I meet Christians who are super-glossy, picture-perfect, law-abiding people, but they are absolutely miserable and difficult to be near. Their every movement is dictated by a strict rigid ruleset that is motivated by a desperate fear. If your efforts are not driven by grace — that God absolutely loves you no matter what — then you will punish yourself towards an invisible standard that looks like success but feels like slavery. Such a standard might work for a little while to conform your behavior, but it will never become a part of you: it’s just an apparatus that imprisons you. Only grace can truly be internalized to melt your heart, and though it can take longer, a truly tenderized heart follows God with all joy and perseverance. This is motivation by grace and grace alone.
A culture of honesty can only come from a culture of grace, because people are only honest when they have hope of an undeserved love. Grace then is messy, gritty, real, raw, and reckless — meaning it makes us more human and not less.
If words were wounds
and you could see flesh tearing —
would we still speak the same way
or find new ways to destroy ..?
If words were healing
and you could see wounds sealing —
would we still speak the same way
or withhold words to destroy ..?
But this is what it is, every day.
Words rip, words mend —
deeper than flesh, more than metal.
Flesh is fragile,
but a soul, eternal.
Will we still speak the same way?
Originally from my Tumblr here.
To love means you die. It’s a sacrifice and it always costs your life. But there was one who loved, died, and conquered death, so that we could love endlessly. The same spirit that raised him from death lives in those who love him — and from such an infinite wellspring we have a miraculous love that conquers all things, including ourselves.
If you’re suffering right now, you don’t have to pretend it’s all good. You don’t have to add, ‘But praise God.’ When Jesus was hours from crucifixion, he didn’t sing in the garden or act hyper-spiritual. He was sweating blood. He asked the Father for a way out. But Jesus ultimately went to that cross with joy: not a shallow consolation that knows no pain, but a joy deepened by sorrow and recognizing the hurt of humanity. God is always trying to make you more human and not less. You can cry out in agony. In that honesty, God is establishing great character in you. Such a Christian is both happier and sadder at the same time, because they long for a better home and already have one.
God loves you, but — there are no buts. The only but is, ‘We were far off, but God loved us still. We were dead in sin, but God in His great mercy sent His Son to save us.’ God does not make exceptions, because He is the great exception.
Last year I gave half my salary of $10,000 to One Day’s Wages to fight human trafficking, and I began a campaign to raise $10k more.
Someone just donated the ENTIRE amount left for the campaign, which was $8,085, to reach the goal of $20,000.
My jaw is all over the floor.
Scroll to the bottom here to check it out.
Whoever you are, thank you.
Thank God for you.
You are called to carry the cross, deny yourself, kill your flesh, lose your life, and leave behind the world: but you are never alone in this. The one who calls you to follow him is the very one who empowers you to follow. Grace will cost you your pride, greed, anger, lust, sorrow, and selfishness — and in turn you get endless joy, eternal life, intimacy with our Creator, and reckless freedom to love. It feels like sacrifice because we are used to our way, but you give up what you never needed anyway. It remains the Best Deal in the Universe.
When you’re asked these three questions, you’re instantly running into a bitter bloody crossfire.
– Are you for or against gay marriage?
– Are you pro-life or pro-choice?
– Are you a Democrat or Republican?
But I want to counter-ask:
Why do we only have to think within these two opposing grids? Who made up the rules of this conflict? What if there was a different way to do this than the paradigms we have blindly bought into?
What our world does is what it has always done: takes a human issue, forces two sides against each other, comes up with all kinds of pseudo-articulate arguments, and ratchets up the volume.
Is this really the only dang way to communicate?
For many of us, this is all we ever know. The incessant angry yelling ignores the people trapped inside these debates, and we are brainwashed into excluding the “other” based on our own limited understanding of reality.
Real-live multi-layered human beings get lost in the urge to push ideologies — and I keep wondering if there’s a better way to navigate our disagreements.
Our current public discourse always looks barbaric and overly simplistic: because winning your idea at the White House cannot legislate someone’s soul. That’s state-sponsored tyranny.
Even if your side wins, what then? How do we reconcile with the “other”? What do you really win?
