Grace and repentance: Emphasizing one to the exclusion of the other does violence to both.
Unfortunately, I lost my John Hagee “Bible Prophecy Secret Decoder Ring”, so I was unable to determine the true meaning of last night’s “blood moon” before I went to bed.
Within nothing more to do, I decided I might as well get a good night’s sleep, wake up in the morning, and get on with my life – just like normal.
Now that it’s morning, I see that the world’s still here – with its normal complement of good news and bad news.
What a bummer. I was hoping for something more exciting, given all the hype.
Several of our fellowships want to open additional recovery homes in the county for those putting their lives back together following abuse, imprisonment, addiction, economic distress or other major disruption. Over the last several years, we have teamed up with another ministry to support this local need, but its focus is only on addiction – which is very much needed. However, we also need similar homes for those dealing with other issues.
Our desire is to create transitional, peer recovery homes where there is functional, Christ-centered community within each house. This would involve mutual support, encouragement and accountability among the residents – with appropriate outside support and oversight.
Our experiences to date have confirmed that such a focus is essential for real change to occur among those in each home. Otherwise, the houses become little more than a warehouse for knuckleheads, and become a detriment rather than an asset for those seeking to put their lives back together.
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
~ From The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
Each day we have the privilege of choosing which road we will travel. It often really is our choice. Do we want the path that is smooth and drama free or are we willing to journey on the path that is frequently covered with pot holes?
Throughout our lives there are times when each of these roads is a viable option. I must confess that, for whatever reason, the road I usually find myself on is bumpy, covered with overhanging branches and contains many twists and turns.
I would like to suggest that there is also a third path that can emerge. The sign post on that road reads “The Unexpected.” The unforeseen journey down this road brings with it the potential for destruction or immeasurable growth. When the unexpected occurs you might be tempted to ask, “Why, God?” or try to second guess what you could have done differently.
Jim and I have been traveling the Unexpected Road since January 6. In fact, all the family members who live in our house with us have been active participants on the unexpected journey. One man from our fellowship group summed it up best when he jokingly said, “Isn’t it a sad state of affairs when Joy (our dog) is the healthiest member of the Wright clan?”
Until we understand that the Gospel preached by Jesus was the “Gospel of the Kingdom”;
That “Christ” wasn’t His last name, but meant “the King”;
And that He claimed “all authority” over all things,
Both in heaven, and “on Earth”…
A walking concordance no more knows God’s heart, than an existentialist knows His mind.
Ideas have consequences, as do doctrines …
Including the doctrine that doctrines don’t matter.
I applaud my brothers and sisters in Christ who stood firm in Ukraine against oppression and earned with their blood the right to now rebuild their nation.
Cynicism and retreat are popular today among some Christians who have never suffered national tyranny, corruption and malaise, but enjoy the ease of privileged comfort because of past sacrifices by others.
They have not earned the right to criticize those – in Ukraine or elsewhere – whose faith is big enough to redeem cultures, affirm virtue, and establish liberty.
The older I become, the more I become grateful for life’s simple things – love and honor, mercy and truth, grace and redemption – and resolute against those who distort them to exploit others.
Tonight, Marianne and I will have a romantic dinner at the country inn where I asked her to marry me.
Our friends often kid us, because we take time to celebrate key events in our life together. Our first date, our engagement, our wedding, and other anniversaries are important to us.
We don’t go on anniversary dates to create intimacy and passion between us, but to express the amazing, ever-deepening intimacy and passion that continues to grow between us – from the first time my heart unexpectedly fluttered at the sight of her, to the profound thrill I still feel when I see her.
There is a love between us that I seldom see in others. It, and our marriage, are testaments to the power of God to redeem lives.
Abundance often emerges from the impossible. Many times the very fact that the impossibility exists creates the opportunity for the Lord to bring forth His abundance.
Sometimes an act of faith is required. For Abraham, he had to believe in the midst of impossibility that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the heavens.
Abundance wears many faces. Some assume that abundance implies health, wealth and prosperity and for some people that may be true.
However, God’s abundance does not come with a guarantee of those things. The churches of Macedonia experienced great trials of afflictions, but they possessed an abundance of joy even in the midst of deep poverty.
Claims of “radical faith” and “deeper life” hold no appeal. Often, they become distractions from God’s desire that we become whole, complete people of simple faith and simple obedience.
The older I get, the more I want simple.
One day soon, you are going to wake up to a new world where your liberty to pursue virtue as an expression of your faith – and your right to proclaim those beliefs in the public square – are gone.
Vice is now using “tolerance” to bludgeon virtue, and virtue is currently losing.
This newest weapon in the war against virtue has met with great success – and, most disturbing of all, the naïve support of many “Christians”.
Somethings, it seems, never change.
Last week, several local leaders openly intervened – after private efforts failed – to deal with a few individuals who were trying to dominate a particular fellowship with their false, hyper-grace heresy.
I don’t give a hoot whether you celebrate Christmas or don’t.
Let’s learn to honor the Lord in our own choice, while respecting those who likewise honor the Lord – but choose differently – in this non-essential matter of personal conscience.
Are your God-given gifts about advancing your ministry, or about advancing God’s wonderfully diverse gifts in others?
Originally posted on Crossroad Junction:
I wrote this report in early 2007, following an extensive ministry trip in Ukraine. Ukraine previously was the western-most region of the former Soviet Union, where it bumped up against Europe, but is now an independent nation.
With all that’s happening in that part of the world, I thought it might be interesting to post this on Crossroad Junction. Please be in prayer for our brothers and sisters in Ukraine. Since this trip, the situation in the country has deteriorated as Russia continues to challenge Ukraine’s fledgling democracy, the economy is in shambles, and political infighting grips the nation.
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We need to stop!
Every time we meet someone who has no family in the area or is homeless, Marianne and I invite them to spend Thanksgiving (an American holiday) with us.
Each year, our home is filled with family and new friends, but this year we may have more guests than seats – even with several tables!
Somehow, I’m sure we’ll figure out how to fit everyone in, make them feel at home, and have a great day of food, laughter and fellowship.
How about also reaching out to those who have no home or family this year?
Invite them to your home and your table.
You will be blessed even more than them.
~ Jim and Marianne
Sometimes, because He’s gracious, Jesus asks us to surrender the very thing He created us to be good at or value, so He can then restore it under His Lordship.
Otherwise, we end up seeking after the gift, rather than the Giver.
While a prepared message has its place, it is no substitute for a prepared man or woman.
Everyone loves the poor, until asked to share a meal in their home with one.
Everyone loves mercy, until they have to embrace the actual mess of inconvenient victims.
Everyone loves justice, until it disturbs their comfort zones.
Everyone loves the prophetic, until it exposes sin among them.
Everyone loves grace, until it calls them to repent.
Everyone loves love, until it speaks truth.