Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Timeless Grace

According to the journal I kept at the time, on Monday, July 25, 1983, I not only lived in Cincinnati, Ohio, but I was affected by reading First Corinthians, Chapter 15, Verses 9 and 10:
For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. (NIV)

Just for good measure, take a look at that in the Amplified Bible:
For I am the least [worthy] of the apostles, who am not fit or deserving to be called an apostle, because I once wronged and pursued and molested the church of God [oppressing it with cruelty and violence]. But by the grace (the unmerited favor and blessing) of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not [found to be] for nothing (fruitless and without effect). In fact, I worked harder than all of them [the apostles], though it was not really I, but the grace (the unmerited favor and blessing) of God which was with me.

My 1983 reaction to these words?
I am the least of the "servants" of God. I'm not even fit to be called a Christian because of my selfishness and lust. And yet, God's grace rains upon me and makes me acceptable. I certainly don't deserve it, but thank you, Lord, for forgiving me. Your love for me urges me to live for you more completely, but even in that I fall far short. Thank you so much for not giving up, even when I act like I have.

Truth is...it's a very good thing God's grace is timeless. I still need it 31 years later...and I imagine if I'm breathing and taking nourishment in 2045, I'll still be leaning on the everlasting arms.  

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Better Than "Clean Your Plate"

I can't say I get all that excited about everything the fine folks at Upworthy.com bring to the Internet's attention. They tend to be "pro" a few things that I'm not necessarily "pro" about...tend to be "up in arms" about things that don't push my personal panic button...but every so often they find, and pass along, things like the following video calling attention to the issue of hunger in America.

And not just calling out the problem, but talking about a solution. THAT'S upworthy.

If this issue resonates with you, please act on that:

And if you think non-Americans deserve some help, too, maybe you would like to help Feed My Starving Children.

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Truth is...no one thing will be THE solution to ANY challenge the world faces, but what a great thing to jump in and do what one can to make a positive difference in the lives of people.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Do You Want People to Like YOU or Your IMAGE?

This week's post is dedicated to directing you to a blog by a friend of mine, Theresa Hagaman. Last Friday, she published a piece called "So They Like You" that you just need to read...you just do.

And don't skip the part where you click through to the song being talked about. (Click here.)

Truth is...there is a danger to putting too much emphasis on self-esteem, but we've got a LONG way to go before we get to that point. Be encouraged today to stop buying the lie that you have to measure up to Madison Avenue's standards of beauty and sexiness and "cool."

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Living Together

There is no way on God's green Earth you will ever hear me saying, or read me writing, that all religions are alike. You know, like, "They all get you to heaven; who cares which road anybody takes?"

I'll never say that, or write that, because it just isn't true. A lot of religions don't even include a concept of "heaven," so how could they all get a person there?

The good news is, that's not what this video clip is about anyway.

The good news is, Amina Iro and Hannah Halpern, the two performers you are about to be impacted by, have found a way to look past their differences and cultural stereotypes and become friends. (Fair warning: there is one usage of a PG-rated word.)

Truth is...while peaceful coexistence can't be based on our differences, it can happen in spite of them.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Christians vs. Gays

I recently borrowed a book from the library, because it had been recommended reading by Pastor Dave. I wasn't sure how TORN: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-Vs.-Christians Debate, by Justin Lee, was going to go down my mostly-conservative gullet, but I can now say without any equivocation that I am abundantly glad I read it.

The problem is, it's the kind of book that you really need to read all of, because taking a few paragraphs out of context or trying to summarize any kind of "bottom line" message will not do justice to the author's intent.

However, I will share these heart-breaking words from the first chapter, and hope they encourage you to digest the whole book:

A 2007 study by the Barna Group, a Christian research firm, asked 16- to 29-year-olds to choose words and phrases to describe present-day Christianity. Among the many choices available to them were positive terms like "offers hope" and "has good values" along with negative terms like "judgmental" and "hypocritical."

Out of all of it - good and bad - the most popular choice was "antihomosexual." Not only did 91 percent of the non-Christians describe the church this way, but 80 percent of churchgoers did as well.

In the book unChristian, Barna Group researchers David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons describe the results of their three-year study of young Americans' views of the church:

In our research, the perception that Christians are "against" gays and lesbians...has reached critical mass....Outsiders say our hostility toward gays - not just opposition to homosexual politics and behaviors but disdain for gay individuals - has become virtually synonymous with the Christian faith.

Truth is...the idea of the church being characterized by what she is against is saddening. And the idea of people who call themselves Christians disdaining particular members of the human race for whom Jesus died is appalling. This book can help stop the accusations and start a meaningful dialogue.