How do we offer something more than “Stop it” ..? How do we get off the anti-ground of what we’re against and move towards what we’re for?
Be patient. Not all of us understand what you’re saying when you think you’re helping. Start from zero and walk us through what you mean. You might see the solution very clearly, but that probably took you years of sweat and blood; no one can get that in a single sitdown setting. Be gracious; be gentle; become the other person.
Please do not inject a false narrative into your life based on your mood, one day, or one week, thinking that whole thing is who you are and how life is always going to be. Sometimes I feel like this is always how it’s going to feel like — and that isn’t true. Life is about ups and downs. And I pray that the message you’re preaching to yourself is, “Big God, little me. I can’t do this on my own. I need God. I need the source of strength and power and encouragement.”
— from this message
The world needs prayer today.
I don’t ever ask for this, but click “like” if you’re committed to pray today for those who are suffering.
I don’t know anyone who feels like they’re a “winner” at faith. Jesus called losers like me. Show me a winner and I’ll show you the Bible.
— originally posted here on my Tumblr
How do you respond when someone says “If God is good then why did my sister die, why does he let people suffer and why does he let all these bad things happen in the world?”
You know, I’ve read tons of books on God’s goodness — even one that was over 500 pages long — with tons of great arguments and stories and victories and apologetic defenses, and I always agree with all the points. I’ve heard great sermons about God being in control and I can “amen” them all day long.
But when the hard times roll in: all my ideas about the goodness of God fall flat. When the trials come, my rock-solid theology evaporates. When life suckerpunches me in the gut, I double over and don’t get up for a long time.
In the face of real pain, life gets too messy for pat answers, cold comfort, and even well-meaning doctrine. Life in the moment tends to throw the Bible out the window.
If someone were to ask me, “If God is good then why did –?” … I would not even TRY to answer that one, because we’re not looking for some kind of logical rationale.
Oh, there are good answers for that one, and I believe them all, and we could sit down over coffee in our comfortable sweatpants in an air-conditioned room and discuss those reasons in calm collected voices: but when you experience the cancer, the car accident, and the phone call that changes everything, you’re not hearing me about God’s mysterious ways.
Be the one who says, ‘This is not right’ — and do something about it. Don’t just write a blog post to complain. Your voice is powerful but your hands are more powerful still.
When tragedy occurs, we are often too quick to fight or too quick to forgive.
When we are hasty to fight, we allow rage to blind our vision. This is understandable, but unchecked will lead to bloodlust and xenophobia and too many assumptions of the facts.
When we jump to forgiveness, we are trying to free our hearts of bitterness. This is understandable, but unchecked will lead to a bypass of justice and become insensitive to the hurting.
There’s a time to be angry, to shake a fist, to attack evil and defend the weak. It’s right to hate injustice.
There’s also a time to extend pardon, to pray for enemies, to hope for better and wipe the slate clean. It’s how we rebuild for tomorrow.
God will finish this story both ways. We don’t need to force one on the other. If we try: we will forfeit both. Only God can hold this equally in tension, and only He is righteously infuriated with a tender grace.
One day, this broken world will be made right. God will unroll His love and justice on a people waiting for both, and the things that don’t make sense will be answered somehow.
Until then: we fight. Until then: we forgive.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond imagination. It is our light more than our darkness which scares us. We ask ourselves – who are we to be brilliant, beautiful, talented, and fabulous. But honestly, who are you to not be so?
Some people feel guilty about their anxieties and regard them as a defect of faith but they are afflictions, not sins. Like all afflictions, they are, if we can so take them, our share in the passion of Christ.
— C.S. Lewis
His kindness, tender mercies, and unrelenting love break my heart like a hammer and draw me away from sin with more power than the fear of wrath.
I wish we all would’ve been okay with blurting the honest truth: that at times, for uncomfortably long seasons, we just don’t hear anything from God. To just say, “No, I did not hear from God. For a long, long, long time.” Or to not set this metric for our spiritual lives. Or to really believe that God’s Word is sufficient for His voice. Or to actually ease up on how we pray to Him. Or to consider that maybe we have heard God’s voice, but not in some audible, outlandish, booming-from-the-rafters sort of way.
— from this post