His Irresponsible Love

“Nothing in the church makes people in the church more angry than grace. It’s ironic: we stumble into a party we weren’t invited to and find the uninvited standing at the door making sure no other uninviteds get in.

Then a strange phenomenon occurs: as soon as we are included in the party because of Jesus’ irresponsible love, we decide to make grace “more responsible” by becoming self-appointed Kingdom Monitors, guarding the kingdom of God, keeping the riffraff out (which, as I understand it, are who the kingdom of God is supposed to include.)” 

— Michael Yaconelli

*****

Often there can be a frustrated hostility simmering just below the veneer of a religious person.  It can be seen in sudden outbursts of irritation that seems to come from nowhere.  It is often encountered when they feel the ‘spigot of grace’ has been open too long, too much water is being used, and the people are getting a little wild in showing their enthusiasm.  “They’re acting like ungodly pagans.”

Regulating the watering hole becomes a compulsion, and a necessary work of the “Church.” Jesus’ love is for all is a confirmed fact, but we must have some standards of decorum and appropriate levels of conduct and respect.  “We the keepers-of-the- spigot are called to take some responsibility in this,” we end up saying.

Celebratory shouts of joy are simply not acceptable.  Dancing in the mud is way ‘out-of-line.’  But there is an outrageous element to grace.  It is preposterous and disturbing.  It is untamed and wild, and not at all logical.  “We definitely prefer the thinking side of our faith,” we say.

Judas rebuked Jesus as he was getting a foot massage from the ungodly woman.  She had no business to be there in the first place.  And secondly, she has just poured this incredible fortune on the feet of Jesus!  Judas said, “way out-of-line!”  But there is a irrepressible love that always pushes its way forward.

For those of us who have first experienced God’s love and grace we must keep an alert out for our hard hearts.  First, He is in charge of how the water is utilized.  Second, [and we MUST believe this] when a man or woman connect with the water, there can be spontaneous displays of joy!

The dance of grace

We must change our thinking, e.g. repent, and insist that we ‘cease and desist’.  Our attitude is not acceptable or true to the Spirit of Christ.  We are the ones way “out-of-line” and we have not been good witnesses about his grace and love.  We had better turn from this sin, and ask Jesus to free us again.

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  John 8:32

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Hold Onto What You Know

 

DustyBible

A dear and wise friend of mine once told me that I should never go by what I feel, but by what I know. Feelings can be fickle and reactionary, and oftentimes they do not reveal the truth about the situation they are a reaction to.

There are times when my feelings have been all of those things. I’m sometimes sad or angry or depressed or disillusioned. My feelings are often a reaction to what has been going on in my life, or to things that have been said to me as well as about me and others whom I care deeply about. I’ve have times of feeling hopeless and been in disbelief of the things that have transpired in my life. I had days when I feel completely lost and alone. On those days I listen to my dear friend and turn to the things I know to help me get through how I am feeling, to get to the truth of the matter. Here is what I know:

  •  ”And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28. The important word in this verse for me is “all.” It is not just in some things, but in all things, that God works for the good of those who love Him. I may not see the good that will come from my present circumstances, but God does.
  • “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah 29:11. God has planned my days, now and for eternity, and His plan is one of hope.
  • “But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31. Even though my own strength may be insufficient to get me through difficult times, the strength of the Lord is always there for me to lean on.
  • “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7. God loves me and will take my burdens and anxiety if I will only let go.
  • “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” John 17:3. Eternal life starts now by knowing Jesus, not just when this body dies.
  • “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38. This is one I have proven to myself. As I am a blessing to others I receive a blessing in return much greater than I gave.
  • “Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10. There is joy to be found when I trust in the Lord.
  • “From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:16-17. Grace and truth go hand in hand, and they are the great blessing that we all have from Jesus.
  • “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10. Jesus came that we might live an abundant life, the best life that God could possibly want for us, something much better than we can ever imagine. Satan is the thief who promises pleasure and great things, but means us only harm.
  • “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” Psalm 23:6. This is a promise and a truth that can get me through any day.

These are just some of the things I know. God’s Word is full of promises of hope, love, joy, and redemption. It is full of stories of how those who had faith in God, who trusted in His promises, were blessed beyond measure.

