Category Archives: grace

That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

This quote has been on my mind for quite some time. It is one of my favorites. It’s “religion” in action. It’s “religion” that jumps off the page and becomes real and alive. Over the years, I’ve searched for so many things in life to make me happy but this is the answer. I’ve worn masks and pretended but nothing has ever been more fulfilling, more freeing, or more life changing then when I made the choice to connect with others and step out from behind the mask. We tend to like keeping our problems safely tucked away in the dark, but God does His work in the light. Sometimes, I think God is just waiting for us to make the courageous choice to bring the issues we struggle with secretly… out into the sunlight. When we take this small step of faith, God blesses it.

I came across these verses in Micah. I love how much confidence in God they illustrate. Just beautiful.

But me, I’m not giving up.
I’m sticking around to see what God will do.
I’m waiting for God to make things right.
I’m counting on God to listen to me….
I’m sitting in the dark right now,
but God is my light…
He’ll turn on the lights and show me his ways.
I’ll see the whole picture and how right he is. (portions of Micah 7: 7-9 MSG)

I Wish NASA Would Invent This…

Sometimes I wish mistakes in life could be as simple to erase as using the delete button. A friend of mine posted this as her status on Facebook this week….

“Life would be perfect if: some girls had mute buttons, some guys had edit buttons, bad times had fast forward buttons, and good times had pause buttons.” Unknown

A button would solve so many issues.

Don’t you sometimes wish erasing bad days could be that easy too? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a universal button that just deleted days, or comments or actions you would just as well like to forget?

The other day I deleted every single post I had made on my Facebook page for that particular day. It started with one post (that a friend pointed out might be taken the wrong way) and then for some reason I just decided to delete everything from that day. Why? I don’t really know. It made me feel good. I “erased” choices I had made for the day… by the click of a button. I had a fresh start. A do-over. Gosh, a button like that in life would be so nice.

You said the wrong thing to your boss? NO problem…delete.

You ate a whole container of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream? NO problem just press that little button…erased.

You were caught driving 55 mph in a 35 mph zone?… A ticket? What ticket?

And what about those monumental mistakes in life?

But, looking back at my life, I know the benefits of not having a delete button for the mistakes I make. Struggles, failures and challenges help shape me and grow me. I have to take the good days with the bad ones. The consequences of my mistakes (if I take the time to learn from them) are designed to help point me in the right direction. So, until NASA invents such a button, I have to walk through mistakes with my eyes open. There are valuable lessons to be learned from them.

One thing I value about my relationship with Christ is that he doesn’t look at mistakes the same way I do. He accepts me, faults and all. He doesn’t keep a record of how many times I fall short. And because of this, He encourages me to offer grace for those around me who also make mistakes…to everyone else out there who is trying to figure out (like me) how to live without a handy dandy delete button.
Love…keeps no records of wrong. (1 Corinthians 13:4 NIV)
Therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1 NIV)

The Pen of Grace


God rewrote the text of my life, when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.- Psalm 18: 24 (MSG)

I love this translation. God is the greatest editor I know. He blots out my mistakes and imperfections. He takes his pen of grace and revises every single page in my life. He sees the perfect, the flawless and collectible edition.

Thanks, Lord!

My Least Favorite Phrase


Do you like the sound of fingers on a chalkboard? Nope, I don’t particularly care for that sound either. There is a phrase I often hear people say that gives me the same cringing feeling on the inside. The comment that has this ability on me is: “He (or she) is very religious.” eeeeeEEEEEEEEE!!! (Visualize fingers on board here)

It’s a very common way for people to describe those who believe in God or people who go to church regularly. And it drives me nuts. Which reminds me of another comment that tends to make me cringe a little….”Well, I believe in God.”

Well, what exactly does that mean? Most people have heard one of the common replies for this one. Even the devil believes in God.

So, what does being religious and believing in God really mean?

