My pastor Dwayne Burks said once or twice that Christians are NOT sinners saved by grace, but rather saints who sometimes sin. I remember thinking that was mostly just semantics and the distinction wasn’t much. But I came to see the difference. Strip away the adjectives that cloud the issue, and it becomes clear. Not sinners, but saints. It’s a fundamental shift in self-identification. A paradigm shift. The old man has passed away, behold all things are made new.
I wrote my first essay with a pen and paper, but by the time I graduated from college, I owned a cell phone and used Google as a verb.
I still remember the home phone numbers of my old high school friends, but don’t ask me to recite my husband’s without checking my contacts first.
I own mix tapes that include selections from Nirvana and Pearl Jam, but I’ve never planned a trip without Travelocity.
Despite having one foot in Generation X, I tend to identify most strongly with the attitudes and the ethos of the millennial generation, and because of this, I’m often asked to speak to my fellow evangelical leaders about why millennials are leaving the church.
There’s a story that is told of a man who kept praying to win the lottery. Every night he would get on his knees and pray to God, “Lord, let me win the lottery.” One time when he was praying, the heavens opened, and the man heard a booming voice from heaven saying “Meet me halfway. Buy a ticket!”
That is of course a joke, but it serves to illustrate a point. God doesn’t ask us to do it all, but he does ask us to make a token effort. In 2 Kings chapter 5 we find that Elisha tells Naaman to go wash in the river Jordan seven times and he will be healed of leprosy. It wasn’t some Herculean effort to bathe in the river. God didn’t ask him to move mountains. It was a simple task which served no purpose whatsoever. Water wouldn’t cure leprosy and everyone knew it. The task was pointless, except to prove that Naaman was willing to submit to what God asked of him. Naaman washed in the river seven times and was cured of his leprosy.
In the parable of the prodigal son, the father looked out and saw his wayward son coming home. He didn’t wait on the son to make it home and ask to be a servant. He ran out to meet his son, welcoming him home as his son, putting a robe and a ring on him, signifying his status as family. And the Father today will come out to meet you. You don’t have to make it all the way home on your own. You don’t have to live a perfect life before you can be a Christian. Romans 10:9 says “if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” We’re not asked to move mountains. We’re not asked to perform the Herculean task of living a perfect life. Simply believe on the Lord Jesus, and confess him with your mouth, and you will be saved. That’s the promise of God’s grace to you and me.
Matthew 6:33 says “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” It doesn’t say “you have to find God”. It says SEEK. Make an effort. Show God you’re tired of running, and you are ready to come home. He’ll come out to meet you and welcome you as His child. He wants to extend His grace to you in full. Just let Him see you making an effort to come home. He’ll take it from there.
I moved out of my parents’ house in the summer of 1981. I rented the lower half of a huge two-story house. The couple who lived in the upstairs apartment helped me learn the lessons of single life. One of the most enduring ideas I learned from them was a love of all things Neil Diamond.
We would play Neil Diamond albums for hours as we chatted and trounced each other at gin rummy. In the evenings, Magnum P.I. or The Love Boat might be on TV, but ol’ Neil was still singing, the sound turned way down low.
We just loved hearing his music! We wondered why his songs weren’t ALWAYS #1 on the charts. Could other people not hear his passion? Could they not feel the soul in every song? WE could sure hear it, and we loved it. So why didn’t everyone else?
And then we came to realize that we weren’t hearing the same thing everyone else did. We were listening to deep cuts from obscure albums. We heard the live recordings where he gave it his all. But the stuff on the radio, that was all studio cuts. Neil had sung the song a hundred times in a row, perhaps, until the studio was satisfied that it was perfect. In the repetition, he had produced a mechanically perfect song, but it was devoid of spirit. The body was a perfect specimen, but the soul was dead. And the masses in radio land were hearing a perfect, dead song. Small wonder he wasn’t #1 every week.
Christianity can be like this, too. Sometimes we focus so much on doing it right that we forget to live. We’re never going to be perfect. And yet, God thinks we already are. He thinks we’re to die for. That’s why he gave us grace. He just wants us to live and be happy, reveling in the knowledge that we are loved. We’re not required to be perfect. And when we try, we’re only producing a dead song. All the people hearing the dead song will not be impressed. But when we lift up our hearts to God, and let him live through us, the music will be beautiful, and others will hear and be drawn to him.
Hi folks! Welcome to the new blog of an old geezer with some seriously warped ideas!
Around half of my writing is related to faith and religion (the Grace part of the title) and the other half is just whatever is sticking in my craw at the time (the And Stuff part). I’m hoping to inspire you, make you think, make you mad, and make you my friend. Drop in any time. The coffee’s always on!