God is greater than my feelings. I may feel hopeless, but that does not negate the hope He offers. I may feel lost, but that does not change the fact that He has found me and will never leave me. For all these promises I am grateful.

ysic, Linda K

http://lindakruschke.wordpress.com/

 

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Going Crossless

We are a bucket full of nails,

“Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

Matt. 10:38

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

Matt. 16:24

We can so easily process our faith to something respectable and somewhat pleasant.  This is a natural tendency. But the cross has a stigma, we might think we can easily defuse it, rendering it as harmless.  Acceptability is a wonderful thing to the modern day believer.  It is easy to turn from all that would make us different, and grasp a crossless faith. It does seem we conform rather than transform.

Effort is being made right now to twist and nullify your belief in Jesus.  It is a force that works on us, relentlessly.  Satan intends to destroy you. He is frightened by the power of the cross, and the spiritual truth it contains. The cross (and resurrection) destroyed the devil’s kingdom of twisted darkness. He will never recover.

Just as Jesus carried the cross He was to die on, you and I are to follow His example.  Jesus had to go to this place of death, and so are we.  My cross is not purely emblematic or abstract symbolism.  It entails a real death.  I pick it up and go to die.  Crucifixion is the end of me, it all comes down to this final point of termination.

Jesus escorts us to the point of death.  This is to become the framework for a sincere discipleship.  The cross, our cross, brings us to an end.  To be worthy of Jesus is to bear it boldly.  The cross develops into our thinking, and its dynamic pounds us into a spiritual reality.  Jesus intensifies the cross, making it the mark of authenticity of a disciple.

We have no options, if we follow it must be with a cross.  There is absolutely no room for us if we approach Him without it.  The cross transmutes our lives, and transmits a signal that we have complied with Jesus’ wishes.  If we advance at all, it will be through the cross only.

We must deny ourselves.  That denial is an intense working. “I do not know the man” was Peter’s statement against Jesus.  If we deny ourselves, we will take a stand against our own selves, turning against ourselves.  We will be pinned to the mat.

Our focus should be on the cross.  We must infuse it into our lives.  A tea bag will flavor an entire cup.  It turns a cup of boiling water into a wonderful beverage.  The cross that belongs to us will have the same effect.  It will make something where there was nothing.

“All heaven is interested in the cross of Christ, all hell terribly afraid of it, while men are the only beings who more or less ignore its meaning.” 

 Oswald Chambers

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He Has Come For Us

“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.” 

John 10:14-15 ESV

Jesus declares and reveals something substantial here.  He is the “good shepherd.”  If we split this statement apart, we get “good.”  We also get “shepherd.”  And we simply must insist on both.  Somehow, deep down, these two ‘particulars’ take on the most definite positions in our lives.  We are desperate for anything good; and we know our need for a shepherd.  We struggle so hard, and this understanding will carry us a very long way.

This verse tells us– He knows us!

He is fully aware of you in this present moment.  This is amazing, to be aware that He engages us on the level were we are now at.  Think about, its like He has our ‘x-ray’  in front of Him.  He knows and understands us completely and fully.

The remainder of this verse goes on to suggest that we (yes, we) know Him. Now I have a multitude of issues, but when I sift them out, there is a deep awareness of His presence.  I completely understand (as much as I’m able) of who He is, and I can’t shake Him.  Once touched we’ll never be satisfied with anything else (and Lord knows we will try.)

While visiting this planet, Jesus maintained His connection with the Father.  He would take this sense of intimacy with His Father down ‘into the stretch.’  And that pattern of love would take place in our hearts and minds.  And now we have finally found our place– with him, with the Father.

The very last part, v. 15, places itself right in the middle of our understanding.  He will definitely die for us.  He wants to, and is eager to lay down His life to make us His own.  It all seems foolish, I know.  But He very much wants to bring us into His deep presence.

The idea that we are sheep is factored in.  He dies for us.  The Shepherd will now face crucifixion in order to claim His sheep. He will go to a painful and ugly death to give us life that is eternal.

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Ten Life Principles Worth Knowing

 

davinci_human-sketch32

This list was were found floating out on the internet, and although they are a bit secular most of them have corresponding Christian principles.  I’ve added a comment after each.  I hope that you will read them, and hold on to the good.

