Grace changes vision

When I was an enemy of God, He decided to make me a friend. His forgiveness is readily available to everyone. It’s not available once your life looks pretty. It’s available right now.

Romans 5:7-8 says:

For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

My heart was a mess before Christ. I tried really hard to be good. Some people even bought into my costume too.

But I knew and God knew that what I really needed was grace–God’s DNA–to make a change. Once I accepted God’s grace, everything changed. I gave up my acting career and became an honest woman.

Grace is a change in vision.

God's loveI now see people as God sees them: forgiven, free, loved, and full of potential. This is the future for those who will accept the freedom purchased by the blood of Christ.

Verse 8 says that God loves people when they are still sinners.

As Christians, we are called to love as God loves. This means that I am to love people when they are still sinners.

The exclusivity of the church from the world makes me angry.

Living in Christian Bubble Land is not included in the Great Commission.

I will not pray for anyone to be delivered from a non-Christian environment. What I will pray is that he or she will  grow up in the faith and stop being a Sissy Christian.

Sissy Christians are scared of non-Christians and don’t understand grace.

Sorry if that sounds harsh, but it’s truth.

Jesus is no sissy and I follow Him.

He defeated sin, death, and hell to give us grace, love, and mercy.

This is the Good News, the gospel we need to spread.

I think some of us forget that we were once a mess. No one asked us to clean it all up before coming to Jesus.

Looking for the best

I had a bad dream last night. A girl was being bullied at school and no one stood up for her.

In the dream I could feel everything she was feeling.

I still feel it too.

From brenebrown.com

From brenebrown.com

I’m currently reading Rising Strong by Brené Brown. (A book review will follow when I’m finished.)

Dr. Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She’s done ground breaking studies in the areas of shame, guilt, and vulnerability.

The last chapter I read posed the following question:

“Do you believe others are doing the best they can?”

The rest of the chapter explores what Dr. Brown learned when both herself and research groups to answer the question.

My own answer shocked me because I try hard to be an optimistic person.

I often do not think others are doing the best they can.

It was an ouch moment, for sure. I sat there dumbfounded and reread the question again and again.

Am I really that critical? The harsh reality is that many times I am….

Like I mentioned earlier, the dream rattled me, and I was recovering from that shock when I got to Dr. Brown’s question.

Grappling with the meanness in areas such as bullying, racism, religion, politics, etc. is tough.

But at the end of the day, you can’t let that meanness lead to hopelessness.

There is a lot more light in the world than darkness. You don’t hear much about it, but it’s true.

Plus, as a Christian, I know there is hope for the meanest, most evil person in the world because of Jesus.

And then there’s all the times I fall.

I don’t set out to screw up and hurt the ones I love.

…I’m just doing the best that I can!

Ouch!

The moment when truth pierces through my hypocritical heart.

Lord, please forgive my double standards.

An incomprehensible love

I read an article once that said many Christians feel uncomfortable when questionable people attend church. You’ve probably read or heard something similar before too.

Homeless people, prostitutes, druggies, murderers, pedophiles….

Even reading that list probably made some of you cringe just a little.

But Jesus died for us all. He didn’t say, “Unless your past was questionable. That’s where I draw the line.”

If a questionable past can keep you out of Heaven, I’m already disqualified.

All of us deserve hell. We just can’t measure up to God’s righteousness by ourselves.

And that’s why God–from the foundations of the earth–had the plan of salvation ready to go.

God, creator of the world, knew BEFORE IT HAPPENED that man–his most special creation–would screw up.

Then he created us anyway.

Why?

Because He is a God of love and wanted a people to lavish that love upon.

This fact still blows me away!

God has ALWAYS loved you. He loved you BEFORE you were ever loveable. He loved you even when He KNEW mankind was going to say, “Buzz off! I’ve got this under control.”  

It’s a love that’s beyond comprehension.

Why is the church not sharing this wonderful news?

God's loveBecause we can’t run around telling people Jesus loves them just as they are. There are conditions you know!

So the church continues to avoid homeless people, prostitutes, druggies, murderers, pedophiles….

And don’t even pull the “So your saying that we should all just do whatever we want? That’s greasy grace” card.

It’s a tired argument that needs to die.

I’m simply stating the fact that a behavior modification program, which has never worked (just ask the children of Israel) is not the same as the transforming power of grace.

The “bad” people we try desperately to avoid need Jesus.

Note to self: Don’t panic

don't forgetTimes are tough.

Four Marines are dead.

ISIS is killing Christians.

The definition of marriage is under attack.

Political correctness is ruining our society.

But, as Christians, we can’t allow these hardships to keep us from our mission: To share the gospel and make disciples. blog 2

Jesus said things like:

Turn the other cheek.

If someone makes you walk one mile, go two.

Love and pray for your enemies.

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

If I’m not careful, I spend too much time focusing on all the bad things. I shake my head at the depravity of man and forget that at one time I was depraved too.

But we still have time! The world hasn’t ended yet!

If we’re still here, that means our mission isn’t over.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. His name is Jesus.

My goal for the next bit is to simply shine the light of Christ into the dark places, showing those who are still wandering the way home.

It’s time to stop freaking out about the darkness when we have the light of the world–and all His power–at our disposal.

Get out of the cemetery!

No one ever told me that “Thriller” was a music video.

I remember being terrified the first time I watched it. At five or six years old, the first thought after “Ahhh!” was “This is a very intense movie.” Can you imagine going out on a date with someone and halfway through that person is chasing you around because he or she is now a zombie?

The Christian life is kind of similar. We are all dead without Christ, walking around like zombies. Before you know Christ there’s a hollowness, which cannot really be explained. It’s just a feeling that something is wrong; it’s the zombie effect of sin.

You can’t escape from sin without a Savior.

Sin is a zombie slurping up your brain like a milkshake.

Do you remember the story of the mad man from Gerasenes? He was a zombie! He lived in the cemetery! This guy was full of demons, running around naked, and uncontrollable. The Gospel of Mark says that “night and day he roamed through the graves and the hills, screaming and slashing himself with sharp stones” (Mark 5:5). Jesus came to town and threw out the demons. 

The mad man was saved!

The townspeople found the former mad man, now sane, talking with Jesus and his disciples. Naturally they were freaked out. They asked Jesus to leave. This miracle was too much to handle. So Jesus got in his boat to leave. The newly sane man begged to come along. I can imagine it was the first time he had a true sense of purpose. Jesus told him, “Go home to your own people. Tell them your story—what the Master did, how he had mercy on you” (Mark 5:19).

The end of the story is my favorite part. The former mad man of Gerasenes started sharing his testimony. Eventually, Jesus came back and the people in and around Gerasenes were receptive. This guy was instrumental in leading his region to Christ. How awesome!

I hope you see the parallel.

When you accept the gift of salvation, the old you is dead—gone forever! Here recently I heard a pastor say that God doesn’t want to make you better; he wants to make you new. That’s what believers should be telling people. It’s one of the greatest truths of the gospel.

Christ died so you could be new.

What if the mad man would’ve stayed in the cemetery after Jesus left? What if he said, “I don’t know what to do next…guess I’ll just hang out here”? Old and new cannot hang out together. That’s why Jesus said that you can’t put new wine in an old wine skin.

It’s impossible to walk in newness of life and keep doing the same old things.

Did you notice that the mad man was ineffective as the demon possessed, looney tune who lived in the cemetery?

Get out of the cemetery!

Share your story.

Live out your faith.

Quit acting like a zombie!