The word “religion” has always sounded so sterile and unnatural and heavy and boring and restrictive to me. I guess that is why I dislike it so much. The Pharisees, in biblical times, believed in God and were very religious. They were rule followers and were constantly striving to “earn” their way to heaven. Time and time again we see Jesus rebuking these religious people. Time and time again we see Jesus explaining to the crowds that “religion” is a dead end street.

So what did Jesus teach?

Belief in God and religion were not simply something we carry around with us like a badge. It is not trying really hard to do the morally good thing. Jesus’ short life here on earth (and his Word that we read now) teaches that “religion” is so much more. Jesus said in John 10:10, “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”

Belief in God and being religious will never achieve the kind of life Jesus intended for us to have. Jesus’ goal was for us to have a relationship with him. His desire is for us to get to know him personally, to walk with him and talk with him. I even think God loves it when we come to him angry or upset or confused…because despite our state of emotion if we come to him willing to listen… He knows that we will find healing, forgiveness and answers. If we make the decision to fully invest in a relationship with Him (even if to us it only seems like a mustard seed of faith) God shows up and far exceeds our expectations!

I love having a relationship with the God who created me. I love knowing that I don’t have to be perfect or “Pharisee-like” to come to him. I love knowing that when I invest time and communication into this relationship- it grows. Religion doesn’t grow. Religion is like a tight fitting outfit that doesn’t stretch. It’s uncomfortable and at some point you just want to take it off and throw it away.

I’ll choose relationship over religion any day!

Rhythms of Grace

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. (Matthew 11: 28-29 MSG)

Little Book…Big Lesson


I recently read through the Book of Philemon. I have to admit, I don’t think I had ever given this book in the Bible much more of a glance before. It’s only one chapter long and consists of just 25 verses. So, I can’t use the excuse that the book was too long and too time consuming to study. I had no idea so many amazing lessons could be tucked into one tiny book of the Bible.

This short letter tells the story of Onesimus, a slave who runs away from his master, Philemon. After he runs away, Onesimus meets up with Paul who is in prison and becomes a Christian. Paul writes this letter to his good friend Philemon in hopes that he will choose to show Onesimus the same mercy,forgiveness,grace and acceptance that Christ shows us.

I love how this letter shows Paul’s love for a brother in Christ. He and Onesimus were connected because of Christ and Paul’s desire was for Philemon to see this connection too. In that society, Philemon had every “legal” right to have his slave put to death for running away…but Paul notes that perhaps there was a bigger purpose as to why his slave ran away. He found Christ! This reminds me of so many other stories in life when God uses our bad decisions and turns them around for His glory. And, although Onesimus was considered a “slave” in society, he was an equal brother in Christ.

Just wanted to add another lesson I took away from this letter after thinking on it some more. Paul forms such a deep friendship with Onesimus that he asks Philemon to “charge his account” if Philemon believes Onesimus owes him anything or has done anything wrong.

Do you see the connection? It’s rare to come across friends who are like this. A friend who is willing to say…Yes, punishment is called for, but if you must charge someone, charge me instead…I am willing to pay for his mistakes.

I am so thankful that Christ ultimately paid the price for each of us!

Philemon 1: 10-18

10 I appeal to you to show kindness to my child, Onesimus. I became his father in the faith while here in prison. 11 Onesimus[a] hasn’t been of much use to you in the past, but now he is very useful to both of us. 12 I am sending him back to you, and with him comes my own heart…

15 It seems you lost Onesimus for a little while so that you could have him back forever. 16 He is no longer like a slave to you. He is more than a slave, for he is a beloved brother, especially to me. Now he will mean much more to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord.

17 So if you consider me your partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18 If he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge it to me.

Free Flying


Last night I was channel surfing before going to bed and I came across a talk show host who was talking to the lead actor from the TV show Lost. I never got into watching this show. I know that when it first came out it was about this plane that crashed on some island and a group of people were stuck there. Apparently, last night was the show’s last episode after six seasons. It amazes me that the writers of the show could find six years of story from this idea! That’s pretty impressive.

