Posts Tagged grace

Weakness Leads to Prayer

Here’s another quote from Paul Miller’s excellent book, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World:

We tell ourselves, “Strong Christians pray a lot. If I were a stronger Christian, I’d pray more.” Strong Christians do pray more, but they pray more because they realize how weak they are. They don’t try to hide it from themselves. Weakness is the channel that allow them to access grace.

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Rejoicing in the Cross

This past Sunday, we took a Journey to the Cross which culminated in reading the story of the crucifixion of Jesus and making a few observations (listen here).

Here were some of the observations we made. Take a moment and rejoice (again!) in the love of Christ for you.

  1. Jesus received the robe of mockery so that we could receive the robe of righteousness.
  2. Jesus could have saved himself and lost his people. Instead he lost himself and saved his people.
  3. Jesus offers radical grace to those who have no hope without him and no opportunity to repay him.
  4. Jesus was forsaken by his Father so that we could be adopted by the Father.
  5. Jesus’ sacrifice rips open access to the presence of God.
  6. Jesus, the truly innocent one, was crucified so that we, the truly guilty ones, could be forgiven.

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The History of “Amazing Grace”

One of the interesting observations from last week’s U2 concert was that, as Bono sang the song “Amazing Grace,” very few people around me seemed like they knew the song. They knew all the U2 stuff by heart, but they didn’t know this famous hymn. It struck me that this was another indication that our culture is much more post-Christian that many churches or Christians would like to think. Christians are foolish to assume that people know things that we might take for granted or think, “everybody knows that.”

Anyway, I’ve always loved this video about “Amazing Grace” and the story of how John Newton developed the music to his much-loved hymn.

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Bono on Grace Over Karma

Last night I went to my first U2 Concert, and it definitely lived up to the hype. Great show. I’ve been thinking a lot about it and plan to post some of the things I learned from the experience here soon. In the meantime, I wanted to share a quote and interview of Bono by Michka Assayas regarding the nature of the gospel and how it’s different from religion (I actually think his description might even be better than using the word “religion”).

Here’s an excerpt:

Bono You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics—in physical laws—every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “as you reap, so you will sow” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.

Assayas: I’d be interested to hear that.

Bono That’s between me and God. But I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I’d be in deep s—. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.

I’d encourage you to read the whole interview where Bono also clearly articulates an argument for the deity of Christ.

HT: Brian Ring

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Help in the Chaos

These last few weeks have been trying on the Simmons family. It seems that for almost 4 weeks straight, at least somebody in our four person home has been sick. Not uncommon. It happens to everybody, doesn’t it?

But along the way, we’ve had some moments where we felt like we were hanging by a thread. We weren’t feeling well and the girls weren’t feeling well, as evidenced by their crying/screaming/whining/etc.

As we’ve dealt with this, I’ve been encouraged by these lyrics to the song “None But Jesus” (video below):

In the chaos, in confusion
I know You’re sovereign still
In the moment of my weakness,
You give me grace to do Your will

When we are weak, struggling, haggled, or confused, God remains on the throne and he is still giving grace. This means that we don’t have to respond sinfully to the challenges we face — we can hold fast to Jesus because he gives us the grace even when it’s tough. So no matter what you’re facing, there is grace to endure. That’s good news!

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God’s Grace at Second Mile

Yesterday was an awesome day for Second Mile. We had a great worship gathering centered on loving God with everything and loving your neighbor as yourself (sermon here). We prayed, sang, and celebrated.

Then we joined together in the afternoon for our first baptism celebration. 13 people were baptized and shared their story of God’s grace. There were stories from people who had been religious and those who hadn’t. It was a great picture of God’s grace and a huge encouragement to the packed house of people who came.

We’re praying for more grace as we anticipate our move to Perry High School in April. God has been so abundantly kind so far. May his grace abound in your life today as well.

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The Prodigal God

I had the privilege of preaching yesterday at Southgate Church in Toledo, Ohio where my father in law is one of the elders. I preached a sermon that I’ve done a few times in some other venues, “The Prodigal God.” It’s the story of Luke 15 that’s usually called the “Prodigal Son.”

People often do a double take when they hear me call God prodigal, but this is because they don’t know what the word means. They think, like I did, that prodigal means “lost or wayward.” But, in actuality, the word prodigal means “recklessly extravagant.” It’s usually associated with the younger son because of how he squanders his wealth in reckless living (KJV, “prodigal living”). But, as the story demonstrates, the father in the story is the one who is truly extravagant. He is the one who runs to his son and embraces him in the midst of his mess, which is exactly what God does for us in Jesus. He’s also the one who pursues the proud, self-righteous older brother who won’t come in the party. It’s a great reminder that he loves both the irreligious and the religious.

There were some sermons from John MacArthur and Tim Keller that were helpful in helping me more deeply understand this parable and I thought I’d pass on some of their resources. Interestingly, MacArthur just came out with a book on the parable and Keller is releasing one this fall (I think he stole my title…well, maybe not).

I would highly recommend Keller’s free audio message on this parable. Click here to get the audio.

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