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Posts tagged "grace"


Hopelessly Devoted: Matthew Chapter Seven Verses One Through Three

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:1-3, NIV)

I find obedience to this command to be very elusive in my life. It’s tricky, and I can never quite get the hang of it. Sin truly lies waiting to ambush us…and the worst assault is our blindness to what we’re indulging. So often, I find myself judging people before I even realize what I’m doing. In the moment, it just seems like normal assessment and observation. I think I’m seeing the real, flesh-and-blood, image-bearing person…but I’m really viewing a perverted caricature I have created in my mind. For me, that individual’s faults have literally become who they finally are. It’s so unconscious most of the time… Yet sometimes I know what I’m doing but can’t stop…

I’ve heard it said that unbelief is the sin beneath all sins/sinning. I want to argue then that self-justification is the pleasure beneath all pleasures. There is something intoxicating and pacifying about that moment when I look at my neighbor and feel in my heart, ‘I’m glad I’m not like that…’ It’s pacifying, but not satisfying. The only satisfaction we can find is the satisfaction of the law which Jesus accomplished for us.

How do I resolve this tension? I don’t want to judge, but I do. I want to see the real person in front of me, but I can’t. Thanks be to God: Christ incarnate literally embodied and fulfilled ‘judge not’ (see John 8:11). Christ crucified was judged with a harsher measure than we judge one another. You were crucified with Him. You are hidden in Him. You were judged and found innocent…therefore the record of not judging your brother is perpetually and eternally yours. Even while you secretly thank God you are not like others…the Spirit graciously reminds you, you are like His Son.

Hopelessly Devoted: Second Corinthians Chapter One Verse Twenty

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.

– 2 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV)

The Bible declares that “the body of sin has been destroyed…. God has condemned sin in the flesh.” We don’t have to fear the Old Adam anymore…even though we still see and experience his residual phantom manifestations.

Sin has no eternal consequence anymore. Do we still sin? Of course. Do we still wrestle with sin? Yes. Does sin still have mundane experiential implications? Absolutely. But our sure confidence is in the gift of the leading of the Holy Spirit: the verdict of “no condemnation.” By his grace, through faith, we trust that we are clean, we are righteous, we are washed, we are justified…despite what the apparent evidence in our lives says.

Daily life damns us. Life consistently says “failed.” Grace faithfully says “forgiven.” Life always says “no.” God always says “enough”…because He has given us his ultimate and eternal “yes” in Jesus.

You Must Be This Tall (To Receive Grace)

You Must Be This Tall (To Receive Grace)

(Note: This was written with help, insight, and revision from my wife… Thank you, Angela.) “Wait a minute, Ma’am… does she have a disability?” The question cut through both of us like a word of law, judgment, and accusation. What was she getting at? What was she implying? Where are we going with this? Sigh. […]

Judgment and Relief at the End of Summer

Judgment and Relief at the End of Summer

In my neighborhood, the evidence of leaves already falling from the trees sounds a clear indictment and an unmistakable verdict: Summer is virtually gone…and I didn’t do enough to justify my existence. We didn’t do a good enough bona-fide family vacation—as in, we didn’t go anyplace exotic like Hawaii or Mexico or travel across country […]

Of Cubs and Humans and Good Thieves

Of Cubs and Humans and Good Thieves

Wrigley Field is one of America’s sacred spaces. Even if one prefers a different team, no morally serious person dislikes the Cubs, and thousands of Americans every year take pilgrimages to The Friendly Confines. That’s partly why stealing a ball intended for a child at Wrigley produces such outrage. For a lot of Americans, it’s […]

Hopelessly Devoted: James Chapter One Verse Nineteen

Hopelessly Devoted: James Chapter One Verse Nineteen

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” – James 1:19 (NIV)   In the verse we are considering this morning, we don’t ultimately have a prescription of how we must live, but rather a description of whom God has made […]

On Praying in the Bathroom, and Giving Up on Self-Control

On Praying in the Bathroom, and Giving Up on Self-Control

Leslie Jamison’s book The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath uses a broad scope of material to construct the experience of addiction and attempts at recovery: through personal memoir, research into historical figures, and reflection on the methods and theories associated with treating substance abuse. There are many, many reasons to read this book, and none […]

Walking Away from a Murder

Walking Away from a Murder

His girlfriend had recently got back together with him. He’d have been better off without her. But tell that to an eighteen year old who’s in love. She was all he had, and all he wanted. So when he lost her, he thought he lost everything. And when he got her back, he thought he […]

The Weight of Masculinity, Toxic or Otherwise

The Weight of Masculinity, Toxic or Otherwise

In our house, emotions were embraced. I was never told that “boys don’t cry;” it was never implied that men hide their emotions. When your dad is a professional opera-singing pastor-psychologist, and your mother a high-powered hospital executive, you get different messages about gender norms than most. As if you needed proof: my parents let […]

Jonah's Reluctant Obedience, and Ours

Jonah’s Reluctant Obedience, and Ours

The absurd thing that happens in the book of Jonah is not the fish swallowing a man…it is the grace Jonah receives after he basically tells God off! The fish, which consumes the prophet, serves as an indictment on how sin turns everything topsy-turvy. It reverses God’s order in the worst way. Man was made to […]

Hopelessly Devoted: ‘Grace At Work’ – James Chapter One Verse Seventeen

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)

Grace is not always guaranteed to work on the horizontal plane — i.e. as we attempt to steward it in the midst of our relationships with one another. We can however be sure that grace is always at work. We don’t get to define what this has to look like. We don’t always get the privilege of discerning its results or activity. In fact, grace specializes in disappointing and confounding our every expectation of what God ‘should be’ and what His people ‘should be’.

You’re free, though you often feel like a slave. You’re forgiven, though you often feel the weight of judgment. You’re victorious, though you often feel like a chump. The gospel confronts our self-righteousness and confirms the righteousness of Jesus as being ours. We walk by faith, not by sight…yes, but rarely in an experiential or functional manner. All we have ultimately is the faithful witness (James 1:17) of the indwelling Spirit bringing us back to a ridiculous, impossible-to-believe verdict: “You are absolved.”

A New Year & A Better Immanuel...

A New Year & A Better Immanuel…

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” -Matthew 1:23 Immanuel, God with us, epitomizes the Christmas season and carries certain implications which we could summarize in the following respects: Firstly, God has come near us not to condemn, but […]