Grace

I have done nothing to earn my salvation. There is nothing I could have done to earn it. I am not worthy of what Christ Jesus my Lord has done for me. And the truth is I will never be able to repay that debt. I think the church as a whole can loose site of this.

I remember when I was a teen around 14, I had always had long hair and that gave the perception of being rebellious to my very conservative church. One week I went to get a trim and the stylist chopped it all short. I remember being in shock as she said “So what made you get your hair cut short?” Now I was always treated very gruff by the people in my church. Always heavy handed short comments, adults didn’t want to talk with me. The Sunday after the hairpoclypse I was greeted with warm friendly adults. I didn’t understand until one older gentleman came up to me and told me how great it was that I got right with God. All because my appearance.  I didn’t meet the check list of what holiness was with long hair.

It is so easy for us as to get caught up in religion and forget the true grace of God. We attend church and have our functions and get caught up in the do and do not do. Church degrades into a list of requirements. If we dress well enough and attend the appropriate minimum number of church functions we will be holy. If we want to be saintly we can hit midweek service for extra brownie points. The temple of Jesus time had these problems as well. Reread the Gospels and pay attention to the Pharisees and Sadducee’s. So caught up with the do and do not do that (truthfully the law) that they would not accept Jesus for who He was.  For them they couldn’t even eat with the uncircumcised or people like prostitutes without being unholy and the very act of Jesus doing so was an affront to them.

That was also a major problem in the early church. Galatians is a great book for understanding that the law; what we do; has no bearing on our holiness.  In it Paul describes how even Peter was caught up with the law and how he confronted him.   We must remember it is entirely through grace we are saved. You are not enough to be holy. You will never be, and that’s ok because Jesus fulfilled the requirements for that. We are just sinners saved by grace and it is only in that state of grace that we are truly walking in the spirit.  That’s not to say that you can do what you want as long as you give God lip service.  But it’s a state of dwelling in Christ through faith.

This is just a touch of what God’s been putting on my heart lately, and to be honest my words are so inadequate for the topic. I would highly suggest this as a study, Galatians is good starting point and so are the gospels. Look at how Jesus treats the sinners. He dined with prostitutes and shunned the religious elite. He was more concerned with love and grace then pretending that we could save ourselves by following the do and do not do of the law.  The very fact that the Christ, Our Lord turned down the religious leaders to eat with prostitutes and sinners is amazing. Remember we will never be able to fulfill the requirements of the Law as the Old Testament lays out, keep sight of Grace, of Christ.  Don’t let false holiness keep you away reaching out to love those around you.

For a better teacher on Grace I highly suggest The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out by Brennan Manning. You can also google his name and come up with a lot of great videos. Entirely worth watching.

20I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Glatians 2:20 NKJV

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Truth and Transpanency of How I Feel at Times.

It’s getting harder to distract myself from the pain.  The worries mount like silent avengers seeking to pay me back for all the past wrongs I perceive I’ve done.  I invent ways to punish myself because the perceived guilt I feel for my worthlessness.   And still in all this I fight.  The storm rages around me and shreds the very flesh from my bones serving it up to be burnt and electrocuted all while I some how still feel; the storm rages and I sit and silently accuse myself of all the perceived worthlessness I feel.  I somehow deserve this pain.  Somehow this is my fault and I need to let it happen.  All those years ago when my father took me aside as a small child and told me life was going to be pain agony and misery, all those years ago he was right, I deserve this.  This is my fate.   And so I let the mountain of guilt and pain suffocate me to the brink of death till once again an ember inside my soul fights and rebels.  NO! I am not the cast off child of shame that my parents claimed me to be, I am not any less deserving of life, love and liberty then those around me!  NO! I am not less than human and I can still have my dreams if I fight.

And slowly I crawl up from the pit I’ve descended in.  I claw and fight to see the day once again.  And I dust myself off and do what I can to fight.  But it isn’t enough.  And slowly I loose the strength that’s not really there.  Slowly I realize a year has passed and I’m sitting in the same chair.  Slowly I realized the physical pain from my disease has gotten worse and I’ve not been able to even sleep in my own bed even a full night.  I try to relate the pain I’m in, I try to scream and cry for help.

There is no help.  And there never can be.  What can others do to save you from your own body, from the torments of your own flesh long conspiring against you with your human failings, weaknesses, and bad luggage of life?  What can they do to take the pain of your flesh away?  But they sit beside you and cry with you and hold you through the worst.  They silently stoke the embers of strength that still burn deep within your soul that they might be there in there time of greatest need.  And so the cycles of my life turn once again.  Another year passes, another tear falls and I’m lost still in it all.  Ever the dreamer, never the doer I will continue this silent fight till my savior calls me to the rest I crave so much, wither it be in this life or the one beyond.  I will continue to fight till the last breath releases from this tired pain filled body.

 

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Why does God allow bad things to happen?

I’m just going to talk for a bit.  I’ve been thinking of this a lot recently, not sure why.  This is a question that has been asked through the ages.  If God is so great why allow pain, suffering, death, etc?  This can go all the way back to Adam and Eve, why did God plant the tree they were not suppose to partake in?  Why give the world a chance for humans to sin?  In truth I don’t have all the answers and I don’t think anyone really will till that great Day of Jesus return.  But my feelings are this.  We humans in general, and especially Christians, tend to take the world on a here and now basis.  Our society piratically teaches this to us from birth.  What we see is what we have.  It focuses us to look at the day to day workings of the world.  We forget that we are not citizens of this world, we don’t belong here.  So what’s our purpose? Why are we here?  There is a good answer to that.

