From back in March. While I was getting myself ready, the boys watched Sesame Street in Mom and Dad’s room.
Andrew Farley, The Naked Gospel:
Grace is the system that the Holy Spirit uses to counsel and teach us on a daily basis. Grace is in place, whether or not we’ve sinned recently. We worry that an absence of law will result in a lifestyle that is out of control. This concern is natural. But is contradicts what the Scriptures say about the effects of grace. grace isn’t just a treatment for sin; it’s actually the cure for sin!
When we question the function of grace in our lives, we’re insulting God’s intelligence. Would he users in a New Covenant that not only allows but actually promotes sin? Is God foolish to think that grace really motivates us to live godly lives?
The secret is that grace deactivates our pride. Removing the law from our lives means our self-effort is no longer prodded to control behavior. The law excites human effort. It encourages us to depend on resources outside of Christ. But unconditional acceptance deactivates human effort and allows the Holy Spirit to be all that he wants to be through us.
Our greatest fear is that we’ll be out of control. But we were never made to be in control. Self-control has always been a natural attribute of the Holy Spirit. The reason he lives within us is to produce the self-control that we’re afraid we’ll lack under grace.
Matthew Paul Turner: Today, America’s Jesus is more of a brand name than anything else, a money-making commodity that churches and large “non-profits” manage using basic business-type practices like strategy development, viral marketing, and publicity and public relations.
In the book, one of the chapter titles was called “JESUS is a Registered Trademark.” In that chapter, I discussed the differences between the JESUS™ people have created and the Jesus we read about in the gospels. JESUS™ can be manipulated or branded into almost anything we want him to be, from a wealth-and-prosperity-providing genie to a hateful Messiah who will one day return with an eternal axe to grind. It’s difficult to do that with the Jesus of the four gospels.
The best inoculation, I think, to a wrong perception that Christianity is equivalent to conservatism is the mercy work of many good churches. For every politico a non-Christian sees claiming the Christian label, we want him to see a hundred Christians in his community, quietly, humbly doing the work of our Father. The more we can accomplish that, the harder it will be for people to identify Christianity with whatever happens to be popular among politicians who claim to act on Christ’s behalf. “You will know them,” Christ said of the good and the bad, “by their fruits.” My prayer, in the current political season and the decades to follow, is that more non-Christians will come to know us in that way, by lifechanging encounters with loving Christians.
God doesn’t give us solutions, he gives us a savior.
A lot of the time, I wish it was the other way around. To be honest with you, sometimes a solution feels more manageable. I can control and understand a solution. I can bend and tweak a formula to my own needs. Christ on the other hand, our savior, isn’t like that at all.
He’s messy. And counterintuitive and uncontrollable. Grace and mercy are two of the most puzzling things on the planet. They’re raw and unbridled and out of control and intertwined with love we can’t possibly understand or earn.
I remind him to watch the cars, to look the drivers in the eye and make sure they see him. His brothers and I sit in the minivan while he goes to the curb and waits for a chance to walk out to the girl. Finally a car stops to let him pass. The girl’s face is turned down; she sees nothing but the ground. I watch my son’s narrow shoulders as he crosses the drive, and I am praying that no harm will come to him, not now or ever, that someone who is this loving will be spared the pain of the world, which is when I remember that it is Christmas, the time when we celebrate precisely the opposite, the coming of pure love to suffer for all we who sit with faces turned down, not even knowing what to ask for, knowing only in our crusted-over hearts that anything will help.
Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking: A Seeker’s ABC:
Unfermented grape juice is a bland and pleasant drink, especially on a warm afternoon mixed half-and-half with ginger ale. It is a ghastly symbol of the life blood of Jesus Christ, especially when served in individual antiseptic, thimble-sized glasses.
Wine is booze, which means it is dangerous and drunk-making. It makes the timid brave and the reserved amorous. It loosens the tongue and breaks the ice, especially when served in a loving cup. It kills germs. As symbols go, it is a rather splendid one.
[Totally ripped off from Michael Hyatt.]
Brian “Head” Welch, Save Me From Myself:
All of the man-made religion crap in this world has to die. Whether it’s Christian man-made religion crap or some other man-made religion crap, it all has to die. It must grieve God’s heart when he sees Christians fighting about whose doctrine is right; he doesn’t see denominations, he sees one big glorious bride. When Christians argue about doctrinal issues, all he sees is carnal people acting like children. All that prideful, controlling religious crap is what drives young people away from churches, and it has to go. Much of the world’s population is under the age of eighteen, and we have to bring the love of Christ to them without all this controlling crap going on. Because, where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
Forgiveness is the thing I ask for the most. In my head maybe I know that God’s forgiveness is eternal and inexhaustible but in my heart I feel like he’s going to run out of them. That he’s got a limited supply. And I’m burning them up, one by one, sin by sin.
Boy, have I felt this way, too.
(Yes, I know the blog post is over a year old, but I just put the feed into my RSS reader and am reading the old entries still in the feed.)
Tony Woodlief (yes, again):
Isaiah loves books. He loves to read them, loves it when people read them to him, loves to hit his brother Isaac upside the head with them. The boy hearts books. I hope he never stops loving them, even as the world around him transitions into a post-modern funk of hyper-links and text messages and overstimulating audio-visual mind sludge. Then one day he can visit me wherever he and his brothers have finally put me out to pasture, and maybe read to me there.
Davis is getting to this point, too. At times he will decide that he’s had enough playing with his Star Wars Galactic Heroes™ figures, or pretending to duel a dragon, or building with Lincoln Logs™ or LEGO™ pieces, and he’ll plop down in the play room and “read”.
My parents instilled a deep love of reading in my sister and I when we were growing up. Weekly visits to the local library (which was about as big as the downstairs area of our current home, minus the garage) were the norm. While we’re not going weekly, Kelly and I have both taken Davis to our local library (which is larger than the downstairs area of our house, including the garage), and he loves it.
Davis will often ask for a second or even third book to be read before going to bed, although I suspect this is as much about staying up as late as possible as it is about loving books.
I’d hoped to pass on this love of reading to both our boys, and so far, it’s looking pretty good.