All posts tagged: grace

What Would You Include In Your Autobiography?

Who doesn’t love a good story? Especially if the story is about you. Back when people read newspapers, it was exciting to have your story printed so others could read it. We love to share about the good in our lives and I think this is why so many famous people write their own autobiographies. The beauty of story-telling is you get to include or leave out whatever details you want. If I was having you write about my life, I’d start with all the good stuff, too. Very rarely do you read a story of someone’s life where they admit how wrong they were, how they screwed it up, or the stupid mistakes they made. We may include bad things that happened to us, but rarely sinful decisions we made ourselves. In Daniel 4, King Nebuchadnezzar was the ruler of the entire world. He had built an incredible kingdom as he looked over it, he said, “Look at this great city of Babylon! By my own mighty power, I have built this beautiful city …

Jesus Will Return. Will You be Saying, “Hosanna?”

Have you ever wondered why Christians celebrate Palm Sunday? Here is the scene: In Matthew 21, we read about Jesus making His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He comes in riding on a donkey, as prophesied by Zechariah. He is greeted by  crowds celebrating Him. Some of the people put their cloaks in the street and others put out palm branches—both were signs of welcoming the humble King. The crowd is shouting, “Hosanna in the highest!” (Hosanna means “Save, we pray.”) Less than a week later, the crowds chose to release the prisoner Barabbas and demanded Jesus be crucified (Matthew 27:15-23). For a number of reasons (ultimately, God’s own purpose), Jesus was not living up to Israel’s expectations. Not only was He not appearing to be a strong military leader, He was even making claims to be God. “Blasphemy!” they cried—and killed Him. They wanted a King to deliver them from Gentile rule—the same way King David had defeated the Philistines. Sadly, many people seem to think the same way today: “If God won’t give me …

Are You Standing in a Flood, Mopping Floors?

I doubt this is true, but it sure struck a note with me when I read it. The story goes that years ago a certain mental institution devised a test to determine if a patient was ready to be discharged from its care. The patient under consideration was put into a room with a mop and bucket, and was instructed to mop up the floor. If he turned off the faucet filling an overflowing sink before he started mopping, he was considered sane enough to return to the mainstream of life. Over the last 50 years of ministry I’ve helped a lot of people mop up messes. Those who turned off the faucet first usually got their “rooms” cleaned up and livable again. But what’s really hard is not turning off the faucet (I’ve done that a thousand times). What’s hard is keeping the faucet turned off. I’m a lot like the Israelites of old. They would forsake the Lord; the Lord would discipline them by raising up foreign oppressors; the people would end up …

God’s Judgement is Coming. God’s Grace is Here.

Micah was written to bring God’s lawsuit against His people. He begins by telling his readers, “Attention! Let all the people of the world listen! The Sovereign Lord is making accusations against you; the Lord speaks from his holy Temple” (Micah 1:1). When Micah tells his readers the Lord is coming he says, “The mountains melt beneath his feet and flow into the valleys like wax in a fire, like water pouring down a hill” (Micah 1:4). Pay attention. When the Lord comes in judgement, even the mountains melt! No one and no thing can stand. Speaking of Samaria’s idols, we see “all her carved images will be smashed. All her sacred treasures will be burned. These things were bought with the money earned by her prostitution, and they will now be carried away to pay prostitutes elsewhere.” (Micah 1:7). I feel the need to back up one step and address a question. Does God come into the presence of idols? If you are a Christian, I want to say directly to you- YES! God …

What Are You Trying to Hide From God?