 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
1 John 5:4-5

We are here to overcome.  If there wasn’t the one tree in the garden, they could not overcome.  If there wasn’t trials and tribulations we could not overcome.  This world was created to prepare us for Eternity with God.  It’s a crucible, a refiner’s fire here to purify us. It’s not an uncommon thing for me to talk about here, trials and struggles help us grow.  They strengthen us and help us to grow closer to God.  The do the work that they are meant to.  It’s not God who sends it, but he allowed us to make the choice so long ago with Adam and Eve.  Sin or Him, we choose sin.  We still do today.  But He knew that then and sent the price for our sins, Jesus His only Son.

Every trial we face, every pain and struggle we deal with is an opportunity to overcome.  An opportunity to walk in faith and grow.  They are all opportunities to walk and grow in the love of God.  When trials, struggles, pain and the like appear in your life, look to God, remember the grace and power he’s Given you through faith, salvation of Jesus Christ, and prayer.  Step up to the plate and put a smile on your face and remember why we are here, to overcome in Christ Jesus our Lord.  And with every step you take, it will get a little easier, and you will grow a little more.

The trick to it all is, doing from the start.  The moment the struggle comes, hit your knees and pray.  Praise and worship God and allow His presence to strengthen you.  Do this always though, not just when need arises, but when times of plenty come also.  I have faith in you, you can do it.

20For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ:
Philippians 3:20

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Remember the Hope of our Salvation

First I just want to say sorry I don’t post more frequently, it is sometimes hard to get too.  But today I just want to encourage everyone too remeber the Lord from where our salvation comes.  Over and over in the scripture it talks of remembering the hope of our salvation.  It talks of more then just remembering we are saved, it speaks to our vision.  It’s easy to loose focus in our world today with all the distractions of technology, bills, problems, worries and more.  The world throws distractions at you from every corner, twist, and turn.

We must remember we are not of this world.  We are here walking with a purpose and our every step should be filled with walking after God.  There’s no turning off that relationship with Him, but we sometimes can forget it.  We have so many options now days to keep our focus.  Some of the simplest though are just keeping a prayerful heart toward God.  Talk to Him as your going about your day.  Remember our God sent His Son to walk this earth, die at our hands for our sins, and then raised Him from the dead to give victory and forgiveness for our sins.  This is a God who loves us that much, He WANTS relationship with you.

Sometimes just stepping back and remembering all this is enough to bring a victory to our circumstance.  It’s not without reason God reminds us in His word to keep our focus on Him.  He is our strength and shield.  We will go through nothing in this life without Him unless we leave Him behind, and in the End He’s never really left we just started ignoring Him.  To me being a bondservant means remembering God in all things.  Walking with purpose to our steps if only to glorify Him.  You never know when your life will be a witness to those around you, a witness or encouragement that they truly need.

We live in a world today where we can have multiple versions of the Bible on our phones, an app called Youversion is available for both Android and Iphones, use them!  We live in a world where we have the ability to carry praise and worship musics with us on our phones as well.  These are all tools we can use to give us a few minutes alone with our first love.  The trick is to teach ourselves to do it, to allow ourselves to immerse ourselves in the God we love so much.

Remember always that the only thing holding your relationship with God back with you, is you!  You can get as close to God as you wish, it takes work, dedication, and willingness to spend the time and effort doing it in prayer, study of His word, and our Walk.

Feel free to share some tips you use to keep your focus through the day in the comments!

Now for my scripture of the Day, or post as it may be, 1 Peter 1: 3-9:

“3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith–the salvation of your souls.”

 

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Why be a Bondservant?

I’ve had many people ask me over the years why I’ve got such a focus being a bondservant. They are confused by the concept, not seeing it as a real thing. I can only offer explanation from my own heart. I grew up in a small church in Michigan. It was a decent church and fairly typical as far as small American churches go. Every Sunday I would see the typical Sunday best, elders deacons making their rounds but they didn’t seem to really want to be there. Christianity was a set of rules to follow and beliefs to recite. Then there was this gentle old man named Fred. Had a pocket full of bubble gum and hugs always ready to give out. When someone was in need in the church, there Fred was stepping in to help anonymously, we all had a good idea it was him. He loved life and people and kids. Always treated us well when others were yelling at us to not run, not play, not slouch in the pew. Fred had only love. Love, such a powerful thing. People like this have always fascinated me. Then one day someone told me the Story of Abraham’s bondservant. How a man would willingly give up his freedom to do the will of another, it confused me. This started my long walk down the road of bondservant study, which has been a passion of mine since I was young.

 

See in today’s church, in ministry, many want to be that man standing in front of a crowd of people preaching and dictating beliefs that people should follow. Many want miracles and signs and wonders. When I was younger and dreamed of ministry I wanted all that. I want to be a powerful man of God, effecting peoples lives in droves. As I grew older and studied Gods word more, I came to a startling realization, God is love. To ask others what God’s defining characteristic you may hear things like power, justice, mercy, Majesty, or glory. To be truthful, God is love. Bible says it, I believe it. It’s love that drove Him to send His son to us. It’s love that kept Jesus on the cross, not the nails. It’s love that powered Him to go through all that and rise from the dead that our sins may be forgiven. So powerful.

 

I’ve been through so many things in my life. Trials, beatings, in need in every way, and content in all things. I’ve been through more then I could care to type here or anywhere. And with this disease that has stricken me so I ask myself who am I, what good have I done? It’s hard to be in this place, disregarded by those I had called my brothers, forgotten by my church in part because of the disease. But I wouldn’t give it up. What I’ve been through has taught me something so great, given me a perspective so rich that all the gold in the world wouldn’t pry the lessons I’ve learned from my hands. That lesson is the power of love. Now in these days I don’t strive to feel the power of God, to preach to the masses or heal the sick. I strive to be the gentle soul with a pocket full of Bubble gum, a smile, hug, and heart full of love.

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