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Archive for the ‘grace’ Category

Thinking Out Loud

The more I listen, the more I’m beginning to wonder if wisdom is the permission to see and thus live life from God’s perspective.

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The Older Brother

I love grace but I wrestle with her nature.  Her arms are wide and inviting, embracing and perfecting. She comes with a sweet aroma and a welcoming smile to all who would see her.  And I often wonder if grace will be a thousand times better than we could ever imagine, infinitely more than we every thought.

I often wonder if the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son is what some people will feel like in the Kingdom of God.  They will say,

“How in the hell did YOU get in here.  This isn’t supposed to happen.  What about what I did?”

I think we’re all going to be surprised.

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I’m never gonna get tired of saying it.  God loves us more than we can possible imagine.

Recently I had the pleasure of going to dinner and a movie with some friends.  One of my friends brought his 10 year old son.  Most of the dinner was the guys having the conversation we have: work, sports, wives, stuff.  But during dinner I notice my friends son was fixated on his dad.  He was looking up at his dad as he was talking.  And the look was that of a young boy saying, “This is my daddy.”  It was worship.

And I sat there staring at his son, enjoying the awareness that this little boy knew he was loved.  He drew his strength and power from his daddy.  Things were right in the world because his daddy was there.  He didn’t have to impress us.  He shared in our conversation with ease and confidence.  In fact, I later learned that he is not normally that outgoing.  But in the wing of his daddy, he could discover his courage.

I know so many of us had father’s who were broken.  I did.  And life turned when I learned that God was my Daddy, who loved me more than I could imagine.  He was right there, waiting for me, embracing me, and validating me with the resounding sound of my dignity.  And I knew I was loved. I knew that God could see beyond my brokenness to what He had created.  I was His son, and He was my Daddy. It was worship.

So today, right now, revel in His love for you.

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This is the story of my ongoing resurrection.  And sometimes I don’t like it.

“I do not believe Christians are called to believe in the resurrection of Christ.  I believe we are called to be the resurrection of Christ.  To be the site where resurrection takes place.”

This quote, from an interview with Peter Rollins, has been sitting in the back of my mind since I read it.

The truth is, I want to be done.  I don’t want to be in process.  I don’t want to be reminded tomorrow by a still, small voice of how I am participating in my own destruction.  I want to be complete and whole.

Sometimes I “feel His pleasure” and I sit back reveling in his grace.  I bask in the glory of love and the fruit of when I participate.  I sit back and enjoy His hand in my life, shaping me, molding me, producing wonderful fruit that is so enjoyable and tasty.  This is the life I was designed for.  This is the life I want to lead.

And then I go and screw it all up.  I bite right into the temptation to strike back at my neighbor or brother.  I lose site of who I am.  And these moments invite me to judge myself, to take His place on the judgment seat and crucify myself.  Each moment that my brokenness rears its ugly head, I am invited to wonder if He still loves me.  The voices inside my head shout very loudly, “How can you still love me?”  Because grace is such an unnatural thing.  Its stupid good.

And at that moment, the second temptation is to fake it.  It’s just easier to put on a happy face and pretend that everything is fine, to hold onto the condemnation that destroys my heart.  On the outside everything is fine.  On the inside my heart feels like it is being crushed.  And what is really funny, or sad depending on your point of view, is that everyone around me can see it.  They can see the stale aftertaste of a life fermenting in its own crap.  It’s just so obvious.

This is the moment of resurrection.  This is the moment when my Father calls me to the road less traveled, to participate with him in my restoration.  This is the moment of trust when I need, no want, to believe that grace really is the rule of life.  And as I take the risk, He then he gently takes my hand and leads me to the mercy seat, reminding me that the cross is still reigning supreme.  He reminds me that to harm others is to harm myself.  To love others is to love myself.  Which one do I choose to participate in?

And this is the thing.  Resurrection is an ongoing process.  It’s didn’t just happen but is happening in my life.    I’m still a work in progress.  It requires me to admit that I’m broken, that I don’t have it all together, that I still have work to do.  I can’t hide.  I can’t fake it.  I have to trust that He establishes me, not my neighbor.