I’m not sure who the author of this list was. But kudos to them whoever they are.

flourish15

1. You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it’s yours to keep for the entire period. (But don’t forget that you are first a spirit, that just happens to have a body.)

2. You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called, “life.” (This is called “discipleship.” Welcome!)

3. There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of trial, error, and experimentation. The “failed” experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiments that ultimately “work.”  (Consider the life of Peter, the apostle– he was up and down, but always learning. He was loved by the Lord, very, very much.)

4. Lessons are repeated until they are learned. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it, you can go on to the next lesson. (The Holy Spirit is a most excellent teacher.)

5. Learning lessons does not end. There’s no part of life that doesn’t contain its lessons. If you’re alive, that means there are still lessons to be learned. (Learn to love people is generally what these lessons are about. But remember, there is a life after this one that is vastly more significant.) 

6. “There” is no better a place than “here.” When your “there” has become a “here”, you will simply obtain another “there” that will again look better than “here.”  (Actually, the best place to be is in the center of God’s will.)

7. Other people are merely mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects to you something you love or hate about yourself.  (Hmmm. It is true that we have a common humanity, and we learn a ton just by observing human behavior.  And people do mirror our character back to us.)

8. What you make of your life is up to you. You have all the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you. The choice is yours. (Perhaps.  But God directs our steps.  He is supremely in control, but will graciously lend you his tools.)

9. Your answers lie within you. The answers to life’s questions lie within you. All you need to do is look, listen, and trust. (Actually, the Bible is pretty comprehensive in this capacity. Read it to be wise; trust it to be sure.)

10. You will forget all this. (Unfortunately, this is all too true.)

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Crane Song and Common Grace

They sing to God

“And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe.  The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command.” 

Hebrews 1:2-3, NLT

There is an idea of an existance of a ‘common grace’ that touches every person on this rock called Earth.  What is suggested with this, is that every person has access to grace; at least on a basic level, such as nature, government, medical, education and judicial.  We all are sharing in common grace whether we are saved or not.

Common grace explains a great deal, He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matt. 5:45) They both benefit from His care, whether they believe or disbelieve.

On the other pole, lies ‘special grace.’  It is different.  It is grace that is given to those who put their trust in the promises for salvation, deliverance and healing.  These promises can only be enjoyed by a Christian believer.  Special grace is grace that God gives to each one who is in a covenant relationship with Himself.

I got up early the other morning, with a cup of coffee in hand and went to sit out on my steps.  I have to tell you that mornings are truly delightful here in Alaska.  As I sat looking at the trees and watching the clouds,  the sun was caught by the trees and they began to glow.  (I always think of the burning bush of Moses and secretly wonder if trees don’t remember and try to emulate their ancestor so long ago.)  I hear the cranes from the lake.  And all of this touches me.

Just as I physically awoke 20 minutes ago, I now awaken spiritually. Common grace makes this all possible.  When I first became a believing Christian, I was quite amazed at how blue the sky was. The grass seemed greener. I remember feeling amazed that I hadn’t noticed these things before. I guess I was full of joy over the special grace that I had just been given.crane1

Common grace curbs the destructive power of sin, maintains in a measure the moral order of the universe, thus making an orderly life possible, distributes in varying degrees gifts and talents among men, promotes the development of science and art, and showers untold blessings upon the children of men.”

–Louis Berkof, Christian theologian

I love common grace.  It makes it possible to enjoy my coffee in the sunshine on the deck.  Common grace allows me to hear the crane’s special song.  People everywhere are drawing from the common well of common grace. “The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.” (John 1:4)

 

 

 

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Vessel to Vessel: Part Two

Wine_&_Roses_Still_Life_PaintingsWe do not need to understand why the Lord does certain things. Neither should we attempt to explain to others why He leads us as He does. As soon as the wine is settled and the lesson is learned, the gentle hand of the Maker will again pour it. How it sparkles and gleams with fresh yieldedness and obedience. Left behind are dregs of distrust and fear.

The next vessel is made from a mixture of vastly different materials. This vessel would never have been the choice of the wine. And worse, the wine was not asked as to how this vessel should be formed. This speaks of the circumstances in which we often find ourselves; in which we are not at all to blame for the situation.