My dog’s name is Roam. Roam is almost a year old Australian Shepherd. Australian Shepherds are actually one of the smartest breeds of dogs, making Roam too smart for his own good. One of Roam’s favorite things to do is to sneak socks and hide them under our coffee table. We usually catch him pretty early because we can hear him chewing on something other than his toy. When we look underneath the coffee table, we see Roam with a sock right next to his head and him on his back. He knows he is in trouble. He rolls on his back because he doesn’t want to face the punishment of his disobedience. Roam knows what he is doing is disobedient, he knows he is in trouble, but still he continues to sneak off with socks and chew them. He then has to face his punishment as we send him to “his room.” I think a lot of times as people, we act the same way with sin. We talk a lot about the grace …

A Quiet Night for Grace to Arrive

During the heavy snow in December 2017, I was at work. To say the shift was busy would be an understatement. Of course, with all the snow on the ground, traveling was much slower than normal. Luckily, there were very few people on the road. Most folks had heeded the warnings to just stay home, often with no power. Once we would get as far as the fire engine could go, we would leave it behind and continue on foot to our destination. Without the chaos of people milling around, without the lights emanating from every house, and even without the noise of our truck in the background, our trip to our destination was always so serene. The only sound was us talking, the wind blowing the tree branches, and the snow crunching under our feet. The only lights were from our flashlights, transformers arcing off as the power company worked feverishly to restore power, and the glow coming up from the blanket of white. My favorite modern Christmas song is “Winter Snow” by Audrey …

God Knows Your Mess and Accepts You

-written by Betsie Richards I’m sitting in an ICU waiting room, wishing I wasn’t here. To distract myself, I people watch. I’ve caught myself wondering the stories of all these people and their families. How did they end up here? What’s wrong with their loved one? Do they feel like we do? I could go up and introduce myself and get to know them but… yikes. Strangers. One thing I’ve noticed about my Mom during this hospital stay is, when she is feeling well enough, she makes a point to find out everyone’s name. Her nurse, the tech, the person taking her for a CT; then she typically thanks them by name. I’ve been scolding myself for not doing the same. For being willing to leave those I meet as anonymous or outsiders to my world. Sometimes I wonder if the shepherds felt like outsiders? We don’t know much about them specifically- not even their names. We know they weren’t the social elite of the time, they were probably smelly and dirty, they basically lived …

But Its My Gift and I Don’t Want to Share

Remember the first day you got to drive a car? Alone? Maybe you were lucky enough to get a new car that day. Or maybe you were just grateful to be able to borrow the family car. Either way, you were given the gift of freedom. You didn’t have to depend on anyone to go where you wanted anymore. You could just go. I got to drive the family car when I was 16 and the privilege to do so was a gift I didn’t take lightly. I had dreams of grandeur, driving around and picking up my friends to go and do… I don’t know what. We didn’t do a whole lot other than hangout and play basketball. I found out quickly with my new found gift there was an expectation to share the gift with my sister. She was younger, but she needed the car to take her places also. I needed the car to get to the store, school, a friend’s house, and church. So did my sister. And now with the …

What Do You Think You Deserve?

Have you ever admitted to yourself that you don’t deserve something? In most situations and circumstances in life, we tend to tell ourselves we deserve it. Whether we say it aloud or not, our actions show this is what we think. I deserve this new job. I deserve a pay raise. I deserve my family. I deserve this house. I deserve a new car. I deserve these clothes. I deserve this vacation. You get the point. I can probably say that I have thought or said all of these things more than once in my life. So let me ask you: Do we deserve the love of God? For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16 Let that verse resonate and then meditate on it. Do I really deserve this? Absolutely not, but this is the love of God and His generosity in action. I can go through a day, a …

What Question Does Jesus Have For You?

Have you ever asked a question for the purpose of teaching a lesson? Maybe you ask, “How many slices of pizza did you eat?” because you know your child is about to get sick. Or maybe, “Why do you think it turned out that way?” because you want your friend to think of making a better choice in the future. Jesus was the wisest question asker and often His questions would cut deep to the core issues at hand. In John 21:15 Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” Jesus asked Peter if he agape loved him, which refers to the highest form of love, a selfless love which puts others first. This question would have cut deep for Peter because he knows earlier he had denied even knowing Jesus. Peter responds saying he phileo loves Jesus, or another way of putting it is he loves Jesus like a brother. And Jesus responds by telling him to feed His lambs. Jesus doesn’t allow Peter off the hook …