I gathered from the conversation that the last episode talked about death and what the after-life is like. The talk show host brought up Christianity and in his own words summed up what Christians believe. Here was his definition. Good people go to heaven. Bad people go to hell. I always feel slightly sad when I hear people define Christianity like this.

My small group recently studied the book of Galatians. It amazes me that 2000 years ago Paul was preaching against this distorted view of Christianity…and today people still have a huge tendency to define it this way. I can almost see Paul walking into that talk show studio shaking his head and sternly telling the audience…”No, this guy is missing the point. It is not about bad versus good. It’s about law versus grace! No amount of good- and rule keeping- is gonna get you there!

Here are a few favorite verses on the subject.

“If God’s promise is only for those who obey the law, then faith is not necessary and the promise is pointless. For the law always brings punishment on those who try to obey it. (The only way to avoid breaking the law is to have no law to break!)” Romans 4:14-15 NLT

“God saved you by his grace when you believed.(Stress mine) And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.” Ephesians 2:8 NLT

“Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you. I am emphatic about this. The moment any one of you submits to circumcision or any other rule-keeping system, at that same moment Christ’s hard-won gift of freedom is squandered. I repeat my warning: The person who accepts the ways of circumcision trades all the advantages of the free life in Christ for the obligations of the slave life of the law. I suspect you would never intend this, but this is what happens. When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace. Meanwhile we expectantly wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit. For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.” Galatians 5: 1-6 (MSG)

It is such a relief to know that my salvation does not depend on me being “good” enough. I would never measure up!

Imperfect

A friend of my mine updated her Facebook status the other day so that it read:

Crystal is imperfect…and that’s okay.

None of us is perfect. There is no disputing this. So why do we sometimes have such a difficult time being “okay” with imperfection? Why do we sometimes go through our lives (or chunks of our lives) in denial about this fact? Sure, when someone actually confronts us we are quick to acknowledge that…Of course, I am not perfect! But then we often go right back to living as if we have to be. We beat ourselves up when we fail, put on masks so that people hopefully don’t see our imperfections and worry about being accepted by our peers.

Eileen is imperfect …and that’s okay.

I remember when I finally started to be okay with imperfection- when I finally started living as if I believed this statement. There are days when I take a few steps(or large leaps) backwards and find myself trying to earn grace. But, thankfully, I have tasted the freedom found in admitting and living as a flawed human being. There is power and strength that comes when we admit this. And, it’s bigger than us. It’s the power and strength that can only come from a perfect Savior. When I make the choice to rest in His arms, then I know that every thing really is okay.

<>INSERT YOUR NAME HERE<> is imperfect…and that’s okay.

Note: If you enjoyed this “imperfect” blog please check out Crystal’s “imperfect” blog 🙂

A Promise


Then I realized that my heart was bitter,
and I was all torn up inside.
I was so foolish and ignorant—
I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you.
Yet I still belong to you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
leading me to a glorious destiny.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
I desire you more than anything on earth.
My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
but God remains the strength of my heart;
he is mine forever.Psalm 73: 21-26 NLT

I really love this passage. I think my favorite verse is “Yet, I still belong to you.” Those six little words fill me with so much comfort, so much hope,and so much peace.

Yet, I still belong to you.

No matter how many times I fail or how many times I’ve pushed God out of the driver’s seat and taken the wheel…yet even then…I still belong to Him. No wrong turn that I’ve made in my past, no mistake that I make today, and no bad choice that I will inevitably make tomorrow changes this promise. Yet I still belong to You.

Thank you, Lord!

God’s Plan

“Self-improvement is no more God’s plan then self-salvation. God’s plan is not just for us to be saved by grace- it is for us to live by grace. God’s plan is for my daily life to be given, guided, guarded, and energized by the grace of God. To live in grace is to flow in the Spirit.
–John Ortberg, The Me I Want To Be