blog post isn’t about him.

This post is about another guy; the guy I sat next to on my flight home. He was tall, dark, handsome, foreign, and had an accent.

If you don’t know, talking to total strangers does not bother me in the least. Fact of the matter is it gives me a rush. So I began as I normally do.

“You headed home?” I asked.

“Yes,” he replied with a tired sigh. “Twenty-four hours of traveling. I’m ready to be home.”

“Twenty-four hours? That’s quite a trip. Where are you coming from?”

“Morocco,” he said. “My first home, where I was born.”

Now I’m pretty geographically challenged. But believe it or not, I knew where Morocco was and I also knew that in that country, the name Jesus was not spoken in freedom or with joy. Allah is the god they pray to.

So I decided that since we were 35,000 feet in the air with nowhere to go for about 3 hours, I would ask him to tell me about his faith. Outside of the media, which is biased, I didn’t know much about the Muslim faith, their beliefs, convictions, or practices.  And since he sat trapped in the middle seat, I figured I would make the most of the occasion.

“Would you mind telling me what you believe?” I asked.

He looked at me with wide eyes and a slight smile. “You really want to know?” he asked in disbelief. I nodded.

As he unpacked what he believed and why he believed it, it dawned on me that Christians aren’t the only ones that are passionate and faith filled witnesses. Millions of people all over the world don’t believe blindly the way we automatically think they do. They may be compelled by different standards and a false god, but they are convicted and convinced all the same.

I asked him how he got to heaven.

“Well, I have to work very hard to do all the right things and at the end of my life, they must outweigh the bad things I have done. I have to strive for perfection.  And when it’s all over, which way the scale trips determines where I will go and I won’t know that til I’m dead.”

“Interesting,” I said. I took a deep breath and then said, “I believe in another way; a sure way. It’s guaranteed.”

He just looked a me with a skeptical smirk.

So I told him about Jesus and grace. I explained the price for our sin was paid and that eternal life and freedom from death was merely a decision away. Choose to believe and trust the Gospel and life here and after changes forever.

He looked at me, at the head rest in front of him and then back at me.

“It’s too simple.” he said plainly.

That little statement struck a big chord with me. Is that why there are so many dispassionate, stagnate, and diluted people ho-humming along claiming that they know Christ and yet living as if doesn’t affect them? 

Is the simplicity of our faith our stumbling block?  Does its simplicity deter from its depth?

Because truth be told, it’s not simple. It’s actually hard to believe that the God and Creator of the Universe, who knew me before time, would love me so extravagantly so as to send His perfect, holy and blameless Son to die my death, to pay my debt, and make me an heir to His throne. What is simple about such a love?

 It may require less effort our part, but it requires a greater faith, a deeper joy, and more desperate need for grace.

May we never reduce the simplicity of the Christian faith to a morsel good fortune.

Delayed, But Not Too Late: One Word 2011

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My blogger-ific friend, Josh Miles (yep… I went there) recently posted a blog that inspired me to copy his idea completely.

And he was inspired by another blogger named Alece who is challenging readers to drop the idea of New Year’s resolutions and instead focus on just one thing, one word to be exact, for an entire year. 

Somewhat unintentionally, as 2010 came to a close, I had been thinking about what word I would use to describe perhaps the most formidable year of life.

Lonely.

I know it sounds depressing; it felt that way at times.  Last year was filled with new ways and  areas in which the Lord emptied me of a lot of things that weren’t Him.  For all the reasons that I am grateful to have been shown how off-center I was in my affections and attention, it wasn’t easy to see things and people I care for stripped away.  

Lesson learned: God is who He says He is. He can do what He says He can do. And He has given us everything we need for life and godliness, in Him.

So with last year now (finally) behind me and with new perspective, my word for this year is… *drum roll*

Behold.

With the things that obscured my vision now removed, I want to behold the Lord.

Behold His grace on me and over others.

Behold His purpose, plan, and provision in each day I am granted.

Behold His continual forgiveness of my sins and His faithfulness to renew His promises to me every morning.

Behold His the lavishing of His love over me that I may overflow onto others.

Behold how expansive His grasp over all creation and how exclusive His grip on my heart.

Want to join in on the adventure?

One year.

One word.

Countless ways to be changed.

Here’s to 2010

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I’ve gotten into this odd, slightly dangerous, habit as of late. Whilst driving, I tend to spend more time looking in my rearview mirror than I do through my windshield.  I realize that it’s beneficial to glance up, on occasion, to make sure no one is tailing too close and such, but focusing there isn’t really the point either. After all, the rearview mirror is small and narrow for a reason; what lies behind was once ahead of you. So when looking back, you shouldn’t see any surprises, only small reminders of where you once were.

Staring at the rearview mirror doesn’t do much to prepare you for where you’re headed either. If I would just focus on the road in front of me, I would catch the speed limit sign so I wouldn’t need to be paranoid about being caught by the “Po-po.” If I paid attention to what laid in front of me, I would see the “Warning: Construction Ahead,” “Detour,” and “Caution, Sharp Turn,” signs.  I wouldn’t be caught off guard because I would have seen the warnings and had time to make adjustments, change lanes, or even exit if needed.

Driving forward, but looking back is remedy for not getting very far, very fast.

2010 was a year that gave me a run for my money on a lot of levels.  For so many reasons, I would like to forget much of it. But as a new years dawns, the Lord has made it clear that is was a year of preparation; a season of pruning, reprioritizing, and general maintenance.  A thorough check up on the affections of my heart that have been misplaced. The fears that mistakenly dominated my faith.  And the seemingly infrequent, but perfectly timed, views of landscape that refreshed me long enough to keep driving towards the unknown.

So while 2010 felt like I was stranded on the shoulder much of the time, watching so many pass me by with ease and enjoyment, I know now there were just a few screws loose, the “check engine” light was on and the oil needed refreshing.

There’s no need to focus on what lies behind me anymore. It is where I once was; no longer where I am.

So here’s to 2011: May our eyes be fixed forward and our hands steadily resting on faith and grace. May our tanks be full of hope and courage. And may our rearview mirrors stand as reminders of deliverance and not destination.

The Shadow of Agony

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Despite the brutality of truth and amidst the harshness of daily reality, grace, peace, hope, redemption, and salvation wait to receive those who humbly surrender self-reliance and willingly accept the divine intervention of faith.

To those who have had no agony Jesus says, “I have nothing for you; stand on your own feet, square your own shoulders. I have come for the man who knows he has a bigger handful than he can cope with, who knows there are forces he cannot touch; I will do everything for him if he will let Me. Only let a man grant he needs it, and I will do it for him. (Chambers)

 

Grace for the Moment

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An excerpt from Max Lucado’s “Grace for the Moment” devotional book.

God knows best. No struggle will come your way apart from His purpose, presence, and permission. What an encouragement! You are never the victim of nature or the prey of fate. Chance is eliminated. You are more than a weather vane whipped about the winds of fortune.

Would God truly abandon you? Perish the thought!

We live beneath the protective palm of a sovereign King who superintends ever circumstance of our lives and delights in doing so.

Nothing comes your way that has not first passed through the filter of His love.