Friday, January 25, 2013

A Snowball of ....


I was recently describing Grace to a friend and used the illustration of a snowball.  Though from a distance it seems small and insignificant as it rolls in your direction.  Not sure it is even worth your attention with so many larger and more pressing issues in life to focus on.

Rom 5:20 The law came along to multiply the trespass. But where sin multiplied, grace multiplied even more.

But continue to look at that ball of Grace and it starts picking up more speed and size.  You begin to see the snow that it has rolled over adding to it mass with each rotation.  You see things that God has placed in your life that you once thought you were responsible for that now have a different look about them.  You begin to recognize that you didn't really deserve all of those blessings in your life, yet there they are rolling towards you.  You know about what Jesus did on the cross and you begin to meditate on the truths of scripture that cause this snowball of Grace to come closer and faster rolling down from His throne of Grace.

Rom 6:1-4 What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply?Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life. 

Many people today are afraid that if more Christians hear the message of Grace that they will run and act wild only to expect Grace to take away any guilt.  We are afraid that Grace will disconnect the consequences of sin from the sinner.  First of all this is Mercy-not receiving the consequences that we do deserve.  Second, when we think our sin is small and the consequences are also we only need a little mercy to be on our way again.  He who is forgiven little, loves little.  But Grace is receiving a gift that we didn't deserve.  This is why grace is multiplied, layer upon layer, super abounding!  It is not that we are forgiven to go walk again in our old way of life, but that Christ lives in us and through us.  We get to walk in a "New Way of Life"!  By the time this little snowball gets to us there is no way that I think I can take advantage of it, push it where I want it, or presume to pull it out whenever I want.

Brace for impact!  Incoming!  Those are the terms we should use for God's Grace.  God is infinite in His Graciousness.  When our eyes open to see ALL that I have, has been given to me from my gracious Father in Heaven it starts to press in on us.  You think I've gone too far?  What part did you play in whether or not you were even born, how 'bout how your brain is wired.  Are you a logical left brained thinker, I guess you can take credit for that....NO.  How about when someone is a gifted athlete.  Look at the words we use.  "Gifted" because we know Shaq had nothing to do with his height  or Johnny Football's incredibly "gifted" hand eye coordination.  We marvel at them instead of the God who formed them!

The things of this life become little compared to what Christ has done for us.  Things that will leave you humbled for eternity!  No, Grace is no small thing to take advantage of.  It rolls over all in its path and leaves them mashed into it going forward into life as an instrument of His Grace in the lives of others.  We feel compelled to lay down our lives for Christ, because He has done so much for us that we could never have earned or deserved.

How much of an impact has God's Grace left on your life?

Friday, January 11, 2013

4D movies

How do you take movie watching to the next level? Something beyond the millions of dollars spent on salaries for the best actors, something even beyond the mega millions spent on special effects, or hiring the best writers to create story lines that blow your mind. I will tell you what Lego Land came up with. They put water sprayers, big fans, and bubble blowers in the ceiling. When the Monster growls and has spit fly out of his mouth, they turn on the sprayers. When the helicopter flies by it blows air over you, then when it snows, they blow tiny pieces of bubbles on you. You haven't had your date clinging to you in the movie theater until she gets sprayed down repeatedly and then has fans blowing over her each time as well. It got me thinking that it was a lot like reading the bible. Many times we mistakenly assume that the bible is boring, or the bible is humdrum reading. We think it is a 2D duty that we have to press through. But what is often the amazing part about it is that there are times it spits on you, times it sends a chill down your spine. There are many times that it comforts you, calms you, and settles you.  Here's to having a not so quiet time in God's word today.

Step Number 136,428,629....

Job 31:4  Does not he see my ways and number all my steps?

Interesting fact:  The average person takes 7,500 steps and day and 216,262,500 steps in their lifetime. An average person, with an average stride, living to the age of 80 will walk about 108,131 miles.  Have you lost count?

I spent several hours down at the Med Center in Houston.  I entered through the Emergency Room at Ben Taub and encountered grieving families seemingly every where I turned.  I passed a lady slumped over outside weeping, and trying to smoke a cigarette while crying into the phone.  My heart tugged at me to not just walk past, but turn around and pray that I might be used by God to bring comfort.  "Blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted."  Here's the story she shared.

She is a mother of 5 children and loves her husband.  Last Monday he woke up early and talked her into riding their motorcycle to Galveston so they could watch the sunrise together.  Then they could come back home and take the kids to IHOP for pancakes.  "Things were going so good!" she wept.  Then she woke up in a hospital in Lake Jackson only to find out her husband was in a coma downtown.  "He was always my rock and there for me, now I don't have him when I need him most!  He was such a good dad to my older kids that I don't know how to tell my younger two kids they may not even have a dad."

She was angry at God for the growing injustice in her mind, that he was a good man and didn't deserve this.  Maybe her, but not him!  She felt God wasn't listening to her pleas and that He was distant when she most needed Him.  She sobbed, "What was a life of faith if He is of no help when you need Him most."

She blamed herself for not saying "No" to the early morning ride, like she had done so many times before.  She also shared of all the people who had come by or called to offer support and told stories of all of the kind things her husband had done for them.  Many things she didn't even know.  She was left thinking she should have loved him more and not found as many opportunities to be less than a loving wife to him.  She had avoided seeing her own children for a week and a half because she couldn't hold it together to be strong for them.  She didn't even know what or how to tell her children the news of their father.  She knew the family business needed attention also and that her kids needed her, but didn't feel she could help hold anyone else up.  There was a mountain of grief, fear, regrets that engulfed her like a tsunami.

I was reminded of the quote that, "Peace is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of Christ in the midst of the storm."  All I could do is help carry her to the cross of Christ.  I shared with her Job 31 and asked her what step number she was on.  She had no idea.  I told her that God knew even the number of steps she had taken in her life that led her right here.  If He knew and cared about her to that level of detail, then He could be trusted when He tells her, "Step here and I will hold you up."

I asked her if she thought her husbands accident was a greater injustice than when God allowed Christ to die on the cross at the hands of evil men for our sins.  She said, "no".  I reminded her that we call that Friday, Good Friday, not Injustice Friday.  She smiled and said a less strained breath, "Yeahhhhhh"  I reminded her again that if God does love you and your children and your husband more perfectly than you do.  If he even knows what step number each of you are on.  The words in Romans 8:28 "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."  That God can bring the very best good in her life, her kids life, and her husbands life.  Their good and His glory!  She sighed again able to breath a whole breath.  

"But what do I tell my kids?"  I encouraged her to unashamedly rely on, look to, and rest in Jesus, and even help her children to do the same.  Rest in His goodness and in the fact He knows all your ways, even the step number each of us are one.  The presence of Christ changed this lady right before my eyes.  She was comforted by Christ, she was strengthened when she looked to Him.  She did know the He loved her and her family, but needed reminding again.  As hard as God's sovereignty is to comprehend in these moments, she also needed reminding that there is an absence of guilt for the shoulda, coulda, wouldas that come from the barrage of attacks by Satan when we rest in the sovereignty of God and His goodness and love for us.

Pray for this family that God would carry them through this storm knowing the presence of Christ and his lovingkindness in the midst of these difficult days ahead. 

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