So resurrect me Father, so that I may reveal your glory.

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You have to watch the video to get what this post is about but I can almost guarantee it is worth every second of the 18 minutes of your life you will invest.

About seven years ago Benjamin Zander spoke at Willow Creek’s Leadership Summit.  For everyone there he was only second to Bill Clinton, and a close second at that.  He spoke of the posture of possibility and how to awaken that in our lives.

Much of Zander’s concepts come from one button playing, which is the moment when the musician stops thinking about the individual notes and focuses on the beauty of the music, enjoying the story the is found within it.  This type of musician has crossed over to a deeper level of playing.

And his concept of one buttock playing struck me then as it did now when I watched this video.  It made me ask, “What does one buttock Christianity look like?”  What does it look like when we have reached a place when we can stop thinking about, “Am I doing this right,” which begs the question of performance, and start enjoying His music that is played in our lives?  How do we ultimately participate in a way allows God to bring out His masterpiece in our lives, the one that looks like Jesus.

Zander says, “Because for me to join the B to the E I have to stop thinking about every single note along the way and start thinking about the long, long line from B to E.”

I believe this comes through surrender.  It comes when we take the risk to let go of control and trust that God really does love us, and is not determined by what we do, but instead by who we are, His children.  It is at this moment that we can sit back and enjoy the long line of notes that He is playing in our lives.

How are you enjoying the notes?

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I have come to the conclusion that a lot of people within the church don’t really like grace. It calls us to wrestle with stuff we don’t like, stuff like control and forgiveness. Let me explain.

A while ago, I had someone really hurt me. And the moment it happened something inside of me screamed out for justice. I wanted to rail back at this person and lash out. I wanted to rain down on this person the justice that his action demanded. And then this person did something that I really didn’t like. They asked for forgiveness. At that very moment I was staring the Gospel in the face. Something inside of me didn’t want to. I wanted to be mad.

And yet at that moment, I heard God’s still small voice say, “This is your moment. This is what will redefine who you are. To forgive is to become who you are.” I was holding onto a judgment that ultimately I was not really prepared to hold. And love was calling me to look beyond the hurt and to see the human.

And the reality is that its just so much easier to hold onto the pain. But isn’t the pain killing us? Isn’t the poison pill that we wanted to give someone else get instantly ingested into our own system?

We don’t like grace because it takes away our right to be angry. When God forgives me He’s revealing the standard of His kingdom. And I am called reciprocate. And we don’t want to do that. We want to be angry. We want justice. We want God to rain down fury on those who hurt us.

Grace levels the playing field in ways we don’t like. It takes away our ability to control others because we no longer get to use the idea of justice in a way that can control people. Grace redefines justice. It says that mercy is the more restorative approach. It takes away our command to God to end those who hurt us. God simply points to the cross and says, “Am I really mad? You decide. I can’t give you any more than that.”

And we’re left with this strange reality that the problem is really us. We don’t want to let go of our condemnation because it has become this strange tool to control the world around us. It feeds our sense of justice when someone hurts us. It fuels our sense of fury when we contemplate the abandonment, the rape, the molestation, the beating, the lies, the divorce, and the rejection. It allows us to play god.

Grace chucks all of that. It turns the tables on us takes away our defenses. It says, “You are worth more to me than your own sense of justice. You are worth more to me than condemnation.” Because when we judge, we’re really judging ourselves, which always leads to condemnation.

But to embrace that statement requires letting go of our own wounds. To embrace grace means applying it to everyone, not just us. And we simply don’t like that.

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This post is part of a Community Synchroblog

Alan @ The Assembling of the Church: Community Is Unnatural Today

Jason @ Godfidence.org: Community:A Synchroblog

Jeff @ Loosing My Religion: Thoughts On Building Authentic Christian Community

Glenn @ Re-Dreaming The Dream: Community: The Dilemma

Kathy @ The Carnival In My Head: Equality Is An Action Word

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John 3:16 – “For God so loved the church that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Ooops…it doesn’t say that does it. But how often do we make people feel that way.  Maybe it really is bigger than just us.

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