Friday, March 25, 2016

Big Daddy Weave - "My Story" (Official Music Video)

Grace has been on my mind. Most people have no use for the word, and books have been written attempting to define it. I won't get into that. All I know is God, by dying and raising again, did something for me that I DESPERATELY needed, but could NEVER do for myself. He rescued me AND gave me power in this life and the life to come. His sacrifice has allowed me to experience the awesomeness of being in right relationship with Him. His love was proactive. I did not deserve any of this, yet I value it above all else.
I heard this song a few months ago is. It seemed like a fitting time to share it. It's powerful to me, because this is my story too.  It is the story of anyone who truly believes and places faith in Christ. It is the heart of real Easter celebration.  Hopefully this is your story too. May you truly know the grace of God. Happy Easter!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Gratefully Insane! 

I'm amazed by the many things we accept as truth. Many of which are a full assault on wisdom and common sense. Yet, if it contains the tiniest element of truth, we accept it absolutely. Even worst, we perpetuate it. Here is one: "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results." Really? I hear that one often. Thing is, where I'm from that definition fits another word. Perseverance. I guess perseverance is the new insanity.

It's a shame that we now frown upon, and even vilify persistence. Persistence requires repetition of effort. Success in any area relies heavily on it. Repetition is a hard. Repetition without reward is even more difficult. It's draining. It's like a constant blow to the soul, a journey in defeat. As painful as this process can be, nothing that we really want comes easily, or happens on the first try. Repetition perfects a thing. The old adage is true. "Practice makes perfect." Sadly, it is in direct opposition to the "insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result" mantra.  
I was taught "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." Now we are being told, "if at first you don't succeed redefine success." This can only be true if your definition of success is not God's definition. That aside, easy routes, and minimal sacrifices seems the current wave of thinking. It has seeped deep into church. Words that conflict with this new idea, have been phased out. They aren't sexy enough. Discipline. Self control. Longsuffering. Steadfastness. Perseverance.

The Christian life is about perseverance, not preservation. Unfortunately, we've made it about the latter. This makes "quitting" winning. Preservation is the operating system of the flesh. Anything that conflicts with self can be put aside and reasoned away. Perseverance is the powered of the Spirit. There is no "give up" in it.
 The scriptures teach "do not to grow weary in well doing." We are promised a harvest if we do not give up- Galatians 6:9. The enemy wants us believe that continuously doing well expecting to reap a reward is insanity. Do you realize how insane Jesus would look by today's definition? He uses kindness to lead people to repentance. He demonstrated His love for us by dying for us while we were sinners. He consistently acted in love for His enemies.  Today we'd call that being a "doormat." I wonder how many believers can say they have determined and consistently demonstrated love towards an enemy? We struggle to do that with love ones. To defend this low threshold for enduring in love we quickly cite scriptures about Jesus whipping the money changers in the temple. It's an attempt to justify our unholy "stand up for yourself" position. But we forget He allowed himself to be nailed to a tree by those who hated Him. He allowed Himself to be spat upon. He was abused by His enemies. He did not "stand up for Himself." He could have. Instead He allowed it. Who does that? By today's standard that's being a "doormat" indeed! How many people blaspheme God's name daily and still live? He is holy. Where can His eyes find rest from sin on this earth? Still, He endures the profound vileness of the sins on this planet AND continues to do good for sinful, abusive people. That is the very definition of what our world has labelled a "doormat. "Truth is, often what we call being "doormat", God calls patience and longsuffering. 

Suffering. Longsuffering is truly the heart of the matter. This is what we are really fighting against. We cannot tolerate pain. We want no part of it. Hey, I don't desire it either.  Still, suffering done well produces an unparalleled result. On more than one occasion the scriptures talk about glorying in suffering. These are the passages we want to forget. We want to explain them away or ignore them all together. We talk openly about the grace of God, but we perceive it to require no pain, suffering or effort from us. The grace of God is a wonderful thing, but we like to forget 2 Corinthians 2:9-10 "my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore will I boast more gladly in my weakness, so that Christ's power may rest upon me. That is why for Christ sake I delight in weakness, and insults and hardships, in persecutions and difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
Everything in God's word is for our benefit. There are no "filler scriptures." We cannot reason this away. God's grace is great, but grace isn't here to make us feel "no pain" and erase all effort or judgment. That's a lie!  Grace is NOT an enabler or perpetuator of weakness. It is not call to laziness. It is an opportunity for the revelation of God's power.  Grace does not eradicate suffering. Grace enables us to confidently withstand hardships and overcome them. Grace is not peace with the flesh. It is God's power over it. It is not an escape mechanism, whereby we elude all pain and accountability in life. How many times have we heard grace used as a reason to blanket pardon ungodliness? Yet we'd be offended to the core if we were ever told, "God's grace is enough to help us in trial." It sounds so preachy and uncaring, but one is the truth, the other a lie. Often the lie is embraced and truth rejected. Unless we endure sound doctrine, we will not realize "God's kingdom come, and His will be done on earth." We must align our lives with truth. The truth is grace is not merely the peace with sin and failure we have reduced it to. True grace reveals the power of God. It is triumphant. It calls us to attempt the impossible.  Anything calling itself grace, marked by sin and no power of God is a lie.  Grace an power are usually a packaged deal.

Romans 5:3 talks about not only glorying in suffering, but says suffering produces perseverance. Perseverance produces character, and character, hope. Say what! The root of hope is suffering? I don't understand this fully. It seems like a contradiction. Yet, it is truth. I have, an continue to experience this. My suffering fixes my focus. The end result is a greater hope. This does not always happen immediately.  Sometimes it happens eventually. The point is, there is meaning in our suffering. This world will not let us escape it without going through difficult things. God in grace, gave us the power to overcome and redeem those situations. He even promised us in Isaiah 40:28-31 to give power to the weak, a renewal of strength, and endurance to the weary. Perseverance is hard. But God blesses us to be able to do it.
I encourage you to align your will with God's will.  Persevere in His ways, even when it looks insane to those around you. Don't give up no matter how long it's been, or how bad it looks. Truth has no expiration date. "In due time you will reap, if you faint not."