This is the vessel of the “faults of others,” which is an awkward place in which to be. Some fail to do their duty. Others refuse to come or to go, as they should. Before we realize, we may be involved in a predicament quite to our disapproval.

Usually, we are willing to go through a trial when we are at fault; but for us
to be dragged into a plight, which is not of our doing, is to our flesh a real death. But consider: Who made this vessel? The Lord is not blaming the wine for the trial, nor for its make-up. The wine has only to yield and be poured into and fill the vessel. We are not to waste valuable time complaining to the Lord about the size, shape, color, and texture of this vessel, for He made it. Rather, we are to trustingly melt and flow into it as He intended.

Enough has been said concerning these vessels that we might expand on what they teach. Let us turn to another phase of truth that is given here; how the wine may act in being poured. In my own experience, and in watching others go through trials and testings, I have found three ways in which we may act.

First, we may submit to being poured, but with an unbroken spirit. The will is surrendered and the pouring continues, but we remain rigid and unbroken in spirit. Thus, the purpose of the pouring is lost. The soul retains its own shape and does not melt so the sediment might settle. This person has truly surrendered to the Lord’s will, yet has utterly failed in that his spirit is not broken.

Have you ever attempted to pour thick milk into a receptacle with a narrow neck? It is almost impossible, as the milk has become set and is incapable of yieldedness, or brokenness. The text tells us that because the wine was not emptied from vessel to vessel, it had “settled on its lees.” This is a Hebrew word which means to thicken or curdle. Some souls are so set that they become incapable of adjustment or change.

The question then is not, “have I been poured?” but rather, “have I become broken in spirit?” One may be poured into a hundred vessels and never learn the lesson of submission to the workings of the Holy Spirit. We must break in spirit as we are emptied, and as a result, there will be less agony, pain, and distress; for we will, with grace, melt and fill the vessel quickly.

Another reaction is to yield to the pouring, and find ourselves filling a number of different vessels. But we just endure it, as hidden away in our spirit is a “pout.” We recognize that the best thing is to yield and go through, but we do so by “enduring” and say, perhaps faintly, “Yes, Lord, I am going through, but I do not think it is fair, for you could have made it easier.”

We can consent in will, but do not break in spirit. Many are enduring the pouring, but never seem to learn the lesson. Let us break, and allow the dregs to settle.

The third and right way, is to not only surrender in will, but to break in spirit. This is so pleasing to the Lord. As we break in spirit we lose our “setness” and become pliable, flowing easily into the most intricate parts of the vessel. Here we are truly able to say, “I delight to do thy will, O God.”

Now, a word as to the reason for all this pouring and emptying – Surely God does not thrust us into such trying places to mock us. If we are consecrated, our lives are not our own to arrange as we please, in order to avoid these many pourings. Therefore, it is important that we recognize that our Lord has a purpose in emptying us from “vessel to vessel.” He is producing within us a broken, yielded spirit to prepare us for a higher purpose.

The second reason for pouring us out is to keep us from “settling upon our lees.” There is always the tendency for us to seek the easy way. We dislike disturbances and having to do things differently from the way we did in the past. It can rightly be said that “the road of least resistance is a rut.” Thus, if we are never poured from experience to experience, the wine will become spoiled and scented with dregs.

Do not be surprised if the Lord begins to pour you from the vessel in which you have been blessed, perhaps for months or even years. Because you are settling upon your lees, and since He is very particular of your relationship to Him, He may refine you yet more.

The third reason is to broaden us in our sympathy and understanding of each other. The one who has had but little trouble in life is not a particularly helpful person. But one who has gone through many trials, shattered hopes, and tragedies, has learned a valuable lesson. These who have learned through experience are of great value.

“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” II Corinthians 1:3-4

These can enter into perfect fellowship with a person who is in unspoken agony of spirit and pressure of trial, and pray with compassion and understanding. They are able to look beyond the frailty of flesh, and remembering that we are but dust, are able to trust the Lord with a sublime faith for change and victory.

Some day soon, the last vessel will be filled and the last pouring finished. May it please the heart of our Lord to find in us choice wine; rich, sparkling and well refined, because by His grace we have been emptied from vessel to vessel.

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